It’s only words

March 8, 2019

Chris Trotter has seen through the conjuring :

WHAT IS IT? This weird, emotionally energetic style of politics that promises “transformational” change and then, mysteriously, fails to deliver it? . . .

Nameless though it may be, few would deny that Jacinda Ardern is its most brilliant local exponent. . . . So effective are “Jacinda’s” communication skills, that a great many New Zealanders have taken to confusing her declarations with actual achievements. Those who point out the discrepancy between the Prime Minister’s magnificent words and her government’s less-than-magnificent deeds are not well received. But, that does not mean they are wrong. . . 

 So richly evocative of selfless activism and against-all-odds success was her declaration that Ardern’s audience’s critical faculties were suspended. Almost as if the promise and the deed were one and the same. Some people might call what she did “casting a spell”. Others, even more provocatively, might call it “magic”.

But, magic of a certain kind. Ardern’s are not the sort of spells that begin with fantasy but end in reality. Jacinda is no Churchill. Rather than a magician, she is a conjurer. What Ardern weaves with her words are not the intentions that lead to actual deeds, but the dangerous illusion that what is being asked of her has already been accomplished – made real by the unmistakable sincerity and the power of her will. Once she has declared her determination to end child poverty, who could be so churlish as to point out that the children of the poor are still with us?

Ardern’s conjuring is perfectly suited to that crucial group of voters who detached themselves from the National Party in response to what they saw as the “awful” problems which John Key and Bill English had failed to address during their nine years in office. . . 

Ardern’s game-changing intuition was that all these voters really wanted to hear were different words. Commitments, promises, studies, working-groups, projects: policies filled with good intentions and promoted with powerful displays of empathy. The number of voters eager to focus on the fiscal mechanisms required to pay for Labour’s kinder, gentler New Zealand were considerably fewer. . . 

Every successful conjurer, however, must have their very own Jonathan Creek. Somebody to design and build the equipment that turns the conjurer’s masterful misdirection into a reality that baffles and delights. Ardern’s misfortune is to preside over a coalition government decidedly lacking in Jonathan Creeks. Thanks to Clare Curran, Phil Twyford, Iain Lees-Galloway, Grant Robertson and Shane Jones, too many people in the audience are being distracted from Ardern’s magic spiel. Some are even beginning to work out how the tricks are done.

This is not how the story is supposed to end. Not with people wondering whether the Prime Minister’s promises are ultimately achievable.

It’s not that “Jacinda” has become less likeable. . .  It’s just that Ardern’s “Magic Politics”, as with all kinds of fiction, is absolutely dependent on the audience’s willing suspension of disbelief.

If (or should that be ‘as’) people discover that fighting climate change and ending child poverty will require the imposition of real and rising taxes, then Ardern’s illusions will begin to fade. The voters will start noticing the strings attached to her magical promises.

And the spell will be broken.

She’s very good with words, especially those that touch emotions, but it’s only words and empty words at that.

Change and progress require more than empty phrases. They require decisions and actions.

The government is nearly half way through it’s term and what has it done to make a positive and sustainable difference to New Zealand?

This government, and it’s leader have over-promised and failed to deliver.


Quotes of the year

December 31, 2018

That’s creative thinking – if I had known that I probably would have joined them. –  Inspector John Kelly on the New Year revellers who built a large sandcastle in the middle of the Tairua estuary in an attempt to avoid the liquor ban.

Among western leftists, morality had become culture-specific. If imperialism’s victims asked for support, then they would be given it, unquestioningly. If not, then they would tend to their own political gardens exclusively.

The problem for western feminists is that, in spite of these cultural and political self-denying ordinances, the only garden currently showing unequivocal signs of flourishing, is their own. Across vast regions of the planet, not only are women’s rights not flourishing, they are being diminished. – Chris Trotter

Any family, in any part of the country, dealing with any one of those challenges, would find it difficult. But when you have all of those at once, it is incredibly difficult to see how a family could navigate their way through all of that on their own.

And you sure as heck, can’t have an official sitting in Wellington waving a magic wand, and fixing it for them. – Louise Upston

If I look at my colleagues, they get up and go to work every day because they care so much. . .Why would we do that if we didn’t care? Why would we do that if we didn’t care about individuals and actually want something better for their lives? Louise Upston

Men who have been inculcated into a culture of toxic masculinity need to regularly top up their King Dick Metre, which can only be fuelled by the disempowerment of someone else. And that someone else is very often a woman.

Their feelings of strength only come when someone else is in a position of weakness. They can only feel valid when they are able to invalidate someone else. They only feel like they have won when someone else has lost. – Kasey Edwards

Could you imagine a return to a world where the only people that gave dairy farmers grief were sheep farmers and bank managers?

Could you imagine the next time Fonterra was in the news, it was for a collaboration with Lynx in producing a deodorant that smelled of silage and cowshit, that dairy farmers could put on if they used too much soap in the shower?

Maybe we can hope that our on-farm processes continue to develop, along with scientific developments, adoption of best practices and consumer preferences, as opposed to at the whim of vote-hungry politicians, misinformed urban housewives and the combined armies of anaemic vegans, animal rights activists, goblins and orcs.

Maybe we could hope that we can reverse the trend that has seen rural folk and farmers become an ethnic minority in this country – a minority that is now seen by many New Zealanders as dirty, destructive and somehow freeloading on resources, with less credibility then prostitution. . .  –  Pete Fitzherbert

We welcome the government’s focus on tracking the number of children in persistent poverty and hardship. However, setting multiple arbitrary targets for reducing child hardship is easier than actually helping people extricate themselves from their predicaments. – Dr Oliver Hartwich

Good intentions are not enough. They’re not even a start, because there’s been a lot of money wasted and lives wrecked on the basis of good intentions expressed through public services. Bill English

 . . . the only reason we have a 37-year-old female Prime Minister is because a septuagenarian put her there. – Fran O’Sullivan

Peters’ inability to contain his bitterness suggests the coalition negotiations were a charade. His resentment towards National is deep-rooted, and since the election, the feeling is reciprocated. It is unlikely that National’s change of leader will diminish Peters’ toxicity.  – The Listener

It strikes me as rather unfair that while we’ve been up in arms over where the country’s burgeoning cow population does its business, our burgeoning human population has been fouling up the waterways with what comes out of our own backsides. We can’t berate dairy farmers for dirtying the rivers if we’re content for our biggest city to keep using its waterways as one giant long drop. – Nadine Higgins

Over-reacting about everything someone says or does, creating controversy over silly innocuous things such as what I choose to wear or not wear, is not moving us forward. It’s creating silly distractions from real issues.Jennifer Lawrence

The incident has also highlighted the danger of a government full of academics, health professionals, public servants, teachers and career politicians picking business winners.

The idea that councils around the country would rail or truck their rubbish to Westport for incineration is one of those ludicrous ideas that only regional development officials would think is a flyer. – Martin van Beynen

Getting policy right matters. In the end, lots of money and good intentions is never enough. You’ve got to get the policy right. – Nicola Willis

So consumed are they with the grassy vistas opening up in front of them that they are oblivious to their drawing ever closer to journey’s end, namely the holding yards of the local freezing works. – John Armstrong

Businesses, by and large, are better at coping with bad news than they are at coping with uncertainty. You cannot plan for it or adapt to it. Hamish Rutherford

Feminism is about choice, the right to have one, the right to be equal. It is not about trampling men to death in the process. It is not about spending so much time telling girls that “they can do anything” that they become curious and confused as to why you keep telling them something they already knew.

Guess what? The girls we’re raising haven’t had it occur to them they can’t do anything. – Kate Hawkesby

I’m not sure what affordable means but I am sure I’m not alone in that. It’s bound to be a complicated formula with one of the variables being the price of avocados. I just hope it doesn’t add up to borrowing from KiwiBank to buy from KiwiBuild during the KiwiBubble resulting in KiwiBust.James Elliott

 If we believe that correcting harmful inequities lies in asserting an inherent malice and/or obsolescence in all people with a specific combination of age, gender and ethnicity then we have already lost the fight. The real enemy is the unchecked and uncontested power exercised through institutions, social norms and structures which privilege one group over another.    – Emma Espiner

A tagged tax has to be a tagged tax, otherwise it’s a rort. – Mike Hosking

While the Greens are dreaming of compost, wheelbarrows, chook poo and quinoa, the rest of us wouldn’t mind getting on with business. And that means we need water. – Mike Hosking

Certainly a rational person, and especially one convinced of the threat of global warming and the possibility of more droughts, would increase, not stop investment in irrigation?

That is not to argue that water quality and nitrate leaching are not problems – they are. But to stop irrigation as a solution is to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The rational approach is to find ways of reducing nitrate leaching even under high-producing irrigated pastures. This requires more science, more evidence, more rational thinking. – Dr Doug Edmeades

Businesses — it doesn’t matter what they are — require reliable steady staff; not rocket scientists but reliable steady staff. Unless we have those types of people available our whole economy has an issue. – Andre de Bruin

There’s power in love. There’s power in love to help and heal when nothing else can. There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will. There’s power in love to show us the way to live. – Michael Bruce Curry

The well-being of all communities can be enhanced by enabling greater levels of social solidarity, empowering people in their personal and community lives, enhancing social infrastructure and establishing opportunities for dignified work and alternative livelihoods. – Tracey McIntosh

Tough on crime is popular with the insular and ignorant when it comes to justice policy, while restorative approaches with enduring outcomes that help people stay away from jail because they offend less are not popular, not sexy and seen as “soft on crime”. Chester Borrows

Everyone can do something amazing once. You’ve got to back it up and do it again – Rowland Smith

The money spent on eliminating risk in one area means less available to fix problems in other areas. In other words, the consequence of lowering risk in one sphere can hinder minimising risk in another one. Chew carefully on that one. – Martin van Beynen

That’s what the call for diversity means. An endless slicing and dicing of society into every thinner minority groups with everyone scrambling for quotas and box ticking.

It’s a bureaucratic nightmare. It’s also a complete denial of individuality. You are not important. All that matters is what boxes you tick. It’s the boxes that define you, not what you do, what you think or what you produce. – Rodney Hide

We went to do a story about an American billionaire buying up wineries in Wairarapa. Local wine makers were going broke and in stepped the American billionaire. I went down with a TV crew expecting locals to be up in arms about the ‘foreigner’ buying up the land. But I couldn’t find one voice raised against him.

There is one thing worse than a foreign buyer, they told me, and that’s not having a buyer at all. – Guyon Espiner

It feels like a Dear Winston moment really – Mike Jaspers

We grow up thinking the world is fair, but it’s not, so you’re not always going to get the results you’re looking for. The challenge is to pick yourself up again when you have those days.Joe Schmidt

I believe rugby is similar to society, where it is about interdependence and us trying to help each other. Imagine if everyone in life became the best version of themselves and made life easier for those either side of them. – Joe Schmidt

The very premise of our system is we learn from our mistakes and wrongs and are given freedom to make amends.Mike Hosking

Grown-ups know that being short $60 a week is not what ails and troubles our most vulnerable children. Proper parenting can’t be bought for $60 a week. – Rodney Hide.

So stop beating yourself up for buying too many books or for having a to-read list that you could never get through in three lifetimes. All those books you haven’t read are indeed a sign of your ignorance. But if you know how ignorant you are, you’re way ahead of the vast majority of other people. – Jessica Stillman

Feminism has descended into a cauldron of cattiness; of nasty factionalism. It doesn’t empower. It  scrutinises and judges groups within groups. Like extreme left or right politics, the creed is hardest on those most like it – those who should know better but fail. – Lindsay Mitchell

Regional development is about more than funding a few projects; it’s about allowing people to make a living. – Paul Goldsmith

This image of Anglo-Saxon culture isn’t grounded in the up-to-date distinct cultural traditions or practices of the United Kingdom. It is a cover of a misremembered song, played by a drunk who forgot the words mid-song and so started humming. – Haimona Gray

Imagine the world today if William Wilberforce and Kate Sheppard had refused to engage with people whose views they found repugnant. If Martin Luther and Martin Luther King Jr had decided not to argue back. If Desmond Tutu and Te Whiti had seen no point in suffering the slings and arrows of their opponents because, hey, nothing’s gonna change.

The twist in this debate is that the Molyneuxs, Southerns and other so-called champions of free speech only win when their shouting drowns out other voices. Voices of conciliation and peace. Because regardless of the polarisation we see today, people can change. We can learn. And, even if we still disagree on some profound issues, we can find other things to agree on and other things to respect in each other. Tim Watkin

The day that this country’s dictated to by the social media trolls is the day that democracy dies. If we are to be spooked into compliance by what an anonymous moron threatens by the swipe of a cellphone screen then we’re little better than they are. – Barry Soper

It is unfortunate, but the world seems to have lost the ability to disagree well. Civility in our discussions and debates over contentious issues seems to have been lost. We are increasingly polarised in our views with recourse to extreme positions in order to ‘prove’ or force our point. However, the answer is not to avoid difficult and, at times, confronting conversations. Rather, community leaders, and universities in particular, play a vital role in leading our communities in those discussions, as difficult as they may be, applying the principles of informed discussion, compromise, enlightenment of the points of view of others, and if all else fails, respectful disagreement. – Chris Gallavin

But where is that line that we need to find as a Parliament between being culturally sensitive to people that may not see things in the way in which New Zealand’s own cultures have developed, and, on the other hand, being firm enough that, actually, no, these things, regardless of culture, are not right. Nick Smith

We have an education system that does not reward excellence and does not punish failure. Decades of bureaucratic hand-wringing has delivered a broken system that relies on the personal integrity and good intentions of those who choose teaching as a profession. – Damien Grant

After all, as long as we can discern the truth clearly, love it passionately, and defend it vigorously, we have nothing to fear from open debate; and if we can’t do those things, then why are we claiming to be a university at all? – Dr Jonathan Tracy

The answer to suffering, physical or mental, is affection and good care. This should come first and as far as possible from family and community, supported by institutions.

“Finishing people off” may suit our current individualistic, utilitarian, impatient culture, but it will degrade us all in the end. – Carolyn Moynihan

In a liberal, democratic society, there will always be speech in the public domain that some people find offensive, distasteful or unsavoury. Unless that speech is manifestly doing harm to others, there is no case to ban it, only a case for arguing strongly against it or ridiculing it. Recourse to suppression is redolent of authoritarianism, not democracy. – Chris Bishop

The irony is that although the elimination of subsidies started out as a kind of political punishment, it wound up becoming a long-term blessing for farmers. We went through a difficult period of adjustment but emerged from it stronger than ever. . .

 We became ruthlessly efficient, which is another way of saying that we became really good at what we do.

We also improved our ability to resist regulations that hurt agriculture. Subsidies empower politicians, who can threaten to cut off aid if farmers refuse to accept new forms of control. Without subsidies, we have more freedom to solve problems through creativity and innovation rather than the command-and-control impulses of government. – Craige Mackenzie

But as someone who’s spent a bit of time writing and talking about the important, and not so important, issues in life, there is one thing I know which will never change.

Truth always wins. If you report the facts you can never go wrong. – Peter Williams

We can’t prosper by taking in our own washing so, strutting it on the global stage has to be our modus operandi.And I mean strutting, not just selling low value stuff that rises or falls on the rise or fall of the NZ dollar. Strutting starts with the daring of the ambition and is sustained by the ability to execute.  Ruth Richardson

The frightening retreat from sane economics. Free trade is the path to growth, protectionism is the path to decline. Ruth  Richardson

This is an accidental government formed on the fly and governing on the fly.–  Ruth Richardson

Death of great science on the alter of doctrinal and PC positions doesn’t strike me as the smartest choice.  – Ruth Richardson

I’m satisfied within myself. I’ve got more to do with my life than look at that. Barbara Brinsley

Each of us has made different life choices and, actually, that gives women everywhere role models.

It’s legitimate to choose. We don’t have to be the same, we don’t have to judge each other, we make our own choices. – Dame Jenny Shipley

Every student who walks out of the gate to truant is already a statistic of the worst kind, highly likely to go to prison, highly likely to commit domestic violence or be a victim of domestic violence, be illiterate, be a rape victim, be a suicide victim, be unemployed for the majority of their life, have a major health problem or problems, die at an early age, have an addiction – drugs, gambling, alcohol or smoking. Virginia Crawford

I am Māori. Tuhinga o mua Ngāti Hāmua a Te Hika a Pāpāuma. Ko taku iwi Ngāti Kahungunua a Rangitāne. I am Scottish, I am English, I am a New Zealander. I am not defined by the colour of my skin. I am a victim. I did not choose to be a victim. – Maanki 

If we want to see fewer Māori in prison, our whānau broken apart because dad is in prison and mum is now in rangi (heaven), we must free ourselves and our whānau from the increasing level of domestic violence and abuse in our homes. The drugs must stop, the high level of drinking and violence among our own must be gone.

How many of our fathers are incarcerated, because their fathers taught them the only way to deal with anger was violence, to punch their way through a situation. How many of our whānau have lost a mother, a child, a brother from our people’s own hand. – Maanki

The blame needs to stop. It is not the police, the system, the state, the Government, the justice system or even the Pākehā who made a man beat his wife to death, to rape an innocent stranger, to murder their own child or to sexually abuse a daughter or son.

No, it was a choice, a choice made by a perpetrator. – Maanki


The Senate, collectively, could not find their own arses with a sextant and a well-thumbed copy of Gray’s Anatomy
Jack the Insider

Over the years I have come to the conclusion that God’s table is a smorgasbord of theological truths with some in conflict with others and some more important that others.    People are free to pick and choose from that smorgasbord and do so based on what is important to them. – The Veteran

But I can’t remember not having books. I’d go to the library every week, search every shelf with children’s books, then go home with a stack. . .   Every choice was my choice. Then I could control what went into my head by plugging into new worlds, learning new things and just imagining a different life. . .

When we only look to reinforce our taste and beliefs we lose the opportunity to browse and the opportunity for serendipity, and that’s unfortunate. – Maud Cahill

It was sort of total irritability associated with feeling hungry that would manifest as grumpiness. This void in my stomach would create a void in my sense of humour and my ability to tolerate things. – Simon Morton

This is a partnership designed by a drover’s dog and a clinical psychologist who have absolutely nothing in common except they both have experience dealing with rogue steers who don’t believe in being team players. – Clive Bibby  

I live down in the South Island, and there’s been a lot of farmers trying to curtsey. Most of the time they’re in gumboots. – Dame Lynda Topp

In the west food is produced by a few to feed the many and when people are relieved of the duties of working on farms and subsistence farming the job is handed to a few and people move to the cities and that is when they become disconnected. – Anna Jones

Class is a commodity that doesn’t seem to be in conspicuous supply in politics at the moment. – Chris Finlayson

New Zealand’s real problems are not identity politics, no matter what the left may think. They are that the welfare state has failed. Too many kids don’t get educated. Too many working aged adults are on welfare. Too many are in jail because there is too much crime and they’re never rehabilitated. Housing has gone from a commodity to a ponzi scheme. Our productivity growth is anaemic. With government’s and councils’ approach to regulation, it’s amazing anyone still does anything. Andrew Ketels

I certainly don’t celebrate diversity for its own sake. You have to distinguish pluralism from relativism. Relativism tends towards ‘anything goes’ and that can’t be right

Pluralism is the view that although some ways of living really are wrong, the list of possible good ways to live a flourishing human life and have a good society contains more than one item. – Julian Baggini

We didn’t need a tax on stones, there wasn’t a concern about ‘peak stone’ and we didn’t need to stage protests in front of the chieftains’ caves to argue for the use of bronze. It came down to developing the new technology, which had benefits over the old technology, and disseminating the knowledge. – Andrew Hoggard

I am the culmination of generous moment after generous moment, kind moment after kind moment and that is the glue that holds this country together. – Kurt Fearnley

It is a privilege for any mother to be able to propose a toast to her son on his 70th birthday. It means that you have lived long enough to see your child grow up. It is rather like – to use an analogy I am certain will find favour – planting a tree and being able to watch it grow. – Queen Elizabeth II

When I noticed that I was spending far more time scrolling through my email and Twitter than I was playing on the floor with my son, I realized that the problem wasn’t with screens warping his fragile mind. It was that I’d already allowed my phone to warp mine. So these days, my husband and I try not to use our phones at all in front of our son. Not because I think the devil lives in my iPhone, but because I think, to some extent, a small part of the devil lives in me. – EJ Dickson

The proper purpose of journalism remains as Kovach and Rosenstiel defined it – not to lead society toward the outcome that journalists think is correct, but to give ordinary people  the means to make their own decisions about what’s in their best interests.Karl du Fresne

I’m bloody angry at New Zealand for fighting over Santa and I want us to stop. This is not what Santa’s about. Santa is not about angst and Santa is not about Santa hate.

Santa is about hope, Santa is about dreams. Santa can come down the chimney even when you don’t have a chimney. Santa can come in the ranch slider, Santa can drink craft beer. Santa can drink strawberry-flavoured Lindauer for all I care. – Patrick Gower

The expectation that we rustics just need to lean on the gate chewing a straw and making obscure pronouncements about the weather in impenetrable accents for picturesque effect is entertaining until it dawns on you that your role apparently really is just to provide background local colour and not disturb the peace too much.  Rural places are workplaces — stuff happens down on the farm and that stuff can be noisy.  And not just on the farm — gravel quarries, jet-boat companies and the construction sites of all those new houses that didn’t used to be there. – Kate Scott

Rose-tinted nostalgia strikes us all from time to time, but when it comes with a side of imported urban world view where non-working weekends and the notion of property values is accorded more worth than building community resilience, I begin to feel resentful of the twittering worries of suburbia intruding on my bucolic peace with its soothing soundtrack of barking huntaways, topdressing planes and chainsaws –Kate Scott

I had a gentleman come to my office three years ago. He was a Labour candidate. He ran for the Labour Party. He was coming to see me because he’d been to see his own team—they wouldn’t help him with an issue, so he came to me. Did I say, “Oh, sorry, you’ve been a Labour candidate. I’m not going to assist you. I’m not going to help you.”? No, I didn’t. I actually helped him with his issue, because that’s my job as a member of Parliament. I don’t care whether you support New Zealand First, I don’t care whether you’re a supporter or member of the Labour Party, the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, or the National Party—if you come and ask for help and support, you will get it. That’s my job.-  Mark Mitchell

The only positive outcome from the UN’s 2009 Copenhagen fiasco was the launch of New Zealand’s Global Research Alliance (GRA) to reduce methane and nitrous-oxide emissions, which account for 22 per cent of the world’s GHG total. More than 50 countries are now involved. If the GRA develops science to cut agricultural emissions by two-thirds it would be the equivalent of the US becoming a zero emitter. If it eliminated them, it would be like China going carbon zero. This would benefit the world at least 100 times more than New Zealand becoming net-zero domestically. – Matthew Hooton

No one bets on a horse with a dud jockey.  Simon Bridges

Ms Ardern promised to lead the most open and transparent Government New Zealand has seen. That doesn’t mean picking and choosing to be open and transparent when it benefits her. – Tova O’Brien

Shaw and his comrades have a vision of a different economic model, one that sane people have tunnelled under barbed wire fences to escape. Alas, the sacrifice required to achieve this gender-fluid post-colonial paradise requires a reversal of most of the economic gains of the last 50 years.Damien Grant

The less you trust people, the more distrustful they become and so the more law you need in order to trust them. A good society would not have too much law, because people would do the right thing he says. But in New Zealand we have a lot of law. – Professor Mark Henaghan


Free Speech Coalition has funds to take ACC to court

July 12, 2018

The Free Speech Coalition has succeeded in its first goal – raising enough funds to take the Auckland City Council to court.

In less than 24 hours, the Free Speech Coalition has reached its $50,000 fundraising goal and will be engaging lawyers to bring judicial proceedings against Auckland Council for its ban on Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux at Council-owned venues.

Chris Trotter, who is supporting the Coalition, says, “Thank you to every New Zealander who has dug deep to support such an important cause.”

“We had hoped to raise this money by 5pm Friday. However, within the first day of this campaign we have been completely swamped by people pledging money to the cause – from $5 to $5,000.”

Melissa Derby, another supporter of the Coalition, says, “We look forward to setting a strong legal precedent that shows the use of publicly-owned venue cannot be dictated by the political whims of those in power.”

“For us this is not about helping these particular speakers, but in defending the rights of all New Zealanders to express and hear controversial views.” 

Stephen Franks calls Goff’s actions in denying the speakers the right to use council-owned venues a partisan abuse of political power:

He has claimed the power to decide which political views can be discussed in Auckland public halls.

If the Mayor of Auckland has that power it is no local matter. With it he could deny nearly half the population of New Zealand a practical chance to see and to assess for themselves any speaker the Mayor decided they should not be free to judge. He may claim he has that power to ban things he sees as inimical to the “social” or “cultural” health of his subjects.

The law deliberately gave the Auckland Mayor presidential authority plus a Council with limited power to control him. But even if the Councillors had normal council powers over Council officers and the Mayor, a Council should not have the power to stop people from meeting in public halls to hear and judge unpopular speakers.

The long established legal boundaries on freedom of expression are all the “protection” Councillors should be allowed to assert. Public authorities at both central and local government level should now be scrupulously secular and politically neutral in their stewardship of public assets.

The bitter struggle to win freedom of religion, thought and expression was marked by majority tyranny. . .

Freedom of assembly and speech may be even more important now, in the era of social media echo-chambers and bubbles. Most political and religious discourse is now in soundbite abbreviations. Many political debates never reach the public, except as a species of comedy, lampooned by ignorant scoffers in media programmes that specialise in mockery. There is little chance for people to get the kind of sustained sequential argument and discussion that happens at public meetings.

Mr Goff, somewhat ludicrously, said he will not allow divisive speech. He wants speech for unity. What about diversity Mr Goff. Have you turned your back on that? What do you seek from it? All thinking and speaking in unison? If our society has become so fragile it can’t handle awkward or unsettling speech or challenge, then it may be because young people have had too little practice.

STEFAN MOLYNEUX AND LAUREN SOUTHERN gave New Zealanders an opportunity to test their values – most especially their tolerance. Controversialists, almost by profession, these two Canadians espouse ideas which most Kiwis find extremely jarring. We have come to accept human equality and religious tolerance as the unequivocal markers of all decent and rational societies. For a great many people it is deeply offensive to hear these concepts challenged openly.

Over the past few days Molyneux and Southern have very skilfully tested our tolerance – and we have failed. They’ve also tested our ability to re-state, re-affirm and justify our commitment to freedom of expression. We failed that test too. . .

Truth is not afraid of trigger-words. Truth does not need a safe space. Truth is not a snowflake. Truth can take the heat and most certainly should not be forced to vacate the kitchen in the face of a couple of Alt-Right provocateurs and a politically-correct Mayor.

When people across the political spectrum unite to protest, as they have over this, it pays to listen.

Few if any of them will support the speakers and their views. They are not fighting for them or their beliefs but for their right to express them.

Now that it has enough to take the council to the court, any further funds will be used to fight the case. You can donate to the FSC here. I have already.


Quotes of the year

December 30, 2016

When you work in the media, you realise men and women age differently. Male hosts and presenters age chronologically – when they’re 40, they’re 40. Women hosts and presenters age in time and a half – when they’re 40, they’re really 60 and obviously unemployable. – Kerre McIvor

All these observations have led me to build up a profile of the typical litterer.

Their most blindingly obvious characteristic is that they have no taste. No surprises there: people who drink Lion Red or eat Chicken McBites are unlikely to be sensitive to aesthetic concerns about the urban environment. . .  – Karl du Fresne

“I think it’s more important that New Zealand has a policy on these things that is based on principle and for us it’s got to mean as a small country we support strong international institutions and we support international law.” – Murray McCully

A strong, growing economy encourages businesses to boost investment in new products and markets, hire more staff and pay good wages.

It means New Zealanders can be rewarded for their enterprise and hard work.

And a strong economy supports better healthcare, education and other public services New Zealanders need.

We frequently hear Opposition parties calling for the Government to magic up more jobs, to increase wages or to spend more on any number of things.

Actually, governments can’t do any of those things without a strong, confident economy.

The Government’s role is creating an environment that gives businesses the confidence to invest and grow.

And to do that in the knowledge they’ll be backed by clear and sensible government policies.  – John Key

I’ve been warned recently, don’t go to most university campuses because the political correctness has been taken from being a good idea—which is, let’s not be mean particularly to people who are not able to look after themselves very well, that’s a good idea—to the point where any kind of criticism of any individual or group can be labelled cruel. And the whole point about humor, the whole point about comedy—and believe you me, I’ve thought about it—is that all comedy is critical. Even if you make a very inclusive joke—like, How do you make God laugh? Tell him your plans—that’s about the human condition, it’s not excluding anyone, it’s saying we all have all these plans that probably won’t come and isn’t it funny that we still believe they’re going to happen. So that’s a very inclusive joke, but it’s still critical. All humor is critical. If we start saying, oh, we musn’t criticize or offend them, then humor is gone, and with humor goes a sense of proportion, and then, as far as I’m concerned, you’re living in 1984. –  John Cleese

“The electorate will either come to believe that Labour has given no serious thought to how its promises are to be paid for – which makes it fiscally incompetent. Or, that Labour knows very well how its promises will be paid for, but is unwilling to say so before it has been safely elected – which makes it politically dishonest. Chris Trotter

I miss Clark. She knew how to bribe voters.

Each election was a fresh and exciting promise with other people’s money. You did your voting, and you got your money. It seemed somehow more honest. – Rodney Hide.

“Unfortunately all Tai Tokerau (Northland) tribes are tainted by the Te Tii Marae circus. Their decision that the PM could go on the Marae but not talk makes a mockery of Marae culture.

What were they thinking, that the leader of the nation would stand and hum Pokarekare ana? – Shane Jones

. . . And I still don’t get it. I never get it when people use the word rape loosely, to cover any insult or transgression, when the reality is by no means imprecise, is often violent, and is always intensely, revoltingly invasive. . .

There is a difference, and it’s important. We shouldn’t undermine the serious criminality of rape by accusing people of it every time they annoy us. And another thing: if you’re going to protest, make your message clear. . .  – Rosemary McLeod

What bandwagon won’t politicians use our money to jump on? Here is a fantastic grassroots initiative, rightfully earning praise and the support from tens of thousands of New Zealanders, and Andrew Little comes along and wants in on the action. If politicians want to be associated with the campaign they should be digging into their own pockets, not forking out what comes from other people’s.”

“Being prudent with taxpayers’ money means not saying yes to every good cause that comes along. Is this beach really the most pressing need for extra Government cash right now? – Jordan Williams

Before any politician commits taxpayer’s money to any project they should think beyond the kudos of the publicity and be sure it is the most beneficial – and hence responsible  – way to spend the next million of other people’s (i.e.; taxpayer’s) money.

It is the norm before any public money is spent for the Treasury to give advice on the value for money that the spend offers. To let politicians to just spray taxpayers’ property around like confetti is a recipe for disaster. While running on their gut political instincts is their natural predisposition, any politician who expects tenure needs to be a bit above that. – Gareth Morgan

We all know DOC has plenty of land in its portfolio and can’t look after the estate it has already. The true conservation dividend it can earn comes from killing stuff – eliminating predators so that our native species can flourish. It does not come from buying more hectares that it can’t protect. Predator free zones are our best investment in conservation. – Gareth Morgan

He should be generous with his time but prudent with his money, quick on the rugby field but slow to criticise his mother-in-law.

He should also prefer to hold an articulate conversation rather than be hunched over a phone wasting time on social media. – Jane Smith on what makes the perfect Southern man.

. . . Against all this, our national day is almost rational. 

It marks the anniversary of the signing of an agreement – or rather a couple of differently worded agreements in different languages – which we have been arguing over pretty much ever since.

We’re kind of good at that. 

But we’re not breaking each other’s heads over it, despite the bad-tempered stirrers on both sides. We do tend to yell a lot. But we don’t ignore the issues any more.  . . Rob Hosking

“I’m the sort of guy who wants to give everything a crack.

“When you’re an old man sitting back and reflecting… Whether you achieved it or not, at least you gave it a crack, and that’s what I want to be thinking.” – Richie McCaw

Outside the membership of the ALP and the Greens, few Australians are interested in the politics of income redistribution.

And why should they be? After 24 years of continuous economic growth – a rising tide of national prosperity and wealth creation – the objective of government policy should be to float all boats, not to sink the biggest yachts in the flotilla in the vain hope that somehow this might help everybody else … – Mark Latham

One of the best parts of my job is the number of public servants and services providers I get to meet.

Overwhelmingly I find we’re all driven by the same thing – getting better results for New Zealanders, and doing our best for the most vulnerable.

Whether it’s social housing, health, education, welfare or justice, the goal is the same.

It is not enough to simply service misery with welfare payments or social houses or urgent health services. We want to help people make the changes they need to become independent.

This ensures people lead better lives, but also saves taxpayer money in the long run.

This Government is focussed not on spending for the sake of it, but on getting tangible results for people from that investment. . . Bill English

“We want to reduce misery, rather than service it and that requires a deep understanding of the drivers of social dysfunction.”Bill English

The first six weeks of the year has seen the left-wing parties talking about subjects of great interest to left-wing voters – the TPPA, free tertiary education, should John Key go to Waitangi? But, as with the last seven years, they’ve said and done nothing to cause soft National voters to question the competence or credibility of the government to run the country, and consider an alternative.

That’s really the game, now. Opposition MPs talking about values and visionary aspirations and compromised sovereignty and the future of work and what a jerk they all think John Key is is all very well, but if Key’s government is seen to be doing a good job in delivering the core government services that voters value, they’re not going to change their votes. And they shouldn’t! – Danyl Mclauchlan

“Of course I love the Union Jack, it’s my favourite flag and does things to my heart, but you guys are New Zealand.”  – Dawn French

I think the vans are plain nasty. Their slogans reinforce the misogyny that seems to have pervaded our society in recent years and imply that men are simply walking penises with only one thing on their mind and women are only useful as receptacles for sperm.

They demean both sexes and reduce men and women to their most base. – Kerre McIvor

There’s a classic clash of rights here: the right to protest versus the right of people to go about their lawful business unobstructed (or to use the classic phrase, “without let or hindrance”).

Freedom of movement, like freedom of speech, is a fundamental part of our rights. No one has the right to impede it just to make a political point, no matter how righteous they feel about their cause. . .

Now here’s the point. We live in one of the world’s freest and most open societies. People are entitled to shout and wave placards.

Protesters are indulged to the extent that authorities routinely allow them to conduct street marches that inconvenience other people.  In much of the world this would be unthinkable.

But protesters too often interpret this tolerance as a general licence to disrupt, which is where they get it wrong. Generally speaking, the right to protest ends at the point where it obstructs the rights of others.

When protesters become so pumped up with self-righteousness that they believe they’re entitled – indeed, have a moral duty – to interfere with the rights of others, public sympathy for their cause rapidly evaporates.Karl du Fresne

. . . This no doubt explained the Labour Party’s petulant stance, which itself raises the issue of how far we can trust a party that promoted a change of flag in its 2014 election policy and was fully represented on the cross-party committee that gave its blessing to the referendum process, but changed its mind. . .

The referendum may have resulted in no change, but for reasons so complex, confused and contradictory that it would be unwise to draw too many conclusions about why people voted the way they did. There were many ironies, including anti-TPPA protesters voting for the ultimate symbol of corporate greed ­sanctioned by the Empire.

Support for a new flag hasn’t been snuffed out. Rather, its momentum has been temporarily slowed. As we go on with the task of explaining to the rest of the world the difference between our flag and that of Australia – the Aussie flag depicts the Southern Cross more accurately – New Zealanders have at least engaged in a passionate, if frustratingly inconclusive, debate about what our flag should say about us. In the process, we may have learnt something about ourselves. That should leave us better prepared when the issue comes up again – as it will. The Listener

Admittedly humour is subjective, but Wicked’s misogynistic brand of wit is hardly worth dying on the barricades for. It’s a smart-arse, advertising-agency type of humour that appeals chiefly to sniggering schoolboys.

In fact one of the striking things about the Wicked controversy is that the company’s supposed humour has managed to offend almost everyone, liberals as well as conservatives.   – Karl du Fresne

We measure success by results, rather than the level of spending – Bill English.

. . . no one should be verbally attacked and denigrated because they believe in democracy and the right to make their own unsolicited political choice on who they want to give a donation to. – Lani Hagaman.

I would like to thank the dairy industry for pulling this country out of the recession in 2008, when the milk price generated the revenue, paid the tax, helped us stave off the pressure on the government’s books and, in particular, lifted the general confidence in regional New Zealand,” said Mr English. “It’s something of an untold story. –  Bill English

It is a common misconception that socialism is about helping poor people. Actually, what socialism does is create poor people, and keep them poor. And that’s not by accident.

Under capitalism, rich people become powerful. But under socialism, powerful people become rich.Glenn Reynolds

Real beauty is being able to laugh out loud and to make others laugh — not at ourselves, but at the absurdities of the lives that we’ve been told we should live. –  Gina Barreca

. . . Look, if we weren’t giving out the first, second and third place ribbons and the day was just about having fun and being outdoors, great! Let’s go on an Oprah Christmas special ribbon giving spree: “You get a ribbon, and you get a ribbon and you get a ribbon, riiiibonnnnnn!”

However WE DO give out the first, second and third place awards, so what message are we sending them? “Hey kids it doesn’t matter if you win but if you do win you get a special prize and accolade, but it doesn’t matter, but it does, and the rest of the kids get a generic thing because they’re not special like the kids who won, who aren’t special, but they are …”

Confusing huh? Imagine being a kid then!

After my highly scientific research at the track I’m now of the opinion that we don’t need to bother with participation awards.

For three reasons:

1. The kid’s don’t want them. They’re well on to us, the jig is up mates.

2. It’s OK to fail! Don’t be afraid to let your kids feel the sting of defeat. Let their little hearts get a ding or two, help them identify what they can learn from it and then they will grow and be better next time.

3. Don’t reward them for just showing up. It makes them grow up feeling entitled. You’re not doing them any favours — want and need create drive. . . Em Rusciano

We have tried everything and all we have created is a culture of dependence, entitlement, helplessness and irresponsibility. – Martin van Beynen

Food is essential to a stable functioning society and we must look at irrigation as essential public infrastructure. We must consider its benefits in terms of regional development and food production, urban water supply and recreation use, not simply in terms of economics and income generation.  . .

We need to start looking at water storeage and land use intensification as part of the s0lution and manage the environmental issues appropriately. It’s as simple as that.- Peter Graham

The Swiss decide not to steal from each other, launder the loot through a government bureaucracy and then give what’s left back to each other. Note this comment from a voter who favored the idea: “For me it would be a great opportunity to put my focus on my passion and not go to work just for a living.” Translation: “I would like others to work harder and pay taxes so I can work less and have fun.” – Lawrence Reed On the Swiss referendum where the majority rejected the proposal for a guaranteed basic income.

When female narcissism translates as empowerment I am both amused and confused. Whose gaze are such women courting when they expose so much pampered, surgically enhanced flesh if not males? If their intention is to attract female attention their only possible purpose could be to annoy, and cause older women to wonder how they deal with going to the bathroom, let alone cold weather. Blue goose-bumped skin has yet to take off as a fashion trend, but they could yet make that fashionable I guess.

These new-style feminists are not displaying ordinary, imperfect bodies, but bodies that conform to traditional pin-ups from men’s magazines, small-waisted, big-breasted, with rounded buttocks and flawless legs, in Kim’s case an old-fashioned hourglass figure that formerly called for a tight corset.Rosemary McLeod

So when an individual attempts to keep more of what he has created there is less anger than when someone tries to take what he hasn’t. That is why society has greater tolerance (and exhibits it through the courts) for tax evasion than welfare fraud. – Lindsay Mitchell

Every day starts with me not being dead, and what a fantastic way to start each day. . . There’s no excuse to not appreciate life fully. You owe it to the people who are unable to. Jake Bailey

It’s not easy being left wing in New Zealand at the moment. We’re currently focusing most of our efforts on cyber bullying John Key’s kids: it’s pretty bleak.

Labour and the Greens joining forces should be something I guess, if you add two parties together you can create a larger and more cohesive losing unit for 2017. The one bright spot is that after a solid eight years in opposition the Labour party have put together a comprehensive plan of what not to do. – Guy Williams 

My observation is that idiot posters from the hard Left tend to be plain nasty whereas their idiot colleagues from the far Right tend to be defined by their stupidity.    One of my PolSci lecturers used to put it this way … that there’s really no difference between the far Right and and the far Left … they are joined at the hip.  Both are authoritarian; both are dismissive of dissenting opinion to the point of violence. –  The Veteran

“When you’re a farmer who isn’t working your farm it can be pretty hard. We are farmers because we love the lifestyle, but over the last couple of years the fun has completely been taken out of it.

“Day in and day out all you think and talk about is the weather. It can be pretty depressing.

“There isn’t much you can do about it. You can’t buy the rain.” – Nick Hamilton

At 100, like many centenarians, this country’s Labour Party is looking confused and befuddled. It appears to have forgotten what it stood for when it was young and vibrant.

Under Little, this party that once stood against unthinking imperialism has campaigned to keep the Union Jack on New Zealand’s flag – perhaps keen to safeguard that Royal telegram! This party that once stood for workers making new lives in a new land, now wishes to stop immigrants investing in property in New Zealand; this party that once stood for diversity now makes overseas investment policy by tallying up “Chinese-sounding names”. Little is busy battling defamation claims, rather than fighting for Labour principles. – Jonathan Milne

News editors need to insist their journalists call out falsehoods in press conferences. Both Shorten and his Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen have previously advocated corporate tax cuts. They went to the election with higher deficits, higher spending and higher borrowing. How can reporters all last week have allowed Labor MPs to warn of imminent budget blocking tactics when only a week earlier Labor accepted $30 billion of so-called zombie cuts? Will reporters now let Labor get away with blocking savings it counted in its own election costings?

Do reporters know the Medicare rebate freeze Shorten claims is the basis for his Medicare scare was introduced by Labor in its 2013 budget? Are reporters going to let Labor continue to claim the government, which has presided over the highest bulk-billing rates in the history of Medicare, has cut $57bn from health when Labor ­itself only committed $2bn more to health than the Coalition?

Labor lost the election. Its primary vote, at 35.2 per cent, is its second lowest since World War II. Not only did it need a lie to save its primary, in truth it owes much of its position to Kevin Rudd, who in 2013 saved at least 15 seats that would have fallen under Julia ­Gillard. – Chris Mitchell

A complex and difficult social problem with many levels to it is being reduced to inane, empty slogans (just build 100,000 “more bloody houses” to quote the elegant language of the rather crude Leader of the Opposition) without any regard to how all that might be achieved. – Peter Dunne

There is no healing in pretending this bizarre violent stuff is not going on, and that there is some cute bumper sticker silver lining. (It is fine if you believe this, but for the love of God, PLEASE keep it to yourself. it will just tense us all up.) What is true is that the world has always been this way, people have always been this way, grace always bats last, it just does–and finally, when all is said and done, and the dust settles, which it does, Love is sovereign here. Ann Lamott

Seumas Milne remains on the staff of the Guardian and Observer while Labour pays him to work as its director of strategy. As a colleague on leave, he has the right to be treated with a gentleness journalists would not usually extend to spin doctors who do not enjoy his advantages. I therefore write with the caution of a good corporate man and the cheeriness of a co-worker when I say Milne could not do a better job of keeping the Tories in power if rogue MI5 agents had groomed him at Winchester College, signed him up at Oxford University and instructed him to infiltrate and destroy the Labour party.Nick Cohen

“If students can’t learn the way we’re teaching then we need to teach the way they learn.  Teaching is like any job, complacency is the enemy. So to ensure the success of students the teacher has to actually care.” – Matarahi Skipper 

. . . I would also like to think in Queenstown that we embrace culture instead of judging race and we celebrate our differences while not letting ourselves be defined by them.

We exist united by our similarities, not divided by petty differences.

We are, for the most part, grateful we have the opportunity to live in paradise, safe, happy and free.

If only this attitude could be spread as easily as fear and intolerance.Mark Wilson

I recognise that politicians don’t create jobs. Politicians create the environment in which business people create jobs. My job is to create the right the right environment for them to flourish and thrive.” – Sadiq Khan

The man is a psychopathic narcissist and that’s not just my opinion, that is the opinion of a whole range of people who are currently sitting in the Parliament. Come on, folks. I can think of 12 Australians off the top of my head who would be a better Secretary-General and one of them’s my Labrador. – Kristina Keneally

It isn’t so much saying Empress Helen has no clothes: It is just that she hasn’t quite earned the halo other people are all too enthusiastic about crowning her with. – Rob Hosking

Labour needs to move away from leftist anti-trade and anti-growth populism and try to make an actual difference to people’s lives rather than keeping its bloggers happy. – Greg Loveridge

Whatever shorter-term measures that government might take to contain spending, in the longer term the ideal way to reduce or contain government spending is to have less need for it.  . .

Much of Government spending is dealing with past failure, with poor decisions with programmes that claimed a lot and didn’t work.

We are creating a whole new set of tools that enable us to be much more discriminating about where spending is effective because where it is effective, it is worth spending a lot. – Bill English

In whichever direction you look, the autocrats, the dictators, the terrorists and the corrupt and cynical opportunists are fighting back. They are demonstrating daily that the lazy assumption of western triumph may be mistaken. Accordingly, it is time to relearn the lessons of history: that free societies do generally triumph in the end, but they need constant vigilance to protect them, and they often need a mixture of strong leadership, determined unity and a good measure of low cunning to help them along. – William Hague

The combination of John Key as PM and Bill English as Finance Minister has achieved an increasingly rare feat in any advanced economy. It includes returning a budget to surplus while managing better growth along with substantive social, economic and taxation reform.All within a political framework of relative popularity, especially a track record good enough to be re-elected with stronger voter endorsement for its programme. Better outcomes in health and education, fewer people on welfare and a return to surplus – not bad. – Australian Financial Review via Trans Tasman.

The principle of free speech can sometimes be used to defend the indefensible but it certainly shouldn’t be curtailed to avoid hurting the feelings of over-sensitive people whose views are often as unreasonable and entrenched as those of the very people they despise. – Martin van Beynen

Urban Kiwis are fewer generations away from the paddocks than are their American counterparts, and that helps maintain a certain egalitarianism of respect, but that won’t last forever. We already are seeing strong pushes to legislate and regulate against the lifestyle choices of those outside of the urban elite. You hear it in trendy Wellington cafes, where well dressed rich folks drinking high calorie mochaccinos speak with disdain about how others drink Coke or eat at McDonalds. It’s an inequality of respect.

Poverty is real and important. When it comes to inequality, I think we need a renewed egalitarianism of respect for the choices others make about what is best for them. The more cocooned we are in bubbles away from those who make different choices than we do, the more hesitant we should be to cast judgement. – Eric Crampton

Just remember that Hamish and I came out of a boat that failed.Eric Murray

Maybe it’s time to stop looking for someone or something to blame. The truth is: I am the only one who can give myself permission to be a badass. So here you go, sister. Turning 49 is not the moment to turn into a wilting sissy; it is not the time to be faint-hearted: it is time to prevail. In your own way, whatever that entails, since both the slavish adherence to rules and the utter abhorrence of them are reactions that need to be examined.

It is also time to stop making excuses because you have nothing to excuse.  – Deborah Hill-Cone

“I went down, and I was like, ‘What’s happening? Why am I on the ground?’ Then suddenly this hand on my shoulder, like ‘Get up, get up, we have to finish this,’ and I was like, ‘Yup, yup, you’re right. This is the Olympic Games. We have to finish this.”

“When you’re at this level you know how hard it is to get here. There’s just a mutual understanding of how much everyone puts into it. I’m never going to forget that moment. When someone asks me what happened in Rio in 20 years’ time, that’s my story.”

“I’m so grateful for Abbey for doing that for me. That girl is the Olympic spirit right there. I’ve never met her before, like I’ve never met this girl before, and isn’t that just so amazing? Such an amazing woman. . . . – Nikki Hamblin

I hate to break it to you, but there is a right to insult. The way to deal with a racist is to shame him with reason, not to jail him. Freedom of expression includes the right to say offensive things. It doesn’t include a right never to be offended.

There is certainly a right to say things that will be construed as insults by those intent on being insulted even though they’re not intended to be. – Lindsay Perigo

One thing we seem to have no shortage of is activists who claim Labour and National have devastated our country with successive “neoliberal” governments in the past 30 years. But the alternative to neoliberalism isn’t Norway, Denmark or Sweden. It’s Cuba, Zimbabwe and Venezuela. I know where I would rather live. – Liam Hehir

. . . silliness is part of sanity.
Looseness is an antidote to being uptight all the time.
Being able to play is essential to mental health.
If you don’t still sometimes do things that are foolish, or wacky, or a little loony then you will lose contact with your inner child, and miss the simple delight that comes with doing something just for the higgledy-piggledy hell of it. –  Robert Fulghum

It’s actually really important for us to be welcoming immigrants. We have to get over this xenophobic idea that we’re doing them a favour. At worst, it’s this completely mutually beneficial thing. So they get to live in a pretty nice country, and we get to live with people who are skilled and smart and clever and who are doing things that build our economy.  – Nigel Latta

In fact, being a parent is valuable precisely because it is so unlike goal-directed productive work. Caring for a child involves a deep recognition of the individuality and autonomy, the irreducible complexity and value of another unique, irreplaceable human being. That makes it worthwhile all by itself. – Alison Gopnik

There are some principled, genuinely compassionate in there who really want to make a difference. And then I think there are people that are the complete opposite.

They are, after all, just people like all of us. Like all organisations they have great people, and some not so great.

For us though, as voters, I’m hoping we can learn to demand more than coverage of the trivial, or the endless inane controversies, and instead expect a higher quality of debate. We should also, just by the by, lift our own game.

We might like to think they don’t of what we want, but the sad thing is a lot of the time they do exactly what we want. Maybe we need to want different things?Nigel Latta

There will always be a place for career politicians in Government since, if nothing else, a lifetime in politics can be assumed to impart knowledge about how the system actually works. But an effective Government should also include people who have experience with how things are in the real economy.  . .

That’s why I think government could do with more people like Alfred Ngaro. In addition to the skills he will have picked up in his as a pastor and a backbench MP, the five years he spent as a self-employed tradesman will give him an insight into the world so many of us live in. This is the world of GST returns, uneven cash-flows, customer complaints, hard to manage work-flows, provisional tax payments, accounting and legal fees, red tape, health, bad debtors and health and safety compliance costs. It is world with which fewer and fewer lawmakers have much, if any, familiarity.

Not everyone in politics needs to have this kind of background – but some of them should. –  Liam Hehir

Hongi’s name lives on in Hongi’s Track, the place his men dragged their canoes through the forest between lakes Rotoehu and Rotoiti, thence onto Lake Rotorua. He slaughtered and ate and enslaved many of my Te Arawa ancestors. But that’s all right, Hongi. It’s what went down in your day. Are we not, each generation, of the times we live in? –  Alan Duff

There were indeed many aspects of our past that were neither “good” nor “beautiful”; I’m sure that our descendants will find just as many things to condemn in our own age.  But we can never move forward as a nation by spitting on the legacy of the men and women (however imperfect) who helped to build it. – Jonathan Tracy

Domestically the big winner in all this is Key, who got to demonstrate to a couple hundred thousand female swing-voters what a progressive, balanced women-leader-supporting, generally great guy he is. It’s conventional wisdom on the left that Key et al are morons, and the left is morally and intellectually superior, and I’m not sure how this squares with Key and his party constantly doing very smart things, and the left’s parties and leaders mostly, consistently being pretty dumb. – Danyl Mclauchlan

I always encourage particularly young people, don’t be a job snob. Take the job which is there and which is available. Because you take that job, and even if it’s not the perfect one, you do it for six months or so (and) you’ll be much better positioned to take another job down the track which is much more to your liking.

The longer you are on welfare, the steeper the road back to employment is. – Alan Tudge

Just listen to the way a lot of politicians and commentators talk about the public,” Mrs May will say. “They find their patriotism distasteful, their concerns about immigration parochial, their views about crime illiberal, their attachment to their job security inconvenient. They find the fact that more than seventeen million people voted to leave the European Union simply bewildering.Theresa May

A change has got to come. It’s time to remember the good that government can do. Time for a new approach that says while government does not have all the answers, government can and should be a force for good; that the state exists to provide what individual people, communities and markets cannot; and that we should employ the power of government for the good of the people. – Theresa May

The Labour Party is not just divided, but divisive. Determined to pit one against another. To pursue vendettas and settle scores. And to embrace the politics of pointless protest that doesn’t unite people but pulls them further apart… So let’s have no more of Labour’s absurd belief that they have a monopoly on compassion. Let’s put an end to their sanctimonious pretence of moral superiority. – Theresa May

I’m no fan of the burqa. It’s subjugation. A woman whose face is covered, is like a document with all the words blacked out.

A woman in a burqa has been redacted from society. A burqa says, don’t look. Nothing to see here. Her identity is unimportant.

Her smile, her frown, all her expressions, are on the cutting-room floor. . .

The burqa is medieval. And like medieval plumbing and medieval medicine, it’s out of date. Like women not owning property, not going to school, or not leaving home without male guardians, the burqa contradicts basic human rights.

Of course, basic human rights, is a recent concept. But air travel and YouTube have given us time travel. Medieval people are time-travelling into the 21st century, leap-frogging centuries of liberal progress, and they find our ways shocking.

The burqa isn’t some post-feminist freedom from a bad hair day. It’s a mistake we made to get here. –  Raybon Kan

If you consider appearing on the side of a cereal box a qualification for being a role model then you need help. – Jim Kayes

. . . politics is not telling everyone what you think; it’s everyone telling you what they think. – Rodney Hide

And we shouldn’t just be critical of fake news or wary of falling for satire. We should be critical of what we read from any source.

Ask yourself: how does this journalist know what he or she published? How did they gather that information? Where did they cut corners? Why have they paraphrased here instead of a direct quote? Who did they talk to? Have they done their due diligence to verify the facts?

Not asking these questions of our real news is what leads to us not asking them of our fake news. – Ben Uffindell

It is not the business of journalists to tell their readers, listeners and viewers what to think; but to place before them any and every matter that a free people might reasonably be expected to have an interest in thinking about. – Chris Trotter

Whether or not the National Party retains its ascendancy next year, Mr Key must go down as one of New Zealand’s most successful leaders. And New Zealand, under his stewardship, can claim to be one of the most successful countries in the world. – The Economist

It has been an enormous privilege to be Prime Minister of New Zealand, and these last eight years have been an incredible experience. Throughout these years I have given everything I could to this job that I cherish, and this country that I love.

Bronagh has made a significant sacrifice during my time in politics, and now is the right time for me to take a step back in my career and spend more time at home. . .

“I do not believe that if I was asked to commit to serving out a full fourth term I could look the public in the eye and say yes.

“And more than anything else in my time here, I have tried to be straight and true with New Zealanders. – John Key

I’d been telling my kids for years that if they get knocked down they should get up so, in a very public event, I kind of had to do it myself. I had to do it myself to demonstrate integrity to them. That was a big motivator. – Bill English

. . . you learn more from losing than you do from winning. – Bill English

I am having that moment, and I know it sounds cliched, but the 17-year-old solo mum and now I’m standing on the cusp of hopefully a positive Monday vote. . . 

It’s exciting and I just hope there are some solo mothers out there and think ‘actually your future is not pre-determined. Hard work, energy and self-belief can get you a long way in New Zealand. – Paula Bennett

I’ve never been in a community where there isn’t someone with the vision and energy to change how it works  . . . The Government isn’t the answer to everything, most of our answers are in our own families and communities. Sometimes Government gets in the way of that. This is a Government that will be focussed on understanding, at a very individual level, what is going to work with people and then supporting them to achieve it.    Bill English

It’s not your driving you have got to worry about all of the time, it’s other people out there too and some of them can make really bad choices. – Sergeant Pat Duffy

Like the recently departed former prime minister, Mr English and Ms Bennett can also be grateful each day for the idiocy of their enemies in the Labour-Green axis and the shallowness of the WLME, who are not only obsessed with identity politics themselves but really seem to think that the secret to ending National’s political hegemony is through attacking how others choose to personally identify. – Matthew Hooton

A country where the populace is obsessed with politics, and with who sits where around the cabinet table, is a country of angry dullards. – Rob Hosking

That’s stirring stuff. It’s just a pity the movement doesn’t grasp that “equality, empowerment and freedom” are less about what you can do and more about the respect you must show others. – Rodney Hide

But to be inspirational you don’t have to save lives or win medals. I often draw strength from meeting ordinary people doing extraordinary things: volunteers, carers, community organisers and good neighbours; unsung heroes whose quiet dedication makes them special.

They are an inspiration to those who know them, and their lives frequently embody a truth expressed by Mother Teresa, from this year Saint Teresa of Calcutta. She once said: ‘Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love’. – Queen Elizabeth


A matter of trust

May 9, 2016

The left hoped this morning’s release of the Panama papers would be a bomb that would blow up the Prime Minister.

As has happened every time they’ve tried it, all they’ve delivered is a damp squib.

Rather than being a critical blow to the Government, political commentator Chris Trotter says so far, the Panama Papers revelations have been “meh”.

The entire database of 11.5 million documents will go online on Tuesday morning, but some New Zealand journalists — led by Nicky Hager — have been given early access.

They’ve revealed 61,000 of the documents, leaked from Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca, mention New Zealand. But there is no evidence our zero-tax foreign trust rules are being used for illegal purposes. 

That looks like a big number but 61,000 is less than one percent of the 11.5million documents in total.

“Like a good leftie I was salivating this morning at the prospect of what I was going to come across at [6am],” Mr Trotter told Paul Henry on Monday.

“I read it and I went ‘meh’. This will be the best that they’ve been able to find to date.” . . 

“If you’re going to bring down a Prime Minister… then you’ve got to have something that links the Prime Minister not only to something that has the perception of dodginess but that is actually illegal. Nothing to date that I’m aware of has pointed to any kind of illegality at all,” says Mr Trotter.

“It will be a major issue for a little while, then, as has happened so often before, the Prime Minister will move on.”

While Mr Hager says the Panama Papers conclusively prove New Zealand is a tax haven, PricewaterhouseCoopers tax expert Geoff Nightingale says the present rules are “orthodox” and “not uncommon”.

“We need to think about our reputation — it’s a critical business asset. But there’s nothing broken around the tax treatment of these foreign trusts. These are foreign assets and foreign income of foreigners — all we’re doing is administering them.”

New Zealand is a tiny blip on the international radar. Any damage to our reputation will come from opposition politicians, conspiracy theorists  and the media who are trying to make this look like a scandal when it isn’t.

The OECD consistently ranks our tax rules highly; the government has appointed a tax expert to do a review and has undertaken to make changes should the review deem that necessary.

It’s a matter of trust. Our laws and regulations are robust and trusted internationally and should the review uncover any problems they will be addressed.

The key difference between New Zealand and a proper tax haven is we have rules around disclosure.

“We don’t want to be facilitating illegal international activity and we don’t want to have a reputation for that, and the way we deal that is by being clear about who we’re dealing with and what are the assets and where is the income being distributed.”

Mr Nightingale says a review undertaken by John Shewan, former PricewaterhouseCoopers chair, should be broad enough to fix any reputational issues.

“It’s got the disclosure rules in there, it’s got the anti-money laundering rules in there.”

New Zealand has disclosure rules with several countries. If other countries don’t want us to disclose information on trusts affecting their nationals and companies that is their issue not ours.

Any risk to our reputation is one of perception, and that perception is not based on reality but the ridiculous claims New Zealand is a tax haven when it  isn’t.


Rural round-up

March 18, 2016

Research is critical to future prosperity – Allan Barber:

By the time most of you read this, I will have delivered an address to a Meat Industry Research workshop at Ruakura. Preparation for this has severely taxed my knowledge of research directed at the future prosperity of the red meat sector. Depending on the reaction to my presentation, I will almost certainly find out whether or not I have succeeded in talking sense and, more important, introducing some relevant fresh ideas to the audience of scientists and people with infinitely greater technical credentials than I.

The workshop’s themes are added value, value from quality, and provenance and food assurance which neatly encapsulate what the meat industry needs to provide the consumers of the world and extract from the market. Research output will obviously have to contribute new developments to this, as the industry cannot find its place in the sun by continuing to do what it has been doing to date. . . 

K5 “could prove effective rabbit killer

A new weapon in the war on rabbits could be introduced into New Zealand next autumn.

The RHDV1-K5 virus is a Korean strain of the lethal calcivirus already present in New Zealand that causes rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD).

Leader of Landcare Research’s rabbit biocontrol initiative Dr Janine Duckworth said yesterday the new strain of virus could help New Zealand farmers slash rabbit numbers by up to 30%.

Landcare Research and the New Zealand Rabbit Co-ordination Group are seeking approval from the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Environment Protection Authority to introduce the ‘‘K5” virus. . . 

The kiwi behind Northland’s biggest dairy farmer – Peter de Graaf:

The man who became Northland’s biggest dairy farmer puts his success down to the skills he gained helping on his father’s farm as a child.

Merv Pinny and his wife Cara sold their 10 Mangakahia Rd farms to the Spencer family on February 29, for an undisclosed sum, thought to be around $40 million, after an initial sale last year to a Chinese firm fell through.

Mr Pinny, 56, grew up on the family dairy farm at Te Aroha. . . 

Anthony Alexander Sinclair (Tony) Trotter: 1924 – 2016 – Chris Trotter:

TONY TROTTER – “Mr Country Calendar” – died today (Wednesday, 9 March 2016) aged 91, from natural causes.

As the television broadcaster who chose its distinctive theme music, and moved the programme out of the studio and “into the field”, Tony shapedCountry Calendar into the nation’s most beloved television series. The iconic programme, celebrating every aspect of rural life, is still being produced, and this year celebrated its own fiftieth anniversary.

Tony’s later work included the ground-breaking Natural World of the Maori, with Tipene O’Reagan, and the quirky A Dog’s Show – which turned the obscure country sport of sheep-dog trialling into a popular television show. Tony ended his broadcasting career in 1989 as the Executive Producer of Television New Zealand’s award-winning Natural History Unit in Dunedin. . . 

For Dad (a poem) – Chris Trotter:

Wheeling gulls enfold the tractor

like feathered confetti.

My father, head half-turned,

To keep the furrow straight,

Is dwarfed by the immensity

Of the paddock he has ploughed.

To my child’s eye,

The birds’ raucous accolade

Is well-deserved:     . . 

Zespri announces more SunGold licence at start of 2016 kiwifruit season:

At the start of what is set to be a record-breaking 2016 season, Zespri is positioning itself for the future by announcing the release of a further 400 hectares of its gold kiwifruit variety SunGold this year.

In making the decision to release the additional licence this year, the Zespri Board signalled that – dependant on the product’s performance and future global demand – an additional 400 hectares of SunGold licence will also be released each year in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride said releasing more SunGold hectares was tremendously exciting for the industry and the decision had been made in response to overwhelming global demand for the variety. . . 

Geographical indications law a step closer for New Zealand wine and spirit makers:

A proposed new law that will enable wine and spirit makers to register the geographical origins of their products is a step closer says Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith.

The Geographical Indications (Wines and Spirits) Amendment Bill was debated for the first time today and will now go through the select committee process, including public submissions.

The Bill amends the Geographical Indications (Wines and Spirits) Registration Act which was passed in 2006 but never brought into force. . . 

Key Issues Addressed at Winds of Change Agri-Conference:

Over 130 of Australasia’s leading agribusiness professionals will gather in Wellington on Monday (21st) for the annual Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Conference.

Challenged with discussing the ‘winds of change’ currently sweeping across the farming landscapes of New Zealand and Australasia, delegates will hear from keynote speakers including Steven Carden, CEO of Landcorp Farming Ltd, Paul Morgan, Chairman of Wakatu Incorporation, Prof. Jacqueline Rowarth from the University of Waikato, James Parsons, Chairman of Beef + Lamb NZ, Doug Avery, Malborough farmer, and Scottie Chapman, CEO of Spring Sheep Dairy Ltd.

Agenda topics will include exporting and new markets, innovations in sheep milk, changing demands for food and nutrition, encouraging young people into agriculture, farm tourism and connecting rural and urban communities. . . 

International Agri-Leaders Visit Wairarapa Showcase Farms

Pirinoa School Set to Receive Funds:

Over 130 of Australasia’s leading agribusiness professionals will visit two farms in Pirinoa, South Wairarapa, next week (Wednesday 23rd March), as part of the annual Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) ‘Capital Connections; winds of change’ Conference.

The delegation, which includes well-known industry leaders and commentators such as Steven Carden, CEO of Landcorp Farming Ltd, Prof. Jacqueline Rowarth from the University of Waikato, Malborough farmer, Doug Avery, and James Parsons, Chairman of Beef + Lamb NZ, will spend time at the Warren family’s Romney stud, Turanganui, and the Weatherstone family’s dairy farm, Rotopai. . . 

Farm dog ‘a hero and a honey’ – Brooke Hobson and Thomas Mead:

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, including ones with four paws — like Lilly the farm dog who got burnt in a fire.

Lilly suffered burns to all four paws and parts of her body after a fire got out of control at Sharedale farm near Timaru.

Farm manager Darcy Tong says a four-week-old fire reignited in a block of trees last week.

“I was at home and went back up to check on it and [the fire] was out of control,” he says. . . 

Farmers spray hundreds of litres of milk in protest in Brussels – Amy Forde:

Farmers from across Europe were protesting today in Brussels as EU Agriculture Ministers met to try and come up with solutions to the ongoing crises in the dairy and pigmeat sectors.

The video below shows one farmer with a churn on his head spraying European Parliament buildings with milk. 

Low prices across all farming sectors and the Russian ban were what they were protesting over. . . 

Cowsmopolitan Dairy Magazine's photo.

Cervus Equipment Manawatu opens new Feilding branch:

Leading John Deere dealership Cervus Equipment Manawatu has formally opened its brand-new, purpose-built branch in Feilding.

Following seven years of local sales, service and support, Branch Manager Dan Clavelle says the new Feilding branch will enable Cervus Equipment Manawatu to continue and expand its local operations.

“Cervus Equipment Manawatu is committed to adding value to our customer’s businesses every day,” Mr Clavelle said. . . 


Quote of the day

September 30, 2015

. . . Labour’s problem may be summed up in two words: proportional representation. New Zealand’s MMP electoral system allows minor parties to thrive, thus removing the pressure on opposition supporters to transfer their allegiance to the party best placed to defeat the Government. By denying Labour the 5 to 10 percentage points it needs to become a credible competitor to the National Party, proportional representation and the Greens are encouraging the Right to contemplate permanent political ascendancy. . .  Chris Trotter


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