Quotes of the month

01/02/2021

How do we prevent child abuse? First, we have to stop racism. That message has lately invaded the child-welfare system. The triumph of today’s fashionable ideological nonsense in this particular field carries exceptionally high costs — and abused kids will pay them. – Naomi Schaefer Riley

Kindness is as kindness does. And the one thing kindness cannot do is force people to be kind. – Chris Trotter

Of course, to assume that her missive would be engaged with in the spirit in which it was intended, is to make the mistake of imagining that the identitarian left is broadly committed to secular, rational discourse. It is not. Its activist component has transmogrified into a religious movement, which brooks no opposition and no discussion. You must agree with every tenet or else you’re a racist, sexist, transphobic bigot, etc. Because its followers are fanatics, Rowling is being subjected to an extraordinary level of abuse. – Petra Bueskens

The norms of civil discourse are being eroded, as we increasingly inhabit individualised media ecosystems, designed to addict, distract, absorb, outrage, manipulate and incite us. These internecine culture wars damage us all. – Petra Bueskens

If you deal primarily in subjective experience and impulse-driven reaction, under the assumption that you occupy the undisputed moral high ground, and you’ve been incited by fake news and want to signal your allegiances to your social media friends, then you can’t engage in rational discussion with your opponent. Your stock in trade will be unsubstantiated accusations and social shaming. – Petra Bueskens

Trans women are women is not an engaged reply. It is a mere arrangement of words, which presupposes a faith that cannot be questioned. To question it, we are told, causes harm—an assertion that transforms discussion into a thought crime. If questioning this orthodoxy is tantamount to abuse, then feminists and other dissenters have been gaslit out of the discussion before they can even enter it. This is especially pernicious because feminists in the west have been fighting patriarchy for several hundred years and we do not intend our cause to be derailed at the eleventh hour by an infinitesimal number of natal males, who have decided that they are women. Now, we are told, trans women are women, but natal females are menstruators. I can’t imagine what the suffragists would have made of this patently absurd turn of events. – Petra Bueskens

COVID has shown us that voters will excuse an astronomical level of incompetence, excused by collective amnesia, and the subsequent human toll as long as they believe they’re being kept safe. Fear really is the opiate of the masses. – Gemma Tognini 

We want a simplistic story sometimes – big naughty chicken companies are ripping us off – but it’s more complicated than that. It’s biosecurity, it’s iconic birds, it’s minimum wage and animal rights, which are all things the public support – Tim Morris

It should not be controversial to centre victims in discussions about crime and justice. In fact, it isn’t. The real world doesn’t play out like a Twitter timeline. For most New Zealanders the abolition of prisons is utterly insane and our government would be wise to remember that. – Ani O’Brien

 In the desire for an easy prey, hunters and journalists are the same.Theodore Dalrymple

Ideology is what all this ‘ethics’ crap is about – it has nothing to do with ethics as I understand the term. ‘Ethics’ has become a smokescreen for ideological vetting of research proposals and keeping findings that may not square with PC doctrine out of the academic literature. – Barend Vlaardingerbroek

So far I have lived—stayed safe, if you like—through predicted global cooling, global warming, mass famine, nuclear winter, asteroidal collision, and viral and prion-disease epidemics. . . Just because no catastrophe has yet touched me, then, it does not mean that none in the future will ever do so. That is why anxiety springs eternal in the human breast.Theodore Dalrypmple

And far too few of those who make the laws and regulations governing our lives will get anywhere near a farm, let alone develop a deep understanding of how agriculture works. If they did understand, there’d be much less chance they’d make laws that didn’t account for something as fundamental and unalterable as the changing of seasons. – Stephen Barnard

But “mother” is a fundamental biological, emotional, familial reality. It captures the irreplaceable bond between a baby and the woman who bore her in her womb. That others can be excellent guardians — a fact no one disputes — can’t justify extirpating Mom from our vocabulary. (For that matter, the political erasure of “dad” is also dehumanizing, because it ­entails the loss of our capacity to describe relationships that define what it means to be fully human.) – Abigail Shrier

By all means, call people what they prefer. But language in the law, by definition, ushers words into action. Words grant rights or take them away. Words can enhance or diminish status, placing people and concepts beyond the bounds of legal protection. . . That’s where we’re headed, isn’t it? Erasing “mothers,” and “women,” because the concepts are insufficiently inclusive to gender ideologues. The rights women struggled to win become undone, paradoxically, in the name of ­inclusion. – Abigail Shrier

The problem we have online is that an algorithm decides what we want to see, which ends up creating a simplistic, binary view of society. It becomes a case of either you’re with us or against us. And if you’re against us, you deserve to be ‘cancelled’.

It’s important that we’re exposed to a wide spectrum of opinion, but what we have now is the digital equivalent of the medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn. So it is scary for anyone who’s a victim of that mob and it fills me with fear about the future.Rowan Atkinson

Tarrases, on the other hand, are rare and getting rarer. Tarras with its tiny store and its tinier school. Tarras with its searing summers and its biting winters. Tarras with its bleached grasses, its merinos, its huge stations, its distilled New Zealandness. Leave it alone, you greedsters. Do you hear me? Leave it bloody well alone. – Joe Bennett

We all sense something is wrong. Our money is worth nothing to the banks. There is a rush to convert cash into assets. Houses selling as soon as they list. Those who cannot buy assets are just spending their cash. Every credit-fuelled recovery has ended in a recession. Richard Prebble

We are not allowing people to come into Scotland now without an essential purpose, which would apply to him, just as it applies to everybody else. Coming to play golf is not what I would consider an essential purpose. – Nicola Sturgeon

Rock-bottom mortgage rates, comparatively low unemployment, and our freedoms from Covid restrictions are there to be relished this summer, but perhaps not taken for granted. – Tom Pullar-Strecker

Of course, any tax is popular with the people who won’t have to pay it and who think the proceeds will be spent on, or at least trickle down to, them; but given human nature, the main attraction of the tax is probably more that of the certainty of inflicting pain on others than of the hope of benefiting oneself. – Theodore Dalrymple

The purpose of the wealth tax is only tangentially to raise money at a particularly difficult time . . . The purpose behind it is thus social reform, not the meeting of an economic necessity. The crisis is an opportunity: to advance the centralization of power and the permanent boosting of government powers vis-à-vis the population.

There is, however, one small potential fly in the ointment of my argument, namely that I haven’t fully worked out an alternative. But whatever the problem, incipient totalitarianism isn’t the solution.Theodore Dalrymple

Until a few months ago, American elections were the model for the world: fair, transparent and the results implemented. That reputation was undermined tonight, when armed protestors targeted elected representatives and tried to stop the ‘sacred ritual’, as it was described by President-elect Joe Biden, of confirming the election result.

That we are witnessing such scenes speaks to the extent that President Trump has degraded his office – and our politics. And I write this as a lifelong Republican. His behaviour since the election has not been for the benefit of the American people, but for the ego of a man who cannot bear to lose. His narcissism and obsession with winning cost the GOP two Senate seats in Georgia last night, handing full control of Congress to the Democrats. Today, it cost all of us our deepest privilege of being citizens of a country where ballots cast do not result in bullets shot. – Kate Andrews

This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic — not our democratic republic. I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election. – President George W. Bush

Note that I say the politics of race rather than race relations, because relationships between people of different ethnicities in New Zealand – including Maori and Pakeha – remain overwhelmingly respectful and harmonious. But how long this will continue, when ideologically driven agitators are doing their best to create grievance and division, is a moot point. – Karl du Fresne

There are environmental impacts associated with the production of food, period. The dairy industry does have an environmental impact, but if you look at it in the context of the entire U.S. enterprise, it’s fairly minimal. Associated with that minimal impact is a very substantial provision of high quality, digestible, and well-balanced nutrients for human consumption. Robin White

I always advocate for higher wages but there is a Catch-22, when the minimum wage is increased we see workers’ hours cut, or they lose their jobs. – Chloe Ann-King

Whether you are individualistic or collectivist, liberal or conservative, politics is not a culture war, it is about electing governments to act on our behalf to better people’s lives. It’s not just about one person’s outsized ego, it is about voters and their aspirations. That is democracy’s strength — and why it will endure. – Steven Joyce

So not insubstantial sums from Pharmac’s budget are already being spent for training when they should be used for medines. For Maori and anybody else who needs them. – Lindsay Mitchell 

And while, despite my best sewing efforts, little bits of shame still peek through sometimes, I can comfortably say that that’s not my, or other disabled people’s shame to carry.

There is nothing wrong with having a body that looks or works differently.

Our bodies are beautiful, just as they are.

We are worthy of love, just as we are.Erin Gough

Thus literal-mindedness is the enemy of freedom of expression, and represents also a disturbing loss of mental sophistication. But in any case, attachment to freedom of expression as an ideal seems to have lost much of its salience in the western world, having been replaced as a desideratum by that of virtue, moreover virtue of a peculiar but easily achievable kind, not that of acting well, but that of thinking and expressing the right thoughts. The certifiably right thoughts, which can change in an instant, are those that are in conformity with the moral enthusiasms of the moment. –Theodore Dalrymple

Antipathy, dislike, ridicule, and insult are, of course, normal phenomena of human expression, and furthermore are often justified. Without them expressions of more favourable attitudes would probably not be possible either, for they would mean nothing without the possibility of expression of their opposites. Even to contemplate outlawing such normal human reactions displays an alarmingly totalitarian mindset, all the more so in combination with the Scottish government’s desire that people should report so-called hate crime to the police. Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia seem to be its models. –  Theodore Dalrymple

Trying to eliminate antipathy, dislike, ridicule, and insult from the human heart and mind is a task to make that of Sisyphus seem like an afternoon stroll: precisely the type of task that authoritarian governments love, for it gives them the locus standi to interfere ever more intimately with the lives of their subjects. Hatred is hydra-headed, the task is never done, it grows with its very elimination, or rather the attempts by government at its elimination. Failure is the greatest success, since it requires ever more of the same, namely control over society. – Theodore Dalrymple

Nations rely on institutions: political institutions, the public service, universities, companies, churches, families. These all have different roles and duties that serve the societies that encompass them. And part of their purpose is to mould the individuals that pass through them, imbuing them with values that ensure they serve their institution and community instead of just themselves. Simon Bridges

The people who occupy our institutions increasingly understand those institutions not as moulds that ought to shape their behavior and character but as platforms that allow them greater individual exposure and enable them to hone their personal brands. – Yuval Levin

I emerged from what could have been an ordeal, with the knowledge instead, that goodness, kindness, courage, and laughter are as much part of our world as all the misery we read of in the media. I had been reminded that these are the things that keep the world turning, not politics and mayhem. Happy memories and gratitude and the knowledge of the goodness of life, are the lasting after- effects of another profound experience with which life has gifted me. In that alternative universe where goodness triumphs, all is well  and all manner of things are well, as Mother Julian reminded us.Valerie Davies

Coarse speech is as old as language. What has changed is that the decline in manners and the decline of religious observance – two phenomena that are probably connected – has obliterated the distinction between the vulgar and the polite. Language once considered unacceptable in public is now the norm, especially if it’s about sex or religion. Television has blazed a trail here. ‘Your’ ABC, for instance, never tires of having its ‘comedians’ or characters in its tedious attempts at drama refer to God or Christ in some expletive-tainted phrase. The ABC is scrupulous, when anything supposedly offensive to Aborigines is coming up, in interpolating an unctuously-voiced ‘warning,’, but never feels obliged to warn Christians when a torrent of blasphemy is on the way. – Christopher Akehurst

Statistics and everyday observation show that the future of Christianity in Australia is far from rosy. Christians are more liable to be mocked than respected. Semi-pagan beliefs about Gaia are filling the vacuum of faith. We can already see that, along with our belief in our religion, we have lost our belief and our pride in the uniqueness and, yes, superiority of our culture. That way lies extinction. Thanks for 2021? Not specially.Christopher Akehurst

What this all means is that bleeding heart versions of our history (Australia’s John Howard called it “black armband history”) need to be treated with great caution. Those who push the line that everything was lovely in Aotearoa until the colonists arrived, and that they were responsible for depriving Maori of their ancestral lands, are telling selected and often misleading bits of our story.  In reality, Maori society was in a parlous state when colonists arrived in significant numbers in the 1840s and 1850s. Yes, governors, politicians and settlers wanted access to Maori land. Some cut corners acquiring it. But even the most scrupulous land purchasers found many parts of Maori society a minefield of ancient hostilities and were worn down by conflicting assertions about historical ownership. It needs to be remembered that while the wars of the 1860s did terrible damage to what remained of the Maori economy, much damage had already been done to it by other Maori before the colonists arrived. –   Michael Bassett

Teaching a fair and accurate version of New Zealand history won’t be easy unless the Ministry of Education seizes control of the process and ensures that it doesn’t become the preserve of single-minded fanatics claiming to be historians but with axes to grind. They have the potential to stir unwarranted racial animosity in a country which, for much of its existence, tried to be fair to all people according to the norms of the day. – Michael Bassett

Believers in conspiracy, however, would rather be the victims of a plot than of chance because plots make the world seem pliable to human will, whereas chance by definition escapes human control. A world pliable to human will, even where malign, is more understandable, and therefore less ontologically frightening, than one in which things happen that no human ever intended to happen. – Theodore Dalrymple

ns, none of them pleasant. And we do not live in times of social resignation or passivity. We have already gone through the revolution of rising expectations and reached that of rising, or risen, entitlements. When something to which one believes oneself entitled is not forthcoming, one is more aggrieved than by living at a far lower level without such entitlements. –Theodore Dalrymple

In summary we may say that unfunded government and personal expenditure, which creates the illusion of wealth and social security, necessitates low interest rates, low interest rates favour asset inflation, asset inflation favours the already possessing classes, which in turn leads to social rigidity and frustration down below in the lower reaches of society. Social classes rigidify into castes, and many people become fatalistic without contentment. But fatalism without contentment can undergo a sudden change, the emotional equivalent of a gestalt-switch, and become insensate rage. – Theodore Dalrymple

Taking full advantage of free education, being ambitious to enjoy a full life, making sacrifices for the long term pay-off; all obvious actions totally lacking in the no-hoper sector in our varyingly soft western societies. Thus, at the cost to the majority, governments insist on doing for these failures what they make no effort to do for themselves.Sir Bob Jones

Why did one have to switch energy providers and set a mobile phone alert for bin day, only to find out you can not set an alert because your phone storage is full, so you decide to pay for more storage (until you die), only to find you don’t know your password. By the time you retrieve your password you are sixty-five and howling into the abyss. – Susie Steiner

This cannot end well.  With the New Zealand economy shut in its bubble, Covid-19 ravaging all our international trading partners, local business suffering and unemployment rising, the market is propped up solely by the historically low interest rates upon which all profit projections are based.  But even a small change to those interest rates could prove devastating to many of my new clients.  There may be no greater fools left.  Because in 2021 all the shoe shine boys have become property developers … – Guest Poster at Kiwiblog

Simply put, the opening of the border does not depend on anything that happens in New Zealand but on the virus being brought under control globally. Like every other multilateral issue from climate change to free trade, that has little to do with what happens in Wellington and everything to do with decisions and operational competence in the likes of Washington, Beijing, Brussels, Brasilia and New Delhi. On the border, we are ultimately a policy taker, not a policy maker. – Matthew Hooton

But under the Ardern government, old-fashioned notions about property rights, due process and the rule of law are susceptible to being overturned when protesters can wave the Treaty of Waitangi and toss words like “colonialism” and “stolen” into their rhetoric. – Bob Edlin

I don’t think people realise the intergenerational commitment they’re making, in terms of totally removing choice over the land in the future, unless some other magic [CO2 sequestration] technology springs up. – Dave Frame

From the New Zealand perspective, there is not enough land to plant forests that would be equivalent to the amount of emissions that we’re emitting. – David Hall

History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity. We can see each other, not as adversaries, but as neighbours. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos. This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward. – Joe Biden

Let’s begin to listen to one another again. Hear one another. See one another. Show respect to one another. Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated, and even manufactured. – Joe Biden

But the answer is not to turn inward, to retreat into competing factions, distrusting those who don’t look like — look like you or worship the way you do or don’t get their news from the same source as you do. We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus — rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.

If we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we are willing to stand in the other person’s shoes — as my mom would say — just for a moment, stand in their shoes. Because here’s the thing about life: there’s no accounting for what fate will deal you. Some days, when you need a hand. There are other days when we’re called to lend a hand. That’s how it has to be. That’s what we do for one another. – Joe Biden

I used to think the PM so loved her position and the cheers of the adoring crowd that she would not do anything that risked losing or lessening her position at the pinnacle of admiration. I have now moved away from that to the much less charitable view that she doesn’t know what to do. She has no real vision of what she wants New Zealand to be like, beyond the usual clichés. – John Bishop

She is the Eva Peron of New Zealand politics: warm, compassionate, caring, kind, smiling, seemingly ever good-humoured, but her Government is piecemeal, fragmented, without an overall direction and seemingly without coherent analysis of issues and a strong strategy. – John Bishop

Her champions in the media, and there are many of them, are sycophants, excuse makers, processors of handouts evidencing uncritical laziness – and that’s without going into those who are openly biased in the left’s favour. John Bishop

What has happened to us? Why do we find noise a necessity? Why do we create soundtracks for our every move? Why does a lady walk past my house at 10.30pm every other night with her phone on speaker, tuned into the radio? Why, twice a week, does a guy wander past around midnight, shouting into his phone, his voice ringing out through the dark as he does circuits of the streets around my home? Why can’t we just be with the world, and listen to the music being made around us every day by the natural inhabitants of the earth? –  Michelle Langstone

The paradox, of course, is that to achieve “equity” you have to first take away equality for individuals who were born in the wrong identity group. Equity means treating individuals unequally so that groups are equal. – Andrew Sullivan

Take the trans question. Most decent people support laws that protect transgender people from discrimination — which, after the Bostock decision, is already the law of the land. But this is not enough for Biden. He takes the view that the law should go further and insist that trans women are absolutely indistinguishable from biological women — which erases any means of enforcing laws that defend biological women as a class. If your sex is merely what you say it is, without any reference to biological reality, then it is no longer sex at all. It’s gender, period. It’s socially constructed all the way down. – Andrew Sullivan

You don’t get to unite the country by dividing it along these deep and inflammatory issues of identity. And you don’t achieve equality of opportunity by enforcing its antithesis. – Andrew Sullivan

Even the very rich now feel a psychological or social pressure to do something for money, even without any economic imperative. I leave it to others to decide whether the disappearance of a leisure class is a good or a bad thing, though viscerally I feel that, overall, it is bad, inasmuch as a leisure class is able in theory to devote itself to the higher activities of a civilization. When the rich (of whom there are more than ever) involve themselves nowadays in conspicuous consumption, it is usually in bad taste. Good taste requires discipline and knowledge, which few are either able or prepared to exercise or acquire. – Theodore Dalrymple

 …the more that activities, particularly managerial, are professionalized, the more amateurs—that is to say, people who do things for their own sake, for the sheer enjoyment of them, or for the public good—are decried and, even more, feared. People whose career depends on doing nothing useful for high pay have much to fear from those who do something useful for nothing. – Theodore Dalrymple

Is this obstructionism a manifestation of stupidity or malice (of course, the two are not strictly incompatible, malice often lending a certain cunning to stupidity)? I have every respect for the stupidity of British—as of other—bureaucrats, but I think stupidity alone does not quite cover the case. The fact is that, at some level of consciousness, the bureaucracy realizes that a vast national campaign using volunteers is an existential threat to their careers. If much can be achieved for nothing, why is so little so often achieved for so much? Who knows where things might end if voluntarism were allowed to achieve something? Social solidarity might increase without the intermediary of the state to inhibit it, and that would be a terrible disaster that has at all costs to be headed off. – Theodore Dalrymple

Be that as it may, the fact is that even if an intelligent person in authority were to try to do something to put an end to the idiocy, he would soon be defeated by the unintelligent, for in any large bureaucracy it is unintelligence, at least in the absence of an end other than the very institutional survival that protects careers and guarantees pensions, that emerges triumphant. Stupidity multiplies unnecessary procedure, intelligence decreases it; therefore stupidity is the more functional from the bureaucratic point of view. One way of defeating intelligence and benevolent intention was long ago discovered and summarized by the Spanish colonial administrator who received his orders from Madrid: Obedezco, pero no cumplo. I obey, but I do not fulfill.Theodore Dalrymple

If you happened to be lucky enough to have a house 20 years ago, you’re living in clover. You didn’t? You’re screwed – absolutely screwed. The Government doesn’t even want to fix it. The biggest single issue facing the country is we’ve got an underclass [with] not a dog’s chance of moving into their own home, they cannot live comfortably on the current [average] income… it’s a serious problem. – Don Brash

In brutal terms, there are votes to be won in a broken housing market. And this week is the first week of the 2023 election campaign. – Jonathan Milne

It’s easy to laugh about the latest fads of the woke, and to cheer as smug Guardianistas disappear up their own purity spirals, but the assault on reality from transgender extremists is serious. The public have a right to know the truth about crime, and accurate sentencing and reporting is necessary for a cohesive and functioning democracy. One has to question why the feelings of trans offenders matter more than the rights of their victims. – Jo Bartosch

We can still have social media, just as we still have railways and energy companies. However, they must be equitable, accountable, competitive and pay their dues (be they taxes or fees to reuse material others have paid to create). In other words they must be safe vehicles we are happy to have on our roads.Gavin Ellis

This in turn brings us to the value that we place on human life. We live in an age, after all, in which we hope to wage war without losing a single soldier. In a sense, this must represent a moral advance over a time when generals could send thousands, even tens of thousands, of young men to their deaths for the sake of a military advance of not more than ten yards of muddy ground. And the fact the lives saved by strict sanitary measures that are destructive of everyday life will be mostly those of over eighty will not be allowed to enter into the public debate because to allow it to do so would be to devalue the lives of the old: even if, in our hearts and our daily life, we do not really value them. – Theodore Dalrymple

Too often, National has talked about its economic priorities as if these are the end goals in and of themselves – bigger economy, fewer regulations, smaller government, stronger businesses.  On their own, these things aren’t what is really important. They are only important because they are what ultimately drives prosperity, creates jobs and lifts incomes. Judith Collins

A strong economy means more opportunities for New Zealanders. A strong economy is what will ultimately help lift children out of poverty. A strong economy means more money to invest in our health system. A strong economy will help our kids into their first job and give them the chance to do things and be things we’ve never even dreamed of.  That’s what matters – the things that a strong economy allows us to do. That is why a strong economy matters. –Judith Collins

The old media had needed happy customers. The goal of post-journalism, according to Mir, is to “produce angry citizens.” – Martin Gurri

The intent of post-journalism was never to represent reality or inform the public but to arouse enough political fervor in readers that they wished to enter the paywall in support of the cause. This was ideology by the numbers—and the numbers were striking. – Martin Gurri

The history-reframing mission is now in the hands of a deeply self-righteous group that has trouble discerning the many human stopping places between true and false, good and evil, objective and subjective. Martin Gurri

To be sure, producing and burning coal and oil have significant environmental impacts. But what goes unmentioned are the extensive benefits of affordable, reliable energy provided by coal and oil to make cheap electricity, power cars and underpin a modern economy.

The ironic kicker is that economic wealth allows a nation to regulate and clean up the environment: its air, soil, water and emissions. Coal and oil are not green, but the wealth they create cleans up the environment. And, only wealthy nations such as the U.S., U.K. and Germany have been able to afford to begin to transition beyond coal for power generation.  –  Scott Tinker

So why not just switch from dirty coal and oil to clean and renewable solar and wind? Two reasons: They are not renewable and they are not clean. Sure, during non-cloudy days and windy times, the wind and the sun can be captured and turned into electricity. But because the amount of energy is not “dense,” it takes scads of land and collectors — solar panels and wind turbines — to capture it.  

It also takes oodles of batteries to back up intermittent solar and wind so that everything keeps running uninterrupted. There is also replacement. The panels, turbines and batteries wear out after 10 to 20 years, and the metals, chemicals and toxic materials required to make them must be constantly mined, manufactured and disposed of in landfills. Coupled with some carbon dioxide emissions associated with those processes, solar and wind are neither renewable nor clean.  – Scott Tinker

All Maori children have mixed ethnicity. But before they are Maori/Pakeha/Pacific/Asian/other they are tiny human beings. Tiny human beings whose best interest the grown-ups should be able to agree upon free from political agendas. – Lindsay Mitchell

But “racial equity” is emphatically not the same as treating every person as of equal value regardless of their ethnicity. It does not mean, in the words of Martin Luther King (who must surely be turning in his grave, not least by being given a shout-out in that Biden speech) judging someone by the content of their character rather than by the colour of their skin. It is the precise opposite. It is a doctrine which holds that white people are intrinsically racist; that the west is therefore intrinsically racist; and that therefore black people in the west should be privileged over white.Melanie Phillips

There is more than a modicum of truth in the old joke that the definition of a ‘racist’ is anyone who is winning an argument with a leftist.  When a woke leftist’s evidence and logic don’t stack up, a bit of name-calling (‘racist’, ‘bigot’, ‘deplorable’, etc.) will enable them to seize the presumed moral high ground and thereby claim victory, at least to their own satisfaction.  Moral one-upmanship is the woke leftist’s go-to position: ‘I’m good, you’re bad, so just shut-up’. If you’re of the Left, it’s the all-purpose, not-so-sotto-voce debate clincher.  – Phil Shannon

For those of us in the media, there’s a real challenge to confront: a wave of censorship that seeks to silence conversation, to stifle debate, to ultimately stop individuals and societies from realizing their potential. This rigidly enforced conformity, aided and abetted by so-called social media, is a straitjacket on sensibility. Too many people have fought too hard in too many places for freedom of speech to be suppressed by this awful woke orthodoxy. – Rupert Murdoch

I firmly believe that government needs to be as responsible with your funds as you are, and it seems to me that Covid has been used as a cover for a plethora of other projects and spending initiatives that we are not able to cover through tax revenue. – Michael Woodhouse

The events of this week should lead to permanent improvements in MIQ and if nothing else, wipe away the smugness for a while. – Audrey Young

My child’s right to see the Wiggles doesn’t trump anyone’s right to say a final goodbye to a loved one. – Vera Alves

But nonetheless it is interesting to see how quickly the local NZ narrative might be shifting from congratulation at a job well done towards fear of being left behind. New Zealand’s political decision makers are surely aware that this is a race, with no prizes for mediocre performance. – Point of Order

Those people who won’t gave a vaccine or don’t believe Covid is real they so are dumb right?  Some of them will die because of their beliefs, some of them will infect others because of them. Science, ‘big pharma’, ‘jews,’ the government is lying to them. These people with little understanding of virology or epidemiology know better than those who have devoted their lives to studying these subjects..

But should any of us be surprised that when Covid is happening before our eyes, some people choose to close theirs ? Other kinds of anti-science arguments are now part of our culture and are now considered not only acceptable but “radical”. – Suzanne Moore

So if biological reality does not exist (biological essentialism), or indeed science which sees us as mammals (we are mammals not slugs or fish or is this now controversial to say so ?) then  we are to understand that sex is not binary and that we are not a sexually dimorphic species.  If women don’t exist really what is feminism for?  Apparently it’s for everyone . Except obviously woman like me.Suzanne Moore

 I’d be worried about the humanity of an individual who didn’t consider the ethics involved; so let me share my perspective. For a start, sanctions do not work. No tyrant has moderated his behaviour once they were imposed. Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and dozens of African kleptocrats provide a mountain of evidence for the thesis that tyrants are impervious to external economic forces. Governments that are subject to political and economic pressures at home can be bullied into behaving better domestically. South Africa is the most obvious example but there are others. Such niceties are utterly ineffective against true dictatorships such as Cuba, North Korea and China. – Damien Grant

If sanctions worked imposing a short-term economic harm on ourselves to help free an oppressed people would be the right thing to do. But they don’t. They impoverish the civilian population, sometimes resulting in their death, for no material advantage. – Damien Grant

Today, the super-power of human rights abuses is China and the outgoing American Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, declared that China was committing a genocide against the Uyghur. Surely if we are ever to draw the line, it must be at genocide?  To understand why the answer is no, consider that we do not trade with a nation. We trade with firms, individuals, collectives or whatever enterprise has been established to undertake commerce.  To refuse to trade with the factories, farms and supermarkets in China because of the crimes committed by those running the Communist Party is to engage in collective responsibility and punishment. We are harming one person for the crimes of another and doing nothing to assist the victims while the perpetrators live in undiminished luxury. – Damien Grant

While threats of economic pain for their citizens do not deter dictatorships, those running these regimes have demonstrated a desire for respectability. China in particular appears highly sensitive to criticism. We may be economically impotent but our voice carries a heavy moral weight. We should use it.

If Beijing elects to retaliate that is beyond our control; but while I believe we should trade with China, we should not become a vassal state in the process.Damien Grant

In 2021 numbers in the underclass continue to accelerate. And they will keep on doing so do until parents are held to account for raising the children they bring into the world. But of course this solution doesn’t have a good political ring to it in 2021 any more than it did in 2008. Those children, however, are usually the ones who never get a good education, whose health is more often neglected, and who are more likely to end up at the bottom of the heap, and consequently unlikely to enjoy equal opportunities, let alone have any chance of an equal outcome from life. – Michael Bassett

Myths are welcome comforters, but have never been a sure guide for the future. The second Ardern government passed its 100 days this week. It seems to be propagating a new myth: that kindness is enough. But if you are a child at the bottom of the heap, kindness can be rare indeed. – Michael Bassett


PM there and here

27/09/2018

Happy headlines are following Jacinda Ardern in New York.

Back home the media are looking past the stardust to the continuing saga over Derek Handley and the position of Chief Technology Officer he was appointed to then disappointed from.

NZ Herald opines:

There can be no doubt the Derek Handley saga is a train wreck that is now threatening to derail confidence in the Government.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern may have been hoping she could leave the domestic turmoil of the past few weeks behind her, while she – with partner Clarke Gayford and baby Neve – wows world leaders and their delegations at the United Nations in New York.

But she clearly wasn’t banking on tech entrepreneur Derek Handley yesterday releasing his text and email communications with her and former Minister for Government Digital Services Clare Curran, and speaking further about the whole sorry saga – including bemoaning his lack of apology or explanation in the matter of the bungled chief technology officer recruitment process.

Possibly Ardern thought sacking Curran from that ministerial post – and Curran’s subsequent resignation from all her ministerial portfolios – was enough to put the incident to rest.

However, yesterday the PM found herself having to fend off accusations she had misled Parliament over her own communications with Handley, Finance Minister Grant Robertson was forced to correct his answer in Parliament over emails between Handley and Curran, and new Digital Services Minister Megan Woods was clearly forced to finally call Handley to apologise for the “impact this has had on him and his family”. She also had to retract her statement there had been a confidentiality agreement with Handley over his financial settlement.

What a shemozzle.

It still doesn’t feel like a satisfying conclusion for anyone – if indeed this end of the matter. . .

This is a serious black mark for the Government. The overall unease around communication, competency and transparency over this issue is now raising questions about the PM’s leadership and the Government’s integrity in general. . .

Audrey Young writes:

It is becoming a habit – for the second time in three weeks, National leader Simon Bridges has accused Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of misleading the public.

This time she has also been accused of misleading Parliament as well as the public and Bridges has demanded she correct her statements.

Ardern put up a strenuous defence on both counts that there was no need for corrections. . .

But Kiwiblog quotes Hansard: and shows on the 18th and 19th of September in answer to questions from National leader SImon Bridges that taking the most generous view of what she said, she was at the very least economical with the truth.

Back to Young:

Until now, the fiasco, mainly over an undisclosed meeting, had reflected badly on Curran but the contagion has spread to Ardern and made the Government look amateurish.

Grant Robertson had to correct an answer in the House today he gave last week on Clare Curran’s emails to Handley and Woods had to retract a suggestion that the severance contract with Handley may have been subject to a confidentiality clause.

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters swore blind Ardern was blameless of anything and everything.

True, she will not have to correct any answers she has given to Parliament.

But that is almost irrelevant because even if she did, it would not undo the damage she has done to herself.

A train wreck, a schemozzle,  a fiasco. These aren’t adjectives any government wants applied to them.

But nearly a year into office, the one that explains the mess is amateurish.

 


So bad so soon

19/06/2018

How did it get so bad so soon?
It’s a mess of ministers
acting like goons.
My goodness how the
mess has grewn.
How did it get so bad so soon?

With apologies to Dr Seuss, how did it get so bad so soon?

Audrey Young writes that Jacinda Ardern will forgive Winston Peters for anything, even the unforgivable.

A National MP joked this week that the Opposition didn’t want things to get so bad under Jacinda Ardern’s maternity leave that the country was desperate for her return – they just wanted a medium level of dysfunction.

That threshold was almost reached this week even before the big event, and things got worse as the week wore on.

Ardern’s faith in Winston Peters being able to manage the inevitable bush fires that will flare when she is away must be seriously undermined given that he and his party have caused many of them.

A series of accidental and deliberate mishaps has raised questions about a series of important issues including basic coalition management, ministerial conventions, the application of the “No Surprises” policy, and when a minister is not a minister. .  .

Stacey Kirk calls it a three ring circus with one ringmaster at the centre .

Consensus government in action, or a bloody awful mess? 

It’s difficult to characterise the past week as anything but the latter and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern may be worried about whether she’ll have a Government to come back to when she returns from maternity leave. . .

Patrick Gower wants the old Kelvin Davis back.

Patrick Gower on The AM Show. Credits: Video – The AM Show; Image – Newshub.

Kelvin Davis is a “wounded man walking” who better watch out, says Newshub national correspondent Patrick Gower.

The Corrections Minister on Wednesday announced plans for a new prison, but appeared to be unaware how many of its inmates would be double-bunked.

Corrections boss Ray Smith interjected after Mr Davis froze, confirming Newshub’s suggestion it would be around half.

“I get nervous before interviews,” was Mr Davis’ explanation, when asked about it on The AM Show. . . 

Duncan Garner describes government MPs as misfit kids.

. . .It’s taken them three minutes to look as shabby, arrogant and as broken-down as a third-term government suffering rampant hubris and pleading to be put out of its misery.  . .

Sue Bradford thinks the Greens are in mortal danger.

The Green’s water bottling decision exposes potentially fatal flaws and complacency at the heart of Green Parliamentary operations 

The Green parliamentary wing seem to be clueless about the mortal danger they face following news this week that their own minister, Eugenie Sage, has signed off on the sale and expansion of a water bottling plant at Otakiri Springs. . . 

Hamish Rutherford writes with Winston Peters in charge everything could be up for grabs.

. . . These are extraordinary times. Suddenly, with a Government already battling to keep business confidence up, with a story that the economy keeps on rocking, it seems as if everything is up for grabs.

We are now being handed lessons that have been coming since Peters walked into the Beehive theatrette on October 20 and announced he was forming a Government with the Left.

A Government so broad that the issues on which there is division become so amplified that they could almost appear to outnumber ones where there is consensus.

Where previous coalitions since the creation of MMP managed to keep together because the centre of power was so obvious, the timing of Peters’ action will be further unsettling. . . 

Health Minister David Clark has been accused of trying to gag a health board chair.

A leaked voicemail message appears to show Health Minister David Clark attempting to gag top health officials over the woeful state of Middlemore Hospital buildings. 

Clark has rejected the accusation, which has stemmed from audio of him telling former Counties Manukau District Health Board chair Rabin Rabindran it was “not helping” that the DHB kept commenting publicly.  

Emails suggest he also attempted to shut down the DHB from answering any questions along the lines of who knew what, and when, about the dilapidated state of Middlemore buildings. . . 

Peter Dunne asks is the coalition starting to unravel?

Almost 20 years ago, New Zealand’s first MMP Coalition Government collapsed. It was not a dramatic implosion on a major point of principle, but was provoked by a comparatively minor issue – a proposal to sell the Government’s shares in Wellington Airport – and came after a series of disagreements between the Coalition partners on various aspects of policy.

There has been speculation this week in the wake of New Zealand First’s hanging out to dry of the Justice Minister over the proposed repeal of the “three strikes” law that the same process might be starting all over again. While it is far too soon to draw conclusive parallels, the 1998 experience does set out some road marks to watch out for. . . 

Michael Reddell writes on how the government is consulting on slashing productivity growth.

 . .  I have never before heard of a government consulting on a proposal to cut the size of the (per capita) economy by anything from 10 to 22 per cent.  And, even on their numbers, those estimates could be an understatement. . . .

Quite breathtaking really.   We will give up –  well, actually, take from New Zealanders –  up to a quarter of what would have been their 2050 incomes, and in doing so we will know those losses will be concentrated disproportionately on people at the bottom.   Sure, they talk about compensation measures . . 

But the operative word there is could.  The track record of governments –  of any stripe –  compensating losers from any structural reforms is pretty weak, and it becomes even less likely when the policy being proposed involves the whole economy being a lot smaller than otherwise, so that there is less for everyone to go around.  The political economy of potential large scale redistribution just does not look particularly attractive or plausible (and higher taxes to do such redistribution would have their own productivity and competitiveness costs). . . 

And the Dominion Post lists mis-steps and mistakes and concludes:

. . .Some of this has been simply amateurish.

Such things are often a sign of a government that has outlived its mandate and begun to implode around the core of its own perceived importance. In its tiredness it can trip over the most obvious hurdles.

This Government is barely nine months old. It needs to find its feet, and quickly.

Has there ever been a government that has attracted this sort of criticism just a few months after gaining power?

How did this government get so bad so soon?


Quote of the day

31/08/2015

. . . the social investment approach is not about cutting costs in the short term.

It is about working out where to spend money – possibly more money – to save it in the long term.

And it is about spending money only on things that work. –  Audrey Young


Political story of the day

20/06/2014

While sideshows and mud slinging are getting attention, the government is getting on with business as normal which includes working hard to progress freer trade.

Time to get down to business on tangled trade deal – Audrey Young:

At 3am tomorrow, New Zealand time, John Key will have the second most important meeting of his visit to the United States.

It’s a lunch meeting with US Trade Representative Mike Froman at the New Zealand Embassy, where ambassador Mike Moore, a former World Trade Organisation director general, will also be present.

Froman is effectively leading the Trans Pacific Partnership talks, which are in a parlous state.

Rescuing the deal from a pitiful result is Key’s top priority for the trip. . .

New Zealand already has very open borders which means we have little to lose and a lot to gain from any free trade deals and the TPP would be particularly helpful if it includes agricultural produce.

But negotiations are painstakingly slow.

 


Political story of the day

19/06/2014

The round-up of political stories while Politics Daily is taking a break seemed  like a good idea but it was taking too much time.

Instead, I’ll feature a political story of the day and welcome you to add others.

My pick won’t necessarily be the most important one, and today’s isn’t:

Politics. It just IS cricket: Sports diplomacy at the UN – Audrey Young:

The United Nations hasn’t seen so much fun in ages.

The Palestinian chief diplomat at the UN tried out his first game of cricket.

The Prime Minister told risqué jokes about his wife.

And Foreign Minister Murray McCully was stumped, possibly for the first time in his life.

Cricketing legend Sir Richard Hadlee was the draw card on the East Lawn of the United Nations at an event to promote the Cricket World Cup next year jointly hosted by New Zealand and Australia, starting February 14. . .

Make cricket, not war?


Contagious excellence

24/01/2014

Th Post Primary Teachers’ Association is ‘cautiously optimistic’ about proposals for new, and better paid, roles for teachers and principals announced by Prime Minister John Key yesterday.

PPTA President Angela Roberts said she was “cautiously optimistic” and welcomed the extra resourcing to support teachers, as well as greater collaboration between teachers across schools.

She said its ability to work as intended would depend on how it was implemented, but welcomed Mr Key’s promise that the profession would be involved in implementing the new roles. . . .

She said it provided the potential for good teachers to advance their careers without having to leave the classroom to take up leadership positions.

“It feels like what they have done is not just recognise and reward the great teachers, but once they’ve recognised those great teachers they will treat them for what they are, which is a great resource, and enable them to support their colleagues.”

That’s high praise from the organisation which normally opposes anything from National on principle.

Principals’ Federation President Phil Harding said the announcements were significant for both principals and teachers.

“It’s hard for me to say it but I’m pretty damned impressed. It is a huge amount of new money and I have never seen such a transformation of ideas and discussion into policy and money in my life. It has gone from a theoretical discussion about how the system needed to evolve and change just last year to the appropriation of significant resource.”

He was hopeful it would work as intended and believed the $50,000 financial incentives for good principals to take on challenging schools were sufficient. . . .

Why it’s hard for him to say he’s impressed has a lot more to do with politics than education, but at least he’s said it.

The School Trustees’ Association, which is more focussed on the impact on pupils than teachers, is less guarded in its enthusiasm:

Keeping great teachers in the classroom and investing in better career pathways for our teachers and principals is a great way to start the new year, says NZSTA President Lorraine Kerr.

“We’ve been talking about finding better ways to boost collaboration between schools for a long time.

It’s exciting to see the talk being converted into action,” she says. “This is a really good initiative.”

Providing better career pathways for our teachers and principals is an idea that that we fully endorse, as is developing a better way of supporting teachers and principals to continually improve their professional practice. Boards will be enthusiastic about the message this sends about valuing our principals and teachers. We will need to work through the practicalities of how Executive Principals

and Expert Teachers being off-site two days a week will shake down in their own schools, but boards are generally very proud of the expertise their staff have, and will be eager to share that expertise with other schools in a structured way as long as their own staff and students don’t lose out as a result.

It is good to hear the commitment to working through the practicalities through consultation with the sector, and NZSTA is looking forward to playing a constructive part in those discussions. We have all shown a lot of good faith over the last year or so, including principals’ groups and teacher unions, by engaging in open discussions with Minister Parata. The Ministerial Cross-Sector Forum is a good example. It hasn’t always been easy, so it’s good to see that investment in relationship-building bearing fruit.

If we do this right, there is potential for these new positions to make excellence contagious through all our schools. That will be our opportunity for 2014.

Challenge accepted.

The NZEI is sceptical which means it can’t see past its politics to the benefits this will bring to teachers and more importantly pupils but Audrey Young writes they and the opposition:

will look as though they are opposing it for the sake of opposing it.

Key has identified an age-old problem in schools that really good teachers often leave the classroom to progress their careers.

Credible research over the years has linked good teaching to good results by pupils.

Most of us know that anecdotally because we’ve experienced it.

We don’t need credible research to know that good teachers can lift achievement and that good principals can have a huge impact on the school environment, the expectations and teaching quality. . .

It’s difficult for unions to argue against this without shooting holes in their arguments about how important teachers are.

. . . Teacher unions have found it difficult to accept performance pay because it necessarily implies some teachers are not performing well. They fear it could undermine the collegiality among teachers that is vital to successful schools.

But the way that Key has outlined the new teacher positions however looks less like a policy to divide and rule teachers and more like something all teachers should aspire to becoming. Hopefully it will also lift the status of the teaching profession in society.

The teacher unions need to accept that plans to improve teaching need not be an attack on their members. . . .

Rather the opposite is the case.

Improving teaching, rewarding good ones, helping all of them getting and treating them like the professionals they should be is good for them and those they teach.


Not Judge Judy

03/12/2013

Tweet of the day:

 


Top two in step

07/11/2013

John Armstrong marks the fifth birthday’ of John Key’s government with an interviewing showing how National’s leader and his deputy and Finance Minister Bill English have forged a successful working relationship.

Bill English is talking about electric fences. But not the kind used on his Southland farm.

Sitting at the other end of a couch from John Key in the Prime Minister’s Beehive office, the Minister of Finance is explaining the complex and delicate dynamics which drive the most important relationship in the corridors of power – the one between Key and himself.

He is referring to the boundaries which Key – a moderate conservative with a dread fear of losing the hearts and minds of election-determining middle-income earners – establishes around what he considers to be no-go areas for reform-minded ministers like English.

“He [Key] is very good at making it clear when those boundaries are infringed … It’s like electric fences. You hit the electric fence.”

It seems that does not happen very often. By this stage of proceedings both politicians know exactly what is and is not acceptable to the other.

Success in any relationship requires an understanding of, and respect for, boundaries.

Strenuous efforts are made to kill any suggestion of disagreement around the Cabinet table. The idea that there might be even a sliver of daylight between the stances taken by the two most powerful figures in the country can shake public confidence in a government.

In 2005, the Herald came under huge pressure not to run a story which intimated that Helen Clark and Michael Cullen were not seeing eye-to-eye over the timing of tax cuts.

When a prime minister and finance minister are in harmony, the governing party can be a formidable creature slaying all that dare cross its path. . . 

John and Bill might have disagreements round the margins but they are in step on everything that really matters.

The lingering question is how this pairing has avoided the pitfalls which have seen governments paralysed when the two pockets of power have stopped trusting one another and started undermining one another.

Told, the Herald wants to focus on their partnership before and after National was returned to power in 2008, Key turns and looks at English and exclaims “Okay, love” and laughs. English replies in typically droll fashion: “As a loyal deputy, I can assure you, it is not a partnership.” He means not that sort of partnership.

The humour, however, has an edge which leaves the listener wondering just how well the two men actually get along. . . .

Anyone who has seen them together knows they get along well.

Both have keen senses of humour and often use the other as the butt of that. Being able to do that without threatening their relationship requires genuine and mutual liking and respect.

English’s approach to reform is to make incremental changes, rather than doing it all at once.

As a young backbencher in the 1990s, he watched Richardson’s big-bang approach blow up in her face. National’s opponents claim English’s incrementalism is all about keeping the punters in the dark about his real objectives.

English denies this. “[It’s about] taking the public along, not just for political reasons, but because it’s how you win the arguments.”

Bulldozers don’t win arguments, a slower, more careful approach which allows people to see results does.

What the pair both say is that the success of their partnership is in part because they occupy the same “ideological space”. More likely, English is more ideologically focused. But – like Key – he is also a pragmatist.

Refusing to offer up examples which would be swooped on by opponents, Key says differences of opinion occur over “nuances” rather than over the Government’s direction – the case with the open warfare between Lange and Douglas.

Key says he cannot imagine how Lange’s and Douglas’s Beehive offices became so isolated from one another. In contrast, his and English’s staff are constantly in and out of each other’s offices on the ninth and seventh floors of the building. . .

It’s not just the leader and deputy who are in step and communicating properly, their staff are and do too.

English – who is careful not to talk over Key throughout the 45-minute interview – notes that important matter of “distinct hierarchy”.

“If a prime minister says ‘this is what we are going to do’, whether I might completely agree is irrelevant, particularly with a successful prime minister. If he says ‘I want this’, then that is what happens.”

That doesn’t however mean who can’t be persuaded to change his mind as Audrey Young gives some examples.

Prime Minister John Key has admitted he had to be persuaded to back off his bid to press the Reserve Bank into exempting first-home buyers from the banks’ new rules on loan-to-value ratios (LVRs) by Finance Minister Bill English. . .

But in a joint interview with Mr English this week – marking five years in power for the National-led Government – he indicated that Mr English thought taking on the independent bank would be more trouble than it was worth.

“So I took a step back from that and said ‘yeah, okay, well fine’. That’s the way it goes.” . .

“I’d be the first to admit I was a bit nervous about raising GST thinking can you actually politically sell all of that,” he said.

“Actually after we did all the modelling and we worked on it together, we were absolutely convinced it was fair and would actually work and it would deliver the sort of policy outcomes we wanted. And actually it’s definitely delivering results for the economy.” . .

People in any relationship have different ideas, it’s how differences are handled which matters.

Mr Key said the measure of any decent relationship was that you worked your way through all sorts of issues and respected each other’s views.

Mr English made much of what he described as Mr Key’s instinctive ability to communicate with the public and maintain its support, and knowing how to set boundaries in terms of policy constraints.

They cited the example of state tenants’ entitlements.

Mr Key said successive Ministers of Housing and Housing officials had wanted the income that any state tenant received from boarders to be received to be counted as income in terms of calculating entitlements.

“But my view is well that would be seen as a step too far for large families or families that are trying really hard to make ends meet.

“And in the end if they are prepared to go the extra mile of having someone live in their home and cook them a meal, they are just good New Zealanders trying to get ahead.

“It’s like the carparking [dumped fringe benefit tax] issue.

“In the perfection of the IRD officials, we should have carried on with putting an FBT on those carparks – but that’s how you lose the public,” he said.

Mr Key also indicated that he had put constraints on labour market reforms.

Both men are pragmatic and that’s one of the reasons for their success and the continuing popularity of the government.

They’ve built up trust by saying what they’ll do and doing it and taken a good percentage of the public with them.

The strong relationship between the two of them, their mutual trust and respect, and understanding of their differences and different roles have also played an important role in that.

Armstrong finishes with a couple of quotes on how they see each other:

Bill on John:

• “(John) has more ideas than we know how to handle. My framework is a bit more conventional so I spend a lot of time just dealing with issues in a reasonably predictable way but the PM is always stretching the boundaries.”

• “He’s endlessly capable of everything, I assure you – catching fish, cooking pasta, making up policy, being friends with the Queen. There is nothing this man can’t do.”

John on Bill:

• “They are quite complementary skills. I do a lot of going around the country opening things and cutting ribbons and being the kind of face of the party that’s interacting with the public. And Bill is doing a lot of the long term thinking, heavy-lifting and policy design, all the things that involve ministers … I’m kind of the retail face.”

I think John is understating the important role he plays in policy development and ensuring the government is working well.

But that ‘retail face”, the man the public see and like is a big part of his role and an important ingredient in the positive view the public still have of the government after five years in power.

#gigatownoamaru is in step to become the Southern Hemisphere’s fastest town.


Diplomacy in words

14/01/2013

It’s far too early to award the diplomatic line of the year award, but this from Rotorua MP Todd McLay has to be a contender:

I don’t think anybody could do Tim Groser’s job but I would love an opportunity to do more in an area I have done a bit of work in before.

He was replying to Audrey Young who asked him if he would like Trade Negotiations Minister Tim Groser’s job.

 

 


Finlayson tops Herald’s ministerial rankings

12/11/2012

Attorney General and Minister for Treaty Negotiations and Labour Chris Finlayson has number one spot in the NZ Herald’s ministerial rankings.

Audrey Young dubs him the Minister for results:

Chris Finlayson has emerged as one of John Key’s most valuable ministers in National’s second term. He has scored the highest rating of all ministers in my report card on the Executive prepared with colleagues in the Herald press gallery team. . .

Mr Finlayson is Attorney-General and Treaty Negotiations Minister. He is also Labour Minister since Kate Wilkinson resigned after the royal commission’s damning report into the Pike River disaster.

On the face of it, that may not seem a natural fit – and it may be just a temporary appointment until the next reshuffle. But Mr Finlayson’s skill set may be the right one to keep the job for the rest of the term. He gets results. He has a big intellect and has a good head for detail. But he is also emotionally intelligent, and was a good choice to send to the West Coast to discuss the report with the Pike River families.

His achievements in Treaty Negotiations are the most notable. Who would have imagined two years ago the Government concluding a deal with Tuhoe?

He doesn’t make a fuss but gets things done and the number of Treaty settlements successfully concluded is worthy of praise.

Health Minister Tony Ryall and Justice Minister Judith Collins scored highly as well. The Opposition has been able to inflict few dents on the Government in health, such is Mr Ryall’s control after four years in the portfolio. Labour has had three spokespeople over four years. . .

At the other end of the ranking was education Minister Hekia Parata.

Education is always a tough portfolio and always seems to be tougher for National ministers.

That is partly due to the strength of teacher unions which are ideologically opposed to the party regardless of the merit of its policies.

Let’s not forget that for all the bad press, the Minister has kept an unrelenting and much needed focus on improving standards, especially for that long tail of under achievers.

Then there’s the Ministry of Education which has obviously learned nothing from the debacle over school closures udner Trevor Mallard in the last Labour government’s first term .

Closing or merging schools is always going to be fraught. Doing it in Christchurch which was already dealing with so much after the earthquakes required extra sensitivity which it didn’t get.

How some of the really silly suggestions, merging Avonside and Christchurch Girls’, and Christchurch and Shirley Boys’ for example which even the minister admits was crazy,  was ever mooted, let alone presented for discussion, is difficult to understand.

And a ministry which says it didn’t gives schools information because it was too complex requires radical surgery.

The full ranking (in Cabinet order) is:

John Key – 7
Prime Minister, Tourism, SIS, GCSB

Bill English – 8
Finance

Gerry Brownlee – 7.5
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, Transport

Steven Joyce – 7
Economic Development

Judith Collins – 8.5
Justice, ACC

Tony Ryall – 8.5
Health, State-owned Enterprises

Hekia Parata – 3
Education

Chris Finlayson – 9
Attorney General, Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Labour

Paula Bennett – 7
Social Development

David Carter – 8
Primary Industries, Local Government

Murray McCully – 7
Foreign Affairs

Anne Tolley – 7
Police, Corrections

Jonathan Coleman – 8
Defence, State Services

Tim Groser – 8
Trade, Climate Change issues

Phil Heatley – 5
Housing, Energy and Resources

Kate Wilkinson – 4
Conservation, Food Safety

Nathan Guy – 6
Immigration, Veteran’s Affairs, Associate Primary Industries

Craig Foss – 6
Commerce, Broadcasting

Amy Adams – 7
Environment, Communication and Information Technology

Chris Tremain – 6
Internal Affairs

Maurice Williamson – 7
Building, Customs, Land Information

Jo Goodhew – 6
Senior Citizens, Women’s Affairs

Chester Borrows – 6
Courts, Associate Justice, Associate Social Development

Simon Bridges – 7
Consumer Affairs, Associate Climate Change, Associate Transport


Finlayson tops Herald’s ministerial rankings

12/11/2012

The Attorney General, Minister for Treaty Negotiations and now acting Minister of Labour, Chris Finlayson is number one in the NZ Herald’s ministerial rankings.

Chris Finlayson has emerged as one of John Key’s most valuable ministers in National’s second term. He has scored the highest rating of all ministers in my report card on the Executive prepared with colleagues in the Herald press gallery team. . .

Mr Finlayson is Attorney-General and Treaty Negotiations Minister. He is also Labour Minister since Kate Wilkinson resigned after the royal commission’s damning report into the Pike River disaster.

On the face of it, that may not seem a natural fit – and it may be just a temporary appointment until the next reshuffle. But Mr Finlayson’s skill set may be the right one to keep the job for the rest of the term. He gets results. He has a big intellect and has a good head for detail. But he is also emotionally intelligent, and was a good choice to send to the West Coast to discuss the report with the Pike River families.

His achievements in Treaty Negotiations are the most notable. Who would have imagined two years ago the Government concluding a deal with Tuhoe?

I think this is well deserved.  He doesn’t make a fuss but gets things done. The number of Treaty negotiations successfully concluded is in deed notable

Health Minister Tony Ryall and Justice Minister Judith Collins scored highly as well. The Opposition has been able to inflict few dents on the Government in health, such is Mr Ryall’s control after four years in the portfolio. Labour has had three spokespeople over four years. . .

At the other end of the ranking, education Minister Hekia Parata scored only 3.

The education portfolio is always a tough one. That it is tougher for National ministers in part shows the difficulty of effecting change in the face of strong unions which are ideologically opposed to the party regardless of the policy.

In spite of that and opposition from teacher unions at every step,the Minister has kept an unrelenting and sorely needed focus on improving standards, particularly for the long tail of underachievers.

Her work appears to have been handicapped at times by the Ministry of Education which seems to have learned nothing from the debacle over school closures under Trevor Mallard in the last Labour government’s first term.

School closure is always emotionally fraught. In Christchurch in the wake of earthquakes there was even more need for great care. The announcement and some really silly suggestions, such as merging Avonside and Christchurch Girls’, and Shirley and Christchurch Boys’ was, as Hekia Parata herself says crazy.

The loss of more than 9,000 pupils and earthquake damage to school property necessitated change, and major change at that, but a Ministry which handled such a sensitive issue so badly and says it didn’t give schools all the information because it was too complex needs major surgery.

The Herald’s rank (in ministerial order) is:

John Key – 7, Prime Minister, Tourism, SIS, GCSB

Bill English – 8, Finance

Gerry Brownlee – 7.5, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, Transport

Steven Joyce – 7, Economic Development

Judith Collins – 8.5, Justice, ACC

Tony Ryall – 8.5, Health, State-owned Enterprises

Hekia Parata – 3, Education

Chris Finlayson – 9,Attorney General, Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Labour

Paula Bennett – 7, Social Development

David Carter – 8, Primary Industries, Local Government

Murray McCully – 7, Foreign Affairs

Anne Tolley – 7, Police, Corrections

Jonathan Coleman – 8, Defence, State Services

Tim Groser – 8, Trade, Climate Change issues

Phil Heatley – 5, Housing, Energy and Resources

Kate Wilkinson – 4, Conservation, Food Safety

Nathan Guy – 6, Immigration, Veteran’s Affairs, Associate Primary Industries

Craig Foss – 6, Commerce, Broadcasting

Amy Adams – 7, Environment, Communication and Information Technology

Chris Tremain – 6, Internal Affairs

Maurice Williamson – 7, Building, Customs, Land Information

Jo Goodhew – 6, Senior Citizens, Women’s Affairs

Chester Borrows – 6, Courts, Associate Justice, Associate Social Development

Simon Bridges – 7, Consumer Affairs, Associate Climate Change, Associate Transport


Will it be cACTus Kate?

25/06/2011

Roarprawn said it first – Hong Kong based lawyer Cathy Odgers was going to become an  Act candidate.

Audrey Young takes up the story today:

Cathy Odgers, the author of the acerbic website Cactus Kate, is expected to be approved today as an Act candidate – one of the reasons sitting MP Heather Roy is likely to today announce she will stand down at this year’s election.

I know Cathy only though her blog and a few blogging related emails but she has one very good characteristic for an aspiring MP – loyalty to her party and its leader:

. . . politics must be about loyalty to the Party and that means publicly to its Leader while that person is still the Leader. If you are going to stab them then let it be in the front and behind closed doors in an appropriate party forum. And let it stay in that room.

Act has a reputation for disunity and as the party for old(er) men. Cathy’s candidacy will make a difference.

I wonder if her candidacy might also increase the chances of Rodney Hide staying on as a candidate for Act?

P.S.

Roarprawn says Roy was dumped and Keeping Stock asks is Cactus Act’s prickly solution?


Most parties support most clauses of MaCA

16/03/2011

 Politics is usually reported as black and white with differences highlighted and areas of agreement ignored.

If you’d listened to yesterday’s debate on the Marine and Coastal Areas legislation and read stories about it you’d think that only National and the Maori Party supported any of it.  But Audrey Young reports that most parties support most of the bill’s clauses:

 

All parties, and Hone Harawira support the repeal of Labour’s Foreshore and Seabed 2004 Act.

All parties support the right of Iwi to go to court – Harawira doesn’t because he thinks they already own the area in contention.

National and United Future support the proposed test; the Maori Party thinks the test should be easier; Labour thinks the test should be left to courts; Act and Green want it left to the courts and Harawira opposes this clause.

National, the Maori Party and UF, support allowing Iwi to negotiate directly with government instead of going to court; Labour agrees but want the decision ratified by the courts not parliament; the Green Party supports this but under tests outlined by the courts and Harawira opposes it.

All parties and Harawiara support the ban of sales of areas under customary title.

All agree that public access to these areas should be guaranteed.

National, the Maori Party, UF, Act and Labour don’t want to do anything about the 12,500 private titles that include parts of the foreshore and seabed. The Greens want these titles treated the same way as customary title (ie public access and no sale) and Harawira wants them all under Maori title.

National, the Maori Party and UF support the MaCA Bill, the other three parties and Harawira oppose it.

The most vehement opposition from outside parliament is from people who think they’ll lose access to beaches.

Legislation doesn’t apply to beaches – it applies to the foreshore and seabed, the bit from the high tide mark to the 12 mile limit – and everyone in parliament agrees that public access should be guaranteed.

So why all the fuss when most parties agree on most clauses and public access will be guaranteed by all of them?



Ambassador Moore

21/01/2010

Isn’t the response to the appointment of Mike Moore as our next Ambassador to the USA entertaining?

In the media release announcing the appointment Foreign Minister Murray McCully said:

“As a former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Director-General of the World Trade Organisation and co-chair of the US-NZ Partnership Forum, Mr Moore is the best possible candidate for this important role.

 Phil Goff welcomed the appointment but Kiwiblog notes Red Alert has not yet managed any congratulatory messages.

Many National supporters were unhappy when Labour appointed Jim Bolger to chair KiwiBank and KiwiRail but the government support of those institutions was anathema to many from the right. Moore’s appointment can’t be directly compared with those when Labour worked hard to advance free trade when it was in power and International relations usually have cross party support.

Audrey Young points out Moore beat McCully in his first election to parliament. Obviously the Minister has long got over that but maybe Labour people have longer, and more bitter, memories.

Moore has earned a good international reputation since leaving parliament. I think he’ll be a strong advocate for New Zealand in the post – as long as the Americans can understand his sometimes idiosyncratic use of the English language 🙂


Did you see the one about

21/11/2009

Thought for the day – Quote Unquote has a new angle on paper, scissors, rock. Whilte you’re there you might enjoy NZ farmer letter of the year – an answer to the problem of travel perks.

Worlds apart – Progressive Turmoil on the differences in mobile phone use in different countries.

Chicken Fever hits parliament – Audrey Young spots a chook and comes up with some answers to the question of why the chicken crossed the road.

Spam journalism # 63 and Much ado about nothing – Macdoctor points out the difference between smaller increases and cuts.

Goff loses chess game to analogue computer – gonzo Freakpower gets satirical.

Work/life balance – it’s not about the pets – The Hand Mirror finds the paid/ unpaid work balance leaves little time for life.

Saving the minghty kauri Over the Fence on the fund to fight kauri die back.

Supply and demand or what? – Anti Dismal on what matters.

One thing to keep in mind – The Visible Hand on the real issues.

What’s in the water – Alison Campbell at Sciblogs on the dangers of water births.

Trickle down carbon sequestration – Daniel Collins at Sciblogs shows tree planting in the wrong place may compromise water supply.

Greens revealed as biggest spender in Mt Albert by-election – Liberation shows money doesn’t buy votes.

Berlin wall series:  Poland,  Czechoslovakia and Bulgeria , – by Liberty Scott.

Big Boys toys – Frenemy is truck spotting.


No show strategy

27/10/2008

Audrey Young  wonders if Winston Peters’ no-shows are deliberate:

He has been a no-show for a leaders’ forum run by The Press, for Radio New Zealand’s debate on Our Place in the World and for the Sky interview Campaign 08 last week.

Perhaps he thinks that he stands a better chance of being elected if people don’t hear from him.


Nats 7/10 Labour 5/10

11/10/2008

Audrey Young gives Labour 5/10 as it fights to bury the third-term blues.

And Paula Oliver gives National 7/10 as it treads carefully to grasp the prize.


How much is enough?

08/10/2008

Tracy Watkins thinks John Key is offering enough:

A year ago, Key might have risked over promising and under delivering on those amounts.

But that was a vastly different world..

The failure to deliver more may peel off some soft support among those who were leaning toward National but, because of Working for Families, will not be a whole lot better off.

But the rest will probably agree with Key that it’s a package that’s right for the times.

So is it enough? You’d have to say yes.

Colin Espiner says the tax plan is tailored for the times.

Herald commentators  aren’t impressed:

John Armstrong says families on low wages are not so well off with National but:

Overall, the tax package wins plaudits for being fiscally responsible. It won’t win big in electoral terms because of its generosity – someone on $80,000 only gets $6 a week more than they would from Labour’s package.

As for National’s plan for rescuing the (sinking) economy, there was nothing new today. We’re still waiting.

Audrey Young says:

National’s tax package does what it promised in some respects, doesn’t meet promises in other respects and offers some complete surprises.

One of the surprises was the promise of an independent earner rebate. . . .

. . . But the biggest concern will be National’s commitment to reverse what many see as protections in the KiwiSaver scheme that Labour recently passed.

They stopped a loophole allowing employers to effectively deny KiwiSaver employees pay increases on the basis that they have done deals on KiwiSaver contributions.

National sees this through different glasses, giving employers freedom to give non-KiwiSaver employees pay rises equivalent to their contribution increases to KiwiSaver employees.

Excepting one is pay rise for today, another is one you can cash in only at 65.

It is a recipe for exploitation and unfairness.

Brian Fallow says:

At first glance the big transfer of money in National’s tax package is from KiwiSaver accounts into people’s pockets.

In the short term that gives them more to spend at a time when private consumption is flatlining.

But you can’t have your cake and eat it.

. . . Other elements of the plan are also disappointing from the standpoint of lifting our long-term growth rate – less of an increase in infrastructure spending, and the scrapping of the research and development tax credit.

At least it does not make the rather grim fiscal outlook released by the Treasury any worse. But it is only marginally better.

 Inquiring Mind has done a round up of comments on the blogosphere, which covers a range of views, some of which as he puts it can charitably be described as a partisan perspective.

UPDATE: goNZofreakpower  and Dave Gee  weren’t on Inquiring Mind’s list but are also worth a look.

UPDATE 2: So is Liberty Scott.


Is there more?

20/08/2008

Keeping Stock, with tongue in cheek, muses that next time he and his wife visit their lawyer they’ll use the Peters’ method of paying what they want, when they want, if at all.

He thinks he might try that with their accountant and other providers of goods and services and that raises the question – who else, if anyone, has been providing what without payment to New Zealand First and/or its leader?

Audrey Young  attempts to explain the unusual relationship between Peters and his lawyer.

Do we have a right to know if there are similar unorthodox relationships with other people who provide services or supplies to him and his party?


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