Quotes of the month

01/08/2022

Independence does not mean never taking sides. That would be neutrality.

Independence does not entail never deploying one’s military, either. That would be pacifism.

Independence means to make one’s own choices based on one’s values.

Such value-driven choices can (and indeed should) lead towards taking sides when democracies and dictatorships collide. – Oliver Hartwich

With tens of thousands of jobs currently going begging, it surely remains a fiscal and moral failure that tens of thousands of fully able working-age Kiwis are sticking with the dole.Mike Yardley

Welfare dependency has rapidly expanded since Labour took office nearly five years ago.

In December 2017, there were 289,788 on a main benefit, or 9.7% of the working-age population. That has grown to 11% today. – Mike Yardley

Under Labour’s watch, jobseeker support recipients have soared from 123,042 four years ago to 173,735 today.

Despite the recent downtick, that still represents a 42% increase in four and half years. – Mike Yardley

How is it kind to stand idly by and allow so many people to diminish their horizons and wither their lives away in a perpetual state of dependency?

And what meaningful efforts are being made to enhance the work-ready potential of so many jobseeker recipients who have specified health issues? They aren’t serious enough health-related issues to have their benefit status changed to the supported living payment. – Mike Yardley

So don’t blame cows. Ruminants have been roaming the planet for millennia. Blame people. Climate change is a man-made problem.

The primary sector is responsible for 80 per cent of our export income. This pays the bills for a country which, in the next few months, will depressingly have 80 per cent of the population receiving some sort of state benefit. – Jamie Mckay

The country has lost its mojo after a decade of feeling good about itself. – Oliver Hartwich

The biggest contributor to New Zealanders’ grumpiness is the discrepancy between political promises and reality. Without constant promises of world-class performance, even mediocre results would be easier to bear.Oliver Hartwich

NZTA is symptomatic of a much wider problem in New Zealand, even though it is only a small puzzle piece. Faced with a serious problem, the government sets an ambitious long-term goal. It then launches massive public relations campaigns. Following that, it blows up the bureaucracy but fails on deliverables.

It is the same story in practically every major policy area. – Oliver Hartwich

New Zealanders used to be proud of their education system, which was considered world-class.

Today, the only measure by which New Zealand schools lead the world is in declining standards. – Oliver Hartwich

Aside from such big policy failures, New Zealanders are bombarded with worrying news daily. There are GPs reportedly seeing more than 60 patients per day. Patients are treated in corridors at some hospitals’ A & E departments, where waiting times now often exceed ten hours.

As gang numbers have grown, gun crime has also become a regular feature in news headlines. Ram raids, where youths steal cars and crash them into small shops, have become common.

Rather than dealing with these and many other issues, the government appears determined to add new challenges to doing business. It is about to introduce collective bargaining in the labour market and an extra tax on income to fund unemployment insurance.

And these are just the big-ticket items. Practically every industry can tell its own stories about new complex regulations, usually rushed through with minimal consultation, if any.

Furthermore, there is growing unease about the government’s move towards co-governance. It sounds harmless but it would radically alter how democracy operates in New Zealand and undermine basic principles of democratic participation.

All in all, the picture that emerges is that of a country in precipitous decline. That would be alarming enough. What makes it even more so is a perception that the core private and public institutions lack the understanding of the severity of the crisis or the ability to counteract it. – Oliver Hartwich

New Zealand needs to be careful not to turn into a failed state. That does not mean it should expect civil unrest, but a period of prolonged and seemingly unstoppable decline across all areas of public life.

The only way to reverse this process would be for New Zealand to regain its mojo: its mojo for serious economic and social reform. It has happened before. And it must happen again. – Oliver Hartwich

Although we “returned” to the university campus this past semester, students are reluctant to physically attend classes. They can’t see a future. Their mojo & buzz are gone. Despondency rules. One student said she’ll never know what opportunities may have arisen these past years & what doors may have opened had nearly her entire course not been on Zoom. Many say they want to leave NZ after graduating for foreign climes offering higher pay and lower living costs.

What did the government do to them? How did it manage to suck the oxygen out of the air they breathe? An answer has now emerged. It took away their dreams. – Robert MacCulloch

The proportion of people with high levels of psychological distress increased by far the most for 15-24 year olds between 2020 and 2021. It stands at record levels, rising from 5% in 2012 to nearly 20% in 2021. By contrast, for over 55 year olds, distress has fallen these past years to just 5% today. New Zealand has become a country for oldies to enjoy whilst the young silently drown.

There’s more evidence of our youth’s angst. National now polls better than Labour for voters under 40, an incredible turnaround for the PM. Gone are the days when the young embraced her. Their concerns about saving the world from itself have given way to anxiety about personal survival. – Robert MacCulloch

For starters, NZ’s virus policies, which included stringent lock-downs for everyone, regardless of age, were primarily designed for the benefit of the elderly. – Robert MacCulloch

What’s more, the Reserve Bank’s $52 billion money-printing programme during the pandemic favoured the asset-rich elderly. It inflated their wealth by increasing the value of their property and shares, crushing the young’s dream of home-ownership. – Robert MacCulloch

They’ve been robbed of income, since their cost-of-living-adjusted wages are dropping at the same time that inflation is “creeping” them into higher tax brackets.

Most students are hard up, but on the way up. They don’t want to live off the State. They want to be successful. Independent. Yet rewards for achievement don’t figure in our politics. Instead, it is dominated by David Parker-style talk about the evils of inequality between the top 1% and bottom 1%, as if the 98% don’t exist. – Robert MacCulloch

So all told, the unwillingness to vote of young, ambitious, non-work-shy Kiwis, except with their feet to leave the country, is not hard to explain.Robert MacCulloch

With methane, scientists know that the flow of methane into the atmosphere from New Zealand ruminant animals is close to what it was 30 years ago.  As a consequence, and linked to the scientific knowledge that about eight percent of methane molecules decompose each year, an approximate balance in the atmospheric ‘bath tub’ has been reached and the atmospheric cloud of NZ pastoral-sourced methane is close to stable. Hence, this argument goes, New Zealand’s agriculturally-sourced methane is contributing to further global warming in a minimal way. – Keith Woodford

If the new system is to have any hope of giving Kiwis the health services they deserve, there is only one certainty – the Government is going to need the buy-in of those on the frontline.

There is every sign of the opposite being the case.

Imposing another health system restructure on them at a time when workers are already exhausted by one of the most demanding health crises in decades, and especially when they already feel undervalued and misunderstood by the Government, is not a great way to start.Tracy Watkins

It’s very Ardern to gloss over the reality and spin the theory. – Mike Hosking

The vast amounts of money given away by officials to businesses who did not need it has cost each taxpayer several thousand dollars and all the surplus cash started an asset price bubble.

This has impacted on the wellbeing of many New Zealanders by greatly increasing inequality, unaffordable housing, child poverty and inflation. The predictable outcome was the opposite of what the Government said that it wanted to achieve.

The failure of public servants to act in the public interest and the lack of accountability and transparency has highlighted the need for the public service to have greatly improved financial objectives and standards.

A royal commission of inquiry could investigate the management of taxpayer funds since March 2020 and recommend reforms. – Grant Nelson

But everyday life seems to be getting more difficult, more costly, more tiring.

Sorting even the simple things appears harder than it used to be. Slower, dearer, harder seems a suitable motto.Kevin Norquay

New Zealand’s economic foundations are starting to crack pretty severely.

“If we do not see a substantial change in economic direction, there is a risk the whole house gets blown down.

You need those strong economic foundations and more and more of the pillars are starting to take knocks. A lot of warning bells are starting to ring. We are not heading to a nice place. – Cameron Bagrie

We’ve got a very divided society, ethnically, the haves versus the have-nots, wealth inequality… and educational attainment levels, whether you look at actual achievement, or attendance.

If you wanted to pick a variable as to where New Zealand is going to be economically 30 years out, educational attainment today would be probably the best predictor.

The fact that we’ve let that one go for a long time is flashing warning signs about where we are going to be about 30 years down the track.Cameron Bagrie

We can’t just say New Zealand is broken. New Zealand is a great place, but … cracks are appearing very quickly, and they’re big cracks, and not the sorts of things you can ignore.

You can’t ignore inflation. You can’t just keep on spending and think it’s going to fix inflation. – Cameron Bagrie

There’s a shortsightedness. 

They don’t think ‘if I train really hard and get good at this, I can make a load of money for myself, and have my freedom, and the sorts of things that people want’.

Whether it’s a general problem with society, the youth can’t see a way out. It’s ‘I’m never going to own a house, I’m never going to have that’, so they just give up, and just do what’s easiest to get by. – Duncan Field

Angry people on Twitter is not a legal basis. I’m amazed WCC don’t realise this. – David Farrar

John Cochrane, another American economist, asked why free trade agreements are so long; thousands of pages.

He says that these trade agreements should say no more than: “We do not charge tariffs, nor restrict quantities with quotas, nor will government procurement discriminate in favour of local companies.

“We will do the same.”

Job done. That is a free trade agreement.

Any free trade agreement that is longer than these few sentences will be an opportunity for special interests on the right and the left, both unions and big corporations, to feather their own nests. – Jim Rose

The EU deal has brand-new gremlins, such as a climate change chapter and restrictions on the use of wine and cheese product names.

These rules give up a little bit too much sovereignty for little in return, and legitimise the fraught concept of green tariffs between us and the European Union.

The modelling released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade suggests that the EU trade agreement will in time boost the level of New Zealand’s real GDP by between NZ$1 billion and NZ$2 billion.

That is a tiny amount, one-fifth to one-third of 1% of real GDP, in return for a box of tricks. – Jim Rose

Using carbon taxes, an optimal realistic climate policy can aggressively reduce emissions and reduce the global temperature increase from 4.1°C in 2100 to 3.75°C. This will cost $18 trillion, but deliver climate benefits worth twice that. The popular 2°C target, in contrast, is unrealistic and would leave the world more than $250 trillion worse off.

The most effective climate policy is increasing investment in green R&D to make future decarbonization much cheaper. This can deliver $11 of climate benefits for each dollar spent.Bjorn Lomborg

I think even the most law abiding lockdown fanatic would find it hard to stomach more restrictions coming back, just as we’ve worked so hard to shrug them off and find some normality. Compliance would be an issue. – Kate Hawkesby

Nor would it be a great look in the middle of the PM’s globe-trotting exercise, pitching the Great Re-Opening of New Zealand and assuring the word we were open for business. Open for business provided you are seated and separated doesn’t have the same ring. – Claire Trevett

First, we are all in a Covid new normal. It’s hanging around for a fair while longer.

Second: let’s all remember to have a little humility about what has and hasn’t worked. No country has got it entirely right. Not the UK, but not NZ either. We are increasingly working out Covid policies are not just about Covid health, strictly speaking, but have wider health, economic, social, and – ultimately – societal ramifications, short and much longer term.

Incidentally, the normalisation of Covid means we can’t stay in crisis settings – and I am not suggesting the New Zealand Government has. Good official advice whether about, say, masks, lockdowns, or borders needs to be coupled with realism about what a populous fatigued by everything will take from its political masters. –  Simon Bridges

There is no doubt that people are sick of the virus but the problem is, the virus is not sick of us. – Brent Edwards

She has been in New Zealand for a decade, working in healthcare and studying towards a nursing degree.

But after graduating late last year, she was denied the ability to apply for fast-tracked residency and told she must wait two more years.

Uncertain, overworked and unable to buy a house, she is now looking for work in Australia. Of course, she will find it. – Erica Stanford

The Government’s policy to exclude nurses from the fast-track residence list makes no sense.

Ultimately, it is costing New Zealanders their lives.Erica Stanford

Perhaps it makes sense that women — those supposedly compliant and agreeable, self-sacrificing and everything-nice creatures — were the ones to finally bring our polarized country together.

Because the far right and the far left have found the one thing they can agree on: Women don’t count. – Pamela Paul

Far more bewildering has been the fringe left jumping in with its own perhaps unintentionally but effectively misogynist agenda. There was a time when campus groups and activist organizations advocated strenuously on behalf of women. Women’s rights were human rights and something to fight for. Though the Equal Rights Amendment was never ratified, legal scholars and advocacy groups spent years working to otherwise establish women as a protected class.

But today, a number of academics, uber-progressives, transgender activists, civil liberties organizations and medical organizations are working toward an opposite end: to deny women their humanity, reducing them to a mix of body parts and gender stereotypes.

As reported by my colleague Michael Powell, even the word “women” has become verboten. Previously a commonly understood term for half the world’s population, the word had a specific meaning tied to genetics, biology, history, politics and culture. No longer. In its place are unwieldy terms like “pregnant people,” “menstruators” and “bodies with vaginas.”Pamela Paul

The noble intent behind omitting the word “women” is to make room for the relatively tiny number of transgender men and people identifying as nonbinary who retain aspects of female biological function and can conceive, give birth or breastfeed. But despite a spirit of inclusion, the result has been to shove women to the side. – Pamela Paul

If there are other marginalized people to fight for, it’s assumed women will be the ones to serve other people’s agendas rather than promote their own.

But, but, but. Can you blame the sisterhood for feeling a little nervous? For wincing at the presumption of acquiescence? For worrying about the broader implications? For wondering what kind of message we are sending to young girls about feeling good in their bodies, pride in their sex and the prospects of womanhood? For essentially ceding to another backlash?

Women didn’t fight this long and this hard only to be told we couldn’t call ourselves women anymore. This isn’t just a semantic issue; it’s also a question of moral harm, an affront to our very sense of ourselves. 

Seeing women as their own complete entities, not just a collection of derivative parts, was an important part of the struggle for sexual equality.

But here we go again, parsing women into organs. Last year the British medical journal The Lancet patted itself on the back for a cover article on menstruation. Yet instead of mentioning the human beings who get to enjoy this monthly biological activity, the cover referred to “bodies with vaginas.” It’s almost as if the other bits and bobs — uteruses, ovaries or even something relatively gender-neutral like brains — were inconsequential. That such things tend to be wrapped together in a human package with two X sex chromosomes is apparently unmentionable. Pamela Paul

Those women who do publicly express mixed emotions or opposing views are often brutally denounced for asserting themselves. (Google the word “transgender” combined with the name Martina Navratilova, J.K. Rowling or Kathleen Stock to get a withering sense.) They risk their jobs and their personal safety. They are maligned as somehow transphobic or labeled TERFs, a pejorative that may be unfamiliar to those who don’t step onto this particular Twitter battlefield. Ostensibly shorthand for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist,” which originally referred to a subgroup of the British feminist movement, “TERF” has come to denote any woman, feminist or not, who persists in believing that while transgender women should be free to live their lives with dignity and respect, they are not identical to those who were born female and who have lived their entire lives as such, with all the biological trappings, societal and cultural expectations, economic realities and safety issues that involves.

But in a world of chosen gender identities, women as a biological category don’t exist. – Pamela Paul

When not defining women by body parts, misogynists on both ideological poles seem determined to reduce women to rigid gender stereotypes.  Pamela Paul

The women’s movement and the gay rights movement, after all, tried to free the sexes from the construct of gender, with its antiquated notions of masculinity and femininity, to accept all women for who they are, whether tomboy, girly girl or butch dyke. To undo all this is to lose hard-won ground for women — and for men, too. – Pamela Paul

But women are not the enemy here. Consider that in the real world, most violence against trans men and women is committed by men but, in the online world and in the academy, most of the ire at those who balk at this new gender ideology seems to be directed at women.Pamela Paul

Tolerance for one group need not mean intolerance for another. We can respect transgender women without castigating females who point out that biological women still constitute a category of their own — with their own specific needs and prerogatives.

If only women’s voices were routinely welcomed and respected on these issues. But whether Trumpist or traditionalist, fringe left activist or academic ideologue, misogynists from both extremes of the political spectrum relish equally the power to shut women up. – Pamela Paul

Combatting stereotypical thinking is not assisted by pretending that there is no difference between the present and the past.Chris Trotter

How are young people supposed to understand the racism and sexism of their grandparents’ generation if they’re never allowed to see it depicted on the screen, or read about it in novels? How will their grasp of how far women have travelled toward equality be assisted by recasting Jim as Jackie Hawkins, and installing our diversity-affirming heroine, now a thirteen-year-old girl, on a schooner crewed by cut-throats?

All Dame Lynley is guilty of is delighting generations of Kiwi kids. A much lesser crime, I would have thought, than telling lies about the past to placate the woke censors of the present. – Chris Trotter

Is it fair to actively seek out a relationship knowing full well a potential partner might find themselves dealing with my cancer, chemo and all the other unpleasant things that go with it? . . .

I’ve asked around and, whilst I’d originally thought I’d be selfish to do so, the resounding answer has consistently been YES. Dive in and test the waters. Go for it. What have you got to lose? If a potential partner can’t handle your uncertain future, then they probably aren’t right for you anyway.

Ultimately, none of us know what’s around the corner in any relationship. So why deny myself opportunities to meet someone who might be willingly all-in to support me through whatever life might have in store? Even when I know it’s highly unlikely we will end up growing old together.

So I’ll dip a toe back in. I know I’ll be OK on my own but who knows who is out there and what adventures might be had.

Because we all deserve a chance at love – no matter how long that might last… right?

Life is short – wish me luck. – Kelly Hutton

The state housing waiting list had increased to more than 27,000, up 500 per cent, since Davis’ government took office, and more than 4500 children now live in taxpayer-funded motels.

The total motel bill so far has topped $1 billion. Won’t be too long and it will exceed the $1.6 billion value of the free-trade agreement the PM signed in Europe last week. – Peter Jackson 

How exactly is it an achievement to concede that national superannuation is insufficient to enable goodness knows how many pensioners to keep warm over winter, without a top up?

How is it an achievement to concede that more than two million of us, earning less than $70,000 a year, which until recently was the threshold for the top income tax bracket, are unable to feed themselves and their families without extra help (over and above Working for Families, which supposedly makes the tax system fair)?

And how, exactly, is $27 a week for three months going to solve that problem?Peter Jackson 

The only people who seem to be thriving are those who work for the Government, and that seems to be most of us these days. And why shouldn’t they be buoyant? They are well paid, secure in their employment (at least until the next election), and now they can aspire to very senior positions in the civil service without even having to produce a CV. Good times indeed.

For the rest of us, this country is rapidly becoming a cot case, and it is galling to hear senior members of the administration, who have done to this to us, boasting about what they have achieved. Forgive us, Kelvin, if some of us are struggling to get into party mood. Apart from those who might have been hanging out for an extra $27 a week for three months, there doesn’t seem to be much to celebrate, let alone cause for congratulations. – Peter Jackson 

It used to be that if Jim Bolger, Helen Clark or John Key spoke, we tended to believe what they were saying. Today, Beehive press conferences are laced with spin and half-truths.

We even have a Prime Minister who says things like “we have a mandate to do this” despite never having mentioned what “this” was during the election campaign. – Bruce Cotterill

We seem to have empowered a group of politicians, at both national and local government levels, to do things we don’t want them to do. And yet their so-called “mandate” sees them driving major constitutional change irrespective of what the people might think or say.

Because we don’t say much really, do we? Compared to most countries, we have tended to be a society that does not stage massive protests. – Bruce Cotterill

I suspect that part of the reason has been that we are relatively happy with our lot. And until the past few years, we have been broadly trusting of those in positions of power and authority. We have traditionally respected our leaders, and expected them to do the right thing.

However, we’re not like that at the moment. To me, it feels as though we are more divided than we have ever been. Many of us are certainly more openly critical of the government or the direction the country is taking.

In the opinion of the many people I speak to, a Government majority does not authorise that Government to do whatever it wants to do. No, in theory that right should only extend to the policies and initiatives they campaigned on.

Those policies did not include the centralisation of education or healthcare, changes to governmental governance structures, Three Waters or ute taxes. – Bruce Cotterill

So mistrust creeps in. We find it difficult to believe what we are being told. So they tell us again, this time with more selective detail. So the spin increases. We disrespect the source. Trust is lost. It’s a vicious circle. – Bruce Cotterill

In the meantime, our Prime Minister goes to the United States, supposedly to promote New Zealand business. However, on her two major platforms — a prime-time TV audience and a high-profile university lecture — she speaks of gun control and social media.

There is no doubt in my mind that she is travelling the globe promoting herself, not New Zealand.

As an aside, you have to laugh at the PM telling the Yanks how successful our post-massacre gun control initiatives have been while we’re in the middle of our worst spate of gun violence that I can recall. –Bruce Cotterill

I believe the outcomes of the task forces, the working groups, the government reviews and the inquiries will see the Government and their co-conspirators cleared of any blame or wrong-doing.

But the behaviours are more common. And those behaviours should make us ask questions. We ask questions because we don’t believe what we’re hearing any more. As a result, trust is lost. The lack of trust turns into scepticism. And if they can get away with it, maybe we can, too. It’s a slippery slope.

We can accuse our leaders of misrepresenting the truth, deliberately misleading us or even telling porkies. The language doesn’t matter. What does matter is where such behaviours lead. – Bruce Cotterill

We were told we would have the most transparent Government ever. It turned out to be the opposite. So, we have to start calling this stuff out now. The trouble with corruption is that it creeps up on you over time. You don’t want to start getting used to it.

You have to stop it before it becomes commonplace or acceptable and we become desensitised to it. If we don’t, it becomes very difficult to turn around. – Bruce Cotterill

A strident coalition of housing advocacy groups, the left-leaning Auckland Council and motivated journalists melted into the background after the 2017 election as quickly as they had arisen, confident their work was done and sanity restored.

Flash forward five years and it’s hard to believe how horrendous the situation now is. The $12m on motel accommodation has become $1.2 billion. Whole streets of motels like Ulster St in Hamilton and Fenton St in Rotorua have become permanent emergency housing suburbs.

The waiting list for social housing has risen five-fold to a massive 27,000 and this week, despite all the extra investment in wrap-around services, a woman died while living in her car. How did things get so bad? And if all this was a crisis five years ago, what is it now? Steven Joyce

Sepuloni should look closer to home. Her Government has made three big policy changes that have made the house rental market immeasurably worse for society’s most vulnerable, and they can’t even claim ignorance. Each time they were warned about the impact of the changes, and on they went.

First, they made the private rental market hugely less attractive for people to invest in. . . .

Second, the Government stopped asking people to move on when they no longer needed the support of Government-owned social housing. People sitting in houses often too big for them, regardless of their circumstances, and until the end of their lives, means fewer houses for those who need them.

Third, they placed all their bets for expanding social housing supply on one provider, Kāinga Ora, the latest incarnation of the old Housing New Zealand. This is purely ideological.

While in this post-socialism age nearly everybody would be happy with a warm, dry house in preference to a motel unit, the Labour Party believes it will somehow be better if it is a warm, dry government-owned house. – Steven Joyce

The situation is making people desperate. It is no surprise our inner cities are being blighted with crime and an assertive and growing gang culture.

Being forced into living in long-term temporary accommodation with no hope and no plan to move elsewhere can do that to people.Steven Joyce

We need to correct course and mobilise all our resources to get these kids into a real house, quickly. That means recruiting private investors and community housing providers, as well as Kāinga Ora.

This is no time for ideological blinkers. – Steven Joyce

An excellent challenge was thrown out in Sydney yesterday to immigration authorities — to think more like a recruitment agency than a police force. – Fran O’Sullivan

The primary sector faces big headwinds — Covid-19, the war in Ukraine, inflation, labour markets, export markets and coping with major regulatory change.

The sector is the engine room of the economy. But the notion that it can easily diversify away from China is fanciful. China takes 37 per cent of NZ’s agricultural exports. The US takes 10 per cent, Australia 8 per cent, the UK 8 per cent and the EU 2 per cent.

Even while we have two new free trade agreements — and in the UK’s case will get a decent deal for our dairy over time — that won’t happen with the EU.

Some $52.2 billion was brought in through agricultural export receipts in the past year. This is 81.8 per cent of our overall trade. It just does not make sense to trivialise the sector’s call to relax rules. – Fran O’Sullivan

If a civilization is dying or has died, however, who is to blame or what is to account for it? Do civilizations, or parts of civilizations, die of their own accord, by a natural process akin to the apoptosis of a living cell, or are they killed either by neglect or design?

The old always blame the young for what they dislike in them—for example, their taste for crude and vulgar music—but they do so as if they bear no responsibility whatever for what they think undesirable in the younger generation. If the taste for the almost miraculous artistic achievements of the past has been all but extinguished, and is now but the secret garden of a tiny and insignificant number, no doubt of the highly privileged, must not this be because the older generation has signally failed to instill any love for it in their own children?

Why didn’t they? Therein lies the rub. – Theodore Dalrymple

With legions of Kiwis set to leave the country – and the hospitality, education and healthcare sectors crying out for workers, why is it the Government seems to have no trouble in staffing the Wellington bureaucracy?Andrea Vance

It seems there is no problem so intractable that it can’t be outsourced. Labour has a record of refusing to make the hard decisions of governance, happy to let ‘experts’ and zombie policy managers take over.

In 2010, then-Prime Minister John Key decried the growth of the industrial-bureaucratic complex. New Zealand’s state service was too large for a country this size, he argued. Since then, the bureaucracy has expanded to meet the needs of the expanded bureaucracy (to paraphrase Oscar Wilde).- Andrea Vance

The ‘core business’ of the sector is to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of New Zealanders. Will the Ministry for Disabled People have any significant impact on the difficulties faced by the people it purports to represent? If we look to Te Puni Kōkiri, Ministry for Pacific Peoples, the Ministry for Women, the Office for Seniors or the Children’s Commissioner, then likely not.

Will the new health agencies be staffed with street-level bureaucrats: the doctors, nurses, and other professions responsible for actual care? Experience suggests we can instead expect an overpaid legion of pen-pushers drawing power into an ever-growing administrative vortex. – Andrea Vance

 A strength of New Zealand farming has always been the willingness to get the job done no matter the obstacles, and to share ideas and information. Gatekeeping is a foreign concept to most Kiwi farmers, and the rise of social media platforms like Twitter and TikTok have only accelerated the pace at which we are exposed to new ideas and methods of farming. –   Craig Hickman

Despite the huge diversity in farming, we are all bound by some very common things: we are in it for the long haul, and we look to make incremental gains season on season over a very long period of time. We rarely gamble on big changes that might revolutionise the farm because we simply cannot afford the consequences if it goes wrong. We are planners and incrementalist by necessity, not disruptors.

As a group we also find it very hard to articulate our thoughts. We’ve never had to in the past and the rise of social media makes it easier to blurt those emotions out without being able to articulate the reasoning behind it, and unfortunately those social media posts are very easy to mock.Craig Hickman

The classic Kiwi farmer is no longer Dagg or Footrot or even Crump. Farmers have always been willing to change, albeit slowly, and the massive growth of the industry in the past two decades only served to hasten the change at a pace more than a few found uncomfortable.

The Hiluxes Barry Crump used to drive in those old TV commercials are now classics simply by virtue of having been around for more than 20 years, and I think that’s a fitting way to classify the new generation of classic Kiwi farmers; we’ve been in the game long enough to know what we’re doing but we’ve not been in it so long that we’re constrained by ties to the past. – Craig Hickman

It just doesn’t feel right. Whatever your view on assisted dying, I don’t think anybody would support that system, where you’ve got a free choice to die, or an expensive service to live.Dr Catherine D’Souza

The Ministry of Health has six full-time workers dedicated to euthanasia; none dedicated to palliative care.

The fear is that it’s not a free choice at all between euthanasia and palliative care when the odds are so heavily stacked against dying patients accessing the sort of palliative care they deserve. – Tracy Watkins

This was my fear in 2020 when the euthanasia laws were being debated; that we hadn’t earned the right to euthanasia so long as we continued to do palliative care on the cheap.

Clearly nothing has changed since then. If anything, the situation has worsened.

Shame on us. We need to do better. – Tracy Watkins

We will never fix truancy while schools are paid for the number of pupils they enrol, not the number they teach. Make funding dependent on attendance. Stopping truancy will then be every school’s priority. – Richard Prebble

It is time for the Government to admit that believing it can build houses better than the private or community sector is a failed hypothesis. And for the electorate to stop believing Labour when it says it does. Brigitte Morten

Those of us authentically comfortable with Māori language and culture can take a more balanced view. Like many of the chiefs at Waitangi, we understand that both worlds have their strengths and weaknesses.

We understand that liberal democracy, the idea that one person should have one vote, and every human being is born alike in dignity, is the best system of government humans have discovered, period. –  David Seymour

New Zealanders have literally fought for these values because the alternative is apartheid, oppression, violence and hate. There is no good reason to think New Zealand is uniquely immune to human reality. Treating people differently based on race is not just misguided, but dangerous.David Seymour

That our country has been prepared to look back 180 years for injustices and breaches of property rights, and offer redress where possible, is a triumph. In some cases, rather than giving back land fee simple, an interest in governing the asset has been offered.

The co-governance of Auckland’s volcanic cones is an example of that. It was an appropriate way to recognise a specific loss.

Wholesale co-governance of councils, healthcare, Three Waters infrastructure, and resource consenting decisions is quite different. There is no historic grievance, such a grievance is impossible. – David Seymour

These modern public institutions were created in a democracy, post-Treaty. They should be governed democratically. Co-governing them means that Māori have inherently different political rights, rather than the same rights to their property as everyone else.

Proponents of that view want a “tiriti-centric Aotearoa”, with “tangata whenua” (land people), here by right and “tangata tiriti” (Treaty people), here by permission. Assigning different races different rights is racist.

Dame Anne Salmond has forcefully argued that the corporatist conception of the Treaty as a partnership between two races is a product of a time and place. Namely the judiciary in the 1980s. It is not consistent with the events surrounding the Treaty’s signing, or the way New Zealand society has evolved since.

A better conception of the Treaty is that it means what it says. It grants nga tikanga katoa rite tahi, the same rights and duties, to all. It guarantees tino rangatiratanga or self-determination over all your land and property.David Seymour

Our best future is a modern, multi-ethnic, liberal democracy. Each of those words matters. We should be a leading society with an equal place for all, no matter a person’s background.

Nobody should be born special, nobody should be born a second-class citizen. It’s a sad sign of the times that you can have a regular column in the country’s largest paper, and think such beliefs are “racist”. – David Seymour

A  government   which began with a  show  of  capability,  if  not in a  blaze  of  glory, is  now finding  that  almost everything  it  touches   fades  into  ashes  so  quickly that   there  is  nothing, or  very little, to see.

Ministers  are  exceptionally  good  with  announcements but  not  with  achievements.  Instead of improved general wellbeing, we have raging inflation,  soaring  food prices, and rising mortgage  rates. – Point of Order

As a country, we’ve just flunked that test psychologists set for small children, offering them one marshmallow now, or two if they wait five minutes.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern decided delayed gratification wasn’t the right strategy for the much-anticipated European Union free-trade agreement (FTA) and returned from her travels with just the one marshmallow. – Jane Clifton

The trouble with settling for the bird in the hand in international trade is that it leaves all the other, plumper birds in the bush for one’s competitors.Jane Clifton

In folding its hand on greater access for this country’s biggest export earners, meat and dairy, the Government has made several problems worse for itself. The most serious is, it no longer has the same trade and political leverage with China and the United States. The Government is rapidly recalibrating relationships with the superpowers, including by trying to reduce trade dependency on China.

Acceptance of this FTA betrays how little alternative our economy now has. A country this size has little enough to bargain with, but while the potential existed that the EU might make us a better deal than either the US or China, there was an unseen poker hand. Each superpower wants New Zealand more on-side with it than the other, for geopolitical and reputational reasons first, with trade a secondary consideration.

Now, unless some genius negotiator can get us an “in” with the notoriously FTA-shy India – a feat with similar odds as peace in the Middle East – we have no alternative big-daddy trading partner. We’re now firmly wedged in the Sino-US crevice, hoping that our biggest customer, China, doesn’t collapse our export market, or that our American buddy will give us greater export entry if, or preferably before, China starts pulling the rug out. – Jane Clifton

It’s possible Europe, now probably more protectionist than ever, would never have given us a better deal, and that what one economist described as the “chicken feed” of this FTA is better than nothing.

But this is one of those “marshmallow” times, when waiting in hope is at least better politics than getting a disappointing answer straight away. That’s certainly how the farm sector sees it, regarding the FTA as a sell-out. – Jane Clifton

The Government’s relationship with agriculture is at an especially tetchy juncture. Farmers are waiting to see if it will accept the recommendations from the primary-sector climate-action partnership He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) on a pollution-charging regime. A furious minority are against the proposed measures, and this FTA let-down may further reduce support. However, the HWEN plan is a vital truce among vested interests facing peril.
Mutual hostility between farmers and Labour is an ancient fact of our politics, but climate change and food security make that enmity a cynical luxury.

New Zealand will struggle to meet its emissions targets without farmers’ HWEN-style goodwill. The alternative – the government forcing some production out of business with less carefully calibrated charging – would simply export emissions and make the country considerably poorer. Never mind emissions reduction: that would be a vote killer. – Jane Clifton

Meanwhile, the government’s decision to fold on the FTA remains a puzzle. It can’t have been just for some skitey photo ops to tickle up the sagging polling at home. The deal has inevitably been greeted as the trade equivalent of getting socks and undies for Christmas – no, really, you shouldn’t have! Expectations had been doused, so few would have been disappointed to see Ardern come back empty-handed, since this may be the toughest environment ever for trade negotiations. Food security – once something for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to nag about but not of immediate concern to the EU’s mostly wealthy countries – has rocketed to the top of the worry list, thanks to the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Were logic to apply, this would be the ideal time for New Zealand, which produces high-quality protein more sustainably than any competitor, to receive greater market access. Instead, EU countries are looking towards more self-sustainability – aka, greater protectionism.Jane Clifton

From here, it’s a race to see whether this protectionist cycle will end before China goes DIY with food – something it’s gearing up for – or whether New Zealand will be left with ever greener produce and ever fewer customers. The memory of that first marshmallow may be rendered somewhat bittersweet. – Jane Clifton

Jacinda Ardern has lost touch with her voters, lost touch with the country, lost touch with the healthcare sector and, actually, has lost touch with herself.

This was a leader – a once great leader – who purported to model her leadership on kindness, on empathy. She told us she was a different kind of politician. – Tova O’Brien

We are so desperate for nurses, to have them in the country, in the job, for even a couple of years – we’ll take it. Our crisis is now. And our Prime Minister is too proud to admit it. Pride can’t care for our elderly like that aged care nurse who’s leaving us for Australia can. – Tova O’Brien

Belief systems are about as varied as the languages that are spoken all over the world. And sometimes – in fact, often – this means the beliefs of one group clash with the beliefs of another. It is inevitable.Ani O’Brien

It isn’t a viewpoint I like, but I understand that despite the laws governing the secular institution of marriage now extending to same-sex couples, the Christian concept of marriage as connected to their spiritual belief system is a strictly one-bloke, one-lady situation. – Ani O’Brien

I urge strong caution when it comes to encroaching on the rights of religious people and organisations. – Ani O’Brien

While of course in some people’s version of utopia we would all share the same beliefs and values, in our wonderfully messy reality of multicultural, religiously diverse societies, this is simply never going to be the case.

In a truly liberal and democratic society, we tolerate things that we don’t like, don’t agree with, and which might hurt our feelings, because history shows the alternative is the violent, authoritarian ways of the past where homogeneous beliefs were imposed by violence.

Our laws and policy should reflect equal rights and responsibilities and homosexual law reform and equal marriage rights show we have come a long way towards achieving this. – Ani O’Brien

Nonetheless, to say that no one can hold a position that is different to anything in New Zealand law would be tyrannical and would stop all debate on any matters already legislated in their tracks.Ani O’Brien

Regardless of my own scepticism about the Christian God, and any of the others, it would be wrong of me to seek to encroach on the rights in law and policy of religious people who deeply hold beliefs I disagree with.

Likewise, it would be wrong of those religious people to seek to prevent me from speaking about my disagreement with their beliefs. – Ani O’Brien

We must insist that everyone obeys the laws that govern us, but the application of particular religious beliefs and restrictions to the spiritual lives of individuals and congregations must be respected … or at least tolerated.Ani O’Brien

Being gay is still tough for many New Zealanders; we still face homophobia at times. However, we won the battle of public opinion through free speech.

How can we rob others of that now? The majority of the population understands we simply want to lust, love, and create family units just like everyone else.

We want to be whole parts of society and being part of a functioning, secular, democracy means tolerating the (lawful) ideas and beliefs of others that we consider bad or hurtful. – Ani O’Brien

You talk about Jacinda Ardern caring, but it’s not really caring, is it…it’s performative caring. It’s all about seeming to be good rather than doing good, and I think people, finally, in New Zealand, are starting to see through that.

It took them a while and they have got some of the most putrid media in the world in New Zealand, where they’re just fanboys and girls of the current Prime Minister, so there’s very little in the way of scrutiny and criticism. But the New Zealand people are living through those radical changes that Winston Peters mentioned this week, and a lot of them are feeling pain. She’s not delivering on her core promises and this is something that people in Australia don’t seem to realise.

She had these bold housing plans – nothing’s come of it, she’s got nowhere near what she said she was going to do. And, again, you can’t just keep making promises, not fulfilling them, and expect to get re-elected over and over again. – Rita Pahani

The problem, of course, is that listening to the people can get a government into all kinds of trouble. It is also extremely difficult to sustain. It requires a very special political talent to recognise the voting public as the country’s most important interest group, especially when everybody else in the circle of power is telling you that it’s the business community, Treasury, the Reserve Bank, academic experts, the news media.

Turned out Ardern simply didn’t have enough of that special talent. Turned out 2020 was a fluke. Six months of genuine kindness was the most “Jacinda” could summon forth. And when she could no longer make it, she faked it.

Sadly, “performative caring” sums up Jacinda Ardern and her Labour Government all too well. – Chris Trotter

Values like free speech, liberal democracy, the rule of law, self-determination, free trade, the rules-based multilateral system and even no first use of nuclear weapons are broadly shared in the South Pacific, southeast Asia, parts of northeast Asia, North America and Europe.

They aren’t shared by Moscow and Beijing, never have been and probably never will be.

Why not just say so? –  Matthew Hooton

Big areas are not covered, or there are long waits, and more vulnerable areas are under-serviced.

This leads to a much higher need for secondary services down the track. This is one of the main complaints.  Primary care right across the country needs to work better. –  Dr Anthea Prentcie

A lot of times we have a lot of chitchat going on in our heads … flowers take you away from that and they keep you rooted in the now.”

“They’re a way to recalibrate your happiness meter.Natalie Tolchard

It’s as if journalists are happy to find a Māori who will talk on any and all subjects if he is handed the mic. Pakeha journalists from across all sectors of the media – and a few Māori ones as well – have rushed to Tukaki to seek comment on all things Māori. – Aaron Smale

There’s a tendency to try and find that definitive Māori voice who can provide quick quotes when some national issue requires a soundbite to drop into the “Māori say” slot. Tukaki has become a convenient go-to.

The problem is, no-one speaks on behalf of Māori. I doubt even King Tuheitia would make such a claim. There are a few Māori leaders who might be able to pull together a coalition of Māori voices to speak with unity on some kaupapa of the moment, but Māori have a jealous tendency to always retain the right to speak on their own behalf. Even a kuia of Whina Cooper’s mana struggled to hold together the coalition of Māori interests that swung in behind the Land March of 1975. What is so hard to grasp about this – Māori are as diverse in thought and opinion as any other group of people.Aaron Smale

It’s time to tell the truth. For too long, politicians have been telling us that we can have it all: have your cake and eat it. And I’m here to tell you that is not true. It never has been. There are always tough choices in life and in politics. No free lunches, no tax cuts without limits on government spending, and a stronger defence without a slimmer state. Governing involves trade-offs, and we need to start being honest about thatKemi Badenoch

The scale of the challenge we face means we can’t run away from the truth. Inflation has made the cost-of-living crisis acute, but the problems go back way further. We’ve had a poor decade for living standards. We have overburdened our economy. There’s too much unproductive public spending, consuming taxpayers’ hard-earned money. And there are too many well-meaning regulations slowing growth and clogging up the arteries of the economy. Too many policies like net-zero targets set up with no thought to the effects on industries in the poorer parts of this country. And the consequence is simply to displace the emissions of other countries. Unilateral economic disarmament. That is why we need change.Kemi Badenoch

The underlying economic problems we face have been exacerbated by Covid and by war. But what makes the situation worse is that the answers to our problems, conservative answers, haven’t been articulated or delivered in a way appropriate to the modern age. We have been in the grip of an underlying economic, social, cultural and intellectual malaise. The right has lost its confidence and courage and ability to defend the free market as the fairest way of helping people prosper. It has been undermined by a willingness to embrace protectionism for special interests. It’s been undermined by retreating in the face of the Ben and Jerry’s tendency, those who say a business’s main priority is social justice, not productivity and profits, and it’s been undermined by the actions of crony capitalists, who collude with big bureaucracy to rig the system in favour of incumbents against entrepreneurs. The truth that limited government – doing less for better – is the best way to restore faith in government has been forgotten, as we’ve piled into pressure groups and caved in to every campaigner with a moving message. And that has made the government agenda into a shopping list of disconnected, unworkable and unsustainable policies.

The knowledge that the nation state – our democratic nation state – is the best way for people to live in harmony and enjoy prosperity has been overridden by the noisy demands of those who want to delegitimise, decolonise and denigrate. And if we don’t stand up for our shared institutions – for free speech, due process and the rule of law – then we end up with a zero-sum game of identity politics, which only increases divisions when we need to come together.

So free markets, limited government, a strong nation state. Those are the conservative principles we need to beat back protectionism, populism and polarisation, and to prepare us for the challenges ahead.- Kemi Badenoch

You can only deliver lower taxes if you stop pretending that the state continues to do everything for your country. It’s not just a matter of doing the same with less. We need to focus on the essential. We need to be straight with people. The idea we can simply say ‘efficiency savings’, click our heels twenty times and they’ll materialise is for the birds. It’s the scale and structure of government that drives the inefficiencies.  – Kemi Badenoch

By reducing what government tries to do, we not only reduce the cost of government, we not only focus and focus government on the people’s priorities, we allow the space for individuals, employers and entrepreneurs to solve problems. And only then do we create the opportunity to cut taxes.  – Kemi Badenoch

There is almost nobody who actually hates trans people. Almost no one actually wishes them harm. Ours is a very live-and-let live society, and if people want to dress or present one way or another then that´s hardly new. New York alone must count as the most colorful society anywhere on earth.

Yet repeatedly activists pretend that to even discuss this area is to commit a terrible harm. They pretend not only that the evidence around “gender dysphoria” is completely clear, but that it has zero consequences. The trans extremists try to pretend, for instance, that there is no tension at all between some trans rights and some women’s rights. Despite the fact that such tensions — and worse — keep emerging everywhere from college sports to the nation’s jails. – Douglas Murray

What exactly is a “trans kid”? Does anybody really know? Our society pretends to be radically certain and knowledgeable about this. But in fact we know almost nothing about it.

We have almost no idea why some people believe they are born in the wrong body. We have very little idea of when this is a passing feeling and when it might be a permanent one. And we have almost no understanding at all about the extent to which claims by children that they are trans are in fact a demonstration of “social contagion,” where one kid in a school comes out as trans and a whole bunch of others start to follow suit.Douglas Murray

Are there questions marks to be raised? You bet. Considering that the consequences of getting this question wrong means the medical neutering of children and their physical mutilation I would say that the question marks are very real indeed. – Douglas Murray

Of course this is all a modern form of Jesuitical nonsense. “Trans men” who are still capable of pregnancy are still biological women. Nobody really knows what “non-binary” means, other than “look at me.” But anyone identifying themselves as “non-binary” who is also capable of becoming pregnant is also in fact still — wait for the big reveal — a woman. – Douglas Murray

All of America is being told to shut up and just get with the trans program. Otherwise we are killing people. Or making them kill themselves, or something.

What a way to have a debate. Or rather what a way to shut one down. And what an appalling way to approach an issue which — as American parents know — we have the right to think about and discuss. – Douglas Murray

The lockdowns would never have worked without our buy-in. That’s the mistake people continue to make even now, assuming that it was all only achieved by Government proclamation.

But there was an implied contract with the Government in return that it would use that time well to prepare us for the inevitable wave once it hit our shores.

Two years on it’s obvious to anyone that our day of reckoning with Covid was merely delayed, not avoided.Tracy Watkins

GP shortages, perilously low nursing levels and critical shortages in ICU capacity have all been paid lip service over the last two years – the very reasons, in fact, that we went into lock down in the first place, to avoid overwhelming the very same hospitals that are now in crisis.

Meanwhile, the Government spent two years keeping out tens of thousands of Kiwis, many of them with the skills we desperately need in our health system – and not just our health system, but in many other industries as well where workers are scarce – all in the name of keeping out the virus which is now widespread among us.

We can see now who’s carrying the burden of those failures – the doctors and nurses and other staff who’ve been sounding warnings for the last two years, and who deserved a lot better. – Tracy Watkins

The politicians would tell us that New Zealand is heading into a high-tech global 22nd century future. But the numbers tell a different story – we are spending more on superannuation than we do on education. As a country, we are effectively investing more in our past than our future.Kevin Norquay

Does the education sector really suit the 21st Century economy, or are we stuck in the 20th? Truancy is becoming really problematic, and we have been thinking around the edges, opposed to asking some really hard questions,” he says.

There needs to be a sense of urgency in that. My personal opinion is teachers, like nurses, are seriously underpaid. – Cameron Bagrie 

New Zealand has a short-term, she’ll be right attitude, rather than long-term thinking.

The infrastructure deficit is ultimately an issue of long-term thinking, the ongoing debate about what is a bicultural, multicultural New Zealand, there’s a difference of having a complex conversation, an open and difficult conversation over many decades. Sir Peter Gluckman 

Why has the loss of mental and subjective well-being doubled or tripled in the last 15 years? That is a far deeper systems question.

We need to ask why, after decades, do we continue to have intergenerational disadvantage, not just for Māori but for other groups in the community as well. How do we break that? – Sir Peter Gluckman 

These are complex multidimensional issues, which require more than shallow, political or partisan argument. And that’s what we’re not good at. 

The reality of it is, the world is in a dangerous place at the moment, conflict, climate change, biodiversity loss, supply line problems, fractured geostrategic issues – it’s a very unstable place. And you know, even in the issues of the moment, we’re not really having a particularly sophisticated conversation. – Sir Peter Gluckman 

We’ve got ideology driven decision-making as opposed to quantitative driven decision-making, and that’s coming through in a whole lot of areas, not just in regard to health.

I do not believe for one instant that the Government’s splatter-gun approach to Government finances is the right solution, nor do I believe that going out there and giving people tax cuts is the right solution. – Cameron Bagrie

What we are seeing over a few years is Jandal Economics, so you get Flip Flops – in some periods we are investing massively in capital, in the other years it’s as lean as. – 

You’ve got to have quality people making quality decisions, and getting quality advice. We have quite a dearth of (political) talent compared to what we had 20 years ago. …it’s a global issue.

Business has got to stop pointing the finger at government, the business sector needs to take some responsibility here in regard to some of the healing that needs to take place. – Cameron Bagrie

We are all growing empathy by being in some form of hardship. The amazing whakataukī (Māori proverb) ‘he waka eke noa’ (we’re all in the same boat), that’s not quite true.

We’re on the same ocean right now, which gives us a great broad understanding, but we’re in different boats. Some of us have little holey row boats, and some of us are on big cruise ships, but we all understand that the ocean is rough.Taimi Allen

Within New Zealand, which is now quite a melting pot, we have some very diverse views. We have a historical set of situations, we have an evolving situation, and somehow we have to find a consensual way through. And that’s not easy.

“But if we take some of the deep issues that we’re now confronted with, and keep on putting them aside they will just compound over time. There are some green shoots out there, green shoots don’t work unless they’re watered. – Sir Peter Gluckman 

The inflation figures were in all of our calendars, but the impromptu Sunday announcement was not – and had the Government not had something further in place when the bad news came out it would have looked ill-equipped, inadequately prepared and knee-jerk.

As it stands, and unfortunately for the Government despite its best, hurried, last-minute efforts it still looks ill-equipped, inadequately prepared and knee-jerk.

And gosh nothing quite like 7.3 percent inflation makes an announcement that you’re just doing the same thing as before but for a little bit longer look… well… ill-equipped, inadequately prepared and knee-jerk.  – Tova O’Brien

Is anyone else tiring of all this green hysteria over the heatwave? There is something medieval about it. There is something creepily pre-modern in the idea that sinful mankind has brought heat and fire and floods upon himself with his wicked, hubristic behaviour. What next – plagues of locusts as a punishment for our failure to recycle? The unhinged eco-dread over the heatwave exposes how millenarian environmentalism has become. Climate-change activism is less and less about coming up with practical solutions to the problem of pollution and more about demonising mankind as a plague on a planet, a pox on Mother Earth. – Brendan O’Neill

The Associate Local Government Minister seems to think losing our assets will be offset by councils not having to front up and pay that $185 billion he says is needed to get our drinking water, wastewater and stormwater up to scratch.

But I don’t buy that for a minute. And, as far as concerned, this announcement by the Government that it’s going to give money to councils to help them implement these water reforms, is just adding insult to injury.

The Government says it’s support but in my book when you pay someone to do something they don’t want to do, it’s bribery.John MacDonald

The solution to our mental health crisis is not throwing more money at it. The issue concerns leadership, creating a shared vision, and being accountable.

This Government is great at making announcements but utterly incapable of delivering improved outcomes. – Matt Doocey

Te Pāti Māori’s overarching position is that there has been quite enough immigration since whalers, sealers and missionaries started arriving in the late 1700s. Matthew Hooton

Here’s the good news: on this one question at least, our two main parties are offering policy based on competing economic models rather than converging wherever the focus groups drive them.

Whatever happens, we should know by election day the answer to this old, important but hitherto unresolved argument between labour-market economists.

The answer will determine whether Labour leads us into a lovely new world where artificially raising wages delivers higher productivity — or whether we have to do it the old-fashioned way under National, by working smarter and producing more from less, in order for wage earners to enjoy the higher sustainable incomes both parties promise.

Place your bets. – Matthew Hooton

The chickens of negligence have come home to roost – but they’re not welcome in the Henhouse of Education. – Michael Johnston

There are many pressing problems facing New Zealand, but none more urgent than the decay of our once great education system. Every time a young person leaves school without basic literacy and numeracy, it is a travesty. As democratic citizens we must all shoulder a share of the responsibility for that. We must demand much better and demand it loudly. –Michael Johnston

We need to know the facts of our own history. This enables us to separate reality from mythology. It also forces us to acknowledge that reality, rather than creating a story by revising the facts to fulfil and perpetuate the social and political ideologies of those who promulgate them. – Bruce Moon 

New Zealand is a small country, and whether it’s journalists, politicians or businesses, there’s a sense that you don’t want to speak out or have a different view because you might see that person again and you’ll have hurt their feelings.

I’m not saying be cowboys, but if we had a bit more boldness from time to time we would perhaps have a more vibrant, exciting and dare I say it, successful country. – Simon Bridges

I think there is a deep strain within Māoridom that is rooted in conservatism,.

Everyone likes to lay claim to the greats, you know like Āpirana Ngata, but it’s clear, in their speeches and thoughts. People forget that National held the Māori seats, until quite recent history – that’s why you get guys like Tau Henare who were able, with a straight face, to join National. – Simon Bridges

What I’ve worked out is, you can have every bit as much influence and some serious fun outside of politics. I think a lot of politicians make the mistake of thinking it’s the be-all and end-all of everything. – Simon Bridges

With the La Niña weather pattern presently turning the country into a quagmire, the nation’s mood is bogged down in a morass of its own.

A slew of reports out this week confirmed what we were already grappling with; rising levels of concern about the cost of living, which is, in turn, making us stressed and unhappy. Turns out we’re more worried than any other country on the planetJanet Wilson

And while the Government ploughs on with its reform programme, spending $11 billion on changing the health system with the Three Waters programme having already cost $2 billion without a water pipe renewed, it’s easy to see how Labour has become part of inflation’s problem and not its solution.

Just as you don’t go on a diet by eating all the pies and cakes, you can’t  hope to reduce inflation by throwing more money around.

Not unless you want inflation to bed in and lead to what seems now to be almost inevitable. Recession. – Janet Wilson

Instead of pulling together and being a team of five million, it increasingly feels that the distance between some New Zealanders is more like a canyon. There are more and more people who have lost hope, don’t believe in the values that used to bind all of us and/or just truly think that they don’t have to work for a living.Paula Bennett

The Prime Minister, or one of her ministers, blames employers for not paying enough. Hospitality, construction and other sectors have responded to the tight labour market with improved wages and conditions but still 105,000 people are on benefit instead of in work. The benefits of work are more than monetary – although if money is the motivator then I say to beneficiaries, “Get a job, prove your worth and seek a higher wage.”

In other words, you have to start somewhere and that has to be in paid work. The other benefits include a healthier, more social life and a sense of meaning and purpose. I get that there are people who don’t think they should have to “sell out” to big business or do “menial” work. I believe in free choice – I just don’t think that taxpayers should have to pay for it. – Paula Bennett

You can say a lot of disparaging things about Nanaia Mahuta but what you have concede is that when it comes to really applying herself to undermining democracy she can be very strategic and clever.Heather du Plessis-Allan

Jacinda Ardern oozes self-satisfaction, whether swanning about at Davos or lecturing the world on climate change and the importance of “wellbeing”. At first this young PM became the darling of the progressive world – many admired the feminist credentials, sensitive handling of the Christchurch mosque attack and zero-Covid strategy. But the carefully constructed façade is wearing thin. Ardern is on track to lose the next election, with the latest opinion polls indicating a 10 percentage point drop over the last six months. No amount of positive global press coverage can disguise the lacklustre economic situation in New Zealand, the growing list of broken promises and mounting unpopularity at home. – Matthew Lesh

The New Zealand imagined by the international press is about as fictional as Middle Earth. The country is struggling. Lacking the capacity to address the numerous challenges facing her nation, the Ardern gloss has faded. In the end, standing ovations at international conferences will not make up for a loss of confidence at home.Matthew Lesh

Mike Yardley, Jamie Mckay, Robert MacCulloch, Keith Woodford, Tracy Watkins, Grant Nelson, Kevin Norquay, Cameron Bagrie, Duncan Field, David Farrar, Jim Rose, Bjorn Lomborg, Claire Trevett, Brent Edwards, Simon Bridges, Erica Stanford, Pamela Paul, Chris Trotter, Kelly Hutton, Peter Jackson, Bruce Cotterill, Fran O’Sullivan, Andrea Vance, Craig Hickman, Dr Catherine D’Souza, Richard Prebble, Tracy Watkins, Brigitte Morten, David Seymour, Jane Clifton, Tova O’Brien, Rita Pahani, Matthew Hooton, Kemi Badenoch, Aaron Smale, Dr Anthea Prentice, Douglas Murray, Sir Peter Gluckman, Taimi Allen, Brendan O’Neill, John MacDonald, Matt Doocey, Dr Michael Johnston, Bruce Moon, Paula Bennett, Simon Bridgres, Janet Wilson, Matthew Lesh,


Quotes of the month

01/06/2022

The provocation of fragility requires a bureaucracy of defenders to alleviate its consequences. The more fragile people become, the more they will run to the authorities for protection, as children run to their parents when they imagine witches at the window. A fragile population requires protectors, for the fragile by definition are incapable of protecting themselves, for example by confronting or moving away from a starer, but the would-be protectors themselves are cowards who prefer imaginary enemies to real and dangerous ones: thus is the dialectic between fragility and public employment on futile tasks created and maintained. – Theodore Dalrymple 

We in the anglosphere have become so used to conducting our business affairs in a “marketplace” that we take it for granted and if we give it any thought at all we ignore how fundamental it is to our way of life, preservation of our liberties, and to the health of our democracy. It is no accident that those who seek to destroy those liberties and democracy must first destroy the market economy by either state ownership on the Lenin model or an ersatz market place on the Russian and Chinese models. But what do we know about the history of this phenomena. Anthony Willy

This means of organising society by allowing the untrammelled myriad daily personal decisions of the market place fulfils our most basic needs of food and shelter leading to the intellectual drive involved in the rise of science and the arts in what we call our civilised society. Above all it contributed to what may be mankind’s greatest achievement; the flowering of democracy which for many years we have taken for granted. However all is not well in the free market garden. Until recently the law was clear that any trader incorporated as a company with shareholders and a board of directors, (and that is most of the larger traders) the directors owed duties solely to their shareholders, and their only function was to maximise the profits of the company for the benefit of the shareholders with whose money they had  been entrusted. Increasingly this is no longer the case and there is a growing tendency for governments and pressure groups to require the directors to be influenced in their decision making  by extraneous matters such as global warming and gender politics. The Human Resources departments of many of New Zealand companies have responded enthusiastically to these demands with the result that the company is no longer able to trade freely and maximise the returns to the shareholders. In some cases this has resulted in the company ceasing hitherto profitable ventures with the loss of autonomy that entails.  Over the longer term nothing could be more destructive to the survival of free markets particularly as these are not constraints suffered by competitors in the totalitarian economies with whom we do business. In addition to these self imposed fetters there are of course ever present and more malign alternatives.   Anthony Willy

That Marx’s prescription for substituting a system of state control for the free market is contrary to human nature has been amply borne out by the experience of those despots who have tried to impose it. The reason is simple, nowhere in the world has it flourished by the voluntary acceptance of the people. All such despots have failed sooner or later and will continue to do so, including those, such as the Peoples Republic of China and Russia who have attempted a bit of both by allowing a “market economy” to operate but only with the consent of the state and without democracy. The toll in human suffering when the state snuffs out private enterprise has been incalculable. Anthony Willy

The other alternative to democracy and the free-market system and one gaining a lot of airtime among the “intelligentsia” in New Zealand is that of tribal control of the means of production and exchange whereby each tribe owns and controls its own assets and, human nature being what it is defends them from the covetous eyes of its neighbours. This alternative to free markets and communism was that practised by Maori tribes in New Zealand before the arrival of the Europeans, and it no doubt worked throughout their uninterrupted occupation of the country. It has shortcomings however as a means of maximising the wealth of society not least of which are: nobody owns anything and therefore cannot prosper from their labours (no pumpkin man), it invites tribal warfare if one tribe is being seen to do better than the neighbour, it creates no enduring “wealth” and causes envy and disaffection when eyes are cast  over the fence at those tribes enjoying the fruits of their labours. – Anthony Willy

There is nothing exceptional about this course of events, it is to be found in the remaining tribal societies mostly in Africa. It is always accompanied  by horrendous violence such as the genocide that occurred in Rwanda and to a lesser extent Kenya. Unsurprisingly after the bloodletting this is now in the past as most African countries have rejected communism and tribalism and have embraced free markets and democracy (albeit a bit dodgy at times). But astonishingly in New Zealand with a record of a settled and prosperous society second to none separate Maori tribal representatives, egged on by other worldly academics are promoting a tribal take over of our hitherto democratically elected institutions based solely on race.  –  Anthony Willy

Languages exist for one reason only — to communicate meaning. To this end they evolve with time and what is useful endures and what is not withers. And that’s it. That’s the inevitable, immutable, blind process, and nothing we say or do will alter it. Languages cheerfully borrow from each another. English has adopted hundreds of Maori words, largely to describe things that exist here and nowhere else — pukeko, rimu, mana and so on. And Maori has taken on board no end of words from English to describe the materials and ideas that settlers brought. But having borrowed them a language makes them its own. It fits them into its own structure. So while there is some overlap of vocabulary between te reo and English, there is none of grammar or syntax. The languages remain grammatically distinct.

The RNZ National announcer appeared to be speaking a new and hybrid tongue, part te reo, part English. In reality she was speaking English — the language she used to convey meaning — and she was dropping in chunks of te reo for a moral or political purpose. And language evolution scoffs at moral or political purposes.

In short, she was wasting her time. In doing so she was alienating Ms Plum, educating noone, patronising Maoridom and barking up a barren linguistic plum tree.- Joe Bennett

One of the most witless, inane and paradoxically evil ideas to contaminate contemporary culture in recent years is kindness, or, as what amounts to a campaign slogan says, ‘Be Kind’. On the surface, what could possibly be wrong with being kind to each other? Only brutes and criminals would find something wrong with such an obviously decent notion. The problem, though, is that beneath its beautiful and superficially moral surface, kindness, in its contemporary iteration, is surreptitiously ideological and smuggles into everyday life entirely new ideas of metaphysics, logic and epistemology, ones that have profoundly negative consequences for liberal democracy, freedom of speech and freedom of conscience.Roger Franklin

We’ve established that kindness per se is not a sufficient condition for decent behaviour because political ideologies determine who can be treated with kindness and who can be treated with cruelty. This gets to the crux of the present situation because underpinning the current notion of kindness is the contemporary moral and ethical system of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), which has been introduced into almost every institution in Western liberal democracies. The HR department in your workplace, and workers’ rights legislation in your state or country, will almost certainly be infused with this ideology.

The problem, though, is that the politics of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion — wokeness, in other words — establishes a hierarchy of the saved and the dammed through the postmodern notion of identity. Where you sit on the hierarchy of marginalised groups, or whether you are intersectionally oppressed — perhaps doubly, triply or multiply oppressed — determines your saintly status. Individual rights, then, are no longer the sine qua non of liberal democracy. What we have, essentially, is irrationalism as a new metaphysics. – Roger Franklin

How are individual rights being supplanted by group rights, which are the modus operandi of all authoritarian regimes? How has this occurred in a liberal democratic political system where debate is a constituent part of its philosophy? It’s simple: institutional capture. Individual rights have been hollowed out from the inside by ideologues. What’s most depressing, though, is that the whole unedifying spectacle has been performed in the plain sight of our governing elites, who, while often hard-working and honest, are seldom intellectually sophisticated. Roger Franklin

While kindness is the slogan, the Trojan Horse of the ideology is the triple strategy of equivocating speech with violence, subjectivism and the weaponising of mental health. It’s a tapestry of confusion where all the threads fit together.

Conflating speech with violence means that hurt feelings, rather than damaged bodies, are utilised as a weapon of the ‘oppressed’. Hurting someone’s feelings — subjectivism, in other words — is viewed as violence. This is important because liberal democracy, at its core, rejects violence. Violence, as any civilised person should know, is always the last resort in adjudicating conflict. Consequently, indulging in violence, especially towards a disadvantaged person or an identity group, is the very definition of discrimination.

Modern subjectivism is based on the postmodern claim that truth is a fiction — bizarrely, even logical and scientific truths. – Roger Franklin

“Truth”, in its modern iteration, is defined as the epistemology of straight white males, who are viewed as the purveyors of all that is destructive in modern history. According to postmodernists and intersectional feminists, though, there are other ways of understanding the world, amongst them the ‘lived experience’ of identity groups , which are presented as equally valid. Feminists, for example, have claimed for decades that witchcraft and alternative medicine have been ‘marginalised’ by male ways of knowing, and that these epistemologies are as legitimate as the scientific method. That this is nonsense needs to be stressed because the idea that all opinions are valid has become a constituent narrative of contemporary culture. The irony is that postmodernists could not flourish if they followed their own philosophy, because irrational people live sub-optimal lives or simply die.Roger Franklin

The expansion of mental health psychology into areas that, until recently, were considered the existential and ordinary facts of life, is not coincidental. The phenomenon runs parallel and in conjunction with the rise of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Feelings are now the gold standard of whether one is suffering from a mental health problem, not an imprudent lifestyle choice or any of the dreadful psychological conditions that make life a misery for people whose minds or brains are not working in a functional way.

The three strategies are equally important to the ideology, and they shift, twist, intertwine and turn depending on the situation. Put them all together and a comprehensive strategy exists to curtail freedom of speech, individual conscience and, inevitably, liberal democracy. – Roger Franklin

What DEI means in practice is not what its proponents advertise to the world. In practical terms the ideology works in the following way: Diversity stresses a plurality of group identity and not a plurality of opinion. Equity is an impossible dream which can only be enacted, with dreadful consequences, by force. And inclusion, by definition, welcomes different identity groups without criticism, and no-one else. Remember that, according to the theory, subjective feelings, which are denied validity by individuals and society lead to mental health issues, while truth itself is grounded in the identities of race, sex, class and gender. Everything must be affirmed rather than rejected or criticised because words which offend are construed as violence or are damaging to a person whose “identity” is questioned or criticised.

This is why statues are being pulled down around the world; why people with what were, until about five years ago, moderate views are called bigots; why supporters of free speech are called Nazis; why J.K. Rowling is called transphobic; why bad works of art by minority figures are replacing Beethoven, Shakespeare and Renoir (or, at the very least, how they are presented in concert halls, theatres and art galleries). It’s why those who offend are hounded from their jobs and see their reputations and livelihoods ruined. And all this is being perpetrated by ideologues with a fanatical zeal and, ironically, not a shred of kindness.Roger Franklin

Nothing solid survives this pernicious attack on everything of value, and it’s why the cult of kindness and its three subordinate strategies — equating speech with violence, subjectivism and weaponising mental health — undermine the entire edifice of liberal democracy, which is a form of government based on individualism and the robust claims of negative rights. Two things define liberal democratic philosophy: don’t do this, and you’ve a right to offend. In straightforward terms, you can be an absolute bastard if you don’t commit a crime or perpetrate violence on your fellow citizens. That’s about all people can ask for or expect.

The rest of the noise about rights is virtue-signalling nonsense, money-making scams, or snake-oil drenched in false morality. Sometimes you need to be cruel to be kind. And sometimes you just need to be kind. Woke kindness is the inverse of the normal conception of kindness and it is toxic to individual rights. Don’t fall for the nonsense, linguistic equivocation is one of the oldest tricks in the book. – Roger Franklin

Just because you are Māori does not make you an expert in anything except being Māori. The government, in their determination to divide this nation racially, are mixing too many things together and hoping you won’t notice.

Clean water is one thing, and we all want it. Hijacking democracy for ideological purposes around race, we don’t.

This fight is far from over, and as such Friday’s update changes nothing. – Mike Hosking

Some defenders of Three Waters argue that the regional representation groups made up of iwi and council representatives are so removed from the day-to-day control of the water assets that anyone asserting iwi will play a significant role as co-governors can only be intent on making mischief. But if that argument is correct, Mahuta should have no trouble at all in dropping iwi members from her proposed set-up.

The fact the minister shows no sign of bending on co-governance — no matter how intense and overwhelming the opposition — will only convince increasing numbers of voters that the whole point of Three Waters is to function as a Trojan horse to hand unelected iwi members control over billions of dollars’ worth of community assets.Graham Adams 

The belief that free speech is a “Right-wing conservative” ideal reveals a very limited knowledge of history. In different generations, the Left and the Right have both advocated for and opposed free speech. That’s why free speech is not a Left-Right issue; it’s a liberty-orientated vs authoritarian issue. – Jonathan Ayling

Now, that word “racist”. I believe a racist is someone who thinks certain races are inherently superior to others and therefore entitled to rights not available to supposedly “inferior” races. That’s a meaning we can all agree on. But the moment you stretch the definition beyond that, the word can mean anything the user wants it to mean. In the contemporary New Zealand context, that means it can be applied to anyone who disagrees with you – for example, on issues such as 50-50 co-governance with iwi. But the people who throw the term “racist” around don’t realise that they have stripped the word of its potency. “Racist” should be the most offensive epithet imaginable, placing the accused person on a par with Adolf Hitler or the Ku Klux Klan. But the word is so overused as to have become meaningless, so Shelley’s wasting her breath there.Karl du Fresne

There is a unique record of co-operation, harmony and goodwill between the two main racial groups. That’s manifested in the history of inter-marriage which today ensures that every person who identifies as Maori must also own up to some European blood, which means their supposed oppressors included their own white forebears. I’ve yet to see anyone reconcile those awkward truths. If we’re to move forward as a society we need to acknowledge that all our forebears did bad things in the distant past and then put them behind us. We have too much in common to risk fracturing a society that the rest of the world has long seen as exemplary.

Where we run into trouble is where the Maori activist agenda collides with democracy. Democracy isn’t a white supremacist invention imposed to keep minority groups firmly under the heel of their oppressor. On the contrary, it’s a system whereby every citizen’s vote – Maori, Pakeha, Pasifika, Chinese, Indian, whatever – carries the same weight. I believe absolutely in democracy because ultimately, everyone benefits from it and everyone has a say. It is the basis of every free and fair society in the world, and those who undermine it need to think very carefully about what form of government might replace it. I can’t think of any that would appeal to me – certainly not one that grants special rights, privileges and entitlements on the basis of ancestry. We have a name for that: feudalism. We were smart enough to abandon it several centuries ago.

To finish, I am Tangata Tiriti and proud to be so. Like all Pakeha New Zealanders I’m here by right of the Treaty, a point often overlooked by Treaty activists who talk as if it grants rights only to Maori. My forebears came here in the 1870s and 1890s and New Zealand, therefore, is my turangawaewae. The thing is, we’re all beneficiaries of the Treaty and we need to think very long and hard before unravelling the many threads that bind us.- Karl du Fresne

The real tragedy of the wage rises of that size is that they are, of course, adding to the very problem they are trying to solve. If you are paying more because you are making more, selling more, and getting higher returns that’s good. But if you are paying more merely to hold talent so you don’t go bankrupt then that serves no one well in the long run. – Mike Hosking

If you are offering work to all who want it through expansion, and as a result of expansion everyone shares in the success with wage increases, that’s your economic sweet spot.

But if you are in a country that doesn’t let people in, has an economy that’s stalled because growth is not possible due to lack of staff, but those staff get paid more anyway, then you have a pending disaster.

It’s grinding to a halt. It isn’t good for anyone. And when your jobless rate doesn’t go down even when there are jobs galore and no one coming in to take them, that is a seriously large red flag. – Mike Hosking

Ultimately what counts most in a democracy is what the public thinks and why people vote the way they do, and there can be few people more poorly qualified to assess the public mood than press gallery journalists. The narrow world they’re exposed to is simply not the world most New Zealanders live in.

It would be a useful grounding exercise for them to listen to talkback radio for an hour or so each day. I wouldn’t pretend that’s the key to understanding what real New Zealanders are thinking, but it would expose press gallery reporters to a more authentic world than the one they inhabit, which largely consists of fellow members of the political class. (Of course it wouldn’t happen, because the typical political journalist probably regards talkback callers as the untermenschen.)Karl du Fresne

If this seems a rather sweeping condemnation of the entire gallery, I plead guilty. I acknowledge there are capable political journalists who make an honest attempt to do the job well. It’s just unfortunate that they are tainted by association with others who come across as self-absorbed, over-confident and, dare I say it, sometimes not very bright.  – Karl du Fresne

In my fairly long experience as a doctor, I discovered that many were those who willfully, knowingly, and unnecessarily sought misery. They did things that they knew in advance would end disastrously, often in short order. I also discovered that the ways of self-destruction were infinite: One could never enumerate or come to the end of them.

Among the proofs that we were not made for happiness but on the contrary often seek out its opposite is the fact that so many of us follow the news closely, though we know it will make us wretched to do so. We pretend that we have a need to be informed and are shocked when we meet someone who hasn’t the faintest idea of what is going on in the world. How can he bear to be so ignorant, how can he be so indifferent? It is our duty as citizens of a democracy to be informed, or to inform ourselves, even at the cost of our own misery; because, of course, news rarely gives us reasons to rejoice.Theodore Dalrymple

To observe happiness in others and to think of misery is, of course, the sign of an unhappy or discontented life. There are those who would look at the Taj Mahal and think only of how absurd it was, how unjust to the toiling multitudes, that the wife of an emperor should be memorialized in this extravagant fashion when all she had was the accident of beauty and the luck to be beloved of an emperor; these are sour people who would prefer the perfect justice of universal ugliness to an unevenly and unjustly spread beauty. – Theodore Dalrymple

It is clear that Ardern’s government plans to produce a document which sets out a future plan for Maori only, at the expense of parliamentary democracy and the civil and human rights of 84% of the New Zealand population. They are following exactly the same strategy they have in imposing “co-governance’ and compulsory acculturation of the New Zealand population throughout the public service, education system, health, welfare and justice, plus the enforced establishment of Maori wards in local authorities.Henry Armstrong

The Declaration Plan feedback document contains many proposals which will effectively establish a race-based,  separatist Apartheid structure in New Zealand. Mainstream media have deliberately downplayed the huge adverse implications for New Zealand going forward and have purposely contributed to the Ardern government’s ongoing strategy of deception, untruths and misinformation.

If we believe Ardern (who has a habit of reneging on her previous statements, such as taxes), the NZ public will be “consulted” sometime this year, with no guarantee that this “consultation” process will in any way affect the Plan, once decided upon, for to do so would mean Ardern and co are themselves racist – and we cannot of course have that, can we?

And you thought Putin is evil?  – Henry Armstrong

Do not let low unemployment fool you into thinking everything is fine. It might well be the opposite .- Oliver Hartwich

Bad rules and regulations are more common than you think. Although the worst offenders eventually prompt action, it’s the costly (but not too costly) rules that accumulate over time that kill an economy by sclerosis Sam Dumitriu

Anyone who asks the question “what is a woman?” is thereby revealing that they have the intelligence of your average garden slug. This is why we shouldn’t trust these so-called “archaeologists” who claim to be able to determine whether those ancient skeletons they’ve uncovered are “male” or “female”. This is pure pseudo-science. Next they’ll be telling us they can work out their pronouns by measuring the femurs.

Let me settle this matter once and for all. A woman is anyone who says she is a woman. A woman is a feeling, a shimmering nimbus of possibility, an echo of distant dreams reverberating gingerly through a winter’s gloaming. She is a mewling constellation, a bagful of semi-felched pixies, the enchanted stardust that pirouettes luminously on the spindle of time.

It’s got absolutely nothing to do with tits. – Titania McGrath

 It shouldn’t come as a surprise that so few people are familiar with Maori. For all the current chatter and virtue-signalling, the language is not taught as a compulsory subject in a public school system where young Maori kids, especially boys, already leave early in disproportionately high numbers.

If Ardern’s government really wanted to make a difference, it could do more to encourage deprived Maori kids to stay on in education. As it is, it seems more content to change road signs and baffle visitors with startling name changes.David Cohen

I find it unacceptable that despite our feedback over several decades, the government are still coercing the Pakeha identity on New Zealanders with European ancestry and am sure other ethnic groups have a similar frustration. – John Franklin

In this day and age where a boy is permitted to change his gender identity to female on the way to school at a whim, why are we being forced to assign to an identity we clearly don’t want?

The truth is that no one else’s opinion matters regarding our identity, we don’t need anyone’s permission, we don’t need a team of language experts, we don’t need a hui, it’s 100% our choice so all we need to do is to make a decision and then demand that our rights are respected.John Franklin

There will always be those who will throw out their hate anchors to stop New Zealand from healing and moving forward but we can’t let them divide us further with their racist policies in the guise of indigenous rights.

Anything that undermines every New Zealander’s right to be treated equally or gives extra rights based on ethnicity is racist, it’s wrong and will have bad consequences. Don’t be fooled by the twisted use of the equity philosophy employed by those who want to justify their special privilege, only equality can be the foundation of our rights and freedoms. If the UN thinks the answer to divisive history is to elevate the rights of one ethnic group above the others, then they are just meddling fools that should be ignored as that undermines the foundation of equality which in turn undermines the rights and freedoms that are built on it. – John Franklin

The “woke” always surprise me with their high boredom threshold, for one would have thought that nothing could be more boring than always looking at the world through the narrow distorting lens of race, gender, and so forth and always coming to the same conclusion about it.

However, one has to give it to the woke: Just as you think that their idiocies can go no further, they come up with something new. They display a kind of malign inventiveness in finding new ways to provoke people of more sensible dispositions. The woke manage to be inventive and boring at the same time (as Marxists used to be); and while it’s boring to have to argue constantly against bores, it’s necessary to do so, because otherwise the undecided will come to think that the arguments of the woke are unanswered because they’re unanswerable. – Theodore Dalrymple

I think rather that wokedom is analogous to diseases such as Kuru and Creutzfeldt-Jakob in humans and scrapie in sheep, caused by particles called prions that infect the brain and cause it to degenerate, resulting in strange and disturbed behavior ending in death. Unless a remedy is found, what will die, however, isn’t an individual human being, but ultimately a culture and a civilization.Theodore Dalrymple

The problem with being a social justice advocate in a progressive liberal democracy is that there isn’t always enough overt sexism and racism from which to draw the requisite amounts of indignation. – Damien Grant

This country can stand rightly proud on what we have achieved when it comes to equality and diversity, even if serious mahi needs to be done in some areas.Damien Grant

Investing with the disreputable Simon Henry provided an eight-times better return than with Companion of the NZ Order of Merit recipient and My Food Bag co-founder, Theresa Gattung.

This will be a surprise to no one who understands commerce, but to those who think EBITDArefers to a new grouping of intersectional identity, this result will have come as a bit of a shock. – Damien Grant

In years to come some government agency may run a slide-rule over similar comments to assess if they breach beefed-up hate-speech laws, but for the moment the only consequences are public scorn and the associated commercial risk of having said something objectively awful.

This is appropriate. Free speech isn’t speech without consequences. In a free-market, people can choose who they do business with, who they work for, and who they associate with. – Damien Grant

While many in the media were content to report and comment on what Henry said, others decided that they are guardians of a new morality.

It isn’t enough that sunlight be applied to Henry’s choice of language. There isn’t any point in being a Social Justice Warrior if you don’t occasionally bayonet the wounded. – Damien Grant

Is it possible that the search for outrage is inadvertently manufacturing it?Damien Grant

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is widely misinterpreted as an effect where the observer changes what is occurring by their observation. It is possible that, through the manner in which the fourth estate has covered this event, they have created the very thing upon which they now breathlessly report on. – Damien Grant

Being a member of Parliament can bring out the best and the worst in people. You have to be slightly bonkers and have a high degree of confidence just to want to be an MP – unfortunately, that can click into arrogance really easily when you get there if not kept in check. I should point out that this arrogance is not the domain of just one political party. – Paula Bennett

I can’t believe that just three weeks ago Poto was denying there is a gang problem in NZ. But the PM has probably consoled herself that it’s not arrogance but incompetence and, as we see daily, that is acceptable in her Cabinet. – Paula Bennett

What should increasingly be worrying the PM is the arrogance of Trevor Mallard and the damage this is doing her. From badly handling the actual Parliament protest and then badly handling the aftermath by trespassing ex MPs and unforgivably giving Winston Peters a platform to crow from to generally running the debating chamber with ridiculous rulings that mean people can’t actually debate, it is time for him to bow out.Paula Bennett

It is high time we stopped using History as a weapon, and started relying upon it as a guide. – Chris Trotter

Before we all became mesmerised by the internet, humans spent much of their time in a little place called the real world. Here, people tended to interact with each other face to face, in the flesh, and as such, one could get a good sense of a person’s character by observing their behaviour.

This all changed with the rise of social media. The transition from a world in which people interact in person to one in which people interact through text led to a shift in the way we define and judge people. With little visibility of a person’s deeds, we had to focus on their words. And so we began to define people primarily by their opinions.

Since opinions are now the basis of public interaction and identity, there’s a new pressure to have a point of view. If you don’t have a perspective on the thing everyone else is talking about, it becomes difficult to socialise—you basically don’t exist. The result is that people feel compelled to take a stance on everything. – Gurwinder

Research suggests that when humans are pressured to have an opinion on an issue they know little about, they’ll often just hastily make one up, ad-libbing without regard to facts or logic, rather than admitting they don’t know. To compound the problem, people dislike changing their opinions (as it requires admitting they were wrong), so their impromptu views, which they cobbled together from whim and half-remembered hearsay, will often become their new hills to die on.

Essentially, the pressure to have an opinion in the digital age can cause people to resort to believing, or professing to believe, babble. – Gurwinder

Since people are now defined chiefly by their opinions, there’s not just pressure to have an opinion, there’s pressure to have the best opinion—the smartest, most sophisticated, most high-status. Digital society has become a beauty contest for beliefs, an opinion pageant.

Clearly, if people are simply improvising their opinions, they’re not going to have good opinions, let alone the best ones. So people will often employ a different strategy: copying the opinions of others.

They typically do this by outsourcing their thinking to professional commentators, who offer prepackaged “designer opinions” that people can wear like haute couture to become the envy of their friends.Gurwinder

However, just because a commentator is offering their opinions for sale, doesn’t mean their opinions are good. On the contrary, opinion-sellers often sell poorly considered opinions, because not only are they under the same pressure as everyone else to take stances on issues they know little about, but they must do so quickly. For a professional commentator, being the first one to think of a take is everything. As such, opinion-sellers will often rush their opinions out, and then, since they can’t change their view without looking bad, they’re forced to stick with it. – Gurwinder

Opinion-sellers make life easier for themselves and their customers by selling not just isolated opinions, but “opinion packages”. These are simplistic worldviews from which a set of consistent opinions on almost anything can be easily computed, equipping the bearer to opine on virtually any matter that comes up in conversation.

Arguably the most fashionable opinion package in the West today is what some refer to as “wokeness”. This is a kind of conspiracy theory that uses a lexicon of dubious concepts, such as “white fragility” and “toxic masculinity”, to portray Western society as “systemically” racist, misogynistic, and transphobic, and to scapegoat such problems on white people generally, and on straight white men specifically.Gurwinder

Woke opinions are popular for several reasons. For a start, they lift a great burden from the brain; there’s no need to understand a complex world if you can just blame everything on bigotry. But arguably the most important advantage of woke opinions is their success in the opinion pageant. They’re an effective way to improve one’s social standing, because constantly calling out bigotry makes one look unbigoted, compassionate, and socially aware—all values with high social capital.

The social capital offered by wokeness makes it an indispensable opinion package in image-oriented industries like media, academia, Hollywood, and public relations, which may be why wokeness is most dominant in these spheres. – Gurwinder

But the trouble with opinions is that one cannot know for sure whether or not they’re sincerely held, which leads to another problem of the opinion pageant: fraud. Just as designer clothes can be counterfeited, so can designer opinions. Except opinions cost nothing to fake.

Ersatz beliefs are now common in the business world. Savvy corporations have realised that in the opinion pageant, they must take a political stance to secure relevance, and since wokeness is the most high status suite of opinions, they almost exclusively subscribe to that package.Gurwinder

Wokeness offers corporations, celebrities, and other status-conscious entities the most prestigious package of views in the opinion pageant, but it’s increasingly having to contend with competitors. Perhaps the most notable of these is the “based” worldview. This opinion package is often sold by conservatives, but it’s less defined by what it’s for than what it’s against. And what it’s against is the reigning champion of the pageant, wokeness. – Gurwinder

The division of people into based, woke, and other competing worldviews has had an unfortunate side effect. It’s created a culture war between the various customer bases, a war that’s phony because most of the combatants are fighting for beliefs they haven’t properly considered, since they idly plagiarised them instead of concluding them through careful reasoning.

But the worst thing about the culture war is that it perpetuates the opinion pageant. When people become divided into factions, there becomes even more pressure to pick a side and have an opinion, or else one risks being known as a fence-sitter, a coward, or even worse, an enemy (“silence is violence!”, say the woke). The result is that even more people take a stance on issues they know little about.

The end result of the opinion pageant is a fraudulent world, a world where most people’s opinions are not their own. It’s a world of puppets being ventriloquised by strangers—strangers who are likely themselves puppets. In such a world, where words matter more than deeds, and opinions matter more than character, being “smart” requires no gift for thought, only a gift for mimicry, and being “good” requires no heart of gold, only a silver tongue & brazen nature. – Gurwinder

In the end, opinions are a hopeless way to define people, because, like designer clothing, they’re both faddish and easily counterfeited. If you want to know someone’s true nature, look beyond their words, and scrutinise the one aspect of their character that’s costly to fake—their actions. – Gurwinder

While news from Ukraine has mainly been about infrastructure destruction, a small miracle is taking place in the war-torn country. As Putin’s forces continue to bombard their cities, Ukrainian authorities have already begun reconstruction. . .

The road holes where the shells exploded have been repaired. Water and electricity are back on.

Amazingly, even large pieces of infrastructure have been rebuilt. Among them were road and rail bridges that were destroyed by the Russians in the first weeks of the war.

Irpin’s main bridge is now replaced with a temporary bridge measuring nine meters wide and 245 meters long. It took five days of uninterrupted work to complete it. – Oliver Hartwich

So let’s send Waka Kotahi to Ukraine. And if they find Ukraine’s infrastructure secret, we may allow them to return to New Zealand Oliver Hartwich

It is well known in all agricultural circles that the nitrogen fertilisers are the major contributor to lifting the third world out of poverty and why now, obesity is a bigger world-wide issue than malnutrition. And the peasant farmer getting richer is why the third world birthrate is dropping. But the watermelon Malthusians don’t want that.. You can’t establish a centrally planned world order in that environment. – Chris Morris

Bureaucrats sitting in Wellington are invariably highly skilled and the Ministry has some of the brightest public health advisors on staff too.

But I still feel they fail to realise the true impacts of the decisions they make on the lives of New Zealanders. – Merepeka Raukawa-Tait

Governments always talk about solutions being developed and decided closer to where the problems exist.

I couldn’t agree more. Communities do know what’s best for them. But with health that appears to be a “no go” area.

Communities are not trusted enough to be given the opportunity to have real input into planning and designing services.

They know the difference between primary and secondary healthcare and they know where they can make a meaningful contribution. – Merepeka Raukawa-Tait

We are in a warped world now, where work of minimal use and skill is better paid than what you might call a profession.

A world where reward comes from closed borders and a determination to limit the labour supply.

This is the recipe for economic ruin. It’s why today’s Budget will be in deficit, why the debt will be higher, and why the growth numbers will be anaemic if not non-existent.

A nurse starts at $53,000, a teacher $52,000, a dental assistant $46,000 and a lollipop person? $46,000.

You’ve got to be kidding me.Mike Hosking

They have corrupted a crusade to save the planet into sleazy pork barrel politics. Labour and the Greens new climate change policies are just vote buying.

The climate change policies announced this week will not bring New Zealand one day closer to net zero emissions but will fund, to name one policy, changes to school curriculum and NCEA so we “embed an understanding of the collective nature of our wellbeing.” Our schools will be teaching socialist dogma.

It just proves we cannot trust politicians with our money; they will spend it on buying votes. – Richard Prebble 

Even those schemes that will reduce emissions will not alter the country’s path to net zero emissions. The path is already in place. The ETS requires all carbon producers to buy credits equal to their emissions. The total amount of emissions is capped and will decline to net zero by 2050.

The policies announced this week will not alter this path. Under the ETS scheme every unit saved from say switching to an electric vehicle frees up a unit for some other activity such as driving an eight-cylinder gas guzzler.

All these new policies will do is enrich some at the expense of others. Many, such as corporations, who will be feeding at the pork barrel, can finance their own route to zero emissions.Richard Prebble 

A carbon credit from New Zealand forests has the same effect on the planet as a credit created from a tropical forest in the Solomon Islands.

It matters. While New Zealand is the world’s most efficient producer of milk we will never be the most efficient at growing forests to absorb carbon. An equivalent tropical forest absorbs four times more carbon.

New Zealand should be assisting poor countries like the Solomon Islands to regrow their tropical forests and earn ETS credits. Instead international investment funds are buying up productive New Zealand farms and turning them into inefficient carbon sinks.

Climate change in one country means the spot price of New Zealand carbon credits is $76.50. The world price is just US$20.81 – Richard Prebble 

Market price signals – not politicians – should decide the best way to allocate the carbon credits.

No marketplace would ever fund a “cash for clunkers” scheme. Everywhere it has been tried the scheme has proved a very expensive rort. When my daughter was training to be a teacher and needed a car to get to her rural school on section, I bought her an old clunker. Under this scheme she could trade that old clunker, get the $10 thousand subsidy, plus help from me, and buy a new car. I could drive the new car and let her drive my old car. She no longer has that car but you can see how easy the scheme is to rort.

Similar criticisms can be made of every one of the announced initiatives.

It is old fashioned centralized planning. Saving the planet is no reason to bring back failed socialist central planning. Combating climate change is so vital it is essential we use the most powerful and successful economic tool, the free market.Richard Prebble 

When one surveys the various idiocies pursued by Western governments of late years, one cannot help but marvel at the stupidity of this branch of the human race, without immodestly guaranteeing that one would have done better than the buffoons and poltroons had we been in charge.

One of the reasons we could not guarantee this is that a condition of attaining power in modern democracies (other than insensate ambition and inner emptiness) is that those who seek power must promise six impossible things before breakfast to their credulous electorates. They must promise to square the circle, to part the Red Sea, to turn back the waves, to reconcile the irreconcilable. Afterward, they are trapped by their own rhetoric. When the circle refuses to be squared, the person who promised it becomes a figure of hate, ridicule, or contempt. It goes without saying that no electorate ever blames itself, any more than any fly blames itself for being a nuisance. –

For many years, the policy of several Western governments has been, by various subterfuges, to live beyond their means, to spread largesse they do not have, to put off the reckoning to another day, to deceive the electorate into thinking that what cannot continue will nevertheless continue, and moreover continue forever. No doubt it is economically primitive of me (by comparison, say, with the new monetary theorists), but I believe that the greatest economist who ever lived, or at least lived in a certain sense, was Mr. Micawber:Theodore Dalrymple

To be frank, climate change is not high on my list of prioritise personally. I’m not a denier, I just don’t care terribly.

So, I’m not unhappy about this announcement today, because I feel like I’ve dodged a cost bullet again.

But I do wonder what the heck they’ve been up to if it’s taken them this long to pull together a plan that has no plan in it.  – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Since Grant Robertson became minister of finance, government spending has gone up 68 percent. With all of the growth forecasts slashed and most of the increased tax revenues spent, there is little in the Budget that shows the government is doing anything to stop the country from going backwards.

Granting everybody’s wishes may be fun, but it is unsustainable.Brigette Morten

Labour’s failure to order the Covid vaccine on time looks to have cost the average Kiwi household around $7000. Don’t worry. That average household has already forked out around $5500 in extra taxes to help pay for it. We’ll pay the rest later. – Matthew Hooton

In Auckland in particular, the preventable lockdown also drove more family businesses broke, ruined a second school year for tens of thousands of students and worsened already fragile mental health.

Yet no one in the Beehive or the bureaucracy has even apologised for the failure to begin our mass vaccination programme six months earlier.Matthew Hooton

The vaccine fiasco underlines that it is more often managerial competence than the amount of your money ministers boast they are spending that determines the efficacy of government programmes. Government didn’t ignore Pfizer’s 2020 offer because it was underfunded but because it was gormless.

Yesterday, Robertson boasted that he plans to spend more money than any of his predecessors. For 2022/23 alone, core Crown spending is now picked to be $127.1b, up another $6.9b over what was estimated as recently as December, already factoring in Robertson’s planned $6b of extra spending. This is not a sign of success but of failure, or at least that things are going wrong.

The increase over the December forecast is an extra $3500 per household. In 2022/23, Robertson now expects to spend $35.9b more than he and his predecessor Steven Joyce did in 2017/18. That is a 45 per cent increase, or nearly $20,000 per household.

To pay for it, Robertson estimates he will collect over $14,000 more per household in tax than he and Joyce did together in 2017/18. By the middle of next year, each household will carry over $50,000 more in net core Crown debt than when Robertson took the job — and debt will grow again in 2023/24. – Matthew Hooton

But if ministers, the media and the public continue to see increased government spending as a sign of success, not failure, then future finance ministers should do nothing. Demographics alone will allow them to boast big increases in spending, yet with no improvement in access, services or outcomes. – Matthew Hooton

The lesson from the 45 per cent increase in spending over which Robertson has presided is that the Government is taxing and borrowing quite enough. It has more than enough money to do a reasonable job at providing the services and support expected of it. But none of those services and support will in fact get better until the conversation turns to competence — and where governments at least apologise for things like unnecessary multibillion-dollar lockdowns. – Matthew Hooton

Here I am with my pronouns – Cactus Kate NPUWYWS (not putting up with your woke shit). Bite that as a pronoun.Cactus Kate

Government spending has increased by 66 per cent since Labour came into Government. That means that they are spending $51 billion more than in 2017. I really want to repeat that. $51 billion. The Labour Government won’t be worried that I repeated that number, because most of you don’t think in billions and so you won’t be too bothered because the number is so big it is unrecognisable to the average person.

So let’s make it relatable. That is $10,000 per New Zealander. Yes, you have paid $10,000. So far. Well actually they have borrowed most of that, so your kids and grandkids will have to pay that back. When people say that spending $145 million on consultants at our transport agency Waka Kotahi is chump change, you’re the chump. – Paula Bennett

There are a whole lot of things going up under this Government. The number of kids not regularly attending school has gone up. Not your problem as you’re a good parent who can afford to read Premium? Well, it is as those kids are disengaged from society, some illiterate as they haven’t learnt the basics, they are going to be problems in the future. At best they will spend a lot of time on welfare, at worst they will join the growing crime spree as they feel they have nothing to lose.Paula Bennett

Pattrick knows how to include her research so that it’s a background wash rather than a foreground blob. – David Hill

Yes this inflation is not temporary, it is not “transitory”. New Zealand will NOT be achieving its agreed inflation target, not even remotely, over the “medium term”. My question is: since when can a Finance Minister and a Reserve Bank Governor put their signatures to an “agreed” course of action, then willfully ignore it? In monetary economics, we call it a loss of credibility.Robert MacCulloch

Democracy fails when a government is not honest about what it believes are the issues, why they want change and what they propose to do.

Honesty in the issues is a vital first step.

Instead, the Government leapfrogs this and moves straight into expensive and incoherent advertising spending.

Without a clear idea of what the Government wants to say, the ads vary from childish through unbelievable to what a load of rubbish. – Hilary Calvert

The truth however is that many of the waters of New Zealand are fine. There are some that are below standard, and the Government has made rules for local government to require the levels to be lifted so that all reach the required standards. For the areas where there are issues of the local populations not being able to afford the changes required, the Government can provide money to improve the water, with or without oversight or control of how the money is spent.

We are left wondering what the problem is the Government sees which makes them think the answer is an opaque multi-level bureaucracy replacing local control of water. – Hilary Calvert

When we ask the next question around how and why this will lead to better water, the responses suggest that the top level involvement of our tangata whenua is a pivotal part of the proposal. How this relates to the sparkliness remains unclear.

This lack of honesty is particularly dangerous to democracy.

We need to talk about the role of Maori in our government structures. We need to be mindful of our obligations under the Treaty. And it would be great to clarify what people feel comfortable with before the local government reforms.

Our way forward with all New Zealand paddling in roughly the same direction in our unique fleet of waka will be pivotal to our wellbeing and achievements as a nation in the future. – Hilary Calvert

The Government was prepared to work on what it described as a high-trust model for Covid funding. Yet somehow it is extremely coy about trusting us with information about fundamental changes to the governance and control of our entire country.

The Government not coming clean about its agenda is a danger to democracy.

These conversations are important to have.

There is no right outcome, only an outcome which comes through proper democratic processes.

We need to abandon attempts at persuasion through propaganda thinly disguised as factual information.Hilary Calvert

The Government is silent about how democracy can work with co-governance with no inbuilt majority process.

If we don’t understand the basis of the issue we can’t contribute thoughtfully to talk of solutions and we risk confusion and stupid outcomes.

We can do better. We can and should defend democracy. We are still a smart and reasonably educated people.

We should be trusted with the facts and the ability to work through possible outcomes.

New Zealand is too small to be stupid. – Hilary Calvert

The energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine disabused many politicians of the notion that the world could make a swift transition to green energy powered by solar, wind and wishful thinking. As food prices skyrocket and the conflict threatens a global food crisis, we need to face another unpopular reality: Organic farming is ineffective, land hungry and very expensive, and it would leave billions hungry if it were embraced world-wide. 

The rise in food prices—buoyed by increased fertilizer, energy and transport costs—amid the conflict in Ukraine has exposed inherent flaws in the argument for organic farming. Because organic agriculture shirks many of the scientific advancements that have allowed farmers to increase crop yields, it’s inherently less efficient than conventional farming. – Bjorn Lomborg

A small country depends on our ability to sell stuff to the world with clear rules that everyone follows. The alternative is a trading world tilted to the powerful, where we’re forced to take sides and we survive by transferring wealth to our economic masters. – Josie Pagani

The explosion in trade mirrored almost exactly an unprecedented decline in extreme global poverty.

Despite record levels of international trade last year, that pace of growth is slowing. Slower growth in globalisation has coincided with slower progress in reducing poverty.

While we welcome the US commitment to security in the Pacific, there is a gaping lack of a real trade and economic agenda.

Without market access, the US cannot hope to counter Chinese influence in the region. – Josie Pagani

There is nothing a strong government likes more than a weak people; and therefore, whether consciously or not, everything is done to render the people ever feebler. Not physically, of course, we are raising up giants of a size and strength never before seen, as can be seen on any sports field, but psychologically—which is why psychology is the handmaiden of soft authoritarianism, it teaches people their vulnerability.

The more vulnerable people can be induced to believe themselves to be, the more they need assistance to keep themselves going. Such assistance (which is self-justifying, though never sufficient, or indeed even partially effective) requires a vast legal and other infrastructure, put in place and regulated by the government. The government is the pastor, the people are the sheep.Theodore Dalrymple

Are men now like sugar that dissolves in the slightest moisture? It seems so. Surely at one time men could have withstood or laughed off an insult or two without bursting into tears or seeking compensation for the terrible trauma to their ego that such an insult did. Of course, where a perceived harm is actionable at law, more such harm will be perceived. It is an established fact that in countries in which whiplash injuries as a result of car collisions are not legally actionable, people do not suffer from the kind of whiplash injuries that they experience when there is the possibility of compensation. The real cause of whiplash, then, is not accident but tort law, and it is the lawyers whom the sufferers from it should be suing, not the people who ran into the back of their cars. – Theodore Dalrymple

The more lawyers we train, the worse things get. As the French Revolution amply proved, underemployed and disgruntled lawyers are a very dangerous class, and they therefore have to be employed somehow. What better way of doing so than by promulgating a constant deluge of ever-changing regulations and ensuring that a population is made of eggshells? The proliferation of helplines (most of which are exceptionally busy today, that is to say whenever you ring them) indicates this.Theodore Dalrymple

Better a society of cheats than one of informers. The fact is that informers are not thinking of the betterment of society but of settling scores with those they inform upon, or they take a malicious pleasure from inflicting discomfiture on others. – Theodore Dalrymple

Such qualities as resilience and fortitude are the deadliest enemies of any modern government bureaucracy.Theodore Dalrymple

In the city, you’ve got consistency, convenience and control,” says Lim. “When we lived in Auckland, we got My Food Bag delivered, or you could pop out to the shops and get something when you felt like it and very quickly. Down here, it’s the complete opposite. Nature dictates when you’re going to have it and how much you are going to have. There isn’t any consistency. You just have to work with what you’ve got. – Nadia Lim

 I didn’t necessarily want to be on a big farm, I would have been quite happy on a lifestyle block, but Carlos wanted to do the proper farming thing.

“And I always felt, more so probably in the past five years, this overwhelming sense of responsibility to not only be part of the process of preparing food – teaching people how to cook and use these ingredients – but to also be part of the process of how the ingredients get to your plate. How you grow your food, how you raise it . . . I want to complete the full cycle.Nadia Lim

There is no black and white. I don’t buy into the idea of people saying farmers should do things this way, or that way. There are far too many variables and there are pros and cons to all systems, whether they be conventional or organic or spray-free or regenerative.

“People watch documentaries or read an article, and of course humans like things to be made simple . . . I can 100 per cent put my heart on the line and tell you it’s not. – Nadia Lim

When it comes to growing food, to me it is the most simple, natural thing in the world – there is no such thing as an ecosystem that does not have plants AND animals in it. It’s not as simple as ‘livestock bad, plant good’. It comes down to who is helping curate the balance of the two.Nadia Lim

Our leaders need to stand up, back our police and give them all the support and resource they need to keep us safe. It does not help when leaders like our current mayor reportedly state that there is a perception that our city isn’t safe. It is not a perception, Mayor Goff, that is insulting to the woman cowering in her own lounge as bullets explode around her property.

The violence can no longer be ignored by the Government and by us. It is no longer something that is happening among them – it is happening to us. – Paula Bennett

I worry when my kids are in town, I hate them going in there. They tell me town was OK, “only about 3 fights,” that they witnessed.

So just the 20 bullet holes, the 3 fights (that we know of), and the suburbs filled with opportunists hitting people up for cash.

Welcome to Auckland – what a cool place to live.Kate Hawkesby

As I’ve been pointing out now for a couple of years, the obvious gap in the plans of our betters for a carbon-free “net zero” energy future is the problem of massive-scale energy storage. How exactly is New York City (for example) going to provide its citizens with power for a long and dark full-week period in the winter, with calm winds, long nights, and overcast days, after everyone has been required to change over to electric heat and electric cars — and all the electricity is supposed to come from the wind and sun, which are neither blowing nor shining for these extended periods? Can someone please calculate how much energy storage will be needed to cover a worst-case solar/wind drought, what it will consist of, how long it has to last, how much it will cost, and whether it is economically feasible? Nearly all descriptions by advocates of the supposed path to “net zero” — including the ambitious plans of the states of New York and California — completely gloss over this issue and/or deal with it in a way demonstrating total incompetence and failure to comprehend the problem. – Francis Menton

Bottom line: I’m not trusting anybody’s so-called “model” to prove that this gigantic energy transformation is going to work. Show me the demonstration project that actually works.

They won’t. Indeed, there is not even an attempt to put such a thing together, even as we hurtle down the road to “net zero” without any idea how it is going to work.Francis Menton

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is backfiring for Russia on every front. For now, it has given the EU an advantage. How Brussels will use it may be a different matter.- Oliver Hartwich

Win $2 million in Lotto and you’re celebrated. Earn $2 million busting your arse to help other people and you’re criticised. Welcome to New Zealand.Lani Fogelberg

Someone could be busting their arse in a business capacity and the good they’ve done won’t be celebrated. There will be an undertone that encourages people to envy them or ask why they should have $2m? But they may have worked hard and gone through quite a lot to have a genuine contribution. – Lani Fogelberg

The tall poppy syndrome here is worse than in Australia. The responses are pretty aggressive and it’s getting worse. If you’re successful in business, people treat you well to your face but behind your back, it’s different. They don’t want to be associated with successful people; rather than being celebrated, they’re viewed as someone not to hang out with.Lani Fogelberg

A lot of New Zealanders think the only way you can be successful is using other poor people, walking over them for their own profitability and benefit, that’s the mindset of this country because we’re taught everyone must be equal. – Lani Fogelberg

My God! The amount of shit you get for owning a Ferrari. I’m a petrolhead. It’s no different to a woman being passionate about fashion.Lani Fogelberg

In the Great Game of the 21st century, face-to-face diplomacy is perhaps the single most valuable tool – as Australia’s Penny Wong and China’s Wang Yi successfully demonstrated over the past week. The global geopolitical temperature is steadily rising. New Zealand needs to ensure it can withstand the heat. – Geoffrey Miller

 Humanism valorizes the individual—and with good reason; we are each the hero of our own story. Not only is one’s individual sovereignty more essential to the humanist project than one’s group affiliation, but fighting for individual freedom—which includes freedom of conscience, speech, and inquiry—is part of the writ-large agenda of humanism. It unleashes creativity and grants us the breathing space to be agents in our own lives.

Or at least that idea used to be at the core of humanism.

Today, there is a subpart of humanists, identitarians, who are suspicious of individuals and their freedoms. They do not want a free society if it means some people will use their freedom to express ideas with which they disagree. They see everything through a narrow affiliative lens of race, gender, ethnicity, or other demographic category and seek to shield groups that they see as marginalized by ostensible psychic harms inflicted by the speech of others.Robyn E. Blumner

 Rather than lifting up individuals and imbuing them with autonomy and all the extraordinary uniqueness that flows from it, identitarians would divide us all into racial,  ethnic,  and  gender-based groups and make that group affiliation our defining characteristic. This has the distorting effect of obliterating personal agency, rewarding group victimhood, and incentivizing competition to be seen as the most oppressed.

In addition to being inherently divisive, this is self-reinforcing defeatism. It results in extreme examples, such as a draft plan in California to deemphasize calculus as a response to persistent racial gaps in math achievement.2 Suddenly a subject as racially neutral as math has become a flashpoint for identitarians set on ensuring equality of outcomes for certain groups rather than the far-more just standard of equality of opportunity. In this freighted environment, reducing the need for rigor and eliminating challenging standards becomes a feasible solution. The notion of individual merit or recognition that some students are better at math than others becomes racially tinged and suspect.

Not only does the truth suffer under this assault on common sense, but we start to live in a Harrison Bergeron world where one’s natural skills are necessarily sacrificed on the altar of equality or, in today’s parlance, equity. – Robyn E. Blumner

But nobody should be under any illusion: the Government’s ongoing stimulatory fiscal policy is contributing to the need for the Reserve Bank to increase interest rates, something which the Treasury warned the Minister just weeks before the Budget when the Minister decided he wanted to dole out some cash sweeteners to help low income New Zealanders with the cost of living.

It’s like a car being driven with one foot on the brake and the other on the accelerator – the more the Government stimulates the economy with fiscal policy, the harder the Reserve Bank will need to apply the brakes of higher interest rates.Don Brash 


Quotes of the month

01/04/2022

The absolute low point of the past three years was the public’s passive acceptance of the imposed nanny state. The “Team of five million” and “Be Kind” mantras belong in kindergartens. For me they were unbelievable. I was ashamed to be a New Zealander as common sense went out the window. The Be Kind childishness was particularly outrageous given the unbelievably cruel, unnecessary and illegal prohibition on thousands of Kiwis prevented from returning home, in numerous cases to farewell dying family members. – Sir Bob Jones

 Ardern is not a communist and its pretty stupid to argue that she is. In the continuum of recent Labour Party leaders I would see her as governing in the Norman Kirk/David Lange tradition … full of well meaning but half baked ideas but totally bereft of any understanding of how the economy actually works … and that will be her downfall along with her embrace of of separatist agenda laid out in He Puapua.The Veteran

The most important lesson from the invasion of Ukraine is that we have to be willing to defend our freedom. If we are not, no one else will do it for us. – Richard Prebble

The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride – President Volodymyr Zelensky  

We are the people who can run the economy well … but I also want them to understand we care deeply about people. – Christopher Luxon

In the midst of war, what an uplifting week it’s been in terms of a world that, despite all its many worries, can still largely unite and offer hope. 

Never in my lifetime have I seen such a coordinated, effective, and immediate response to a crisis.  – Mike Hosking

This country should have, could have done more. Two million dollars for aid. As Mark Mitchell said Wednesday, the mongrel mob got more. God forbid, we should be like Australia and fund weaponry. Why help save a country when you can give them blankets when they are displaced?

But most of the world got it, and did something good about it. Thus, proving that in the right time and for the right reasons, we are all still on each other’s side.  – Mike Hosking

After the current price spike caused by bureaucratic incompetence, RATs will soon be ordinary low-cost supermarket items found alongside the Panadol, Tampax, Gillette and Rexona in the toiletries aisle.

As with everything else, Foodstuffs, Countdown and The Warehouse will do an incomparably better job than the Ministry of Health and MBIE at making sure stocks don’t run out. Matthew Hooton

Even were New Zealand at its peak today, we should assume the new normal involves thousands of new daily infections and dozens of people with Covid in hospital for the foreseeable future. But very few will die, even if the authorities continue to count people who are murdered, killed in car crashes or are diagnosed with stage four lung cancer as Covid deaths because they test positive posthumously. – Matthew Hooton

There will be a hangover in the form of inflation, higher interest rates and rising unemployment. The silver lining is that inflation will reduce the value of the $60 billion Grant Robertson borrowed over the past two years, even as the nominal cost of servicing rises.

Consequently, expect governments and central banks to let inflation go higher and stick around for longer than they currently pretend. It’s politically safer to invisibly tax the poor with inflation and the middle class with bracket creep than to transparently raise marginal rates. – Matthew Hooton

For ALMOST two years, we – the press and the population – have been almost hypnotically preoccupied with the authorities’ daily coronatal. THE CONSTANT mental alertness has worn out tremendously on all of us. That is why we – the press – must also take stock of our own efforts. And we have failed.Brian Weichardt

WE HAVE NOT been vigilant enough at the garden gate when the authorities were required to answer what it actually meant that people are hospitalized with corona and not because of corona. Because it makes a difference. A big difference. Exactly, the official hospitalization numbers have been shown to be 27 percent higher than the actual figure for how many there are in the hospital, simply because they have corona. We only know that now.

OF COURSE, it is first and foremost the authorities who are responsible for informing the population correctly, accurately and honestly. The figures for how many are sick and died of corona should, for obvious reasons, have been published long ago. – Brian Weichardt

There is no more weaselly expression in the modern lexicon than “identifies as,” which inherently emphasizes feelings over facts. I can identify as a nice person, but that does not mean that I am a nice person. Indeed, if most people who meet me abominate me, my self-identification as a nice person means nothing except (if I truly believe it) that I am deluded.

Asking people what they identify as is the natural consequence of what might be called the psychology and philosophy of the real me. The real me has nothing to do with the merely external me, the me that other people perceive through my conduct, manners, conversation, etc. The real me is a kind of homunculus who lives inside the merely apparent me, who preserves his innocence no matter what the apparent me may say or do. This is a very liberating psychological and philosophical conception of human life, because it means that a person can retain his belief in his essential goodness while behaving appallingly—as most of us would be naturally inclined to do from time to time.Theodore Dalrymple

Multiculturalism—as an ideology, not as a fact—is another promoter, excuser, and rationalization of bad behavior. All you have to say to excuse your bad behavior is that it is part of your culture. Since there is no way to rank cultures, all being equal, your behavior is placed beyond criticism. And of course, if you must uncritically accept the cultures of other people, other people must accept uncritically what you claim to be your culture.

Everyone knows that cultures change, but almost any mass behavior soon falls under the rubric of culture. I was once the de facto vulgarity correspondent of a British newspaper that was not itself totally foreign to the charms of vulgarity, but which simultaneously thundered against vulgarity in others. The newspaper would send me to wherever young British people were gathering and behaving in vulgar fashion, so it was spoiled for choice, the British being not merely vulgar, but militantly vulgar, as if vulgarity were an ideology. – Theodore Dalrymple

That is why licentiousness and puritanism coexist in our societies, not so much in equilibrium as in a violently seesawing manner. We reprobate pedophilia and sexualize children from an early age. We demand that everyone watches his tongue while the vilest abuse is the common language of discussion and dispute. I demand the freedom to express myself, but that you shut up if what you say offends me.

“Identifying as” is an expression that would be used only in a society of mass egotism, in which the self is an object of auto-idolatry.Theodore Dalrymple

Our obsession with ideological causes, in the absence of clear supporting (multivariate – and multidisciplinary) evidence, and our willingness to sacrifice the needs of higher achievers in order to equalize educational outcomes, guarantee the progressive erosion of educational standards… if you cannot lift achievement at the bottom, then lower it at the top.  The deleterious effect of this on higher achieving students, on education at large, and its ultimate effect on our economy, are considered worthy sacrifices if greater social cohesion is the end result. The fact that it makes us all materially poorer seems of little consequence.  Social cohesion remains elusive due to systemic denial of the real causes of social breakdown and dysfunction. – Caleb Anderson

In this time of distress, that’s the light, the human spirit that is so much alive. Nir Zohar

Finally and while Russia will win the war they will lose the peace. 43,192.122 Ukrainians will never forget or forgive while, for much of the world, Russia will become a pariah state whose word is never to be trusted. The madman Putin has much to answer for … not the least to his own people. – The Veteran

Science has a hard time keeping up with the data. Nature reports results of a large trial on RATs. Plus side: they seem pretty accurate. Downside: data’s all from the first half of 2021, on a variant that’s no longer prevalent, with little sense of whether the results hold with Omicron. Omicron seems to express in saliva before nasal passages, and the RATs generally take nasal swabs. Remember how, when I used to think there was some point in trying to help get to better policy on Covid, I’d rabbit on about trialling different testing methods side-by-side in MIQ as horseraces? We could totally have known, right now, relative performance of a bucket of different RATs against both swab and saliva PCR, for Omicron. Government is just so hopeless. Eric Crampton

As Prime Minister in a pandemic, she ultimately decides just about everything we can do. She can decide to shut shops, close schools, cancel events, keep us confined to home. She even decides what is best for our health. But she doesn’t get to decide what defines us. Not all of us. – John Roughan 

When a Prime Minister on half a million dollars a year tells people on less than 10 per cent of that there isn’t a crisis, the “let them eat cake ” cloak of arrogance is draped ominously on her shoulders.

There is no doubt, we have a cost-of-living crisis, we live it every day.Mike Hosking

The ANZ this week is forecasting inflation to peak at 7.5 per cent. Are wages going to rise at anywhere close to that level? Of course not.

We are going backwards at a rate of knots, if you hear different from this government they are either fudging figures or straight-up misleading you. – Mike Hosking

Non-tradeable inflation, that’s the stuff we create locally, is the second-highest in the world, they can’t hide from that.

Their spending, their borrowing, their scattergun distribution of cash they never had around the non-productive parts of the economy, is now coming back to haunt them.Mike Hosking

National, with tax cuts on offer, will let you decide more of your own economic outlook, while Ardern and Robertson will tell you they know better.

With one speech and one line, in less than a week, Luxon can sit out his self isolation knowing he has turned the tide on his election chances. He has policy alternatives, and he has a government looking removed and out of touch, with a leader pretending what’s in front of every single one of us isn’t real. – Mike Hosking

 It is clear now that the issues around vaccination were but the catalyst for the expression of a deeper sense of grievance and anger that has been building up over recent years. That is what needs to be addressed to prevent similar events breaking out in the future. But that argument will not be won by telling those who oppose vaccination and mandates that they are part of an ill-informed minority rabble, any more than putting a wall around Parliament will stop other protests in the future.Peter Dunne

 There is a significant group of people who feel left out, and increasingly shut out, of what is happening in our country. This runs deeper than just those politically opposed to the present government. Rather, it is a group that feels out of step with all governments, whatever their political complexion.

We need urgently to depolarise politics. That does not mean diminishing the strength of political convictions, but rather, softening the intolerant fervour that increasingly seems to accompany them. – Peter Dunne

Telling people that their views are crackpot and ill-informed, not shared by the mainstream of the population, and refusing to engage with the protest leaders merely fuels their discontent. Likewise, dismissing those who called for a more reasoned approach as basically supporters of the protestors was as incendiary as the petrol and gas heaped on Parliament’s playground last week.

It should be no surprise at all that people who think their backs are being pushed unreasonably against a wall eventually react. And the greater the perceived pressure, the greater the reaction. What is surprising is the belief that telling them they are plain wrong and should therefore go home, will lead to their meekly doing so. Such moral sanctity in a society that likes to parade its diversity when it suits is just humbug.Peter Dunne

The right to dissent must always be upheld in a free society, and, alongside that, the right to promote minority viewpoints protected, as long they are not in defiance of the law or encouraging lawlessness. That should be an absolute given, not the contestable debating point it is seen to be today.

When I was at school a valuable principle was ingrained in me – I have the right to be right, and the right to be wrong. It seems to me that until that principle is more universally applied and accepted, whatever the issue, or however strongly it may be felt, we have no guarantee that the abhorrent events that came to a head last week in Wellington will not occur again. – Peter Dunne

Since this government has come to power, despite all the lovely words and jawboning, on home ownership the average price is up $350,000. Rents are up $7,300 on the same house you were renting four years ago and in state housing we have a four-fold increase, up to 25,000. Last night we had 4,500 kids in motels and emergency accommodations. We’ve got challenges.”

“This government hasn’t managed the housing situation at all, they’ve made it worse. By a dramatic amount, in every aspect, they’ve made it worse. We live in a country the size of Great Britain or Japan, with far fewer people and much higher house prices. This is a problem completely of our own making.Christopher Luxon

The world is taking off big time. Some countries have come through Covid and are looking at how to put the afterburners on. They are thinking quite intently and purposefully about the country they want to see emerge. Others have become so obsessed with Covid, as we have, and haven’t got a sense of direction, of where we’re going. And to be honest, there is no reason to come here at the moment. It’s not an attractive place, you know. The world is moving on and we are playing a very fearful, very small, very inward game. – Christopher Luxon

In short, real freedom is fettered freedom. Your freedom to swing your fist must end before it hits my nose. The reduction or removal of the government mandate would not end the fetters.  – Bryce Wilkinson

One question New Zealanders might ask is what position the country would be in regarding oil and gas supply if the Ardern Government hadn’t stopped enabling new exploration of oil and gas in 2017.  Removing this ban today would have no effect, as it takes years to invest, explore and gain any results, but had it happened in 2017, then there might have been a contribution to global supply. The Ardern Government has deliberately decided to constrain supply of oil and gas, not on economic grounds, not even considering national security, but to virtue signal. – Liberty Scott

My view has always been that there are several reasons for our high inflation, but big government spending in an overheating economy is certainly one of them, and the one the Government can most quickly bring under control.

We should provide tax relief to New Zealanders on the way through, whilst also reining in government spending through a focus on discipline and quality investment.Simon Bridges

The Dunedin and Christchurch studies suggest children are remarkably resilient if faced with one or two life challenges in their first two decades. What causes permanent harm is the so-called cocktail of disadvantage. That means children in stable homes and good schools should cope, but Covid will be the last nip in the shaker for the less privileged. – Matthew Hooton

Turns out that dealing with Covid is difficult when you can’t just throw up the borders, keep it out and let life continue basically normally here. People get tired of changing rules, restrictions and just Covid more generally. In focus groups, there have been niggles over various things for several months. Luke Malpass

In fact, it turns out that the “this” in “let’s do this” was not the communism her more deranged opponents claim, but – from the perspective of the under 30s who backed her so strongly in 2017 – something along the political spectrum closer towards kleptocracy. As a small example, I have personally gained more, tax-free, under Ardern’s Government, without having to work for it, than under any New Zealand Government before. – Matthew Hooton

Yet even as all of this happens, we need to ask ourselves how we got into this situation. How we arrived in a world in which defending people from supposedly offensive words is considered more important than defending our borders. In which we seem to have so little need for the virtue of ‘strength’ that we’re willing to blacklist the word itself for being gendered and stereotypical. This is where the Ukraine war really confronts us. It interrupts, violently, our post-Cold War conceits. It upends our belief that history, in Europe at least, is largely settled, and now we can concern ourselves with petty things like pronouns and sexual identity or with purposely overblown, mission-creating projects for the technocratic elite, like the ‘climate emergency’. This conceit has impacted on almost every facet of public life in recent decades, nurturing the delusion that ours is a post-war, post-borders, post-everything continent, in which the highest aim of public life is either to manage the public or validate individual identities. Those bombs in Ukraine have shattered this Western arrogance and decadence by reminding us that history lives.Brendan O’Neill

As well as living in an age of emotionalism, we live in a time of tribal politics. And these are a strange sort of tribal politics. They are no longer about left versus right, but more about feeling versus reason, of fashionable causes that earn you peer approval versus unfashionable causes that don’t. – Patrick West

To put it crudely, on one side today we have those who channel their feelings, instincts and fear into their worldview, and those who are circumspect and rational – and we are damned for it.Patrick West

 Is Jacinda Ardern a megalomaniac?

Whatever the answer, we know that not only does New Zealand’s Prime Minister have what has been described as libido dominandi, a desire for power, she is also presiding over the most incompetent, destructive government in our history. Its thoroughly anti-democratic attacks on that vital principle of equality for all, under the law, show no sign of diminishing. – Amy Brooke

New Zealanders are suffering under a government viewed as further to the left of socialism and financially incompetent, with Ardern regarded as sly and evasive when it comes to answering questions she dislikes. In spite of her charm offensive, more media are risking her displeasure by voicing concern about the inappropriateness of so many of the control policies widely imposed. Only now reversed, for example, is forcing fully-vaccinated, well people from overseas to enter expensive quarantine facilities while Omicron rampages throughout the country!

The Ardern government’s provision of superior, unprecedented rights for part-Maori who belong to powerful, immensely wealthy, neo-tribal corporations was a factor bringing so many to protest at Parliament recently. Although it was pilloried as run by anti-vaxxers and others against vaccination mandates, the majority of the crowd – apart from an inevitable mob element – was there to protest against the loss of so many of our freedoms. – Amy Brooke

So much for the constant invoking of kindness and well-being, falling so readily from the lips of our leader. One thing was constantly obvious – Arden’s antipathy to those worried enough to voice their concerns. She simply told them to go away. And now our power-wedded leader is thinking of extending the confusing traffic light control system over the country – to cope with the possible emergence of flu this winter. New Zealanders have only just begun to protest. – Amy Brooke

We can all bring sweetness and goodness into our world, even small things like a smile to a passerby, feeding the birds, care for thirsty trees and drooping plants,  a bowl of water by the gate for thirsty dogs and other creatures, acknowledgement of the careful pattern on top of our freshly made coffee to the barista, these tiny things can mean a quality of life, actions which can bring softness into the harsh times in which we find ourselves. Small happinesses which we can give to others, usually make us happy too. And the light of gratitude we feel when we recognise the beauty and bountifulness of nature and the world  – these are the  things that can uplift us –  remind us of the miracle of life which can overcome fear, depression or anxiety.Valerie Davies

It was dear old Samwise in Lord of The Rings who said,
“But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.  Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer”.
Let us hope so. Even the shattered ruins of Leningrad have been transformed into the golden glory of St Petersburg with the passing of time. Let us hope that the devastation we see now will be healed in a real peace between nations whose people do not want to fight – that this Will pass and a new day Will come. And the light of the sun will shine on us all. – Valerie Davies

Jacinda Ardern “rejects” so much these days that New Zealanders are in danger of forgetting what she stands for. Fran O’Sullivan

One of the problems with Western society that has made it not only appear to be, but actually to be decadent, is what might be called its umbilicism, the habit of navel-gazing as if there were no world exterior to itself. Only navel-gazers could imagine that questions raised by transgenderism are serious. The West pretends to multiculturalism but has no real interest in developments outside its own borders. Like spoiled children growing up in the lap of luxury, it can’t imagine a world that doesn’t respond to its whims, let alone that threatens it, and this despite its catastrophic history almost within living memory. The failure of the imagination is almost total.

When authoritarian leaders of powerful countries see statues erected to a man merely because he was killed by a policeman and sanctified though he had led a thoroughly bad and indeed vicious life, they must surely think that the West is an overripe fruit that needs only a little shake to drop from the tree, incapable as it appears to be of distinguishing between a minor event and a major threat. For them, a serious country is one that can lock up thousands if not millions of its citizens with impunity, control access to information, and arm itself to the teeth, with or without impoverishing the entire nation.

Our challenge is to prove them wrong. For all our faults, our weaknesses, our foolishness, our dishonesties, our willful blindness, our errors, our self-indulgence, our way of life is incomparably superior, at least for us, to theirs, and must be defended. The verdict on whether we have the resolve to do so is not yet in, but not all the auguries are good. – Theodore Dalrymple

So having talked myself into a corner, I have to resolve to make the place where I stand the kindest, purest, most honest and most decent place possible. I can only love my corner of the world and try to share love to add to the goodness in the world, and not get bogged down in the pain of the world.

 Philosopher Martin Buber said,”You can rake the muck this way, rake the muck that way …. In the time I am brooding over it, I could be stringing pearls for the delight of Heaven”. He’s right. Yes, brooding is a waste of time, so I will try to string pearls instead of futile brooding over the tragedy of Ukraine – pearls of love and kindness and a little laughter.Valerie Davies

When the opposition is seen as more economically competent the government always loses the election. – Richard Prebble

Inflation is deadly because the solution to inflation is even higher prices, and increased interest rates.

No prudent government lets inflation get established.Richard Prebble

Reducing the excise tax on petrol just transfers the revenue raising to a less efficient tax. There is no Covid fund. It is an accounting fiction. The roads still have to be paid for from taxes or borrowing.

More worrying is the subsidy on public transport. The advice of the OECD regarding subsidies is “do not do it”.

Subsidies are poorly targeted. The winter energy payment goes to millionaires. Those who can afford to take a bus are being subsidised by those who cannot. Subsidies once on are very hard to withdraw. There has never been a social or economic justification for subsidising Gold Card holders’ ferry trips to Waiheke Island. – Richard Prebble

We will discover we are connected to events such as a probable Russian default in ways we cannot imagine. The double-digit food price inflation is just the beginning.

What could cause the price of petrol to fall is a worldwide recession, now a real possibility.Richard Prebble

In politics, it is always later than you think. Labour has just 18 months of effective government before the next election. The way to solve inflation was a year ago, starting with increasing interest rates, 18 months ago to stop printing money, five years ago not to ban off-shore exploring for oil and gas.

Interest rates have to rise but it will not be in time to bring inflation under control before Labour faces the electorate.

The effect of interest rate rises on the mortgage belt electorates will be devastating. The Auckland median house price is $1.2 million. Last year with a 20 per cent deposit, monthly repayments on the loan at 2.50 per cent would be $3793. By election year at 5.25 per cent the repayment will be $5301.

Three months’ fuel tax relief and public transport subsidies is not going to save Labour. – Richard Prebble

To become citizens in a democracy, young people must be taught how to think rather than what to think. – Michael Johnston

What is clear though, is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to discuss contentious topics openly. To present a viewpoint at odds with those fashionable can draw opprobrium, censure and even ostracism.  –Michael Johnston

In a democracy, political ideas must not only be contestable but must actually be contested. For democracy to remain healthy, diverse viewpoints must be included and welcomed in public debate.Michael Johnston

In political discourse, the ability to make a sound argument is necessary, but it isn’t, on its own, enough to make a strong contribution to political debate. Certain dispositions are also important. Perhaps foremost amongst these is humility.

Humility entails assuming that there’s something to learn from those we disagree with. It means being open-minded and willing to alter our opinions in the light of new information. It is a quality that seems to be lacking in much of our current political discourse. Adopting a humbler stance when contesting ideas would do much to counteract our increasingly censorious and polarised political culture. – Michael Johnston

Intellectual humility needs to be modelled rather than taught explicitly. If children observe adults practising respectful, attentive and open-minded disagreement, they’re more likely to adopt that way of arguing themselves.

In a democracy, argument has a higher purpose than humiliating our opponents. That kind of argument does nothing to improve our ideas. If instead, we argue in good faith, we can discover things that we would not or could not have discovered alone. Facts, reason, humility and respect are the best guidelines for teachers interested in preserving and enhancing democracy.Michael Johnston

This has gloriously given us insight into the new merciless standards of the puritanical woke.

They would eat their own if they weren’t all vegan. – Martin Bradbury

“Co-governance” in practice is a mechanism for stealing resources that belong to all of us, irrespective of race, in order to satisfy some primeval tribal goal that rackets through the minds of the undemocratically-selected Maori partner. The message is that whenever “co-governance” is proposed, it should be met with fierce resistance. There is no desirable alternative to democracy, majority rule, unless we all want to set off down the road towards an authoritarian, unaccountable tribal world.Michael Bassett

Talking to a friend yesterday, his indifference to Ardern has mushroomed into a visceral loathing. His bristling is palpable. He is sick of being treated like a child, talked to as if he is an idiot. His words.

And when you think about it, living under Ardern has been like being back at school. Where most teachers preached conformity for your own good, or for the greater good, or for the sake of the school community.

Yet anyone who spent a moment reflecting knew that ultimately, you are on your own. You make your own way in the world. You love and look after friends and family, as they do you. But we are each an island. A self-contained intellectual entity. – Lindsay Mitchell

But the spark of human individuality cannot be suppressed indefinitely. Like the lad who mentioned the naked emperor’s actual state. Or the exceedingly brave Russian broadcaster who momentarily yelled to the tv cameras that it’s all propaganda.

Maybe, just maybe, the silver lining from the last two bewildering and stultifying years will be a re-emergence of individual independence – freedom of action, freedom of thought and freedom from fools.Lindsay Mitchell

 No-one should feel unsafe or unable to express their thoughts. That is what New Zealand had become. That place.- Lindsay Mitchell

This is New Zealand’s most conservative government of recent times. Not so much in terms of its political ideology, but more in the way it does things. Its policy prescription, admittedly constrained by New Zealand First’s negativism in the first term, and the persistence of the pandemic so far in the second, has not been at all radical or innovative. And, with half the current Parliamentary term almost over, the prospects of its being able to devise and introduce radical and innovative solutions before the next election seem very slim. Wherever possible the current government has harkened back to earlier solutions belonging to governments of the past to deal with the issues it confronts today.- Peter Dunne

 Labour’s solution to the poor performance of the District Health Board structure it created when last in office is to go back to the system that preceded it. Labour had set up the District Health Boards in 2000 to replace National’s centralised Health Funding Agency and four Regional Health Authorities. It said then it wanted to restore local democracy to health service delivery and get away from centralised decision-making. But now this Labour government is proposing to replace the elected District Health Boards with its own centralised, unelected Health New Zealand entity, supported by a Māori Health Authority and four local commissioning authorities, in a model that, but for the name changes, is virtually the same as the system it got rid of over 20 years ago.Peter Dunne

And yet more progress could have been achieved had Labour involved private-sector construction companies in its plans from the outset, as the first Labour government had done with Sir James Fletcher. But the current government was too focused on KiwiBuild houses being seen as government-built, and therefore solely to its credit, to do so. It was an early sign that the promise of transformation really meant a return to the big central government of the 1960s and 1970s. – Peter Dunne

However, the scale of borrowing to do so has been far more substantial and riskier, especially at a time of rising inflation and interest rates worldwide. Yet the government has seemed content to rely on the tactics of the Muldoon government and its predecessors and pass the repayment of the debt – about $60 billion so far – to future generations to repay. More innovative solutions could have been expected from a government committed to foundational change, let alone transformation. – Peter Dunne

The overall impression is of a very conservative and cautious government, risk averse, wary, and unwilling to devolve any responsibility to local communities or the private sector. It is determined to govern from the centre in the benign “we know best” way governments half a century ago and earlier did, overlooking that New Zealand has changed considerably since then. We are a far more pluralistic and diverse society today, unlikely to take comfortably to a return of stifling, all knowing, big central government.

The problem this has created for Labour, which the polls are starting to reflect, is among those of its supporters who genuinely believed in or were enthused by the prospect of a government of aspiration and transformation. They are now becoming disillusioned that while its rhetoric may be bold, in practice this government is no different from those that went before it. Moreover, by centralising everything again it has put itself in the position where only it can be blamed when things go wrong, or do not live up to what was promised. All that means is many of its erstwhile supporters may not be as nearly as inclined to vote for it again in 2023, as they were in 2017 and 2020. – Peter Dunne

It turns out not to be true that, at heart, all people desire only peace and will respond reasonably if you speak reason to them. The invasion of Ukraine has been, among other things, a lesson in the possibilities of human nature. The surprising thing, perhaps, is that, in Europe of all places, it is a lesson that had to be taught.Theodore Dalrymple

Be that as it may, the Russian invasion of Ukraine purportedly acted on Europe (and the United States) much as the electric current acted on the corpse of Frankenstein’s monster: it brought it back to life. Suddenly, the cobbled-together body of the west began to act as a real organism, and a powerful one at that. There is nothing like an enemy at the gates to give a bit of backbone to a weakling. The speeches of the Ukrainian president, after all, moved everyone in a way that very few speeches by contemporary politicians move anyone. The west had revealed itself to be not so feeble as supposed. – Theodore Dalrymple

While western politicians have appealed to the best in human nature, an appeal that, however insincere or hypocritical, places constraints upon them, Putin has always exploited, so far successfully (if one measures success by survival in power), the worst in it.  – Theodore Dalrymple

Blame for the failure to prepare must lie with the Ministry of Health and the Health Minister. There was no decision to urgently hire or train more staff, and no rapid move to create temporary facilities. “Plans” to upgrade hospitals to cope with Covid patients were announced just three months ago. A pronouncement six weeks ago that the Ministry was “about to start” recruiting offshore for ICU nurses was rightly ridiculed.

These failures are emblematic of the Government’s ponderous approach to almost every aspect of the health response. Provision of PPE, vaccines, RAT tests and new medications have all been very slow, and served with a diet of dissembling and obfuscation.

The ministry and the Government have been way too reliant on the generosity of New Zealanders in accepting restrictions on their freedoms to “avoid putting pressure on the health system”, where too often it has really been about avoiding pressure on themselves. – Steven Joyce

There is nothing you can point to that will improve patient care, nor even a funding formula. Just lots of shallow statements about “fixing the health system”. Oh, and a half-billion-dollar-and-counting price tag.

It was ever thus. Incessant rounds of reforms at the top of the system end up leaving the same people in charge and no plan to improve patient care. – Steven Joyce

I’m all in favour of a greater range of health providers including Māori health providers, who often do a better job of reaching their communities. But it doesn’t make sense that a health provider with the country’s largest number of Māori and Pacific people enrolled gets paid less per patient than one which is Māori-owned. Funding according to the ownership of the supplier means patients miss out.

Similarly we shouldn’t be prioritising provision through government-owned suppliers as we did in the early stages of vaccine rollout, when GP’s in private practice and pharmacists were left on the sidelines. How was that good for patients? – Steven Joyce

Changes are needed in health to make the sector more robust so it can deliver more to New Zealanders. Reform that provides more patient-centred care and a larger workforce will make a difference. Reform with a big price tag that just rearranges the bureaucracy won’t. Unfortunately, the Government is serving up the latter. Steven Joyce

We voters only care about the short term. And our politicians only care about keeping us happy. They’re not nimble or urgent. They’re cowardly.

But ask yourself this: regardless of your political stripes, wouldn’t you prefer a government to be led by its principles than by the polls?

A society deserves the leaders it elects. Once again, Jacinda Ardern’s Government has shown it’s more interested in doing what is popular than what is right.  – Jack Tame

The line between fact and fiction has become thin. In their second term, Labour has become adept at downplaying their mistakes, discrediting those who criticise, encouraging misinformation and diverting attention from bad news, while wrapping themselves in meaningless cultural signals.Andrea Vance 

Politicians are enabled to gaslight us because of the torrent of information in our digital age. Who has time to fact-check every statement? And at a time when every press conference or speech is live-streamed, most of these confident assertions go unchecked.

We shrug off the lies because in a post-Trump world we no longer expect truthfulness, integrity or decency. The most pressing problems: hardship, climate change, the viability of our health systems, are too big to contemplate, so we happily accept slogans over real solutions.

All this gaslighting is enough to make you feel slightly insane. Which, I suppose, is the point. But the insanity would be in continuing to tolerate it. – Andrea Vance 

Media freedom is one of the crucial defining differences between a liberal democratic state and a totalitarian one. Put simply, it can be described as the right to know. It’s arguably at least as important as the right to vote, since a vote is pointless if it’s not an informed one.Karl du Fresne

But here’s the extraordinary thing. In 2022 the independence of the New Zealand media is jeopardised not by threats or coercion emanating from the state, but by the media’s own behaviour. In this respect we may be unique.

Journalistic bias is rampant and overt. It’s evident not just in how the media report things, but just as crucially in what is not reported at all. New Zealanders wanting to be fully informed on matters of consequence need to monitor online news platforms such as Kiwiblog, the BFD and Muriel Newman’s Breaking Views – to name just three – that cover the issues the mainstream media ignore. – Karl du Fresne

Generally speaking, news that reflects unfavourably on the government tends to be played down or ignored. Bias is apparent too in the lack of rigour in holding government politicians to account. – Karl du Fresne

After a lifetime as a journalist, I’m in the unfamiliar position of no longer trusting the New Zealand media to report matters of public interest fully, fairly, accurately and truthfully. This situation hasn’t arisen because of pressure from government communications czars or threats of imprisonment, as in authoritarian regimes such as Russia’s. It’s far more subtle than that.

The Labour government doesn’t have to tell the media what to report, or how, because most journalists, and especially those covering politics and important areas of public policy, are ideologically on board.  They are sympathetic with the government and want it to stay in power. It doesn’t seem to matter to them that this means relinquishing the impartial status on which they depend for their credibility.  – Karl du Fresne

Nonetheless I wonder whether the editors and publishers who lined up to accept the government’s tainted money stopped to consider the full implications. While they indignantly reject claims that they are ethically compromised, they appear not to understand that the public is entitled to suspect that the acceptance of state money has influenced reportage and media comment even when it hasn’t. The public perception of media independence has been irreparably harmed.

To put this another way, in Russia the media can’t be trusted because they are controlled by the state, but in New Zealand the media have spared the government the trouble.  – Karl du Fresne

In other words, of our headline inflation rate, LESS THAN HALF is due to inflation in tradeables. However, if you listen to government spin you’d think the whole of our inflation problem was imported. Yes, President Putin is way less to blame than our domestic policies.

Like what? Like our supermarket duopoly. Like weak competition in our building industry, where some huge companies wield immense market power. Like our Reserve Bank’s bungled $60 billion money printing program which flooded our markets with liquidity AT THE SAME TIME the Finance Minister was boasting how low was our unemployment rate. Alternatively one could partly blame our extreme closed border policies which have led to exploding shortages in skilled & unskilled labour. One could also blame high government spending, financed by borrowing, which PM Ardern “absolutely refutes”.

Can’t Labour just tell a story as it is for once? That would help the country to better address the root of its problems rather than pretending everything is perfect. – Robert MacCulloch

It seems that the Government has to resort to a reactive approach instead of being proactive because it lacks any real underpinning vision about where it wants to take the country. To have direction, political leaders need to have policy, values, and be embedded in a milieu of critical thinking and innovation.

This is traditionally what a political party is. It’s a big think tank of on-the-ground policy development based on a vision of a particular sort of world that it wants to create. The problem for Ardern and her colleague is that this is entirely lacking for them. There is no mass membership party feeding ideas and policies up from its base. In fact, the last Labour Party annual conference showed that the party barely has any debate at all, and certainly no real decision making powers like it used to.

Without a useful anchor in society, the Labour Government is now just floating around, lost at sea, only reacting to events as they arise. It means the party and government have little chance of taking the country anywhere, and voters will eventually tire of its managerial approach. To sell itself based on its competence during the Covid crisis is not going to work again at the next election – especially since much of that competence has been more questionable since 2020. – Bryce Edwards

The Government can jettison the more unpopular parts of its reform programme – especially things like its hate speech law reforms, and perhaps Three Waters – but what will these be replaced with? When a party lacks connection to its voter base, and has no strong ideological underpinnings, it is forced to make up policies as it goes, reacting to opinion polls. It means that badly formulated policies like KiwiBuild are quickly dreamt up, and just as quickly discarded when they become embarrassing. Cycling bridges are announced and then un-announced, again all in reaction to polls.

The even bigger problem is that Labour has forgotten its own traditional voter base. This is observable in the fact that they have overseen a massive transfer of wealth to the rich, while the poor have simply got poorer. – Bryce Edwards

This is why transformation is not possible under Labour at the moment, and why the party has become a conservative one. It’s been cut adrift from its original principles and support bases. This makes it more likely to lose power at the next election. Ultimately Labour needs to find a way to reconnect with some of its original working class constituents and ideologies. That’s the political soul of the Labour Party, and something that seems sorely missing at the moment.Bryce Edwards

Why on earth a government can’t do its job and actually govern, make a decision and announce it – and then stand by it – is beyond most of us.

Is it about power or just plain incompetence? – Barry Soper

There is much about our COVID response that must be put under a microscope.

The Levels, Stages and Traffic Light System. The botched vaccine rollout. The legality and morality of a vaccine mandate that saw New Zealanders lose their jobs – and their minds. A clinical, archaic MIQ system that left Kiwi citizens stranded all over the world. The economic impact of never-ending lockdowns, a two-year border closure (and counting), the multi-billion dollar spend, and a failure to engage or listen to the private sector. And that’s just scratching the surface.Rachel Smalley

What divides democracy and dictatorship? Public accountability.

And all of us need answers. – Rachel Smalley

Farming in New Zealand is under threat and overlooking the cost of fuel on-farm is yet another straw.

There have certainly been suggestions that a change in the way that farmers operate would allow them to remain in business, but none of the suggestions, whether organic, regenerative, veganism or synthetics (vat fermentation) get away from the use of fossil fuel – usually more than is required by pasture-based agriculture and resulting in food at a greater price to the consumer. Jacqueline Rowarth

n this sense, Wellington’s distaste for economists can be understood. Because the profession is not characterized by knee-jerk big-government types, its’ members have become ideologically unacceptable to Kiwi politicians and bureaucrats who thrive on red-tape, centralization, moneyprinting, higher taxes and less competition in the welfare state. – Robert Maculloch

We replaced whale oil as a fuel source a century ago, not because we wanted to save the whales, but because we discovered a much cheaper and more abundant fuel – oil. Now we have to do the same to oil: double down on making the alternative cheaper and abundant.Josie Pagani

We replaced whale oil as a fuel source a century ago, not because we wanted to save the whales, but because we discovered a much cheaper and more abundant fuel – oil. Now we have to do the same to oil: double down on making the alternative cheaper and abundant.

And we should follow the science. Look closely at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) latest report assessing the impacts of climate change and you will see the world has made progress towards limiting impacts. Cool heads, not hot takes, make for better responses. – Josie Pagani

The Bank of America has found that globally, achieving net-zero will cost $150 trillion over 30 years. In a new study, the international consultancy firm McKinsey finds most of the poorest nations in Africa would have to pay more than 10 per cent of their total national incomes every year toward climate policy. This is more than these nations combined spend on education and health.

This is not only implausible but also immoral on a continent where almost half a billion people still live in abject poverty. – Josie Pagani

The answer to the PM’s dilemma is relatively simple. They made too many mistakes, they didn’t admit those mistakes, and they certainly didn’t apologise. They relied far too heavily on ministry wonks who let them down and who also didn’t admit mistakes and apologise. – Mike Hosking

From the very beginning it has been haphazard … the PPE that never turned up for the nurses and doctors, the flu jab last year that got botched, the nurses that weren’t recruited until it was too late, the absurd mess around ICU beds and how you count them, the behind-the-scenes Machiavellian madness of the Ministry of Health refusing any number of Official Information Act requests on detail the media inquired about, the astonishingly cruel MIQ rulings where DJs got clearance and family members of dying people didn’t – the list, if you sit and think about it long enough, is exhausting and really provides the Prime Minister with all the material she needs to see why so many of us didn’t go along for the ride.Mike Hosking

It’s a combination of their inexperience, reliance on officials, arrogance and passion for spin that has led them here.

I don’t know whether the PM knows this and just says she doesn’t, or whether she is genuinely confused. If it’s the latter then they’re in more trouble than I already thought they were. – Mike Hosking

They didn’t take more of us with them because they told us they knew better when they didn’t, they didn’t tell enough truth when they needed to, fundamentally they weren’t up to it from the start. They are “B” teamers handed a crisis, who were exposed for lack of talent and acumen.

A government that got famous early for lack of delivery, did the same with Covid as they did with KiwiBuild or light rail. It’s not hard to understand unless you don’t want to, or you don’t have the wherewithal to get it in the first place.Mike Hosking

Labour’s obsession with the Maori language is destroying trust in the public service as official communications are increasingly being produced in pidgin English, which inhibits understanding, erodes accuracy, and damages public confidence in Government institutions.- Muriel Newman

All up, it’s hard to see those policy changes as anything but a cynical vote grab. They aren’t targeted at reducing costs or increasing incomes for those who truly need it. They’re undoing an otherwise positive effect of high fuel prices on carbon emissions. And they’re unlikely to have a positive effect (and may even be counter-productive) in terms of public transport patronage. Possibly, the government is hoping that the voting public has the same low level of economic literacy that they do. Things may not be that bad, yet. On the plus side, the government now seems to recognise that an excise is a tax.Michael Cameron

#4 In human affairs, there is no perfection.
In one’s own life, there are times when one feels broken or cracked, or fragmented or even malformed.
Like the world dropped you on your head.

But one may choose to address those circumstances and reach for one’s inner super glue – one’s history of healing – one’s memory of recovery on another and better day – one’s capacity to know the difference between an inconvenience and a real problem – one’s capacity to get up and go on, no matter what.
I may choose. The super glue is in my attitude and memory. – Robert Fulghum

 But New Zealand’s economic situation is now overtaking the virus, politically. On one estimate, over 1.7 million New Zealanders either has had or has Covid-19 now. That isn’t to say it is trivial, but the chance of getting it is now just a daily reality for everyone.

But while Covid for most means a sick week or so at home, that light-fingered inflation will be peeking into wallets every week. And ASB’s $150 per week prediction will be scarier to a lot of voters than Omicron.Luke Malpass

The gap between what we have and what we need is widening. We have the fact we waste money at a spectacular rate when we do build stuff. We have the fact that when something starts it doesn’t end on time or on budget. We have the fact things cost more than they need to.  – Mike Hosking

Then you have the ideology of the bike lanes, the bus lanes, and the coloured planter pots. All cost a fortune, aren’t used, and add nothing to the economy. All in the vein of hoping that people will take to them on their new bicycles in city centres they no longer come to town to work in. Mike Hosking

But really, what this country appears to do well is write reports outlining why so much stuff doesn’t work or live up to expectation. This week we’ve had the infrastructure report and the mental health report. $1.9 billion they cried, and for what? Well, the report tells us not much.

The Auckland report. Dysfunction that’s led to the place being the way it is. The literacy report where nearly half kids don’t go to school regularly, and 20 percent of 15-year-olds can’t even read.

It’s a shockingly poor state of affairs.

No one gets it perfect, obviously, but in a single week we have a shelf full of reminders that who we should be is not even close to the reality of what we are. – Mike Hosking

ACADEMIC FREEDOM is one of those “public goods” that most people seldom question. Even in New Zealand, a country not especially hospitable to intellectuals of any sort, academics are seldom identified as persons in need of official restraint. New Zealanders prefer to joke about the otherworldliness and impracticality of academic research – especially in the social sciences and liberal arts. That is to say, they used to joke about it. Over the last few years academics have given ordinary New Zealanders small cause for laughter.

Indeed, it has become increasingly clear to the Free Speech Union, along with many other advocates of freedom of expression, that the place where academic freedom is most at risk is, paradoxically, academia itself. – Chris Trotter

While paying lip-service to the principle of academic freedom, New Zealand’s university authorities have begun to hedge it around with all manner of restrictions. The pursuit of research subjects and/or the articulation of ideas capable of inflicting “harm” on other staff and students has become decidedly “career-limiting”. – Chris Trotter

The simple truth of the matter is that freedom is always and everywhere indivisible. Suppress it in our universities and its suppression elsewhere will soon follow. Those who do not subscribe to freedom have no place in our halls of learning – or anywhere else enlightened human values are cherished.Chris Trotter

And the problem is that, aside from Covid, it feels like things have got harder under them.

All the unresolved disappointments of the last election are still here. And then despite there being a global pandemic, last year house prices still went up 23.8 per cent. It looks like I won’t be able to take the Auckland rail link until after I hit menopause. And now there’s a cost of living crisis. It’s a grim day when houses, petrol and broccoli all start to look unaffordable. – Verity Johnson

I know with inflation and Ukraine it’s not entirely their fault. But they can’t ignore the fact that they ascended to the Beehive trumpeting their emphasis on wellbeing, like archangels with organic body-oil side hustles. They filled us with hope about wellness budgets and affordable living … and now this.

And refusing to call it a crisis just looks like they’re trying to gloss over this, so they don’t look so guilty. Not to mention it’s especially galling to have your frustration ignored by a Government who has been hammering on about kindness like a Care Bear with a jackhammer.

So now, as we come out of Covid, we’re looking to peacetime governance. And we’re faced with the underwhelming choice of staying in a loveless marriage – or cheating with Luxon. This is about as grim as $4.50 for one piece of broccoli.

But it’s true, you can’t stay in a relationship out of gratitude for the past. You have to actually have hope and faith in their future. And I don’t know if I do any more with Labour. – Verity Johnson

 As an intensive care doctor of 20 years I considered the concept of an intensive care to be immutable but now this turned out to not be so.

The inconvenient truth of their scarcity could be at least partially addressed by altering the definition.

A bed is a piece of furniture, incapable of providing any form of care, never mind intensively. To do so it needs a specialist intensive care nurse standing next to it 24 hours a day. This requires five to six intensive care nurses per bed as, inconveniently, they also want to sleep, have families, and not live in a hospital.

Caring intensively also requires equipment, drugs, doctors, a large array of allied health professionals (physiotherapists, pharmacists, radiographers etc) cleaners and administration staff. It costs around NZ$1.5m (£750,000) a year to keep one intensive care bed open, with the availability of intensive care nurses being the rate-limiting step. As the world realised we didn’t have enough, they became one of the most valuable (but not valued) people in healthcare. By necessity, at wave peak, their expertise was diluted. Rather than the optimal 1:1 ratio of critically ill patients to expert nurses, team structures “allowed” them to supervise others with little or no intensive care experience (with an entirely predictable effect on mortality). This may be politically appealing but, as a professor of intensive care medicine at Cambridge University commented, “no one sane would suggest this was the appropriate planning strategy for Covid if you had the opportunity to do otherwise”. – Alex Psirides

The accusation of bullying therefore left me confused but then a light went on in my head.

Of course! Bullying is when you say something with which someone else disagrees. Gavin Ellis

I have been the recipient of a clear message that what I had to say has no value because it did not accord with the views of (I am led to assume) a majority, and I was out of touch with ‘reality’ because I conformed to unacceptable stereotypes. If that was insufficient to establish my unworthiness, I was also deemed to no longer be “a working journalist”.

Those stereotypes were based on assumptions that those over a certain age were stuck in the past, that being Pākeha (“white”) imbues an unassailable sense of social and cultural superiority, and that males are inherently domineering and dismissive. No longer being part of a newsroom assumed I knew nothing of “today’s journalism”.- Gavin Ellis

It is naive to think that the past has no relevance to what we do today. As for journalism, it is downright dangerous to think that the digital age – in which the stereotypers grew up – swept away all that went before and reinvented it.

Yes, there are aspects of journalism that are a moving feast. They reflect society’s own changes and are carried along by them. Take language: Although we have been converting nouns to verbs for centuries, ‘to medal’ or ‘to podium’ would have had the sub-editors of my youth in a state of life-threatening apoplexy.Gavin Ellis

What worried me was the willingness to bring down a shutter on discussion that interfered with a particular world view.

That isn’t a generational phenomenon limited to millennials and Gen Zers. It is a current affliction that spans all demographics and many socio-political beliefs.  – Gavin Ellis

Journalists should have no part of that sort of thinking. Yet I fear this generation of journalists is complicit in some of it.

Matters dealing with race, gender (old men excepted), image and identity are handled with kid gloves. Debate on some subjects – such as the mātauranga Māori letter to the Listener signed by seven scientists – has become one-sided. ‘Old-fashioned’ views have no validity. We can only guess at what subjects get no exposure at all.Gavin Ellis

Limits of space and time and the testing of stories against sets of (often uncodified) news values have always determined that some stories make in into print or on air and others do not.

There are also limits to what the New York Times’ masthead describes as “all the news that’s fit to print”. Outside those limits are such things as hate speech but some sections of the boundary must be contestable in order to prevent their use to stifle legitimate debate. Nevertheless, any redrawing of that boundary must be done collectively, carefully, and conservatively if society is to preserve a meaningful public sphere. Without a shadow of doubt, it should not be an amorphous and arbitrary process but I fear it is heading that way. – Gavin Ellis

Journalists should not use perceived majority views as some sort of selection yardstick. To do so risks falling into what German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann called a “spiral of silence” that stifles alternative opinion. The centrifugal force which accelerates the spiral of silence is fear of isolation and I wonder whether the prospect of falling victim to ‘cancel culture’ leads journalists – perhaps unconsciously – to become party to it.

We will be in trouble if journalists or media organisations start to condition their approach to the news by avoiding those things that might isolate them. It is a form of self-censorship that is little better than imposed constraints. And it, too, is a downward spiral. –  Gavin Ellis

 Populist authoritarian governments in eastern Europe, for example, use various coercive levers to keep media in line. It is another thing entirely to fall into line simply because one social trope or another determines the acceptability of a subject and limits or eliminates criticism of ‘protected’ topics.

Such acquiescence runs counter to what journalism should stand for and, in a perverse way, it takes us back almost 400 years to a time when presses were licenced to constrain what could be published. – Gavin Ellis

 I was not sure what to think of the pandemic when it struck, and am still not quite sure. Like many, I suspect, I find myself veering, or careening, from one opinion to another. Sometimes, I think that it is not so much the illness but the response to it that is the more damaging. At other times, I think that governments had little choice but to act as they did. On this subject, I lack fixed convictions. – Theodore Dalrymple

Where uncertainty is inevitable but the stakes are high, tempers are likely to flare and people to claim insights into the nature of things that they do not have. Humankind, said T. S. Eliot, cannot bear too much reality, but it also cannot bear too much uncertainty: humans then turn to conspiracy theories or cults to alleviate their sense of helplessness. That is why discussions of Covid so quickly become arguments: most people who are not sure of their ground make up for it by dogmatism. – Theodore Dalrymple

Where uncertainty is inevitable but the stakes are high, tempers are likely to flare and people to claim insights into the nature of things that they do not have. Humankind, said T. S. Eliot, cannot bear too much reality, but it also cannot bear too much uncertainty: humans then turn to conspiracy theories or cults to alleviate their sense of helplessness. That is why discussions of Covid so quickly become arguments: most people who are not sure of their ground make up for it by dogmatism. – Theodore Dalrymple

The disrespectful dialogue is reflective of real-life politics. Insults have replaced arguments in debate.Andrea Vance

Politics has always been a nasty sport. But today it seems brutish. And what does all this toxicity achieve – apart from more ad dollars in the bank accounts of tech moguls? – Andrea Vance

Mainstream political reporting thrives on conflict. Protesting in dramatic and disruptive ways captures attention. There is no incentive to break out of incivility, to recalibrate politics. To be nice.Andrea Vance

Personally, I believe you don’t need two systems to deliver public services, you need a single system that has enough innovation to target for people on the basis of need. – Christopher Luxon

Wherever you sit on fair pay agreements, if you support them or not, the timing of this legislation is wrong.  – Rachel Smalley

The government hasn’t read the room, and commentators who criticise the likes of Ardern and Robertson and say they don’t have real-world experience, will now throw their hands in the air and say “see? what did I tell you?! They are out of step with business.” – Rachel Smalley

Here are some of the questions the government should have asked… Will this improve wages? Will it drive productivity? Or, will the prospect of unions knocking on the door, potential arbitration… Will it drive already stretched businesses to the edge? Will it trigger job losses, a collapse in productivity, and will some of our SMEs fall over after two years of hanging on by their fingertips, trying to stay afloat and stay on top of the government’s requirements as it responded to COVID?

Did the government think about how businesses might perceive this? What it signals to me – and I’m sure it will be the same for many business owners – is that the government doesn’t trust kiwi businesses to do the right thing. The government doesn’t believe, without regulation, that businesses will look out for their employees.Rachel Smalley

If you want to improve wages, the government needs to create an environment in which companies can be confident to invest. Confident to grow. Confident to employ people and reward performance. Confident that the government of the day understands that economies – more than ever right now – must be flexible and responsible, not heavily regulated.

Throughout the later part of our COVID response, businesses have struggled with the shackles of political over-reach and control. – Rachel Smalley

What’s happening to democracy in this country, let alone the promised transparency of this Government?

Labour is abusing its absolute power and it seems those opposing it are powerless to do anything about it because majority rules.Barry Soper 

This goes beyond simply controlling the message. Like they say, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. – Barry Soper 

Unions are always likely to have a place as long as there are exploitative employers. But the business model will have to adapt to explicitly choose to be an ideological movement or be an employment services provider. Needing the Government to prop you up with enabling legislation, like the fair pay agreements, is not sustainable and makes you very susceptible to changes in Government. – Brigitte Morten 

 Unions will have a place in the future if they resist their collective urge to just cause labour shortages and instead focus on delivering policies that serve the country as a whole rather than those that are the lowest-performing. – Brigitte Morten 

With almost no debate, Labour has adopted a radical reinterpretation of the Treaty as a partnership to justify co-governance. With co-governance, there is no democratic accountability when half the power is held by those who do not have to answer to the electorate.

Co-governance was not in Labour’s manifesto. Labour ministers hid from its coalition partner He Puapua – a report that could result in co-governance being extended. Work on this radical document is continuing.Richard Prebble

We do not need a new Treaty. The Treaty is fine as it was written in 1840. [In the English text version] there are just three articles: “Cede to Her Majesty the Queen of England absolutely and without reservation all the rights and powers of Sovereignty”; “guarantees … the full exclusive and undisturbed possession of their Lands and Estates, Forests, Fisheries and other properties”; and grants “all the Rights and Privileges of British Subjects”.

There is nothing about partnerships or being “a multi-ethnic-liberal democracy”.

As David Lange put it: “Did Queen Victoria for a moment think of forming a partnership with a number of thumb prints and 500 people?” – Richard Prebble

What the Treaty does say is still important today.

Sovereignty was ceded. Sovereignty is indivisible. The Crown is everyone as represented by the executive and the courts.

Property rights are guaranteed.

Citizenship grants the rights from the Magna Carta – no arbitrary taxation and the right to a fair trial with a jury.

Parliament is responsible for the present reinterpretation, and only Parliament can fix it.

Parliament has included in a number of laws the phrase “the principles of the Treaty”, without saying what those principles are. No MP thought that a court might say that a Treaty principle was a partnership. No court has.Richard Prebble

Where Māori have a valid property claim, such as to some of our national parks, then co-governance is a pragmatic solution. It recognises the Māori property interest while maintaining the public interest in preserving the parks.

Labour ministers are now promoting co-governance on the basis that the Treaty is a partnership even where Māori have no property claim.

Māori interest in having access to health is the same as everyone.

As far as water is concerned, Māori only have an ownership interest as ratepayers in the dams, pipes, pumping stations and sewage plants. There is no case for co-governance. – Richard Prebble

Instead of a referendum, Act should campaign that Parliament legislate that the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi are those in the Treaty: namely, the Crown has sovereignty, the Crown guarantees property rights and everyone has the same rights of New Zealand citizenship.

When Parliament does that we can again repeat Governor Hobson’s words: “He iwi kotahi tātou: now we are one people”.Richard Prebble

Will Smith walloping Chris Rock across the face live on international television was not a departure from Hollywood norms. In fact, the act was simply the entitlement and privilege of celebrity made manifest.  – Ani O’Brien

These, by and large, are people who are paid insane amounts of money to play dress up and pretend. Many of them have spent more time in rehab than they did at high school and yet they have the audacity to lecture the rest of us about life. 

The problem is that the echo chamber they are ensconced in is completely divorced from reality. Famous and wealthy, they buy into their own mythology. They forget that they are a mirage, a veneer. They are the sum of their most well-known characters to those who adore them and adulation as a result of fictional performance does not qualify someone to instruct the population on politics and morality.  – Ani O’Brien

Acting is without a doubt an art form – when done well. It is a skill and the very best actors should be acknowledged for their talent. But it is high time we stopped allowing actors to pretend they have the authority to ‘educate’ us on matters of importance.

Living in gated communities and with security entourages, many celebrities espouse social policies that they will never have to suffer the consequences of. Their pseudo-moralistic stances are profoundly ill-informed and deeply out of touch. – Ani O’Brien

Overpaid hired clowns do not know more about life than a single mother working as a nurse or a man who delivers packages and stacks shelves. Their bank balance does not qualify them to lecture on the environment, politics, and morality. Nor does the fact that people like to take photos with them.

At what point do we, those they may as well see as dollar signs, refuse to accept their fake profundity? If we all stop paying attention to their grandstanding will they stop? Does a celebrity preaching in a forest, with no one there to hear them, make a sound? – Ani O’Brien

History is a profoundly important subject, as well as being something that can provide an individual with an interest that endures over a lifetime. I read historical fiction and non-fiction for pleasure. Understanding where we come from and how we got here matters. – Damien Grant

Heading up the ministry’s document on the new curriculum is the statement: “If we want to shape Aotearoa New Zealand’s future, start with the past.” Damien Grant

I congratulate the ministry on the transparency of their agenda, although the inclusion of this statement is more likely an indication of the author’s lack of anything approaching a classical education.

The programme shockingly misrepresents our nation’s past and is disturbingly one-dimensional.

In the document outlying the new curriculum, the local population is depicted living in some form of a bucolic harmony with each other and their natural environment, before the catastrophic and violent arrival of the Europeans. – Damien Grant

If we want to get students to seriously engage with our history, teach them about the battles, bloodshed and bravery, not “the ways different groups of people have lived and worked in this rohe have changed over time”.Damien Grant

Because the ministry wants to use the past to shape the future, they are stripping everything from our history that has value and killing any prospect that our children will retain an interest in the topic.

There is no more evidence as to the banality of this interpretation of history that it excludes Te Rauparaha and includes Georgina Beyer.

Beyer is a significant historical figure in her own right and deserves a place in our collective history. She is magnificent and her story inspirational.

But if you are going to memory-hole a military leader who was compared by his contemporaries to Napoleon, well, you are not conducting history, you are re-inventing it. – Damien Grant

The most remarkable aspect of this version of New Zealand’s history is the exclusion of almost any topic that does not impact Māori. Everything is seen through this lens. What happened to Richard Pearse, Charles Upham and General Bernard Freyberg?Damien Grant

There is a strong argument that we do not properly acknowledge the appalling treatment of the indigenous population of these islands by the colonial authorities.

I am in favour of bringing this failure to the attention to the next generation. It is a shameful aspect of our past and the consequences of it live with us today.

If the state wishes to address this by incorporating it into the national school curriculum, that is fine with me. I can get behind a bit of nation building.

But we should be honest about what is being done here. This is not, as the Prime Minister claims, our history. It is a selective part of it, and it appears to be driven by a desire to control how we move into the future. – Damien Grant

Our history has its roots in the migration from Hawaiki and the traditions and people who came on that journey.

It includes the cruelty and crimes committed by the colonial authorities against their treaty partners in the decades after 1840. But our history is more than that.

The New Zealand of today can also be traced to debates in the agoras of ancient Athens, in the marshlands of Wessex, the fields around Hastings in 1066 and the failings of King John.

We are a successor state to a remarkable empire and a proud sovereign nation with, inexplicably, the Union Jack still affixed to our flag.

This new history teaches our children none of that. It is not history at all. It is social engineering.Damien Grant

Yet there are reasons for the decline in trust that should be blindingly obvious to anyone who is not suffering institutional capture from actually working for the mainstream media (or being entirely sympathetic to its approach to journalism).

The most obvious failure is that the mass media’s journalists and editors too often seem to not understand they need to reflect the important debates that are actually happening in society — including on social media — rather than only the ones they approve of. Or if they do cover contentious issues, not to present only one, approved side of the debate. – Graham Adams

As far as I can tell, no one in the media here has reported Lord Sebastian Coe’s warning that “gender cannot trump biology” when deciding whether transgender athletes should be allowed to compete alongside female contestants. Yet Lord Coe is eminently quotable as an influential two-time Olympic gold medallist and President of World Athletics.Graham Adams

So here we are in 2022, in a liberal democracy, with a senior lawyer worrying that a court case of constitutional importance might not be covered in the media because journalists are afraid of being called racist or because they don’t want to offend the Government. – Graham Adams

It doesn’t help the mainstream media one little bit, of course, that the Government’s Public Interest Journalism Fund is providing $55 million over three years for a variety of projects and editorial staff positions — all under an agreement that successful applicants will commit to “Te Tiriti o Waitangi and to Māori as a Te Tiriti partner”. Consequently, any failure to comprehensively cover the Water Users’ Group case will be widely interpreted as evidence the media has been bought.

Given that public money with such strings attached is now firmly embedded throughout the mainstream media, the only way it can shrug off that widespread perception is to show that it is, indeed, reporting “without fear or favour”.

Otherwise, its apparent partisanship will kill it, as social media and alternative news sites continue eating its lunch in great bites.Graham Adams


Quotes of the month

05/03/2022

This is February’s quotes, a few days late.

Over the past two years we’ve heard it ad nauseam. We’re a team of five million. We are constantly reminded to be kind to each other. And yes, the messages have come from the self-appointed team leader, Jacinda Ardern.

Many of us retired from the team shortly after it was created and it now grates to still be described as members of it.Barry Soper

New Zealand’s universities are at a defining crossroads. Do we remain a universitas, a community of scholars developing knowledge according to the universal principles and methods of science or do we continue down the path of a racialised ideology? – Elizabeth Rata

Unfounded accusations of racism or other silencing strategies muzzle discussion about what is happening in our universities and schools. There are many layers needing discussion – the difference between science and culture, between cultural safety and intellectual risk-taking, between universalism and parochialism. However intense and heated the discussion may be it must take place. Too much is at stake to pretend that all is well. – Elizabeth Rata

University students from all racial and cultural groups tend to come from knowledge-rich schools which provide a solid foundation for university study. These are often the children of the professional class who have benefited from such knowledge in their own lives and insist that schools provide it for their children.

It is access to the abstract quality of academic knowledge and language, its very remoteness from everyday experience, and its formality – science in other words – that is necessary for success. Tragically this knowledge is miscast as ‘euro-centric’. The aim of the decolonisation and re-indigenisation of New Zealand education is to replace this knowledge with the cultural knowledge of experience.

But science is not euro-centric or western. It is universal. This is recognised in the International Science Council’s definition of science as “rationally explicable, tested against reality, logic, and the scrutiny of peers this is a special form of knowledge”. It includes the arts, humanities and social sciences as human endeavours which may, along with the physical and natural sciences, use such a formalised approach. The very children who need this knowledge the most, now receive less.

The science-ideology discussion matters for many reasons – the university’s future, the country’s reputation for science and education, and the quality of education in primary and secondary schools. But at its heart it is about democracy. Science can only thrive when democracy thrives. – Elizabeth Rata

To be clear, I was and consider myself very lucky to be adopted into a loving, caring family. For reasons outlined in this article below I am grateful for the life I’ve had considering the one that was offered to me at birth.  – Dan Bidois

I learned many things from this process. Above all, is that you’re not defined by the circumstances of your birth but by the environment you grow up in. And finally, identity or whakapapa is an important part of one’s confidence, wellbeing, and purpose in life.

Understanding one’s past provides the fuel needed for a happier and more fulfilling life in the future. – Dan Bidois

This whole thing has a Groundhog Day vibe about it. I mean, how come we’re still, as we go into our third year of this pandemic, still being reactive and responding on the hoof.

It beggars belief that lessons have not been learned, plans have not been made, preparations have not gotten into full swing.

We are behind on RAT kits, way behind, it’s woeful, it’s the vaccine rollout all over again. We have no greater ICU capacity than when we started, in fact suggestions are we even have fewer ICU beds than when we started. We have not bolstered our health workforce, we have not advanced our tragic and cruel MIQ system, we have not boosted enough people or jabbed enough children, because again, we were too slow with our vaccine rollout.  – Kate Hawkesby

Why can’t they learn the lesson? Why is the Government so slow on the uptake? Why’d they take an elongated holiday when they should’ve been planning and sorting and preparing?

Why are they so allergic to the private sector and reticent to include them more? Are they afraid of the private sector? Or are they just so arrogant now they think they know best, better than any established business?

Most importantly, why are we still asking these questions? How can all the same mistakes still be made? If you hear from the Government, when they’ve bothered rolling back into the office from the beach, they’ll tell you they’re world leading.

They’re faultless, blameless, it’s all perfect, we should be so proud of them. The fact they’re still peddling this crap and still in self-congratulatory mode also worries me.

It’s delusional. They’re backwards focused.Kate Hawkesby

How many businesses look at KPI’s or performance reviews and go, “Oh well it’s a bit of a mess at the moment but two years ago was really good.”

No one does that, because it’s not real. It’s not relevant, it’s not honest. So why should we be expected to buy into that tosh from our government?

Our Rapid Antigen Testing situation is embarrassing, our MIQ lottery is embarrassing, our hermit mentality is embarrassing, our lack of vaccination coverage for children and booster coverage is embarrassing. Our Covid response looks antiquated and fear driven, and stale. But if you listen to this Government and it’s cheerleaders, we should be over the moon about it.

The disconnect here is actually beyond embarrassing, it’s tragic.Kate Hawkesby

And that’s the tragedy of all this. Have a platform, make a song and dance, get a result. Surely the only message here is that unless you’re going to really publicly and internationally discredit and embarrass the Government, you’re not going to get a spot.  – Kate Hawkesby

A free society needs more than the incentives provided by the rule of law and the discipline of profit and loss. Both are underpinned by and help to reinforce a set of virtues – prudence chief among them. The prudence to buy low and sell high. And the prudence “to trade rather than invade, to calculate the consequences, to pursue the good with competence.”

Prudence matters. – Eric Crampton

The government had been imprudently late in ordering the tests that it ultimately decided were needed for the public health effort.

But no matter. The government had set itself a call option. It could simply take the results of others’ prudential efforts.

When the prudent expect predation, expect less prudence. Expect as well that many businesses will have cancelled remaining test kit orders rather than wait for them to be stolen by a predatory state.

McCloskey emphasised the prudence of trading rather than invading and stealing; of calculating the consequences of actions; and of pursuing the good with competence.

It is hard to see much evidence of prudence in this government. Prudent and imprudent alike will bear the cost.Eric Crampton

At the end of an interview recently, I was asked whether people should express their emotions. I replied that it rather depended on the emotions that they had and their mode of expression. There were some emotions that were best kept to oneself, and some ways of expressing them that were disgusting.Theodore Dalrymple

It seems to me (though I may be mistaken) that, at least in Anglophone countries, there has been a tendency of late years for ever more extravagant public expressions of emotion, which is something that I do not welcome. It leads not to the palace of wisdom, but to crudity of apprehension, and to an unfortunate positive feedback loop: if you want to show how much you feel, you have to indulge in ever more extravagant such demonstrations. – Theodore Dalrymple

This development favours the explicit over the implicit and the bogus over the genuine. Indeed, it reduces people’s capacity to distinguish between the two, or even to understand that there is a distinction between the real and the bogus. No one would now say, as did an old patient of mine upon whom fate had piled undeserved tragedy upon undeserved tragedy, that she would not cry in public because it might embarrass other people and her grief was her own: people would now accuse her of mere unfeelingness.Theodore Dalrymple

The very notion of dignity and seemliness is destroyed by incontinent emotional expression. I haven’t tried the experiment, but I doubt that many people could or would now even attach a meaning to the word seemliness: but seemliness is to self-respect what incontinent expression is to self-esteem, and the difference between self-respect and self-esteem is of great importance. The first is demanding, effortful and social, the second is undemanding, egotistical and akin to an inalienable human right that survives any amount of bad behaviour. – Theodore Dalrymple

There are other advantages to negative emotions: insofar as they are far easier to stoke, can last much longer than positive emotions—joy is rarely more than fleeting—and are usually more intense, they are, in the long run, more rewarding, especially when, as in the present day, the locus of people’s moral concern is political rather than personal. It is surely almost self-evident that the strongest political emotions are negative: for example, the rich are hated much more than the poor are loved.

In such circumstances, expressions of hatred are often mistaken for expressions of love. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down the life of another for some class of person whom he favours in the abstract. Thus vehemence of expression comes to be taken as strength of feeling, and the greater one’s vehemence, the greater one’s strength of feeling and therefore of one’s virtue—virtue now being a matter almost entirely of the opinions one holds. Extreme expression of hatred becomes a virtue. – Theodore Dalrymple

As with so many things, the proper public expression of emotion is a matter of judgment rather than of doctrine or predetermined principle. It is also a question of good taste. . . If I had to choose between them (which of course I do not) I would choose emotional constipation rather than emotional diarrhoea. At least the former can give rise to powerful drama, whereas the latter gives rise to crude soap opera at best. Concealment is more interesting than revelation, and often ultimately more revealing into the bargain.    – Theodore Dalrymple

The government’s response to Omicron over the summer break has had too little method and too much madness. – Eric Crampton

But it is difficult to reconcile the tightening up of test-to-travel restrictions, to reduce risk, with the subsequent move to allow rapid antigen tests instead of PCR tests before travel. If the government considered rapid antigen tests to be safe enough because travellers were entering MIQ, why tighten the window for PCR tests in the first place? –  Eric Crampton

Education, the ladder out of poverty, has been kicked away. In the English-speaking world, New Zealand pupils are worst at maths, science and literacy. Last year, 44 per cent of Auckland students did not turn up for NCEA exams. Richard Prebble

Covid is not responsible for the growth in inequality. Covid infects the rich and the poor.

The growing inequality is the result of government policies and galloping inflation.  – Richard Prebble

The Government is becoming Muldoonist. Like Muldoon, Labour calculates huge “think big” spending is electorally more popular than the pain of tackling inflation.Richard Prebble

Studies reveal that urban rail schemes never come in on budget or on time and rarely meet passenger projections. Worldwide, 75 per cent of urban rail projects have cost escalations of at least 33 per cent. A quarter have cost escalations of 60 per cent or more. The cost of light rail will escalate from the estimate of $15b to over $20b.

Here is another way to think about the cost. For less taxpayers’ money, every passenger could have a free Uber ride in an electric car to where they actually want to go. – Richard Prebble

The Reserve Bank is seeking a soft option. Returning “inflation to target too quickly would result in unnecessary instability”. Now inflation is established, there are no soft options. All that printed money is debt. The bank is yet to tell us how it is going to reduce its bond holdings.

While the Reserve Bank procrastinates, the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.  – Richard Prebble

This Government has become like a can of CRC, oiling every irritating squeak which has become a deafening cacophony in recent weeks.  – Barry Soper

I’m not sure if it was the word “loyal” or the long-simmering anger towards the nation of my birth coming to a head, but I suddenly didn’t want to honour New Zealand by choosing a song by one of its legends.

I’m angry at Jacinda Ardern, I’m angry at her parochial and uber-protective policies and I’m angry that I’m banned from the place where – more than any other – I felt I belonged. It’s fair to say I’ve lost faith in the country I once loved and revered.Angela Mollard

The cumulative stories about the human impact of the border policies have sullied New Zealand’s reputation as a fair and decent place.

All countries care about their reputations but it is more important to small countries because they do not hold economic or military power. Being a good international citizen, being an honest broker, doing the right thing has been important to New Zealand. – Audrey Young

The damage to New Zealand is exacerbated by the fact that Arderns’s reputation and New Zealand’s are one and the same. Her international brand, through leadership after the Christchurch massacre, is a caring leader.

Damage to New Zealand reflects badly on her; and damage to her reflects badly on New Zealand. . . She was rightly applauded internationally for the initial response to Covid-19. Now, for the most part, she is rightly being criticised.Audrey Young

This is the insanity of what we’re dealing with. This is a rigged lottery. And I’m talking personally, not as Move Logistics executive director, when I say this: Can we have respect for a system where, basically, citizens are told, you can’t come home?

Non-citizens are told, if you’re an essential worker, whatever that description might be on a particular day. Or if you’re pregnant, and you’re in a third world country, you’re allowed in or not allowed in. So the rules are being made up as people go along. – Chris Dunphy

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the Bellis Embarrassment to understand is what on earth possessed those writing the rules to erect even the smallest obstacles to pregnant New Zealand women returning to their homeland to give birth. For most older New Zealanders, the rule has always been: “Women and children first – and pregnant women before everyone!” We were raised on the tragic example of the doomed “Titanic” – where men gave up their places in the lifeboats for the bearers of the next generation.

What does it say about the current crop of public servants that they were able to create a labyrinth of rules and regulations that made it possible for a British deejay to be welcomed into this country, while denying re-entry to a stranded Kiwi woman and her unborn child?More to the point, what does it say about the current crop of Labour ministers – Chris Hipkins in particular – that they did not intervene, with righteous wrath, to put an end to this unconscionable rejection of that most basic human instinct: the urge to protect, at any cost, mothers and their children?Chris Trotter

But where is the “kindness” in the treatment of Charlotte Bellis, and scores of other pregnant New Zealander women aching to get home? If this desperate, pregnant, Kiwi journalist, stranded in starving Afghanistan, does not deserve kindness – then who does? – Chris Trotter

The risk for Robertson isn’t quite voter revolt – not yet. But the Government did just make it far easier for New Zealanders who spent the past two years in the country to think about moving overseas. Cheaper rent and better pay might not have been much of a draw in 2020 or 2021, when it was paired with longer lockdowns, more Covid-19, and no easy way home if you changed your mind. That won’t be true for 2022. – Henry Cooke

If travel broadens the mind, then perhaps the reverse might also be true.

We have become a more insular country since Covid started, and it is very unattractive. The social media vitriol and judgment directed at journalist Charlotte Bellis for daring to speak out about her predicament last week reflects badly on all who indulged. – Steven Joyce

It was Ms Bellis who was let down by her own country. Forget all the whataboutisms. When she needed to come home, when she needed a safe haven where she could be pregnant and give birth to her child, her country said no. That was simply appalling. It has never been who we are.

It was not just appalling for Ms Bellis. She was simply the human straw that broke the camel’s back. In being rebuffed by the bureaucratic monster that is our managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) system, she joins thousands and thousands before her over the past two years who have had their spirits broken in their time of need. – Steven Joyce

There are too many stories to count where a heartless decision-maker showed no empathy, no ability to walk a mile in the shoes of desperate Kiwis overseas, no willingness to make things right.

Somehow, the Government’s sudden ability to find an MIQ slot for Ms Bellis under the public spotlight of the world’s media made an appalling situation even shoddier. It was a brazen attempt at damage control by ministers, presumably breaking the rules their own officials had been zealously upholding. There was no apology for those who had come before, no acceptance that the policy had been wrong, just cold, naked politics at its worst. – Steven Joyce

Special treatment for those prepared to beg publicly is also not our country. What about all those who didn’t want to make waves, who suffered through their life events in silence, hurt by the intransigence of their own countrymen and women?

It is one of the most basic human rights that people be allowed to come home. The Government knows that. That’s why they maintained the legal fig leaf that the border wasn’t closed. It’s just that you have not been allowed to buy a ticket to come here without an MIQ slot. Which you couldn’t get. George Orwell would have been proud. – Steven Joyce

You can argue that in extremis a country can close its borders for short periods in a pandemic to protect the population. The case can be made that stopping the flow of people while a plan is worked on and new health measures are put in place is justifiable.

But not two years, and not while you sit on your hands and do nothing during that period to allow for more people to exercise their fundamental right to come home.

We passed up building more MIQ places, we passed up home isolation, we passed up privately run MIQ facilities, saliva testing, more hospital capacity, a decent booking system, a timely vaccination programme, or even filling the MIQ places we had … we passed up a lot of things that would have reduced the pain and uncertainty of so many Kiwi families. – Steven Joyce

We were a country of voyagers. Striking out to see the world and seek our fortune. We took Dr Seuss’ The Places You’ll Go! to heart. Travel was a rite of passage, which for some turned into careers offshore, with partners and families. We took pride in their success, basking as New Zealand metaphorically punched above its weight on the world stage.

There’s around a million of us who live offshore now — but always able to come home, to see grandparents, siblings, and reconnect.

Until the past two years.

In those two years we have had to stand in line, often behind DJs, children’s characters, performers, sportspeople and Government MPs, all of whom seemed able to win the MIQ lottery while more deserving cases didn’t. Let alone the people whose skills we need to help run our economy, our schools and our hospitals. Good job, some would chortle in their insular way. We don’t need all those bright young foreigners helping to make New Zealand a better place. – Steven Joyce

A wise friend of mine said at the outset of all this that it is much easier to close things down and encourage people to hide away than it will be to open it all up again. And so it seems. Once people have become fearful of the outside world, it’s hard to move beyond that fear.

Yet we must. We must get out and embrace that world again, let our young people take it on, prove themselves, have adventures and live their lives. We must invite people into our home and conquer our virulent insularity.

Let this be the last time we turn our backs on our own people. There must be a better way to protect ourselves in future that doesn’t involve simply barricading the doors.

We should never stop our own citizens coming home to see their dying relatives, or giving birth here. That’s not selfless and kind. That’s not who we are. – Steven Joyce

But open government appears to be on the wane. This is partly because of the growth in the “communications industrial complex”, where vast battalions of people now work to deflect and avoid, or answer in the most oblique manner possible. We journalists are vastly outnumbered by spin doctors.

And it is partly because of the very tight media ship captained by Jacinda Ardern. The prime minister has won plaudits the world over for her empathetic and straightforward communication style. – Anna Fifield

When I was writing about New Zealand’s response to the pandemic for The Washington Post, almost every minister or ministry I contacted for an interview responded with a variation on: I’ll need to check with the prime minister’s office.

Since coming home, I’ve been surprised by the lack of access to ministers outside carefully choreographed press conferences. – Anna Fifield

Perhaps the most alarming, and certainly the most prevalent, trend I’ve noticed is the almost complete refusal of government departments and agencies to allow journalists to speak to subject experts.

Like, you know, the people who are actually implementing complicated reforms and know what they are talking about. – Anna Fifield

We often just get insufficient answers written in bureaucratese.

There is no opportunity to get them to put their words in a more digestible form. There’s no opportunity to ask them to explain the background to a decision.

There’s certainly no chance to ask them anything like a probing question. That, of course, is the whole point of this stonewalling. – Anna Fifield

This obfuscation and obstruction is bad for our society for two key reasons.

One: It’s in everyone’s interest to have journalists understand the complicated subjects they’re writing about. We need to ask questions. We can’t explain things we don’t understand.

Two: It’s called the public service for a reason. They work for the public, aka you. It is the job of the Fourth Estate to hold the powerful to account. So we should be able to ask reasonable questions – like “When will the $1.25 billion Transmission Gully motorway open?” – and expect something that at least resembles an answer. – Anna Fifield

To be clear, our country is free and open compared to many other parts of the world. But I’m not comparing us to Iran (where I used to ask pointed questions at foreign ministry press conferences all the time) or China (ditto).

I’m comparing us to other proudly open and democratic societies. And I’m comparing us to the us we used to be. Where a journalist could ask a straight question and get a straight answer and deliver it to you – straight. – Anna Fifield

But my favourite must be this supremely arrogant line from the Ministry of Health, asked about releasing data during an Omicron wave: “We will release additional information if it is determined that there is a need to do so.”Anna Fifield

I make two further predictions. First, the Ardern government will be utterly decimated in a landslide defeat next year and second, that in the course of time given some perspective, it will be recorded as the most incompetent by a country mile in our post-war history. – Bob Jones

Politicians bright-side scientific advice when they report it accurately, but selectively. They emphasise the politically helpful parts of this advice but omit the careful but politically-awkward provisos that scientists pair with their advice.Nicholas Agar

While there has been little Covid death, the Government’s stance has exacted a price: mental health issues; the interruption of children’s education; the too-long separation of families due to MIQ restrictions; struggling “hospo” and tourism businesses; the inability to source much-needed staff from offshore; and mounting government debt among them. – Fran O’Sullivan

It is too easy to get on and stay on welfare in New Zealand. Labour have enhanced that ease by reducing the use of sanctions to impose work obligations. They recently shifted thousands of jobseekers onto the sole parent benefit because they no longer had to look for a job. The policy settings changed. It is now OK to keep adding children to a benefit to avoid work. That is not a “well-functioning” welfare system.Lindsay Mitchell

Why anyone, however, would trust the Local Government Minister or the Prime Minister to deal with them in good faith after their sustained deception about mandating Three Waters remains a mystery. – Graham Adams

This is a vengeful government, it’s a nasty government, it’s the exact opposite of a kind government, and it’s exact opposite of an open, honest, and transparent government. Mike Hosking

Because here’s a fact we need to accept: no matter how important climate change is to people, it is hardly ever more important than being able to pay your bills or keep your job. Most people will vote for jobs and a warm house before they vote for the climate.

Governments should – and obviously do – bear that in mind. – Heather du Plessis Allan

Scientific studies show that singing has positive effects on mental health. People who sing are more inclined to be content with life.
Group singing seems to induce the production of oxytocin – the binding hormone that can reduce stress and anxiety, and decrease a sense of loneliness.
Singing heals pain and sorrow and increases a sense of well-being. –
Robert Fulghum

A government that allows trespassers to unlawfully occupy and obstruct the entrances to the land and buildings symbolising its authority, and to block the main streets of its capital city, raises questions about whether it is truly sovereign.

Everyone has a right to go to Parliament’s grounds and protest, but everyone else has a right to visit those grounds and drive around Wellington. In more than three decades of watching students, teachers, farmers, unions, environmentalists, Māori and activists on both sides of social issues march on Parliament, none has behaved as disgracefully as the mob who turned up on Tuesday and refused to leave. – Matthew Hooton

Many are so caught up in conspiracism that their problems appear more medical than legal.

Yet the Wellington political, bureaucratic and media establishments should not kid themselves that only a deranged fringe is feeling enraged by the current situation. Two years of pandemic and the long and preventable Auckland lockdown have fuelled a seething anger towards the Government from a much larger and more reasonable segment of the population, even if its source may be difficult to pinpoint. Matthew Hooton

But more is based on legitimate irritation with a Beehive communications strategy seemingly targeted towards children rather than voting adults, and which cannot admit the slightest fault or setback for fear of undermining Ardern’s global brand as Covid vanquisher. – Matthew Hooton

For its part, the Wellington bureaucracy is under so much pressure from its political masters to support the Beehive narrative that it increasingly provides information that is radically incomplete, contradictory or just plain wrong. – Matthew Hooton

The incoherence in the Government’s Omicron strategy means public co-operation is radically declining, including for tracking and testing. The Beehive may think a few more earnest homilies from the podium of truth will turn that around, but the public isn’t stupid. – Matthew Hooton

This is sneaky reform. Three Waters is designed to relieve smaller communities of the inordinate costs of compliance with an excessive regulatory regime already enacted in law. I doubt it will make beaches and rivers one jot cleaner than current regional council efforts can achieve.

All we stand to get is another fungal outgrowth of government, four super-regional agencies, each with floors of box-ticking bureaucrats making work for contractors, consultants, researchers and publicity staff to comfort you and me, the disenfranchised suckers paying for it.  – John Roughan

Just 53 people have died here from Covid, and our prime minister has been lavished with praise as a result. For much of the pandemic, the team of five million went about their lives pretty much as normal, working maskless, travelling domestically and attending large outdoor gatherings in sunny weather, going home in the evenings to wade through tear-soaked emails from contacts abroad marvelling at our apparent Covid success.

But there has always been another team milling in the shadows, the team of one million, the expatriate Kiwis stranded abroad who have paid a heavy price for their home country’s Covid elimination strategy. – David Cohen

Jacinda Ardern’s plummeting popularity indicates a country questioning not only her racist white-anting of our democracy, but the hypocrisy of her kindness and well-being mantras. Her repeated emphasis on ‘well-being’ on which she stressed her intent to focus, instead of on GDP – when introducing her budget in 2019 – is apparently an important part of the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s ‘Great Reset’ agenda.

New Zealanders have been sold a pup. The economic, mental and emotional well-being of New Zealanders has been far from prioritised by her Labour coalition doing extraordinary damage – and determined on more of the same, judging from the controversial legislation it continues to ram through. – Amy Brooke

The European Commission has tried, so far unsuccessfully, to direct its staff not to refer to Christmas, as if mere mention of the word would act on atheists, animists, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Hindus, and no doubt others, much as garlic flowers or crucifixes acted on Dracula (at least as portrayed by Christopher Lee).

Oddly enough in these times of multiculturalism, mere words provoke apoplexy, at least metaphorically, as never before. Euphemism, evasion and renaming flourish — supposedly in the name of tolerance, but really as exercises of power.  – Theodore Dalrymple

The academics, intellectuals and sub-editors of university presses who use the new style evidently believe that the world is populated by people of extreme psychological fragility, and whose self-esteem, which can be shattered by the mere usage of BC and AD, it is their duty to protect.

Thus does condescension and sentimentality unite with megalomania to produce absurd circumlocutions.Theodore Dalrymple

And this is where cancel culture is eating itself. It’s so inane and ridiculous that you now cannot even enjoy being the gender you are, for fear it upsets those who don’t believe in gender.  – Kate Hawkesby

Where is all this going? What’s the end game here? Why do we all have to be the same? And why do we have to bend and change ourselves constantly to fit in with whoever the latest person or group to be offended is? Surely that’s a bottomless pit?  

There will be no individuality left at all, if we go down that track. I mean the Tweeters that are outraged that she’s apparently confused teenagers by saying she loves being a woman, what about the teenagers who’re seeing this bullying backlash against a woman for saying she likes being a woman? What message is that sending them?  – Kate Hawkesby

Whether you agree or not with the people protesting on parliament grounds is not the debate anymore. What this government, that proclaimed it would govern for all New Zealanders, has done is turn its back on a good number of its people.

How hard can it be to at least front up and talk to the people assembled on parliament grounds?

The final straw for me, and what prompted me to go public, is the way government is treating these people – turning the sprinklers on them knowing there was a storm coming, and playing loud music at night so as to not let them sleep and make them feel miserable. No farmer would treat animals like that!

Although this protest has a different focus to Groundswell NZ, we support their right to be heard and cannot understand or agree with the Government’s actions. What is becoming of our once united and proud country? – Bryce McKenzie

Trevor Mallard has officially lost the plot. . . He’s done it under the guise of protection of course – appointing himself as some overarching protector of all – whether they want or need to be protected or not. 

It’s an old school ‘I know best’ approach that reeks of patriarchy and has no place here in the modern world. But what the Government’s tried to do here – and failed in my opinion, is grab the narrative on this protest and shut it down. Problem is they’ve only made things worse. – Kate Hawkesby

Refusing to speak to the protestors, writing them all off as wacko conspiracy theorists, and rabid far-right anti-vaxxers is a big mistake – and has only served to gaslight the situation. Media who’ve ignored Mallard’s instructions, have managed to gauge a large diversity of views from a raft of other people there too – yes there are your fringe nutters, but actually, the anger runs deep and there’re some genuinely aggrieved people out there too.

Only a fool would dismiss them and hope they go away.

Yet that’s what Mallard, Robertson and Ardern are trying to do. Robertson’s rolled out the usual sneering condescending frown down the nose rhetoric which is so popular in the left-leaning sandpit of Twitter.. just writing them off as dangerous rabid crazies. Mallard has taken it next level – he’s stooped to childish antics of pulling dumb – as someone pointed out “boomer” stunts -– like sticking hoses on them and playing them the Macarena. –Kate Hawkesby

Not even the Police support his actions and have distanced themselves from that stupidity. And why give it this much attention if the government line is supposed to be ignore them? Ardern on the other hand has done what she does best – head in sand, fingers in ears – vanish. She’s invisible. But when put on the spot to address it, she joins the Robertson ‘write them off’ camp.

But it’s not working, the protest is only swelling in number, not even a cyclone diminished their enthusiasm.

The other problem for the government is the hypocrisy on display here. Let’s not forget all these MP’s decrying the protest were all proud protestors themselves back in the day. So they support free speech, and your right to protest.. but only if it aligns with their views. I’m not on the side of the protestors here by the way – they’ve blown this by a long shot – it’s a disorganised shambolic out of control mess.Kate Hawkesby

But I wouldn’t be so arrogant as to write them all off as anti-vaxxers and far-right conspirators. There is genuine anger that runs deep in this now very divided country, over mandates and the campaign of control and fear.

So to just write off those protesting without even hearing them, is a dangerous move I think, by a government increasingly out of its depth. –Kate Hawkesby

Although the protestors aren’t necessarily many people’s cup of tea in terms of approach, demeanour and attitude – the general consensus seems to be that they in their own way represent a wider frustration, if not anger, among many of us. 

That’s why there isn’t a leader or a point of contact or a specific cause. hat’s why it’s been a mistake to call them an anti-vax protest or an anti-mandate group. It’s been a mistake to suggest it’s a mistake that they didn’t have a singular point.

That’s the point, about the lack of a point. They represent all of us that right now have a sense that things aren’t right.Mike Hosking

But it is an outpouring of emotion and I admire people who want to give up a lot of time and effort to travel and hunker down and presumably get a sense of some sort of accomplishment.

Which is why Trevor Mallard specifically, and the Government more generally, have misread this so badly. As a tiny collective they can be, and have been, dismissed but that’s to fail to see that they represent a wider mood.

The Government and Mallard in particular are on the wrong side of this. When you start turning sprinklers on, start playing loud, bad music at them, start pumping out covid-19 ads – you’re being obtuse. – Mike Hosking

Telling the media not to talk to protestors is anti-democratic. Opening your Speaker’s Balcony and telling media to look down on the protestors is also anti-democratic, authoritarian and controlling, not to mention the height of arrogance.

The fact so many of the media acquiesced is of deep concern and probably plays into the protestors beliefs that too much of the media is controlled. It’s certainly not open honest and transparent as Labour so often wanted us to believe they are. 

If the protestors need to be moved that is the job of the police, not a jumped bureaucrat with a puffed-up view of their own entitlement. There are no winners in this. But the more the Mallards of this world look to decry, misinform and bully, the sympathy will build behind those who just want to have their say.   – Mike Hosking

New Zealand’s secular liberal saint, Jacinda Ardern, seems to be losing a little of her previously strong odor of sanctity.  – Theodore Dalrymple

In typical bureaucratic fashion, the rules were interpreted strictly, and made no allowance for the fact that to be stranded pregnant in Afghanistan is a good deal more worrying than to be stranded, middle-aged, non-pregnant, and prosperous, in, say, Switzerland. No doubt the bureaucracy wanted to avoid charges of favoritism—one rule for the prominent and another for the unknown—but it did Ardern’s popularity no good that Bellis felt constrained to turn to those well-known feminist humanitarians, the Taliban, for assistance. They seem to have done the trick: Bellis has now been allowed to return to New Zealand; but in the process, Ardern’s government, not long ago praised as the model for all civilized countries to follow, has been made to look stupid, cruel, and weak.Theodore Dalrymple

The bad news is that each time we’ve made the right decision to buy more time, we’ve made it late and with insufficient planning in place. The strategy has served us well, but the execution much less so.

When the Prime Minister spoke to the nation for the first time this year on 20 January, she repeated stressed that ‘every day counts’ and it was urgent to prepare for Omicron, before going on to tell us that over the summer the government and its agencies had done… sod all.

One example: A new testing regime and the introduction of rapid antigen testing was announced, not with the information that the test were in the country and ready to go, but that they were on order, and in insufficient quantities. – Tim Watkin

Government hesitancy or poor management have been as consistent as the ‘buy time’ tactic. The initial lockdown was a week or two late, the testing at the border got into gear weeks after it was meant to, security at MIQs was only sorted after a number of escapes, more ICU beds were only announced 22 months into the pandemic, and – crucially – the move to order the vaccine and roll out a programme was slow, for all its eventual effectiveness. And we’re paying the price for that slowness now, cutting the gap between second and third doses and less widely boosted than we could have been.

The urgent language Ardern has used since 20 January was also needed before Christmas and over summer. National’s Covid-19 Response spokesman Chris Bishop on 30 December issued a statement headed “Govt must act on boosters, kids vaccines and rapid tests”. –Tim Watkin

Time and again we’ve done the right thing, but late and lackadaisically. And time and again we’ve got lucky. Or, the rightness of the decision has bought us the time to play catch-up. That, for me, has been the defining story of our Covid response and our consistent ‘buy time’ tactics.

But now we face a new phase for New Zealand. Covid-19 has begun entering the community at a level we’ve never seen before. I give thanks to all that is holy that we have bought time and we are facing this now – informed, vaccinated, prepared, up against a less deadly variant – and not at any other time over the past two years, like so much of the rest of the world. – Tim Watkin

Critics have repeatedly – for the best part of two years – insisted that the government’s tactics have run their course and it needs to change. And they’re repeatedly been shown up. But now we truly are at the end of the ‘buy time’ era. We’ve bought all the time we could and the wave is upon us. Two years in and the government will need to pivot and take a new approach. Let’s hope their decision-making is as sound, but their execution improves. Because the thing about waves is that they keep on coming.Tim Watkin

Critics have repeatedly – for the best part of two years – insisted that the government’s tactics have run their course and it needs to change. And they’re repeatedly been shown up. But now we truly are at the end of the ‘buy time’ era. We’ve bought all the time we could and the wave is upon us. Two years in and the government will need to pivot and take a new approach. Let’s hope their decision-making is as sound, but their execution improves. Because the thing about waves is that they keep on coming.Tim Watkin

The day a Speaker dictates to the media on how a story can be told would be a dark day for democracy.

It fits with the current Beehive though: a government by remote control, refusing to engage with those on the ground who don’t fit their mould and that’s most certainly unwise if not unkind. – Barry Soper

We’re fighting all these regulations and restrictions to keep operating, to keep job security going.. . It’s just decimating and it’s so hard for businesses to figure this out when the rules are constantly changing, we’re just tired of all these changes and restrictions. If it was simple – if it was like just RAT tests, clear, come to work, that’d be great, but it’s not, we’ve got all these minefields to work through.Simon Berry

Our besotted would-be train-spotters seriously oversell the benefits of “light” rail, such as the downtown-airport link. Who would want to trundle along in a train, stopping and starting at 18 stations en route, when an express bus using dedicated bus lanes can get you there in 35 minutes, as it often got me there pre-Covid? – Tim Hazledine

Even without the patently loony proposal to dig a long tunnel under Sandringham Rd, we have here a proposed “light” rail project that will cost New Zealand’s three million taxpayers between three and five thousand dollars each. This for the benefit of about 30,000 Auckland commuters, to improve their access to the higher-paid jobs in the CBD, if that’s still what they want to do. Tim Hazledine

THE NEW ZEALAND liberal or woke left, most of it directly connected to the Labour Party or supportive of it, has lost its mind. How else can you explain its maniacal pursuit of ‘right wing extremists’, ‘Nazis’ and ‘white supremacists’ within the several hundred people dancing to Bob Marley on Parliament grounds? When Rob Muldoon used to be mocked by Labourites for looking for ‘reds under the bed’, today’s Labourites are worthy of our derision as they hunt for Nazis in every occupation tent.  – Against the Current

What the liberal left has been demonstrating is something other than liberalism. It instead owes much to the scourge of identity politics. It has displayed a toxic politics that’s profoundly anti-working class and which has jettisoned tolerance and free debate for  shaming, threats and intimidation. While the folk at the occupation have been remarkably optimistic and good humoured in the circumstances, the liberal left has been petulant, joyless, trivial and status quo-perpetuating. Against the Current

More disturbingly though, the liberal left has displayed a willingness to unleash state violence against dissenters. The mask has come off to reveal something very ugly.  – Against the Current

The liberal left has indeed lost its mind. What we have seen on display for the past eight or so days is a motley rabble of cowardly keyboard warriors who are seeking to extinguish an emerging independent working class politics that owes no allegiance to the political status quo that the woke left benefits from. This is the real ‘crime’ of the Wellington occupation. Against the Current

Shoot me now!  New Zealand’s system of science education continues to go down the toilet (along with Donald Trump’s papers, I guess) as everyone from government officials to secondary school teachers to university professors pushes to make Mātauranga Māori (“MM”) or Māori “ways of knowing” coequal with science, to be taught as science in science classes. All of them intend for this mixture of legend, superstition, theology, morality, philosophy and, yes, some “practical knowledge” to be given equal billing with science, and presumably not to be denigrated as “inferior” to real science. (That, after all, would be racism.) It’s one thing to teach the indigenous ways of knowing as sociology or anthropology (and but of course “ways of knowing” differ all over the world); it’s another entirely to say that they’re coincident with modern science.

The equation of “ways of knowing” like MM with modern science is, of course, part of the Woke Program to “decolonize science”. The problem, of course, is we have a big conflict—one between a “way of knowing that really works“, which is science, and on the other side a reverence for the oppressed and their culture, embodied in MM.  The result is, of course, that the oppressed win, and all over the Anglophonic world science is being watered down, downgraded, pushed aside, or tarred with adjectives like “white supremacist” and “colonialist.” – Jerry Coyne

The purpose of education, at least as I see it, is to impart generally accepted knowledge to students, and to teach them how to think and how to defend and analyze their views. This is precisely the opposite of MM, which is a kind of theology that cannot be questioned or falsified. Under my construal, education is indeed for everyone, but for those groups who have spiritual/religious/moral values that differ from those of other groups, they have to get those things reinforced on their own time.Jerry Coyne

People of Aotearoa: rise up against this nonsense! Do you want your science education to become the laughingstock of the world? For that is what will happen if the benighted keep barrelling along that dual carriageway of science and nescience. – Jerry Coyne

his country survives on trading, often in markets at the other side of the world.

The fact that our standard of living is rated amongst the richest countries on the planet is solely dependent on our exporters having a better product to sell and being able to market it better than our competitors. It follows that the more you sell at these prices, the more we can afford to deliver higher living standards to the whole population of New Zealand. More and better schools and health services. More aged care and handicapped facilities. Better infrastructure, sporting, and leisure facilities.

As the economy grows, we all benefit.Clive Bibby

It says something about the time we are in that politicians cannot state they are listening to a group without it being assumed they are therefore part of that group.- Brigitte Morten

It is unlikely the protestors, now emboldened by seven days in horrible weather, blasting music, and overflowing portaloos, will be easily mollified. But it is clear that the government’s decision to dismiss their views has validated these citizen’s argument that they do not have a voice.Brigitte Morten

Irrespective of where you sit in the mandated vaccination debate, it is an extreme level of government coercion. Some of us will roll with it. In fact, close to 90% of the eligible population has done what the government has asked of it. But enforced coercion must be proportionate to the level of risk to public health and this is where the case for the mandated vaccination enters murky ground for those who gathered outside Parliament. The vaccine will stop our hospital system being swamped, but it doesn’t stop transmission.

You have both removed a citizen’s right to choose what is injected into their bloodstream and you have told them they will also get the virus. Are we really that surprised people have taken to the streets to oppose mandated vaccination? Has New Zealand society ever been this divided and this angry?  – Rachel Smalley

As I write this, the government hasn’t met with any of the protestors. Sure, some of the behaviour has been appalling and there are security issues, but few, if any, of the protestors would describe themselves as feeling recognised and free from prejudice. I don’t agree with their argument, but I support their right to be heard. And if you refuse to listen, the mob just keeps yelling.  Rachel Smalley

Two years into this pandemic, the government and many of its agencies are still heavily distracted by Covid. The focus remains laser-like on the virus, but the protests have shown us what happens when a government loses its peripheral vision across all of society. New Zealand is turning on itself. . . The government is throwing everything at containing the Covid monster but, in doing so, it has run the risk of fuelling another monster that is far, far harder to contain.   – Rachel Smalley

The fight is far from over. Trans activists wield an enormous amount of cultural power, and their ideology is far from discredited in the eyes of progressive politicians, delusional academics, and their media microphones. Many still insist that without sex change surgeries and life-long dependence on drugs, gender dysphoric children will kill themselves—and this threat packs potent power. Yet, from the British Isles to the Continent to the Nordic nations, people are beginning to wake up. Major medical institutions are beginning to put research over ideology. Each time this happens, trans activists lose power that they can never recover. And as the ugly and irreversible consequences of their delusional experiment become clearer, we can begin to hope that their narrative will implode sooner than seemed possible only a short time ago.

For the sake of the children being inducted into lives of perpetual medicalization, I desperately hope so.  – Jonathon Van Maren 

Truth is never absolute. We should be inherently wary of those who proclaim a particular viewpoint – political, religious, or otherwise – with a ferocity that tolerates no possibility of an alternative view, let alone that it may contain some points of validity.

Unfortunately, we live in circumstances where not only has truth become absolute, but also where virtually any actions in defence of that new absolute are considered acceptable. In nearly every aspect of today’s society, reason and considered debate are giving way to uncompromising absolutes, with little room for the traditional middle ground between them. – Peter Dunne

 There is a new vehemence abroad that accepts no good in any contrary view and no acceptable justification in any stand or action taken to promote that view. Because the particular view being expressed is considered to be wrong, all those who hold or even dally with it are mercilessly scorned and vigorously condemned.

The bigger picture, beyond this protest, and beyond Covid-19, is far more disturbing. Something is seriously wrong when protestors can see threatening to execute politicians and journalists because they disagree with them as legitimate. Equally, when political leaders can justify not being willing to engage in any form of dialogue with the protestors simply because they do not like the views they are expressing smacks of high-handed intolerance. It suggests our capacity for rational discourse and reasoned debate about a controversial issue has broken down completely. More worryingly, the vehemence of expression on both sides of the argument makes it difficult to see how differences of this type can ever be resolved constructively while such polarised positions and mistrust endure. – Peter Dunne

Having tasted attention and notoriety this way, the mob will not be easily dissuaded from similar action the next time an issue that riles them arises. We need to redefine the rules of social engagement in such circumstances, in a way that brings respect, reason and debate, rather than abusive slogans and haranguing, back to the forefront of public discourse. However unacceptable or offensive they may consider the views of the protestors, political leaders cannot remain haughtily detached, hiding behind civil authorities such as the police.

At its heart good leadership is about engagement – hearing from and listening to the disparate views of the community at large and then acting in a considered way in response. Good leadership is not simply telling people what to do and expecting unquestioning compliance. It also means having the courage to acknowledge the diversity of public opinion and its right to be expressed.

Personally distasteful it may feel, our political leaders across the spectrum need to initiate some form of dialogue with protest leaders to ease tensions and limit future recurrences. Otherwise, like Covid-19 itself, the new intolerance now emerging will, to our collective detriment, quickly become endemic. Peter Dunne

The transfer of sympathy from the victims of crime to the criminal has been going on for a long time. This transfer is now taken as a sign of broadmindedness and moral generosity, marking out the intellectual from the general run of prejudiced, thoughtless or censorious persons. – Theodore Dalrymple

It is hardly surprising criminals take advantage of a tendency among the educated to view them as the victims of their own conduct. The criminals may be ignorant, ill-educated and foolish, but they are not therefore stupid. They know the emotional and intellectual weaknesses of their enemies or opponents and are prepared to exploit them.Theodore Dalrymple

The root cause of crime is the decision to commit it: indeed, without such a decision, there is, or ought to be, no crime to answer. Of course, human decisions are affected by many factors, among them (but not exclusively) the likely adverse legal consequences for the people who make them. – Theodore Dalrymple

A fascinating political and sociological fault line has opened up – one that defies the normal understanding of New Zealand’s political dynamics. People at the bottom of the heap, as political scientist Bryce Edwards describes them – many of them working-class and provincial, with no formal organisational structure – have risen up in defiance of the all-powerful political class, the urban elites who are accustomed to calling the shots and controlling political discourse. I would guess most of the protesters outside Parliament have not previously been politically active and may not feel allegiance to any particular party. They appear to be angry about a number of things.  Covid-19 and the vaccination mandate galvanised them into action, but it’s possible there are deeper, less easily articulated grievances – such as perceptions of powerlessness and exclusion – simmering beneath the surface. – Karl du Fresne

 Most commentators in the mainstream media are framing the occupation of the parliamentary lawn as being orchestrated by sinister right-wing extremists, and therefore devoid of any legitimacy. How paper-thin their tolerance of the right to dissent has proved to be. The clear implication (where it’s not explicitly stated) is that the occupation is not a legitimate expression of the right to protest by sincerely motivated New Zealanders who present no threat to anyone, but an alarming phenomenon driven by alt-right agitators with an ulterior agenda. But there’s a very marked discrepancy between reports from people who have actually been on the ground at Molesworth St, who generally describe the event as peaceful and good-natured, and those who make judgments from afar and take refuge in simplistic stereotypes about the type of people who are protesting. – Karl du Fresne

I get the distinct impression that politicians from all the parties in Parliament, even ACT, feel threatened by this sudden gesture of assertiveness by the great unwashed and don’t know how to handle it. MPs have done themselves no favours by refusing to engage with the protesters. For one thing, it looks cowardly; for another, it reinforces the perception that the politicians prefer to remain isolated in their bubble rather than sully themselves by talking to a bunch of scruffs who dared to challenge the political consensus. Unusually, this protest is a rebuke to the entire political establishment, which the politicians probably find unsettling because it’s outside their realm of experience.  But they need to get off their high horse; the people standing in the mud outside Parliament are New Zealanders, after all. – Karl du Fresne

As part of the Parliament protest there are conspiracy theorists trying to take advantage to sell their wares, offensive signs, threatening language, destruction of property, and abuse of bystanders and local business.  None of this is okay.

Some use these reasons to treat protestors like they are deplorables; to argue that because some of the group are like this, none of the group should be listened to. But, as we saw in Trump’s America, the deplorables have a vote just like the intellectuals. And they have some valid grievances.Brigitte Morten

No politicians, from any party, have met with the protestors. They are too scared of media reporting contact by them with protestors as if it signified anti-vax sentiment. That is not fanciful. It says something about the time we are in that politicians cannot state they are listening to a group without it being assumed they are therefore part of that group. – Brigitte Morten

There is no such thing as a ‘right to protest’. In our Bill of Rights there are rights to free speech and freedom of assembly. But not explicitly to protest. There is no unfettered right for the protestors to camp on the lawns or increasingly block more roads in the Wellington CBD.

In the same way the government was not able to hold Aucklanders in lockdown as long as they wanted because people simply would not comply; the protestors will also lose empathy for their cause if they continue their hinderance of Wellingtonians for too long. You cannot argue the government mandates unfairly treated destroyed your livelihood while destroying the livelihoods of the businesses surrounding Parliament. The social contract goes both ways. – Brigitte Morten

Those calling for the Police to forcibly remove people from Parliament grounds underestimate how difficult this will be. If the current protesters are violently suppressed, the conspiracy claims of far right inspiration will become real. Thousands of previously apolitical New Zealanders will have seen that our democracy has no place for them, and the language of force is all that is left if they are not to be oppressed indefinitely. – Brigitte Morten

It is unlikely the protestors, now emboldened by seven days in horrible weather, blasting music, and overflowing portaloos, will be easily mollified.

But it is clear that the government’s decision to dismiss their views has validated these citizen’s argument that they do not have a voice.Brigitte Morten

 What are the building blocks of democracy? As “anti-mandate” protesters camp on Parliament grounds and images of police versus protesters fill our newsfeeds, it’s a timely reminder that trust, transparency, informed debate and respect for our civil institutions underpin a healthy democracy.

Beyond the many humanitarian and economic costs due to Covid, we cannot afford democracy and social cohesion to become casualties. – Sir Peter Gluckman

Trust in the political process has progressively fallen, the manipulation of information, the emergence of alternative facts, the blatant loss of transparency and respect for the truth are all features of many so-called democracies. Sir Peter Gluckman

Democracy has always depended on the integrity of both policy and political institutions and transparency in policymaking and knowledge. It requires ideas and policy to be contested civilly both through an informed and empowered opposition and an engaged civil society with the assistance of a robust fourth estate. From Plato’s thinking onwards, an honest and well-informed electorate has been central to effective democracy. – Sir Peter Gluckman

Arguably, there have been other costs, including democracy as an institution itself. There is a sense that decisions have been made without the deep oversight of Parliament and the plurality of external voices that makes for a quality democracy. Issues over Covid testing date well over a year now, including severe criticism from the Auditor-General over contracts, and now the availability of rapid antigen tests. There remains uncertainty about the rationale behind those decisions.

Crisis management is always best served by contesting ideas and approaches before decisions are made. In the private sector and military, “red teams” are commonly used to explore alternatives and ask frank questions of those managing the response. The furore about the role of the private sector and how its operational expertise could be of value has been evident since early in the pandemic and the next phase of the pandemic will be even more complex.Sir Peter Gluckman

Sustaining trust and cohesion is hard and requires real efforts to reinforce transparency and promote open discussion on difficult matters. This involves respecting the value of diverse inputs and avoiding any sense of Government abdicating accountability through confusing language. An informed electorate, open discourse, empowered citizens, and respect for the institutions of civic society are some of the greatest assets New Zealand could have. – Sir Peter Gluckman

Prognostication’s a curse. You can see the train wreck coming, you can shout about it, but you just can’t convince an utterly useless government to do a damned thing about it. 

Bit of a shame that the Herald piece didn’t mention that all of this was entirely predictable, was predicted, and could have been avoided by contracting for more capacity with a testing lab that wasn’t running pooled samples. Eric Crampton

Dismissive arrogance towards the protesters at Parliament is making the situation worse.

That’s not just Parliament’s high-handed approach. Opinion pieces and public sentiment that mock and sneer at people’s sincerely held beliefs serves to isolate those in our community who reckon the Government has got it wrong. – David Fisher

These are just some of the chisels placed in cracks in our civil society. And then the pandemic came along, bringing anxiety, fear and uncertainty and smashed them like a sledgehammer. It caused industries to collapse, businesses and jobs to go, people’s dreams and hopes to disappear. Across our society, there is tension and, among many, the vacuum of despair.

That’s the hole dis/misinformation filled. That’s how it became possible for some people to self-radicalise and how it led to the protest at Parliament.David Fisher

With such absolute surety on both sides, arguing over who is right and who is wrong is pointless. Rational argument and discussion has little place here. Those who have committed to their respective positions will not shift.

To dismiss those people – as the Prime Minister does by citing our 95 per cent vaccination rate – is wrong. To mock those people, as some in Parliament have done, is worse. Isolation is a classic part of the radicalisation process. The further and harder you push people away, the more fixed they become. – David Fisher

For every person that did make the journey, there are many others who wished they were there. They are people who stayed home and expected when they came out it would be over, who got their jabs and then thought that would be it, who had children stuck overseas, who knew someone who couldn’t go to their mother’s funeral, who lost their house when they lost their job. – David Fisher

The way out of the protest is not through the protest but with the protest. Rather than dismiss the protesters, recognise that the views they hold are genuine and hard-earned. Recognise they dedicated considerable thought to their views and adopted a stance that is honest and principled.

Having done so, recognise too that it is the one thing on which we disagree that is making it difficult to see what we like about each other. Finding a circuit-breaker to do that is hard but necessary.

Ultimately, most of those on Parliament’s forecourt want the same thing as those inside Parliament’s walls – for New Zealand to be a free and open democracy in which we are able to live our lives in the best way possible, subject to the freedoms enjoyed by each other.- David Fisher

For me, that’s been one of the interesting little hypocrisies in this whole episode. On one hand, politicians wanted to take a moralistic high ground by refusing to meet with protesters. How dare anyone dignify them with a response?! Only the moralistic high ground apparently didn’t apply to the Speaker, his sprinklers, and his irritating playlist.

Trevor Mallard’s efforts can only have served to antagonise the protesters. And every bit of scorn and hate hurled upon them only reinforces their self-image. The team of five million? Ha. This rabble, confused, misled, and deluded as they may be, felt well and truly left out of the team of five million. They joined together to protest precisely because they felt like outsiders. They felt ostracised. Very little from the past 10 days will have changed their minds. – Jack Tame

Yes, there were terrible, hateful, threatening messages. As far as I’m concerned, anyone making death threats should have been arrested immediately. But in this morass of different grievances and complaints are some very reasonable and articulate concerns around extraordinary state mandates. Personally, I don’t know why any right-thinking person who was only protesting the mandates would choose to stay and be associated
with someone making death threats. But the mandate issue is worthy of protest. I don’t agree with the protesters, but they do have a right to be heard. – Jack Tame

Hindsight is a very effective strategist, but there is one moment police may look back upon as the lost opportunity to nip the anti-mandate protests at Parliament in the bud.

That was on the afternoon of the first day the protesters arrived – Tuesday nearly two weeks ago. Claire Trevett

The poor old police in particular have been made to look like laughing stocks. They appear to have severely underestimated the size and intent of the protest group, despite the social media that prefaced it.

There have been moments that have begged to be lampooned. High among them was Police Commissioner Andrew Coster’s so-called towing crackdown.

Coster did not front publicly until Tuesday – a week after the protesters arrived. He said the protest was now “untenable” and put protesters on notice that if they did not move their cars, the towing would begin the next day. He also admitted they could not find towies to do the job, and the Army didn’t have the right equipment.

The next day the only car that was actually towed was a police car, which had a flat tyre. – Claire Trevett

The protesters have not made serious attempts to storm Parliament, beyond a brief flurry at the very start. Coster’s “de-escalation” strategy appears to be police-speak for hoping like hell the protesters stay that way. Claire Trevett

But the protest has long gone past the point at which police could simply wade into it and break it up. Coster has set out why: moving in with force at this point would be very ugly indeed.

Consent – the consent of the protesters rather than the wider public – is pretty much the only option left. – Claire Trevett

There is a danger the inhabitants of the parliamentary precinct have spent the week missing the wood for the trees. In focusing on the protesters directly in front of them, they seem oblivious to a much bigger mood shift that’s going on around the country.

What if what they are seeing is just the tip of the iceberg?Steven Joyce

There is, however, a large and growing group of New Zealanders who have had their lives severely disrupted by the Government’s actions “for the greater good”, who are sick of having their plight ignored.

And there is a big bunch more who have had a gutsful of the ever-changing rules and restrictions in the face of what they see as a very mild strain of Covid-19. It is these larger groups the Government should be most worried about.

The evidence of discontent and disagreement is growing all around us. – Steven Joyce

 The Covid response has created many losers. We’ve rightly talked a lot about the people caught on the wrong side of the border. But they are not the only ones.

Anyone who owns or works in a hospitality business or a small retail shop is another. People working in tourism or international education have been in a world of woe. Young people have had their education disrupted and their sporting dreams curtailed.

There are people living in pain because their elective surgery or cancer treatment has been postponed to the never-never. They have all been stopped from doing things which were previously part of normal life. Covid has whipped the rug out from under them.

It is perhaps not surprising when so many have had their lives turned upside down through no fault of their own, that a few will turn to conspiracy theories and the like.Steven Joyce

The Government certainly didn’t create the pandemic, but some of their actions have made it much worse than it needed to be. The vaccination delays, the inexplicable obstinacy against new forms of testing, the failure to increase hospital capacity, the layers upon layers of levels, traffic lights and stages which make people’s heads spin. – Steven Joyce

Then there are all the other tone-deaf announcements that heap insult on injury. What planet would you have to be on to think that whacking small businesses with a 6 per cent minimum wage increase and a new social insurance tax, plus the spectre of centralised wage negotiations, were good ideas now?

Why would you think that announcing a $15 billion light rail project for a privileged few in Auckland makes any sense when you are racking up debt all over the place that the next generation is going to be lumbered with? And at the same time as there is a real question mark over the future of commuting as we knew it?

And why would you be consulting on tighter immigration, visitor and student controls when your biggest problem after some pretty shoddy treatment amid two years of closed borders will be persuading enough people to come here?Steven Joyce

The Government’s dogmatic determination to continue with a policy programme made instantly out of date by the pandemic indicates the same lack of flexible thinking apparent in their Covid response. They expect everyone else to adjust and cope but they intend to sail on, determined to do things they thought of six or seven years ago irrespective of current circumstances.

And their blind loyalty to the Ministry of Health and its Director-General is a sight to behold. Dr Bloomfield has been politically dissembling at best about his organisation’s confiscation of RAT test orders. In any other Government he would have been carpeted and there would be talk of resignation. – Steven Joyce

The country’s mood is darkening, and in dismissing the protesters and their motivations, the Prime Minister and her MPs are giving the appearance that they are dismissing all the concerns people are raising, or even just quietly thinking about.

I can’t tell the Government how to get the protesters to go home, although firing Trevor Mallard would probably help. I suspect in the meantime the numbers will only grow.

Ministers need to lift their sights and focus on the wider discontent among the public outside Wellington and outside the Bowen triangle.

If ministers showed a willingness to genuinely listen, adjust their policy response, and convince Kiwis they both care about and will mitigate the disruption in people’s lives, then they can right the ship. At that point the protest will also probably peter out. If they don’t, then a few hundred assorted protesters and conspiracy theorists camped on the lawn at Parliament will be the least of their problems.Steven Joyce

I would say there’s probably a three-tier mandate. So the hairy shirt level is employment and losing your job, the next level down is the irritation level of not being able to do stuff you want to do, and then the third level down, which I think to be perfectly honest probably shouldn’t have been there in the first place, is a kind of mandate creep where we’ve been trying to really encourage secondary school students in that 12 to 17 year old age group to step up and get their doses which they have,” McIntyre said.

But schools have overinterpreted that and are imposing all these unnecessary restrictions on kids in that age group, not being able to play sport, not being able to go and participate in school activities, and it’s all because of their parents’ decisions which they are being punished for,” he said.

And let’s face it, you know, even if they are vaccinated, they are mixing with a whole group of other kids who are very low risk and they’re incredibly low risk now they’ve had their two doses, so I think particularly that third group, the kind of mandate that should never have been there in the first place, so I think that’s really an important one to tackle first. – Peter McIntyre

Why has a school been denied tests whilst it seeks to protect the health & safety of its own students & parents? Why has the government interfered with the contract? Our politicians and public officials would tell you that it has to do with things like MedSafe Approval – that health & safety red-tape is necessary when importing medical-related products.

However, that’s just one half of the truth. The other half is that our government has a very strong ideological problem with private sector involvement in the health-care sector.Robert MacCulloch

Yes, the government doesn’t want buyers & sellers which it doesn’t control coming together to do deals together in the health-sector. Although they say its about public health, it’s equally as much about ideology. Labour has an anti-privatization philosophy. At present, in the context of virus-testing, that philosophy has just become a health hazard. – Robert MacCulloch

Largely Covid-free, New Zealand has been viewed as a paradise for much of the last two years. Jacinda Ardern, already considered by many the Mother Teresa of the Antipodes, excelled in the early stages, acting decisively and with compassion. Appealing to the population to act as one, her “Team of Five Million” approach did wonders for national unity at a time when most other leaders were floundering and failing. No wonder I voted for her – twice.

But times have changed. Once saintly, Jacinda now appears merely silly, having led New Zealand to a place that looks more like a smug cul-de-sac than a nation wholly reliant on overseas tourism and trade. Then again, long-term strategic thinking was never a feature of her government’s Covid response, with “elimination” taking precedence over vaccination for much of 2021.   – Joanna Grochowicz

Not that anyone in New Zealand is really focusing on what she got wrong. Ardern’s $55 million (£27m) sweetener in the form of the Public Interest Journalism Fund has enabled her government to exert tremendous influence over private sector media outlets, as well as tightly control-messaging through state media channels. So much so that any coverage critical of Ardern now originates from pundits in Australia or Britain. Most recently, opposition leader David Seymour had to turn to the Daily Mail to get an opinion piece printed. This is when silly starts looking sinister.

If democracy is built on the ability to question those in power and hold them to account, then the Kiwi media are wholly complicit in Ardern’s swing from immaculate heart to autocrat. The major opposition party National have only made their job easier by offering nothing more headline-grabbing than leadership squabbles. Then again, the opposition’s perceived infighting might just be the PM’s grand media bribe in action. Gosh, she’s good!  – Joanna Grochowicz

Nobody can see the silent assassin at work next door; nor the mental health crisis her government’s Covid response has unleashed on New Zealand, where youth suicide rates are already the highest in the developed world. It certainly doesn’t fit the image of the leader I voted for – the young woman breastfeeding her new born at the UN General Assembly, the compassionate leader who offered succour to survivors of 2019’s Christchurch massacre. Here was a rare thing! A leader who understood both grand gestures and nuance.

Of course, there is nothing nuanced about Ardern’s shameless Covid scare tactics. They’ve worked a treat, keeping the public vehemently opposed to opening the country’s borders, and compliant in the face of tyrannical restrictions even as the rest of the world is emerging from crisis. Especially when combined with the bread of endlessly extended wage subsidies; and circuses in the form of a parade of overseas DJs, sports teams and stage shows that have breezed in without needing to enter the dreaded MIQ lottery.Joanna Grochowicz

Her latest diversion has worked. Terrifying the Team of Five Million, and focusing their fear and loathing on outsiders importing pestilence into paradise, is a highly effective strategy – if a little lacking in originality. Despots for thousands of years have deployed such methods to distract their subjects from something infinitely more damaging to long-term wellbeing – an unchallenged leader.

Ardern’s lack of transparency runs deep. One example, the He Puapua report currently before her Cabinet, was hidden from former coalition partner, New Zealand First. Finally outed as a result of an Official Information Act request, the report recommends a raft of co-governance structures along racial lines. – Joanna Grochowicz

Already, we are witnessing the corrosive impact of these policies and plans on national unity; and yet these issues and many others are being decided behind closed doors, with no regard for democratic process. Governments do this all the time, right? At least, oppressive regimes do.

What’s particularly galling for me is the mind control Ardern has exerted over the population. Coming back here, I’m shocked at how few have lost their faith, and baffled by the self-congratulatory mood that pervades the country. After two years of sermonising from Ardern and nowhere to drink other than from the government fountainhead, New Zealanders have turned into a nation of self-congratulatory, cavorting maenads.

Mea culpa. In voting for Mother Teresa, I unwittingly ushered Caligula into office. The parallels are there: noble and moderate for a period, admired all over the world “from the rising to the setting sun”. Our esteemed leader has become self-absorbed, cruel and dangerous. Where’s it all leading? I’d love to know, but getting to the truth in New Zealand is a tricky business nowadays. I prefer my chances at the London bacchanal – there at least I can be assured in vino veritas!Joanna Grochowicz

There are, of course, complaints and complaints. Some are purely individual or egotistical, but some point to general problems that affect many other people or the whole of society itself. A complaint is then emblematic of something beyond itself and may even become socially useful or necessary. Complaint that is merely about oneself is often akin to whining, and often serves to justify descent into the psychological swamp of resentful self-pity. – Theodore Dalrymple

There is thus an asymmetry between complaint and gratitude: one complains when things don’t work as they should, but one feels no gratitude when they do. There is a similar asymmetry where human rights are concerned: you complain when they are violated but are not grateful for receiving your due.

Perhaps this explains why people seem so angry all the time despite the unprecedented physical ease of their lives. As we grow ever more technically sophisticated as a society, but individually dependent upon mechanisms of whose workings we have not the faintest idea, we come to expect life to proceed like a hot knife proceeds through butter. When things go wrong – the computer crashes, the train is late, the car won’t start, the gutter is blocked, the bank’s website has a temporary problem, the promised delivery doesn’t arrive – we feel a quite disproportionate despair because of our expectations, though the inconvenience we suffer as a result is trivial by comparison with the kind of problems and deprivations that our forebears had to endure even within living memory, and did so with more equanimity than we can muster.Theodore Dalrymple

It is now almost impossible to remain out of range of those with whom we would rather have no contact. Future generations will never know the joys of being incommunicado. The world is too much with us, wrote Wordsworth getting and spending – and that was in 1802! It is not too much with us now; it is with us perpetually, all the time. – Theodore Dalrymple

On the other hand, recognition of what is and is not within our control is an important manifestation of maturity. How far that control extends was the most important intellectual quarrel of the twentieth century, with extremists arguing either that nothing in a man’s life, or alternatively that everything, was under his control. The extreme positions obviate the need for judgment of individual cases, which Hippocrates told us (in the medical context) is difficult. However, that something is difficult does not go to show that it can or ought to be dispensed with. Life is not the passage of a hot knife through butter. – Theodore Dalrymple

Those MPs who are refusing to even meet with the protesters, seem to have forgotten that they were elected to listen to the concerns of constituents and represent their views in Parliament.

Not only have our political elite shown themselves to be tone deaf about the protest, they also appear to be equally uninformed about Omicron, which is now sweeping through the country at a great rate of knots. – Muriel Newman

The political elite in Wellington have misjudged the situation by maligning and dismissing the protesters. Their misrepresentation of those who are standing up for what they believe, will simply harden their resolve, and result in more good Kiwis like Sir Russell Coutts going to Wellington to support a movement that is aimed at ending forced vaccinations and restoring human rights, dignity, and the freedom of choice for New Zealanders. Muriel Newman

We live in a community. Obligations to one another flow from that. At the same time, obligations must be checked by individual freedoms because it is almost impossible for an individual to opt out. The law follows you to the boundaries of the State. Civilised societies try to find the right balance between communal obligations and individual freedoms. People tend to gravitate to societies which are relatively skewed towards individual freedoms. Migration flows speak to that. Empirically, such societies are also the most prosperous. Individual freedoms and prosperity move in sync. – Peter Smith

There is no opposition among the major political parties on combatting the virus, as there isn’t any more on combatting so-called “climate change.” In such circumstances despotism flourishes.

Media today verses yesterday: For sure, much more leftness, greenness, feminisation and callowness; but, dwarfing all of these pernicious trends is a precipitous fall in questioning curiosity, objectivity and common sense. Shows no signs of reversing. – Peter Smith

There’s something symbiotic about the protestors outside Parliament Buildings and the ministers inside who won’t talk to them. Both are motley, arrogant and short-sighted; they radiate confusion and specialize in messaging that is hard to understand. Virtually everything ministers have promised over the last four and a half years has crumpled in their hands, from building 100,000 new houses, abolishing homelessness, lifting people out of poverty, improving education, fixing the country’s creaking infrastructure, and enhancing race relations that have never been in a worse state. – Michael Bassett

The protestors are similarly confused on everything from a clear purpose through to whether they even want to talk to those who don’t want to talk to them. Most in this diverse assemblage of New Zealand’s modern underclass are engaged in a rumble with an “up you” message to the rest of us. As well, there’s a thin layer of brighter ideologues who are worried about the creeping shroud of authoritarianism that Jacinda Ardern is encasing us in. But, for the most part the IQ level on both sides is about equal. Some protestors would have happily joined Trump’s January 2021 Capitol riot; others are drawing welfare rather than having any work obligations. Both sides are mostly on the public payroll. The current ministers have similarly impoverished educational backgrounds and narrow life experience. Both sides seem ill-equipped to talk to produce a constructive dialogue, even if anyone wanted to.Michael Bassett

The Prime Ministerial complaint appears to be that anti-mandate protests are acceptable, but anti-vaccine protesters were beyond some imaginary red line and thus were not to be tolerated.

But – and I realise this will come to as a shock to a few in the Beehive and those who pander to them – our political elites do not get to define the boundaries of legitimate dissent. –  Damien Grant

What the prime minister meant, I suspect, is it isn’t how she and her cohort of performance revolutionaries choose to conduct themselves, where the object was to get the Instagram photo and move on somewhere comfortable for a soy latte and vegan muffin. Getting mud on your designer clothing was to be avoided and being arrested was definitely not on the cards. Thank you very much.Damien Grant

There is a qualitative difference between the theatre of protest and the real thing. Those who marched in Auckland in support of Black Lives Matter or against Donald Trump in the Women’s March after his election, were engaging in performative protest.

Their lives were not impacted, they had no expectation of effecting change, and the wrong being committed was happening in another country. This isn’t to diminish the significance of the issues or the genuine feelings of those who turned out, but we should not confuse these marchers with those who stood in the field at Rugby Park in Hamilton wearing helmets. – Damien Grant

Yet we understand that florid language is the last recourse of the powerless, a final act of impotent defiance against the relentless power of the state. To point at the weakest member of our community, whose pitiful status is the result of your policies, and feign outrage as he scribbles pathetically in chalk is a weak moral position.

It makes sense that Trevor Mallard put on the sprinklers and played bad music at the crowd, because such a strategy would have deterred him and his parliamentary colleagues. Demonstrations were to be done only in fine weather and during gentlemen’s hours.Damien Grant

Those who refuse the vaccines do so for a variety of complex reasons, but if you are willing to lose your career rather than take the jab, then we need to acknowledge that this belief is genuine, if mistaken. But then, many believe all sorts of things are bad for them, from religion to a liking for craft beer.

If you believe that mRNA is going to rewire your genetics, you are not going to take the vaccine no matter how drastic the consequences, despite the fact that you, like me, have no idea what mRNA is.

The solution for most of us, when faced with the mandates, is to submit, whether we want it or not; but not everyone is built this way. Throughout history, we see examples of people taking strange ideological positions and being willing to suffer great hardship rather than compromise. – Damien Grant

But within the makeup of humanity, there is a small percentage willing to die for their beliefs and a larger cohort willing to stand in solidarity in the rain and muck of the parliamentary grounds to defy these mandates.

The prime minister is stuck. She cannot negotiate. She cannot back down. She needs to look upon those on the lawn and despair – for those rabble are the captains now. For as long as they can remain in place, they are the story.Damien Grant

Rather than hailing the achievements of the Labour-led government’s management of the covid crisis, this left should have been decrying the government’s lack of an economic programme for those hurting due to the exacerbation of poverty and inequality. – John A.Z. Moore

What I’ve seen at Ministry of Health level borders on incompetent, and no one is taking advice that in any way shifts their thinking.Ian Taylor

The emergency legislation in response to Covid-19 giving our Government the right to control our freedom of movement is no longer demonstrably justified in removing the fundamental rights to which New Zealanders are entitled.  –  Lady Deborah Chambers

However, section 5 in operation appears to be interpreted as broad enough to drive several trucks through. Our Government has removed our fundamental freedom of movement in a way that no other previous government has done. If the Government’s actions are justified under section 5, then that section needs to be narrowed and strengthened. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

The incessant and futile attempts to impose Covid-19 zero strategies will continue to fall away against the inevitable path towards endemic Covid-19. The never-ending onslaught of emergency powers and inane rules should be replaced now with sensible precautions, encouraged but not legislated by the Government, with an ongoing concentration of treatments, vaccinations, and health resourcing.

Instead, our Government has continued – against international trends – to impose even more draconian measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

It is not justified to restrict the fundamental rights of other New Zealanders when we know that it is only a particular group in our community who are vulnerable to a low risk of death from this disease. The better approach in terms of human rights is that citizens who are vulnerable be more cautious and aware. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

The average age of Covid deaths is still higher than the average life expectancy. We do not need a government to talk to us like we are 5-year-olds over these risk factors. New Zealanders know them. New Zealanders know whether they are part of a vulnerable group and should be trusted to act accordingly and take that into account in the decisions they make about their lives without having the Government use that as an excuse to become authoritarian. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

Thirdly, the emergency regulations taking away our freedom of movement fail to properly balance social, educational, economic, and even other medical damage in favour of an obsessive focus on Covid-19 to the exclusion of all else. This is why health bureaucrats and epidemiologists should only ever have been a key source of advice, not dictators of Government policy.

I do not doubt that the Government genuinely thinks it is taking these extreme measures for all the right reasons, but the Government’s rulemaking is no longer proportionate to the risk and does not meet the requirements of the section 5 exemption. The “nanny knows best routine” is no longer justified.

Fourthly, to those who say that our Government’s refrain that they are entitled to claim credit for “keeping people safe” and go even further and demand a continuation of this protection pretense, I say this: It is not the Government’s role to attempt to prevent all death at any cost. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

Part of the reason large elements of the public are entranced by the unachievable goal of permanent insulation from Covid-19 is that our politicians have raised expectations that our Government cannot meet by using paranoia and political one-upmanship.

Some New Zealanders will not be happy until they ruin another school year or chalk up another $60 billion in debt and ruin the early careers of so many young people weighing them down with taxation for decades to come. Those views are not a justification for overriding the fundamental rights of other New Zealanders.

If you are very risk-averse, then the answer is simple: you choose to take the steps you wish to take to avoid infection. The answer is not that our Government removes fundamental freedoms by emergency regulations when we are now in a very different position from when we first faced Covid-19 without vaccines, little knowledge, and a much stronger variant.

Our leaders assure us we are no longer in elimination mode. They urged us to get vaccinated so we could dispense with the restrictions on our fundamental freedoms, but still, we are overwhelmed with onerous and illogical rules and restrictions. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

Most media are addicted to Covid-19 catastrophism, down-playing or ignoring the social and economic costs. Fear is even better than sex at selling newspapers. Oppositions have been too timid to call it out, preferring to profit from outrage and trepidation, preferring to complain about a bungled vaccination rollout when we have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world and one of the lowest fatality rates.

It is time we elevated civil rights as a key component to decision-making. So far, the influence of the Bill of Rights has been zip.  – Lady Deborah Chambers

The pandemic has provided a stress test for the freedom of movement guaranteed to us and the results are not pretty.

The most common way people give up their rights is by thinking that they do not have any. New Zealanders should be justifiably proud and be prepared to defend the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. It is time we did.

Nothing strengthens authoritarianism so much as silence. – Lady Deborah Chambers

The rule of law needs to be respected and upheld. Should people reach the view they are not bound by it and the right to protest is unlimited, chaos would eventually descend upon us. It is a slippery slope. . . 

While the Bill of Rights reinforces the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of association and freedom of movement, none of these rights is absolute.Sir Geoffrey Palmer

When Labour governments run out of ideas they have usually resorted to centralisation and more controls. In its final term, Peter Fraser’s ministry that had been one of the most creative in New Zealand’s history, centralised as tired ministers hoped their trusted bureaucrats would keep Labour’s faltering show on the road. The ministries of Walter Nash, Norman Kirk and Bill Rowling followed similar paths. Jacinda Ardern’s government, you’ll recall, had very little policy to start with. So little in fact that when it came to office in 2017 it had to set up more than two hundred committees and inquiries to tell it what to think and do. The results were pitiful. Almost no Kiwibuild houses were constructed, homeless numbers increased, poverty figures rose rather than declined, educational achievement standards kept slipping against other countries, and major infrastructure construction fell well behind schedule. Whenever criticised, rookie ministers blamed the previous government, and then Covid. Message? Centralising everything can’t compensate for the absence of carefully-thought-through policy. – Michael Bassett

Despite their lack of specific policies, they had ever-so-itchy fingers. They engaged across a wide front tinkering with everything in sight, thinking some ancient Labour dogma overlaid with a big dose of special privilege for Maori would fix things. The public hospital structure had been set in place by Helen Clark’s ministry. It is only twenty years old, but it is now being turned on its head for no good reason except that a more centralized system makes it easier to favour Maori. Health Department officials who have been under huge stress coping with Covid are also having to restructure a hospital system that wasn’t broken. Nor is there anything so wrong with water and drainage services nationally that they require Nanaia Mahuta’s Three Waters in the form set out in her current proposals. Her centralizing scheme seems to have only one over-arching purpose: control by Maori. Meanwhile, the school history curriculum is being restructured with one special purpose in mind: teaching a bogus version of New Zealand history to school kids about the Treaty of Waitangi. Making Labour’s centralisation work certainly keeps officials busy. Wellington has become a gigantic Lego-fest.Michael Bassett

Over the years, the best ideas behind successful government schemes have always taken time to germinate. If they are specific to places or regions there has to be buy-in from locals who will benefit. And the best way to test the extent of that buy-in is to expect the same locals to own the project and pay the lion’s share. Centralizing everything always means bureaucracy and waste. But then, Jacinda’s ministry is so other worldly that they don’t know these stark realities. Her government is too expensive to indulge any further. – Michael Bassett 

Compulsory wokeness, for example, has had limited success in healing division; while classifying people by what they say, rather than what they do, has not promoted much virtue.

State management of the economy to reduce instability and help the weak now threatens long-run productivity growth.  Meanwhile, support for decarbonisation evaporates as life-changing costs become transparent.   

And the taking by the state of ever-wider powers to regulate our lives to make us better people increasingly creates more problems than it solves. Oblivious of how it looks, we find the most ardent defenders of civil liberties yearning for extraordinary powers.Point of Order

There’s an unmistakeable note of panic in the posturing of the woke Left. They suddenly realise they no longer control the public debate and are wildly lashing out at the scruffy mob that usurped their right to make a nuisance of themselves. How dare they! – Karl du Fresne

The level of condescension and intellectual snobbery on display from people who think of themselves as liberal has been breathtaking. The tone has alternated between sneering at this supposedly feral underclass and alarm at their sudden, forceful presence on the national stage – a stage the wokeists are accustomed to hogging for themselves.Karl du Fresne

Oddly enough, we never hear experts on Morning Report expressing alarm about people being radicalised by the extreme Left, although it’s been happening for decades at the taxpayers’ expense and has succeeded in transforming New Zealand into a country that some of us barely recognise.

Similarly, we should conclude that ideological manipulation is a problem if it’s practised on an ignorant lumpenproletariat, but not when it happens to gullible middle-class students in university lecture theatres, where it flourishes unchallenged. – Karl du Fresne

What we can infer from this barrage of anti-Camp Freedom propaganda is that the woke Left is terrified of losing the initiative in the culture wars. It’s desperate to reclaim its sole right to lecture the rest of us and wants to do so without the distraction of an unruly mob that has the effrontery to adopt the Left’s own tactics.

The irony here is that having spent most of their lives kicking against the establishment, the wokeists are the establishment. They have won the big ideological wars and are on the same side as all the institutions of power and influence: the government, the bureaucracy, the media, academia, the arts and even the craven business sector.

The dissenters, disrupters and challengers of the status quo – in other words the people protesting outside Parliament – are the new radicals. This requires the moralisers of the Left to recalibrate their political thinking, and I get the impression it’s more than some of them can cope with.Karl du Fresne

An unprovoked attack on a peaceful, democratic neighbour has not happened in Europe since World War II. It is a barbaric act that could take us into a dark age. It shakes the foundations of the international order and the world economy.

With the fall of Communism, there was hope for a new, liberal world order. Globalisation was spreading, as was democracy. There was a peace dividend in the form of reduced military spending and less need for autarky, especially in energy. It was the supposed ‘end of history’. – Oliver Hartwich

If the West needed a final wake-up call, this is it. If those who believe in liberal democracy, civil liberties, free markets and the rule of law still care about their values, this is the time to defend them.

Talk of solidarity with Ukraine is good, but it can only be hollow. There is no way to come to Ukraine’s military defence without provoking an even bigger war.

What the free and democratic world must do urgently is to reconnect with its own fundamental values. That requires a reality check. – Oliver Hartwich

We must rediscover the cultural and political foundations of our civilisation. It is the Enlightenment values of freedom and peace that we must defend against illiberalism, both at home and abroad.

It is a historic moment. But it is our choice how to respond to it.Oliver Hartwich

They say having a baby changes what you value and it’s true. I want more for our country now. Nine months ago, a politician could’ve convinced me with a tax break. But now, I want to know that politician has a plan to keep New Zealand as wonderful as it was for us to grow up in. I want to know that our schools are world-class, that our jobs pay well and that our cities are good places to live. I want this boy to want to live here, in the same country as his mum and dad, and never leave for a better lifestyle in Sydney and London and New York. I want things that benefit all Kiwis, because what is good for all Kiwis is good for him. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

A commonality of skin color and associated facial features is as nothing compared to the fact that human beings of all races share the faculty of reason. The former may allow for an interesting group photo once in a while.

The latter is what underlies the accumulation and application of knowledge and gives to the members of all races the ability to produce the goods and services that the members of all races need and desire. – George Reisman


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