Quotes of the month

01/12/2022

The government is quite happy to pay $280 a person to get you out of your car and onto a slow train, with a hopelessly inconveniently schedule, to drop you off at a station where you don’t want to be, at a time of the day that does not suit you.

That certainly does sound like Labour Party policy! – Frank Newman

The truth is that “far-Right” is an entirely arbitrary term, used to disparage any politician or party whose policies the left-leaning commentariat dislikes – or perhaps more precisely, fears.Karl du Fresne

“Far-Right” is often used in connection with the equally damning word “populist”. But a populist politician, by definition, is one who appeals to the people. Isn’t that the essence of democracy?

Here, I suspect, is the core of the problem. “Populist” is used as a derogatory term because the progressive elite, deep down, don’t trust democracy and don’t think ordinary people, ignorant proles that they are, can be relied on to make the right choices.

For the same reason, the political elite want to control the public conversation by regulating what we are allowed to say or hear. Uninhibited political debate is dangerous. People might get the wrong ideas – hence the moral panic over disinformation.

Do the journalists and academics who so freely use the misleading term “far Right” realise that the world has moved on from the days when it described fringe nationalist groups with little hope of electoral success? Possibly not.

I think they’re in denial. They don’t want to admit that the so-called far Right has moved to the political centre, and that this is an entirely natural and predictable reaction to stifling left-wing authoritarianism. – Karl du Fresne

People who know they are forcing a majority of the people to accept policies demanded by a minority, will always, under pressure, fall back on the blunt interrogatives of political power: Who has it, and who is willing to use it?

That’s why it is so easy to finish a sentence that begins, “As a governor”, with the words: “it is my will that prevails – not yours.” Easy, but a perilously long way from New Zealand’s egalitarian political traditions.Chris Trotter

That 16 per cent of the population will get to decide exclusively what is best for the remaining 84 per cent in the management of water and water infrastructure — built up over many generations by ratepayers and taxpayers, both Māori and non-Māori alike — is outrageously divisive and entirely undemocratic. – Graham Adams

The solution is a political one. No amount of polite protest will change the fact that the only solution is to remove the Labour Party from government. That opportunity presents itself next year. Co-governance is shaping up to be a very important election issue.- Graham Adams

Realistically, no amount of arm waving and foot stomping to the Panel is going to make any difference. Nanaia Mahuta has set a course on co-governance and the Future for Local Government report is part of that agenda, as detailed in He Puapua.

The solution is a political one. No amount of polite protest will change the fact that the only solution is to remove the Labour Party from government. That opportunity presents itself next year. Co-governance is shaping up to be a very important election issue. – Frank Newman

We’re seeing, for example, that companies are trying to dierentiate themselves on CO2 emissions per kilogram of product. But the significance of this indicator is very limited, because the value of a food is largely determined by the nutrients it contains. This indicator takes no account of this. Mineral water, for example, can have a low CO2 emissions level, but you can’t live on it. There are no or hardly any nutrients in it. That’s why there’s no point to comparing the CO2 emissions per kilogram of a soft drink to that of milk. Or of bananas to meat. Stephan Peters

Comparisons based on a single nutrient like protein are too limited. You can’t base a healthy diet on protein alone. We need a combination of many dierent nutrients to stay healthy. By quantifying the most important nutrients in a product, you can attain a new ecological footprint. The so-called Nutrient Rich Food (NRF) scores are one example. A product’s contribution to the daily requirements of the consumer can be calculated based on a summation of the nutritional benefits of that product. Products with a high NRF score have a lot of added value for our health. This also means that for products with low NRF scores, we have to eat more of them, which often means more unwanted calories and a higher footprint. By using the NRF scores in the ecological footprint of foods, you can connect ecological footprint to a product’s health benefits. This sometimes provides a different picture than you would expect from the ecological footprint per kilogram – Stephan Peters

When you combine the ecological footprint with the NRF scores, these plant-based substitutes show a less positive picture. Of course there are many nuances here, but this makes clear that nutritional value and (micro)nutrients have to be included when comparing products in terms of sustainability.Stephan Peters

Extremism is bound to thrive when dissent is suppressed by members of a pharisaical caste that takes upon itself the right to determine what others may read and hear. – Karl du Fresne

The reasons for Local Government appearing to be so dysfunctional all over the country – starts and finishes around a council table. Quite some years ago there was little or no obvious political affiliations as councillors put aside their back grounds and or political beliefs. Recent past elections have seen overtly Green and Labour candidates standing for election which draws into question exactly who they represent and whether the oath of office is little more than a meaningless formality as they take their place around the council table. The battle lines are therefore drawn before debate is enacted as predictable attitudes soon manifest themselves. It’s called predetermination and that is a root cause of council acrimony. To make matters worse, councils are now compelled to accept unelected representatives (Maori) to promote a singular point of view alongside those who must act in the wider interests of the region/district. The oath of office -sworn by councillors – is not required of the Maori appointees. The call for more diversity and broader representation is a nonsense. Given the size of councils balance sheet, it is knowledge, judgment and experience that matters – not age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or street address.Gerry Eckhoff

Trust and integrity of process are the hall marks of a well-functioning democracy. There can be no place for those who seek authority and power for their own sake. The situations in China and Russia, where the seedlings of democracy are crushed under the tyranny of false authority and weaponry – must serve as a reminder to us all that our freedoms start – not just with local government but with those who also serve – by challenge and protest. – Gerry Eckhoff

None of the significant changes undermining democracy and our Kiwi way of life, that are being introduced through He Puapua have received a mandate from the public. The restructuring of health, polytechnics, and water services are all illegitimate policy changes designed to pass control to the tribal elite. None have public approval, and all should be repealed by the next government.

In this climate of division created by Jacinda Ardern, key institutions are being corrupted from their original purpose of serving all New Zealanders as equals, to prioritising and privileging those of Maori descent. Under her leadership, democracy is being replaced by apartheid. – Muriel Newman

Of all the forms of pollution that harm this world, that of noise seems to gain the least attention, perhaps because we have no one to blame for so much of it but ourselves, preferring as we do to concentrate on harms for which we can blame others.Theodore Dalrymple

The English have always taken their pleasures sadly, but now they take them first noisily, then antisocially, then forgetfully. Several times I have heard young people claim to have had a wonderful time the night before, the evidence for which is that they can remember nothing whatever of it. On this view of things, death is the final, eternal nightclub. – Theodore Dalrymple

Who’s taking any notice of the laws? Answer – no one. They couldn’t give a crap.

 And why would they? There are no consequences in this country for anything anymore so why fear authority or rules or laws? Even ram raiders get a wraparound hug and a meeting rather than any kind of law enforcement.

Being young means being off the hook. Kids know it, their mates know it, the parents know it. So why are we surprised when they don’t follow the rules?  – Kate Hawkesby 

There’s more youth in trouble than there is aid. And despite all the best efforts of Youth Aid and their valiant attempts at restorative justice and rehabilitation, we have a major problem in this country with disenfranchised youth. – Kate Hawkesby 

I despair that we are now just in a cycle of youth trouble equals Youth Aid, and that’s it. The forgotten word here is – consequences. – Kate Hawkesby 

There is a sense however that Ardern is attempting to expand the legitimate need for surveillance of a very small group of potentially dangerous individuals to also cover people whose beliefs simply run counter to government policy or to the norms of woke culture.

That suspicion was reinforced by the TVNZ documentary Web of Chaos which looked at the internet’s influence on modern-day life and included what the producers described as “a deep dive into the world of disinformation”. Whilst the documentary made some good points, there were some odd moments, including when the Director of the Disinformation Project made the astonishing claim that Kiwi mothers with interests in children’s clothes, healthy cooking and interior design were being drawn into “white nationalist ideals”. – Thomas Cranmer

We are an important liberal power at a time when illiberal forces in Moscow and Beijing are flexing their brutal and authoritarian muscles on the battlefields of Ukraine, the streets of Hong Kong and across the narrow water of Taiwan.

We have to take the risk of voicing our doubts about decolonisation. It should be open for discussion, open for interrogation. We need to break the spell. – Nigel Biggar

New Zealand sheep farmers have been singled out to bear the brunt of our country’s efforts to stop the planet warming. Our government’s chosen metric is to measure progress by annual emissions. When applied to constant or diminishing emissions of short-lived gasses such as methane, this results in perverse outcomes. – Dave Read

I love farming because it offers unlimited opportunity to use my intellectual and physical skills. I am proud to produce a product that is very close to organic. Our system is on a different planet when compared to feed-lot animals that are fed grain, grown under an industrial farming system awash with fossil fuel.Dave Read

I produce the same amount of meat from less pasture, and therefore less methane. Since 1990, I have planted willows and poplars for erosion control and now have over 6,000 that will cover 100ha when they are all mature.

Trees are the current feel-good factor, but actually, retiring land to plant is only made economically possible by efficiency gains on the remainder. Conversely, whole farms changed to pine forests are wiping out food production entirely. – Dave Read

I have walked to every corner of the farm and feel an intimate connection to this land. Returning from elsewhere, I get to within 100km of home and feel the land reaching out towards me. When the land suffers under drought or flood, I feel it as a pain in my own body. And I love trees, but when I see whole farms planted in a monoculture of pines, I feel sick to my stomach.

Right now, I feel like a contentious objector must have during the first world war. I am being reviled as an environmental vandal. The news feels like propaganda. Dave Read

When I do the math, the UN target for ruminant stock works out to a 4.7 per cent reduction for New Zealand. This is under half New Zealand’s target, but no editor will print this fact because ‘readers don’t want complicated maths’, ‘you are not a climate expert’, ‘it would undermine the consensus achieved’.

I am forced to watch sustainable food production (my life’s work) destroyed even though it is expected that 1.4 billion people will be protein-deficient by 2050. I lie awake in the early hours, composing yet another submission to be filed and ignored by group of professional listeners in Wellington (the seat of our government). The road that used to be quiet at 4am roars with logging trucks carrying logs from trees planted in the 90s during the last wave of land-use change. Transport carries on warming the planet; people drive to the store when they could walk; they fly to Sydney for shopping weekends instead of buying local.

Meanwhile my sector, the only sector of New Zealand no longer warming the planet, is being gutted. – Dave Read

Climate change is hugely important. But it just isn’t a substantial prudential risk for the financial system.

There are far bigger financial risks out there. For example, a Reserve Bank that spends too much time playing with its frog-exaggerator when an inflation monster is running wild.  – Eric Crampton

Constant tweaks to immigration settings have contributed to complexity and confusion for migrants and officials. The Government abandoning targets for processing visa applications has led to fewer decisions being made. Immigration NZ’s antiquated legacy processes and teething problems with its new online systems have also played a role. And then there has been the Government’s clunky approach to dealing with pandemic-related backlogs.

Yet these issues are all symptoms rather than the cause. The root of the problem is the Government’s distrust of immigration. It stems from a belief that productivity improvements will come from restricting the supply of migrant labour. Unfortunately, that belief is not founded on economic evidence. And it risks tarnishing our longstanding record as a favoured destination for skilled migrants. – Roger Partridge 

As New Zealand firms and workers battle rising interest rates, a cost of living crisis and geopolitical uncertainty, it is time our Government ended the self-inflicted harm of restrictive immigration settings.Roger Partridge 

Well-functioning cities should mean higher real wages for workers and better entertainment options. So why are New Zealand’s cities shrinking?

Our cities just do not seem to be working well and that comes down to poor policy decisions.  – Oliver Hartwich

When zoning and consenting make it too hard to build in places where people want to live, work and play, land prices inflate in surprising ways. Turning inner suburbs into museum pieces blocks the dynamic change that lets cities thrive. And banning new subdivisions at the city’s fringes makes the land under downtown apartments more expensive than it should be. – Oliver Hartwich

Councils need incentives to zone ample land for development. It is vital to finance infrastructure well. Then zoning will not introduce artificial scarcity. More competitive land markets unleash opportunities.  – Oliver Hartwich

But don’t expect a vote for NZ First to deliver anything transformational.  From 1996-1998 NZ First was a brake on a National Government continuing with free market liberal reforms, but not a stop. Similarly, from 2005-2008 and from 2017-2020 it was a brake on Labour Governments continuing with growth of the welfare state, but put a foot on the accelerator of economic nationalist interventions.  It was not a brake on Maori nationalism, because the policies now being advanced by the Government had their genesis in 2017-2020 (or earlier in the case of He Puapua).Liberty Scott:

Surely, in the interests of “partnership”, the rights of private landowners should be honoured or is this another example of everyone being equal, but Māori are more equal than others.- Frank Newman

My view is that bad accidents are the result of a couple of things. Exceedingly bad luck, in other words you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. It isn’t your fault and no amount of advertising and road rules would have stopped it.

And idiots. Whether by madness, booze, drugs, criminal activity, poor cars, or insane behaviour. It’s the stuff that is  preventable, but only if the fool behind the wheel was behaving differently.

Those sort of people are not reached by ads on telly and cops that aren’t on the road. So, back to the question; when we get to the end of the year in a month or so and the toll is up yet again, one of the worst yet again, what then? Another ad agency ?    – Mike Hosking

There are three things that are needed immediately if we are to tackle the huge and growing pile of unmet need in our health system. We need more people in the health workforce, we need more facilities, and we need targets and goals for the facilities we already have. – Steven Joyce

Our Health Minister looks more and more like a tired one-trick pony. His only initiative was to rearrange the bureaucracy and slap a new coat of paint on it, then stand back to wait for it solve the world’s problems.

He ignores that it is infeasible a bureaucracy in Wellington, roundly derided by most who work in the health system, should suddenly be the solution because it is now called “Te Whatu Ora”. Particularly as it exhausted itself changing all the deckchairs around and few people within it yet seem to know how the new entity works.Steven Joyce

Our health sector needs new thinking, not hidebound technocracy. It needs to be led by someone new with energy and enthusiasm, who is prepared to roll sleeves up and lead from the front.

Someone who stands up for patients and their families, visibly backs the doctors, nurses and other professionals and is prepared to take on entrenched interests like the health unions and medical school duopolies. We don’t need a tired paper pusher. He needs to go. – Steven Joyce

 The effect of three of the judgments in this case is to introduce Maori customs of uncertain definition and unknowable consequences as they existed in 1840 as a third arm of the common law of New Zealand. These customs are collectively labelled “Tikanga.” The way in which they have  been infiltrated into the common law is unprecedented.Anthony Willy 

This excursion into Maori customs raises a number of questions: What is “Tikanga?” A search of the meaning of the word in the Maori dictionary yields fifteen possible definitions all of which amount to doing the right thing in the circumstances. None of the meanings have anything thing to do with the law as it has been understood and  practiced in New Zealand since 1840.  Every society throughout time has its customs as a means of surviving both its environment and from the attentions of others. Maori tribes were no different but the world in which persons of Maori extraction now live is unrecognisable for those who lived here in 1840 when they accepted British sovereignty and all that entailed. Obviously, the law must change and adapt to changing circumstances but it is extraordinary to suppose that this should be done by importing concepts some of which are no more than are to be found in any developing society but have no unique contemporary relevance to the lives of New Zealand citizens. One might as well say that attention to good manners and consideration for others should form part of the common law. – Anthony Willy 

 Willie Jackson the Minister for Broadcasting and who appears to lead the Maori caucus in government and who has probably read the writings of Williams J. knows all this. He has recently rejected a report from who knows whom proposing co government in New Zealand because it is too radical. He now has barely six weeks left in the Parliamentary cycle to introduce new legislation dealing with that deeply unpopular proposition making it unlikely it will ever see the light of day. It is astonishing that the  majority of the judges in our highest court would do his work for him by elevating Maori customs to become an equal source of law alongside the common law, and the statutes enacted by Parliament. That is the most unprecedented and blatant descent by three out of five members of our highest Court into matters of crucial social and political import. These judges leave a poison challis for their successors with unknowable malign social consequences. It will now be left to Parliament by legislation to reinstate the commonality of Judge made law.Anthony Willy 

Our preference has always been for commercial pragmatism and fact-based analysis to lead solutions, rather than any politically-motivated or interest-driven proposals. Our vision involves enhancing existing assets, while investing in supporting infrastructure such as new rail connections and coastal shipping – Julia Hoare

It is our belief that current legislation and policy does not encourage nor facilitate investment even when it is environmentally sound and nationally significant. The consenting process is complex, time consuming and costly. It hinders adoption of new technology with its economic and environmental benefits, ensures we are always playing catch up with capacity and stops existing assets from being used to their full potential.Julia Hoare

Parliament did not legislate for a tax increase large enough to break Treasury’s tax calculator. Nobody proposed it. Nobody campaigned on it.

It never went to Select Committee for deliberation. No tax experts analysed the distributional consequences of it or its affordability. It never received Royal Assent. Parliament simply failed to undo that which Adrian Orr gifted it, at our expense. – Eric Crampton

Failing to inflation-adjust tax thresholds, since April 2021, pushed some 40,000 people from the 10.5% bracket into the 17.5% bracket, about 187,000 people from the 17.5% bracket into the 30% bracket, 161,000 people from the 30% bracket into the 33% rate, and about 18,000 people from the 33% rate into the new top 39% rate.

As consequence, the government collected about $1.3 billion extra in tax – though both the figures on the numbers of people and revenue effects come with a heavy caveat from Treasury. Changes this large cause changes in behaviour, and those behavioural shifts are not in Treasury’s simple model.

When inflation’s effects over a little more than a year are enough to break Treasury’s tax calculator, something has got to give. At this point the question shouldn’t be whether to adjust the tax bands for inflation, but how best to do it – and how to avoid this ever happening again.

Whatever your views on the appropriate size of government, a few basic principles should apply.

The government should not normally spend more than it is prepared to take in tax revenue. Careful accounting needs to be applied, so that long-lived infrastructure can be appropriately debt-financed and paid off by users over its lifetime. But operating revenue and operating expenditure should balance.

If a government wants to reduce the amount of tax it collects, it should reduce the amount it spends.

And if a government wants to increase the amount that it spends, it should have to explicitly legislate for the taxes needed to fund that spending – rather than let inflation do the work. – Eric Crampton

 Bracket creep is a stealthy and dishonest form of taxation. Worse, it can easily lead to the impression that Parliament wants the Reserve Bank to ignore its remit and let inflation run hot.

Inflation indexing tax thresholds isn’t just good tax policy. When inflation is no longer a tidy little earner for central government, we might worry less about whether the Reserve Bank is really committed to fighting it.Eric Crampton

I wrote a book, Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality, which was published in July 2021. The idea behind the book is also simple: biological sex is fixed, it is binary. And transgender ideology — which replaces sex with subjective claims of ‘gender identity’ in law and policies — does serious harm. To anyone not blinded by this dogma, the argument is obvious. You cannot let men claim to be women just because they feel like it and thereby gain entry to women’s toilets, women’s changing rooms, women’s refuges, women’s jails. It puts women at increased risk of male violence. It is not acceptable. – Helen Joyce

And what I discovered was this: during the past two decades, ‘trans rights’ have morphed into a totalitarian project the aim of which is to make the very concept of biological sex unsayable. It has been pernicious, and extraordinarily so. Almost every civil-rights organisation, including Amnesty, Liberty and Stonewall, now insists that a man truly can become a woman simply by saying he is one. ‘Trans women are women — no debate,’ that’s their slogan. The rest of us must shut up. – Helen Joyce

This radical transactivism has erased and endangered women, pushed us out of our own spaces and destroyed protections from male violence that we fought so hard for. – Helen Joyce

That was when I understood the full horror of what is happening. In the name of a warped ideology masquerading as a civil-rights movement, doctors are potentially endangering children who may be gay or mentally ill. How did we get here?

Young adults have certainly changed since my student days. Many now see themselves and the world through the lens of gender, sexual and racial identity, placing great store by ever more specific self-descriptions (they might, for example, be a ‘queer non-binary asexual person of colour’).

The objective reality of our shared human nature is sidelined, in favour of what each individual feels or claims about themselves.  It is childish, and dangerously so. – Helen Joyce

If you had coal in the 19th Century you were rich, if you had oil and gas in the 20th Century you were rich and if you have water then you’re rich in the 21st Century.

It gives you options and frankly successive governments haven’t been able to appropriately resolve the tension that has existed in the community around how to manage water. – Todd Muller

I’m hearing a sense of hopelessness around the future, and whether it’s worth staying in the sector is extremely palpable. The big change for me that I’ve never seen before is that the message is being articulated by younger farmers.

You will always get in a group, individuals who are perhaps resisting change, and normally they tend to be people who are more senior than younger, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen it the other way where the anger, frustration and hopelessness is very much the message I’m getting from younger farmers.Todd Muller

Here it’s like a cumulative sense of obligation and criticism and a lack of acknowledgement of everything that’s been done on farm. How complex farm systems are and how interactive they are in terms of their farm animals, various farm practices, the interaction on the environment and trying to measure and mitigate that.

Trying to work all that out across a myriad of issues, from water quality, to soil, to winter grazing, to climate – they feel overwhelmed actually and that’s hugely striking and quite shocking when the faces who are telling me that are under 40. – Todd Muller

There’s a real sense that no one’s in their corner, that nothing they do on farm is ever good enough. It doesn’t matter if they’ve done plantings, riparian strips, put in more effluent ponds or set aside bush because it’s the right thing to do.

Nothing seems to be acknowledged or rewarded or supported – you’ve still got some clipboard warrior from MfE (Ministry for Environment) coming out, or local government saying, ‘That’s wrong and here’s the penalty’.Todd Muller

Part of it is actually accepting that some of this is going to take some time, and I know there are always the critics of the agriculture sector who immediately run to the pulpit and say the sector has always sought to kick the can down the road.

I fundamentally reject that, and I think the people who say that have never been on a farm and never seen the work farmers have done individually and cumulatively across water quality, soil improvement, reducing erosion, fresh water – they just don’t see all that effort. – Todd Muller

That’s why I’m so critical of the Government’s response to He Waka Eke Noa … they’ve decided they’ve got a better view on how it should be managed, and it doesn’t surprise me the sector is up in arms.

I’m not signalling in any way that because farmers are so angry, no action is required to continue to look to improve freshwater, improve measurement and mitigation of emissions. But there’s a way of doing it that brings the sector along with you and there’s a way of doing it that makes them feel like second-class citizens, and that’s how they feel at the moment. – Todd Muller

There’s a whole heap of additional work that could be done with the sector around efficient capture of additional sequestration. The Ministry for Environment and MPI constantly talk about how difficult all this stuff is, well yeah it is difficult, but it has to happen. You can’t run to the taxation lever, which this Government wants to do with vigour, and kick the can down the road. – Todd Muller

I’ve been involved with the sector for 25 years, and just seeing the vehemence of the reaction makes it clear the Government has lost the farmers here completely.Todd Muller

He clearly has the better of Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor in any Cabinet conversation they have on these things because the balance is always skewed toward David Parker’s view of the world, which is frankly, he thinks farmers have got away with it for too long, and in my view that’s an outrageous position to hold. – Todd Muller

Indeed, we are at a difficult crossroads in New Zealand, where we are being pushed into accepting a new order and a new name for our country that has not undergone a referendum. It seems to me a form of bullying. Of course, Māori and other indigenous people across many countries were oppressed for several centuries but often were not themselves kind to others and indeed gained much from colonialism. The world has made great progress over the last half-century but we are undoing that progress very rapidly.David Lillis

He Puapua is one of the most alarming documents I have ever read. It will sow the seeds of discontent and division for decades to come. We must oppose the current ideology while embracing equality and the rights of minorities, and commit ourselves to assisting all people on the basis of disadvantage rather than of race. We are not a bicultural society but instead a multicultural society that today includes people from all parts of the world.

On the question of the demarcation of science and indigenous or traditional knowledge – most probably it is true that many scientists know little of indigenous or traditional knowledge and may undervalue the genuine wisdom to be found there. Some Māori and others have made this point forcibly and quite correctly. But proponents of indigenous or traditional knowledge often betray an even greater ignorance of science. – David Lillis

Towards the end of the meeting two Māori women stood up and called for decolonisation of science. Is science colonial and, if so, how exactly are we to decolonise it and whose science are we to decolonise? We can understand where they are coming from in relation to past oppression and their need to resurrect pride in their culture, language and traditional knowledge. However, I and many others have grave concerns about the He Puapua report, which recommends that mātauranga Māori (Māori traditional knowledge) be valued equally and resourced equally to “Western science”. Indigenous people, including Māori, and other minorities make valuable contributions in many areas in which science and technology play a part. Surely, all traditional knowledge ought to be valued and preserved but no traditional knowledge of any cultural group, anywhere in the world, should be taught as science until tested and shown to be valid through the methods of science. Nor is there the slightest justification for resourcing traditional knowledge equally to science, however valuable that knowledge may have been in the past.David Lillis

However, assertions to the effect that indigenous science is equally valid and equally important as “Western science” are very worrying (for example, Henry, 2022). In specific cases they can be as valid but, unfortunately, mostly they are not, and the notion of “Western science” is demonstrably mistaken.

It is not a criticism of traditional knowledge or of the communities or societies that produced it that such knowledge cannot compare with the centuries of advances and investments that lie behind the modern physical and life sciences; for example, randomised controlled trials in medicine, molecular and atomic physics, evolutionary biology and developments in energy and climate science. We have duty of care to define clearly what sits within the ambit of science and that which lies beyond, just as we have a critical obligation to exercise the utmost rigour when we test the efficacy of newly-proposed cancer drugs and other treatments.

The idea that in any country traditional knowledge should be regarded as fully the equal of science and be resourced equally is astounding and, as a person who trained originally in physics and mathematics, and who worked in research evaluation for Government (for funding decision-making), I find it deeply disturbing that people buy into it, however well-meaning they may be. Similarly, incorporation of traditional knowledge into any national science curriculum is potentially very detrimental to the education of young people. – David Lillis

Every citizen should have equal opportunity of access to education, healthcare and to political and economic power. Here in New Zealand we include Asians, people from North Africa and the Middle-East, people of European origin and, of course, Māori and everyone else.

A second lesson is that we can take affirmative action by removing a Government that is causing damage to its people. Perhaps in New Zealand we can still do something about the current absurdity. We have a duty of care to our country to remain kind, embracing and inclusive – but to stand firm against a Government that may be well-meaning but that has lost its way. – David Lillis

The core role of the public service is to provide New Zealanders with essential services focused on achieving better outcomes and delivering for all Kiwis. Whether it be healthcare, education, transport or infrastructure, New Zealanders should get value for the taxes which they pay to the Crown.

Government is currently spending $1.8 billion of taxpayers hard earned money every year on 14,000 extra bureaucrats, and that’s without mentioning the staggering amount spent on expensive consultants and working groups. The public service in New Zealand has ballooned to unprecedented levels. Yet, we seem to have worse outcomes as a result. – Stuart Smith 

 More churn means more costs, and the lack of continuity puts strain on workflow and projects.  Adding to that, the Crown accounts released earlier this month show that the government’s tax revenue increased from $76 billion to $108 billion in five years. That is an average of $15,000 more in tax for every household in New Zealand. 

With all the extra revenue and all the extra government officials and public servants, I struggle to understand how and why New Zealand’s public services are not functioning as they should.Stuart Smith 

The question is, why are we getting worse outcomes? Frankly, it’s because this government is focused on the wrong things. – Stuart Smith 

If New Zealanders are paying high levels of tax, they should get services that deliver for them and their families. We should not be content with mediocrity, we should be ambitious and focused on giving Kiwis the best opportunities and best services possible. I’m confident that a National Government will be able to manage the economy competently and deliver outcomes that rival some of the best in the world.Stuart Smith 

Oh dear. What an embarrassment. The Prime Minister’s advisers wrote her a conference speech which summarized why this government has become unfit to govern. Since it was based on a misunderstanding of the Covid-19 shock and, as a consequence, the types of changes we need to make to get things back on track.  – Robert MacCulloch

 The Great Depression is widely acknowledged to be a demand-side shock, set off by the 1929 stock market crash. Consumption and investment slumped. It gave rise to Keynesian economics, the view that maintaining demand, running budget deficits and establishing a welfare state could help mitigate the effects. Which was all true!

But the Covid-19 shock was entirely different. It was a supply-side shock: people couldn’t go to work due to the virus, so the supply of labor crumbled. Now there are all sorts of other supply-chain issues.

Adverse demand shocks cause inflation to fall.  Adverse supply shocks cause inflation to rise.

Now we know why this government stuffed up monetary policy. They thought they were dealing with a demand shock which needed to be dealt with by money printing, but all that did was cause inflation. – Robert MacCulloch

The PM must be getting woeful economic advice to write a speech saying the way out of a supply shock is not to address the root cause of cost pressures but instead to embark on 1929-style welfare expansionism.
By the way, the creation of a welfare state was a great victory back in the 1930s. But it was already in place when Covid-19 hit and a century before Ardern came to office. Her government have not furthered the cause of the development of the welfare state. Instead its legacy has been to run-down our health-care system.
If Ardern thinks we’re living in Great Depression times and wants to create a welfare state, she should have run for office in 1935 and not 2023. – Robert MacCulloch

Sure, there are plenty of opinions and comments published every day on the internet and elsewhere that are not accurate. They’re not hateful. They’re not terrorism. But they’re not accurate. There’s also plenty that is accurate, or just to confuse us all, accurate in the views of some people but not in the eyes of others.

The great majority of that material is opinion. Some opinions are well informed. Others less so. We all have them. And we have all been entitled to have them. Opinions and the debate they generate form the basis of better decisions and better outcomes. But who decides what is right and what is wrong?  – Bruce Cotterill

As I understand it, there are already laws that deal with extremism and harmful content. And so the question needs to be asked: will our new hate speech legislation seek to go further? If so, how far?

There are plenty of people who agree with any given government. There are usually plenty who disagree with that same government. Democracies around the world are better off for such diversity of views. Is our Prime Minister suggesting that ultimately, someone should decide that one side is right and another is wrong? – Bruce Cotterill

The trouble with hate speech laws and disinformation claims is this. Who decides what’s right? What is information versus opinion? What is an accurate opinion versus an inaccurate one? And if you eventually shut down one side of an argument or discussion, how are we to know where the alternative view might have led us if it was allowed to be pursued?Bruce Cotterill

Freedom to speak. Freedom to publish. Freedom to congregate. Freedom to protest. Freedom to participate in matters of government. These freedoms quite rightly apply equally to those who disagree with us, as well as those who agree. They are all important cornerstones of democracy as we know it.

Every society needs balanced, constructive and reasoned debate. The fact that this newspaper publishes opinions and comment that are divergent and sometimes opposite is a good thing. Such commentary informs discussion and debate. Debate leads to accountability and better outcomes.

Constructive and well-reasoned argument is essential. It paves the way for better outcomes. But if we seek to shut down such discussion, where does it lead? When does “disinformation” become watered down to “disagreement”? When does any amount of criticism become an unacceptable challenge to authority? When will we be asked to leave our “point of view” behind? – Bruce Cotterill

The freedoms we enjoy provide for a range of views to be expressed, listened to and challenged. Sure, in doing so we are also enabling the fringe views, or sometimes the extreme views, and maybe even the intolerable ones. But they are a tiny minority of cases when compared to the many thousands of other voices we hear every day.

To block mainstream debate because of those few voices is to curb one of the greatest freedoms that we have — the freedom to think for ourselves, inform our views and express our opinions.Bruce Cotterill

It would be a great shame if just some of those very freedoms were taken away at a time when Europe is once again at war. Freedom is worth talking about, arguing for, debating, and defending. – Bruce Cotterill

Voters clearly have given the one-fingered salute to Labour’s cost-of-living packages and perhaps there’s nothing Labour can do right now but hope next year gets better and people forget about inflation. But, right now, it’s described like this: the phone is off the hook.

It’s because Labour appears to put ideology, unfinished business, pet projects, and settling scores ahead of tested and fair, economically sensible policy. Why, for instance, during Covid has it spent so much money on health reforms that no-one can see the immediate benefits of.

And why waste hundreds of millions on screwing RNZ and TVNZ? It’s a merger no-one believes in and no-one thinks will work. And, at $600 million and counting, we simply can’t afford it. Duncan Garner 

Despite the name, FPAs will bind all employers and employees in the occupation/industry, whether or not they want to be bound by the FPA or they participated in bargaining for the FPA. It will be illegal to contract out of an FPA, even if an employer and an employee both want to. – Edwards Law

The FPA process is likely to be complex and time-consuming for employers and employees. Given the employer side will need to represent potentially hundreds of employers of varying size and scale, it may be difficult for employers to reach an agreement amongst themselves, let alone with the employees. All of this could mean more costs for businesses in New Zealand, and maybe, higher prices for consumers as a result.Edwards Law

For better or worse, FPAs are here, and we will soon see the first industries/occupations beginning the process to implement an FPA. It is widely expected that hospitality, cleaning, and security guards will be the first industries to begin bargaining for an FPA. Only time will tell if FPAs will achieve their goal of improving working conditions and productivity in New Zealand, or if they will instead be the final straw for many employers already under pressure. – Edwards Law

Ardern will be remembered as a Prime Minister who collected windfall votes in that year’s election and — like a feckless and foolish Lotto winner — recklessly squandered the vast amount of political capital they gave her on divisive projects like co-governance and decolonisation she had never campaigned on and had no mandate for. 

She will mostly be seen as a leader who disgracefully betrayed the trust that voters placed in her.Graham Adams

It’s a real shame that they think Te Ao Māori is too narrow for the views that I expound, which are based on a free society, which I think is the best place for people to thrive and prosper over time.

Now they may think that you can’t be Māori and have those views, or you are a useless Māori, or not an advocate for Māori, but I would say to them that their disagreement is not with my Māoriness but with my views. – David Seymour

What I think is dangerous is the idea, we are talking past each other and no longer committed to some old values which have got New Zealand as far as it’s come.”David Seymour

We have democracy and human rights on the one hand and this idea of a Tiriti-centric Aotearoa with Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti on the other and it is incompatible. If anyone says it dangerous or dog whistling to discuss that then I would put it back to them that they are endangering New Zealand by suppressing that discussion.

Apartheid is a system where people have a different set of political rights based on their ancestry, which happened in South Africa to a much more dramatic extent. – David Seymour

Ethnostate is a state where your citizenship or your rights are connected with your whakapapa, your ancestry and we have a government that is formalising that into lawDavid Seymour

How is one more kid who is hungry going to school with a full tummy because a distant relative is sitting around a co-governance table? – David Seymour

Do you really think that everything Europeans bought to New Zealand was bad or would it be more honest to say, that there have been good and bad on both sides and the real question is how do we go forwardDavid Seymour

Throwing cash like this fixes things for about 5 minutes then the pain returns. It’s not a solution, but thinking it is a solution is why Labour is on 32 percent. – Heather du Plessis-Allan 

Ardern had no answer for why bank profits were a bad thing, falling back to the old trope of “social licence”, which is essentially an ill-defined extra level of behaviour – over and above the legislated and regulated laws of the land – that commercial enterprises are somehow supposed to undertake to earn said licence.Luke Malpass

Ultimately bank profits are a distraction for the issues facing New Zealand and a bit of vague bank-bashing won’t long distract the public from the one, real-life, indicator that rules them all: inflation. – Luke Malpass

The unpleasant aspects of health care in Britain are universally acknowledged, are well-known, and a cause of wonderment to all Western Europeans.  I have come to the conclusion, however, that it is precisely these aspects that appeal so strongly to the British. How else is fairness to be guaranteed, other than by ensuring that everyone is humiliated and made to feel that he is privileged to receive anything at all?Theodore Dalrymple

That’s this Government in a nutshell, though. Some headlines, bit of noise, some advertising, a bit of hiring and some “transition” work. But the reality and the grunt work, where is it? – Mike Hosking

When you go back through 80 years of history of this party, it’s at its best when it’s a national National Party … that’s when we’ve been really strong.Christopher Luxon

I will argue our end hard, but I can disagree without being disagreeable in a personal sense – Christopher Luxon

Perhaps the problem with New Zealand’s education system is that it was once world-class. An outstanding reputation sticks long past its use-by date.Oliver Hartwich

New Zealand has experienced a continuous decline in its Pisa results over two decades and we don’t know how far we still have to fall before bottoming out.

Meanwhile, we fool ourselves by pretending we are still doing well. Thanks to the ‘flexibility’ of our NCEA assessment system, more and more students graduate with a certificate. Today, roughly 80 percent of our students leave school with NCEA Level 2, up from 60 percent two decades ago.

However, we know these NCEA results are meaningless, and not just because of the simultaneous declines in international tests like Pisa. Our own domestic analysis of basic literacy and numeracy should have been enough to wake us from any complacency. – Oliver Hartwich

This year, when the Ministry of Education finally assessed what was really going on, the results were as predictable as they were depressing. Reading tests were passed by just two-thirds of the 15-year-old students participating, and numeracy tests by just over half. Writing was even worse, with only one-third passing.

When an education system “performs” at such atrocious levels, it is justified to talk about a crisis. More than that, it is a national disgrace.

It is even more scandalous because the drop in achievement is unequally distributed. To put it bluntly, the poorer your family, the less likely you are to succeed at school.Oliver Hartwich

If a wrecking ball had been run through the education system as it was in the 1990s to yield such results, there would have been an outcry. But because the decline has occurred slowly, that outcry has never happened.

Instead, parents concerned for their children’s education have done their best to make up for the decline in the education system. – Oliver Hartwich

New Zealand parents have noticed that schools are not quite what they used to be. But instead of going on the barricades, those who can do their best to fix the failings of our public education system privately.

Today, we have reached a point at which most parents can no longer make up for the education system’s deficiencies. Many parents do not have the time or the means to do so. Besides, young parents may never have experienced for themselves what a good education is like.Oliver Hartwich

Practically everything in the system cries out not just for reform, but for revolution.

We need better teacher training and a better career structure for teachers. We need a deep, knowledge-rich curriculum. We need a better assessment system. We need proper monitoring systems for school performance. We need an overhaul of the education bureaucracy. And we need all of this at once.

If a war had wiped out our entire education system, the task could not be more daunting. – Oliver Hartwich

The challenge for the current generation of politicians is to have the courage to admit just how bad our education system has become. And then they need to have the courage to discard what is wrong and start again.Oliver Hartwich

The coalition was concerned with one issue only: protecting the principle of free speech and the right of New Zealanders to be exposed to ideas and opinions regardless of whether people happened to agree with them.

This, after all, is the very heart of democracy. Democratic government depends on the contest of ideas, and the contest of ideas in turn depends on people being able to engage openly in free expression and debate. Free speech is where democracy starts. I would argue that it’s even more fundamental than the right to vote, because people’s ability to cast an informed vote depends on them first being able to participate in free and open debate about political issues and ideas. – Karl du Fresne

Note that the law doesn’t just refer to the freedom to speak; it gives equal weight to our right to seek and hear alternative views. There’s nothing in the Act that says opinions and ideas must be approved by people in power, such as the mayor of Auckland, before we can be safely allowed to hear them.Karl du Fresne

The problem with so-called hate speech laws is that they could impose unreasonable and undemocratic limitations on public discussion of legitimate political issues. Hurtful is different from hateful. Someone might feel insulted or offended by a statement but that doesn’t mean it’s intended to incite hatred or harm, and the courts have traditionally been liberal in recognising people’s right to express opinions that upset others – with good reason, because judges are reluctant to interfere with the fundamental right to free speech. – Karl du Fresne

As an aside, I was astonished to learn recently that according to the New Zealand Police website, a hate crime is an offence perceived by the victim to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards a person’s race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or age. So it’s down to victims to decide whether they’ve been the subject of a hate crime. This goes far beyond what the law says and shows that the police have already been well and truly politicised.Karl du Fresne

The Free Speech Union campaigned vigorously against a law change – 20,000 submissions to Parliament, 80 percent of them opposed – and the government quietly consigned the proposal to the too-hard basket.

Job done, the union thought. But now we have a new justice minister, Kiri Allen, and suddenly hate speech laws are back on the agenda. Not only that, but the prime minister recently delivered an address at the United Nations in which she talked about the need to combat threats from so-called disinformation – a word that seems to mean whatever the user wants it to mean.

All this points to the possibility of the government seeking to control the dissemination of information and opinion that it disapproves of, perhaps even relating to issues such as climate change, Covid vaccination, transgenderism and immigration. – Karl du Fresne

The Minister of Māori Development, Willie Jackson, recently declared that “Democracy has changed… This is not a majority democracy.”

He is right. Aotearoa has changed its understanding of democratic norms, and we are establishing different political and economic rights based on a person’s whakapapa. – Damien Grant

He Puapua is remarkable in its scope and ambition. It has Orwellian statements such as, by 2040, “All New Zealanders will embrace and respect Māori culture as an integral part of national identity…”, and has some grandiose plans that defy political reality.

It lapses into Cultural Revolutionary rhetoric and over-reaches, but it reflects the thinking of a large swathe of the Wellington cultural elite. – Damien Grant

The effect is a shifting of political power away from the process of voting for political office holders to manage the state’s assets, and towards a new political caste. The changes are not restricted to the water assets.Damien Grant

Most have accepted, in this new order, a health and increasingly a welfare system that responds on race and not need is acceptable; or they do not care enough to speak out.

Adults are created by our childhoods and mine, like most of my generation, was raised on very different cultural gruel that those who are coming of age today.

Our children have been raised in classrooms that placed an emphasis on te reo Māori over TE Lawrence, and Kupe before Kipling. – Damien Grant

There remains in conservative circles a belief that the tide can be turned back, that an omnibus piece of legislation or major reform agenda can roll back a regime that has been decades in the making.

This will not happen. Although some programmes, such as Three Waters, may falter, the direction of travel is set.

Andrew Breitbart, an iconoclastic conservative thinker and agitator, famously declared that politics is downstream from culture, and on this issue, the cultural landscape has shifted permanently. – Damien Grant

The risk of cancellation at Williams College, where I have taught for 12 years, and at top colleges and universities throughout this country, is not theoretical. My fellow scientists and I are living it. What is at stake is not simply our reputations, but our ability to pursue truth and scientific knowledge.

If you had asked me about academic freedom five years ago, I would have complained about the obsession with race, gender and ethnicity, along with safetyism on campus (safe spaces, grade inflation, and so on). But I would not have expressed concerns about academic freedom.

We each have our own woke tipping point—the moment you realize that social justice is no longer what we thought it was, but has instead morphed into an ugly authoritarianism. For me that moment came in 2018, during an invited speaker talk, when the religious scholar Reza Aslan stated that “we need to write on a stone what can and cannot be discussed in colleges.” Students gave this a standing ovation.  Having been born under dictatorship in Brazil, I was alarmed. – Luana Maroja

The restriction of academic freedom comes in two forms: what we teach and what we research.

Let’s start with teaching. I need to emphasize that this is not hypothetical. The censorious, fearful climate is already affecting the content of what we teach.

One of the most fundamental rules of biology from plants to humans is that the sexes are defined by the size of their gametes—that is, their reproductive cells. Large gametes occur in females; small gametes in males. In humans, an egg is 10 milliontimes bigger than a sperm. There is zero overlap. It is a full binary. 

But in some biology 101 classes, teachers are telling students that sexes—not gender, sex—are on a continuum. At least one college I know teaches with the “gender unicorn” and informs students that it is bigoted to think that humans come in two distinct and discrete sexes.  – Luana Maroja

In psychology and public health, many teachers no longer say male and female, but instead use the convoluted “person with a uterus.” I had a colleague who, during a conference, was criticized for studying female sexual selection in insects because he was a male. Another was discouraged from teaching the important concept of “sexual conflict”—the idea that male and female interests differ and mates will often act selfishly; think of a female praying mantis decapitating the head of the male after mating—because it might “traumatize students.” I was criticized for teaching “kin selection”—the the idea that animals tend to help their relatives. Apparently this was somehow an endorsement of Donald Trump hiring his daughter Ivanka. – Luana Maroja

While the history of science does contain baseless and shameful assertions about race, we know that it is true that human populations, say over distinct geographic areas, have differences in allele frequency. Many of these differences are deeper than just skin color and relevant to health and well-being. Imagine the consequences of this lack of knowledge in medicine. After all, many genetic diseases vary between populations, for example, sickle-cell anemia among African-Americans, cystic fibrosis in Europeans, and Tay-Sachs disease among Jews.

But it has become taboo in the classroom to note any disparities between groups that are not explained as the result of systemic bias. – Luana Maroja

The language purity that this ideology requires is also distressing. It gets in the way of spontaneity and good teaching. At Williams, for example, our teaching assistants were told at a DEI training session that the word “guys” is a microaggression. So students learn that inoffensive words are harmful. This leads to a snowball effect, where ever more insignificant words or gestures can be taken as proof of bigotry. Many professors I know will freeze in class when realizing they were praising the work of a “colonialist” such as Darwin or Newton. Others will avoid mentioning historical figures if they are white and male.  – Luana Maroja

The prestigious journal Nature Human Behavior just announced in a recent editorial: “Although academic freedom is fundamental, it is not unbounded.” They are not referring to the importance of protecting individuals participating in research. They are saying that the study of human variation is itself suspect. So they advocate avoiding research that could “stigmatize individuals or human groups” or “promotes privileged, exclusionary perspectives.”

The censors and gatekeepers simply assume—without evidence—that human population research is malign and must be shut down. The costs of this kind of censorship, both self-imposed and ideologically based, are profound. Student learning is impaired and important research is never done. The dangers of closing off so many avenues of inquiry is that science itself becomes an extension of ideology and is no longer an endeavor predicated on pursuing knowledge and truth.Luana Maroja

Yes, a spreading web of ignorance and credulity that will doom some Māori to illness or death. Applauding the spread of the tohunga is like applauding the spread of faith healing. Indeed, that’s much of what the tohunga do! – Jerry Coyne

Do things differently! But hang on, this is a government that is overseeing a health system that now reports that patients are choosing to die rather than suffer the tribulations of a hospital waiting list. How’s that for doing things differently? – John Porter

The Government is spending $30 million on an investigation into renewable energy projects including a hydro scheme at Lake Onslow in Central Otago.

If the scheme proceeds it would be the largest hydro project in New Zealand’s history and could cost more than $4 billion. Knowing this Government’s inability to accurately cost projects, you have to say $8 billion not $4 billion! – John Porter

And then MBIE advise, “…proof that the project would lower wholesale electricity prices is not necessary for Onslow to proceed”. Does this sound more like ideological thinking rather sound economic thinking?

I haven’t even touched on how greenhouse gas emissions from geothermal power production, while generally low, are emitters of CO2 and studies overseas show some are on par with emissions from coal fired power plants! – John Porter

Labour’s new “Landmark New Zealand Energy Strategy” sounds awfully like so many other Labour strategies: huge on aspiration; minimal planning and negligible delivery! – John Porter

Collectively, our local and Central Government politicians could have avoided all the unnecessary sacrifice of our prime grazing land on the idealogical altar of emissions reductions targets. 
It has been known ever since the government set its zero emissions target by 2030 that this could relatively easily be achieved by limiting the planting of trees to what has been historically known as class 7 land.
The truth is, we don’t need to plant a single hectare of our most profitable country with anything other than the best pasture species especially at a time when the produce from that farm land is delivering returns we have never seen in my lifetime.  – Clive Bibby

Violent and inappropriate language does, indeed, appear to be a real problem in the US. In this country, however, on both sides of the political divide, people tend to express their views strongly but generally within the bounds of propriety. There have always been people who express extreme views and social media perhaps helps them. But they are the exception rather than the rule.

It would be a tragedy for this country if, influenced by overseas excesses, we were to legislate for hate speech. Such legislation could have a chilling effect on debate here on all manner of issues.

I agree with people who say that, if passed, the law could be used to attack those who may hold unpopular positions. Given the increase in wokery in society, there would be innumerable complaints to the police and also the possibility of private prosecutions. – Chris Finlayson

The most effective way of rebutting positions you disagree with is to master the arguments of your opponents and engage in a robust and civil debate.

May the best person win the argument. It is contrary to fundamental principles of freedom of expression and to a liberal democracy to have a law that could stop the full and frank exchange of views. – Chris Finlayson

I ended up as an activist in a very different place from where I started. I thought that if we just redistributed resources, then we could solve every problem. I now know that’s not true. There’s a funny moment when you realize that as an activist: The off-ramp out of extreme poverty is, ugh, commerce, it’s entrepreneurial capitalism. I spend a lot of time in countries all over Africa, and they’re like, Eh, we wouldn’t mind a little more globalization actually. – Bono

Capitalism is a wild beast. We need to tame it. But globalization has brought more people out of poverty than any other -ism. If somebody comes to me with a better idea, I’ll sign up. I didn’t grow up to like the idea that we’ve made heroes out of businesspeople, but if you’re bringing jobs to a community and treating people well, then you are a hero. That’s where I’ve ended up. God spare us from lyricists who quote themselves, but if I wrote only one lyric that was any good, it might have been: Choose your enemies carefully because they ill define you. Turning the establishment into the enemy — it’s a little easy, isn’t it? Bono

The real danger to our democracy is the deliberate distortion of these historical facts that would, if allowed to take root, set our development back for no good reason.

We must insist that the complete record (warts and all) is included in any state sanctioned revision of our curriculum. Failure to do so will result in a division from which we may never recover.

If it is not the full truth – it is a lie. –  Clive Bibby 

Protectionism [i..e, shielding local industry from foreign competition by the likes of protective tariffs] necessarily imposes larger costs on the rest of the home-country economy.

Protectionism’s harm to consumers is obvious. Having to pay more to buy the outputs of ‘successfully’ protected firms, consumers must reduce their purchases of other goods and services or reduce their savings. 

To grasp this economic reality is to realise also the harm that protectionism inflicts on other home-country firms and workers. Every input that protectionism diverts into protected firms is an input diverted away from other productive uses. Non-protected firms thus have less access to raw materials, tools, intermediate goods, and labour. Their outputs fall. 

Further, because workers in non-protected firms have fewer or lower-quality tools and inputs with which to work, these workers’ productivity falls. And falling productivity means falling wages.

Looking only at the alleged ‘success’ of protected firms and then confidently concluding that protectionism is a boon to the entire country, [one] reasons as would an apologist for successful thieves – an apologist who points to the thieves’ bustling business in larceny, and to the thieves’ high ‘earnings,’ and then confidently concludes that thievery is a boon to the entire country. Don Boudreaux

Monetary policy operates on a time delay, so often it appears the sensible decisionmaker is a killjoy, taking away the punchbowl just as the economic party is getting started. That’s not a popular approach at any gathering.

Back when monetary policy was left to politicians, the temptation to goose the economy beyond its capacity at election time was often too great. Political cycles made economic cycles worse, with magical rip-roaring times prior to election day, and big hangovers a year or so afterwards as resurgent inflation had to be tamed. That’s why New Zealand was a world leader in removing the monetary policy remit from politicians and placing it in the hands of an independent entity.

And it’s worked well. So well that with the help of the price stabilising effects of trade globalisation, a generation or two has been able to largely forget about inflation and central bank governors. Until that is, the last three years.

The economic response to the pandemic has reminded everyone of the power wielded by central bankers. The extreme monetary loosening and belated monetary tightening have created big swings in prices, asset values, and economic activity. There have been stark winners and losers, none more so than those who were encouraged to get out and buy houses when prices were high, only to see their equity evaporate before their eyes now, and their mortgage costs soar. – Steven Joyce

It doesn’t help that Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s response to the review was it was evidence the Bank “got the big decisions right” when that’s clearly not the case. Say what you like about the notwithstandings, extenuating circumstances, and who else also got it wrong, but inflation this far outside the required band, (including food inflation now in excess of 10 per cent), and the need for sudden rapid increases in interest rates is not “getting it right”.Steven Joyce

Because of the bank’s importance and independence, the appointment of the governor is supposed to be a non-partisan decision that both sides of politics can live with. For whatever reason, it is clear that for the opposition parties and many independent commentators that is not currently the case.

A sensible Finance Minister concerned for the independence of the institution would have either appointed a new governor or reappointed the current one for a shorter term. It would have been entirely reasonable to make a two-year extension, say, until the current crisis is passed, and then appoint a new governor for the next stage of the bank’s evolution and the next economic cycle. – Steven Joyce

It is Robertson who appointed Orr and the buck stops with him on Orr’s reappointment. It is also Robertson who implicitly and explicitly extended the bank’s remit to focus on housing, employment, climate change, Māori issues, and the economy generally. As Finance Minister he has never once publicly said the bank should focus on price stability alone and leave the rest to the Government.

This in itself is endangering the political independence of the bank. The more it is inserted into activities outside macroeconomic policy, the more reasonable it is for people to take a political position on what it is doing and saying.Steven Joyce

It has been convenient for Robertson to set the bank up with a broader brief. It has enabled him to crank up spending and make policy decisions that arguably hold the economy back, while abdicating economic responsibility for those decisions and charging the bank with looking after the downstream effects.

However, we are currently experiencing a salutary reminder of the reach and importance of monetary policy and the critical but circumscribed role of an independent central bank in a successful economy.

The Finance Minister should be taking steps to reinforce the bank’s focus, its independence, and the broad-based support for it as an apolitical institution. At the moment he risks undermining it. – Steven Joyce

Pandemic preparedness, at least for a virus with similar properties to Sars-CoV-2, should be regarded as a failure if a country requires a lockdown in the first six to 12 months.Philip HIll

If everyone was wearing high quality masks in all indoor situations, that also stops the virus. We just didn’t have enough tools initially – we didn’t have the mask use; we didn’t have the test and trace up to scratch at that point. It’s definitely something you’d want to avoid in the future.

Taiwan were phenomenally ready … You need all these systems ready to go, with all the tools you need. – Michael Baker

Our baseline position is not very good. So we need to take that into consideration when we plan for the next pandemic … To assume it will be fine, and it will all work out, would be a mistake. – Anja Werno 

If we don’t have a vaccine readily available, and we don’t have enough information about its specific characteristics, and it looks like it’s very virulent, with a high case fatality, I think sometimes lockdowns should be considered. But I think they are an option of last resort.

I don’t think the government or the public wants to go through all that again unless we absolutely have to. – Chris Bullen

The social cost of a lockdown should also not be underestimated. There should be no spin about us being prepared when we are not. We can be good enough if we want to. – Philip Hill

How many times this year have you heard advocates of green energy decrying the fact that consumers have been ripped off by our failure to shift to renewables even more quickly? Yet we really don’t have an alternative to gas to make up for shortfalls in wind and solar. We could try to store renewable energy, but storage, in the form of batteries, say, or pumped-storage hydro-electric stations or some other emerging technology, is incredibly expensive. It costs around three or four times more to store a unit of electricity than it does to generate it in the first place. – Ross Clark

At present, consumers are not directly exposed to these kind of price surges, because they are absorbed by retail suppliers of electricity. But it is the intention that in the future consumers will be charged variable rates for electricity via their smart meters.

That, then, is the future to which we can look forward: not one where the lights necessarily go out, but where we are forced to pay through the nose if we want to keep them on in unfavourable weather conditions. The price of green energy is a form of terrible segregation, where the rich will have access to light and heat, and those who need it most, the poor, will shiver in the dark. – Ross Clark

Did you know that men’s legs, which tend to have better muscle definition than women’s, are often used to advertise hosiery? It seems men really do make the best women sometimes. – Jo Bartosch

Ordinarily, I would refrain from making personal comments about the appearance of a teenager of either sex. And as a middle-aged, slowly sagging midget with a fashion sense that would put a home-educated child to shame, I am well aware that I have never been and will never be beauty-pageant material. But beauty queens are usually judged, at least in part, on their looks. It is part of the deal. So you cannot help but notice that the winner of this particular contest bears a striking resemblance to an undercooked, lumpy sausage, with his fleshy moobs squashed into a gown.Jo Bartosch

The idea of women and girls parading around while sweaty-palmed judges score them is certainly creepy and anachronistic. Nonetheless, the women entered the Miss Greater Derry pageant in good faith and deserved a fair chance. They were denied a prize that rightfully belonged to one of them. Brían sashayed off not only with the tiara, but also with a university scholarship and sponsorship opportunities. The other contestants had no choice but to clap along at the mockery made of their efforts. The spectacle served as a powerful reminder that, in today’s America, failing to show due deference to the trans overlords (or trans overladies?) is potentially career-ending.

This pattern is being replicated across public life. From sports to politics to science, wherever schemes are established to increase female participation, entitled men in stilettos are marching in to mark them as their territory. And if proof were ever needed that transwomen are men, it can be witnessed in the fawning, gushing behaviour of the wider world towards them. Overweight women are not entered into beauty pageants at all, let alone crowned. – Jo Bartosch

As WoLF’s chair, Lierre Keith, tells me: ‘You can roll your eyes about it being a beauty pageant, but the principle is the same whether it’s a pageant, a homeless shelter, a hospital ward or a prison. Women are saying no to men, as we have a right to.’ This is about ‘men claiming to be women and claiming a right to our spaces’, she says. The idea that womanhood is a costume that can be stepped into by men is the very essence of dick-swinging entitlement.

Much to the chagrin of proudly hairy-legged feminists like me, there are probably more Miss America fans and aspiring contestants than there are critics raging at the patriarchal beauty standards such contests promote. Given this, the plus side of plus-size men like Brían waltzing in and sweeping up women’s prizes is that more women will be forced to put political differences aside and recognise what unites us. The threat trans ideology poses to women’s spaces and opportunities could hardly be any clearer. So, I would like to say a sincere ‘well done’ to Miss Greater Derry – he might just end up inspiring women everywhere. Just not in the way he imagined. – Jo Bartosch

As a mother I used to worry about a lot of things but I learnt to let Sammy go and live his life. Mums, love your babies, just accept them and love them exactly as they are. The most important thing is the love you give your child, they are not here forever, make the most of it. Hug them and love them. – Lisa Finnemore

The real test is yet to come, however, when the Black Ferns next play an international.

Will New Zealand rugby back the team by scheduling a test at Eden Park in primetime again? Or will it blink?

But that’s next year. This year we’ve got a team to thank for a wonderful few weeks of rugby and sportsmanship.

Rugby was indeed the winner on the day.  – Tracy Watkins

If the bank executives were scratching their bald spots wondering how a review can be thematic, they have a new term to digest. Social License. Last week the Prime Minister decried the level of bank profits and asked: “…in the current environment, does it speak to a level of social licence?” She then continued in a nice bit of Maoist resonance, to state; “It doesn’t always take government intervention for that kind of self-reflection to occur. It’s time the banks operating in New Zealand did that very thing.”

The term social license has no philosophical or ideological underpinnings. It lacks even the dignity of its own Wikipedia page.-  Damien Grant

The criticism that the banks are currently earning abnormal profits is not true. The central bank keeps data going back to 1991 and it shows that the return on equity has consistently been around the 13% mark, where it is now. The only difference is that banks have grown larger and as their capital base grows so does total profit.

If you wanted to restrain bank profits you would need to deregulate the sector and allow more entrants to hang out their shingle. Competition, not regulation, is the only way to permanently improve customer service and lower profits.

Reaching for something as nebulous and undefined as a term with no meaning is perfect for our first post-modern Prime Minister. The banks cannot comply with their social license because there is no criteria from which a compliance officer can measure compliance.

Its application shifts governance away from the rule of law and towards the rule of man because, like obscenity, you know it when you see it, but you cannot define it. – Damien Grant

According to the Reserve Bank, trading banks made nearly seven billion in the last twelve months. The Prime Minister has not detailed what is an appropriate level of bank profitability but as she ponders this perhaps she can run the slide rule over the harm caused by that other bank that dominates our financial sector like a massive kauri tree in a forest; the Reserve Bank. – Damien Grant

If the financial community has lost faith in Orr, and I believe they have, they will not accept his statements that he is serious about price stability. To convince the public Orr will need to drive up unemployment and business failures in a way a credible governor would not. In the nomenclature favoured by the Prime Minister, he will need to do that because he has lost his social license.

Of course, if you can lose this ethereal quality by acting in such a way that damages the living standards of your fellow citizens in a persistent fashion over many years, well, Prime Minister, it might not just be the banks who need to engage in a bit of self-reflection.Damien Grant

During the troubled reign of the current governor we have seen inflation become endemic. Asset prices have accelerated to such an extent that a generation is locked out of homeownership. Businesses and workers are grappling with the uncertainty and hardship created by an inflationary spiral that now requires a harsh recession to bring under control. Orr’s mistakes in pricing the bonds during his fifty-three billion collar money printing splurge has cost the taxpayers over nine billion dollars.

These actions are causing real suffering for kiwis, in contrast with the mostly accounting profits being made by the banks.

If trading banks, operating within the law are risking their social license how does a central bank governor who has failed in his single most important duty, price stability, retain his?  – Damien Grant

These meetings are a gathering of the great and the good in the climate change world. Some will fly to Egypt in their private jets to lecture us all on using public transport, oblivious to their own hypocrisy at using the highest emitting form of transport possible.
Regardless, I hope they have the foresight to focus on real, achievable solutions: that is policies that are realistic and not ahead of technological solutions. We only have to look to Europe and the UK to see the damage done by a premature expectation that they could close down their thermal power stations and rely on wind and solar to keep the lights on. Stuart Smith

In the energy sector they talk about the trilemma. The energy trilemma refers to affordable, reliable and environmentally sustainable energy.

The difference between life in the developed world, as we enjoy in New Zealand, and life in the third world is having ready access to reliable and affordable energy. We forget that at our peril.

Wind and solar energy do have a vital role to play. Of course they do! But we haven’t yet reached sufficient levels of technological advancement in New Zealand to be burning our bridges just yet and shutting down our non-renewable generation and still expect the lights will stay on.Stuart Smith

Our government’s attempt to tax our farmers in the name of climate change is a great example of a policy moving ahead of available technology. Why? Farmers currently have no practical tools to mitigate their emissions, and drastically reducing agricultural production in the name of climate change would put us in breach of the Paris Accord.

We should acknowledge the environmental progress that we have made. Yes, we have more to do, but food security and access to affordable, reliable energy must not be put at risk by climate change policies. We can have both, but it will take leadership. – Stuart Smith

It is being in the public eye and being a bit of a polarising personality that has taught me my biggest lessons. I worked out you don’t die of embarrassment. Sometimes it just feels like you might and just putting one foot in front of the other and keeping moving will mean that it will pass.

I learnt that you can’t personalise other people’s opinions and sometimes their hate. They have their own stuff going on and I don’t have to take it on board. I learnt that you can couch your inner voice to be positive and not negative. It takes work and now, instead of sinking, I can see the signs and head it off earlier. I can bounce.

I have learnt to kick Mildred to the curb. She is the nasty voice on my shoulder that nags and doubts me. I have no room for Mildred, so I send her packing quick-smart.

I have also learnt thanks to people like Sir John Kirwan and Mike King and reinforced in Michelle and Maia’s book that it’s okay to not always be okay. Sometimes you just need to find space and reach out to your mum or daughter or husband or best friend and just breath through it.  – Paula Bennett

At any rate, it is curious that so many of those who claim to oppose fascism these days resemble fascists both in their manner and their dress. Black is their favorite color, and they shout to drown out the sound of all voices other than their own. In addition to repetition, their rhetorical method is intimidation. Often, it works. – Theodore Dalrymple

What is most alarming about all this is that a very noisy but tiny minority has been able with surprising ease to overturn, and indeed reverse, a tradition of free speech and enquiry. Our society has proved surprisingly susceptible or vulnerable to the activism of monomaniacs of many kinds. The problem is that an issue is all in all to the monomaniacs, but to the rest of us it is merely one thing among many others, not even, or far from, the most important. – Theodore Dalrymple

Generalizations about animal agriculture hide great regional differences and often lead to diet guidelines promoting shifts away from animal products that are not feasible for the world’s poor. For instance, the highly publicized 2019 EAT-Lancet Commission reportrecommended a largely plant-based diet whose cost, based on retail prices from 2011, was estimated to exceed the total household per capita incomes of more than 1.5 billion people. The urgent food, nutrition, and economic needs of hundreds of millions of people in Africa and Asia should not be sacrificed to pay for methane that was largely emitted elsewhere. – Jimmy Smith

Across Africa, and indeed much of the developing world, farm animals are much more than cellophane-wrapped meat or bottled milk. The farming of cows, goats, pigs, and poultry is essential to people’s livelihoods—and therefore purchasing power, which in turn determines household food security at a time of increasing global insecurity. In countries that face high levels of malnutrition and poverty, livestock provide families with food, jobs, income, draught power, and a sense of cultural identity.Jimmy Smith

Like every continent, Africa must strive to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. But African countries must also reduce malnutrition, create decent livelihoods for their people, and promote environmental stewardship. The continent has the opportunity through livestock to achieve all this.

Improving livestock productivity in Africa goes hand in hand with reducing agricultural emissions and protecting food security from the impacts of climate change. As the delegates and activists gather in Egypt, they must remember that both outcomes are vital for humanity’s long-term well-being. Villainizing livestock will achieve neither. – Jimmy Smith

The survey confirms what most news consumers already know – as a whole, journalists are biased. Not only do they have a strong left-wing bias, but about a third of the industry is also hard-core in their left-wing beliefs.

That would not be of concern if the journalists kept their personal views to themselves and saw their role as non-biased neutral observers. While that may have been their role in years gone by, journalists now see their role is to change the opinion of their audience.  – Frank Newman

What is quite clear is the growing disconnect between what journalists produce and what the public wants to consume. That is visible in their declining audience and reflected in a noticeable mistrust of the mainstream media.

The audience that is looking for media coverage that is balanced and fair is increasingly turning to new channels for news and political commentary. It is therefore hardly surprising that the legacy media is becoming its own echo chamber with a dwindling audience.

The challenge for the media sector is how it remains relevant. The logical response is to return to the more traditional values as espoused in the virtuous principles of the Broadcasting Standards Authority and the Media Council. That will, however, be difficult for an industry that is now highly populated with extreme socialists intent on re-educating their audience towards their form of left-wing ideology. – Frank Newman

For a while now, Orr has been ridiculed by some as a symbol of woke.

It’s been obvious how hard he’s tried to make the Reserve Bank cool. He’s given speeches on climate change and speeches on embracing te ao Māori.

In fact, in at least its last three annual reports, the RBNZ has made more mentions of “carbon” or “climate” than “inflation” or “price stability”. Just a reminder, inflation is the bank’s job. The climate is someone else’s.Heather du Plessis-Allan

Finance Minister Grant Robertson didn’t help. He also tried to make the bank cool. He appointed a board of directors who specialised in a lot of things that weren’t necessarily boring old economics. Things like “managing people” and “culture”. Critics noticed that and that was also mocked. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

His select committee appearance at Parliament last week might’ve been a low point. He blamed our inflation on Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, parroting a Labour Party line. He would know that the truth is our inflation was out of control at least eight months before the invasion. The invasion was in late February this year. Our inflation was 5.9 per cent by December last year. It was 3.3 per cent (outside the 1-3 per cent band) by June last year.

Unfortunately for Orr and everyone who shares his ideological commitment to getting distracted from your day job, he’s reinforced exactly what the opponents of woke stuff have long feared, which is that you can’t do your day job properly if you start getting distracted by wanting to appear cool to the users of Twitter.Heather du Plessis-Allan

Adrian Orr frequently presents as so thin-skinned that he must be approached with extreme caution to avoid what could usefully be termed a “Vesuvius” moment.

In my view, it is well past time that Orr grew a hard shell, faced up to probing questions with frankness and more respect for his interlocutors, and combined that with the necessary gravitas to take the inflation fight public and instill confidence so that Kiwis are united behind what should be a single-focus endeavour.

Right now Orr presents as an inept manager who has struggled to retain the confidence of the “markets” at a time when it is essential that there is broad consensus on the measures necessary to tame inflation. – Fran O’Sullivan

But it’s a fat lot of good blaming Orr alone for the “poverty effect”, which is in fact being felt through much of “the West” as central bankers try to crunch soaring inflation through raising interest rates yet maintain “sustainable employment” — a frankly ridiculously balancing act that would test the most adroit high-wire exponent.

This current state of affairs suits politicians and the financial sector alike. Each are absolved from encouraging the unsustainable “wealth effect” in the first place in New Zealand to alleviate the impact of the Covid pandemic. This was manifest here by a huge escalation in asset prices and cheap money to sustain employment. Fran O’Sullivan

Because of the dire worker shortages, employers are already bending over backwards to give employees competitive wages, greater flexibility, and additional benefits.

There is a risk that the standardised approach may adversely impact employees who already have a flexible agreement that suits their individual needs.

It’s also a bad time in our economic cycle to be increasing wages. Unless New Zealand’s wage inflation starts to decrease, the Reserve Bank of NZ will continue to increase borrowing rates – hurting first-home buyers and low-income households the most. – Matt Cowley

Spending money does not, on its own, fix problems. It matters how that money is spent.

Perhaps you think that is obvious. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem so obvious to the government.Michael Johnston

There has been widespread commentary from the leaders of ECE bodies on the urgent need to address teacher supply.

Without more teachers, the new funding, even if it’s just offsetting the effects of inflation, will increase pressure on an already strained ECE sector. That will mean longer waiting lists and reductions in quality. – Michael Johnston

We should trust ECE centres to make pragmatic recruitment decisions and release them from red tape. This approach wouldn’t even cost anything. In fact, it would likely save money.

Sometimes the best solution to a problem is also the cheapest.Michael Johnston

I sometimes feel as though we have abdicated our responsibility as grown-ups because I know what it was like to be young.
I thought I knew everything. Now, I look back, I’m like, I knew nothing. I was wrong in many of my sort of fierce positions.

And, I was fortunate that when I was young, there were adults who were willing to tell me, you’re actually really not right about that. Here’s what you should think about differently. That’s not happening now. –Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Can we all agree on compassion?

Can we all agree that not everyone means harm? Can we all agree that people can learn and people change? You know, just sort of basic things that we seem to have forgotten. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Co-governance appears to be a hill that this Labour Government is prepared to die on.

But as I also said on Friday, co-governance should be the least of your worries if you’re concerned with creeping socialism.

The Three Waters reform suggested is property theft and that’s the reason that Phil Goff was against it and had to be bought off.

This Government wants to seize assets paid for by ratepayers, amalgamate them and then borrow off them, so that funding for water stays off the Governments and Councils books. It’s blatant nationalisation by a left wing government

It’s like needing to do urgent repairs on the house but you have no money.  So you take your neighbour’s house and use it as equity to borrow money to fix your place. It’s just wrong.- Andrew Dickens

I don’t agree with accusations I am ‘phobic’ towards anyone, and I would stress that what we need at this time is not name-calling but constructive, nuanced and robust dialogue with a view to better help vulnerable children experiencing difficult questions and distress around identity,” she said.

I and many other practitioners have real concerns with the growing number of children being encouraged to believe they have been born in the wrong body and need to medically change their bodies to align with their inner thoughts and feelings in order to resolve psychological distress.

I respect and empathise with those who believe differently, but I stand by my professional opinion and approach as I believe it to be best practice, and in the best interests of children.Marli de Klerk

But as we’ve said a number of times now, with all due respect our beliefs will not be changing. Christian beliefs have been held by people around the world for thousands of years because they bring life, hope and flourishing and continue to be just as relevant and valuable today.

”We know not everyone will agree with our beliefs. We respect their right to hold and express their beliefs. We just ask that respect is offered in return. – Paul Shakes 

Have you noticed that when Jacinda’s government is forced to make concessions under public pressure they never sacrifice co-governance? Maori domination of the revised hospital structure was defended tenaciously. With Three Waters, Nanaia Mahuta will fiddle around the edges of the legislation, but co-governance is still there in the middle, an immovable obstacle. Advancing it is central to Nanaia’s being; it has become her raison d’etre. After a lengthy, undistinguished political career, she can at last see her long-desired Tainui tribal takeover on the horizon, and she doesn’t want to give an inch. Jacinda Ardern and her low-level caucus understand so little about Maori affairs that most of them can’t see what Nanaia is doing right under their noses. They won’t lift a finger to prevent her tribal takeover bid.Michael Bassett

To this government, co-governance means that non-Maori, who constitute more than 83% of New Zealand’s population, would possess 50% of the authority in the country, and be democratically elected. Forget about one-person, one-vote: some, as Napoleon the Pig said in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, “are more equal than others”. The other 50% will be made up from only 17% of the population who are Maori. “It’s time to re-think democracy”, Minister of Maori Affairs Willie Jackson tells us. And, there’s nothing in any legislative proposal for co-governance to ensure Maori would be democratically elected by all Maori voters. Instead, they will be selected in the old tribal way: by a handful of self-appointed aristocrats. But co-governance will be more than that. Whichever becomes the dominant tribe will exercise much wider power. Nanaia intends to make sure that that tribe is Tainui. That explains the appointment of the Mahutas and Ormsbys to so many positions, irrespective of their merits, or lack of them. Their job is to ensure that when push comes to shove, Tainui does the pushing and the shoving at the behest of the King Movement, with that loudmouth, Tuku Morgan, yes, he of the $89 pair of silk underpants paid for by the taxpayer, playing a key role. –Michael Bassett

It should not be any minister’s role to advance personal tribal interests. Getting family members appointed other than on merit is beyond the pale. New Zealand is a democracy; our constitution provides for one person-one vote. Willie Jackson should be firmly reminded of this fact. Any scheme which endeavours to entrench racial or tribal privilege in any administrative arm of government should immediately be rejected.

It is clear that Labour’s cabinet has failed to enforce these basic rules. Promoting tribalism under the guise of co-governance should be stopped in its tracks. Now! In addition to all the other changes needed to the Three Waters legislation, co-governance must be dropped. Michael Bassett

What the country didn’t hear very much – if anything – about were the contributions of other hui attendees. A cynic might suggest that the suppression of this material was deemed necessary by the hui organisers because if the average citizen was made aware of its existence there would be an outcry. Most New Zealanders do not see it as a role of their government to “guide” the thinking of the nation towards the radical, ideologically-driven goals of a tiny, unelected, elite of bureaucrats, academics and activists.- Chris Trotter

Ms Ardern’s and her government’s radicalisation is fast becoming electorally problematic. Precisely because radical ideas, practically by definition, are polarising, they tend to make those who espouse them politically defensive and hostile to criticism. Those citizens who oppose state-sponsored radicalism, mark themselves as “enemies of the people”.

“No Media Access” is only the beginning.Chris Trotter

We need to bottle up Ruby Tui and spread her far and wide around New Zealand because, by being positive, so much can and will be achieved. – Duncan Garner

Just because I don’t fit someone else’s stereotype of what a Māori looks or acts like, doesn’t mean that is not who I am.James Meager

You’ve got to protect women’s spaces. I just worry about a lot of the battles that have been very hard won for women, like for racial equality, being reversed but at the same time, trans people have a right to be treated with dignity and not to be discriminated against. – Peter Hain 

You can’t run a country and have a future when you have 40 percent of your kids attending school, that’s just not going to cut it. It’s a moral failure.  It’s a social failure. It’s an economic crisis. So we have to all, Government schools and parents, be really accountable for getting our kids to school. That’s what matters most in our education system. –  Christopher Luxon 

Only 15 percent of road deaths happen because of speed only.  Which means 85 percent of crashes happen below the speed limit or because the drivers are boozed or drugged up.

85 percent.

So Waka Kotahi’s big solution to getting the road toll down completely ignores the fact that 85 percent of the road toll will probably be unaffected. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

The worst thing about this is that it gives transport officials an excuse to not do the things that would actually make a difference.

They’re doing this so they don’t have to put in media barriers that would actually be effective at stopping cars crossing the centre line and smacking into other cars head on.

And that wouldn’t just stop head on crashes from speeding cars, but from everything else as well. Tired drivers, distracted drivers, drunk drivers, drugged drivers.Heather du Plessis-Allan

What’s frustrating is that those facts are not what are being debated; instead, we’ve got an argument dictated by emotion.

Which means we’ll probably all end up having to drive more slowly, while hundreds of people still die on the roads each year because speed isn’t really the biggest problem. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

A metaphor for the current state of Western societies is that of a tail wagging a dog. A mere appendage has become the most important or powerful part of the animal.

Another apt metaphor for those societies is that of perpetual guerrilla war, waged by tiny ideologically armed minorities against a huge but bloated army, the majority of the population. The ideological guerrillas are nimble, rapid, persistent, and, above all, fanatical. They’re fighting an enemy that’s slow, torpid, complacent, and without real belief in itself. Although initially weak, the guerrillas believe themselves destined to win.Theodore Dalrymple

First, a proposition is adumbrated that initially appears preposterous to most citizens. Then, arguments in its favor, using all the sophistry available to people who attended university, are relentlessly propagandized. Finally, success is achieved when the preposterous proposition has become widely accepted as an unassailable orthodoxy, at least by the intellectual class, denial of or opposition to which is characterized as extremist, even fascist, in nature.

This process is possible because the struggle, as in a guerrilla war, is asymmetric.- Theodore Dalrymple

Strength of belief doesn’t guarantee that a cause is good, very far from it; but it does mean that those who struggle on its behalf will do so with all their heart.

The absurdity of modern ideological enthusiasms is evident, but while those who promote them make them the focus of their existence and the whole meaning of their lives, better-balanced people try to get on with their lives as normal. No one wants to spend his life arguing, let alone fighting, against sheer idiocy, and thus, sheer idiocy wins the day.Theodore Dalrymple

We should make no bones about the fact that lying about the truth of issues for political and personal advantage is a great badness. It is even worse with defenceless children targeted by activists using fear tactics to enlist their support – as with the ‘climate change emergency’ nonsense. And if there is a distinction between badness and sheer evil, it reaches its apex now in regard to two other issues.

Predominant is the lying by hierarchies persuading youngsters they can choose to become male or female. This canard strikes at the very personhood, the mental and emotional stability of particularly vulnerable individuals. Yet Professor Robert Winston, scientist and surgeon, is undeniably correct, asserting, ‘I will say this categorically. You cannot change your sex… it is there in every single cell of your body.’ The physical mutilation of children, disregarding this, can be regarded as criminal, its consequences devastating for so many.

With the apparent passing of the age of reason comes the insidious nastiness of identity politics, with individuals believing themselves superior if they have a Maori ancestor. With Jacinda Ardern’s government instructing all government departments to prioritise impenetrable Maori phraseology in their communications – renaming our institutions so their actual function becomes unintelligible – the deliberate promotion of divisive racism is well underway. Yet the worth of individuals has no relation to their ethnic background. And who can possibly defend instructions to all government departments to teach ‘white privilege’, with the aim of inducing guilt and shame among non-Maori children in schools – supposedly because of some imaginary privilege they have from being descended from Europeans? – Amy Brooke

Rather, the signage is a call to the first duty of the citizen: be anxious.  Only if you are truly anxious do you need the protection of our bureaucratic shepherds. Theodore Dalrymple

Te Whatu Ora’s actions suggest that, at least for the moment, it is more focused on the structure and planning of a national public health service, than supporting previously agreed regional priorities. If these delays are indicative of the way Te Whatu Ora will approach regional matters in the future, the new system looks like it will be far more unresponsive to meeting regional needs than the cumbersome district health board system it replaced.

Previously, there was a legitimate argument about the inherent inequity of the old population-based funding model for health services, which meant the bigger population centres always got the largest slice of the cake, often at the expense of the regions. A nationally based funding model such as Te Whatu Ora was intended to provide more equitable outcomes, across the country –something people in Otago/Southland, and other regional centres, will now surely be questioning in the light of last week’s decisions. – Peter Dunne

The Government has not yet won its argument that upgrading water services across the country can only work with the new co-management provisions. Many remain suspicious the Government is using this legislation to address wider issues simply because this may be its last opportunity. A wider and more open process of public consultation would allow the opportunity for a better-informed public debate.

But by using its large majority, the Government is merely ensuring the bill will be more far more politically divisive than is necessary. Moreover, this bill is but the first of three intended to reform the structure of water delivery. That, plus National’s and ACT’s repeated commitments to repeal the governance provisions, makes the situation even more fraught and uncertain.Peter Dunne

Health reforms that appear to negate the capacity to reflect regional priorities in the development of national public health services, and water services reforms that leave the central issues of concern unaddressed, while establishing new uncertainties about their scope and application may well prove the devil is indeed always in the detail. However, creating new uncertainties on top of already contentious unfolding plans – however merited the original policy intent – is not good politics.

And it will be political management, not well-meaning intent, that will ultimately determine their success or failure.   – Peter Dunne

They are trying to create safetyism, a world where nothing bad happens, and they see liberty as a challenge to that when, actually, liberty is the thing that protects us all. – Kemi Badenoch

I see myself very much as a classical liberal. Because we keep moving, socially, in a particular direction […] the people who take the progressive line will assume that me trying to maintain the conservative line makes me a culture warrior. I don’t know, I’m just trying to do the right thing. – Kemi Badenoch

Back in the day there was a pact between elected politicians and those who put them in office.  They did our bidding.  They exercised power in our interests.  They were, in other words, “accountable”.  They limited their actions to doing things for the benefit of the people.  They showed restraint.  They were answerable to the people’s houses of parliament.  They had to front the electorate periodically to get our permission to continue in office.

The democratic system (aka “responsible government” and representative democracy) required two things in order to function properly.  Properly motivated politicians and informed voters.  Now we have neither, and this is why the system is so broken.Roger Franklin 

Perhaps even worse, today’s voters are low information, superficial and ill-motivated to inform themselves about public policy.  They are, in the late American economist Anthony Downs’ term, “rationally ignorant”.  They have decided to focus on themselves and their toys, and have chosen to let the state do its own thing, even when it harms them personally and harms their fellow citizens.  For they have signed away their stake in the political system.  They are a combination of midwits – those just smart enough to be dangerous – and total buffoons oblivious to what is going on in the world and what is driving it.

Being superficial and driven by how they “feel” about issues of the moment, today’s citizens are prepared to emote their way to public policy, clutching at, and accepting at face value empty cliches and propaganda like “climate emergency”, “love is love”, “follow the science”, “black lives matter”, “we are all in this together”, “stop the spread”, “flatten the curve” and the rest, and all the while believing earnestly (or at least casually) that these slogans have actual meaning based on truth, research and analysis.

Policy-as-emoting is a creature of the post-modern age.  It fits perfectly with a shallow, politically illiterate, morally vacuous Me Generation that mistakes “feeling” for thinking, or worse, for being.  In such a regime, the patently absurd becomes mainstream belief, almost overnight. – Roger Franklin 

If, perchance, evidence counter to their world view comes their way, they will simply look in the other direction in order to avoid having illusions dented.  Leaps of faith that are poo-pooed among the traditionally religious are easily absorbed by the emoting class.  If you accept that truth can simply be defined away, or morphed into “my truth” and “your truth”, you will all the more easily accept that, for example, crushing traditional marriage is simply “all about love”, that giving up our petrol-fuelled cars will stop droughts and floods, that giving offence to “victims” must be outlawed no matter what the ramifications for free speech, that robust policy itself (aka science) is a whitey/male social construct. 

There is another, more familiar phrase that describes the motivation for at least some of what we are describing here as policy-as-emoting.  This is virtue-signalling, the supporting of a particular policy because doing so make us look good, or at least makes us not look bad (now defined routinely as racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or patriarchal).  Virtue-signalling can be effected by both politicians and by voters.  It has become a core part of the great modern pact between the governing class and the governed. 

It creates convenient hate-figures to be derided and scorned.  It is front-and-centre of our new media and university-based clerisy.  It doesn’t require any policy evaluation or review for it to be justified in the minds of its adherents.  – Roger Franklin 

The very term “progressive” is indicative of our self-deception.  Policy-as-emoting just feels right.  Whenever we see the ‘right side of history’ invoked as a justification for a policy, we should be extremely worried.  There is moral vanity afoot with little regard either for people’s real interests or for facts.

Hence, we get policies that are themselves merely slogans.  “Clean energy”, which is not clean and provides no reliable, practical energy.  “Climate reparations” to pay former colonies for the civilisation and all its trappings that Britain (and others) gave them. – Roger Franklin 

 “Net zero” — who even knows what it means, or can say what it will entail?  Who among those who blather on about it could crisply define and justify the term, other than with yet more cliches and slogans based on lies?  Who better, then, to be giving advice to “global leaders” at COP27 than tik-tok-dancing teenaged girls?

The willingness of the governed class to allow the polity to be run on misinformation and ephemera has allowed the epidemic of governments addressing non-problems with non-solutions, at massive cost.  Governments and major political parties naturally welcome the new reality of democracy.  They simply love it.  It gives them an essentially free ride and endless get-out-of-jail-free cards and creates the opportunity for them up to indulge their own agendas, absent even the most limited scrutiny.  The new pact between government and citizenry goes like this – we will make your lives comfortable and convenient, with a veneer of prosperity, if you lazily give us unfettered power and let us keep it.  Don’t worry.  We have got this!   – Roger Franklin 

With us comfortable and looking the other way, the state can indulge in the five standard forms of policy that are either not in the public interest or are actively against it:

♦ Vanity projects (unneeded light rail, stadiums, Olympic Games bids);

♦ Ideological projects (nationalisation, privatisation, renewable energy, mass migration, wokedom, state child care, the republic, the voice, removal of statues);

♦ Crony projects (the apartment boom, privatisation, public-private partnerships);

♦ Projects that enhance politicians’ power (programmable currencies, especially Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), The Biosecurity Act of 2015, track-and-trace technology to enable carbon footprint tracking, facial recognition, big data, various means of citizen surveillance, cancel culture-enhancing actions, nudge units, propaganda, military-style policing of the kind now routinely seen in Victoria and medical mandates)

♦ Mistaken projects (lockdowns, masks, new urbanism, first home owners’ schemes, the NDIS).

Only the fifth type of public policy might be said to be the result of good motivation on the part of decision-makers.  The others are bound to be self-regarding and harmful to the public interest. – Roger Franklin 

All five types of policy failure are the result of second-rate and/or ill-motivated politicians and ignorant or lazy citizens.  And, to make it worse, we fail to realise that any of these things matter.  That printing money endlessly is not a good idea.  That foreign wars in which we have no legitimate interest yet which we are more-than-willing to join may bring us the ultimate harm.  That outsourcing parenting to the state will ruin our children.  That abandoning support for traditional marriage and family formation will dissolve civil society within a few generations.  That failing to be fiscally continent will have ramifications.  That killing coal will also kill our economies.  That encouraging the momentarily gender-confused young to have their bits chopped off or added to will not inevitably bring them happiness or fulfilment, long-term.  That giving the indigenous a “voice” will solve nothing for the Aborigines who actually need help. 

Yes, policy failures matter.Roger Franklin 

By choosing to walk away from our democratic responsibilities, by surrendering our freedoms without blinking, by handing extreme power to politicians (without recourse, even through the legal system, to remedies), by settling for comfort and faux-wealth instead of being tough on those we elect, by gullibly trusting those who we ridiculously believe have our best interests at heart, we have abandoned to right to call our system democratic in any meaningful sense.  Marriages of convenience are never wise. – Roger Franklin 

Maybe this is how the world ends, not with a whimper but a shambles. Sharm El Sheikh is an appropriate place to hold a climate conference; the whole place is a climate warning. It’s an Egyptian Las Vegas with a casino and the world’s largest artificial lagoon. The city’s carbon emissions must be enormous.Richard Prebble

COP27′s new initiative is to create a fund for loss and damage. It is like the passengers on the Titanic demanding compensation for any water damage to their luggage rather than insisting the ship misses the iceberg. Any compensation will never be more than a gesture. It was disappointing to see New Zealand supporting this nonsense but then our Government loves gestures.

The message from COP27 is if we are relying on the politicians there is no way global warming will be limited to 1.5C. – Richard Prebble

The whole world is applying its mind to climate change. Imagine how many clever ideas there are.

If we are going to beat global warming it will by human ingenuity.Richard Prebble

It cannot be a boot camp that just punishes kids.  That’s only going to make them angrier.

But, it can work if it’s a place away from bad parents, where kids are taught some discipline and consequence, where they have rules not allowing them to roam the streets in the middle of the night, where they have counsellors to help them learn new behaviour and deal with past trauma, where they have school, and where they have support when they do go home to those parents.

And look, that is in National’s proposal. They are proposing to include schooling, counselling, drug and alcohol treatment, mentoring, and cultural support, and a case worker assigned to the family for ongoing support.

It’s probably worth giving it a go, isn’t it?

Because what else have we got?

Clearly, what few consequences there are for these kiddie ram-raiders are not enough, because it just keeps happening.  – Heather du Plessis-Allan

 The tactic of the bully is to shun the victim into silence. The bully targets one person, recruits others to cheerlead and then attacks. They count on the fact that the victim is shocked and cannot immediately fight back. The bully hones in on what they know to be beloved of the victim – their career, their family, their freedom of expression – and takes these things away.Rosie Kay

Mental strength to fight the bullies is essential, but what can be even harder to take than the bully is the collective silence that surrounds your victimisation. At school, I still feel the betrayal of friends who turned a blind eye, and the teachers who did nothing. Those were different days, I think, we are all so much more bullying aware.

But look at what is happening to women who dare to speak up for women’s rights. We are being bullied, ostracised, our livelihoods destroyed, and our reputations and careers threatened. Instead of standing up and supporting these women, there is a collective silence and even a collective de-platforming. More than the bullying, this level of cowardice from everyone else in your career fields chips away at your trust in the decency of people and the strength of collective good.

We see it in our political parties, we see it in the arts, we see it in universities, we see it across so many aspects of society. – Rosie Kay

But we are strong, intelligent women, and we are often at the height of our powers, and we feel compelled to speak out and to seek the truth and to protect women and girls now and into the future. There is nothing transphobic about the protection and safeguarding of women in vulnerable spaces, in prisons, in sports and in hospitals, and it shouldn’t take courage to say so.Rosie Kay

We need more people in positions of power to start to stand up and respect the rights of women and to ignore the nasty bully tactics of extremists who dare to silence and oppress our best and brightest women. We cannot allow a generation of brilliant women to be lost.

At its heart, we need to really think about what kind of principles do we hold true and strong for us a society. – Rosie Kay

In it, my basic premise, quite apart from all the incredible new developments of info-wars, grey zones and human augmentation, was to ask; what do we ask our soldiers to fight for and to defend, if freedom and civilisation and democracy is not at the heart of our collective society?  Can we, with the spirit of enlightenment still within us, argue that the quality of freedom is a universally good one? That as humans we are happier, more fulfilled, stronger, safer, when we have freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience? For the quality of ‘offence’ is far, far trickier to define. Qualities of offence are time specific, place specific and shift and warp through cultures. The debate on art, culture and freedom of expression is not one of ‘culture wars’; it speaks to the very core of our democratic principles and our ability to think, to debate, to question and to express. The arts are not, and never have been, a luxury; they are the very frontline of the human mind and deal with our dreams, fantasies, nightmares and our darkest impulses. Shut them down or censor them, and what kind of civilisation is left? – Rosie Kay

But the presence of these young people at what are supposed to be serious UN shindigs probably says more about the UN than it does about them. There seems to be a keen desire on the part of elite environmentalists to use young people as a kind of stage army on the climate issue – a tool of emotional blackmail to harry world leaders into the eco-austerity that Guterres and Co already favour.Tom Slater

As frankly silly as this whole spectacle is, the cult of climate youth certainly tells us a few things about the state of the environmental movement more broadly.

First up, there’s the simplistic moralism of it all – the childlike reduction of energy and climate policy to a matter of right and wrong, to one of believing The Science or ignoring it for corrupt or self-serving reasons. The notion that maybe, just maybe, political leaders – particularly those from developing nations – might want to prioritise their citizens’ living standards over costly green virtue-signalling seems to have been dismissed out of hand.

Indeed, for all the talk of young people being ‘on the front lines of climate action’ the world over, you can’t help but notice that these handpicked youth ‘leaders’ tend to be from well-to-do families in developed Western nations – young people who are sufficiently materially comfortable to have the time to worry about the end of the world.

Then there are the religious echoes of this whole charade. Through initiatives like Guterres’ Youth Advisory Group, supranational environmentalism seems to have developed a pipeline of would-be child saints, to be brought out to preach doom to the already converted. – Tom Slater

And finally there’s the contempt all this actually shows for young people. Taking young people seriously does not mean pretending that they know everything. What’s more, I dare say there would be little room on that little advisory group for young people who take a different view on climate. This is an exercise in pumping young people full of doom-laden propaganda, then inviting them up on stage to repeat it while wagging a knowing finger.

This is not inspiring or progressive or empowering of young people. It’s weird and patronising and all to the end of pushing an anti-human and anti-growth agenda – one that will screw over young people in the long-run. In short, environmentalists, how dare you?Tom Slater

One weird thing that can come as a surprise when you lose people is that real life doesn’t stop. All the same usual trivial crap keeps coming and you have to keep dealing with it, even though on the inside you are hollow and sore. You can still have a laugh, too, as we all did at the wake last Friday at a Working Men’s Club where the price of a round of drinks – two pints and a large white wine for £9 – took you right back to the nineties (which let’s face it, is where many of us often wish we could be).

Grief is a bully, that keeps on showing up and getting in the way of your life, and life is a bully that keeps on showing up and getting in the way of your grief. Neither life nor grief care how you feel or that you might not have time for them right now. They don’t want to know what other stuff you have going on. They don’t give you space or respite.- Milli Hill

Being bullied can make you bitter. The bullies themselves pack a visceral punch; short and sharp, it knocks the wind out of you. But this doesn’t hurt as much or last as long as the silence of the bystanders – those whose legs you see when you have been knocked to the ground or shoved under the bus; very much in the vicinity, very much aware of your suffering, very much still standing. The rational part of your mind can understand they are silent to protect themselves. A deeper part feels they are unforgivable. – Milli Hill

We teach our children to talk about bullying, to speak out and support each other and get help. But in the meantime, one of the worst epidemics of bullying any of us have ever witnessed is taking place daily on social media, as woman after woman is ostracised, defamed, deplatformed and pilloried for speaking up for women’s rights. Whether you agree or disagree with their views shouldn’t affect your judgement that what is happening to them is disproportionate and unfair. It’s bullying. And to say that this is a problem between gender critical feminists and trans activists is also wildly reductionist. There is disproportionate pillorying of women going on within feminism itself.

And there is disproportionate pillorying of women going on completely outside the feminist discourse.  – Milli Hill

Everyone agrees they said something racist, and, under the current rules, this means they deserve for their lives to be destroyed, and if you speak up for them, you’re a racist too.

What is the end-game of those meting out these show trials and public executions? Have they noticed that the majority of people in the virtual dock are female, and if so, does this bother them? Do they feel that justice is truly being served? Do they feel the world will become a better place once every wrong thinker has been ‘educated’ or dispatched? How will they feel if one of the recipients of these attacks actually takes their own life? Will this still be just and fair in their opinion? Perhaps this has already happened, perhaps this kind of behaviour has been the final straw for someone whose name I do not know. Being bullied by a large group of people, on social media where unlimited numbers can watch and participate, and having your reputation, career, livelihood, friendships and life as you know it completely destroyed is not something that is easy to survive.

Nobody, even those who’s views we find repellant, deserves to have their life destroyed. – Milli Hill

I firmly believe that the way we vote in the next general election will have a huge impact on our lives, our children’s lives and, quite possibly, our grandchildren’s lives.

The next election will determine the character and integrity of how we are governed and what rights we will have.

There will be a not so simple choice between voting for a democracy or allowing democracy to perish by voting for the party that is demolishing democracy and replacing it with an ethnocracy.John Porter

It sickens me to read claims that my representations on behalf of women and girls for fairness on the sporting field are twisted in such a way to expose me to vicious and vexatious accusations of homophobia.

My belief in protecting girls and women from the unfair consequences of competition against biological males should be seen for precisely what it is. –

There are extremists who wrap themselves up in the proud flag of the LGB movement, coming after me and many other women, even other gays and lesbians who do not agree with the addition of the TQA+, by using this cover to legitimise completely baseless attacks.

Because of their rainbow camouflage, the sight of this banner has triggered me, but in no way does that emotional response reflect my view of the millions of people who celebrate their rights under the same flag. – Katherine Deves

What should be the symbol of genuine pride, has become distressing because of its misuse.

Consistent with the time-honoured custom of politics, the worst enemies are found within your own ranks. – Katherine Deves

One of the saddest ironies of this debate is that those who are gay or lesbian were highly probable to have been gender non-conforming growing up.

But today, these are largely the children and young people most likely to be convinced by media and social media they are “trans”, “non-binary” or “born in the wrong body”.

Despite ample evidence demonstrating almost all children with distress about their natal sex resolve this during puberty, experimental medical interventions rather than “watchful waiting” are being baked into law and policy as the solution.

We are sterilising a generation of gay and lesbian children by turning them into profit-centres. Katherine Deves

What is the “trans community”?

Because I fail to see what a distressed same-sex attracted teenage girl with a GoFundMe for a bilateral mastectomy has in common with a middle aged man who has decided to publicly flaunt his cross-dressing fetish full-time.

My position has always been about the sex-based rights of women and girls and the safeguarding of children.

Sex self-ID laws and policies mean men and boys can now simply self-declare they are a woman or girl, giving him the right to intrude into spaces such as toilets, change rooms, shelters and prisons, compete in the female sports category, avail himself of woman-specific services and resources including those for lesbians, and win awards, competitions, contracts and scholarships created for the benefit of females.

Anyone with an ounce of common sense recognises that this state of affairs is profoundly unfair at best and dangerous at worst. – Katherine Deves

I will rest my case on the percolation of the truth that continues to emerge in defiance of virtue-signalling ideology and ignorance.Katherine Deves

One of the things that appalls me about young billionaires (and erstwhile young billionaires) such as Bankman-Fried is their absence of taste. What is the point of being so rich if you look and dress as he looks and dresses? No doubt the look of false indigence that billionaires adopt is intended to deflect from their vast wealth, all of them being left-wing in everything but their finances, but it undermines as well as flatters public taste and detracts from civilized life. – Theodore Dalrymple 

But let us return to the question of hair and its relation not only to genius but to goodness. Nineteenth-century gurus—Tolstoy, Ruskin, William Morris, Bernard Shaw, and no doubt others—had long, straggly beards of an appearance of the nests of the less aesthetically fastidious species of birds. It was their beards that stood guarantor of these men’s wisdom; no one with a beard such as theirs could be any less than profound.

It is easy to make the logical mistake of supposing that if wise men have straggly beards, then men with straggly beards must be wise.Theodore Dalrymple 

Now, of course it is true that some geniuses have had wild hair—Beethoven, for example, or Einstein—but the majority have not. Power grows out of the barrel of a gun, said Mao Tse-tung (or however we are supposed to spell his name these days, my automatic spell-check on my computer not allowing me the spelling I grew up with); but cleverness does not grow out of disordered hair. A brush and comb are not completely incompatible with thought. – Theodore Dalrymple 

A conference in Glasgow this weekend, entitled ‘Education Not Indoctrination’, will take a critical look at the way schools are being used to inculcate woke values in our children, often against the wishes of parents. It is being organised by Hands Up Scotland, a group of parents and educators concerned about the politicisation of Scottish schools, in association with the Academy of Ideas, where I am science and technology director. Yet the event almost didn’t happen because staff at the original venue refused to work on it. This is a good example of how ‘cancel culture’ works today.Rob Lyons

As the blurb for Saturday’s event notes, schools are at the centre of the woke agenda. There’s the continued promotion of critical race theory in the classroom. There’s the Scottish government’s new sex-education curriculum, which will expose very young children to overtly sexualised material. There’s a new LGBTQ+ vocabulary (cisgender, transgender, bisexual, non-binary and genderfluidity) already being taught in primary schools. And there’s the Scottish government’s guidance on ‘Supporting Transgender Pupils in Schools’, which advises teachers not to question a child’s desire to transition.

In short, the views of a tiny minority, supported by the Scottish government, are being foisted on children, often in defiance of the wishes of parents. Profound changes are happening in Scottish education. And it is important that we get a chance to debate them.

But not everyone agrees this should be up for debate, it seems. – Rob Lyons

In a statement to The Times, the venue owners, Agile City, claimed that: ‘There was no attempt to stop the event happening or shut down the discussion; it’s just not something we can host in our venue.’ Yet it’s not entirely accurate to suggest there was no attempt to shut down discussion. The very act of pulling the booking at such short notice meant that the event might well have had to be cancelled.

Fortunately, a sympathetic venue – the Tron Church in Glasgow city centre – has stepped in, and the event will go ahead. It seems that Christians are now more open to political debate than many right-on liberals.

What the whole affair reveals is the brittleness of woke thinking. It is one thing to be passionate about particular issues. It is another to think that the mere airing of a different point of view is a threat, in and of itself. This is No Platforming taken to another level – it is an attempt to clamp down on debate itself.

This Civic House case also reveals another driver of cancel culture – the sense of entitlement among woke members of staff in cultural and political institutions. Rob Lyons

We need spaces to have civilised debate about important and controversial issues, free from the threat of cancellation. Thankfully, ‘Education Not Indoctrination’ will now go ahead. But that should never have been in question in the first place. –  Rob Lyons

In New Zealand, we talk a lot about big-ticket projects such as cycleways and convention centres. But we don’t focus nearly enough on infrastructure security. That’s a problem.

Infrastructure is not just a game of getting things done. Success means getting projects done well, and part of that means investing in necessary protection. – Matthew Birchall

Electricity is another area worth keeping an eye on. New Zealand is fortunate to have an ample supply of power sourced from wind farms and hydroelectric dams. But renewables can also be unreliable. When the wind is blowing and the dams are full, New Zealand is well-positioned to meet demand.

The problem arises when demand surges during winter and generation fails to keep up. When that happens, those still July days suddenly begin to lose their appeal. And it is in this context that coal and gas play an important role in keeping the power on. The 2021 blackouts. – Matthew Birchall

While the government has promised that all of New Zealand’s electricity will be generated from renewables by 2030, there is a strong argument to be made for continued use of gas and coal to shore up supply. At the very least, the move to renewables makes the question of secure electricity supply all the more salient. Wind, after all, has a bad habit of fluctuating.

However, the greatest risk to New Zealand’s infrastructure security may originate in cyber space. If a rogue actor hacked New Zealand’s power grid, telecoms network or water utilities, the country would be thrown into chaos. These assets are so essential to day-to-day life that society cannot function without them.

Experts speak of a cascade effect when critical infrastructure is destabilised. When one link in the chain goes down, the rest follow. –

Matthew Birchall

After all, if we don’t ensure that our kit is in good nick today, then we will have to pay more to maintain it tomorrow.  – Matthew Birchall

As “the greatest moral challenge of our times”, the dogmas of the climate change cult are no longer limited by any secular need for evidence or data

If climate change policy was ever based on “the science”, then that basis has long been overwhelmed by politics and tribal groupthink. It is now the very badge of a progressive left-wing worldview. In both USA and Australia, climate change alarm is the single greatest differentiator between the left and the right of politics.  – Barry Brill

The “climate justice” narrative is a post-modern cultural phenomenon, intertwined in endless mysterious ways with race and gender and other categories of perceived Marx-like oppression. Belief in the climate change credo is a sine qua non for every left-leaning politician (or journalist) – in the English-speaking world and further afield.

While an ideology for some, it is a quasi-religion for others. As long ago as 2003, author  Michael Crighton declared that mankind’s greatest challenge was to distinguish reality from fantasy, in the context of environmentalism becoming a religion. Regrettably, over the ensuing 20 years, faith in climate change has moved inexorably to fill the large vacuum left by the rapid decline of Christianity. – Barry Brill

Just as Torquemada declared war in the 15th century on those who could not believe in the teachings of the Vatican’s Holy See, Prime Minister Ardern has declared war in the 21st century on those who can not believe in the teachings of the United Nations’ IPCC.

The Inquisition used the old weapons of the thumbscrew, the rack, and the burning of books. Ms Ardern is a proud cheer-leader for the use of the “new weapons” of hate-speech laws, de-platforming, and cancel culture.Barry Brill

Roll over Josef Goebbels: your stunted canvas was but a single nation. Now we have the entire globalist population of the planet united behind the most ambitious propaganda campaign in history – with limitless funding and with no tether to any known system of ethics. – Barry Brill

We at the New Zealand Initiative are aware of an ill-founded view that we are somewhat critical of our much-beloved government. Of course, this “alternative view” has no merit.

Take, for example, Labour’s 3 November list of its 100 achievements since November 2021. On one count 71 of the 100 involved government spending more of our money on this or that.

Top of the list was putting a targeted cost of living payment on its credit card. Good thinking. After all, inflation is up because Government drew so heavily on the RBNZ’s ATM in responding to COVID. The remedy for too much government spending yesterday is obvious – more spending today.

The magical thing about the 71 spending items on this list is that they are all good. No one is harmed. Every item is beneficial. Why, otherwise, would it make the list? Why is it magic? Well anytime you or I spend our money we give up something – the chance to spend it on something else. We have to think about that.

Government is different. It can and does create more money out of nothing. Today’s government borrowing, like tomorrow’s inflation, is the next government’s problem. What did future generations ever do for us? There is more. Another 21 items in the list use regulations to spend other people’s money. – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

The list includes many things that a different government would also have achieved, for example, finishing Transmission Gully and free trade agreements.

Given this feature, we should acknowledge Labour’s modesty in excluding sunshine and fresh air from its list of achievements. They are free lunches too. – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

The Human Rights Commission says it’s “very disappointing” that the government isn’t going ahead with law changes that would curb New Zealanders’ right to free speech.

Let me repeat that, just in case you didn’t get the irony. An agency ostensibly set up to protect our rights is upset that the government isn’t introducing new laws that would restrict them. What better evidence could there be of the commission’s highly selective interpretation – you might say perversion – of its own name?Karl du Fresne 

The government’s retreat from its original intention is clearly a blow and a setback to the HRC, which is so obsessed with identity politics and the supposed menace of hate speech that it completely ignores its bigger responsibility to protect New Zealanders’ freedom of expression. – Karl du Fresne 

You’d think the commission’s own name was a bit of a giveaway, but no; its interpretation of the phrase “human rights” is selective, self-serving and unfailingly woke. Rather than concern itself with upholding and promoting New Zealanders’ rights generally, it directs its energies toward protecting us from racism, islamophobia, homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia and white supremacy. These endanger all of us, according to chief human rights pooh-bah Paul Hunt, arguably the most useless bureaucrat on the government’s payroll (in fact worse than useless, since the effect of his job, if not the purpose, is to promote a sense of division and drive wedges into the community).

To put it another way, the commission thinks it’s okay in a democracy to sacrifice the free-speech rights of the majority in order to protect supposedly vulnerable minority groups. It justifies this by arguing that restrictions on speech are needed to counter “violent extremism”. This is worryingly similar to the spurious pretexts – such as public order and public safety – routinely cited by authoritarian regimes that want to control what people think and say. Iran and Xi Jinping’s China come to mind. 

Reconciling free speech with the interests of minority groups calls for a balancing act, but the commission doesn’t even attempt it. It solves the problem by simply ignoring the free speech side of the equation altogether.Karl du Fresne 

The commission is a $13 million-plus per annum deadweight on the economy – money that could more usefully be spent on any number of worthy projects. Teaching dogs to ride bikes, for example. – Karl du Fresne 

Even without knowing the contents of the revised bill, haste is something we should be concerned about. It’s a pace of activity that is usually reserved for matters that the Government wants dealt with immediately; either because it is vital for the national interest or it is so unpalatable that they want to shut down the debate as quickly as possible. It would seem that the latter was their only justification.

I’m told by a highly regarded former MP that for a matter of this nature, it’s a pace that is unusually rushed, and in the context of Parliament’s rules, technically inappropriate.

Not that we can do too much about that. Let’s face it, this Government has been in an “inappropriate” hurry on Three Waters from the start. Despite the changes not yet being signed into law, they have already recruited a heap of people and leased high-quality and expensive office space in Auckland at least and possibly elsewhere. Every step has been action ahead of the democratic process.Bruce Cotterill

Imagine 88,000 submissions. Ignored. Just think for a moment of the emotion and passion that people had for the End of Life Choice Bill. And yet that received just less than half of the number of submissions that Three Waters did. And those submitters have been ignored. –Bruce Cotterill

We should be ropable that this is happening. And we should be stomping mad that neither of our top-rating TV news channels ran the story of the bill’s passing on their 6pm bulletins on Thursday evening. What the hell is going on here NZ?

This is major constitutional reform, involving the deliberate confiscation of assets from ratepayers and the councils that represent them, to a government and a policy that will be controlled by iwi-based or tribal interests. The consultation process around it has been minimal and most of us would say what little consultation has occurred has been ignored.Bruce Cotterill

So we see, finally, after all this time, what Three Waters has been about all along. It’s not about brown sludge coming out of your taps. In fact, it’s not about water at all. It’s about an asset grab of not only the water assets we thought, but also for a slice of our hydro schemes and for the highly contentious foreshore and seabed. By the time the third and final reading comes around, you can bet that the country’s parkland will no longer be an option. It will be included.

Perhaps the inclusion of the foreshore and the parkland will get us animated and angry.

We should be staggered that this legislation, delivering major constitutional change, is sleepwalking its way through Parliament via an aggressive majority government, while it appears that there is nothing that opposition politicians can do about it. – Bruce Cotterill

It would be tempting to throw in the towel. And yet, despite everything that has happened, Three Waters should continue to be a central election issue in 2023. Those parties currently in opposition must run a campaign to totally repeal this legislation and if elected they must do so promptly.

And we may as well brace ourselves for it now. Taking things away from people is always much harder than giving them out. Repealing this law will be messy and disruptive and difficult. But it must happen.

That’s why we have elections. When governments become this corrupt, they and the laws they created must go.Bruce Cotterill

Of course the key issue of this report is that it recommends that mana whenua sit on local councils, with full voting rights.  These representatives would have the same power as elected councillors, except of course, residents/ratepayers would have no power to remove them (except for those few that may be involved in mana whenua processes to select their councillors).

I don’t think much of liberal democracy, as it is not very effective at protecting individual rights, but it does have one useful function, in that it provides an effective process to remove politicians if enough people are fed up with them.  This proposal destroys this for mana whenua representative.  It institutes the principle that you can be taxed, regulated and governed by people you have NO say in being selected or being removed. – Liberty Scott

However there is no possible way that the New Zealand Labour Party wants to let people live their own lives as they see fit in such a way. The review of local government is about growing local government, it is the idea that wellbeing comes not from what individuals, families, colleagues, friends, communities, businesses and societies do, but from what government does – and the main tools of government are ones of coercion by taxation (and dishing out financial favours to preferred individuals and groups) and regulation. Liberty Scott

There is a desperate need for a review of local government that will decide what roles and responsibilities it should have and what ones should be taken away from it, and that would do much more to enhance wellbeing, by enabling more housing to be built, more businesses to be developed, more competition in retail and the economy, the environment and society to grow with local government being barely visible. It may manage some parks, have a fast, efficient planning permitting function, deal with neighbourhood noise and pollution complaints, and ensure rubbish is collected.

In the meantime though, the idea that elected politicians should be replaced by mana whenua representatives with MORE power to increase rates, establish new taxes and pass bylaws (and ban property development) is just a form of petty nationalist authoritarianism eating away at an already flawed system. – Liberty Scott

The intelligence of the New Zealand population increased during the 20th century. Nutrition played its part but so too did education. Young people were taught the abstract knowledge of academic subjects and in the process developed secondary intelligence.  Since the 1990s, the emptying out of prescribed academic knowledge from the national curriculum is likely to reverse the trend.  It’s a sobering thought that the population in the 21st century may be less intelligent than our 20th century predecessors. Elizabeth Rata

It is abstraction (or separation) from the everyday world of experience which gives academic knowledge both its intelligence-building power and its difficulty.  Because academic subjects are necessarily difficult they need to be taught by expert teachers. For their part, children must bring hard work and effort to the job. Parental support is vital for this mammoth task of intelligence building. There are no short-cuts for anyone involved.

So what makes academic knowledge the ‘intelligence builder’?  By ‘intelligence’ I mean an individual’s secondary thinking–the thinking that is self-consciously rational and very different from primary commonsense intelligence.  Humans have lived for millennia with the primary thinking needed for survival.  It remains essential today as we pick up the everyday socio-cultural knowledge of the family and community.  We must have this primary thinking ability but we can in fact do without complex abstract knowledge and its generating secondary intelligence. We can do as our ancestors did, rely on knowledge acquired from observation and experience and bounded by the limits of primary thinking. The question is – do we want to? – Elizabeth Rata

A well-designed national curriculum of prescribed academic knowledge is the only way to ensure that all New Zealand children are taught the knowledge that builds secondary intelligence.  It is the intelligence needed for a modern democratic society. This is the case because democracy is itself an abstract idea – built on networks of abstractions such as freedom, equality and citizenship.

The alternative is returning to the pre-modern world of our ancestors. The tribal world managed successfully using primary thinking. This is because kinship relations are material not abstract – we can literally ‘see’ our relations.  In contrast, democracy is justified by abstract ideas and abstract relationships – the main one is that of citizenship. For us to understand these abstractions, we must have secondary intelligence. Elizabeth Rata

We need to keep in mind why freedom of speech is so important. Freedom of speech is a right recognised domestically (in the Bill of Rights Act 1990) and internationally (in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). The starting point for any new legislation should be that. We have the freedom to say what we want unless there is a compelling and pressing reason for the state to curtail it by threatening criminal punishment.

Free speech has been a vital tool for the least powerful in society. – Marcus Roberts

Even if we are satisfied that there is a compelling reason to restrict our right to free speech, the restriction needs to be as narrow and as clear as possible. It’s not good enough to leave the contours of which speech counts as hate speech to the “you’ll-know-it-when-you-see-it” test. Tossing it to the courts to determine the boundaries as they go is also no answer.

Even if the courts do find in favour of a defendant (and thus, by their decision, help set the contours of the legislation), Liam Hehir has convincingly argued that the process is the punishment. Winning a legal battle can be as ruinous as losing one for an individual. Yet, win or lose, the state will never face financial, much less personal, ruin.

With so much at stake, let us hope that the Government’s proposed hate speech amendments adhere to first principles. If it doesn’t, the hate speech vs free speech battle risks collateral damage of much more than what you may (or may not) say.  – Marcus Roberts

You chose to have these kids, you have to wake up at 7am, get your kids to school at 8am. You have now got subsidised free lunches, free breakfasts, subsidised period products, subsidised school uniforms. There are no excuses. What we have in New Zealand is a culture of excuses. –  Christopher Luxon

Age is not an immutable characteristic. Treating children differently to adults is not the same as treating people differently based on race or sex. And 18 years is the generally agreed-upon age at which a child becomes an adult.

For most New Zealanders, the idea of 16 and 17-year-olds voting defies common sense. Large majorities of people surveyed reject the idea. Letting kids vote is less popular than letting prisoners vote.

Of course, there is increasingly little room for common sense in New Zealand’s appellate courts. Not, at least, when the opportunity for the promotion of liberal opinion is concerned. Our justices are no longer so shy of broad political questions that touch upon subjects not usually reducible to legal reasoning.Liam Hehir 

The court has, therefore, set the agenda on an inextricably political question.

It is a rarer and rarer thing for our justices to refuse involvement in political questions when it comes to the preoccupations of the chattering classes. The best that can be hoped for is a reluctant refusal to grant relief paired with some obiter dicta about where the court’s sympathy lies. Those comments crack the door open just that little bit further, of course, and provide something for the next case to build upon.

This is not all the fault of the courts. Judges are only human and there is nothing more human than being tempted to use the tools at your disposal to achieve the outcome you want. Some blame lies with the elected politicians who have given the judiciary these tools or, at least, have permitted their use.

Ambiguous laws promote judicial activism. They create a permission structure for the judiciary to exercise personal discretion to the act interpretation. – Liam Hehir 

Law faculties would absolutely hate this as, would of course, the judiciary. But the time has long since passed where the democratically accountable branches of the government flex a bit of muscle. And if the courts are bent on drifting into politics then they can hardly complain about politics drifting into the courts.Liam Hehir 

All I’m doing is calling parents to responsibility to say ‘Hey, listen, it’s in your interest that we want your children to do better than you did’ … education is the biggest thing that creates social mobility and opportunity. – Christopher Luxon

As the Kremlin’s spokesman tells us – somewhat improbably – that regime change was never Vladimir Putin’s goal, the debate on whether Russia and Ukraine should be negotiating gets another bounce.

Depressing – but necessary – to bear in mind that a settlement will rest more on power than on justice.

Some other lessons from the conflict also seem to be getting neglected.

First, that the success of Ukraine’s resistance is due to the courage and commitment of a smallish group of mostly young men. A group who in general weren’t getting good press or much encouragement before all this kicked off.

Secondly, the steady flow of Western self-congratulation seems overdone.Point of Order :

Thirdly, this is a war with a system, rather than a country. – Point of Order

And as a Russian and an insider, he provides a vivid picture of the creation from the security apparatus of a governing class that is a law unto itself.

During Putin’s twenty two years in power, it has systematically eliminated the bases of civil society: security of property and the fruits of labour; reliable justice and restraints on state power; fair competition for the right to govern; the opportunity and ability to organise, express and disseminate alternatives. Point of Order

The contrast with China is stark.  Deng Xiaoping also toiled for nearly twenty years but in a different direction.  He sought to convince the workers and peasants that the Communist party would respect the fruits of their labour – just as long as they did not challenge its governance (and hence the significance of President Xi’s recent signals that he might renegotiate the bargain).

This suppression of independent activity – social and entrepreneurial – would now appear to be Russia’s chief source of political and economic weakness.

It should clarify that the principal enemy is the Russian governing class, rather than the Russian people.

And that we all win if the Russian people can be helped to turn round the course of the last twenty two years.

Don’t forget then, that in all that time the only people who have come near to inflicting a political defeat on that class are a handful of American (and British) trained Ukrainian men.

So it might be a good idea to be very clear what you are negotiating about, before starting. – Point of Order

This Labour Government constantly confuses spending money with outcomes. If money was the answer to solving the many issues facing the sector, then Kiwis’ would have timely access to services, better facilities, and see an overall improvement to the country’s mental wellbeing.

Unfortunately that is not the case and mental health in New Zealand has never been in a worse state. What Kiwis’ are experiencing is longer wait times to essential services, overcrowding, a worsening state to mental health facilities, and serious workforce shortages facing the sector

Measurable outcomes are what matter for individuals, and their families, who are desperately seeking help. Not wasted money and broken promises- Matt Doocey 

Penological liberals, then, whether they realize it or not, are effectively in favor of violence against women.- Theodore Dalrymple

With their claws savagely embedded in the throats of most of New Zealand’s news media (so to speak) racist commentators are really having a great time distorting and rewriting the history of our once fair country of New Zealand. 

They appear to have learnt that if you tell the BIG LIE often enough and loud enough, people will come to believe it and of course once should be enough for innocent children, that is if they can be induced actually to go to school.  If statistics are to be believed for once, it appears that truancy is at a record high in New Zealand schools, highest apparently among children of part-Maori descent and lowest among Chinese. Bruce Moon 

Perverse incentives facing councils seemed to underlie many of the problems with the existing resource management system.

Nothing in the RMA forced councils to set restrictive district plans, though it did make it difficult to modify existing ones. Nevertheless, district plans often made it very difficult to build apartments and townhouses in inner suburbs near the amenities where a lot of people want to live, or new subdivisions and lifestyle blocks on the edges of cities.

When cities can neither grow up nor out in response to changes in demand for housing, prices adjust instead.

The reason for restrictive district plans is simple. When cities grow, central government enjoys the increase in income tax, company tax, and GST. But councils experience urban growth as a cost to be mitigated, rather than a benefit to be sought. And councils at or near their debt limits have extreme difficulty in funding and financing the infrastructure necessary to support it. – Eric Crampton

The National Planning Framework will need to provide very strong direction to regional planning committees to prioritise flexible urban land markets over other objectives.

But the game of whack-a-mole in which central government legislates against each new way that councils find to obstruct growth seems likely to continue – unless councils are made to welcome urban growth by sharing in its benefits. For example, councils could receive grants from central government reflecting a share of the increased tax take that growth provides to central government.

Without that kind of change to the incentives councils face, any wine that eventually pours from the new planning bottles may taste remarkably, and depressingly, familiar. – Eric Crampton

For all of the posing and posturing, most of the arguments to extend (or not extend) the size of the electorate to include 16 and 17yos come with a big tinge of self-interest around power.  It’s been proclaimed that it is “discriminatory” that they don’t get a chance to vote, but almost every argument extended to this can be applied to 15, 14 or even some 13 and 12yos.  Paying taxes doesn’t give visitors or tourists a vote, and plenty who pay little to no taxes get to vote.

No, it’s an exercise in emotionally laden performance from those in politics who get an advantage from having more fungible brains to convince to give them power. It’s hardly a surprise that there is strong leftwing support for the idea, because it is widely perceived that most younger people (certainly the more politically active ones) are leftwing, because they are lured by the idea of more government, which can make good stuff compulsory, cheaper or free, and bad stuff banned or more expensive. This is, after all, the predominant philosophical bent pushed through state education and much of the media. – Liberty Scott

 If there were to be an age when an individual is an adult, in terms of powers to contract, to be treated as an adult in the justice system, and to not have age based restrictions on what you can and can’t do with your body, then that should be the age of adulthood.  At present it is a mix of 16 and 18, but few on the left think 16yos should face the same judicial treatment as 18yos, and almost none think they should be able to buy alcohol, be prostitutes and even buy tobacco. 

There is a curious cultural disjunction between those who want younger teenagers to vote, and demand they be given “a voice” for their often ill-informed, inconsistent views (and they have no monopoly on that), but also think they need “protection” from the consequences of their actions.  They aren’t old enough to handle being intoxicated, to face adult court and prison if they initiate force against others,  and although it is often cited that they can “have sex”, it’s a serious criminal offence if anyone takes photos of them doing so or even possesses them, even with their consent.  So many who want to give them the vote also deem them vulnerable.  So which is it?Liberty Scott

So let’s not pretend this is about young people having a “stake in their future” because the politicians eager for their votes don’t think young people can make competent decisions on what they ingest or what photos are taken of them.

If politicians want to argue that 16 should be the age of being an adult, then all well and good, let it be and let them accept the consequences for what this means, and they can vote.

Otherwise it’s just a call for “more votes for my side, to help me do what I want to you all” – Liberty Scott

Time has been called on overhauling ‘hate speech laws’ in New Zealand. After sitting in Labour’s manifesto for years, and two Ministers of Justice failing to build support for the proposals, maybe they’ve seen the light: legislation is no antidote to hate. – Jonathan Ayling

The basic issue still remains: silencing opinion, even condemnable opinions (which do not amount to incitement to violence, which is already illegal), doesn’t deal with a lack of social cohesion.

And if hate speech laws don’t work for other ‘vulnerable communities’, we need to rethink the entire venture. The question, ‘if this group, why not that group’ is legitimate. If hate speech laws do work to protect vulnerable communities, like religious groups, then why won’t the Minister commit to including other vulnerable groups too? It’s because she herself has admitted they could make the situation worse.  – Jonathan Ayling

The fact of the matter is hate speech laws (even if they’re just extending protected classes by one group) make things worse.

The government must stand for Kiwis’ right to express their opinions in speech and do away with the notion that gagging voices resolves complex issues. Sections 61 and 131 of the Human Rights Act should be repealed entirely and simple incitement to violence outlawed as speech beyond the pale of free expression. Until then, we’re making social cohesion worse by hand-picking which groups we’re allowed to be derogatory about, and which we can’t. This is hardly a winning strategy for unity.Jonathan Ayling

It goes without saying that we don’t want religious groups lumped into monolithic groups without any nuance or insight. But is this change really going to stop that? – Jonathan Ayling

It’s time better solutions were given a chance, solutions that elevate dialogue, reason, and counter-speech. Hate speech is a problem, but the problem is the hate, not the speech. As the American journalist Jonathan Rauch claims, ‘Trying to fix the hate by silencing the speech is like trying to fix climate change by breaking all the thermometers.’

Today’s announcement is a good start, but we need to look at whether hate speech laws have any place in our law. Ultimately, they’re a fool’s errand that actually make the situation worse.Jonathan Ayling

Yes there are some superbly informed smart and diligent 16 year olds, but there are equally many who are completely out to lunch, totally ill informed, barely turning up to school, or in some cases, just out ram raiding.

Now when they do stuff like that – they’re ‘children’ – cue the heartstrings – who can’t possibly be punished or sent to boot camp or put in ankle bracelets, because they’re ‘children’.

There is also the argument trotted out every time a young person does do something wrong, that cognitively their brains haven’t fully developed yet. But when it comes to getting them to tick a box for a party and a candidate – suddenly they’re now cognitively proficient informed adults?

It’s a mixed message. – Kate Hawkesby

Is it also discriminatory to use age as an excuse not to pay them benefits, or to use their age as a tool to means test them against their parents income for allowances? Do we lower the drinking age too, now that 16 is so responsible? Is 16 the new benchmark?

Anyone who has raised 16 year olds knows that it’s still very young, and I just don’t know why we keep wanting to make childhood shorter and shorter for our young people.

They already have to grow up so fast, now we expect them to know about taxes and laws and politics too? Can they not just enjoy their youth while they still have it? Kate Hawkesby

You can’t know how the world works surely until you’ve actually experienced it? Paid rent or a mortgage, left home, gotten out into the real world, earned your own money, paid your own taxes – lived a little.

It’s not up to us though, or the Supreme Court, it’s up to Parliament, and it won’t get the 75 percent support required so it’s going nowhere.

But nor should it, if Parliament’s going to devote time and energy to anything to do with young people right now it should be getting the 60 percent of kids not attending back into school and addressing the surge in youth crime.

Surely that’s more pressing right now than whether they can vote or not? – Kate Hawkesby

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the government was delighted with this week’s ruling from the Supreme Court that excluding sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds from the right to vote was inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act. Not because of the weight of the legal argument, nor the morality of the cause, but simply because the ruling provided the government with a huge distraction from all the other problems confronting it at present.Peter Dunne

But rather than waiting six months to make its response known, the government waited barely six hours, so gleeful was it at the distraction the Court had provided. The Prime Minister did not even wait for the Labour Caucus to meet, before announcing the government’s response. Legislation to lower the voting age to 16 will be drafted immediately, she promised, and introduced to Parliament as soon as possible.

That immediately ensured all the right headlines and focus for the next couple of days at least, during which time the Reserve Bank is expected to lift interest rates by the biggest amount yet, further hitting already struggling household budgets. The cynicism of the decision is highlighted by the fact that for the voting age for Parliamentary elections to be lowered, a minimum 75% of Parliament (90 MPs) must vote in favour. When she made her announcement the Prime Minister said she did not know whether all Labour MPs, let alone MPs from other parties supported the move, which she hoped would be determined by a conscience vote. Her promised legislation was therefore nothing but smoke and mirrors. – Peter Dunne

The current outcome could not be better for her – thanks to National and ACT, nothing will change, but the Prime Minister will be able to keep empathising with young, upcoming voters about how much she “personally” supports their cause, even though, like so much else, she cannot deliver it. More importantly, by doing so, she potentially locks in their support for when they are eligible to vote. So, the government’s response is far more about securing its political advantage, than addressing the principle raised by the Supreme Court of whether it is right to exclude 16–17-year-olds from being able to vote.Peter Dunne

 If a lowered voting age for local body elections proves to be successful in terms of increasing turnout and engagement, then consideration could be given to reducing the age for general elections. The most likely date for that to happen would be the 2029 general election, by which time most of the current crop of politicians will have moved on.

But that is all too far in the future for the government to be concerned about at present. All it knows, is that right now the Supreme Court has presented it with a wonderful diversionary opportunity of which it must take full advantage. Given there is little else flowing its way at present, it is hardly surprising it will milk the issue for all it can over the next little while, secure in the knowledge that nothing is actually going to change. – Peter Dunne

The fact a majority of the working group decided the right to issue binding Te Mana o Te Wai statements should be extended to include coastal and geothermal water brings to mind David Lange’s quip about panel-beaters being allowed to design an intersection.Graham Adams 

I have to say that this is the most despicable, the most dishonest, and the most dishonourable piece of legislation I have had the misfortune to speak to in this House. This is a deplorable way of stealing assets off communities — assets that have been bought and paid for over generations…

“This is despicable, and I want to say that the people of this country deserve better. – Maureen Pugh

It is widely accepted that to avoid catastrophic climate change we must extract carbon from the atmosphere as well as reduce emissions. That is, we need negative emissions technologies. Indigenous people created such technology over thousands of years, manifested in Amazonian terra preta (black soils) and carbon-rich black soils in West Africa. These soils were likely created accidentally through charcoal being added with food scraps and other waste into infertile soils, turning them into enduringly fertile, carbon-rich black soils. While most soil carbon is lost to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, charcoal endures as a permanent soil carbon store. Peter Winsley

Contrary to some perceptions, on a population-adjusted basis indigenous societies are not more environmentally benign than modern, industrialised ones. Both Māori and Pakeha wasted resources when they were abundant and developed sustainable practices only when resources became depleted. In pre-European times Māori were responsible directly or indirectly for the loss of about half New Zealand’s forest cover, and the extinction of over forty bird species.

In modern times, some Māori groups have given priority to commercial interests over environmental protection. For example, in 2013 government mooted an ocean sanctuary surrounding the Kermadec Islands. However, Māori interests opposed this, arguing that the proposed sanctuary breached possible future fishing rights. – Peter Winsley

Where environmental management can go badly wrong is when privileged business, tribal or sectarian interests exploit legal or political processes for rent-seeking purposes. What was once the “Three Waters” reforms has now become “Five Waters” due to some late backroom amendments to draft legislation. The Five Waters legislation if enacted will set up a racialist system to manage New Zealand’s water resources. It will make corruption and nepotism possible on a monumental scale. However, on the positive side it will teach people lessons about not taking democracy and institutional integrity for granted.

It is often contended that economic growth is environmentally damaging. However, the environmental Kuznets curve hypothesis suggests that environmental degradation increases at early economic development stages. However, when income reaches a certain level local environments improve. For example, air and water quality is now far better in modern cities than it was 100 years ago. Today, London is no longer threatened by industrial “pea souper” fogs, and the Thames is swimmable. In Wellington, biodiversity is flourishing due to pest control and the Zealandia wildlife sanctuary that we can afford to pay for.Peter Winsley

Resources such as oil and gas fields concentrate economic and political power in specific places with benefits captured quite narrowly. In contrast, decentralised industries such as distributed energy (wind, solar) and farming diffuse power. Many technological responses to climate change are consistent with a more distributed energy system and a more equitable economy and society. This is what we should be aiming for, rather than perpetuating untruths about colonialism, and dismissing whole swathes of humanity as being dependent on ongoing genocide. – Peter Winsley

Tension in the farming ranks is palpable; discontent with central Government policies is intense; frustration regarding inexorable cost increases is a dark cloud, and given the recent profits recently announced by the banking sector followed by spiraling interest rates, accusations of price-gouging by the trading banks are now emerging.

In terms of returns for primary produce, given the market-related signals reflecting an easing in price levels for beef, lamb and dairy products, the mood of caution within the simmering cauldron of the rural sector is sobering, and food for reflection. – Brian Peacocke

I think that for farming to advocate for itself, it’s not only advocating for what’s annoying and frustrating them, but there’s also a huge need for us as an agriculturally strong community to continue to share both the gains and the commitment of the agricultural community to farming well both for themselves, the community, and the future. – Jenny Shipley

When we were farming, many were just farming to survive. Now, I see farmers all over the place investing not only in best practice for themselves, but I do see a lot of change. I think the voice of that needs to be shared across the community much more broadly so that the urban New Zealand population both values agriculture and understands that it’s moving in response to many of the concerns that urban communities have.  – Jenny Shipley

I think that urban-rural split has always been a risk in New Zealand and it’s one we can’t afford to give airtime too. Because, frankly, if you just thought that even in the COVID period, if we had not had a strong agricultural sector during the last three years when the global economy had been disrupted, New Zealand’s position economically would be far more dire than it is at the moment.

Tourism collapsed, a number of other productive areas were compromised and yet agriculture was able to carry a huge proportion of the earnings, as it’s always done. But thankfully, on a strong commodity cycle at this particular time, and again, I think we should name the value of agricultural exports. The effort agriculture puts into the New Zealand economy to support our way of life, in a broad, holistic sense – not a them and us sense.

We’re in this together, being the best we can be at home and selling the best we can abroad in a best practice sense. I think if we keep sharing that over and over again, there’ll be a better understanding between rural and urban communities.  – Jenny Shipley

Often we say, well, we consulted, or we sent out a document and gave them a chance to comment. I think that for people to genuinely become supporters of a regime, they have to have a deep sense of ownership. They need to be able to see themselves in whatever is proposed as opposed to seeing something being imposed on them, which they don’t or can’t relate to.  

So the test of high-quality engagement and consultation has got to be that measure of – can the people we’re representing see themselves in the proposed solutions or are we just saying, well, regardless of what you think, you’ve got to be there in five or ten years’ time. That’s not easy to do. I think in New Zealand’s circumstances, whether it’s agriculture or Maori – Pakeha relations, or any of the other demanding spaces, we’ve just got to put the time and work into it.  – Jenny Shipley

The Kellogg Programme is fantastic. I’d encourage any community to keep identifying young leaders and to promote them into those Programmes. Often people think, these people are too young. I must have been, I don’t know, 32 or thereabouts when I went into Kellogg. Often at that stage, you haven’t identified your leadership purpose and your particular intentions as to how you will use your leadership skills. But others often see leadership potential in those young people.

There’s no question that our political environment, our economic and social environment, need younger people coming through all the time in order for us to be able to shape the future successfully. I would encourage people to look for those chances and look for individuals who they can sponsor or promote and make sure they support them. Because often these are the young people, male and female, who have got kids and are trying to run a farm and all that. So the programmes themselves are a big commitment, but it’s worth it.   – Jenny Shipley

Consultation is not a promise of change and never has been.

New Zealand has traditionally been known as the land of the long white cloud. Now, it seems, it is destined to become the land of the tall green pine. – Rural News

This passage, which the word creepy doesn’t adequately describe, is very revealing of the moral sensibility—or lack of it—of our time. The courts in Canada have recognized a perfectly true fact about human development, that it doesn’t take place at the same pace in every individual, and has drawn from this undoubted fact the unjustified conclusion that placing legal age limits is therefore unacceptably arbitrary. This is an argument that has helped to produce and inflame the egotism and individualism without individuality of our times. – Theodore Dalrymple

According to this argument, however, the law had no right to fix an age of consent, as fixing it at any age would be arbitrary. What is claimed, therefore, is the right of everyone to set his own rules and decide everything for himself. He doesn’t accept that living in society entails acceptance of rules that, in a world of continua rather than of absolutely discrete categories, it’s necessary just to accept rules that are neither wholly defensible in rational terms nor that one hasn’t made for oneself.Theodore Dalrymple

I can envisage circumstances in which I would like to be put down painlessly. I wouldn’t much care to be professionally entrusted, let alone required, to do it for others. Therein lies a paradox. – Theodore Dalrymple

Instead of opening up to desperately needed skilled workers, Labour’s immigration settings have essentially raised the drawbridge and made New Zealand a fortress.Erica Stanford

The Government’s immigration policies have been a total disaster, and Kiwis are paying the price with higher inflation and higher interest rates. – Erica Stanford

Businesses are struggling with the restrictive system for work visas and the complicated system for bringing in skilled migrants, which is making it hard for firms to access the skills they need.

Among the business community there is confusion about NZ’s policy making on immigration which does not seem to recognise the importance of migration to this country.

Business requires open, simple, permissive immigration settings to meet the challenge of severe skill shortages and reduce economic and social harmCatherine Beard

This decision takes us places.

It means that if you want to have age-based entitlements then you have to show that the age is really relevant. There has to be some specific feature of a certain age, which doesn’t apply at another age, but which applies for everyone.

We use age as a proxy for a bundle of entitlements because testing individual competence or attributes can be intrusive and cumbersome. The court gave this principle no shrift at all, and in doing so it has struck a blow against a fundamental principle of modern social democracy: the progressive principle of universal entitlement. – Josie Pagani

The only way to reconcile the Supreme Court’s new principle is to means-test Super. If entitlement at an age depends on objective reasons for choosing that age, then if you are sickly or poor, you should get a pension but if you have KiwiSaver, no Super for you. Stop saving now.Josie Pagani

If you’re 16, parents still have an obligation to house, feed and protect you. The state has the authority to step in if parents fail. Third parties, like companies, governments and political parties, are regulated from exploiting teenagers. Make them adults and the responsibility to provide and protect withers and dies.

The real issue is about when childhood ends and with it the protections in law for children.

Voting at 16, and all the other entitlements that would come between 16 and 18, are the rights of adults.

Voting makes children into adults.

I want to protect children from worrying about taxes, responsibilities and the need to provide for others. – Josie Pagani

The prohibition on discrimination on the basis of age exists because a 60-year-old should not be denied a job in favour of a less qualified 30-year-old. It does not substitute for an argument about when adulthood begins.

In its decision the Supreme Court records a breezy observation that, ‘’it is clear that the line [of adulthood] has to be drawn somewhere’’. To resolve where to draw the line, the court then rehearsed a claim from an academic that there is little evidence to support 18 as a ‘’suitable proxy for maturity and competency to vote’’.

In quoting this evidence, it has done subtle but brutal damage to our democracy. Competence, maturity and intelligence should never, ever, be judicially contemplated as a qualification to vote.Josie Pagani

Voting is the right of all adults. The only issue to determine is ‘’are you an adult?’’

By discussing whether votes attach to competence, the court has ensured that, one day, some class of people will be declared not competent. This is not progressive. – Josie Pagani

The dissenting judge said the majority has reduced the rights of everyone over 18 by slightly altering the composition of the voting electorate.

I would argue it also affected the rights of under-18s to transition out of childhood without having the responsibilities of adulthood imposed too soon. – Josie Pagani

No-one knows what is meant by co-governance. Or, more accurately, there is no agreement about what is meant by this term. – Hilary Calvert

If the Government is promoting co-governance it should be clear about what it is.

This is particularly important if it may have the effect of ceding the authority vesting in the democratically elected government to any organisations which are or could be 50% appointed and the other 50% elected by the entire population. And where there must be an ability to resolve a deadlock of views by granting some undisclosed person or people a right to exercise a casting vote.

The Government, including the most relevant ministers, is either unsure or it is attempting to comfort those who are unsure whether to embrace co-governance by telling different audiences different things.Hilary Calvert

Surely when there are proposals to change something as fundamental as our democracy we should all be part of the conversation. It is not good enough to leave the concept of co-governance to mean different things to different people who are signing up to or accepting the concept.

We should all be discussing how it can be that Te Tiriti can mean equal control of everything in public ownership in New Zealand. And who has the casting vote. And what we do about some being appointed and some elected. And how our legal system can be fundamentally messed around with by suggesting that you can leave someone with ownership without control. And how the Declaration of Indigenous Rights can be interpreted to give all of a population 50% control and 17% of the population 50% control.

We also should talk about whether democracy means for us one person one vote. – Hilary Calvert

Now is the time to be talking about what co-governance actually means and how the Government wants to impose it on New Zealand.Hilary Calvert

The Government was right to pull back from extending our laws around controlling what people say about each other in case social peace is threatened.

However Minister Mahuta has said that opposition to the Government’s proposed fresh water reforms “seemed to be driven not about economics or effectiveness but racist tropes about co-governance”.

Driving discussion about such issues underground by labelling concerns as racist tropes is more likely to threaten social peace and encourage more extreme views.

We do well if we retain the ability to listen to and understand the fears and hopes we have about the future of our democracy and what it means to be a New Zealander in an inclusive and enriching society. – Hilary Calvert

Most of the commonly-raised arguments are unconvincing.

For example, although 16- and 17-year-olds are affected by the laws passed by Parliament, this does not provide an argument for lowering the voting age to 16 and no further. After all, a newborn will feel the effects of today’s political decisions for longer than a 17-year-old.

Similarly, the argument that 16 is more in line with the legal age of majority is not true. As the Court of Appeal noted, the “age of responsibility varies greatly under New Zealand law”, and there are many areas where the age of maturity is generally deemed to be 18, like contract law, making wills, getting married, and the criminal justice system, to name a few.  – Marcus Roberts

The evidence, however, is out there. It suggests that throughout our teenage years, our brains are inherently imbalanced.

While the part of our brain concerned with rapid, automatic processing matures around puberty, the part which allows us to think in the abstract, weigh moral dilemmas, and control our impulses does not mature until our mid-to-late 20s.

This imbalance means that teenagers are more susceptible to peer pressure (even without direct coercion), are more likely to focus on immediate benefits and underestimate long-term consequences, and are less able to resist social and emotional influences.

The odds are against us when making the decisions required at the voting booth in our teenage years. This evidence might even justify raising the voting age to 25, but at the very least, it suggests that an 18-year-old is more mature and more competent than a 16-year-old. – Marcus Roberts

The “please explain” is because the criteria they set is hopeless, the delivery is virtually non-existent and the overarching aspect is because they are soft on crime and apologists for criminals.

Because none of them have ever run a small business, they don’t have a clue about the role they play in the community, about the graft and risk involved and therefore the unconscionable position they have been placed in by a Government.

We have a Government that still inexplicably defends all of this as either a complex issue or something that isn’t their fault, and refuses to defend their citizens from the ever-growing tide of lawlessness that they have directly created.Mike Hosking

A modern-day monetary Moses, this week Orr had made his six-weekly descent from the Mount Doom of the Reserve Bank to issue the latest OCR decision and his set of commandments.

The OCR decision was not pretty and the commandments included thou shalt not ask for a pay rise, thou shalt not buy nice Christmas presents for people, thou shalt swap the Christmas turkey for a humble, cheap chicken, thou shalt have a nice staycation.

Orr’s own gift was high mortgage rates and a recession for 2023 – a cruel-to-be-kind present. He wrapped it in an apology, saying the bank’s monetary policy committee was very sorry about the whole state of affairs indeed. – Claire Trevett

It would be hard to tell which group is filled with most dread by Orr’s bitter medicine: the Government for the impact on mortgage rates as election year looms, retailers for his “have a sensibly spending Christmas” sign-off, or the 80 per cent of mortgage holders who have to refix in the near future.Claire Trevett

Labour is now confronted with an election-year hell – and so are voters. – Claire Trevett

One week does not an election loss make. The crime wave may well improve.

The pronouncements from Mount Doom, on the other hand, will not be getting any more cheerful for some time yet.Claire Trevett

Many thinking New Zealanders would like more debate on these issues.

Surely it is at the point where there should be a Royal Commission to examine our constitutional arrangements? – Fran O’Sullivan

You know, I made a living out of being a very open, happy sort of guy on the telly, but I was fibbing to people in a way because I was ‘Jack the lad’ on TV and then would go home and from time to time cry myself off to sleep or whatever it is.

And so we have a responsibility in the public roles that we have to own this stuff and let others know that no one’s immune and everybody’s got stuff going on, and we always will. – Matt Chisholm

I embraced it. I got into it. I played my footy, I loved my farming, I did all those things. But I also was a bit of a sensitive guy and concealed that for a long time, and it wasn’t until I’d got a bit older and a bit longer on the tooth that I thought, actually, no, I don’t wanna drink booze three nights a week, and drive myself into the ground that way. – Matt Chisholm

[Honesty] has cost me work opportunities. It’s cost me the odd relationship. But this is what I think – you get to a stage in life, and you think, right, do I be open and honest about this? And I think, yes, I will, and that is because it’ll help more people. It is the right thing to do because even though it might cost me and it might set me back – and I’m learning that as I go – but it’ll help more people than it’ll negatively affect me.Matt Chisholm

Finance Minister Grant Robertson padded Budget 2022 with $2.05 billion from the remnants of the Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund contrary to his undertakings that the enormous pot of emergency money be limited to direct, pandemic-related spending and over the Treasury’s objections.

The Government took $1.05b from the fund and “reprioritised” the money to spend on the “cost of living payment” and extended cost reductions for motorists, both rushed into existence in light of surging inflation and polling that suggested a related ebb in the Labour Party’s popularity. – Kate MacNamara

Using the contingency as the Government has means they can spend more in the short term only, ie in the lead-up to the election. When the funding runs out they will have created an unfunded cost pressure.Tony Burton

This set of facts makes a mockery of the Minister’s claims that he stuck to his operating allowance in this year’s Budget. In fact, he showed a reckless disregard for the fiscal discipline needed to keep pressure off inflation – Nicola Willis 

Arguably, most westerners just don’t take religion seriously enough to kill and die for it anymore. But free speech may also have contributed to the truce.

Over several centuries, growing acceptance of free speech made it more and more possible for Catholics and Protestants to talk through their differences. Over the same time period, the incidence of armed conflict between them diminished.

Unfortunately, our ability to speak freely on religious matters may be at risk. – Michael Johnston

As hurtful as it is to be a target of hateful comments, there are sound reasons not to criminalise those who make them.

For one thing, ridiculing religious ideas themselves arguably insults those who believe them too. So scornful remarks about religious beliefs could easily run afoul of Allen’s new laws.

For another, the new legislation, if passed, might actually increase the likelihood of violence motivated by or against religion. People who don’t feel free to voice their hateful thoughts may be more likely to act on them.

But there is an even better reason to maintain the ability to freely express ideas, even awful ones. Untrammelled expression, as bruising as it can sometimes be, tends to bring people together in the long run.

Protestants and Catholics once regarded one another as heretics. They sought to censor one another on pain of death. Now, following a long period during which peaceful dialogue has been possible, it is not unknown for them to worship together.

Our legislators would do well to reflect on that. – Michael Johnston

There are still the same number of mental health beds as there were in 2019.

Despite numerous speeches and pledges. Despite billions of dollars spent. And despite years of government activism.

Mental health patients sleep on mattresses on the floors of our hospitals. Those in the greatest need and desperation have not even the dignity of a bed.

These stories are hard to bear. They contrast sharply with New Zealand’s self-image as a kinder country. – Oliver Hartwich 

There is Weber’s ethics of conviction, and the Prime Minister shows much of that. And then there is Weber’s ethics of responsibility, which is measured in outcomes. The Government’s record on that front is abysmal.

Before I hear one more grand vision from this Government, I would love to see them tackle at least one problem satisfactorily.

The way the Government is going, I will probably wait a long time. – Oliver Hartwich 

The Prime Minister’s willingness to gaslight the nation about Five Waters is disturbing.

It takes a large dollop of brazenness — and perhaps desperation — to deny reality quite as readily as Jacinda Ardern was willing to do last Tuesday, but the Prime Minister did not resile from the task.

When Newstalk ZB’s Barry Soper asked her why the three waters (fresh water, storm water and waste water) had suddenly become five waters (with the late addition of coastal and geothermal water) in the amended Water Services Entities Bill, Ardern flatly denied that was the case.

Denying observable facts is typical of very young children before they understand that bending the truth beyond breaking point is an art that requires at least a modicum of plausibility to avoid ending up deeply and shamefully embarrassed. – Graham Adams

While this might be seen as an amusingly naive ploy in a child anxious to avoid the consequences of being caught red-handed, such behaviour is plainly alarming in an adult — and especially when that adult happens to be the Prime Minister.Graham Adams

By denying that adding coastal and geothermal water will boost the number of categories of water covered by the bill to five, Ardern was gaslighting the nation in a way that makes a quote from George Orwell’s 1984 entirely apposite: “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

The Prime Minister has always had difficulty dealing straightforwardly with dissent or criticism and is clearly allergic to admitting she is wrong — let alone getting around to apologising. She is also not above making stuff up to defend the indefensible.

However, denying that a clause in legislation means what any reasonably intelligent person — or lawyer — would accept its meaning to be is a new and worrying expression of that deep character flaw. – Graham Adams

When you are immersed in the business of politics, as she is, accusing others of “politicking” is absurd — yet she does it without any apparent awareness of how risible it is.Graham Adams

When you ride a very high horse, as the Prime Minister does, falling off can be painful and spectacular.

As the wheels of her government continue to wobble alarmingly — as they are in education, health, crime, and cost of living, to name just a few of the disasters Ardern is presiding over — watching how she reacts to the relentless criticism inevitable in an election year will bring its own horrified fascination, both for supporters and opponents alike. – Graham Adams

When I was young, kids appeared before a magistrate (a District Court Judge before 1978) sufficiently rarely that questions were raised about the young person’s family, and inadequate parental supervision. Sometimes the magistrate would rebuke the parents if a child had been wagging school, or had been out late and was unsupervised. Remedial action was usually fairly swift: parents took steps to look after their children lest there was further police action.

Over the last fifty years there has there been a steady movement away from holding parents to account for the children they bring into the world. Why all the hooha when National’s Christopher Luxon recently suggested it was time for parents of perennial young trouble-makers to be held to account? The short answer is that politicians, especially those of a left persuasion, fear voter backlash not just from the parents and the kids once they reach voting age, but from the significant industry that now farms the country’s underclass. Gradually a perception has been allowed to emerge that problems are always someone else’s responsibility to deal with, never the family’s. Yet that is where the heart of the problem lies. – Michael Bassett

Requirements that men should support the children they fathered decreased, particularly when birth mothers could refuse to name their children’s fathers. Under all these pressures, the underclass mushroomed. Quite quickly many children had no family link with anyone working for a living. The 100,000 recipients of Job-Seeker Benefits, with no experience, nor intention of working make up the bulk of a self-perpetuating stratum of modern New Zealand society. It costs the taxpayer hugely in benefits, Kainga Ora subsidies, criminal activity, police and prison time. Most of the ram raiding, knife-wielding, gun-toting young offenders come from this modern, politically-created social group.

Springing up alongside this growing disaster has been a cluster of public and private agencies that are meant to be wrestling the social tragedy into a more tolerable shape. Social welfare officers – God knows what their latest Maori label is – Kainga Ora officials who seem more scared of the underclass than it is of them, and low-level bureaucrats are all intent on safe-guarding their jobs. They feel threatened by any alternative suggestions about how to deal with, let alone diminish, today’s social problems. To you and me, a bit of tough love is fundamental to straightening out lives where bewildered and angry people lack the necessary education and life experience ever to hold down a job.

But the likes of Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson, who themselves never held responsible jobs before entering Parliament, always dismiss such ideas. – Michael Bassett

But Ardern and Robertson quickly denounce anything other than their own policies of muddle along; alternatives are “proven failures” or “futile”. Getting tough on school attendance might prevent children from going to tangis, said Ardern in what must surely have been her stupidest observation as Prime Minister. And the ministry averts its gaze from the growing number of outrages being perpetrated by today’s Kiwi underclass. The scourge of Hamilton ram-raiding and events like the Sandringham stabbing of a shop-keeper in the heart of the Prime Minister’s own electorate, get no more than a wringing-of-the-hands response and toothy expressions of sympathy from her.

Meanwhile, enormous sums keep on being spent on expanding Three (or is it now Five?) waters, centralizing Health and Education and lavishly funding “consultants”. This government has no respect for working people. Peter Fraser and Norman Kirk would not be able to recognize them, and Norman Kirk would have doubled back from the DPB many years ago. – Michael Bassett

When the Rugby Union does its review of why the Black Ferns are world champions and why the All Blacks are not, I know what they will not consider; how we are educating boys.

David Kirk, the captain of an All Black team, wrote a thoughtful rugby book, so it did not sell.

In it he said he thought the All Blacks got their edge from fathers teaching their sons the fundamentals of the game from a very young age. – Richard Prebble

The percentage of New Zealand domestic university students who are men has reached an all-time low of 39 percent. While our statistics for our failure in Maori and Pacifica education are readily available, gender statistics are much harder to find, just like America. Try doing an Internet search for boys’ education and see what I mean.

The Education Department goes so far as to post that there is no crisis and to claim boys and girls can be taught the same way. This government did a big review of all aspects of education. I could find no mention of boys’ education.  – Richard Prebble

There is a grade gap. In the seventies when we have School Certificate there was no gap. Now boys are far more likely to drop out early, fail to achieve any grades in NCEA, male enrollment at university is falling and women are far more likely to graduate.Richard Prebble

Women are successfully entering and even dominating previous male professions. We have not rethought what it means to be a male.

While women do have an advantage in the careers that require empathy it does not mean that many men don’t also have empathy. He cites the shortage of nurses. It is worldwide. Many men could have a very satisfying career in nursing. As men dominate among patients in areas like drug and alcohol addictions, we need more male nurses. Yet as a profession for men it is still looked down on. I suspect until we change our attitude we will never have enough nurses.

We have to be willing to see if things we have done to help girls have affected boys. The international educationalist Joseph Driessen says adding literacy into NCEA math to help girls worked but as boys often struggle with literacy it lowered boys’ marks. Math is a requirement of a range of occupations boys do well at. – Richard Prebble

For boys’ education, let us acknowledge that while many boys succeed too many are failing. It is not an attack on girls’ education to acknowledge girls and boys develop at different rates and learn in different ways. Richard Prebble

When you go from a 2.5 percent interest rate to a 6.5 percent interest rate and even higher, that is huge amounts of pain. How do you find $600 extra after tax to be able to deal with that and just pay the interest cost? – Christopher Luxon

We implore them once again, fix it. If this economy doesn’t get workers we’re going to have New Zealanders paying the price every time they pay at the eftpos terminal and every time they make a mortgage payment – get it sorted.Nicola Willis 

We now have a government with an absolute majority which is incompetent in all facets of government except for driving, without the consent of the people, its ideological misconception of the meaning of the Treaty of Waitangi as expressed in He Puapua.

The Water Services Entities Bill is perhaps the most egregious example of the implementation of the false premise that the Treaty signed in 1840 mandated co governance in all aspects of the governance of New Zealand.  – Graeme Reeves 

I want to bring your attention to another matter. That is the Orwellian indoctrination of the Civil Service and the bureaucrats who administer the departments of state. Graeme Reeves 

There is no accountability to the shareholders.

In fact, section 15 of the Bill makes it clear that the shareholders have no powers to do anything other than to hold shares.

The shareholdings are nothing more than a deception and a dishonest representation politically motivated to allow the government to maintain that the territorial authority’s co -own the entities when in fact none of the attributes of ownership exist. – Graeme Reeves 

Satisfaction of the Maori specific criteria are entirely subjective and will depend, to use a legal expression, on the length of the Chancellor’s foot which is not satisfactory.

In my opinion, this Bill is in itself racist, and it’s passing will be a gargantuan mistake which will change the course of race relations in New Zealand for the worse. Graeme Reeves 

Well, we made it through the pandemic alive, and now we’re going broke.

Happy bloody Christmas, Adrian Orr.

If you were dreaming of a lavish summer holiday, or bulging festive stockings after the grind of Covid lockdowns, the Reserve Bank’s own Scrooge has news for you. Winter’s coming and Christmas is cancelled. –   Andrea Vance 

There have been a number of such cases where it appears that the judiciary has looked at the equity of the case and worked backwards to find the result that suits the popular mood. Damien Grant

Many readers will find no issue with this state of affairs because the high regard we hold judges in contrasts with how we regard our MPs; and for good reason.

The process to obtain a judicial warrant requires decades of legal excellence, personal integrity and a reputation for diligence and prudence. The calibre of those who enter Parliament can be seen by how few maintain any professional life once the voters tire of their antics.

Yet the creeping expansion of judicial authority has occurred without significant public comment or civic engagement.

Like Elizabeth Baigent three decades past, we have woken up to find officers of the state running amok in areas we did not expect to find them, exercising authority we did not grant them, and no clear means of removing them. – Damien Grant

What a week. The Government would like us to be talking about whether 16 and 17-year-olds can vote. It is one of those issues that people generally have an opinion on and it’s a distraction from the major issues that have gone on this week.

They can’t pass legislation to strengthen our laws around youth crime but miraculously they can find time to bring legislation to Parliament on whether 16 and 17-year-olds can vote. They will say they had to.  – Paula Bennett

The Government looks like a deer in headlights, desperately deciding where to run to divert attention from the absolute mess we have seen this week. – Paula Bennett

As we hear this week that we are heading into a recession – and one that is predicted to last a long time – the Government would like us to be talking about whether 16 and 17-year-olds can vote. There is a lot that those 16 and 17-year-olds need. To feel safe in our beautiful country. To have hope that they may be able to buy a home one day. A bed in a mental health unit if they need it. Next year let’s hope they get a new government with the right priorities.Paula Bennett

The die is looking increasingly cast for this Government. In a range of crucial policy areas they have resolutely refused to change course in response to changed circumstances, despite people jumping up and down and telling them they are sailing on to the rocks. Now they are in the process of reaping the consequences of their intransigence. And at this late stage it seems there is precious little they can do about it.

The economy is a case in point. Grant Robertson’s refusal to alter his spending plans, his lack of interest in a more welcoming immigration policy to unstick the labour market, his failure to hold back his colleagues’ tsunami of increasing regulation, and his unwillingness to require discipline on government-mandated wage increases, have all contributed to a glum economic prognosis. – Steven Joyce

Crime is another example. This government has spent years building a reputation for being soft. They doth protest but emptying the prisons, stopping police chases, softening sentences and generally showing more interest in criminals than victims leads to a sense of lawlessness and a growing list of personal tragedies.

And so on. Health, same story. Education as well. All a case of people arriving in government with a pre-conceived and rigid set of beliefs, often harking back to the 1970s, and then resolutely refusing to respond to the evidence in front of them until it is too late.

One of the biggest messes they have made, and continue to make, is in transport infrastructure. Its hard to fathom just how big a stuff-up this has become, and how difficult it will be to put it back together again.Steven Joyce

 We’ve lost five years to paper pushing.

Now, in the face of a mounting road toll and pretty much no progress on a highway building plan, the government has resorted to the old saw of lowering speed limits, not on particular sections of road, but across the whole lot.

Ignoring that many of our road deaths occur out of driver impatience, or by people already flouting the current rules, the government has decided to punish everyone in terms of travel times and speeds, at the expense of productivity and getting home on time.

And yes it is the government. They are hiding behind NZTA but no agency advances these sorts of plans without government approval.

The only sure way to drive down our road toll is by relentlessly improving the quality of our roads. That means continuing to boost the capacity and safety of our busiest regional highways, and building more forgiving features into the not so busy ones. – Steven Joyce

There is no getting away from the fact the country has lost at least six years in building transport infrastructure and mega millions of dollars because of an ideologically driven junking of pre-existing plans. – Steven Joyce

The job for the next government will be to quickly resume a programme of transport investment focused on actual transport use rather than the fevered ideas of politicians and planners, one that is prioritised ruthlessly on actual benefits to actual users, and is funded over a decade or more so that contractors have confidence to invest in getting it built.

As with so much, it is too late for this Government and frankly beyond its wit to change tack. – Steven Joyce

But the thing I’ve realised is if you always do the right thing for the right reasons, then good things will happen.Erica Stanford 

Science deals with the natural world but matauranga is rooted in the supernatural. Science has plenty of evidence to prove that humanity evolved from apes by Darwinian natural selection. Maori believe the god Tane created people.

Science aims to make universal laws, such as Newton’s laws of motion and gravity, Ohm’s laws of electricity, and Hubble’s law of cosmic expansion. These laws apply in New Zealand as they do on distant galaxies. Matauranga is limited to local situations and local events, and has produced no universal laws.

Writing about matauranga, leading Maori thinker Aroha Te Paraeke Mead writes (2007) that “Maori are the only ones who should be controlling all aspects of its retention, transmission and protection”. By contrast, science is in public hands. Anybody can contribute to it and every word or calculation is open to world-wide challenge and criticism. But challenge matauranga and you’ll be branded a racist, and say goodbye to your funding, promotion, and perhaps your job. – Bob Brockie

The differences between world science and matauranga are so great that they cannot be reconciled. Bob Brockie

Parroting Foucault and Derrida, councillors of our Royal Society assert that science is “based on ethnocentric bias and outmoded dualisms (and the power relations embedded in them) ” and they want “to place the Treaty of Waitangi centrally and bring alongside that, inequality and diversity issues holistically”.

But the Treaty is a political document with no scientific content. It has no place in science.

The Society was once the bastion of science in New Zealand. It now champions woke anti-science and paradoxically punishes professors who defend science. Matauranga would best be taught in history or religious studies, certainly not in science. – Bob Brockie

We have one part of the system fully-funded and overseen in an apparently coherent way by the Ministry of Health (assisted suicide and euthanasia), and the other sector that doesn’t even have a strategic plan in place, that is inequitably funded, and has no coherent overview of how to develop the service,.

Why don’t we have the exact focus on palliative care, so anyone making the biggest decision of life can make an equitable, informed choice? – Dr Bryan Betty

Everyone is affected by death and dying. That is part of health. Good dying and having equitable choice is a fundamental part of the healthcare system we set up. It has to be given space and focus at this point. – Dr Bryan Betty

What Labour and  have done is vote for to entrench a clause relating to something which is merely a public policy issue, and have done so without bipartisan support. This is repugnant behaviour. – David Farrar

Super-majority entrenchment will only remain respected if it is used solely for constitutional protections, and for laws that were passed with over-whelming bipartisan support.

In this current case, the Government is actually using it almost as a PR stunt, as it deal with not privatising the Three Waters assets. This is a bogeyman created entirely by the Government. They are the only ones talking privatisation. Not a single Council has ever proposed selling off their water infrastructure. – David Farrar

We make our parliament “supreme” in the sense that a bare majority of its MPs can enact any law they want on any subject they want. However, we temper that power somewhat by saying that a future bare majority of MPs, perhaps elected by future voters, can revisit any of those laws and change them to reflect what they now think best.

This approach is rooted in ongoing democratic accountability. Electing MPs entrusts them with overall law-making power, which we then evaluate at subsequent election. If we disapprove of how that power has been used, we can pick another lot of MPs, who can use their law-making powers to fix things up. Should the majority viewpoint change, then the law can easily change along with it. Parliament’s law-making power is vast, but it is always contingent.Andrew Geddis

For those lacking the appetite for a 10,000-word academic article, basically it was a political deal to stop MPs from any party being tempted to game these electoral rules in ways that might help them stay in power. Because, if our system of parliamentary supremacy over the law depends on MPs being freely and fairly elected by the voters, you want to make sure that our elections are free and the rules under which they get elected are fair!

This particular entrenchment provision has been scrupulously abided by in the subsequent 66 years.  – Andrew Geddis

Why does this matter? Well, first note the 60% threshold for future change. That number doesn’t reflect a principled decision on the appropriate level of parliamentary support for change. It just happens to be the current number of MPs from the Green and Labour Parties who were prepared to support Sage’s amendment. Because, parliament’s rules say that an entrenchment provision in a bill must be supported by at least the same number of MPs as it requires for future amendments. Had 70% of MPs supported including the entrenchment provision, the threshold would have been set at this level.

Second, and perhaps more important, note what this entrenchment protection applies to. Certainly, future ownership of water matters. Whether it lies in public or private hands is a really important question of policy. However, it is still just a question of policy.

It’s different from the provisions entrenched in the Electoral Act, which go to core matters regarding the fairness of the process that chooses who governs the country. We can’t really trust a bare majority of MPs, elected as they are and so eager to win and keep political power, to make rules here. Or, at least, there will always be the suspicion that any rules they make will reflect that bare majority’s personal, partisan interests instead of their best considered view of the right thing to do.Andrew Geddis

Why, then, should we say that future MPs can only act to make it easier to privatise water where a super-majority of 60% of them want to do so? What makes this one particular policy issue of such importance that it requires a different, much harder parliamentary law-making process than any other?

The point being, what happened on Wednesday was a potentially momentous broadening out of an existing wrinkle in our system of parliamentary governance. Since 1956, our law has said that some key bits of our electoral system are so at risk of partisan gaming that we can’t trust a bare majority of MPs to decide them. Now, the amended three waters legislation also says that there is a basic policy issue that is so overwhelmingly important as to justify today’s MPs placing handcuffs on tomorrow’s MPs when dealing with it.

If that is indeed the case, what other sorts of issues might a supermajority of MPs think rise to that level? And, in this brave new world, what happens to our system of parliamentary law-making, based as it is on the assumption that the view of the current majority is always subject to revision by the future’s?- Andrew Geddis

The real danger is it opens up possibilities of entrenchment on other matters. It’s not beyond imagination that a National-ACT Government may in the future decide to entrench a three strikes law on the basis that being safe is important policy.

We start this set of shenanigans about using it for those types of policy matters that don’t have that widespread support. We get the sort of game playing which is unlikely to end wellDean Knight

It is constitutionally concerning and exceptional for a policy matter like this to be entrenched, and for it to be formally dropped-in at such a late stage, so it didn’t have the time … for a debate about whether we want to change our constitution to allow for this type of thing.

“Using this sort of the entrenchment as handcuffs, in a slightly cheeky way … risks upsetting the traditions and expectations around entrenchment, whether it’s enforceable, whether there are conventions that you just can’t repeal them anyway, those sorts of things. – Dean Knight

If waterways and freshwater in this country were unequivocally recognised in New Zealand law as the life blood of the land, which cannot be owned by human beings but only held in trust for future generations to enjoy, then flawed legal devices such as ‘entrenchment’ would not be needed, and the spectre of ‘privatisation’ would vanish.Dame Anne Salmond 

OK. Watch out for what you wish for.

You’ve done it, you’ve broken the convention, you’ve shown there’s a different way of doing things. See you at the election – if you’re not in the majority at the next election, don’t cry when it gets done to you. – Andrew Geddis 

It is a fundamental principle of our representative democracy that the current Parliament should not be able to bind its successors. The use of entrenchment to protect a piece of law from being changed or repealed via a simple parliamentary majority goes against this fundamental principle. By entrenching a current government’s policy preference, we either reduce the ability of future governments to legislate or, more likely; we undermine the current importance that we grant to entrenched constitutional provisions.Maxim Institute

Our informal constitution relies on conventions and norms to continue functioning. These norms only work when all in and around power continue to uphold them. It is concerning that those in Government saw little wrong in introducing this entrenching provision and have sought to defend it. It is also worrying that there was little reaction to the provision from the Opposition or wider media at the time it was made. Legal academics have driven the pushback to this provision, and it is heartening that there is still room for the academy to function as the “critic and conscience of society.” – Maxim Institute

Mention woke indoctrination in schools and most people might imagine something like a pink-haired, nonbinary teacher forcing children to take the knee for Black Lives Matter. If you look on TikTok, you will find no shortage of such teachers gleefully revealing how they sneak Pride flags, LGBTQ+ books and BLM posters into the classroom. Certainly, there are plenty of activist teachers working in schools, who see pupils as a captive audience. Yet as worrying as such examples may be, they are merely the tip of the iceberg.Joanna Williams

These ideas have gained ground precisely because it is not just pink-haired TikTok teachers who are intent on promoting a one-sided, politically motivated view of the world. It is also the academics who write the school curriculum and textbooks. It is the university educationalists who train each new generation of teachers. It is the journalists and campaigners outside of schools who agitate for their own pet issues to gain a hearing in the classroom. And it is the people who stock the school library and put together online resources for teachers and children alike. The upshot is that when it comes to English, history, geography and even maths, the curriculum itself has become politicised.

Discussions of gender identity and ideas that emerge from critical race theory are not just a sneaky addition to the ‘proper’ curriculum. They are now central to what and how children are taught. In many schools, books featuring transgender characters are used in literature classes not because of the quality of the writing, but because of the issues about identity that such texts raise. Similarly, slavery and empire feature on the history curriculum not so much because of their important place in human history, but more as a means of discussing current concerns with race and racism. And all of this is in addition to the assemblies, form periods, PSHE classes and RSE lessons that provide a forum for promoting the woke outlook. In these kinds of lessons, social engineering really is the main point. – Joanna Williams

The attitudes young adults are likely to have encountered while at school stand in contrast to the Enlightenment values that have shaped Western societies for the past two centuries. The Policy Exchange report adds to a growing body of evidence showing that young people are more sceptical about the importance of free speech, democracy and tolerance than older age groups. It shows that those aged 18 to 25 are evenly split on whether the gender-critical academic Kathleen Stock should have been defended by her university when she came under attack from trans activists. They are also split on whether Harry Potter author JK Rowling should have been dropped by her publisher for her comments on trans issues. In contrast, older adults are more likely to value freedom of expression over censorship. And while 38 per cent of young adults agree with the idea of removing Winston Churchill’s statue from Parliament Square because he held racist views, among adults as a whole this figure falls to just 12 per cent.

Education and indoctrination have become blurred, and the impact of this is now being felt beyond the school gates. We need to tackle this problem head-on. Sadly, it is no longer enough to say that teachers should simply stick to teaching when the curriculum itself is so politicised. Instead, we need a wider debate about the purpose of schools. And parents need to be given much clearer information about exactly what their children are being taught. We need teachers to be more ambitious when it comes to conveying subject knowledge, less keen on promoting their own political views and wise enough to know the difference between the two. – Joanna Williams

As big a figure as he was, his aura was never greater than when he had to use a wheelchair because of the effects of motor neurone disease (MND). He was never stronger than when his body was breaking down, never more commanding of worldwide respect than when he’d lost the ability to speak and could only communicate via a voice app operated with his eyes darting around a screen of letters.

His relentless energy in fighting an illness without cure was awe-inspiring. He said the only drug available to him was positivity – and he gorged merrily on it. The many millions of pounds he raised for research through his My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, the money donated to families who were suffering as his family were suffering, the lives he made better along the way. His legacy could circumnavigate the rugby world many times over. – Tom English

His attitude was rooted in grim realism. This thing had befallen him and he had better “crack on” as he put it. “I have never, ever thought ‘Why me?’ It was, ‘Right, let’s get this sorted… it’s like with rugby. If you don’t get in the team, do you give up your jersey or do you fight?”Tom English

In New Zealand over the last five years (including, but not limited to, the Government’s Covid response) the tide has gone out on the New Zealand education system. I doubt that there is a single, even semi-informed, observer who could claim any more that we have a world-class system. – Alwyn Poole

The crisis already exists but has been covered up for a long time. It is now widely known that our education system is a mess and many schools are simply not fit for purpose.

Some key indicators are that: Even our Level 2 NCEA graduates often lack functional numeracy and literacy. We have in excess of 8500 students not enrolled in any school as of July. Our full attendance for Term 2 was less than 40% across all deciles and just 23% for decile 1 students. We have 12% of our students graduating with less than Level 1 NCEA (33% for Māori students in South Auckland). The gaps across socio-economic levels are the worst in the developed world. Our ethnic gaps are also horrendous with Asian students getting University Entrance for leavers at 67%, back to Māori at 18%.Alwyn Poole

Labour keeps stating that this decline started under National. Under National there was a slight downward trend in attendance. Labour drove the school attendance bus off the cliff.  – Alwyn Poole

Who will take responsibility? The Ministry of Education, whose email footnote states: “We shape an education system that delivers equitable and excellent outcomes”? NZ’s school attendance is behind all the key countries we compare ourselves with (including 15 percentage points behind Australia).

When principals complain about the new credits for functional literacy and numeracy they need to remember that they can be achieved at any time from Year 10 to Year 13. Are they really saying they can’t help students achieve functional literacy and numeracy in five years? The sitting students will have had 12,000 hours of funded schooling each by then. – Alwyn Poole

Where they are right is that there needs to be major change in both parenting and schooling. – Alwyn Poole

As a nation we need massive education and support for pregnant women/partners regarding care for their children in-utero, including a huge programme to counter foetal alcohol spectrum disorder and other harms. We need it to be imperative that parents are the first (and most important) teachers for ages 0–5, including health, reading, numeracy, movement, music, languages. 

Then it is time for all parents across NZ to ask the hard questions about school leadership, school quality, teacher quality and to demand a LOT better. Parents fund the schooling and it is their children. They deserve better, but they need to be prepared to help.Alwyn Poole

Our primary school teaching and learning needs overhauling and a lot of the busy work and downtime needs to go. Primary teacher qualifications in English, Maths and Science need significant upgrading.

The Education Review Office says schools should make attending more “enjoyable” (aka fun). How about – inspirational, aspirational, high quality, demanding?

When the tide is out it is the very best time to make things right. – Alwyn Poole

The MIQ system was shockingly designed, fundamentally flawed and ended up in court with a loss for the Government.

It was a foray into repression and fury that was never really needed and a very good example of what this Government has become famous for – dreaming up a plan then cocking it up.

The famous got access to The Wiggles and Jacinda Ardern’s favourite DJs while people were locked out and forced to watch loved ones die, loved ones get married via zoom and that mad lottery of getting up at all hours and watching as you yet again got a number that would not get you anywhere close to getting a room and into the country.

Charlotte Bellis, remember her? The pregnant journalist who bullied her way in by embarrassing Chris Hipkins into submission – the whole thing was a grotesque mess. Mike Hosking

Governments have to run on their record. Last term, Labour successfully locked down the country. Then they overdid the lockdowns. This term what has Labour achieved?

Labour inherited a strong economy and an excellent set of books. Labour promised to be fiscally prudent. Covid was used as an excuse to wriggle out of that pledge.

Labour did inherit issues in housing, health and education. After five years the issues are worse. Tens of thousands of households are going to struggle to service 8 per cent mortgages. Health services are failing. The Government’s priority is a Māori Health Authority. Meanwhile, 98 per cent of pupils graduating from decile 10 schools would fail NCEA literacy. – Richard Prebble

It feels like karma. Labour’s re-election was helped by the Reserve Bank at one stage printing a billion dollars a week to pump up the economy. To correct the inflation caused by that money printing the Reserve Bank is helping defeat Labour.

No one would want to campaign on Labour’s record. All Labour can do is try to convince us that National and Christopher Luxon would be worse. It is possible but hard to imagine. Richard Prebble

Labour must press ahead with its unpopular Three Waters. Labour is fighting a two-front election campaign. National and Act on one front. The Māori Party on the second front. Labour cannot abandon co-government without also abandoning the Māori seats.

The next 12 months are going to be very dangerous. We have no written constitution restraining Labour. The only sanction on any government is the knowledge that they will be accountable in an election. This is why three years may be too short for a good government but too long for a bad one.

Ministers can read the polls. Labour will ignore the Reserve Bank’s advice.

Ministers will go on borrowing and spending. Labour intends to leave inflation as the next government’s problem. Paying back the borrowing is another problem for a future government. It is called laying a minefield. – Richard Prebble

Luxon and Act’s David Seymour had better factor into their plans the likelihood of many unexploded bombs. The health system appears close to a systematic failure. The briefing for the incoming ministers in many portfolios will make a very grim reading.

There is an even greater danger. MPs who think they are dog tucker can be tempted to try to defeat the outcome of the election.

It is fundamental to democracy that one parliament cannot bind future parliaments.

Not anymore. In the Three Waters bill that critics say privatises billions of dollars of ratepayers’ assets into effective ownership by tribal entities, Green MP Eugenie Sage has an amendment. The amendment requires a 60 per cent vote by future parliaments to privatise the assets. Go figure. Intellectual rigour is not prized in the Green caucus. Under urgency, Labour supported the Green Party amendment.  Richard Prebble

In 168 years of the New Zealand Parliament, no government has ever attempted to entrench its policies.  Richard Prebble

Labour and the Greens have committed a constitutional outrage. It is an attack on democracy. Even if the reaction forces a U-turn it shows Labour and the Greens are willing to abuse their power.

Lame duck governments are dangerous. Richard Prebble

THE MORE THE VOTERS DISCOVER about Labour’s Three Waters, the less they like it. No matter, this Government has clearly decided that, if it is to be destroyed, then Three Waters is the hill upon which it will die. That being the case – and the still-unfolding Entrenchment Crisis leaves little room for doubt – then the only real question to be answered is: Why? What is it about the Three Waters project that renders it impervious to rational reconsideration

When a group of people refuse to accept they have made a poor choice – even as it threatens to destroy them – then it is a reasonably safe bet that they are in the grip of dangerously delusional thinking. Cult-like thinking, some might even suggest. But is it credible to suggest that a mainstream political party could fall victim to delusional thinking on such a scale? Is Labour really crazy enough to put its long-term survival at risk? – Chris Trotter

What idea is big enough to derange the Labour Party into courting electoral suicide? The answer would appear to involve a radical revision of New Zealand history. Something along the lines of the colonisation of Aotearoa being a heinous historical crime. In this narrative, the colonial state is identified as the institution most responsible for the criminal dispossession of Aotearoa’s indigenous Māori population. Labour’s big idea is to facilitate a revolutionary reconstitution of the New Zealand state.

Now, where would Labour get an idea like that? Putting to one side Labour’s Māori caucus, whose interest in such an historical project is entirely understandable, how could Labour’s Pakeha MPs have picked up such a self-destructive notion? Well, the university graduates in Labour’s caucus (which is to say nearly all of them) are highly likely to have come across arguments for “decolonisation” at some point in their studies. The lawyers among them would certainly have encountered and absorbed “the principles of the Treaty”. So, too, would those coming to the Labour Party from the state sector. Chris Trotter

The version of New Zealand history conveyed to those attending these workshops is remarkably consistent: colonisers = baddies; the heroic Māori who resisted the colonisers’ ruthless predations = goodies. Only by giving full effect to te Tiriti o Waitangi can the wrongs of the past be righted: only then will equity and justice prevail.

Many of those attending Treaty workshops will have been invited to “check their privilege” and “confront their racism”. This can be a harrowing experience for many Pakeha, leaving them with a strong inclination to keep silent and step aside whenever those on the receiving end of “white privilege” are encouraged to step forward and speak out. In the most extreme cases, Pakeha are actively discouraged from sharing their opinions, lest their higher education and superior facility with the English language overawe and “silence” those denied such privileges.

When Labour’s Māori caucus (the largest ever after the 2020 general election) sought to take full advantage of the party’s absolute parliamentary majority to advance their Treaty-centric agenda, it is entirely possible they found themselves pushing on an open door. – Chris Trotter

It is, perhaps, unsurprising that Labour’s Māori caucus has found the party’s Pakeha majority so easy to cajole into backing what, from its perspective, is an entirely legitimate constitutional agenda. Led by Nanaia Mahuta and Willie Jackson, the Māori caucus has taken full advantage of the fact that their Pakeha colleagues’ lack of constitutional conviction has never been a match for their own passionate intensity.

Three Waters may be the hill Labour dies on, but when the victors survey the field of battle, the only corpses they’ll find will be Pakeha. Each one clutching the “Big Idea” for which their party has paid the ultimate price. Chris Trotter

While tinkering around the house is an enjoyable pastime that can also yield some improvements, it is not a productive approach to government policy-making, and rarely leads to the best of outcomes. – Leeann Watson

New Zealand’s political environment seems to be stuck in an unfortunate position, because of the three-year election cycle, where we tend not to bother on the big things, and we instead focus on tinkering with the little things– the quick wins and the headline grabbers. And when we do focus on the big things, we do it in a way that is rushed, and often not with a long-term view in mind. We’ve digressed from a Parliament that is solely focused on creating better outcomes for New Zealanders, and identifying problems before we attempt to fix them.Leeann Watson

One of the big pieces of legislation that has been plaguing the business community this year is Fair Pay Agreements. In my previous column, I wrote about these in more depth, and I will repeat the point we hear from Canterbury businesses ad nauseam. Why has a complicated and convoluted piece of legislation that will make it more difficult for businesses to operate been introduced to solve a problem that does not exist? New Zealand enjoys some of the best employment relations in the developed world, with flexibility and agility that we cannot lose. So what are we fixing?

One of the pieces of legislation that was introduced in urgency last week was one that will require all businesses in New Zealand to elect a health and safety representative, including the small business that might employ three people, which now has to invest in training for their staff, at a time where the economy is under significant pressure. Previously, small businesses did not need to worry about this unless they were a high-risk industry, such as forestry or mining, so, again, what is the problem we are trying to solve? Are small businesses really that unsafe?

The business community is losing faith in our policymakers’ ability to define problems and create meaningful and fair solutions. We are stuck in a Catch-22 type situation, because the complex problems that need to be addressed – rising levels of crime, investment in infrastructure, reforming aspects of our public system that are not delivering successful outcomes – all require a long-term approach. And the level and extent of reform needed to fix them, is prohibited by election cycles. – Leeann Watson

Reform is a word that has lost its true meaning. Reform is bold. Reform is about pulling things apart and reassembling something that is faster, better and more efficient than it was originally. The reform we have seen of late has not fit that definition at all.

Let’s consider the reform of the health system. A new name and a restructure is not a reform. It is a new name and a restructure. The same entity still exists, and it is still delivering the same outcomes and, in some cases, maybe worse than before. The components might look different, or be slotted in a slightly different place, but it is still the same. It hasn’t gained anything new, or lost anything clunky that is preventing it from delivering better outcomes for New Zealanders. As has been the case in Christchurch this year, cancelling all non-urgent appointments because the system is about to collapse under pressure is just not acceptable. A new name is not going to fix that.Leeann Watson

At a time when we desperately need to be investing and focusing our attention on equipping the future workforce, we are seeing the merger of entities – some of which are performing quite well on their own. The headlines, instead, indicate it is fraught with scandals, resignations, and our future workforce, and our younger generation, are no better off because of it.

That’s not to mention the changes in almost every other aspect of the public sector that are occurring, including Three Waters. Is changing everything, all the time, all at once, really the best method? Should we not be focusing on the most pressing issues first and doing it properly, with a view of creating better outcomes over the long term rather than quick wins? – Leeann Watson

 Christchurch aside, where new infrastructure was required immediately due to the earthquakes, elsewhere in New Zealand we seem to take the approach that it is not until a road is constantly congested, and motorists (read: voters) are unhappy, that we make decisions to invest and expand. We should be starting projects decades before they are needed. Not after they’re needed. But that doesn’t win votes.

There is a growing and quite compelling case that our current electoral system is limiting the ability for successive Governments to be bold and to engage in actual reform, and not just tinker with minor alterations and the headline-grabbing policy wins that sound great on paper and are good for the polls, rather than the tough actions that solve problems, and leave New Zealand in a better position.

As we head into the barbeque season before an election year and the inevitable political debates amongst family and friends occur, maybe it’s time to focus on the system and not the political personalities, and consider, whether it may not necessarily be the political parties alone that are not delivering to their best extent, but rather a political system that is not hindering the ability to deliver long term outcomes – and a public service as a whole that would benefit from a new operating model that enables agility, innovation, a growth mindset and is focused on execution versus tinkering.Leeann Watson

This new fog canon measure is too late – they know it, we know it.

Worse yet, the PM tried to deflect all blame from her Government by saying that there’d be a delay on said fog cannons – due to a global shortage. This turns out to be an outright lie.

Newstalk ZB Drive host Heather du Plessis Allan smelt a rat straight away and last night called a fog cannon supplier to fact check the PM on this one. No surprises in his response.. he said to her, ‘I see the Queen of Spin is at it again..’

He said the facts are, there is no global shortage of fog cannons, the supply issue is due to the Government not placing any orders for them. They’ve dropped the ball, again. – Kate Hawkesby

So the delay is the Government’s fault, it’s on them. Remind anyone of the vaccine rollout?

This is a government of inaction and indecision. Unless it’s Three Waters legislation of course, that appears to be able to be rammed through no holds barred. But this fog canon supply shortage claim – or should I say lie, is akin to the same lie the PM trotted out yesterday, that the Government’s new increased support for dairy business owners is not based on the death of Janak Patel. – Kate Hawkesby

The Government wants to pretend it’s considerate, organized and proactive enough not to wait for a death, in order to act, but that’s simply not true. Spinning us lies is just not working anymore; this Government has a credibility problem.

The PM has a credibility problem. Included in her post Cab was the other audacious claim that they’ve been tough on crime.

She “rejected” criticism her Government was soft on crime. She “rejected” that the Government had acted too slowly, she “rejected” the idea that it took Patel’s death for the Government to act. – Kate Hawkesby

I can tell you this for nothing, rejecting this stuff doesn’t make it go away. It is a crisis for every single victim and every family member of victims in these burglaries and raids.

But the other real crisis we’re in at the moment is a spin crisis. There’s too much of it coming from the Pulpit of Truth.

We’re drowning in it; we’re exhausted from being fed it. I do worry about all those who just accept it without question though, or have checked out because they don’t even care anymore.

We should care; we are being fed a steady diet of BS, from a government that has no idea what the words accountability or responsibility mean.Kate Hawkesby

In his great book titled Russia in 1839, the Marquis de Custine called the Tsar “eagle and insect.” He was eagle because he soared high above the country over which he ruled, completely alone, taking it all in at a glance, but he was insect because there was nothing too small or trivial for him to interfere with: he or his power burrowed into the very fabric of society as a termite burrows into the fabric of a wooden house. There was no escaping him.

This is the image I have in my mind of the operation of the adherents of Woke ideology. They have a grand vision, at least implicitly, both about the nature of the society in which they live and what should replace it. Insufficient, incoherent, or absurd as their vision might be, it actuates them. As human history demonstrates, intellectual insufficiency is no bar to effectiveness in the search for power; indeed it might be an advantage insofar as more scrupulous searchers after truth and goodness are riven by doubt.

On the other hand, nothing is too small for their attention. Being visionaries, they can infuse their slightest actions with the most grandiose theoretical significance. This gives them self-importance and confidence that they are doing what once might have been called God’s work. Triviality is thus reconciled with transcendence. They are part of the movement of History with a capital H, whose right side they both define and bring forward by their actions. – Theodore Dalrypmple

The eagle is sharp-eyed while the adherent of Woke ideology has cataracts. When the house crumbles to dust because of the action of the termites, it is not because they desired such a denouement: it was, rather, a natural consequence of their conduct. The destruction wrought by the adherents of Woke ideology is a good deal more deliberate. Theodore Dalrypmple

I have been proud to be part of the New Zealand health sector. When I started in GP I didn’t feel the need to have private health insurance. The health system, while it had its limitations, generally worked well. I would do everything I could to manage the patient in the community and when I needed help I could refer the patient on and they would be seen. I was so proud of the initial government response to Covid, one that prioritised public safety, that I applied for citizenship.

How things have changed. The health system is fundamentally broken and I can’t see how it is going to be fixed. Patients who need to be managed in secondary care aren’t, instead being pushed back into primary care. Patients going to Emergency are not getting the imaging they require on presentation; they are given pain relief and told to see their GP in the morning and get referred for an ultrasound. The patient then needs to pay to see me (and I usually have to double-book them to see them promptly). Unless they are one of the chosen few eligible for community-funded radiology that ultrasound will cost them $280 and will require a four week wait.

Good medical practice prioritises early intervention for children with developmental delays. The Child Development Service, which does the majority of assessments for autism, global developmental delay and other conditions, has a waitlist of over 12 months. Even if a family has the resources to go private, I have no one to refer to. – Dr Corinne Glenn

Every consult becomes more and more complex as patients get sicker waiting for care. Patients have to wait longer for an appointment so by the time they come there are multiple issues to deal with. Follow-up is hard as patients struggle to pay for repeat appointments. We don’t have the medications that are bog-standard in other parts of the world. We have only recently funded some diabetes medications (empagliflozin and dulaglutide) that are second line treatments elsewhere. The special authority criteria are so strict there are many who can’t access them.

Please don’t mention mental health. Again, I am really confident managing a range of mental health conditions. However good mental health management requires a team. Access to counsellors, and sometimes a psychiatrist. There is no one I can refer to. Funded counselling is very scarce and limited to the most needy. Most people can’t afford to pay $160-170 an hour to see a psychologist and even if they can, I can’t find one with open books. If I have a patient in crisis in my rooms and I need to call the Crisis Team, I wait on hold for 30-40 minutes. The patient has normally left the room by then and my other patients are left waiting.

No new antidepressants have been funded for years. GPs are often accused of jumping straight to medication – but often it is the only affordable option I have to offer patients.Dr Corinne Glenn

So much of my time is spent battling to get patients the care they need. As soon as a patient comes in I am desperately looking at their demographic: do they have a community services card? What quintile is their address in? If they don’t have a community services card and live in a quintile 3 street I have no chance of getting them counselling or imaging that they don’t have to pay for (and usually can’t).

I used to be able to have some friendly banter with my practice team during the day. Now I sit in my room through breaks, trying to catch up on the neverending mounds of paperwork. ACC requests for information. Ministry of Social Development disability forms. Letters for Kainga Ora for a place without stairs for my patient with severe arthritis. I work most evenings and for two hours on a Sunday. One Friday evening at 5.30 I logged out of the patient management system. By Saturday afternoon when I logged back in I had 105 inbox documents waiting to be checked. Dinner table conversation is taken up with stories of patients I can’t help. Sometimes I can share a win, however those are getting fewer by the week. – Dr Corinne Glenn

Some days I am filled with rage at the injustice of it all. Some days I am just tired and sad. I am proud of the work that I do, but I am no longer proud of the system I work in.

I have sold my house and put in my notice. I fly back to Australia on Boxing Day. I have a new job lined up – it really wasn’t hard to find one. GPs are just as scarce as they are here. The Australian system is different. It has its pros and cons. All I know is that I can’t stay here.

The New Zealand health system is broken, and it has broken me.Dr Corinne Glenn

We’re told that the fundamental problem is poverty. Well guess what? The only sure path out of poverty begins with education. Lotto isn’t going to do it, and nor is social welfare.

I understand that some of us ordinary folk might have difficulty with the extraordinarily complex idea (not!) of taking kids out of a toxic environment and giving them a chance to learn skills and develop attitudes that will change their lives for the better. The media, though, has no excuse.

Whatever one thinks of National’s “boot camp” proposal for recidivist young offenders — my view is that it offers a promising start, but is only one ingredient of a proper solution — it is surely worth discussing, and considering, without the hysterics displayed by many. – Peter Jackson

For a start, who says taking kids who are well on the way to becoming career criminals out of the environment that has damaged them so and putting them where, for the first time in their lives, they have the chance to fulfil their potential is punitive? Have I missed something here?

As I read it, these “boot camps” (a derogatory term that is designed to disparage the policy before it even gets off the ground) will have nothing to do with punishment. If you’re going to bandy about words like brutal and punitive, then obviously you know something I don’t. Peter Jackson

Sixty per cent of kids aren’t attending school regularly. The Government’s less than lofty goal is to reduce that to 30 per cent over the next couple of years. And you don’t have to be an expert to understand how kids who are under-educated are likely to fare as adults.

We’re told that the fundamental problem is poverty. Well guess what? The only sure path out of poverty begins with education.

Lotto isn’t going to do it, and nor is social welfare. There is no reason, apart from poor parenting and misguided politicians, why every child in this country shouldn’t have a shot at succeeding, in whatever it is that they want to do. And for some, National’s proposal will be a godsend. – Peter Jackson

I do have a proviso. There seems to be little point in giving young people a glimpse of what the world could offer them, if, at the end of the programme, they are sent back to the same dysfunctional families that they came from. While the kids are away, their families will need to be “rehabilitated”. It is totally unrealistic to expect a young teenager to come home, with a whole new outlook on life, not to be dragged back down by drug and alcohol abuse, violence, dishonesty and whatever else made them the way they were in the first place.

We also need to restore education to the pedestal it should be sitting on. All you need to know about where we’ve gone wrong is encapsulated in the current drive to make school so interesting and exciting that kids will want to be there. Do sane, rational people actually believe this stuff?

There is a reason why primary and secondary schooling are called compulsory education. It is compulsory, and parents who don’t send their kids to school are breaking the law. More to the point, they are likely sentencing their children to lives of misery. – Peter Jackson

Is it possible that we’ll see the defeat of the Russian Army and the collapse of the Chinese Communist Party in the same year? Authoritarians can only squeeze their people so far, and liberal democracy, for all its greedy bankers and silly pronouns, still has the moral upper hand. Yet one feels impotent in the face of such evil.Tim Stanley

Foreign tyrants are leviathans with feet of clay, and our own government should not limit our liberties in order to supposedly protect us against them. – Pierre Lemieux

If we exclude possible wars, there is only one reason why residents of a free, or more or less free, country should feel economically threatened by a foreign authoritarian state. It is that the subjects of the latter will have limited opportunities to trade, both among themselves and internationally, and will thus be poorer. And it is more beneficial to have trading partners, either as suppliers or customers, who are richer than poorer.Pierre Lemieux

It is true that leviathans like the Russian, Chinese, or North Korean states finance themselves out of the total production of all their subjects. Especially with nuclear weapons, they represent a security risk for other individuals in the world; I think that they would even be dangerously to an anarchic society if such a society ever exists. But trying to become like “them” in order to protect us against them provides only an illusion of security.

Protectionism is one big step in this fool’s errand, at least when an actual war is not raging. – Pierre Lemieux

Terrorist charges need to be used for terrorist activity, not regulating material that has nothing to do with terrorism. Watering down such a significant term runs the risk of seeing Kiwis legally branded ‘terrorists’ without ever performing any terrorist act, or even accessing material which promotes terrorism. 

The act of terrorism comes with appropriately harsh penalties. By extending terrorism related charges to individuals who possess certain ‘objectionable material’, these significant penalties may be placed on those who have simply accessed censored material, despite it being unrelated to terrorism.

Legislation already allows for individuals in possession of material which advocates or inspires terrorism to be charged under terrorism laws. Extending this further to material that is entirely unrelated to terrorism is a law ripe for abuse.

New Zealand already has a strict censorship regime. It’s not hard to imagine the incredible harm which could occur to speech rights and other liberties if this amendment was used as a precedent to justify the prohibition of other material under terrorism legislation. –  Jonathan Ayling


‘It beggars belief ‘

23/11/2022

Take 608 acute mental health beds, add $1.9 billion and how many beds do you get?

When Labour came to power the country had 608 beds for acute mental health patients.

Five years and billions of dollars of health funding later, New Zealand still has 608 beds for acute mental health patients. . . 

Back in 2019, the Government announced a $1.9 billion programme to fix it up. But Newshub can reveal there are exactly the same number of acute mental health beds now as there were when Labour took office. . . 

In 2017, there were 608 beds. It’s fluctuated since then, reaching a peak of 619 in 2021, but now we’re back where we started at 608 beds.

608 + $1.9 billion = 608? That doesn’t compute.

An increase of 11 then back to where it started, how can that happen?

“It’s quite astonishing that the Government has gone and spent $1.9 billion of taxpayers’ money on mental health and we don’t have a single extra mental health bed available,” said National leader Christopher Luxon.

“You’ve gotta ask the questions, where has the money gone?”

That’s a very good question which doesn’t appear to have any very good answers.

Little said it’s “taking way longer than it should do, but there is progress now evident”.

Is it evident to the people needing beds and the people looking after them?

Is it evident to the people who expect very big things from spending very large amounts of taxpayers’ money?

Now new documents reveal it’s still so bad ministers have directed their implementation unit to team up with the Infrastructure Commission and “complete a deep dive” into each of the 16 Mental Health Infrastructure Programme projects and create a delivery plan that “ensures projects gain momentum and get moving”.

“The funding was available from 2019, the commitment was available from that time. It still beggars belief for me that it has taken this long to get those things going,” Little said. 

It beggars belief for mental health patients too. . . 

It also beggars belief for anyone who expects governments to make a positive difference with the spending they authorise.

It beggars belief that someone in charge of this debacle hasn’t been sacked as anyone in the private sector would be.

It beggars belief that after five long years, no-one in the government has learned that making announcements doesn’t magically make things happen and that they are responsible for ensuring that money spent makes a positive difference and does so in a reasonable time.


All principals equal?

17/11/2022

A principal, who stood for Labour in an election, isn’t happy at the idea not all principals are equally good:

A school principal has slammed National Party leader Christopher Luxon for blaming “mixed standards of leadership” across schools for low attendance levels. 

It comes after Newshub revealed last week that just 40 percent of Kiwi kids are attending school regularly, according to fresh figures out from the Ministry of Education.

Figures obtained by Newshub show the breakdown of students who’ve been unenrolled for more than a year by region. Of the nearly 1000 Kiwi kids not attending school for 13 months or more, 527 are in Auckland, 122 are in Waikato and 71 are in the Bay of Plenty. They make up 74 percent of the total.

Luxon told AM on Wednesday the level of kids not attending school is “really incredibly sobering” and there is a “mixed standard of leadership” across New Zealand’s schools.

“So the first thing is we’ve got to make sure the Government is actually putting resources into truancy officers, getting kids to school. We need to make sure we’ve actually got leadership in schools that are actually very much focussed on getting kids into school,” Luxon told AM co-host Ryan Bridge. 

Putting resources into truancy officers and getting kids to school shouldn’t be controversial, nor should the view that not all schools have good leadership. Principals, like any other group have a range of abilities and competence.

Bridge questioned Luxon, saying there are no school leaders in New Zealand who aren’t focused on getting kids into school, but the National Party leader disagreed. 

“There is a mixed standard of leadership across our schools and across our principles which actually means they are not focussing as strongly only on getting kids to school as they can,” Luxon said. 

Hora Hora School principal and Tai Tokerau Principal Association president Pat Newman hit back at Luxon’s remarks, saying his comments point more to a “mixed bag of leadership within politicians”.

There is a mixed bag of leadership within politicians, just as there is in any organisation, including schools.

Luxon said New Zealand doesn’t need to accept “abysmal results” when there are pockets of excellence like Manurewa Intermediate School.

When pressed by Bridge about what school leaders are accepting “abysmal results”, Luxon said there is a mixed standard across the country.

“What I’m talking about is we have standards of excellence where you can get a decile one school delivering high levels of attendance and yet across the whole country, we can’t [deliver high rates of attendance], and it requires a systemic response to say we’re not going to make any more excuses,” Luxon said.

“You can’t run a country and have a future when you have 40 percent of your kids attending school, that’s just not going to cut it. It’s a moral failure.  It’s a social failure. It’s an economic crisis. So we have to all, Government schools and parents, be really accountable for getting our kids to school. That’s what matters most in our education system.”  . . 

Failing children at school is failing their futures and the future of the country.

The reasons for the failures are many, some are complex and start long before children get to school, but school leadership is one of them.

Children know the difference between good, mediocre and poor principals as do parents, and teachers.

North Otago has recent examples where one principal left the school doing very well, the next dragged it down and his replacement has had to work very hard to bring it up again.

If a principal, and union head, doesn’t recognise that not all principals are equally good, he’s part of the problem.

And given the issue is political, shouldn’t the fact that he was a Labour Party candidate be mentioned?


Mood of the show

11/11/2022

“Just get it done!”

This was the message I heard a woman at the *Christchurch Show give to National leader Christopher Luxon and it summed up the mood of many who talked to me.

It’s three years since the last A&P show in Christchurch and the mood then wasn’t positive.

Then, two years into the Labour-New Zealand First government, there was lots of criticism of them but also reservations about National.

Three years on the mood against the government has hardened.

People are very, very angry and upset about the wasteful spending, anti-farmer and other divisive policies and disdain for democracy; and worried about how much worse things will get before there’s a change of government.

The mood towards National is much, much more positive.

Wednesday and Thursday at the show usually attract a lot of farmers and people involved in agribusiness who are more likely to be at the blue or yellow end of the political spectrum but not since the ag-sag of the 1980s have I heard such vehemence against the government and such strong support for change.

Agitation over taxing farm emissions with the threat of one in five sheep and beef farms being killed off, good pastoral land being planted in pines and 13,000 job losses – that’s the total population of Oamaru – was expected.

So too was concern over impractical regulations, the imposition of extra costs and the threat of unfair pay agreements.

But people who spoke to me were just as concerned about the crises in health and education, worker shortages and the related immigration debacles, crime and the cost of living crisis.

The radical policies of the Lange-Douglas Labour government that led to the ag-sag generated a lot of angst at the time. There are valid questions over how it was done but I don’t know anyone who now thinks it shouldn’t have been done.

Those changes were hard at the time but farming, and the country, are stronger because of them.

The changes this government is foisting on not just farmers but the wider economy, environment and society are adding long term costs without even short-term benefits.

If the mood of the show is a barometer of wider opinion, the chances of Christopher Luxon being in a position to “get it done” are good but they are not certain and the worry remains of just how much worse things will get before a National-led government can “get it done”.

*I know it’s now the New Zealand Agricultural Show, but most still call it the Christchurch Show.


More tax, less food

12/10/2022

He Waka Eke Noa didn’t have universal farmer support.

The government’s butchering of it is uniting farmers against it and threatens the sector consensus:

Today’s farm emissions announcement threatens the sector consensus by failing to recognise New Zealand farmers are already the most carbon efficient in the world, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“National is committed to emissions targets, including reaching carbon Net Zero by 2050, the Paris Climate Agreement and reductions in agricultural emissions.

“National recognises New Zealand farmers’ significant contribution to the economy. Agriculture earns half this country’s export revenue.

“We are concerned that today’s announcement puts consensus at risk. The Government’s own figures indicate:

    • Sheep and beef farming could reduce by 20 per cent and dairy by 5 per cent by 2030
    • Two-thirds of the reduction in emissions in New Zealand will be undone by higher emissions overseas as jobs and production shift offshore
    • The plan does not allow farmers to earn extra income from some forms of on-farm planting and carbon capture.

“Worryingly, the large falls in sheep production in New Zealand could lead to higher global emissions as more sheep production moves overseas to less-efficient farms.

“Broad industry support is crucial for any enduring solution to agricultural emissions.

“This plan could have significant implications for our rural towns and communities. The Government has put at risk the consensus built by He Waka Eke Noa Partnership over three years.

“National supports efforts to reduce emissions and we encourage the Government to work with the sector to find an enduring solution.”

In an email to members National leader Christopher Luxon points out the flaws in Labour’s proposal:

. . .I’m very concerned by the massive impacts these proposals could have on our rural towns and communities – which could see sheep and beef farming reduce by one fifth in just five years.

National backs our farmers. Our rural communities are the backbone of our country and agriculture is our biggest export earner. New Zealand’s prosperity is built on the hard work of farmers and growers up and down the country. It’s their work and their businesses that support other rural businesses and suppliers and create employment and jobs in provincial towns. We cannot let Labour and the Greens put that at risk.

I want you to know where National stands.

New Zealand needs to cut its carbon emissions. National supports New Zealand’s emissions targets, including reaching carbon net zero by 2050. And that means reducing agriculture emissions over time.

We backed the sector-led process as a way to introduce emission pricing for agriculture alongside other measures to reduce on-farm emissions and support the uptake of new technology.

We believe consensus with farmers is vital. But the Government has today put that at risk with a different proposal which could gut our rural communities while seeing emissions increase overseas as food production and jobs move off-shore.

Indeed, the Government’s own figures suggest its proposed scaling back of our sheep industry will actually lead to overall higher global emissions. That’s because Kiwi farmers are among the most carbon efficient in the world so cutting back food production here just to see demand being met by less-efficient farmers overseas is simply counterproductive. National would ensure Kiwi farmers enjoy regulatory settings that make it easy to develop and adopt new technology to reduce emissions – not just send primary production, jobs and emissions offshore.

National would also allow farmers to earn credit for all forms of on-farm carbon capture. It’s just not right for Labour and the Greens to add extra costs to farmers without allowing on-farm planting and carbon capture to offset new emissions costs they may face.

The Government needs to get alongside rural communities and find an enduring solution that works for everyone – not dictate changes from Wellington.

National trusts farmers to be the best environmental stewards of their own land. I know farmers will use technology, ingenuity and local knowledge to figure out local solutions that work to reduce emissions sensibly.

Any relief that farming won’t be forced into the ETS will be overwhelmed by genuine criticism about what the government has taken out of the industry’s proposal:

The government has accepted most of the proposals put forward by the He Waka Eke Noa partnership to price agricultural emissions, but industry groups are concerned some of the recommendations have been excluded.

The farm-level, split gas approach has made the cut, but modifications have been proposed on how sequestration is calculated.

“We need to further analyse these changes carefully, but one area of immediate concern is the proposed changes to sequestration, which is of real importance to sheep and beef farmers,” Beef + Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison said.

“We know we have a role to play in addressing climate change and our farmers are among the first to feel the effects of it.

“However, if farmers are to face a price for their agricultural emissions from 2025, it is vital they get proper recognition for the genuine sequestration happening on their farms.”

Meat Industry Association chair Nathan Guy said although the government proposal is better than agriculture entering the emissions trading scheme (ETS), there is room for further improvement.

“Sheep and beef farmers and the meat processing and exporting sector collectively generate $12 billion in income per year for the country and account for more than 92,000 jobs, almost 5% of New Zealand’s full-time workforce. It’s critical we have the right policy settings so our sector can continue to deliver for our farmers, our processors and exporters, rural communities and the country.”. .

Needing further improvement is an understatement.

He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) programme director Kelly Forster said its partners are pleased the government has listened to the partnership on the need for a farm-level system rather than including agricultural emissions in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZETS). 

“A farm-level system as recommended by He Waka Eke Noa will enable each farmer and grower to clearly see the direct impact of their on-farm decisions and would give them incentives for using new technologies and practices as they become available. Our modelling shows it will be more effective in achieving emissions reductions than including agriculture in the NZETS at the processor level. 

“He Waka Eke Noa’s recommendations were, however, designed as a carefully balanced package that was as equitable as possible across all parts of the primary sector.  

“The government has proposed alternative approaches in some areas, such as how sequestration is recognised, which may fundamentally alter the balance and could have significant implications for sheep, beef and deer farmers. . .

That’s a diplomatic way of saying it will be disastrous, and Federated Farmers points out the costs won’t just be felt on farm and by farmers:

The greenhouse gas reduction plan released by the government this morning will rip the guts out of small town New Zealand, putting trees where farms used to be.

The plan aims to reduce sheep and beef farming in New Zealand by 20% and dairy farming by 5% to achieve the unscientific pulled-out-of-a-hat national GHG targets.

This is the equivalent of the entire wine industry and half of seafood being wiped out.

The government’s rehashed plan to reduce on-farm greenhouse gas emissions throws out the two and a half years of work the industry did to come up with a solution, supposedly all that time in a ‘partnership’ with government to achieve a workable solution which would not reduce food production.

“This is not what we’ve got this morning. What happened to the ‘historic partnership’?

“Federated Farmers is deeply unimpressed with the government’s take on the He Waka Eke Noa proposal and is concerned for our members’ futures,” Federated Farmers National president and climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

“We didn’t sign up for this. It’s gut-wrenching to think we now have this proposal from government which rips the heart out of the work we did. Out of the families who farm this land.

“Our plan was to keep farmers farming. Now they’ll be selling up so fast you won’t even hear the dogs barking on the back of the ute as they drive off.

“Some overseas buyer can plant trees and take the carbon cash.”

The scariest impact from the government’s rehash of the He Waka Eke Noa proposal was that it’s own modelling showed the impact on sheep and beef farming would be as high as 20%.

It also shows that world agricultural emissions would increase, not decrease, under this plan.

“The government’s plan means the small towns, like Wairoa, Pahiatua, Taumaranui – pretty much the whole of the East Coast and central North Island and a good chunk of the top of the South – will be surrounded by pine trees quicker than you can say ‘ETS application’.”

So all the small town cafes, car yards, schools, pubs, rugby clubs, hairdressers and supermarkets can say goodbye to the small town business supported by the agriculture around them.

Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) is concerned that the plan will impose costs on farmers who have no cost-effective way to reduce emissions:

. . . The farm-level pricing system the government has announced is in line with the He Waka Eke Noa proposal. However, DINZ remains deeply concerned about the impact of prices on farmers who have no cost effective way to reduce their emissions of methane and nitrous oxide, says Deer Industry NZ chair Mandy Bell. . . 

There is as yet no guidance for the price of methane; there is a recommendation that nitrous oxide would be linked to the ETS NZU, but with a discount.

The government has also released economic modelling to demonstrate the impact on a range of farm types. As was previously communicated to government, the largest impact falls upon the most extensive farming systems. The government has acknowledged that the pricing system has different impacts and is seeking sectors’ views on levy relief and transition mechanisms for farming businesses who are most exposed.

Mandy Bell says “DINZ will be reinforcing to policy makers what they have already recognised – that the farm price needs to allow businesses to remain economically viable until practical tools to reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions from pastoral farming are available.

“We believe it is essential that government and sector invest in developing and bringing new technologies to NZ farmers to help them reduce their gross emissions as soon as possible. If our farmers have practical technology they can use, they will use it. Our farmers are rapid adopters and are innovative.” 

There is not yet practical technology for our innovative farmers to rapidly adopt.

We are already the most carbon efficient farmers in the world and are paying for research to find ways to become better.

But until that research gets practical and cost-effective results, the only way farmers can reduce emissions is to reduce stock numbers.

That won’t only make some farms uneconomic it will push up the price of food, reduce export income and have the perverse outcome of increasing global emissions as other far less efficient farmers increase their production to take advantage of the gap in the market left by less New Zealand produce.

It doesn’t help that there’s debate over the impact of methane:

There are suggestions we may have been incorrectly measuring methane emissions and the effect they have on overall warming.

Well known climate scientists Adrian Macey and Dave Frame have been looking at our climate change policy in relation to the rest of the world.

What they’ve found is that by using a more accurate metric to replicate what methane does to warming, we see that effects have been overstated by more than three or four times the actual damage.

When it came to introducing the new more accurate metric to climate change advisers within the Government they were either passive or dismissive of it.

Overall, they find the Climate Change Commission and the Ministry for the Environment simply got it wrong.

Methane is responsible for nearly half New Zealand’s emissions, but it’s impact on warming is much less.

The government is putting politics before science, trying to earn praise on the international stage at an enormous domestic cost in economic and social terms with no environmental gains.

It is in effect another tax that will lead to less food produced in contravention of the Paris Accord which states climate change mitigation should not come at the expense of food production.

It will have the perverse outcome of discouraging planting.

This is another example of the government putting the green cart in front of the science and technology horses at a very high economic and social domestically and doing no good for the global environment in the process.


Christopher Luxon on The Platform

24/09/2022

Sean Plunket interviews Christopher Luxon:

Clear answers to questions including that there are only two biological sexes and no co-governance of public assets.


Second chance

20/09/2022

Sam Uffindell has been given a second chance:

The National Party caucus met today and reinstated Tauranga MP Sam Uffindell, following an independent investigation which found that Mr Uffindell did not engage in the serious behaviour alleged in the media, National Leader Christopher Luxon says.

Mr Uffindell was stood down from the caucus on August 9 after a woman made allegations about Mr Uffindell when they shared a student flat with four others in Otago in 2003. Mr Uffindell strongly denied the incident that his flatmate described.

The National Party appointed King’s Counsel Maria Dew to conduct an independent investigation into the woman’s claim, which followed Mr Uffindell’s admission of bullying at high school.

The investigation also provided a safe and confidential environment for anyone else to come forward with information or further allegations.

Fourteen people were interviewed during the investigation, and a number of written statements were provided.

Mr Luxon says he and National Party President Sylvia Wood received Ms Dew’s report late on Thursday night.

“On behalf of the Party, I want to thank Ms Dew for her diligent, professional and impartial work, and also thank all those who participated as complainants, witnesses and referees. Consistent with confidentiality undertakings given, the report will not be made public.”

To summarise:

  • Ms Dew’s thorough investigation did not substantiate any allegations of bullying outside Mr Uffindell’s time at King’s College.
  • Regarding the alleged Otago University flat incident, there are differing accounts of what occurred and Ms Dew concluded the event was not as it was described in the media. Despite this conclusion, it is clear that the complainant’s experience in a deteriorating flat relationship caused her harm.
  • Aside from his time at King’s College, and interactions with his flatmate at university, no one else came forward who considered themselves a victim of Mr Uffindell behaviour.

“The investigation has found there are differing accounts of an incident that happened 20 years ago in the context of a student flat that was breaking up. Mr Uffindell has acknowledged that things were said that he now realises his flatmate overheard, which he regrets,” says Mr Luxon.

“Mr Uffindell has also publicly acknowledged that he was a bully at King’s College and that this behaviour harmed a number of people, for which he has apologised.

“With the known matters having now been independently considered, and with Mr Uffindell’s own acknowledgement that he is a different person now to the person he once was, we are now able to move forward.

“Mr Uffindell is looking forward to working hard for the people of Tauranga. I am confident he can and will do that.”

Uffindell was right to disclose the bullying before he was selected.

He should have disclosed it to the voting delegates and the public and that should have been a condition of his passing pre-selection.

That he didn’t and it wasn’t let down the voting delegates, Tauranga voters and the party.

All other pre-selection committees, and the board, will have learned from this. It must not happen again.

Uffindell says he will seek reselection. Delegates, and Tauranga voters if he is selected again, will be able to decide if  his past misdeeds matter and if he continues as MP.

In the mean time he’s been given a second chance as anyone who is truly remorseful and has changed, should be.

Interestingly, Labour couldn’t criticise the decision so criticised the timing of the announcement.

Those who wonder about media bias might note that several outlets led with that without noting the hypocrisy:

“Acting Prime Minister Grant Robertson admonishing the National Party for the cynical timing of an announcement is the h-bomb of hypocrisy,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Last week Labour did the exact same thing on a far larger scale. They dropped all Covid policies on the day Her Majesty passed away. Two years of policy disposed of at a time when the country is in mourning.

“If we go back a month then how about announcing Trevor Mallard’s cushy diplomatic posting to Ireland 15 minutes before the 6pm news bulletin.

“Or earlier this year dumping announcements concerning major constitutional reform like Three Waters and He Puapua on Friday afternoons.

“Or if we cast our minds back to the 1pm updates from the podium of truth, we can recall the time the Government didn’t announce that someone had escaped MIQ until after the Prime Minister had given her update and she was safely away from questioning media.

“Labour once claimed it was “the most open and transparent Government ever.” Labour’s now so transparent we can see right through them.

“If Grant Robertson thinks National are “disrespectful and cynical”, I’d hate to know what he thinks of his own government.”

Could it be he thinks there’s nothing to criticise National for about this decision but it’s worth trying a distraction by criticising the timing?


GST debacle was no accident

05/09/2022

Was last week’s attempt to impose GST on KiwiSaver management fees, and hide it from the public an accident? Steven Joyce explains how it couldn’t be:

The suggestion seems to be that the decision to charge GST on KiwiSaver fees slipped into the regular tax bill without the top echelons of government being fully aware of the ramifications of it. And that the failure to mention it in the press release announcing the bill was an unfortunate oversight. Neither explanation stacks up.

I can tell you from personal experience there are many checks and balances in government to ensure everyone is aware of what Cabinet is deciding on each week, and the financial and political implications of those changes.

In the normal course of events, every paper that goes up must be lodged by the middle of the previous week. That gives Treasury, the Prime Minister’s Office, and every other affected government department time to offer their views on it and prime their minister with their concerns.

Each significant paper must be accompanied by a Regulatory Impact Statement, which lays out in detail the impact of a decision on the relevant stakeholders. This was an innovation of the Key government, and its power is that it is written by officials rather than ministers, so it is where you look if you want to find a fish hook glossed over in the main Cabinet paper.

The Regulatory Impact Statement on this proposal was clear in its impact and the risks.

Both Treasury and the Prime Minister’s Office prepare short cheat sheets for their ministers highlighting the key elements of every Cabinet paper. An hour before Cabinet on Monday morning, senior Treasury officials sit down with the Finance Minister and his associates (including in this case David Parker) and discussed the key papers of interest at that day’s Cabinet. At a similar time two floors higher, the Prime Minister’s Office is taking their boss through a similar preview of the papers.

Unless all the officials involved were incompetent, which is highly unlikely, and the Prime Minister and Finance Minister can’t read, also unlikely, there is no way they didn’t understand that the Inland Revenue were lodging a bill to increase the tax take by $200 million and reduce people’s KiwiSaver balances accordingly.

As an added protection Cabinet also has senior ministers who act as sweepers. They are normally alert for things that might carry ramifications others haven’t thought of that either worry their constituency or affect the Government’s broader standing. They serve an important alarm-raising function for the wider Cabinet.

Once the Cabinet decision is made, there are more protections around how the decision is announced. Ministers don’t just dash off press releases themselves for significant economic matters. Any draft announcement involving government finances is shared with the Finance Minister’s Office, and anything political with the ninth floor. It beggars belief that none of the public relations experts in those offices raised concerns with their ministers that the draft contained nothing about the GST hike for KiwiSaver.

So unless there is a total breakdown of the normal decision-making processes within government, which is highly unlikely, this decision and the underhand way it was announced was premeditated. . . 

How could they be so deliberately stupid?

One popular explanation for this state of affairs is the Government has given up and have stopped caring what people think. This theory goes that they know they are on their way out and have stopped trying to politically manage things, content to shovel decisions through and get as much as possible done before they are turfed out. Weak governments can get to that point, but I don’t think we are quite there yet, and no government would damn the torpedoes for the sake of $200 million and the tidy minds at the IRD.

A second one could be political arrogance. There is every sign the Government believes its own BS to an unwarranted degree, so maybe it thought it could spin its way through this issue in the same way as it has so many others. The Prime Minister is certainly adept at arguing black is white and that failure to deliver is the result of aspiration, so there’s plenty of evidence for this theory.

An even more likely possibility is that ministers are getting completely out of touch with the public they serve. There is a very long series of announcements suggesting that is the case. The TVNZ-RNZ merger, the bike bridge, Three Waters, Trevor Mallard’s appointment to Ireland and his pending knighthood, the bank credit changes, immigration policy, and industry pay bargaining are some that leap to mind. They are either completely inexplicable (think GST on KiwiSaver), or clearly designed to serve a part of Labour’s power base to the bemusement or downright hostility of the general public. If you make enough unpopular decisions you can kid yourself that any negative feedback is par for the course.

Whatever the final cause of the Government’s awry political antennae, it appears very likely the die has been cast and the public have made up their minds about this lot, and ministers increasingly know it. . . 

That is why Grant Robertson is making so many personal attacks on Christopher Luxon.

Expect to see much more attacking of the opposition over the next 12 months. Labour’s strategists may not have been able to work out that adding GST to KiwiSaver this way was political poison, but they are aware that the only way to level the playing field for the next election is to drag the alternative government down and create as much doubt about them as there is about Labour. It’s the 2005 and 2008 playbook all over again. And it won’t be pretty.

Cue Margaret Thatcher:

I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.

Labour has had aspirations and announcements, pronouncements and plans but time and time again they have fallen well short on delivery.

There is one glaring exception to the lack of delivery, but as Matthew Hooton points out, it’s not one any government would want to claim:

…This Government has managed to “deliver” the biggest cut for at least 30 years in the real wages of the middle and working class — those a “Labour” Party supposedly represents. It is paying for it in the polls (see graph).

Since inflation was tamed after Labour’s Reserve Bank Act 1989 and National’s Fiscal Responsibility Act 1994, wages have risen faster than prices in almost every quarter, under National and Labour, with unemployment remaining relatively low.

It took this Government’s special idiocy to decide that which wasn’t broken should be fixed, by moving the Reserve Bank away from its laser-like focus on inflation, approving the appointment of Adrian Orr as Governor and signing the so-called dual mandate in March 2018.

Meanwhile, it accelerated increases to the minimum wage and began putting greater shackles around the labour market, including abolishing automatic 90-day trial periods, and restricting access to foreign labour and preparing the ground for 1970s-style national payment awards for workers.

After all this — and most likely because of it — real wages rose by just 1.5 per cent in Ardern’s first three years, before any effect from Covid.

That anaemic real wage growth was well down from the 2.2 per cent and 2.3 per cent over the second and the third terms of the Key-English Government. . . 

Labour governments can do many things and survive. Enriching property owners while slashing workers’ real wages isn’t one.

Can we trust the government that got us into this mess to get us out of it?

Given its failure to deliver on so little positive and do so much damage in the process, not least to the real value of wages, no.

Bereft of ideas that will work, all that’s left is personal attacks on National and its leader, both of which are looking much more like a government in waiting while Labour is looking more and more like a government losing.


Quotes of the month

01/09/2022

The Government’s polytechnic mega-merger is unravelling at pace. In a worrying sign for its whole grand centralisation push, details are emerging of a project with a half-billion-dollar price tag so far achieving less than nothing. – Steven Joyce

The report laments there is no plan to make the new entity financially stable. This is not a surprise. The mega-polytech has so far distinguished itself mostly by setting up an expensive Hamilton-based head office of about 180 people. These folk have yet to achieve much beyond lofty mission statements and a plan to rebrand all the regional polytechs around the country to the new Te Pūkenga name.

One way of looking at the reforms is to consider that we used to have a single agency in Wellington, the Tertiary Education Commission, which funded and monitored the individual polytechs nationwide, alongside other providers.

Now we effectively have a second bureaucracy duplicating that in Hamilton, and in fact a third one, because there is a beast called the ROVE Directorate, which oversees the overseeing of the overseeing. Little wonder a review of all this in March politely suggested the roles and responsibilities of those three should be “clarified”.

This experiment in shuffling the deckchairs and building a bigger bureaucracy has so far cost taxpayers $200 million in extra startup funding, which runs out at the end of this year. At that point the mega-polytech’s deficit will only grow. – Steven Joyce

As well as merging all the polytechs into one, Te Pūkenga inherits the newly nationalised industry training organisations, which used to arrange on-the-job training around the country. Their surpluses propped up Te Pukenga last year, so this year’s $100m loss is worse across the sector as a whole. Quelle surprise.

But wait, there’s more. The other $300m spent on this folly has gone on setting up yet another lattice of make-work bureaucracy. Fifteen new regional skills leadership groups are to advise the new polytech on what skills each region needs, while six workforce development councils have been created to collect industry views on how the mega-polytech should train people.

Each skills leadership group has now written a glossy report explaining in many words how they will collect the views of local employers and tell the workforce development councils what is needed, so they can tell the polytech head office in Hamilton and they can in turn tell the polytech branch in New Plymouth or Invercargill what it needs to do.

This is a Monty Python level of silliness. In pre-Hipkins time, the local employers would just talk to the local polytech or their ITO directly. – Steven Joyce

The problem, as with so many grand schemes of this government, is the muddy thinking that was applied to dreaming it all up.

Nobody, least of all Minister Hipkins, has seen fit to ask one simple question: how will any of this help one single person be trained better and more effectively in their trade than they were before?

It will probably make things worse. A lumbering monopoly is generally a recipe for increasing costs and reducing responsiveness and innovation. The Government hates monopolies when it’s not busy creating one.

The minister has started asking where cuts will be made to bring this thing back on track and avoid more political embarrassment for him. In education, cuts mean people losing jobs. Stand by for your local polytech to feel the brunt of all this extra cost at the centre.

He’s also sucking money away from private providers, who often do a good job with more hard-to-reach learners needing extra help. All providers used to be paid the same to deliver the same course. Now the new polytech will get more, again to help prop it up, while the private sector gets less. This will suit the minister’s ideology but I doubt it will suit the students who miss out.Steven Joyce

The magic isn’t in government agencies, or the wiring diagrams of the revised funding models requiring new hoops be jumped through to keep performing the same service. I used to say to the trainers, don’t listen to us too much — we are just the funders. They are the practitioners.

Just think what could have been done with that half-billion if it had been used to train people rather than rewire the system. Half a billion extra dollars in the tertiary sector could deliver a lot – more chefs, more nursing places, or even a third medical school. – Steven Joyce

Hipkins has proudly declared these are the biggest reforms in tertiary education in decades, as if on its own that is a worthy goal. It isn’t. A worthy goal is one that allows more magic to happen at the front lines of tertiary education.

The minister has bought some more training places in recent years, but he could have done so much more with this money and the old model. He has little time left to prove that this whole vocational education reform is more than just a political vanity project.

I pondered our conflicting desires — the desire to stand out and do things differently, rallying against our desire to fit in with our peers and look the same. Our desire for excitement and change, rallying against our desire to be comfortable and secure. We learn from our experiences, but, as we age, our mindset doesn’t shift as much as we think it does. – Anna Campbell 

Peer pressure never leaves us, except for a few free-spirited souls. No matter our age, we want to fit in, we want to keep up with the Joneses and we don’t want to imagine others thinking badly of us.

What we forget is, that most people don’t think of us at all and if they do, we are a fleeting thought in their minds, we are yesterday’s fish and chip wrapping, we are a topic of conversation for mere moments. That’s because most people are too busy inside their own heads worrying about what other people think of them — we are the definition of absurdity!Anna Campbell 

New events and life decisions can be genuinely hard, from dresses to career changes. Sometimes our decisions go wrong; we can learn from that, dust ourselves off and try again. Rationally we understand this.

It’s fair to say, the worst reason for not making change is to be scared of what others will think of you. In these situations, remind yourself, they don’t think of you at all. They are far too busy thinking about themselves and if you do fail, imagine their delight — giving such pleasure should not be underestimated. – Anna Campbell 

This is a government that doesn’t actually do stuff. They talk they promise, they hold press conferences, but they don’t get stuff done. They spend money, and God knows where it goes. Mike Hosking

A simple wedding is one of the most beautiful things in the world. A wedding where everyone concerned, even the bride and groom, are turned into props in some overwrought and self-absorbed drama is one of the most nauseating. – Giles Fraser

An A for aspiration and an E for execution.Jack Tame

It takes a bizarre kind of chutzpah to translate a question about your failures into an accusation that the interviewer really meant you should have set your sights much lower. – Graham Adams

In Ardern’s world, it appears that intentions count for everything. It’s almost as if she has not shrugged off her strict Mormon upbringing and doctrine, in which believers are saved principally by faith and grace, not works.

Intentions are apparently sacred to Ardern; results are nice to have. – Graham Adams

An ability to talk smugly and seamlessly without making a skerrick of sense is one of Ardern’s principal skills. She has an astonishing capacity to not answer a question at length — while appearing to answer it in a stream of fluent gobbledegook. –

It should worry everyone if the nation’s Prime Minister really can’t understand the difference between majority rule and everyone eventually agreeing on a matter under discussion. However, it is equally possible that she understood the difference perfectly and was slithering away from what she saw as a trap. Graham Adams

Although Ardern is quick to pose as a dedicated champion of democracy overseas — including warning 8000 Harvard students in May that “democracy can be fragile” — at home she is far more evasive and equivocal when questioned. – Graham Adams

24 hours after the madcap nuttiness of paying out $800 million we don’t have, to people who may or may not reside here, and may or may not need any assistance at all, we then get the idea that we have $10,000 to get a nurse here.

The cost-of-living payment is well intentioned, but oh so Labour in its delivery. In other words, it’s the usual wasteful mess dreamed up by a government that time and time again shows how little real-world experience it has.

The nurse package, at least, starts off with good intentions, but also the real possibility it might play a part in solving a crisis.Mike Hosking

So Hindsight Economics, is it, eh Grant? No, that’s your style of economics. Folks like Wilkinson, Hartwich & Crampton at the NZ Initiative, former Governor Wheeler & me, we do Foresight Economics. We do so to try to prevent inflation & cost-of-living crises like the one you threw us into. We put in effort to help serve the public interest – my work for doing so is unpaid – and all you can do, Grant, is put us down for political purposes. – Robert MacCulloch

This is the Labour Government to a T.

Spend money you don’t have, make it scattergun because it’s too hard or they’re too lazy to do it properly, ignore the advice about the wastage and inflationary issues,  when it comes to delivery, balls it up from the get go, get a long queue of disaffected, and then spend the rest of the week defending yourself. –   Mike Hosking

What they would have been hoping for was adulation, thanks, gratitude, and some sort of poll bounce. Instead, they have frustration, anger, and disbelief.

For a government that entered into this with a shocking reputation around delivery, and I mean delivery of multi-faceted projects like light rail, roads, and public housing, it now appears they can’t even spend money properly. – Mike Hosking

 Governments should never lose sight of their aspirations to make the country a better place. That is, after all, why they have been elected in the first place. But, at the same time, they should also never lose sight of heeding practical advice about the best way to achieve those aspirations.

Too often, this government has been so focused on the aspirational aspect of its policy agenda that it has given insufficient attention to how it might be achieved. The failure of Kiwibuild, the confusion and division around Three Waters, the uncertainty surrounding the move to Health New Zealand, the emerging controversy over plans to merge the country’s 16 polytechnics into one super vocational training entity, Te Pukenga, are all examples of where bold aspiration has hit major implementation roadblocks.  – Peter Dunne

We also need to do more to remind New Zealanders that the principles of democracy should not be tampered

But what looked like a political winner at Budget time is now looking like becoming an object of ridicule because of the way in which it has been rolled out, a risk the government was warned about at the time but chose to ignore. It looks like Kiwibuild all over again, where a laudable policy intent became widely derided because the government failed to appreciate the challenges associated with implementing it.

The lesson that emerges once more for this government is that while aspirations are laudable, their credibility quickly founders if they cannot be made to work as they were intended. But, given how this government has handled previous situations, the lesson is unlikely to be taken notice of. Talking about things and making vague, soothing, aspirational promises is always easier than taking officials’ advice to help make things work. – Peter Dunne

We also need to do more to remind New Zealanders that the principles of democracy should not be tampered with nor altered to suit the selfish power-hungry motives of an aggressive minority. Muriel Newman

Generations before us have fought and died for the democracy New Zealand had, before she became our Prime Minister.

We owe it to them, and to our future generations, to take a stand and defend our democracy against this attack.

Our collective goal must be to save New Zealand – and our democratic Kiwi way of life – and in this mission, we cannot allow ourselves to fail!- Muriel Newman

To change a government, voters must perceive it as comical or corrupt, a test the Ardern regime passed with flying colours from the get-go.Matthew Hooton

I think we’re seeing two forms of centralisation. One is centralised solutions, but we’re also seeing highly centralised processes that led to these solutions. Basically the political arm of government is coming to the table with a solution to a problem they’ve identified. And that centralisation means that they’ve been particularly poor at looking at ranges of plausible alternatives to the particular services they’ve chosen.

But also .. they’ve not been particularly good at a process of consulting the public with an open mind. And I think that’s the reason we’re seeing public disquiet or pushback. – Simon Chapple

We’re looking in every case at big, expensive, consequential and difficult-to-reverse decisions. Now, if you are making big, expensive, and difficult-to-reverse decisions, you should make those in a very careful and deliberate way with a pretty high degree of non-partisanship. 

And I think that public policy agenda is running into the fact that we have a first-past-the-post government and they have an agenda. They perceive, I suspect, that they have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get that agenda through.Simon Chapple

The Labour Party is desperate, right? They are a flailing, useless, tired, arrogant, incompetent Government, which has delivered nothing in five years. The Labour Party is throwing everything they can at him because they know they have got no track record to defend and they’re incompetent and wasteful and useless and Christopher Luxon is doing a wonderful job at explaining that to people. – Chris Bishop

Humanity is a great cable, woven together out of numberless threads of DNA. To follow only those threads that lead back to “Maori” ancestors, as the Maori ethno-nationalists do, is to thoroughly misrepresent, and ultimately corrupt, the true meaning of whakapapa. The spiritual power that flows through one’s bloodlines cannot be constrained, either by time or place. We are descendants of the whole world and everything, and everyone, that has ever been in it.

Salmond’s heresy is enormously powerful – hence the anger and doubt it has spawned among those who only weeks ago had counted her among their greatest allies. Her interpretation of the Treaty as a document that speaks to and for everyone who lives here, undercuts the entire intellectual case for co-governance. Te Tiriti o Waitangi’s spirit is democratic and gloriously colour-blind. It was not written for, or signed on behalf of, a clique of aristocratic rulers who, like the Scottish lairds of the same period, believed themselves to have the right to replace their people with more profitable ventures. It was written to secure the future of “all the ordinary people of New Zealand”.

How can you set up a system of co-governance when we are all maori – with a small ‘m’?Chris Trotter

It is astounding, but unsurprising, that researchers assume that those who employ staff are racist when there is no evidence from which to form this view. The gaps in their data are, literally, ‘unexplained’. Racism is an unambiguous moral wrong. It is a crime. To ascribe this sin to an entire class of New Zealanders because your analysis is deficient is, if I am being polite, disappointing.

It is also easy to disprove. You can be solvent, or you can be racist, but in business it is very difficult to be both. If the assumption behind these sorts of reports is valid; that Pacific people are being paid less than Pakeha while producing the same level of output, then I could make more profit by hiring Pacifica candidates and paying them less than I pay non-Pacific workers.

My racism would need to be intense to leave that profit on the table and if I was such a terrible person, the business owner down the road would out-compete me and I would be forced to rely on my writing to pay the bills. – Damien Grant

Society is complex. People make different decisions and pursue differing lifestyles. The fact that I am spending time writing this column rather than engaging in more productive and better paid work is a decision that will lead me receiving a lower income.

If your priority is community and family rather than wealth accumulation your life’s achievements will differ. Some prefer to die with seven children rather than seven houses and that isn’t a bad thing and nor is it a problem that needs addressing. – Damien Grant

One of the ideas floated is mandated pay transparency; forcing firms to publish salaries by gender and race. The law of unintended consequences will ensure this will reduce employment opportunities for low qualified women and minorities and increase them for inadequate white men.

More intervention will be introduced to correct for these failures in a never-ending cycle of regression. – Damien Grant

We have accepted as given that the Crown has not only the right but an obligation to embark on social engineering programmes to produce a society that confirms to the preferences of the cultural elite even if it defies the wishes and customs of the population.

Cultural change on the level envisioned cannot be achieved without Draconian intervention into the minutia of our economy and society and an unwavering certainty by those in power that the escalating costs are a necessary price to achieve their Arcadia.

Their ignorance is only matched by their determination and the lack of any willingness to confront these cultural commissars means their ambitions will be translated into policy with the inevitable, and now unavoidable, perverse outcomes. – Damien Grant

So white people: be aware of your privilege. Acknowledge that all whites are racist, even if they’ve never had any racist thoughts. And remember that your very existence is proof of your family’s racism, because the only reason white people have children is so that they can simulate the experience of owning a slave. – Titania McGrath

What’s good about it is as we go to the election, the choices are increasingly stark.

You want to keep your money or do you want more of the wastage? A good clear choice, let’s see who wins. – Mike Hosking

The idea of equal suffrage – equal voting rights, regardless of gender, class and ethnicity – has been a pillar of our democracy for decades. All New Zealanders should have an equal say in who governs them; an equal say in appointing the people that make the decisions that affects their lives.

Equally fundamental to our system is the ability to throw poor performers out at the next election – that is the bedrock accountability in our democracy. – Paul Goldsmith

These concepts – equal voting rights and accountability at the ballot box – are basic to our democracy and precious.  Sadly, they are becoming rarer in an increasingly authoritarian world.Paul Goldsmith

If we as a country no longer think that equal voting rights apply at one level of government, pressure will build for change in national elections.

I can’t think of a more divisive agenda for any government to run.

We recognise the burden of history, but no past injustices are fixed by undermining something that makes this country the great place it is – preserving the pillars of our open democracy. – Paul Goldsmith

If Jacinda Ardern and her government Ministers no longer think that Kiwis should have equal voting rights, then they should make the case and ask New Zealanders whether they agree.

It would be a constitutional outrage to use a transitory parliamentary majority to set a precedent that changes the nature of our democracy so dramatically, without asking the people first. – Paul Goldsmith

New Zealand increasingly stands alone, hobbled by punitive climate restrictions that have been justified on the basis that such controls are necessary to avoid constraints on trade – yet the European Union trade deal exposed the fundamental fallacy of that rationale.

The reality is that countries are increasingly backing away from the demands of green fanatics for their low carbon fantasy, instead prioritising economic stability and public wellbeing over UN socialism. – Muriel Newman 

The Government must get out of the way of private developers who have the expertise and private capital to get developments done. Driving up the price of land and using Kiwis’ hard-earned cash to do so is both counterintuitive and nonsensical.Jordan Williams

The so-called reforms are basically a solution for the wrong problem.

Actually, I think they were simply an ego trip on the Minister of Education’s part, to be frank. – Phil Kerr

Those hundreds of millions have just gone into structural stuff.

Not a single dollar has been put into improving outcomes for learners, not a single dollar to strengthening the regional providers, and so the issues that we had before Mr Hipkins started this misguided venture are not only still there, they’re worse.

The bulk of our learning does not occur on campuses. What that means is that support for learners — academic support, pastoral care, health support — these things can’t be delivered to learners nationwide.

They’re not being delivered now, not by a long shot. This is something that can’t be put together by individual providers, and so it could be a Te Pukenga initiative to do so.

This is an example of where valuable dollars should be spent to get better outcomes for people — not on bureaucracies, not on large salaries.Phil Kerr

I would challenge you to find a single, solitary additional initiative in the last two years that has delivered more or better. It just hasn’t happened. I think it’s a national disgrace. – Phil Kerr

I want innovation to focus on education and training, rather than having to set up non-core revenue schemes. Phil Kerr

The current model for local government is not sustainable, and the biggest issue is funding,” she said.

“Currently local councils deliver 52 percent of public services on 12 percent of the budget.- Tina Nixon

It’s been a very very tough week, like I said there’s been a lot going on behind the scenes that people have no idea about.

“But when you’re strong in the mind anything is possible and that’s what I had to do this week because my body was not able but my mind was and the fighting spirit is what really got me through.Joelle King

Certainty and confidence are what the sector needs from a government and that is what we intend to provide them.

Technology is key to achieving emissions reductions, not taxing or banning things.

We need to manage emissions while retaining food and fibre production, because it is crucial that we don’t lose our industry in the process. – Barbara Kuriger 

We now have bureaucratically driven unworkable rules with a ‘one size fits all’ approach, which I can assure you does not fit anyone.Barbara Kuriger 

Don’t we all want to live in a New Zealand that embraces diversity and multi-culturalism, recognises the Treaty, acknowledges Auckland as the biggest Pasifika city in the world, welcomes needed migrants, but that first and foremost serves the common cause of all New Zealanders.

A country that emphasizes what unites us, instead of what divides us. A country that says absolutely, explicitly, that there is one standard of democracy, equal voting rights and no co-governance of public services.

That’s the New Zealand I want to live in. – Christopher Luxon

Labour cannot deliver anything. They conflate spending more with doing more, when those are two very different things.

Since Labour came into office, 50,000 more people are dependent on the Jobseeker benefit than when National was in office five years ago. It’s a Government failure that I’m going to talk more about in a minute.

Since Labour came into office, there are four times as many people living in cars, rour times as many on the state house waiting list, and 4,000 kids in motels – at a cost of a million dollars a day.

The Government is spending $5 billion more a year on education, but now only 46 per cent of our children are attending school regularly. These are economic and social failures under Jacinda Ardern’s watch, yet she never holds herself or her ministers accountable for them.Christopher Luxon

This year, the Government will spend $51 billion more than National did only five years ago.

That equates to about $25,000 per household of additional new spending this year alone.

This year’s Budget included by far the most new spending of any Budget in New Zealand’s history, and it was delivered when the economy was already overheated and inflation was rising. – Christopher Luxon

If you think of the economy like a car, then the Government and Reserve Bank have been squashed together in the driver’s seat, pushing the accelerator flat to the floor. Now, like some terrified passenger realising the car’s going too fast, the Bank’s pressing down hard on the brake. The car’s got the wobbles and there’s a very strong likelihood it’s going to crash. – Christopher Luxon

Labour believes in an over-bearing State that thinks people need to be told what to do and how to do it. They believe in centralisation and control.

Just look at the mega-mergers of our polytechs, health system and Three Waters. It’s always the same story. Labour thinks that Wellington knows best, and better than the rest of New Zealand. They’ve spent more money, hired 14,000 more bureaucrats, and got worse results.

Only Labour could spend so much to achieve so little. – Christopher Luxon

National believes those closest to the problems should be closest to the answers. That’s why we back community-led solutions. For example, the Covid vaccine roll-out showed that bureaucrats in Wellington don’t always know best how to reach people. Just ask the Maōri organisations who had to take the Government to court so they could get people vaccinated.

National also believes in personal responsibility. We back Kiwis to make the best decisions for themselves, their families and whānau. Christopher Luxon

National wants all New Zealanders to be able to pursue their aspirations. A good education, followed by a job, is the best and usually the only long-term path to achieving this.

When it comes to welfare, every New Zealand government, Labour or National, will always support those who permanently cannot work and those who are temporarily unable to work.

But when it comes to those who can work, Labour and National’s approaches differ.

Having a job in early adulthood sets you up for success throughout your working life. Conversely, if you’re on a benefit before you turn 20, across your lifetime you’re likely to spend 12 years on welfare. – Christopher Luxon

Welfare dependency pushes people further away from the rungs of social mobility. It locks them out of the opportunities, sense of purpose and social connections that jobs provide.

Benefit dependency not only harms the person trapped on a benefit, but it also can harm the children who grow up in benefit-dependent households. And under Labour, there are more of them. There are now one in five children in New Zealand growing up in a household that depends on welfare. One In Five.

As a nation, we all bear the costs when welfare becomes not a safety net to catch people if they fall, but a drag net that pulls the vulnerable in. –  Christopher Luxon

In summary, I have messages for three groups of people.

First, to young people trying to find a job: That is a hard place to be and, if there was a National Government, you’d get more support and encouragement from your own job coach.

Second, to young people who don’t want to work: You might have a free ride under Labour, but under National, it ends.

Third, to taxpayers: National is on your side. – Christopher Luxon

Like many women, over the years I’ve absorbed the message that being thin is the most important goal there is, and that no end of dangerous behaviour (like starving yourself) is justified to reach it. And I can see how easy it could be for that to tip my behaviours over into something much worse. – Megan Whelan

Inflation plays havoc with the virtue of prudence, for what is prudence among the shifting sands of inflation? When inflation rises to a certain level, it is prudent to turn one’s money into something tangible as soon as it comes to hand, for tomorrow, as the song goes, will be too late. Everything becomes now or never. Traditional prudence becomes imprudence, or naivety, and vice versa. – Theodore Dalrymple

We have entered a more ‘traditional’ phase of inflation. No one knows how long it will last, or how serious it will be. But the very unpredictability creates anxiety even among those who have no real need to feel it – or rather, whom events will show to have had no need to feel it.

Inflation has not merely economic or social consequences, but moral and psychological ones too.Theodore Dalrymple

The control of assets is just as important as ownership, and control and ownership don’t always amount to the same thing. Most Kiwis understand this. Strangely enough, though, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sat down with TVNZ’s Jack Tame this month and argued just the opposite.Kate MacNamara

Control matters: controlling parties will set the prices charged for the use of water assets (possibly subject to a regulated cap); they will decide how those charges are levied – by volume/use perhaps, or maybe by property value if that’s how they judge fairness; and they will almost undoubtedly decide that the cost of improving water assets in some regions will be met by ratepayers in other areas, so those who have already paid for adequate infrastructure will pay again for assets in areas which have underinvested.

If the Prime Minister thinks control is immaterial, she should try giving it up. – Kate MacNamara

. Totalitarianism has its pleasures, chief of which is doing harm to others, albeit that today’s denouncer tends to become tomorrow’s denounced.

Raised ideological temperature inevitably brings with it the temptation to denounce. Where someone who doesn’t agree with you isn’t merely mistaken, but wicked or even evil, either in favor of your ideology or against it, there ceases to be any reason to argue against his point of view: it’s more a matter of denouncing him, of revealing him to be an enemy of the people to be exiled or excommunicated from decent society, or otherwise punished. – Theodore Dalrymple

We must fight the totalitarian tendency within ourselves.Theodore Dalrymple

Increased benefit rates drive increased deprivation.

This is no surprise to logical thinkers. Simply upping benefits doesn’t mean the extra money will be well spent. Benefit increases have the effect of drawing more people onto benefits, away from work and the structure work brings to people’s lives. – Lindsay Mitchell

Millions of dollars in welfare has to deliver the desired impact of hope and positive change, instead, Rotorua has seen a steady increase in deprivation since the onset of Covid-19, largely driven by increased benefit rates.Rotorua Lakes District Council 

My own views on the Ukrainian situation are deeply conventional: I believe that Russia under Vladimir Putin, and possibly under his successor, threatens the peace of Europe, which it believes it must subjugate or bend to its will in order to feel secure. One of Putin’s apologists on state television, asked where Russia’s true borders lay, replied “At the Pas de Calais.”

The contortions of the Russian mind on this subject are beyond my capacity to unravel. They are like those of a criminal who blames all his bad conduct on an unfortunate past. His past may indeed have been unfortunate, but analysis (not psychoanalysis) is usually sufficient to demonstrate to everyone except himself that he has been an important contributor to his own misfortune, having always taken a path that leads to disaster. Indeed, someone once said of Russia that all its roads lead to disaster, and there are individual people like that too. – Theodore Dalrymple

I suspect that sympathy for Ukraine and Ukrainians is rather typical of our emotional lives nowadays: our emotions are both intense and superficial and are like gusts of wind rushing through a cornfield. This is not to say that they are unimportant or insignificant, for they affect public policy, usually in a deleterious way.

For example, how deep is our commitment to the preservation of the environment or to so-called ecology? People have, or claim to have, cuddly feelings towards the surface of the earth, which they worship with a kind of pagan reverence. They may eschew meat and animal products, cycle wherever they can, and even suspend wind-chimes in their garden, but all of these things actually impose very little sacrifice on them, albeit that vegetarian or vegan food takes time to prepare, and all are perfectly compatible with normal everyday lives in our society. However, I doubt how far they would be willing to forgo such comforts as heating and warm water in order to reduce their own consumption of energy. – Theodore Dalrymple

The point, however, is that our population (in which I include myself, I do not claim to be very different from it) is soft. This is a sign of the advance of at least some aspects of civilisation, and I am far from believing that discomfort is good for you morally, as lifting weights is supposed to be good for the musculature. I remember the days when rugby pitches hardened by frost were deemed good for boys’ character, and I never really believed it as a matter of empirical observation.

However, people who have known little hardship are not apt for sacrifice of the type required by prolonged war or confrontation. I admit I may be wrong: I have been wrong before and will be wrong again. Perhaps, cometh the hour, cometh the people: but I don’t bet on it, and neither does Vladimir Putin.  – Theodore Dalrymple

What the Government is doing is the equivalent of passing a bill that defines Pi as 4, and then claiming it must be true because the law states it is 4.

The bill states that Councils will own the water entities, but all they are doing is getting the word “ownership” rather than actual ownership. –  David Farrar

There is a high standard for those who hold office and so there should be. Your behaviour while in office should hold up to public scrutiny and if it doesn’t then you shouldn’t be there.- Paula Bennett

Those that have been knocked around and not only stay standing but come back stronger are the type of people I want in public office. I don’t want someone who is so nervous that a photo of them chugging a depth charge while dancing on a table at 20 years old will surface that they don’t live life to the full.Paula Bennett

Of course, there are standards to be adhered to and lines that should not be crossed, I am not going to list them because I am not the moral police and it is subjective. The age you are, your honesty, the life you have lived, all come into play as to whether you are fit to hold office. – Paula Bennett

All politicians can’t and shouldn’t be the same, but let’s make sure we leave room for people of character and those that have perfectly lived an imperfect life.Paula Bennett

Further to that reality – when accusations of racism are used to silence debate – we can safely assume there are aspects of this issue that certain people do not want examined or debated – and that social dynamic will be what has emerged out of politics and ideology – when in fact discussing the realities and the history of things – ideology and politics have no place.- Denis Hall

Each of us is a living Ship of Theseus; which raises the difficult question of how should we access the character of an individual today when they have done things, great or malign, in their past?Damien Grant

You need to choose. You decide that a teenager is incapable of redemption, or you look at the husband, the father, the damaged, optimistic and frightened man before the spotlight, and assess that individual on his merits.

Young men are reckless by design. I cannot explain why some degenerate into malign actions and most do not, despite the reality that I was one of that minority who were driven by forces beyond my understanding into acts that were both destructive and, ultimately, self-destructive.

Nor can I articulate why, with the passage of time, the forces driving me shifted, but I know what happened. The desire to belong to a community, to contribute, to become a husband and ultimately a father eclipsed, without eradicating, the demons of my younger self. – Damien Grant

The question we should be asking is the same question that was asked of me: who is the person before us today? – Damien Grant

Uffindell stands in the spotlight stripped bare in a manner few can comprehend; the country debating the contents of his character and the future course of his life, his standing within his family and his community now resting in the hands of others.

It is, dear reader, a place that I have stood; thankfully with far less intensity, but with consequences equally as grave for the individual. A place where you are forced to reflect on yourself in a manner few are ever compelled to withstand.

It is possible that enduring such a process forges a better person. It can also shatter you into 10,000 pieces as you stare into the abyss.

I am unsure if I am worthy of the second chance I have been given, but the fact that it has been awarded says a lot more about the community than it does about me.

We owe it to ourselves to offer Sam Uffindell that same consideration. It is up to him to earn that opportunity and, if it is gifted to him, do something with it. – Damien Grant

Unbelievably, executive positions in the water services entities are already being advertised. It seems they are building the gallows for our democracy before the jury has heard the evidence.Stuart Smith

The important issue here though is that should this legislation pass, rate payers will lose control of their assets to these water entities, who have at best a tenuous connection to their rightful owners. The governance structures are so convoluted and the entities so large that the local voice has no chance of being heard. The minister has said that councils will still own their three waters assets. But ownership is in essence the right to control the assets, and this will not be possible, so the minister’s words are hollow and an attempt to calm the masses.- Stuart Smith

The key point is we would work with councils rather than seek to take their assets. We would ensure that ratepayers continue to own and have a direct say in the running of their three waters assets. After all, they paid for them in the first place.Stuart Smith

The system our Labour government wants to foist on us, with the open backing of the Green Party and Maori Party, is a dual-class system of citizenship based on race.  Only one race matters and will be preferred in all things.   – Derek Mackie

 By voting for ANY political party which actively promotes or condones this agenda you are either knowingly or unwittingly complicit in the dismantling of our democracy and way of life.  
 Take a stand.  DON’T vote for racism.   Vote for DEMOCRACY – it’s the best imperfect system we’ve got.  – Derek Mackie

We all want a more environmentally conscious and sustainable industry that protects our country from the degradation and overcrowding of our wilderness, pressure on infrastructure, and human waste on the roadside.

But do we need to be exclusive and snobby to get it?  – Francesca Rudkin 

If we want our tourism industry to recover, we really can’t afford to be fussy right now about who we welcome in. 

But if we want to transform the tourism industry, Stuart Nash needs to pull back from the headline grabbing elitist comments, and focus more on both the short term issues facing the industry – where to find staff and accommodation for them – and the long term issues of how to achieve a sustainable, regenerative, higher-wage industry. –  Francesca Rudkin 

The vitriol that comes the way of the mayor and councillors and council staff is inexcusable. I take my hat off to them all – I don’t know how they get out of bed some days, the shit they have to deal with. – John Bougen 

Eco-zealots ram wind and solar power down the throats of Third World governments, purporting to save the planet and drag millions out of poverty. But it never takes their targets long to work out that wind and solar power are both insanely expensive and hopelessly unreliable; sitting in the dark, night after night, generally does the trick.Stop These Things

We eventually decided to buy a small two-bedroom, turnkey apartment on the fringe of Wellington’s suburban sprawl. It was only 800 square feet, the commute would be miserable, it had no backyard or parking space. The area didn’t have a grocery store and the government had labelled it one of the country’s worst for socio-economic deprivation. But we thought we could attempt a bid with the 750,000 New Zealand dollar ($602,000) asking price.

We walked into our local bank in August, 2020, holding our mortgage application. We were beaming to show that after a decade of frugal living – quite literally passing up on avocado toast, and cycling to work to save on bus fare – we’d paid off student debt and had more than six figures set aside for a deposit. An adviser looked at our bank balances and asked if we were expecting a large donation from family. Our smiles faded. Without at least 20 per cent down, the bank wouldn’t even look at our application papers. A year later, we tried again with the help of a mortgage broker. The result was the same, but house prices had soared by 50 per cent. – Justin Giovannetti

New Zealanders found themselves with some of the developed world’s most unaffordable homes before the pandemic. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern quipped back in her days as an opposition politician that the country’s economy was basically “a housing market with a few bits added on.” Since she came to power in 2017, house prices have increased by nearly 60 per cent.Justin Giovannetti

 In New Zealand, the country’s Byzantine environmental rules make the construction of new subdivisions immensely difficult. New legislation to rezone nearly the entire country to allow multi-family homes has run into a wall of NIMBYism at the local level. It isn’t for a lack of land. New Zealand’s five million inhabitants are spread across an area twice the size of England. – Justin Giovannetti

Unaffordable house prices didn’t appear in New Zealand overnight. Prices had steadily grown for most of the past two decades, and while most middle-class parents could continue to help their children get on the property ladder, politicians from the right and left could promise to tackle the problem and then shrug as their interventions failed to launch. The blame does not fully rest on the incumbents in Wellington or Ottawa.

However, Ms. Ardern came into office with a marquee promise to build 100,000 homes within a decade. The program became an embarrassing failure, delivering only 1,000 homes in its first five years. Her government then changed course, putting forward a rebooted $321-million program to help first-home buyers. The country’s Housing Minister drew laughs with a triumphal press release where she announced that only 12 families were helped.Justin Giovannetti

Worse than the economics is the clear social damage. Reports come in every week warning New Zealanders about the heavy price of expensive housing. Poverty rates are growing, while the country’s emaciated welfare net fails to keep pace. Gang violence is often on the front pages, a daily reminder of the country’s fraying social fabric.

The health impact of substandard and crowded housing is growing on the country’s Indigenous population. Rheumatic fever is a rare but life-threatening disease, eliminated in most developed countries. It is still sometimes detected in First Nations communities in Canada’s North. Cases of rheumatic fever are diagnosed every few days in New Zealand, nearly all in Indigenous children. Many of the cases happen in homes only a short drive from the Prime Minister’s residence. It’s one of the reasons New Zealand’s children’s commissioner reported in June that the country is now “one of the worst places in the developed world to be a child.” – Justin Giovannetti

Leaders should take note, not only of Ms. Ardern’s rapidly fading popularity at home, but the speed with which a housing crisis can become a catastrophe.Justin Giovannetti

The only politicians who no one bothers to dislike are those who are totally useless. Around a third of the electorate are committed lefties. They dislike Luxon because they think he can win. Labour would not be testing attack ads if their polling did not say the National Leader is a threat.

Objectively, Luxon’s achievements as a leader are astonishing. When he took over as leader the National caucus was a poisonous bear pit.

It is a remarkable turnaround. He could now boast to his conference that his “MPs have their hopeless Labour counterparts on the run”. He now leads what appears to be a cohesive team.

Luxon has been in Parliament for less than two years and leader for just eight months. It takes most MPs six years and three elections to become effective. What is remarkable is not his occasional slip-up, but that he has made so few. – Richard Prebble

Luxon has been in Parliament for less than two years and leader for just eight months. It takes most MPs six years and three elections to become effective. What is remarkable is not his occasional slip-up, but that he has made so few.

National received just 25.58 per cent of the vote in the last election. Now it is New Zealand’s most popular party.Richard Prebble

Luxon has the great advantage of not only having a good CV, but of looking like a prime minister. Nothing else has changed, so he has to be given the credit for National’s revival.

The next election is now Luxon’s to lose. Labour’s only hope of re-election is to politically destroy the National leader.

There is a tried and tested formula. Accuse the Opposition Leader of having no policy. And when he does announce some policy, put it on trial and find it guilty. – Richard Prebble

There is great unease over how the young are faring under Labour. Just 46 per cent of pupils attended school regularly in term one. There is a 49 per cent increase in the number of young people on the Jobseeker benefit. When Luxon says “get the kids back to school” and that young adults need to “find a job and become independent”, the country agrees.Richard Prebble

A true conservative does not campaign claiming to have the most radical new policy. A real conservative pledges not to do anything that might damage New Zealand’s values. When Luxon campaigns to do nothing that might harm our liberal democracy, he will win by the landslide. – Richard Prebble

The 1980s was a decade that saw the beginnings of the breakdown of traditional political and moral boundaries, an unravelling with which we are still coming to terms.Kenan Malik

For others, the Rushdie affair revealed the need for greater policing of speech. It’s worth recalling how extraordinary, in contemporary terms, was the response to the fatwa. Not only was Rushdie forced into hiding but bookshops were firebombed, translators and publishers murdered.

Yet Penguin, the publisher, never wavered in its commitment to The Satanic Verses. It recognised, Penguin CEO Peter Mayer later recalled, that what was at stake was “much more than simply the fate of this one book”. How Penguin responded “would affect the future of free inquiry, without which there would be no publishing as we knew it”.

It’s an attitude that seems to belong to a different age. Today, many believe that plural societies can only function properly if people self-censor by limiting, in the words of the sociologist Tariq Modood, “the extent to which they subject each other’s fundamental beliefs to criticism”.

I take the opposite view. It is in a plural society that free speech becomes particularly important. In such societies, it is both inevitable and, at times, important that people offend the sensibilities of others. Inevitable, because where different beliefs are deeply held, clashes are unavoidable. They are better openly resolved than suppressed in the name of “respect”.

And important, because any kind of social progress means offending some deeply held sensibilities. “You can’t say that!” is all too often the response of those in power to having their power challenged. To accept that certain things cannot be said is to accept that certain forms of power cannot be challenged. – Kenan Malik

Rushdie’s critics no more spoke for the Muslim community than Rushdie did. Both represented different strands of opinion within Muslim communities. Rushdie gave voice to a radical, secular sentiment that in the 1980s was highly visible. Rushdie’s critics spoke for some of the most conservative strands. It is the progressive voices that such conservatives seek to silence that are most betrayed by constraints on the giving of offence. It is their challenge to traditional norms that are often deemed “offensive”.

Human beings, Rushdie observed in his 1990 essay In Good Faith, “shape their futures by arguing and challenging and questioning and saying the unsayable; not by bowing the knee whether to gods or to men”.

We can only hope for Salman Rushdie’s recovery from his terrible attack. What we can insist on, however, is continuing to “say the unsayable”, to question the boundaries imposed by both racists and religious bigots. Anything less would be a betrayal.Kenan Malik

The attack on Rushdie is exactly the same as the threats to kill Rowling.  Rushdie was accused of being blasphemous and Rowling of being gender critical.  Shortly after the attempt on Rushdie, Rowling received a text saying you’re next.(4)  The threats against feminists by the Wokerati are the same as the ones made against Rushdie by Islamists.  They come from intolerant parts of our society, that believe they hold a monopoly not only on truth but who gets to speak and what they can say.  They must be opposed and defeated and we should never forget who didn’t stand beside women under threat from men. – Gearóid Ó Loingsigh

What we should have learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic is that the public health response is only one part of the equation. Public health interventions have broader economic and social impacts, and invariably give rise to human rights issues. Our planning for managing public health emergencies needs to extend beyond the health sector response.

The failure to embed human rights considerations into pandemic planning resulted in Covid-19 response measures that did not give sufficient weight to human rights concerns.Lorraine Finlay 

We need to formally review all aspects of our Covid-19 pandemic response – especially its impact on human rights – to allow us to be better prepared for the next health crisis. We also need to ensure that future emergency planning incorporates human rights considerations as a priority. Even in the middle of an emergency – perhaps especially in the middle of an emergency – human rights matter. – Lorraine Finlay 

Future histories will see the Salman Rushdie affair, which followed the publication in 1988 of his novel, The Satanic Verses, as a pivotal moment in the history of Islamism: for the British response, and that of the West as a whole, was weak and vacillating, encouraging Islamists to imagine that the West was a kind of rotten fruit, ripe to fall from the tree, and therefore susceptible to terrorist attack. The Rushdie affair was to Islamists what the annexation of Crimea was to Vladimir Putin, or, indeed, the occupation of the Saarland to Hitler.Theodore Dalrymple

 Free speech must be defended, irrespective of whether those who exercise it are wholly admirable. The person does not defend free speech who demands only that those with whom he agrees should be heard or free to speak. – Theodore Dalrymple

Rushdie was attacked by an enemy of free speech while about to speak in defense of free speech, a principle of which he has been a staunch and brave supporter. His assailant and likeminded others are believers in an alien ideology that we find repellent. But are they the only—or even the main—threat to free speech in the West today?Theodore Dalrymple

You can’t convince enough people that you are the right people in these key leadership roles when the record continues showing failures to deliver on major promises to the electorate (housing, child poverty, economic well being, you name it) and management errors that have effectively destroyed important parts of our economy (tourism, high quality pastoral hill country going into trees, etc).

The only way for any chance of a change for the better is to lance the boil and start again with a whole new set of inclusive policies that will ensure our survival as one of the last remnants of a true democracy – a sovereign state that is best in the world at doing the things that matter.- Clive Bibby

This is bad enough, but it’s made worse by the exposure of the Labour Party who made so much of the honest, transparent, and kindness nonsense that has blown up so badly in their faces.

They are Machiavellian, fundamentally dishonest, and about as shallow as a puddle. – Mike Hosking

All parties have trouble and a party with a large caucus was always going to have some kind of trouble, if not several episodes of trouble, in this three-year term.

But like all the other stuff they’ve cocked up from the economy, to Three Waters, to co-governance, the list is now bordering on endless, they have taken a rogue MP and made it a mile worse than it ever had to be, by yet again not understanding that honesty counts and transparency works.

Pretending you are something you are not will always get exposed. – Mike Hosking

The next generation of New Zealand audiences simply doesn’t get media and broadcasting content from our public sector. It chooses innovation, ideas and imagination. It doesn’t care where they come from or who has funded it. We need to think about media as platform neutral and flexible. We need to think about supporting media not in terms of $$$ but in better regulations, in growing an economy that supports best practices and a platform neutral approach to content funding over feeding whatever comes along just from the public purse with little accountability.

A Public Media Monolith guarantees the latter and discourages the former.- Melissa Lee

The irony, of course, is that the prime minister, characteristically empathetic throughout, has never failed to express her personal concern for Sharma and “his wellbeing”, in the same way a mobster might fret that it would be a real shame if something were to happen to a local shopkeeper who hadn’t paid protection money. – Ben Thomas

There is no doubt Sharma has felt unfairly victimised by the party’s internal disciplines, and there is no doubt that, after the die was cast last Thursday, his party has set out to defang and then destroy him. If there is a salient difference between what he had earlier experienced and “real” bullying, it will be obvious to Sharma now.. – Ben Thomas

Just as economist Adam Smith described the miraculous functioning of free markets as seeming to work as if directed by an invisible hand, so too is the functioning of political parties. But in politics, even if it’s hidden, the hand is really there, and if you force it into the public eye it will usually appear as a fist. – Ben Thomas

That said, of course we should continue nullifying the numerous human factors contributing towards global warming but what’s happening is no reason to panic. Let’s have an end to this blather that humans are destroying the globe. It’s gone through ice ages and massive geographic changes on numerous occasions in the millions of years it’s existed, long before humanity evolved, initially in the sea.

When the first of our ape ancestors dropped form the trees and eventually stood and learnt to walk, you can be assured there’d have been a gibbering timid faction remaining tree-bound, clutching one another and crying alarm. Their fear-ridden ancestors live on today, behaving exactly the same in their advocacy for collectivist security. Bob Jones

The two age-old human failures are religious superstition and warfare. Humans will not destroy the globe but unless militarism is finally abandoned, they may well destroy themselves. – Bob Jones

The problem here is that many people on the Left – apparently including those who are huffing and puffing over Arps – don’t trust democracy. They don’t think their fellow citizens can be relied on to make the right decisions. They prefer to put their faith in state decrees that restrict people’s freedoms. In this respect they reveal their essentially elitist, authoritarian leanings.Karl du Fresne

Let Arps stand, I say, and put his support to the test. Provided the school community exercises its right to vote, I believe he’ll make an even bigger clown of himself than he is already. The votes of right-thinking people – and that means most New Zealanders – are the obvious antidote to extremists. – Karl du Fresne

When people are convinced that nothing worse can exist than that which they already experience, they do not stop to consider even the possibility that a policy advocated to release them from their “hell” might actually make things worse for them. Theodore Dalrymple

Whoever forms the next Government will inherit a country with a much-increased public debt burden. Crime, especially in Auckland, is out of control. The New Zealand health service is stretched. Education results have plummeted. The defence force needs to be rebuilt. The Reserve Bank is fighting inflation. The labour market is tight. The public service headcount has ballooned. The number of people on benefits has increased. Infrastructure projects have stalled. Energy security is no longer a given. Race relations are fractious. And according to a poll, one in five Kiwis consider emigrating. And who could blame them?

New Zealand’s situation could not be more perilous. The coming parliamentary term will decide if the country is to remain a first-world country. Or if New Zealand will be relegated to the status of economic and political basketcase.

Such circumstances cannot be overcome by marketing slogans. No amount of clever electioneering will be a substitute for economic reform. No aiming for the median voter will cut the mustard. – Oliver Hartwich

Our roads are going backwards – this isn’t an issue that has suddenly developed over the last year or two – we at a tipping point and starting to see and pay the cost of that underinvestment.Dylan Thomsen

We fund our roads on a consumption model rather than an investment model, so we are constantly falling behind, – James Smith

Ultimately, the problem is that funding is being pulled from road maintenance and being put into things like cycleways and public transport, and there’s a lot of money being wasted with little to no accountability. Geoff Upson

The overall impression given by these warnings is that we are a population of rather weak-minded, ignorant minors who are, or ought to be, the wards of a small class of well-intentioned guardians who know better. The problem is that one tends to become what one is treated as being; and some people might take the illogical leap to conclude that if something does not bear a warning, then it must be safe or even beneficial. After all, if it were harmful, officialdom would have warned us about it.

More irritating, at least to me, than this relatively innocuous sloganeering masquerading as benevolence or concern, that enunciates obvious truths than no one would go to the trouble of denying, are the unctuous messages or slogans that we are now often subjected to. – Theodore Dalrymple 

The other day I saw a photograph of a poster in New Zealand, apparently in response to the dramatic rise in cases of Covid there. “Stay safe,” it said in very large lettering, “Be kind.” I think this would win a trophy if there were a competition for the most nauseating slogan of the year. Indeed, if I were a very rich man I would fund such a competition, perhaps to be called the Unction Prize.Theodore Dalrymple 

The common principle of Rushdie’s critics is that if you offend someone’s beliefs then you are at least partly in the wrong, and so threats are somewhat excused. Giving offence justifies violence.

It is monstrous position. Words are not violence. Violence is violence. – Josie Pagani

If you give offence you are not protected from criticism. Stupid and offensive comments are words. They should be debated, ridiculed, disproven – with words. You should not be murdered, locked up, sanctioned, or threatened.

Hold the violent to account for their violence. Do not make excuses. Do not give comfort to their motive. Give comfort to the enemies of violence.

Polite people don’t change the world.

Being prepared to offend is how we progress. You cannot tell people that the Earth orbits the sun when centuries of status and identity depends on forcing everyone to agree that the sun goes around the Earth. Usually, offensive views are simply offensive. But sometimes, occasionally, they are Galileo. – Josie Pagani

Putting up with vile, nasty, dehumanising words is the price of our freedom and safety, of being adults able to detect truth and falsehood for ourselves, and of not being subjected to lies and suppression. – Josie Pagani

Fear of violence and fear of offence might prevent The Satanic Verses being published today. Cancelled, it would avoid offending anyone. We would be deprived of the right to decide the book’s merits for ourselves.

But fear is the point of terrorism. So decide not to be afraid.Josie Pagani

We elect a parliament, not a government, and we elect a parliament of individuals. The waka-jumping law places political parties, and not the parliament, at the apex of sovereignty. – Damien Grant

Bureaucratic structures are inevitably hierarchical, fostering rules, rigid operating procedures and impersonal relationships, with initiatives and policy directions blown in by egos and the political wind. As in a beehive, a self-perpetuating, circular organisation will evolve comprising thousands of drones fussing around the queen, enabling her to expand her colony thus ensuring the continued survival of the drones.

Inputs and outputs are the currency of bureaucracies – rather than insights and outcomes. In government, academic and local authority sectors, there are few profit-and-loss assessments, only budget allocations. – Mike Hutcheson 

I can sense the mounting frustration felt 70 years ago by Professor Parkinson, at the inexorable and seemingly unstoppable rise of bureaucracies of the world – and mourn the ever-increasing cost-of-living being added through more bureaucrats, more compliance costs, more levies, higher local body rates and taxation. – Mike Hutcheson 

Lowering the bar is a natural response if you want to paper over the cracks rather than fix the actual problem, a combination of low school attendance and acres of missed learning as a result of Covid lockdowns. Rather than the inconvenience of mobilising a full-court press to help those who have been missing out, we are to maintain a façade that these students have been as well-educated as those from pre-Covid years. This is a short-term decision which will have lifelong impacts.Steven Joyce

Our kids have had a raw deal from this pandemic. Many have given up their start in life to protect their elders from this pernicious disease. While some of that was unavoidable, especially early on, the lockdown that really sucked the life and happiness out of Auckland teenagers was the one that started this time last year and ran for five months. That lockdown was caused by the governments “world-leading” vaccine rollout and it should never have happened.

Someone needs to research how much the vaccine lockdown of 2021 scarred this generation. I suspect the low levels of school attendance this year and the current wave of youth violence can be directly traced to that period. – Steven Joyce

We have been witnessing a steady decline in literacy and numeracy amongst our young people for many years, and nothing tried so far has managed to halt it. Our relative performance on international tests in language, maths and science is turning from a steady decline into a nosedive, and the number of young people not regularly attending school is becoming a sad national joke.

When you lay the current issues over the top of a general decline in performance and school attendance, you have to ask whether our school system is completely broken? I fear it is.Steven Joyce

We have a very top-down school sector largely created to serve the people that operate within it. An overbearing Ministry of Education offers detailed guidelines on everything from how you teach to how schools should refer to “people who have periods”. The education unions have a tight grip on anything which happens in the government-operated part of the system which is most of it, and in their collective mind should be all of it. The vindictive, nasty approach the unions took to killing off partnership schools was a sight to behold.

The unions hate independent testing of students lest poor (or indeed excellent) teaching be exposed, and are allergic to principal’s paying individual teachers what they are worth. Woe betide an education minister who doesn’t genuflect before the twin powers of the NZEI and the PPTA.

Centralisation and control is the solution to everything. The education bureaucracy hates competition between schools, hates parental choice, and hates innovation, unless it’s being driven by the centre and pre-ordained by the mandarins as the solution to all our problems. – Steven Joyce

Philosophical debates must only be had by appropriately credentialed insiders, and then everyone must march together towards the latest silver bullet, be it modern learning environments, the fad for junior and senior high schools, or the latest prescription for the history syllabus.

I sighed this week when reading about yet another debate between advocates of ‘phonics’, “phonemic awareness” and “balanced literacy”. What happened to the idea of letting good teachers teach the approach that works for each student, and measure that with independent testing of the outcomes. It works in every aspect of life, but not in education apparently.

This cult of standardisation, commoditisation and monopoly provision of education services must end. If it was going to achieve great results for our kids it would have done so by now.

We need to encourage competition, choice, and innovation in our school system, not snuff it out. We need to celebrate excellent teaching and encourage it with better pay. We need to give lower-income parents similar choices for their kid’s education that wealthy parents get. We need to experiment with new models, give schools more autonomy, and re-orient the bureaucracy to focus on results and outcomes rather than prescriptive minutiae. And yes, we need to invest more.

Taking on the challenge of genuine improvement in our school system is not for the faint-hearted. It will be a bumpy ride and the public will need to be prepared, as the vested interests so feather-bedded by our current system will feel very threatened. – Steven Joyce

Right now, any child that succeeds at school and comes out with incredible qualifications and is ready to face the world is the outlier, they are the exception, not the rule.

Every child deserves to have a decent education and we are failing. We give ourselves an ‘F’ for failure, because that’s what we’re delivering.   – Kerre Woodham

What happens when democratic principles collide with cultural values and political self-interest? In New Zealand, that’s starting to look like a quaintly naive question. Jacinda Ardern’s Labour government appears supremely untroubled by accusations of nepotism and conflict of interest swirling around one of its most senior ministers.Karl du Fresne 

The problem here is that what constitutional purists would categorise as nepotism, many Maori people would justify as simply looking after your own whanau or tribe – a cultural imperative in the Maori world. But anyone bold enough to point out that looking after your own is incompatible with proper constitutional practice – and more specifically, the principle that appointments should be made and contracts awarded on merit rather than notions of familial loyalty – risks being denounced as a racist. – Karl du Fresne 

If you think a Government that can’t build houses, build light rail, deliver health services or be open, honest and transparent can sort your grocery bill – and this is the same bloke who cocked up the CCCFA and is now sorting your flour and biscuits – then you need to wake up.

You’re being had. – MIke Hosking

I’m not scared of death. I’m scared of a life where speech is watched, surveilled, curtailed, sanctioned, and therefore totally skewed because of it. Kind of how things are right now. – Rachel Stewart

To observe the New Zealand media vilifying and reputationally destroying those who dare to go against the Covid/vaccine narrative has been sobering. Except that it takes a gulp (or seven) of high-proof booze to make that particular medicine go down, and even then I’m left gagging.Rachel Stewart

Journalists keep repeating some strange heady brew about how these “right wing fascists” are trying to infiltrate democracy and overthrow it. Last time I looked democracy was about encouraging diversity of viewpoints and civic duty. Wasn’t it?

I mean, if their views are as heinous as they keep saying, they simply won’t get voted in. Right? Or, if they do, are they somehow more hateful and radical than, say, the Greens or the Maori Party? Or even Labour? Believe it or not, not everybody views Labour as “kind”.

Does media no longer trust voters to make up their own minds because we’re all as thick as planks?

Do they not see how this looks? It’s divisive, elitist and arrogant. It portends the end of legacy media, and it’s entirely deserved because ‘hate’ is a two-way street. Asserting that democracy should be available solely for people who think like them is not really a winnable strategy for the cohesion of a tiny fractious country at the bottom of the world. What’s the end game here? – Rachel Stewart

Things cannot go on like this. If media keeps using their fast-expiring social licence to continually tell a sizeable chunk of the Kiwi population that they’re “loony tunes” – rather than rationally trying to find out why so many feel so deeply disenfranchised – then they’ll be blood in the water alright. And not just tiny traces, but bloody great globules.Rachel Stewart

We let ourselves be ruled every day by politicians without checking they are qualified and trained to do the job. An unqualified surgeon is bad enough, but untrained politicians and their staff decide on the policies and budgets for not just one operation, but every hospital, and every area of society. – Jennifer Lees-Marshment

Standard HR selection processes don’t exist in politics. Politicians and political staff are not recruited or appointed by assessing their skills against a job description. Party members select candidates and voters choose MPs for a myriad of reasons including what they look like; and MPs often choose staffers on their ideology or to reward their help on an election campaign. – Jennifer Lees-Marshment

It’s time to invest in proper professional training programme for politicians and political staffers built on solid research into the reality of politics. We shouldn’t just be putting the spotlight on individual parties when an issue comes up, as that inevitably ends up with whatever created the issue being buried in the interests of limiting the political fallout.

This is a problem that affects political parties globally, so we need to engage in non-partisan debate about how to fix it for the sake of better functioning democracies. – Jennifer Lees-Marshment

On Friday night, when I heard that Rushdie had been stabbed, my sorrow was twofold: I felt saddened by the horrific injury of an exceptionally talented man whose mind and imagination I knew intimately through his writing; and saddened by the world we live in—a world in which the diplomatic immunity granted to every creative-ambassador of the kingdom of imagination, which I had always viewed as a solid fact, was crumbling. When literature departments refuse to teach Lolita, conferences on Dostoevsky are cancelled over the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Oscar winners feel comfortable slapping standup comedians on live television, journalists and cartoonists can be killed because they publish a thought or joke that offends their readers, it is a dangerous world for both artists and art itself. It’s a two-way street: a writer is stabbed because of ideas and fantasies he shares in a work of fiction, while a creative artist’s problematic conduct in religious, moral or political realms is punished by boycotting art that harms no one. And, unlike in the past, when artistic freedom was curtailed by totalitarian regimes and religious movements, today it is under attack from all fronts, including the liberal community, which is willing to police art by means of shaming and boycotting. In this reality, no artistic creator or creation is safe. Art has ceased to be a city of refuge unrestricted by pragmatism and agendas, and has become instead a battlefield in which artists who express ideas that infuriate someone might find themselves or their works bloodied.Etgar Keret

If I believed in God, I would pray for Salman Rushdie’s recovery. And honestly? It turns out that even without exactly believing, I find myself constantly praying, hoping that in a few days I’ll get another issue of Rushdie’s excellent Substack newsletter. While I pray for his health, I can’t help adding on another agnostic prayer: for a world in which book pages, cinemas, and theater stages are once again places in which it is safe to think, to imagine, to write our fears and weaknesses in wild, ambivalent, confusing and troubling stories. Yes, confusing and troubling. Because, after all, even when we read something that angers us, shocks us, or shakes our worldview—it didn’t really happen. It’s just a story. – Etgar Keret

Racial segregation is back in the US. That old foul practice that most of us thought had been done away with by the 1964 Civil Rights Act has been given some politically correct spit-and-polish. Jim Crow’s gone woke. Consider the University of California, Berkeley. A student house there has decreed that white people are forbidden in its common areas. People of colour, the house says, must have the right to ‘avoid white violence and presence’. Therefore, no honkies allowed. The colour line resurrected to protect allegedly fragile blacks from devilish whites. – Brendan O’Neill 

There is certainly a pathological disdain for all things white in woke circles. But the Berkeley antics strike me as pretty anti-black, too. The notion that black students need to be shielded from the words and ideas and even just the ‘presence’ of white individuals implies that they are weak and fragile, childishly incapable of navigating everyday life in a pluralistic society. – Brendan O’Neill 

This is woke segregation. Sure, it isn’t fuelled by the supremacist idea that whites should never have to interact with their racial inferiors, as was the case in much of the Jim Crow South. But it is palpably reminiscent of another key conviction of the Jim Crow era – namely, that the races just don’t mix well. That they have their own customs, their own ways, and they should get on with it, separately. ‘Separate but equal’, as the Jim Crow ideology put it. The claim that blacks need a safe space from whites, that white ‘presence’ doesn’t sit well with black comfort, is a woke renovation of old racial ideas. As the Atlanticsays, there’s a ‘fine line between safe space and segregation’ on the modern American campus.

And it isn’t only on campus that the segregationist mindset has taken hold. What is the stricture against ‘cultural appropriation’ if not a demand that each race stay within its own cultural boundaries? No mixing, please. Blacks drink from one cultural fountain, whites from another. Some racial grifters have even questioned the wisdom of white people adopting black kids. Ibram X Kendi implied that Supreme Court justice Amy Coney Barrett, who has adopted children from Haiti, is a ‘white coloniser’ seeking to civilise ‘these “savage children” in the “superior” ways of white people’. Even mixed-race marriage risks being problematised. As one scientist, herself in a mixed-race marriage, wrote last year, the woke ideology that says ‘all white people are oppressors, while people of other racial groups are oppressed victims’ leads to a situation where ‘every interaction between white and non-white people’ is seen as oppressive, even in the marital home. This oppressor / victim narrative ‘erases my love for my husband. It erases my humanity’, she said. Brendan O’Neill 

That the new Jim Crow demeans rather than celebrates whiteness is not progress. For it still rehabilitates the depressing, anti-human creed of racial separation. Separate but equal living quarters, racially divided culture, racial hang-ups even in personal relationships – these are the dire consequences of the racial myopia promoted by the new elites. Nothing better sums up the crisis of liberal thought than their abandonment of Martin Luther King’s vision of a post-race society and their embrace instead of the outlook of the notorious Alabama governor George Wallace: ‘Segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever!’ – Brendan O’Neill 

For some reason, and despite plenty of other priorities, this Government has decided to make the confiscation and centralisation of water assets a priority. They seem to be doing so with undue haste, without proper process, and irrespective of what others, including the current owners of the assets, think. In fact, their urgency in the matter makes you wonder what the real agenda is.Bruce Cotterill

It is clear that the current Government doesn’t care too much what the public thinks about Three Waters. They will continue with their rhetoric that our water is of poor quality, which it isn’t, and that desire for centralisation is because that is the only solution to these largely imagined problems. –

There is a strong view held by many New Zealanders that a centralised plan, one that robs Peter to pay Paul, and one that will inevitably see the smaller regions play second fiddle to the needs of the larger cities, and Wellington in particular, all set up with a complicated co-governance model, will be a recipe for failure, fragmentation and ultimately collapse. 

As you would expect, the record of this majority Government on getting controversial legislation passed is strong. However, the record of this majority Government on delivering good outcomes for the people of the country once said legislation is passed, is very very poor.

If allowed to proceed, Three Waters will become another disruptive saga along the lines of the polytechs, the new health authority and the burgeoning public service in general. – Bruce Cotterill

Kiwibank has been given the kiss of death. Grant Robertson announced this week the Government has bought full control of the bank, wasting another $2 billion it has taken from you and me. – John Roughan

Since then the bank has made the most of its founding purpose, always presenting itself as a brave little battler against Australian giants, doing its best to disguise the fact that not many Kiwis have put their money where their sentiment was supposed to be.

It’s hard to see how it is “keeping the big banks honest”. That’s a government’s job anyway, and governments have more effective tools than owning a bank. That makes about as much sense as the Government setting up a supermarket, which has been suggested, apparently seriously, as a response to rising food prices. – John Roughan

If it really had the courage to tackle inflation it would be telling us it has to reduce its spending now, not wasting money for purposes as pointless as keeping a bank in government ownership. – John Roughan

A political kiss of death kills a company with kindness, relieving it of competitive demands, covering its failures, keeping a zombie alive to everyone’s cost.John Roughan

Stepford Wife also describes what is commonly referred to as ‘the left’ in today’s discourse. This left has been hijacked by power; it’s the Stepford Wife of political ideologies, a possessed husk of what it once was. – Mark White 

When the principle of free speech is betrayed–as it was in the totalitarian Soviet Union–or abandoned as it is today, the result is an ideology that has become the submissive enabler of everything it has always sought to reject. – Mark White 

Leftist analysis of capitalism, which once centered around class, has been rejected in favor of identity politics. Speech is conflated with violence, and punishment is swift for those who use words deemed to cause harm or offense.

To be ‘right-wing’ or to have ‘right-wing ideas’ has been defined so broadly that it has become meaningless. When you call everyone who strays from your approved speech a fascist or a Nazi, what language do you have to identify real fascists when they appear? – Mark White

In spite of the fact that Karl Popper and the Paradox of Tolerance has become a mantra of the liberal-left, policing “harmful” wrong-speech does not prevent the rise of intolerance and fascism. It didn’t work when Weimar Germany tried to suppress Nazi speech and even shut down Nazi newspapers and jailed their leaders. Their efforts to censor made the fascist ideology all the more interesting and popular. This same dynamic is true in present day Germany and France; both make full use of hate speech laws to suppress intolerance and deprive the ‘far right’ of a platform. The result has been a steady rise in the power and influence of far-right ideology in both of these countries.

The left today is in an existential moment. It must shake off this Stockholm syndrome posing as a political movement or it will have suffered total defeat.

The first step is to stand up once again–for free speech.Mark White

But most importantly, a reversal of this upward surge demands a wider appraisal and acknowledgement of societal changes that have lessened the likelihood that children will experience material and emotional security and stability throughout their formative years. If children were genuinely placed at the centre of the family, given time, given unconditional love, given space to explore but surety to return to, there may still be no guarantees. But the odds of that child developing good mental health will massively increase.- Lindsay Mitchell

I would think in some quarters, having covered that story, it could be perceived as being some malice. But to me, it was justice and power over the powerless – and that’s something that in a democracy we should never tolerate.Barry Soper

Accountability is one of the most important attributes of leadership.

If you have a mandate to make decisions, then they must be defended and the decision maker must be held to account.

This Government doesn’t want to be held to account. – Mike Hosking

 Little who tends to get angry when confronted said last week when it was suggested to him he had ignored the letter, he said “a letter from an advocate is not evidence of anything, its evidence of a letter being sent”. 

That will help things a lot won’t it.

If Andrew stopped being angry long enough to offer some sort of defence I assume he would spruik his new centralised health behemoth, which appears to this point to have achieved less than nothing but cost a fortune to get to that point.

The one announcement they have made is to get everyone on a waiting list, onto another list to get a date for your procedure. Doesn’t mean you’ll get the procedure, just a date.

And that’s Little and that’s this Government isn’t it, paper shuffling and announcements. Mike Hosking

That should further enhance his reputation as the nearly perfect minister – one who left the country better off than he found it and knew when to move on. – Nevil Gibson

The problem with characters like Arp is that their behaviour is so prone to causing public outrage that  citizens find it all-too-easy for to switch-off their critical political faculties and remain silent when politicians call for Nazis to be declared ineligible for public office. After all, who wants to be seen sticking up for antisemitic fascists?

The answer, of course, is: we should all want to be seen resisting any attempt by the state to weed-out “undesirable” ideas, and the dubious individuals who hold them, before they get anywhere near a nomination form. As democrats, our firm position must always be that the only body qualified to decide who should, and should not, be elected to public office is the electorate itself. That is to say, You and I – the voters. Chris Trotter

For some time now, both the Labour and Green parties have struggled to acknowledge in the electorate a collective wisdom more than equal to the task of distinguishing good from evil, right from wrong, democrats from fascists. Indeed, both parties show signs of believing the opposite to be true: that the electorate is neither wise enough, nor resilient enough, to recognise Nazi bullshit when they hear it. – Chris Trotter

Once the most determined defenders of free speech, the New Zealand Left has, for more than a decade, been evincing less-and-less enthusiasm for the critical democratic insight that freedom of expression must never become a privilege, to be rationed amongst “our side’s” best friends, but remain a right, freely available even to our worst enemies.

The Covid-19 Pandemic made matters worse. When the fight is with a potentially fatal virus, individuals and groups communicating false information can endanger the health of millions. In these circumstances, the temptation is strong to rank the health of the democratic system well below that of the population as a whole. Or, even worse, to start seeing the key elements of democracy: freedom of expression; freedom of assembly; freedom of association; as the vectors of a dangerous political disease.

This is now the grave danger confronting New Zealand: a Labour Government which has convinced itself that people communicating lies can undermine the health and well-being of the entire population – rather than a tragic fraction of it. Chris Trotter

The political class’s historical mistrust of democracy, long resisted by the Left, has now been embraced by what is left of it. No longer a “bottom up” party, Labour has grown increasingly fearful that its “progressive” policies are unacceptable to a majority of the electorate. Ardern’s government, and its supporters, are terrified that the Far Right will opportunistically seize upon this public unease and whip it into some sort of fascist majority. Hence their determination to shut them up, shut them down and shut them out. – Chris Trotter

 Poorly educated though they may be, ordinary citizens are not stupid. They can tell when they’re not sufficiently trusted or respected to be given a decisive role in the government of their own country.

With distressing speed, New Zealand is dividing itself into two hostile, camps. The smaller counts within it the better part of the better educated, is positioned on the commanding heights of the state, and considers itself the brain and conscience of the nation. The larger camp, nothing like so clever, seethes with frustration and resentment, anxiety and rage. It fears that its world: the world it grew up in; the world it knows and trusts; is shifting on its foundations.

What remains to be seen is which outcome represents the greater catastrophe for New Zealand: that the policies of those occupying the heights should proceed unchecked; or that the depths should find a leader equal to the task of bringing them down? Chris Trotter

We are almost the size of Japan in terms of geography, yet we’re trying to pay for the necessary roading networks with five million people, compared to Japan’s 125 million. 

Ultimately, this is a question of whether we want to supercharge New Zealand or just grind down our economic growth.

If bringing in 4 million people over the next ten years helps us make money and pay for things, I’m up for it.  –  Heather du Plessis-Allan

One of the most remarkable developments of recent years has been the legalization—dare I say, the institutionalization?—of corruption. This is not a matter of money passing under the table, or of bribery, though this no doubt goes on as it always has. It is far, far worse than that. Where corruption is illegal, there is at least some hope of controlling or limiting it, though of course there is no final victory over it; not, at least, until human nature changes.

The corruption of which I speak has a financial aspect, but only indirectly. It is principally moral and intellectual in nature. It is the means by which an apparatchik class and its nomenklatura of mediocrities achieve prominence and even control in society. I confess that I do not see a ready means of reversing the trend. – Theodore Dalrymple

As the article makes clear, though perhaps without intending to, the key to success in this brave new world of commissars, whose job is to draw a fat salary while enforcing a fatuous ideology, is mastery of a certain kind of verbiage couched in generalities that it would be too generous to call abstractions. This language nevertheless manages to convey menace. It is difficult, of course, to dissent from what is so imprecisely asserted, but one knows instinctively that any expressed reservations will be treated as a manifestation of something much worse than mere disease, something in fact akin to membership in the Ku Klux Klan.

It is obvious that the desiderata of the new class are not faith, hope, and charity, but power, salary, and pension; and of these, the greatest is the last. It is not unprecedented, of course, that the desire for personal advancement should be hidden behind a smoke screen of supposed public benefit, but rarely has it been so brazen. The human mind, however, is a complex instrument, and sometimes smoke screens remain hidden even from those who raise them. People who have been fed a mental diet of psychology, sociology, and so forth are peculiarly inapt for self-examination, and hence are especially liable to self-deception. It must be admitted, therefore, that it is perfectly possible that the apparatchik-commissar-nomenklatura class genuinely believes itself to be doing, if not God’s work exactly, at least that of progress, in the sense employed in self-congratulatory fashion by those who call themselves progressives. For it, however, there is certainly one sense in which the direction of progress has a tangible meaning: up the career ladder.Theodore Dalrymple

Although the modern prestige bestowed upon science is laudable, it is not without peril. For as the ideological value of science increases, so too does the threat to its objectivity. Slogans and hashtags can quickly politicize science, and scientists can be tempted to subordinate the pursuit of the truth to moral or political ends as they become aware of their own prodigious social importance. Inconvenient data can be suppressed or hidden and inconvenient research can be quashed. This is especially true when one political tribe or faction enjoys disproportionate influence in academia—its members can disfigure science (often unconsciously) to support their own ideological preferences. This is how science becomes more like propaganda than empiricism, and academia becomes more like a partisan media organization than an impartial institution. – Bo Winegard

In plain language, this means that from now on, the journal will reject articles that might potentially harm (even “inadvertently”) those individuals or groups most vulnerable to “racism, sexism, ableism, or homophobia.” Since it is already standard practice to reject false or poorly argued work, it is safe to assume that these new guidelines have been designed to reject any article deemed to pose a threat to disadvantaged groups, irrespective of whether or not its central claims are true, or at least well-supported. Within a few sentences, we have moved from a banal statement of the obvious to draconian and censorious editorial discretion. Editors will now enjoy unprecedented power to reject articles on the basis of nebulous moral concerns and anticipated harms.Bo Winegard

Asking ethicists to assess the wisdom of publishing a journal article is as antithetical to the spirit of science as soliciting publication advice from a religious scholar. Who are these “ethics experts” and “advocacy groups” anyway? I am skeptical of ethical expertise. I am especially skeptical of ethical expertise from an academy more inclined to reward conclusions that support progressive preferences than those that emerge from empirical study and rational thought. I am more skeptical still of advocacy groups, which exist to pursue a political agenda, and are therefore, by their very nature, a good deal more interested in what is useful than what is true. – Bo Winegard

 I find that I am more positive about the science of the past than the editorial’s authors, and more gloomy about the social-justice-oriented science of the future they are proposing. Yes, humans are flawed and fallible and always will be, so we must accept that science will forever be an imperfect endeavor. But the best way to correct its imperfections is not to demand the capitulation of science to ideology, but to remain alive to our biases and devise mechanisms that can compensate for them. Trying to counter past bias by replacing it with a new kind of bias is self-evidently nonsensical—like trying to conquer alcohol consumption by replacing beer with hard liquor.Bo Winegard

Science is a human activity, and like all human activities, it is influenced by human values, human biases, and human imperfections. Those will never be eliminated. The banner of science has undoubtedly been waved to justify, excuse, or otherwise rationalize appalling crimes and atrocities, from the racial pseudoscience of the Nazis to the blank slatism (and Lysenkoism) of the communists. But the correct response to these distortions is not to endorse a highly partisan vision of science that promotes a progressive worldview, alienating all those who disagree and further encouraging doubt about the objectivity of scientific endeavor. The correct response is to preserve an adversarial vision of science that promotes debate, disagreement, and free inquiry as the best way to reach the truth. – Bo Winegard

Recently I enjoyed the experience of helping two young local men shear some of my sheep.

The exercise was a mixture of one that helped to restore my faith in our local farm based economy but also another that reinforced my concerns about the contemptuous manner in which the farming industry is being treated by the current government. Clive Bibby

Yet here we are lamenting that those who have the power to safeguard the jobs and welfare of those who make it happen, actually doing their best to destroy our number one asset – all in the name of an already discredited ideology. It is criminal activity and those who are responsible should be held to account. – Clive Bibby

It looks as if the “jewel in the crown” is gone forever, sacrificed on the altar of idealogical madness when it didn’t need to happen this way. 

I have said many times before, that there is more than enough marginal unplanted hill country available in this country that would satisfy the government goal of reducing carbon emissions 50% by 2030 without forcing a single hectare of our very best out of livestock production. 

I believe the government knows that to be true and will be hoping that this irrational decision will be the last in its search for idealogical purity. 
However, my guess is anything is possible with these incompetents and we should buckle up expecting the worst while hoping for a change in direction foreshadowed by a change of government. 

It can’t happen soon enough. Clive Bibby

. I believe the mainstream media in New Zealand have lost sight of what was previously their primary objective, which was to reflect society back to itself and report, as neutrally as possible, on matters of interest and concern to the communities they purported to serve. Instead they have positioned themselves in the front line of the culture wars and put themselves at odds with their diminishing audiences by haranguing them with an ideological agenda largely driven by disaffected minorities. The subjects of Fire and Fury just happen to be the wrong disaffected minorities.

To summarise: While purporting to be concerned about the potential harm done by wacko extremists (and some do have the appearance of being truly wacko), Stuff’s big-statement documentary drives another wedge into an already dangerously fractured society. Oh, and by the way: did I mention that it was made with funding from the Public Interest Journalism Fund? – Karl du Fresne

According to St. Paul, Jesus Christ said it’s more blessed to give than to receive: But we’ve changed all that. In the modern state, it’s more blessed to receive than to give—and possibly more common, too.

Giving in the modern state is compulsory, and the donors have no choice in the matter, either as to the quantity or the destination of their gifts, perhaps better known as taxes. Of course, in the process of distribution, a proportion of their gifts don’t reach their ostensible recipients, as distribution itself doesn’t come as a gift but as an additional reason why the compulsory gifts must be so large.Theodore Dalrymple

There are, however, people who clearly receive more than they give: those who exist entirely on gifts. Some of them couldn’t possibly exist other than by such gifts, being incapable of looking after themselves. But they aren’t the majority of those who live entirely on gifts. Again, the distinction between those who are incapable and capable of looking after themselves isn’t absolute; there are shades of incapability between them, those who require partial but not complete help.

The fact that there’s a spectrum of need, from total to none, gives bureaucracies of welfare the pretext or excuse for expanding them ad infinitum, thus expanding also the requirement for further compulsory donations from the rest of the population. An incompetent population is the joy of bureaucrats.

As for the recipients of gifts, they don’t really regard them as a blessing, but more as a right, certainly after they’ve become accustomed to receiving them, which they do very quickly, almost instantaneously. – Theodore Dalrymple

While, in constitutional theory, no government can commit subsequent governments to any particular policy, in practice, many policies, especially those bestowing “gifts” upon a population, are exceedingly difficult, politically, to reverse. Governments that come into power promising the reduction of government expenditures often fail to do so—or even end up increasing it. They find that, in practice, it’s more blessed to increase than to decrease.

Once a benefit is received, even if one has paid or continues to pay for it oneself through taxes, it’s painful to have it withdrawn.Theodore Dalrymple

The Government cannot find $300 million for a third medical school. Instead, last week the Government spent seven times that amount – $2.1 billion – to buy a bankMinister of Finance Grant Robertson admits the taxpayer may have to inject more cash. The purchase of Kiwibank could cost the taxpayer a lot more. – Richard Prebble

Ministers are hopeless at governance. When the taxpayer owned the Bank of New Zealand the bank funded the Wine Box rort. The BNZ had to be bailed out by the taxpayer to avoid its collapse.

When David Lange made me the first minister of state-owned enterprises I was in charge of 22 government businesses. I discovered not one was paying any company tax because none were profitable. The services and products were awful and overpriced. Politicians are just hopeless business owners.Richard Prebble

Kiwibank has always been a political stunt that has produced few, if any, of the benefits promised. This month the bank was the first to increase its mortgage interest rates. The bank almost ruined New Zealand Post. All of New Zealand Post’s earnings went into supporting Kiwibank.

NZ Post could not invest to expand its courier services to deliver Internet shopping deliveries. NZ Post had to beg the government to let it sell shares in the bank to ACC and the Super Fund to avoid bankruptcy. With the cash from the partial sale and NZ Post concentrating on its core delivery business the SOE has returned to profitability. – Richard Prebble

Some Kiwi Fund managers have said they would support a share float. Other analysts say Kiwibank is a risky investment. The New Zealand Super Fund knows far more about investing than Robertson. The fund believes Kiwibank needs a shareholder that would strengthen governance, presumably an overseas bank.

Labour is so keen to promote competition in the supermarket sector that it is encouraging foreign-owned Costco’s entry. At the same time Labour is spending billions of taxpayers’ dollars to prevent real competition in the banking sector that a foreign bank shareholding in Kiwibank would bring. The only winners are the Australian-owned trading banks.

If you cannot get a doctor you can take comfort in knowing that the government owns a bank. – Richard Prebble

We can only surmise wearing your religion ‘loudly’ is a bad thing, so what have Roxborogh and his colleagues got to say about a Speaker of the House with enormous influence, the 3rd most powerful person in NZ, and a practicing Christian? No doubt radio silence. It’s traditional to denigrate National, but not so often do we hear criticism of the left’s beliefs.

However, one has to ask how much more of this hypocrisy can we take from the tone-deaf, biased media commentators, who selectively choose who to torment based on subjectivity and emotion, not reason or logic? – Wendy Geus

So, we look forward with anticipation to hearing the media ‘loudly’ call out Rurawhe for his ‘unpopular’ beliefs which, like Luxon, could be detrimental in some way, yet to be determined.  Don’t hold your breath. Kermit said, “It’s not easy being green.” Copy that: It’s not easy being a National MP.Wendy Geus

Anna Campbell, Giles Fraser, Jack Tame, Graham Adams, Simon Chapple, Chris Bishop, Titania McGrath, Paul Goldsmith, Jordan Williams, Phil Kerr, Joelle King, Tina Nixon, Barbara Kuriger, Christopher Luxon, Megan Whelan, Kate MacNamara, Rotorua Lakes District Council, Lindsay Mitchell, Paula Bennett, Denis Hall, Stuart Smith, Derek Mackie, Francesca Rudkin, John Bougen, Stop These Things, Justin Giovannetti, Richard Prebble, Kenan Malik, Gearóid Ó Loingsigh, Lorraine Finlay, Melissa Lee, Ben Thomas, Sir Bob Jones, Elon Musk, Dylan Thomsen, James Smith, Geoff Upson, Josie Pagani, Mike Hutcheson, Kerre Woodham, Rachel Stewart, Jennifer Lees-Marshment, Etgar Keret, Brendan O’Neill, Bruce Cotterill, John Roughan, Mark White, Barry Soper, Nevil Gibson, Bo Winegard, Wendy Geus,


Public support spending cuts

18/08/2022

Yesterday’s increase in the official cash rate (OCR) was expected and unwelcome::

In a massive blow to homeowners, out-of-control inflation has pushed the Reserve Bank into once again hiking the Official Cash Rate by a dramatic 50 basis points, National’s Finance Spokesperson Nicola Willis says.

“Today’s statement is yet more bad news for New Zealanders, confirming inflation is set to stay higher for longer, growth will be lower and interest rates will have to be hiked even higher to bring things under control.

“The cost of living crisis is hitting everyone across the country and it’s not going away anytime soon. Runaway prices are crushing household budgets. Rapidly rising interest rates are crushing mortgage-holders. Today’s statement confirms both these things are set to persist for many months ahead.

“Concerningly, today’s forecasts from the Reserve Bank suggest inflation now won’t return below 3 per cent until the middle of 2024 and won’t get back to its target midpoint until 2025.

“Instead of throwing up their hands and blaming international factors, the Government needs to take action to bring inflation under control. Broken immigration settings and runaway spending are choking off supply while overheating demand – a recipe for more inflation.

“The Reserve Bank acknowledged ‘labour shortages are a major constraint on business activity’, but the Government is still failing to fix our broken immigration settings. Businesses and consumers will continue to be squeezed by widespread skills shortages until that changes.

“The Government should adopt National’s five point plan to fight inflation – return the Reserve Bank to a single focus on price stability, reduce costs on businesses, remove bottlenecks in the economy, rein in government spending, and prioritise tax relief for workers.”

Labour MPs are always critical of National’s calls to rein in government spending, but the policy has public support:

The Taxpayers’ Union says that cuts to Government spending are a far better way to deal with the inflation crisis than the Reserve Bank of New Zealand hiking the Official Cash Rate – and the public agree. Kiwi voters understand the drivers behind inflation and the latest Taxpayers’ Union Curia Poll demonstrates that they want cuts to Government spending.

Responding to today’s OCR announcement, Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams said:

“As part of this month’s Taxpayers’ Union-Curia poll, we asked New Zealanders if the Government should be increasing, decreasing, or maintaining spending levels in response to high inflation. The most popular response – 45% of respondents – was that Government should decrease spending.”

“Only 12% of respondents thought increasing spending was the right idea and 27% said spending should be kept the same.”

“Next time Labour MPs try to troll National Party leader Christopher Luxon with claims he will ‘cut spending’ Mr Luxon should say he will. This poll shows that it is precisely what most voters want him to do!”

“We also asked about tax cuts and 59% of voters support a temporary 10% reduction in overall income tax for all families to help with the increased cost of living.”

“As Grant Robertson recently acknowledged, tax relief is less inflationary than Government spending. Swapping out Government spending to leave more money in taxpayers’ pockets would both help with the costs of living and ease the pressure on inflation.”

“Something that the Beehive should take note of is that Labour voters are the most in favour of a temporary package for across-the-board tax relief!” 

The results for the August Taxpayers’ Union Curia Poll can be found here – https://www.taxpayers.org.nz/inflation_polling

This government has demonstrated time and time again that more spending doesn’t always result in better outcomes.

Time and time again they’ve shown that they are not good managers of other people’s money.

The TU poll shows the public understand that and favour being able to keep more of their own money.

 


When politics get personal

16/08/2022

Have you noticed how Labour has started attacking National leader Christopher Luxon?

Richard Prebble explains why:

The commentators are busy writing off National leader Christopher Luxon. One wrote that he is “starting to look more like a Todd Muller“. Another claimed “the number of people who dislike Luxon is very high for a new leader“.

It is total nonsense. Luxon is nothing like the hapless Muller. The only politicians who no one bothers to dislike are those who are totally useless. Around a third of the electorate are committed lefties. They dislike Luxon because they think he can win. Labour would not be testing attack ads if their polling did not say the National Leader is a threat.

Objectively, Luxon’s achievements as a leader are astonishing. When he took over as leader the National caucus was a poisonous bear pit.

It is a remarkable turnaround. He could now boast to his conference that his “MPs have their hopeless Labour counterparts on the run”. He now leads what appears to be a cohesive team.

Luxon has been in Parliament for less than two years and leader for just eight months. It takes most MPs six years and three elections to become effective. What is remarkable is not his occasional slip-up, but that he has made so few.

National received just 25.58 per cent of the vote in the last election. Now it is New Zealand’s most popular party. . .

David Farrar explains just how significant that turnaround is:

I don’t think people realise how remarkable that swing has been. They were 25% behind Labour at the last election and now lead them in every major poll. A swing of 10% is considered significant. A 25% swing is huge. Here’s what the swing has been for every MMP election (gap between  and Labour):

  • 1999: -15%
  • 2002: -12%
  • 2005: +18%
  • 2008: +13%
  • 2011: +9%
  • 2014: +2%
  • 2017: -14%
  • 2020: -32% . . .

Only in the last election, when Labour was assited by Covid-19 and national disfunction has the swing been greater.

Back to Prebble:

Luxon has the great advantage of not only having a good CV, but of looking like a prime minister. Nothing else has changed, so he has to be given the credit for National’s revival.

He has united caucus, gained the support of the wider party and is convincing the voting public that National would lead a much better government than Labour.

The next election is now Luxon’s to lose. Labour’s only hope of re-election is to politically destroy the National leader.

There is a tried and tested formula. Accuse the Opposition Leader of having no policy. And when he does announce some policy, put it on trial and find it guilty.

When Luxon announced a detailed youth unemployment policy on Sunday, some 15 months before the next election, Labour could not wait to find it “guilty”. The attacks would have been more effective if ministers could agree on what is wrong with National’s policy. Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni says it is because the policies have no merit. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says it is because the policies “already exist”. Of course both could be true.

If both exist why is the government expending effort and money on policies that don’t work?

The apparatchiks are surprised Luxon has chosen youth unemployment as that is not an issue in any poll. Luxon also identified the cost of living as a crisis when inflation was not an issue. His identification of the issue and Ardern’s dismissal of any cost of living crisis is the reason why voters now say National is better able to handle the economy.

There is great unease over how the young are faring under Labour. Just 46 per cent of pupils attended school regularly in term one. There is a 49 per cent increase in the number of young people on the Jobseeker benefit. When Luxon says “get the kids back to school” and that young adults need to “find a job and become independent”, the country agrees.

Not getting the kids back to school and not helping them find a job and become independent isn’t just failing them. It’s causing problems that will haunt the country for decades and the high truancy and benefit numbers can’t all be blamed on Covid-19 and winter ‘flu.

Luxon’s statement to the National Party conference that – “as a nation, we all bear the costs when welfare becomes not a safety net to catch people if they fall, but a drag net that pulls the vulnerable in” echoes Norman Kirk. Kirk used to say that welfare needs to be not a safety net that catches, but a springboard that propels back. . . 

Margaret Thatcher said I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.

Labour’s attacks on Luxon personally and politically reflects well on him and poorly on them.

It shows they recognise how well he’s doing, that they have nothing substantial to criticise him on and no substantial policies to counter his attacks.

The contrast between his decisive reaction to revelations about one of his MPs and Jacinda Ardern’s trade mark equivocation in response to her MP, Dr Gaurav Sharma’s public complaints – ramped up yesterday with screen shots of messages from other MPs –  clearly shows who is the better leader.


A tale of two leaders

15/08/2022

When the news of Sam Uffindell’s schoolboy attack broke Christopher Luxon said there had to be a place for redemption, providing there was contrition and he told the MP to front the media, which he did.

When fresh accusations about Uffindell as a student broke, his leader stood him down pending an independent inquiry.

There was some criticism about that and Uffindell won’t be the only one who is worried about how something they did years ago might turn up. But it is fair to seek answers to questions about what happened and it gives a couple of weeks breathing space while that process goes on.

Contrast that with Jacinda Ardern when Speaker Trevor Mallard accused a parliamentary staff member of rape – accusations that subsequently cost the taxpayer more than $330,000 to settle.

She let him keep his job as speaker, a role which holds considerable power, and has subsequently rewarded him with a diplomatic post.

Then last week Hamilton West Labour MP Dr Gaurav Sharma wrote a column in the NZ Herald raising issues of bullying.

Ardern’s answer to that was to insinuate he had issues managing his staff.

. . .”Starting out as a new MP can be challenging and one of the toughest parts is navigating the new environment but also the role you must play as an MP managing others.” . . .

Where’s the kindness in that?

He responded with a Facebook post and a timeline of events:

Over the last 24hours many of you would have read the op-ed I wrote in NZ Herald. I want to start by thanking a large number of you who have contacted me from across the country with support. I have also had a few people who have tried to harass me without knowing the fully story. Due to being busy with constituent work and more recent matters I haven’t had much time to follow the comments on social media, but from what I have seen there are many genuine questions out there.

In order to give context to the issues I raised yesterday, I am sharing the following timeline of events:

⁃Before I took my oath I was assigned a Relationship Manager by Parliamentary Services to look after me and my staffing levels. This person had a direct conflict of interest in their role due to being a Labour member who had tried to stop me getting selected as a candidate. I raised this on Day 0 with a senior Parliamentary Manager who assured me that this would never be an issue. ⁃In February 2021 I had an underperforming staff member but instead of listening to my concerns, this was actively turned into a major project by the Labour Party Whips to bring me into disrepute and to rein me in. I sat in meetings after meetings being told I was doing a terrible job and that 9/10 times the MP is a bully so we refuse to listen to anything you have to say. I wrote numerous emails to Parliamentary Services and Whips Office asking for support, providing significant evidence of underperformance by a staff member but I was told in clear words “if you are staying up and working until 3am, you should work until 5am to make up for your staff’s incompetence.” Issues I raised involved staff being drunk at work, not showing up to work, being sent on leave without any notice or approval, and a significant wastage of taxpayer’s money. But all I was told was that I need to shut up and do a mentoring course on managing people. I had hundreds of pages to prove that my staff wasn’t doing the work they were hired to do and it affected my ability to provide services to my constituents but I was never listened to. The main bully was Kieran McAnulty who kept gaslighting me, shouting at me, degrading me in front of caucus members and other attendees at events and telling me that I was a terrible MP. His staff members at the Whips Office were the same. One of the most clearest examples was on the night of the America’s Cup final race where he asked me to come to his room for a meeting on a very short notice, but when I got there I was advised that he had to be in an important meeting so couldn’t make it. I spent close to 2 hours sitting with Kieran McAnulty’s staff in his office being told how terrible a manager I was, with no right of reply. But what was most sickening was that when I came out I saw photos of him drinking and celebrating the America’s Cup final while I sat in his office like a school kid at the headmaster’s office.

⁃In August 2021 I found that a Member of Parliament of the Labour Party and a Parliamentary staff member (also a Labour Member) were misusing taxpayer’s money. As someone who took an oath to uphold and protect the interests of this country I raised my concerns with the Relationship Manager at Parliamentary Services. Instead of protecting my identity and looking into this matter, Parliamentary Services forwarded my concerns to the Labour Party Whips and alerted them of what I had said.

The issues of bullying and mismanagement of staff have been the major focus.

This accusation of the Labour Party and a parliamentary staff member misusing taxpayers’ money ought to be getting at least as much attention.

⁃Following this incidence, I was put through further bullying. I was told by then Junior Whip Duncan Webb that what I did was wrong and I should be ashamed of myself. I was told that it was lucky that this Parliamentary Services Relationship Manager (who I had raised issues re conflict of interest on day 0) who is also a Labour Party member informed the Whips Office, because it could have fallen into the wrong hands which could have caused trouble. I was then told by Duncan Webb that an accusation like this could mean that the government could get into trouble, lose the election etc and such issues needed to be contained rather than discussed freely. I was then told by Duncan Webb in clear terms that “the only way this country can succeed is if Labour is in government. Government means Labour. So the Party comes first and foremost before the country.” The matter was never looked into and everything was hushed.

⁃Due to my outspoken stance on squandering of taxpayers money and other policy issues I was further bullied. I was called to last minute meetings with no notice and no support person (but once when I managed to take a caucus colleague with me).

⁃My staffing issues created through the mismanagement of the Whips Office and Parliamentary Services continued. My messages to the Parliamentary Services Relationship Manager were often not returned and I was repeatedly deflected to instead sort it out with the Whips. The same Whips who would bully me and had no legal right to begin with in a triangular relationship between Parliamentary Services (employer), my staff (employee) and myself (day-to-day-manager). I went to the Manager’s Manager but nothing came out of it. I went to the CEO of Parliamentary Services, I wrote emails and made calls – I was promised support to help with the staffing issue but all I got was silence. Many weeks after meeting the CEO I was told that I should go back and talk to the Whips.

Slowly I fell into a cycle of stress, depression and lack of hope as I found myself stuck. I remember one of my former patients sending me very kind message on World Mental Health Day about how I had helped her as a doctor a while ago. I thought to myself about how despite listening to and assisting many of my constituents with bullying and harassment issues, I had to put a bold face up as I struggled everyday with the thought of contemplating suicide. The Labour Party Whips Office and the Parliamentary Services removed all my mānā and didn’t give me any fair process to express my concerns. Slowly I started withdrawing from all the social events in Wellington. Every time I saw my bully Kieran McAnulty speak or smile, it made me sad and angry at the system and the process.

⁃I came to a point in 2021 where I advised Duncan Webb that I had had enough, and because I hadn’t received the support and justice I had been seeking I would go to the media to present the whole issue and tell them how I was being mistreated and there was no investigation into serious claims I had made about the incompetence of a staff member. This is the first time they listened. I was told that they would fly up to Hamilton and talk to me face to face to resolve my issues, which I declined because I had been in meetings after meetings with them for months with no resolution. Their solution included paying a severance pay from taxpayer’s purse to a person who had been repeatedly underperforming. I refused on principle, doing this would mean a double wastage of public money. I kept being pushed to concede but I refused. Eventually they cut a deal with the staff member to encourage them to resign from my office (I did not pay this person out because I stood by my claims which were never and still haven’t been investigated).

⁃After this, the bullying continued in many ways, simplest of which was a freeze on hiring staff. I challenged this and asked them to openly and fairly investigate my claims. But it was refused. For months on end I continued to be short staffed in providing support and services to my constituents who deserved better. I was told that I wasn’t an employee of the Labour Party, or its caucus or Parliamentary Services. My employers were the constituents – but my resourcing was halted by the Labour Party Whips – who were not legally even part of the triangular relationship. A fourth wheel which I continued to challenge shouldn’t be able to make decisions for my constituents especially when they were themselves the bully. When I tried to contact the Parliamentary Services they stopped taking my calls or replying to emails, instead again asking me to talk to the Whips.

⁃I went the only place I felt I could to seek help in December 2021. The Prime Ministers’ Office. The advice was always clear – do not give anything in writing and do not expect anything in writing. Everything can be OIA’ed. So I met the Chief of Staff of PMO for over an hour of meeting which was supposed to be only a 30mins appointment. I took with me hundreds of pages of evidence – emails, timelines, issues etc to explain my case. I very clearly said that Kieran McAnulty was a bully. That I was being bullied. That other caucus members were being bullied by Kieran McAnulty. Few weeks after the meeting when I had not heard from PMO, I contacted the PMO with a written complaint on 18th of December 2021. An investigation was never done. My bully still walks the halls of power with his head held up high, while a “messenger from Caucus” advised me yesterday after my op-ed in Herald that I should take the basement exit and try to avoid Parliament. The kick in the guts however is that despite raising concerns about Kieran McAnulty, not only by me but as I understand by other members of the caucus too (which I had clearly said to the PMO) he was promoted to being a Minister of the Crown. This is our justice.

⁃The issues with Parliamentary Services are even more complex & detailed and have continued. My current staff member has also raised significant concerns about the support from Parliamentary Services and has essentially been ghosted and stone walled. They have had no support in terms of expectation settings & annual review and have been underpaid for a significant amount of time. They went on to raise similar concerns as me re the Relationship Manager (the Labour member with conflict of interest) but it was only after 17months that this person was removed but never investigated for a serious breach of confidentiality (in my case raising concerns re taxpayers money) and in other cases re appropriate support and training.

⁃I know that some people think that I had for some reason tried to time this with what was happening with the issues at the National Party but that is far from the truth. I was told in an email in May by Parliamentary Services that there had never been an investigation against me despite me asking for an official review on multiple incidences. In April this year I contacted a range of lawyers in Wellington and eventually engaged someone to help me draft a legal challenge to the issues I had been facing. I was open about this to the Parliamentary Services and the Labour Whips from the moment I hired the lawyer but they thought I was bluffing. Due to a recent overseas trip and the staff shortage it has taken me a bit longer than I had anticipated to put together all the notes for my grievances and concerns (I am at 40+pages but still writing). Last week I had written to a new Manager at Parliamentary Services asking for a report on some serious complaints I had made (over a year ago). This Manager had promised me 4months ago that things would be looked into but I had not heard back. In reply to my most recent query the Parliamentary Services Manager advised me that they would instead first like to meet me with the Labour Whips and then they would give a written reply. Don’t forget that Parliamentary Services is part of the triangular employment relationship, but Labour Whips aren’t. Hence my comments yesterday about seldom replying and often from behind the Whips’ table.

⁃To me this meeting on Thursday was another attempt to silence me, to bully me and to put me in my place. But unlike other times this time they had given me a slightly longer notice for the meeting. Having been in numerous meetings where I had no support person and was being talked at by 3-4 people often, I decided to take my lawyer Phil Mitchell with me to the meeting to support me. The meeting was called by the Labour Party Whips in their room with the presence of Parliamentary Services on the day of their choosing. They weren’t expecting me to bring a support person let alone a lawyer. Suddenly the conversation in the room was about moving forward. The staffing issues that PM and Whips office claim they had been working with me in good faith to resolve had been going on for 1.5 years but now somehow with the lawyer in the room and threat of a legal case hanging about their head, I was advised that all was forgotten! That I just had to move forward, drop my complaints about Parliamentary Service and significant issues of drunk staff, staff with serious complaints from constituents etc because they didn’t want to investigate these claims. I was told that I was relitigating old matters. At the Thursday meeting I continued to say that Kieran McAnulty is a bully and if they would investigate him. I was just given blank stares and told to move on. I was also told by Duncan Webb that making such claims against a sitting senior Labour MP can affect my career projection.

⁃But they agreed to resolve the staffing issues. Within 30mins of a meeting with my lawyer I had been emailed by two Managers at Parliamentary Services that everything would be resolved and we were moving forward. The ads and roles for staffing were sent to me and I was free to hire asap, something that couldn’t be done in 1.5 years was done in a short meeting with a lawyer. ⁃The reason the op-ed came out yesterday was because the meeting was called by the Labour Whips yesterday at a time and place of their choosing and in that meeting they continued to laugh on my face saying in front of my lawyer “how will you even sue us, you have no legal rights” while repeatedly refusing to investigate anything I have said or investigate me for any issue.

⁃In summary, I stand by my claims that I have been subjected to ongoing bullying by the Parliamentary Service and the Labour Whips and none of my concerns have been investigated. Neither has there been an investigation into any claims against me as per the last written contact from the Deputy CEO of Parliamentary Service. I didn’t just wake up on the wrong side of the bed one day and made these serious claims. For 1.5years I have been trying to seek independent investigation, justice and support from Parliamentary Service, Labour Whips and the PMO. I also want to clearly state that despite what Duncan Webb says it has always been my belief that the country should always come ahead of any party. If I ever have to choose between party and country my allegiance will always be with the country first.

Misusing taxpayers’ money and bullying are very, very serious claims, not in the past as accusations against Uffindell are, but in this term of government and continuing.

There are also accusations from a staff member against another Labour MP, Anna Lorck.

Christopher Luxon has showed strong leadership in seeking an independent inquiry into the claims about his MP’s past and standing him down pending the results of that.

Jacinda Ardern is showing none of the kindness on which she lectures the rest of us, and she’s showing poor leadership.

Serious accusations deserve a serious response that includes an investigation into how much, if any, substance there is to them.

And that doesn’t mean the usual word salad and answering another question than the one she was asked, which is Ardern’s usual way to handle interviews which test her.


Welfare that works

08/08/2022

Christopher Luxon’s speech to the National Party conference yesterday included a firm stand on one standard of democracy, equal voting rights and no co-governance of public services and policy on welfare that works:

The video you just saw told a little about my life before politics. It also gave you a glimpse of the three most important people in my life: Amanda, who you met yesterday, and our children William and Olivia.

The lives of all children, and the circumstances in which they raise their own families, will be shaped by the decisions political leaders are taking right now.

My vision is for a more confident, positive, ambitious and aspirational New Zealand than we know today.

A country with a government that backs those who want to get ahead, manages a more productive economy, respects taxpayers, and actually gets things done.

I envisage a society built on New Zealanders’ rights and responsibilities to each other, and to our country.

A New Zealand where young people go overseas to act on a bigger stage, not to escape the cost of living and lack of opportunities here at home.

A country with welfare and education initiatives that help people flourish.

A country that meets its emission reduction targets.

A country that holds on to its ethos of fairness, including to the generations that follow ours. A country that fosters social mobility, and that encourages government, businesses and communities to work together.

I want New Zealanders who can’t support themselves to know they will always be looked after.

For everyone else, taking personal responsibility, and being proud of it, should be part of what it means to be a New Zealander.

That point was missed by several commentators. There is a difference between people who are unable to support themselves and those who are unwilling to support themselves. The former will always need support, the latter might need temporary support but have the responsibility to support themselves.

Don’t we all want to live in a New Zealand that embraces diversity and multi-culturalism, recognises the Treaty, acknowledges Auckland as the biggest Pasifika city in the world, welcomes needed migrants, but that first and foremost serves the common cause of all New Zealanders.

A country that emphasizes what unites us, instead of what divides us. A country that says absolutely, explicitly, that there is one standard of democracy, equal voting rights and no co-governance of public services.

That’s the New Zealand I want to live in.

Under Labour

However, Labour’s view is for a dependent society where big government squeezes out business and community initiatives.

Labour MPs wouldn’t have a clue how it feels to be responsible for a business whose employees’ jobs depend on that business succeeding.

I know that feeling. I’ve borne that sense of responsibility.

And I say to the Government, let businesses compete.

Stop piling on extra costs, like Fair Pay Agreements dreamed up to appease Labour’s union backers.

Make New Zealand open to the world, engaged and confident in its ability to find solutions.

New Zealanders don’t need the Government to tell them to be kind.

We need the Government to tell us when we’ll get an appointment at the hospital.

We need the Government to keep us safe from gangs and street violence.

We need the Government to get kids back to school.

Being in government isn’t about telling people that you care.

Saying you care, while taking no meaningful action, is empty.

Caring means identifying the problem, devising a solution and getting things done.

That’s what a National Government that I lead, will do.

And it’s what a Labour Government led by Jacinda Ardern, demonstrably cannot do.

Labour has shown time after time that it cannot deliver the things New Zealanders want and need.

From hospital waiting lists to being able to afford a first home. From parents desperate to get mental health support for their kids, to an increasing number of people living in cars and the thirteen hundred more children living in poverty since Labour came to office – the very things that Jacinda Ardern campaigned on are all worse.

Instead of devising solutions, Labour announces working groups.

Maybe they report back. Maybe they don’t. The general sense of Labour being overwhelmed by the burden of office, does not change.

Instead of solving problems, ministers put Band Aids on top of Band Aids.

The Government made up the cost-of-living payment to cover its own mismanagement of the economy which has seen inflation overtake wage growth every quarter for the past two years.

And then they so mismanaged delivery of the payment, that your taxes are being given to investment bankers in London, French backpackers, and dead people.

Labour cannot deliver anything.

They conflate spending more with doing more, when those are two very different things.

Labour doesn’t understand the difference between the quantity of spending and the quality.

Since Labour came into office, 50,000 more people are dependent on the Jobseeker benefit than when National was in office five years ago. It’s a Government failure that I’m going to talk more about in a minute.

That would be bad enough at any time, it’s inexplicable when so many employers are desperate for staff.

Since Labour came into office, there are four times as many people living in cars, four times as many on the state house waiting list, and 4,000 kids in motels – at a cost of a million dollars a day.

The Government is spending $5 billion more a year on education, but now only 46 per cent of our children are attending school regularly.

These are economic and social failures under Jacinda Ardern’s watch, yet she never holds herself or her ministers accountable for them.

It’s shameful.

It’s not only shameful it comes witha very high cost that we will be paying for years, possibly decades.

Government Spending

A massive increase in government borrowing and spending over the last few years has overheated the economy and super-charged the cost of living crisis.

This year, the Government will spend $51 billion more than National did only five years ago.

That equates to about $25,000 per household of additional new spending this year alone.

This year’s Budget included by far the most new spending of any Budget in New Zealand’s history, and it was delivered when the economy was already overheated and inflation was rising.

Grant Robertson is addicted to spending. He was overspending long before anyone had even heard of Covid. He has missed every new spending limit he has set for himself over five Budgets.

So, it’s not surprising that, as Nicola said yesterday, to pay for all this spending during Covid, New Zealand has borrowed more than any OECD country, apart from the United States.

You couldn’t run a household or business like this, and you shouldn’t run a country like it either.

None of those doing this spending have run a business and their reckless spending is a result of that.

If you think of the economy like a car, then the Government and Reserve Bank have been squashed together in the driver’s seat, pushing the accelerator flat to the floor. Now, like some terrified passenger realising the car’s going too fast, the Bank’s pressing down hard on the brake. The car’s got the wobbles and there’s a very strong likelihood it’s going to crash.

The impact of this hair-raising mismanagement of the economy is that homeowners, some who bought during the record house prices reached under Labour, are lying awake at night fearing that the next interest rate rise will be the one that forces them to sell up, likely at a huge loss.

Worst of all, for all this government spending, nothing is being achieved.

Economic Management

It can be different. I know it can.

The last National government came into office in 2008 inheriting a set of Treasury forecasts showing deficits stretching out for a decade.

In fact, every incoming National Government since 1960 has inherited an economic mess from Labour. In 1975. In 1990. In 2008.

We certainly know what to expect in 2023.

But the last National government got the country’s books back in order very quickly.
Its Ministers managed public spending with the same care that people manage their own household’s budget.

And did it by reducing backroom waste without cutting frontline services.

The contrast between National and Labour’s approach to economic management could not be starker.

National knows how to turn things around.

We have a five-point plan to beat inflation, and another five-point plan to make New Zealand wealthier so Kiwis don’t have to work for an hour to earn what an Australian earns in 45 minutes. National’s plans will be implemented by a capable administration that holds itself accountable.

National will not only lift New Zealand’s economic performance, it will restore New Zealand’s confidence too.

Bureaucracies & Centralisation

Labour believes in an over-bearing State that thinks people need to be told what to do and how to do it. They believe in centralisation and control.

Just look at the mega-mergers of our polytechs, health system and Three Waters. It’s always the same story. Labour thinks that Wellington knows best, and better than the rest of New Zealand. They’ve spent more money, hired 14,000 more bureaucrats, and got worse results.

Only Labour could spend so much to achieve so little.

I reject that approach.

National believes those closest to the problems should be closest to the answers. That’s why we back community-led solutions. For example, the Covid vaccine roll-out showed that bureaucrats in Wellington don’t always know best how to reach people. Just ask the Maōri organisations who had to take the Government to court so they could get people vaccinated.

National also believes in personal responsibility. We back Kiwis to make the best decisions for themselves, their families and whānau.

Welfare

I want to come back to welfare because New Zealand is rightly proud of its history of supporting people through adversity and a government I lead will build on that legacy.

In fact, we will do more, using the social investment model that Sir Bill English introduced. It uses long-term data to work out where and when targeted actions should occur to change the course of a person’s life – and taxpayers’ liability – for the better.

That is so much more effective than this government’s spray and walk away approach.

National wants all New Zealanders to be able to pursue their aspirations. A good education, followed by a job, is the best and usually the only long-term path to achieving this.

When it comes to welfare, every New Zealand government, Labour or National, will always support those who permanently cannot work and those who are temporarily unable to work.

Making the point again that too many commentators have missed. national agrees with the need for support for people who can never work and those who are temporarily unable to work.

But when it comes to those who can work, Labour and National’s approaches differ.

Having a job in early adulthood sets you up for success throughout your working life. Conversely, if you’re on a benefit before you turn 20, across your lifetime you’re likely to spend 12 years on welfare.

I know people are worried about this. I was talking to a mum in Wellington whose son has been absent from school for so long that he’s been unenrolled, and now he’s going to go on the benefit and she’s worried sick about what his future will look like.

She’s right to be worried.

Welfare dependency pushes people further away from the rungs of social mobility. It locks them out of the opportunities, sense of purpose and social connections that jobs provide.

Benefit dependency not only harms the person trapped on a benefit, but it also can harm the children who grow up in benefit-dependent households. And under Labour, there are more of them. There are now one in five children in New Zealand growing up in a household that depends on welfare. One In Five.

That comes at a high social and financial cost.

As a nation, we all bear the costs when welfare becomes not a safety net to catch people if they fall, but a drag net that pulls the vulnerable in.

I will not be a Prime Minister who allows young people’s lives to be going to waste when there is something more that could be done to propel them along a more fulfilling life path.

I will not be a Prime Minister who thinks it’s okay that the numbers of young people who are able to work, but who instead are on a Jobseeker benefit, is growing during a period of almost full employment.

I will not be a Prime Minister who thinks that work is punishment and that it’s kinder to people to prioritise their entitlement to a benefit over their responsibility to work if they can.

Right now, with businesses crying out for workers, there are 50,000 more New Zealanders on a Jobseeker benefit than there were under National.

As you know, their benefits come from the taxes paid by other New Zealanders who would gratefully have kept that money, if they hadn’t had to pay it in tax.

Every measure of dependency on the Jobseeker benefit has increased under Labour.
Disturbingly, 34,000 under-25 year olds are on it – a 49 per cent increase under Labour’s watch.

Worse still, the number of young people who’ve been receiving the Jobseeker benefit for a year or longer has almost doubled.

That’s right. The number of under 25s who’ve been on the Jobseeker benefit for more than 12 months has just about doubled – in a time of acute labour shortages.

This doesn’t make sense to anyone.

It’s not a sign of a Government that cares. It’s a sign that this Government talks itself up but doesn’t know how to deliver. It’s a sign that this Government has no ambition for the people who most need help. And it’s a sign the Government is abandoning young New Zealanders.

But National cares. National cares deeply. A Government I lead will do more to steer young people away from a life of isolation and dependence on welfare, and towards a life of independence and participation through work.

National thinks that if you’re young and you can work, you should. And if you can’t find a job, you need encouragement to keep taking active steps till you get one.

Some young people have barriers to employment like, say, not having a driver’s licence, or having an addiction.

Whether they are simple or complex, the earlier problems are identified and tackled, the sooner they can be addressed.

What we’ll do

So, today I’m announcing a new approach to getting young people at risk of long-term welfare dependency into work.

The increasing numbers of young people on welfare shows that the Ministry of Social Development is not giving them priority.

A National Government will not keep funding failure by government departments. If government departments can’t deliver, we’ll find someone else who can. So, in this case, we will bring community providers into the mix, redirecting some funding from the Ministry of Social Development, and getting community providers to do the job instead.

We’ll contract them to provide under 25 year olds, who’ve been on a benefit for three months or more, with a dedicated job coach to help them get into work.

Young jobseekers will get more support, with a proper assessment of their barriers, and an individual job plan to address those barriers, and find a job.

If we don’t do that, they’ll be on and off welfare for years.

A Government I lead won’t waste human potential and we won’t give up on people who could and should be contributing.

Currently people are not, as standard practice, required to have a plan to obtain employment until they’ve spent 12 months on a benefit. That is far too late.

And you don’t have to have a case manager, though you can call an 0800 number if you want one. That is far too casual.

Under a National Government, if you’re young and on the Jobseeker benefit for longer than three months, whether or not you ask for it, you’ll be getting help.

The very clear expectation is that your responsibility is to find a job and become independent. I know that there are many parents, just like that mother in Wellington, who don’t want welfare to be the easy option for their kids that it is today.

Unfortunately, the course for many young people is that they find a job, work for only days or weeks before quitting or failing, and going back on the benefit.

So National will offer a $1,000 bonus to a person who is under 25, has been on the benefit for 12 months or longer, and who then starts work and stays off the benefit for the next 12 consecutive months. In other words, they have successfully broken their welfare dependency.

On the other hand, those who blatantly do not follow their agreed plan – meaning they don’t turn up for courses, don’t apply for jobs or don’t engage with their jobs coach – will face sanctions.

Under Labour, the use of sanctions has fallen dramatically, so perhaps it’s no surprise there’s been a big increase in the numbers on a Jobseeker benefit, and in how long they stay on it.
If Labour thinks it’s being kind to set young people up for a lifetime of dependency, even when there are jobs they could be doing, National doesn’t.

National’s approach will be about people’s potential to contribute, not just their entitlements. That’s what a society built on rights and responsibilities is all about.

Any changes need to be fair to jobseekers, and fair to taxpayers. I believe this policy has that balance right.

In summary, I have messages for three groups of people.

First, to young people trying to find a job: That is a hard place to be and, if there was a National Government, you’d get more support and encouragement from your own job coach.

Second, to young people who don’t want to work: You might have a free ride under Labour, but under National, it ends.

Third, to taxpayers: National is on your side.

Fellow National Party members, this is a great country and all of us are so, so lucky to live here.

But under Labour, New Zealanders can see and sense that we’re heading in the wrong direction. Today, we feel insecure about things we once assumed were solid. Things we’ve taken for granted now seem uncertain.

I sense it. I see it. And that’s why I came to Parliament. What I’ve seen in the short time I’ve been in politics only motivates me more to win the next election so that a National Government can take New Zealand forward.

The election is going to be incredibly tight. Labour knows we’re back and they’re under threat. They’re trying to spin, deflect and distract from their own inability to deliver.
New Zealand needs a turnaround. And a National Government I lead will deliver it.

Only National can provide the hope that things can be different. Only National can deliver the prosperity New Zealand deserves. Only National can build the strong economy New Zealand needs.

National Party members, my enduring promise to you all is that, under my leadership, National will be the government that New Zealand needs, and National will take New Zealand forward.

Thank you all – let’s get to work. Let’s go and make it happen!

The all carrot-no-stick approach to welfare that Labour has adopted has had the inevitable result of increasing welfare dependence.

National’s plan has plenty of carrot to help young people get into work and stay there.

It also has some stick to apply to those who could work but won’t.

National accepts the government has a responsibility to help people through welfare but it also accepts that those who can work have a responsibility to do so and that there must be consequences for those who can but won’t.

This is good policy and also good politics.

After all how could anyone with both a wise head and good heart think this government’s policy of encouraging welfare dependency in young people who could work if given some help is the right thing to do?


Quotes of the month

01/07/2022

A 2021 Canadian law on assisted suicide contains a provision that will allow doctors to provide assisted suicide to the psychiatrically ill starting next year. Given that severe psychiatric disorder tends to cloud the judgment of those who suffer from it, one wonders who will benefit most from this law, if passed. Certainly, it might remove from society people who are often difficult, unproductive, and expensive for others. They might be encouraged to shuffle off this mortal coil as a service to their relatives or even to their county. The distinction between the voluntary and the compulsory might become blurred. – Theodore Dalrymple

An illness may be serious but not fatal; it may be bearable or unbearable, but whether it is the one or the other is not simply a technical question that can be answered by ticking a few boxes on a form. An easy way out will always tempt people to take it who might otherwise have carried on. And in times of economic stringency, they might well be encouraged to take it. Our hospitals, after all, are full, and often urgently in need of beds for those who can be helped.

On the other side of the question is the fact that everyone can easily imagine circumstances in which he would rather die than carry on and would appreciate an easeful death. The principle of double effect, according to which doctors are permitted to prescribe drugs intended to comfort the dying but that will also shorten their lives, has long been in operation. It is not a perfect solution to the dilemma—but then, there is no perfect solution. –Theodore Dalrymple

WHETHER NANAIA MAHUTA followed the conflict-of-interest rules set out in The Cabinet Manual hardly matters. A dangerous political narrative is forming around the appointment of, and awarding of contracts to, Mahuta’s whanau in circumstances that, at the very least, raise serious questions about this Government’s political judgement. Enlarging this narrative is the growing public perception that the mainstream news media is refusing to cover a story that would, in other circumstances, have attracted intense journalistic interest. The conflation of these two, highly damaging narratives with a third – the even more negative narrative of “co-governance” – has left the Labour Government in an extremely exposed and vulnerable position. – Chris Trotter

Since the widespread assumption among Pakeha New Zealanders is that co-governance and representative democracy are fundamentally incompatible, Labour’s willingness to be presented as co-governance’s friend runs the risk of being cast as democracy’s enemy.

Of even greater concern is the inevitability of this anti-democratic characterisation being extended to an ever-increasing fraction of the Māori population. Statements from Māori leaders appearing to discount the importance of, or even disparage, the principles of democracy have done little to slow this process. –

The problem with this willingness to indulge in ad hominem attacks on people holding genuine reservations about the Government’s proposals is that more and more of them will decide that they might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, and embrace the very racism of which they stand accused. In this context, the revelations that some members of a Māori Minister of the Crown’s whanau have been the recipients of Government funds, and appointed to roles not unrelated to the furtherance of the Minister’s policies, will be taken as confirmation that all is not as it should be in Aotearoa-New Zealand. – Chris Trotter

The result could very easily be the emergence of what might be called a “super-narrative” in which all the negatives of co-governance, media capture, and Neo-Tribal Capitalism are rolled into one big story about the deliberate corruption of New Zealand democracy. The guilty parties would be an unholy alliance of Pakeha and Māori elites determined to keep public money flowing upwards into protected private hands. In this super-narrative, the structures set forth in He Puapua to secure tino rangatiratanga, will actually ensure the exclusion of the vast majority of New Zealanders from the key locations of power. The only positive consequence of which will be a common struggle for political and economic equality in which non-elite Māori and Pakeha will have every incentive to involve themselves. Chris Trotter

What lies ahead, as the institutions of co-governance take shape, is the coming together of two very privileged birds of a feather: the Pakeha professionals and managers who have taken command of the society and economy created by Neoliberalism, and the Māori professionals and managers created to produce and operate the cultural and economic machinery of Neo-Tribal Capitalism.

This, ultimately, will be the spectre that arises out of the controversy swirling around Nanaia Mahuta. The spectre of the worst of both the Pakeha and the Māori worlds. Worlds in which the powerful trample all over the weak. Where tradition constrains the free exploration of ideas and techniques. And where the petty advantages of separation are elevated above the liberating effects of unity. Where “Aotearoa” creates two peoples out of one. – Chris Trotter

Crying in the movies and in response to really compelling stories, it actually shows … you have a strong empathy response and empathy is one of the five key characteristics of emotional intelligence, so it’s a strength. – Deborah Rickwood

People who are high in emotional intelligence have better social and intimate relationships, and it helps you to deal with stress and conflict, and I guess it just means that you’re more aware and attuned to your emotions, and as long as you can regulate them, that makes you better able to be socially connected, get along with other people. – Deborah Rickwood

Crying is basically a way of getting over getting upset and humans are the only animals who emotionally cry.

“Crying releases endorphins in your brain. I mean, [for] most of us, if you have a really good cry, you’ll notice you need to go and have a little sleep afterwards. You’re kind of drained, you’re more relaxed, it is a release of emotion that’s good for us.  – Deborah Rickwood

You hear particularly from people who become parents and especially men when they become fathers, they find that when they see movies about fathers and sons … they will cry and really respond to that, which they wouldn’t have before they became a father.

So, I think the older you get, the more experience of social connections, the more things you pay attention to that are meaningful to you, so more things then emotionally arouse you. – Deborah Rickwood

I’d love New Zealand to establish a Victims of  Museum which details all the mass deaths caused by communism. It could even include half price entry for people living in Aro Valley.David Farrar

When I was Governor of the Reserve Bank I used to talk about the contrasting fortunes of my uncle and me, to illustrate the effect of inflation. In 1971, my uncle sold an apple orchard he had spent a life-time developing and, being of a cautious disposition, invested the proceeds in 18-year government bonds at 5.5% interest. Perhaps fortunately, by the time those bonds matured my uncle and his wife were dead, because the $30,000 for which he had sold his orchard was by then worth only a small fraction of what it had been worth in 1971. In 1971, $30,000 would have bought my uncle 11 Toyota Corolla cars. By 1989, $30,000 would have bought him just one Corolla, with a small amount of change left over.

By coincidence, in 1971 my wife and I returned from the United States to a very well-paying job in Auckland. We bought a five-bedroom home with a great sea view for $43,000, which was almost exactly three times my substantial salary. By the late eighties, the house was worth more than ten times what we had paid for it, and I have no doubt that today it would be worth several million dollars (I have had no financial interest in the house for more than 30 years).- Don Brash

There are simply no good reasons why an under-populated country like New Zealand should tolerate the ridiculous “house prices” (really, ridiculous land prices) which we currently have. Blame central and local government politicians, not greedy speculators, people with Chinese-sounding names, or the purveyors of building materials.Don Brash

The use of the word “outcomes” (aka results, deliverables) should not be so earth-shattering but our media, entranced by this Government’s strategy of throwing money at problems to make them go away, have now realised we also need ‘outcomes’ or ‘results’.

Luxon and Willis, having grabbed the narrative and set the agenda, are re-educating the media (the public already knew) that it actually is results that we want and we don’t have much evidence of that with this Government so far. Just billions of wasted spending and excessive appointments of highly paid public servants, which National have promised to go through with a fine-tooth comb once they gain office next year. – Wendy Geus

A creative writing course at a British university has withdrawn graduation requirement that students should attempt a sonnet, not on the reasonable grounds that it is futile to try to turn people with cloth ears for language into sonneteers, but because the sonnet is a literary form that is white and Western.Theodore Dalrymple

As a psychiatrist, I understand identity as a crucial part of every person’s self-concept. Each person’s identity is cobbled together from multiple identity fragments: for example, gender, race, religion, nation, family, and ideology. These fragments can include their opposites, a negative identity fragment that represents something that person absolutely is not and defines themselves against. They might include someone’s love or hatred of flowers, sports, or the ballet. Over a person’s lifetime, these fragments may conflict with each other and get reordered and revalued in ways big and small, many times.

In the political and other societal realms, identity conflicts play out in an analogous way to how they play out within individuals. The key conflicts are over the prioritization of identities, particularly which comes first. In a totalitarian society, one identity is required to be the primary focus of all public and private action. This directive can serve as a definition of totalitarianism. – Elliot S Gershon

What seems to be overlooked in the rush toward “equity, diversity, and inclusion” is the fact that when one identity fragment within a population is selected for benefits, or favored for whatever reason, the other fragments are penalized. This has been proven mathematically for Darwinian selection and applies to any other selection within a finite environment. Elliot S Gershon

Identity-based regimes, like the one taking hold in the United States, do not necessarily consider the extent to which people agree with or give importance to the race or gender to which they are assigned. Based on my skin color, I might appear to be white, but I never think of myself as white. My grandfather and other family members were murdered in the Holocaust because they were not white, according to the identity-based regime of the time. So am I white? Not according to me.

Doctrinal identity assignments routinely disregard voluntary identity choices, limit transitions, accentuate distinctions, and generate very severe reactions among those who are assigned to favored and unfavored groups. Persons assigned to one identity are encouraged to see other identities as enemies or oppressors. Identity-based entitlements can therefore generate resentment and even violence, which can become routine, and can be used to justify the continuation of entitlements ad infinitum, even as the institutionalization of entitlements based on state-assigned identity groups creates its own devastatingly destructive forms of exclusion and corruption. – Elliot S Gershon

Gender identity is widely accepted as a matter of choice for everyone. But gender fluidity is a doctrine, and it generates resentments. Many parents of young children resent fluid-gender-identity education programs; they have their own understanding that children in those ages should be encouraged to integrate and solidify the gender identity of their natal sex. Gender transition has also led to widespread resentment when male-to-female transgender athletes win prizes competing against girls and women who are born female. Yet in the same political and social context where gender is held to be a matter of choice, race is considered immutable. Any person can be accused of having “white privilege” or “unconscious bias,” regardless of their actual ancestry or beliefs.

Although there is a case to be made for gender transitions, there is a stronger case to be made for racial transitions. Gender as a social construct is very closely related to biological sex, an unambiguous characteristic of the vast majority of humans. Race is also a social construct, associated with statistical differences among population groups. Race, however, does not have a rational or scientific definition unambiguously applicable to all individuals, and for many people it is impossible to determine—leading to casually racist assumptions based on skin pigmentation or “one drop” theories that lack any legal or scientific currency.Elliot S Gershon

There is nothing pure about race. As a category, it is remarkably fluid. In a modern American urban population, we statistical geneticists frequently find people who self-classify as white or Black but whose genotypes are ambiguous. People with the same amount of “white” or “Black” ancestry may identity with either race, or with neither race. Many people who are identified as “Latinx” by Harvard would identify themselves as “white,” while many “whites” would identify themselves as something else, based on ancestry, upbringing, culture, or personal affinity. Why should the state or private elite institutions be empowered to impose these slippery and often poorly framed identities on individuals without their consent, especially when the social cost to the society of doing so is real?

One way out of our current identity conflicts is to permit individuals to freely choose their own racial and gender identities and at the same time to forbid any societal rewards or penalties based on these identities. – Elliot S Gershon

Pursuing race- and gender-blindness under the law is preferable to enforced alternatives that have consistently failed for more than a century. – Elliot S Gershon

My faith is not a political agenda, right? I am there to represent all New Zealanders, not one faith or one religion, and you shouldn’t vote for me because of my faith, and you shouldn’t reject me because of my faith. –  Christopher Luxon

My faith is actually about tolerance, compassion – not discriminating, not rejecting people. That’s what I think my faith is about. – Christopher Luxon

Every human being in this country is valuable and equal. That’s the guts of it. I want everybody to genuinely flourish and so when I arrive in a business environment and I don’t see diversity being embraced and people being able to come to work as their whole self, that’s a problem. – Christopher Luxon

There is no substitute for personal knowledge of the patient and their conditions. It saves the health system huge amounts of money. If they turn up at an ED in crisis, they end up having scans, tests, all sorts of expensive treatment that good GP care could have prevented.Dr Samantha Murton

When fundamental facts of human nature, and fundamental values and institutions such as marriage and the family are contradicted by law and taught to new generations, of course those who disagree will feel alienated. Some will persevere in dialogue about these issues, but others will find an outlet not just on social media, but, as we have seen, in more militant ways.

Then, keyboard warriors will be the least of our worries. – Carolyn Moynihan

This Government’s activist-driven drive towards a Maori-dominated neo-apartheid political structure, cannot be allowed to continue. We must not just stand by and watch our democratic structure and democracy be overridden and destroyed — particularly by a group of in-caucus-activists driven solely by self-interest and totally, deliberately and fraudulently misrepresenting and misinterpreting the Treaty of Waitangi  in an attempt to justify what they are about.

What we are seeing and being subjected to is a TOTAL abuse of the privilege, power, objective-responsibility and trust and integrity inherent in and expected of those in Parliamentary office. Particularly galling is the fact that it has all been fraudulently sprung on us, following the election, without notice. It is treachery at its very worst — and it must be stopped. – Hugh Perrett

Lying awake at night imagining the worst possible complications – amputations, kidney failure, blindness? That sucks too. People with chronic illnesses will understand this, and this is hardly something I am alone in, but the worst part is the way my diabetes is a shadow over my whole life. It’s a constant companion I live with and try to placate. – Megan Whelan

There are many studies that show deprivation is a significant factor in both developing type 2, and in having complications from it. People who are having to choose between buying fresh vegetables and sending the kids to school camp aren’t quibbling over which protein powder brand is the best. – Megan Whelan

Green energy is a wild bull in the electricity china shop. Australia’s new green government has a $20B plan to “rewire the nation” to connect the spreading rash of wind and solar toys. Eastern Australia recently had a couple of days of high wind, which caused many outages as trees and powerlines were blown down. Imagine the outages after a cyclone cuts a swathe thru this continent-wide spider-web of fragile power lines connecting green energy generators, batteries and markets. – Viv Forbes

Working for Families has given us a mess that may have no solution. Or at least no solution that doesn’t cause other problems.Eric Crampton

A 57 percent Effective Marginal Tax Rate facing families who pay zero percent net tax is a mess. But it does not seem to be the kind of mess that can be cleaned up.

Unlike housing.

Would that governments fixed the problems that can be fixed before putting effort into the intractable ones. Ending the housing shortage and improving supermarket competition could do a lot more good for family budgets than tweaking transfers to middle-income families. – Eric Crampton

In a democracy, as on the marae, matters of collective interest should be decided by robust and respectful debate. The Government should stop trying to curate the conversation and force predetermined outcomes on constitutional matters, because this is backfiring. Exchanges based on racial framings provoke racist reactions; and questions that need airing are being swamped in a tsunami of racist abuse, foreclosing a proper (‘tika’) discussion.Dame Anne Salmond

By using the Treaty ‘partnership’ deception to justify giving control of essential services to the Maori elite, Jacinda Ardern is deliberately robbing New Zealanders of crucial democratic safeguards, placing them instead at the mercy of unelected and unaccountable iwi business leaders working in their own best interests, not in the public good.

The reality is that once co-governance is put in place, the opportunities for tribal enrichment will be endless, with contracts, fees, and other mechanisms able to be used to secure taxpayer funding – exposing the country to the problems that plague all tribal societies including corruption and nepotism.   – Muriel Newman

Jacinda Ardern’s path to co-governance and tribal rule, has barely got off the ground, but is already proving to be a recipe for Maori privilege by an inherited elite that will divide and weaken our society. Their end goal, of course – as outlined in He Puapua – is to ‘take the country back’ to tribal rule by 2040.

Are we really prepared to stand by and let this become the future for New Zealand? – Muriel Newman

It’s just possible that one reason so many MPs are unknown to the public is that the media have largely abandoned their traditional function of reporting what happens in Parliament. And I mean in Parliament – not outside the debating chamber where members of the press gallery (sometimes known as the wolf pack, but perhaps more accurately characterised as a mob of sheep taking their cue from whoever happens to be the most aggressive among them) wait to ambush whichever politician they have collectively decided will be that day’s target.

We are largely ignorant not only about who represents us in Parliament, but also what they do there. The only time the mainstream media take an interest in the debating chamber is when something happens to excite them, such as a squabble involving the Speaker or the inflammatory hurling of an insult.- Karl du Fresne

Much of the time we have no idea what business is being conducted in the House, still less any knowledge of which MPs are making speeches or asking questions. Often we don’t learn about important legislation until its consequences – not always welcome ones – become apparent long after it has been passed.

This means there is a vacuum at the heart of the democratic process. We elect our representatives every three years, and then what? To all intents and purposes they disappear into a void until the next election, with the exception of the handful of activist MPs already mentioned who attract journalists’ attention. The feedback loop that should tell us what all those other MPs are doing is broken.

Yet the right to observe and report Parliament is arguably the most fundamental of press freedoms.Karl du Fresne

My guess is that you’re more likely to see a polar bear in Bellamy’s than a row of reporters busily taking shorthand notes of speeches in the House. As a result, MPs largely escape the public scrutiny that should inform our votes. This magnifies an absence of accountability already inherent under MMP, where a substantial proportion of MPs are answerable not to the public but to their party hierarchy. Call them the invisible MPs.

Online platforms (NewsroomBusinessDeskPoint of Order, to name three) fill some of the gaps in parliamentary coverage, and Radio New Zealand’s The House caters to a small audience of political obsessives. But it’s hit and miss, and the result is that we are arguably less informed about the business of Parliament than at any time in living memory. That can’t be good for democracy. – Karl du Fresne

Wording is no doubt a small thing by comparison with the horror of a mass shooting such as the one of schoolchildren and teachers at Uvalde, but it’s nonetheless of some significance. In all the reports, I noticed that 8, 9, and 10-year-old children were referred to as “students.”

They were not students, they were pupils.

Does it matter what you call them, you might ask? If words matter, then it does matter (and Confucius thought so more than 2,500 years ago, for he wrote that when words were used wrongly, the state and society could not hold).

In fact, nobody believes that words don’t matter, least of all at the present time, when bitter disputes break out about nomenclature and by what pronouns people should be addressed. Such disputes are battles for power rather than for improvement or happiness. Since speech is so central to human existence, forcing people to change their language is an exercise in power over them, which isn’t to say that in no circumstances whatsoever should such changes be suggested or even mandated. It’s true that there are terms that are intrinsically degrading to those whom they designate, but with a few exceptions, struggles over language are not usually concerned with them. –  Theodore Dalrymple

A pupil is a child who is under the authority of a teacher who chooses for him what he should learn. This is because the child isn’t capable of choosing or deciding for himself: If the child were so capable, there probably wouldn’t be any need for teachers in the first place.  . . .

A student is a young person old enough to be at least partly self-directed in the choice of what to learn, increasingly so as he progresses. – Theodore Dalrymple

What does the abandonment of the word pupil signify? In the first place, it’s unctuous and hypocritical, for in practice adults are still obliged to choose what it is that young children should learn, even if they have changed their opinions as to what it is that should be taught.

But there’s something deeper than this, a kind of insincere refusal of authority as such. People now refuse to admit that they are exercising authority even as they are doing so, because authority is supposedly so undemocratic or paternalist in nature.  Theodore Dalrymple

This denial of proper distinctions is a characteristic of our age. For example, the distinction between men and women, inscribed in biology, is increasingly being denied because (what is true) there are some marginal cases. Those who wish to eradicate distinctions, however, start by making the marginal central to all considerations. Failing to agree to this sleight of hand is characterized by the eradicators of distinctions as a sign of intolerance or worse, as if everyone who thought that the marginal should not be made central necessarily is in favor of ill treatment of the marginal, which, of course, is true neither empirically nor in logic. Moreover, few people recognize that the virtue of tolerance can be exercised only in the presence of disapproval or distaste, for unless there’s one or the other, there’s nothing to tolerate. Everyone, surely, tolerates what he likes or approves of. Nor is acceptance of something the same as celebrating it. For example, I accept rock music in the sense that I don’t wish to suppress it, but I don’t celebrate it and avoid it when I can.

No doubt there are some 8-year-olds somewhere who are capable of being students in the sense of choosing what and how to learn, but I think that they must be about as rare as giant pandas, if not rarer. By calling such young children students we’re suggesting that they have authority, and you can’t suggest such a thing without children taking you at your word and coming to think of themselves as authorities. This is abject. – Theodore Dalrymple

The mainstream media tells the public repeatedly that the criteria in the $55 million media fund mandating the promotion of a radical view of the Treaty as a 50:50 partnership are insignificant and do not compromise their independence with regard to reporting on matters such as Three Waters.

However, their unwillingness to contact a highly qualified analyst who is closely investigating the power structures of Three Waters — which is probably the most contentious political issue for the government right now — certainly won’t convince the public they are not constrained by the criteria they signed up to as a condition of receiving handsome amounts of government cash.- Graham Adams,

A good Speaker, like a good person in any public role, needs to know when it is time to go. –  ODT editorial

New Zealanders may not be the most forthright people when it comes to saying what they really think. But in the Three Waters debate, this ‘Yeah, nah’ culture is reaching new heights.

Three Waters is about everything. It is about the government’s new race-relations agenda. It is about the Ardern Government’s direction for the country. It is about the divide between Wellington and the regions.

And yes, it may even be a little about water. But not for everyone.Oliver Hartwich

If skills like reading and arithmetic are not learned, creativity is stunted and well-being is compromised. Without knowledge, critical thinking is empty. If young people cease to learn disciplines like history and science, cultural and technological innovation will gradually grind to a halt. Or maybe we’ll just outsource those things to machines as well. – Michael Johnston

Until Jacinda Ardern became PM, New Zealanders were largely trusting of their Prime Ministers, secure in the knowledge that if they deviated too much from the straight and narrow, the Fourth Estate would hold them to account.

Not so anymore. Labour’s $55 million Public Interest Journalism Fund ‘bribe’ has put paid to that.

As a result, through her own actions, Jacinda Ardern has gravely undermined trust in the Government for many New Zealanders.Dr Muriel Newman

Luxury beliefs have, to a large extent, replaced luxury goods.

Luxury beliefs are ideas and opinions that confer status on the upper class, while often inflicting costs on the lower classes. – Rob Henderson

The yearning for distinction is the key motive here.

And in order to convert economic capital into cultural capital, it must be publicly visible.

But distinction encompasses not only clothing or food or rituals. It also extends to ideas and beliefs and causes.   – Rob Henderson

In the past, people displayed their membership in the upper class with their material accoutrements.

But today, because material goods have become a noisier signal of one’s social position and economic resources, the affluent have decoupled social status from goods, and re-attached it to beliefs. – Rob Henderson

Expressing a luxury belief is a manifestation of cultural capital, a signal of one’s fortunate economic circumstances.Rob Henderson

Plenty of research indicates that compared with an external locus of control, an internal locus of control is associated with better academic, economic, health, and relationship outcomes. Believing you are responsible for your life’s direction rather than external forces appears to be beneficial. – Rob Henderson

Undermining self-efficacy will have little effect on the rich and educated, but will have pronounced effects for the less fortunate.Rob Henderson

When people express unusual beliefs that are at odds with conventional opinion, like defunding the police or downplaying hard work, or using peculiar vocabulary, often what they are really saying is, “I was educated at a top university” or “I have the means and time to acquire these esoteric ideas.”

Only the affluent can learn these things because ordinary people have real problems to worry about. – Rob Henderson

The chief purpose of luxury beliefs is to indicate evidence of the believer’s social class and education.

Members of the luxury belief class promote these ideas because it advances their social standing and because they know that the adoption of these policies or beliefs will cost them less than others.Rob Henderson

Why are affluent people more susceptible to luxury beliefs? They can afford it. And they care the most about status.

In short, luxury beliefs are the new status symbols.

They are honest indicators of one’s social position, one’s level of wealth, where one was educated, and how much leisure time they have to adopt these fashionable beliefs.

And just as many luxury goods often start with the rich but eventually become available to everyone, so it is with luxury beliefs.

But unlike luxury goods, luxury beliefs can have long term detrimental effects for the poor and working class. However costly these beliefs are for the rich, they often inflict even greater costs on everyone else. – Rob Henderson

We don’t need last centuries, centralised, one-size must fit all ideology imposed on a vastly different modern workplace. Alan McDonald

The idea of equal suffrage – equal voting rights, regardless of gender, class and ethnicity – has been a pillar of our democracy for decades. All New Zealanders should have an equal say in who governs them; an equal say in appointing the people that make the decisions that affects their lives.

Equally fundamental to our system is the ability to throw poor performers out at the next election – that is the bedrock accountability in our democracy.  – Paul Goldsmith

If we as a country no longer think that equal voting rights apply at one level of government, pressure will build for change in national elections. – 

We recognise the burden of history, but no past injustices are fixed by undermining something that makes this country the great place it is – preserving the pillars of our open democracy. – Paul Goldsmith

If Jacinda Ardern and her  Ministers no longer think that Kiwis should have equal voting rights, then they should make the case and ask New Zealanders whether they agree.

It would be a constitutional outrage to use a transitory parliamentary majority to set a precedent that changes the nature of our democracy so dramatically, without asking the people first.Paul Goldsmith

The real crime with the incompetency is not only were we all affected in terms of their inability to do their job properly, but the fact we had no choice.

The entire Covid response has been a top down exercise in dictatorship. Rules, regulations, and instructions we had no option but to follow.

In this specific case, the testing was a mess because they refused to recognise RATs, labs and private facilities were screaming out to help, to fill gaps, to provide products, and to solve problems. But no, the Ministry knew best. And yet, they didn’t.

It started at the start of Covid the lack of PPE, it rolled on through the lack of vaccine, the lack of testing, and the lack of beds . – Mike Hosking 

This report this week will be dismissed along with all the other reports that got dismissed. When one day we have the Royal Commission, it’ll find all the same stuff, and that will be dismissed as well.

Where was the anger? Where were the demands to be better? Or do the majority these days just enjoy being shafted by incompetence, hence it’s not really news?   – Mike Hosking 

The Bill of Rights is oft-quoted; however, what people forget, particularly those quoting it in order to engage in yet more undisciplined behaviour, is the consideration of whether it interferes with others’ rights. – Wendy Geus

The wish to avoid evident but uncomfortable truths, and to allow people to maintain their blindness to them, makes it difficult for politicians to speak about the real problems that confront their respective societies. One might almost define truth in these circumstances as that which people wish to evade or do not want to hear about. The wish to preserve a treasured worldview is another reason for blindness to the obvious: We prefer our worldview to the world. Such willful blindness is not confined to one political tendency; it is common to all. It is a human trait.

In the modern world—perhaps in all worlds that have ever existed—blindness becomes institutionalized. The very existence of jobs may depend on not recognizing complex verities. Vested interests are, of course, visible in proportion to the square of the distance from the person perceiving them. Everyone thinks that the pursuit of his own vested interests is simply a manifestation of his own desire to do good in the world.Theodore Dalrymple

 I would give his appointment the charity of my silence. I don’t think he’s the appropriate person to send for any sort of diplomatic role but bigger than that it raises a more serious question,” he told AM Ealy host Bernadine Oliver-Kerby.

“Diplomatic roles and jobs overseas of that nature aren’t there to be political rewards for long-servers. There have been a few of them over the years from both parties I know, I just think it brings that whole question into starker relief that you don’t use a plum appointment overseas as an excuse to bump someone off the scene domestically, that seems to be what has happened. – Peter Dunne

Minus 0.2 pecent is a mess. It was avoidable, it is the result of an astonishing fiscal error from the Government and Reserve Bank, and don’t let them tell you differently. Yes, the war doesn’t help. But neither does money we never had tossed at bollocks and expecting it not to wreck us.Mike Hosking

$337,000 for cutting a ribbon. And you wonder why we are broke. – Mike Hosking

What I know from the real world is the Government gave us $50 billion plus to blow on crap, and blow it we did.

But once we had blown it and we needed to pay for stuff ourselves, the price of everything was rising, and we had to cut back. And when you cut back and 70 percent of your economic activity is in the services sector, guess what happens? You go backwards.Mike Hosking

I don’t blame the forecasters; we all get stuff wrong. But if you can’t see a recession when it’s knocking on your door, if you can’t smell the lack of confidence, then it’s time you got off the whiteboard and walked the streets for a while. – Mike Hosking

Economic growth matters for everyone. It has made people in the United States and other rich countries better off. And it has pulled more than one billion people out of extreme poverty. We also have a pretty good idea of what institutions are required for economic growth. One key factor is free trade. Another, as the comparisons of North and South Korea and East and West Germany show, is a relatively high dose of economic freedom. –  Dr David R. Henderson

Three Waters will bail out those councils who neglected their water infrastructure – and penalise those that didn’t. – Frank Newman

It has become more and more obvious that this Government is not governing for all New Zealanders – this united team of five million is actually a disaffected and dissatisfied group with tensions the worst I have seen for decades. Let’s use this Matariki to find the good. – Paula Bennett

Free speech exists for no other reason than to protect minority views from the tyranny of the majority opinion. A language, which encapsulates the soul of a people, articulates a unique point of view. If a politician wants to offer a heartfelt tribute in this language, and your response is to threaten them, you are no better than the extremist who believes that their political or religious views must dominate the discourse, to the complete exclusion of others. – Dane Giraud

But I say all this to remind you that the free speech battle in Aotearoa will not be won in the courts. It will not even be won by convincing politicians that this central progressive value is of benefit to us all.

It will be won when New Zealanders en masse exhibit the tolerance that should define the populations of all democratic nations. Understanding what was lost by Māori, and supporting efforts to reclaim it, would be a good place to start.Dane Giraud

Restructuring rarely succeeds in achieving sustainable improvements. But the Government instead listened to external consultants who, unsurprisingly, are the biggest beneficiaries of this restructuring.

Health structures were not the cause of the workforce crisis and neither is restructuring the (or part of) solution. This is an ABC of health systems, but one that the Government has failed to grasp. – Ian Powell 

There is no way ‘Team Interim’ (aka Health NZ) will turn this crisis around so it makes a tangible difference to healthcare access before the next election.

But what has made the situation doubly worse is the most incompetent decision I’ve seen made by a government in health – in the middle of a pandemic dismantling the system of provision and delivering healthcare in communities and hospitals and replacing it with an untested alternative which, for some time at least, will have an interim leadership.

By the time of the next election the government will be in no position to blame the workforce crisis on DHBs or the previous government. Labour is trending in the polls towards being under Damocles’ Sword. It will certainly be under it by the time of the election. – Ian Powell 

From the outset, Three Waters has been a damning indictment of the Labour Government. Built on lies and misrepresentations, the whole reform programme is shaping up to be a major election issue in 2023. – Muriel Newman

Whichever way you look at the Three Waters reforms, given there are many different ways central government could help councils upgrade their water infrastructure – including emulating the 50:50 shared funding arrangement they use for local roading – the inevitable conclusion is that the primary motivation for the reforms is Minister Mahuta’s desire to advance the interests of Maori in water. Muriel Newman

This is not democracy, as we know it. This is Jacinda Ardern delivering on yet another He Puapua goal – in this case, tribal control of water.

Since Three Waters will not be fully operational until 2024, it will become a defining election issue: vote Labour for iwi control of water infrastructure and services – or vote for the opposition to ensure local authorities and their communities retain control of this crucial public resource. – Muriel Newman

Treasury helpfully publish statistics on Who pays income tax… and how much? (treasury.govt.nz)

Those figures record that in 2020 (the last year for which figures are available) the top 5% of income earners (some 196,000 individuals – the very people that the Greens are targeting) paid a total of $11.31billion in income tax (out of total income tax of $36.85billion paid by the 3.85million individual taxpayers). 

So the top 5% already pay 31% of all tax paid by individual taxpayers. By contrast, the bottom 74% of income earners (2.84m individuals) pay only $10.95billion, which represents only 29.7% of all tax paid by individuals. 

This means the top 5% are already paying more tax than the bottom three-quarters of taxpayers combined.  – Mark Keating

Every day’s Inbox brings pleas about new and surprising regulatory and policy abominations. The combined efforts of Hercules and Sisyphus would not clear it.

In graduate school, my professor of regulation told the class that even if the most an economist might ever achieve is the delaying of a bad regulation by a few months, the value of that breathing space would easily exceed our lifetime salaries many times over. He also reminded us that we’re all part of the equilibrium – things would be far worse without our labours.

He didn’t warn us that we’d wind up envying Sisyphus.- Eric Crampton

Pick a government department, any government department.

All they’ve done to try and fix deep seated, really big issues within our Government departments is hire communication teams to again adapt the jazz hands approach and just not front, they just will not front and you kind of see why.

How do you explain it? How do you justify?

You can’t, so you refuse interviews and you don’t show. It’s appalling. I don’t know how you fix it.Kerre Woodham

Good to see that after five years in power and months into a plasterboard shortage, the Government has again hit the ground reviewing. – Luke Malpass

It is a human trait to harbour a cherished opinion and then torture evidence and employ rhetorical legerdemain in its support as if it were a conclusion.Theodore Dalrymple

The transformation of what is desirable into a right is the delight of politicians, lawyers and bureaucrats, for the more such rights there are, the more they need to be adjudicated and disputes resolved when there are contradictions between them. Moreover, supposed rights to tangible benefits always raise tempers and the temperature of disputes: for what is more outrageous than a right denied? And once a right is granted or, if you prefer, won after a prolonged struggle, it enters the realm of the untouchable. The period before the right was recognised as such becomes, in the minds of those who believe in it, the equivalent of jahiliyyah in Islamic thought, that is to say the period of ignorance before enlightenment was attained. And in a sense, this is logical: for a right to be a true right, it must always have existed, like America before Columbus, albeit in an ethereal or platonic world. It was simply that no one had discovered it yet, usually as a consequence of the malice of the powerful or of wilful human blindness. – Theodore Dalrymple

Where rights alone determine the permissible, the government, from whom rights to tangible benefits derive, becomes the sole arbiter of conduct. “There is no law against it” becomes “I have a right to do it”, even if “it” is bound to cause the antagonism of others. The only dialogue possible is that of the deaf, sure of their rights, and irresolvable conflict is the result. – Theodore Dalrymple

This government cannot get anything done, it doesn’t matter which portfolio you pick up, they’re actually spending more money, hiring more bureaucrats and getting worse outcomes. – Christopher Luxon

For bureaucrats, procedure is holy, a rite that must be followed come what may, however absurd it may appear to outsiders; a bureaucrat’s superior is a god who must be propitiated.Theodore Dalrymple

The bureaucrat who asks the question out of obedience and fear for his position comes to believe that he’s engaged in important work for social reform. There’s no one as shameless as a bureaucrat following orders who has persuaded himself that those orders are for the good of humanity.

Naturally, he must suppress in himself the inclination and even the ability to laugh. He must have no sense of the absurd. – Theodore Dalrymple

While no one likes to admit to himself that he’s performing worthless tasks merely so that he may continue to collect his salary and eventually his pension, in a situation in which the task is as fatuous as asking a 66-year-old man whether he’s pregnant, a subliminal awareness of its absurdity, at least, must defeat the best attempts at denial. The person of whom such a task is demanded therefore lives in bad faith, at one and the same time demanding that a task be taken seriously and knowing that it’s nothing short of ludicrous.

Such a man, of course, is emasculated; at heart, he despises himself, for he knows that he’s useless or worse than useless (which is why he’s so often touchy and defensive). And that’s also why my detestation of idiotic bureaucracy is tempered by personal pity for the bureaucrat whose work it is.Theodore Dalrymple

That such patent absurdity as I’ve described could actually become inscribed in an important institution, one that’s supposedly dedicated to saving human life, an absurdity that probably met with about as much opposition as a piece of tissue paper offers to a monsoon, is an indication of how thoroughly not only our institutions but also our characters have been rotted. – Theodore Dalrymple

Are we running this country on Blu-Tack and paperclips?

We almost had power cuts again this morning and apparently we need to get used to it because this is just the way our winters are going to be from now on.Heather du Plessis Allan

So is this all women’s fault? No: the decline in opportunities for working-class men isn’t a malign feminist conspiracy, but rather an effect of technological developments. It makes little sense to blame women as a sex for structural material changes that have disadvantaged working-class men. But it makes a great deal of sense to point the finger at knowledge-workers as a class for their efforts to wave away externalities, via a self-righteous ideology that often flies under the banner of feminism. – Mary Harrington

A long way from its roots in the labour movement, progressivism has become a story knowledge-class women tell about why their material interests are good in an absolute moral sense. And once you believe that, you can say with perfect conviction that anyone opposing my class interests is an enemy of progress, and thus is by definition a fascist. And faced with this accusation, we may have difficulty persuading working-class men not to turn their ire, frustration and resentment on women — especially while economic shifts that feel like disastrous decline continue to be narrated by the progressive Left as feminist progress.Mary Harrington

Primary care in New Zealand is falling over … it’s been chronically underfunded by the Government and we’ve tightened and tightened and tightened to keep it on the road. But it is now in the process of falling over right in front of us. – Dr Peter Boot

Is it not the height of hypocrisy to laugh along with the atheists who poke fun at the Christian eucharist, only to recoil in horror from the suggestion that there might be something just a wee bit peculiar about offering-up a cooked meal to a random configuration of stars?

For a country which, historically, has eschewed the very idea of a state religion, isn’t it also a little jarring to hear state broadcasters helpfully instructing New Zealanders on the ways in which their new state-sanctioned religious festival can be appropriately celebrated?Chris Trotter 

At times, it can be surprisingly difficult to see clearly from the ninth floor of the Beehive.

To understand what people are thinking out in regional New Zealand, you have to look past the officials in the office buildings arrayed protectively around the seat of power, past the Wellingtonians with their unique take on life, and most of all, past the preoccupations of your own Cabinet and caucus. – Steven Joyce

In regional New Zealand, the only immigration re-set that’s needed is one that brings people to help sustain and grow their communities. – Steven Joyce

Regional people have watched suspiciously as Wellington takes away their ability to run their local polytech or hospital on the grounds that Wellington knows better, with the unspoken corollary that locals aren’t up to it. – Steven Joyce

Regional businesses fear national pay agreements making it harder to run a niche exporter from places like Gisborne and Invercargill – where such businesses are celebrated and all too thin on the ground. And regional people are sick of hearing about vanity projects in Auckland and Wellington with ridiculous price tags, like bike bridges and light rail.Steven Joyce

Few in the regions are under any illusion that the convoluted spaghetti of governance arrangements has been set up to suit Labour’s Māori caucus and pretty much no-one else.

Good luck working out who to call if your “water service entity” fails to fix a sewer pipe, or a stormwater drain causes a pothole in the road outside your gate. In past times you’d ring the mayor and get it fixed. Now you’ll be given an 0800 number and no way of voting the bastards out. – Steven Joyce

Regional people suspect their interests are being sacrificed for Labour’s internal political needs, and not for the first time. They’ve had a gutsful. Steven Joyce

We’ll make it through winter. We always do. But we’ll do it on the sweat and tears and long hours of Kiwi health workers. And maybe we’ll lose some Kiwis who didn’t need to die if only there were enough nurses and doctors to see them. And Labour will have no excuse for not fixing a problem they knew existed five years ago. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

The health system is in meltdown. Call it a crisis, or don’t. It is collapsing around us.

Healthcare staff are at the end of their rope – undervalued and underpaid for years, the wave of strikes is a cry for help. Most are distressed because they know people will die because they can’t access treatment.

As the system buckles, there is incredulity that Health Minister Andrew Little is pushing ahead with a bureaucratic overhaul. Doctors are being asked to work – unpaid – on groups advising the ministry on how to bed in the new regime. No-one seems to know how it will work – the changes are yet another burden that the workforce cannot absorb.

Instead of prioritising a flow of overseas healthcare workers, or returning normal care to reasonable timeframes, his Ministry is pre-occupied with an administrative rejig. The reforms have their merits and are necessary – but staff say they can wait until this storm passes.Andrea Vance

The entire system requires a rethink – inequalities and uneven access need tackling, and the priority must be prevention, and social care.

But workers are too busy dealing with the immediate crisis. Rather than deal with the long term health of the system, we have no choice but to make do with emergency treatment. – Andrea Vance

Who, then, are ideologists? They are people needy of purpose in life, not in a mundane sense (earning enough to eat or to pay the mortgage, for example) but in the sense of transcendence of the personal, of reassurance that there is something more to existence than existence itself. The desire for transcendence does not occur to many people struggling for a livelihood. Avoiding material failure gives quite sufficient meaning to their lives. By contrast, ideologists have few fears about finding their daily bread. Their difficulty with life is less concrete. Their security gives them the leisure, their education the need, and no doubt their temperament the inclination, to find something above and beyond the flux of daily life.

If this is true, then ideology should flourish where education is widespread, and especially where opportunities are limited for the educated to lose themselves in grand projects, or to take leadership roles to which they believe that their education entitles them. The attractions of ideology are not so much to be found in the state of the world—always lamentable, but sometimes improving, at least in certain respects—but in states of mind. And in many parts of the world, the number of educated people has risen far faster than the capacity of economies to reward them with positions they believe commensurate with their attainments. Even in the most advanced economies, one will always find unhappy educated people searching for the reason that they are not as important as they should be. – Theodore Dalrymple

The need for a simplifying lens that can screen out the intractabilities of life, and of our own lives in particular, springs eternal; and with the demise of Marxism in the West, at least in its most economistic form, a variety of substitute ideologies have arisen from which the disgruntled may choose.

Most started life as legitimate complaints, but as political reforms dealt with reasonable demands, the demands transformed themselves into ideologies, thus illustrating a fact of human psychology: rage is not always proportionate to its occasion but can be a powerful reward in itself. Feminists continued to see every human problem as a manifestation of patriarchy, civil rights activists as a manifestation of racism, homosexual-rights activists as a manifestation of homophobia, anti-globalists as a manifestation of globalization, and radical libertarians as a manifestation of state regulation.

How delightful to have a key to all the miseries, both personal and societal, and to know personal happiness through the single-minded pursuit of an end for the whole of humanity! – Theodore Dalrymple

Some ideologies have the flavor of religion; but the absolute certainty of, say, the Anabaptists of Münster, or of today’s Islamists, is ultimately irreligious, since they claimed or claim to know in the very last detail what God requires of us.

The most popular and widest-ranging ideology in the West today is environmentalism, replacing not only Marxism but all the nationalist and xenophobic ideologies that Benda accused intellectuals of espousing in the 1920s. Now, no one who has suffered respiratory difficulties because of smog, or seen the effects of unrestrained industrial pollution, can be indifferent to the environmental consequences of man’s activities; pure laissez-faire will not do. But it isn’t difficult to spot in environmentalists’ work something more than mere concern with a practical problem. Their writings often show themselves akin to the calls to repentance of seventeenth-century divines in the face of plague epidemics, but with the patina of rationality that every ideology needs to disguise its true source in existential angst.Theodore Dalrymple

The environmentalist ideology threatens to make serious inroads into the rule of law in Britain. This past September, six environmentalists were acquitted of having caused $50,000 worth of damage to a power station—not because they did not do it but because four witnesses, including a Greenlander, testified to the reality of global warming.

One recalls the disastrous 1878 jury acquittal in St. Petersburg of Vera Zasulich for the attempted assassination of General Trepov, on the grounds of the supposed purity of her motives. The acquittal destroyed all hope of establishing the rule of law in Russia and ushered in an age of terrorism that led directly to one of the greatest catastrophes in human history. – Theodore Dalrymple

In the end this sinister drift towards authoritarianism in the name of fairness to Maori has to be sheeted home to the feeble quality of Labour’s current caucus. Did none of that slew of low-level lawyers raise questions about “Te Tiriti” let alone its use in a nation-wide move to undermine our constitution by way of co-governance? And about the semi take-over of the MSM that comes with strings attached to the Public Interest Journalism Fund? Co-governance is contrary to the real Treaty that was signed in 1840, contrary to our Bill of Rights, and to international conventions among those countries that believe in democracy. The Fund is contrary to customary democratic standards that govern the relationship between governments and the MSM outside of authoritarian regimes.Michael Bassett

We’re heading into some worse economic times. I do not expect it will lead to better policy. Rather the opposite. – Dr Eric Crampton

The problem is that while New Zealand is increasingly backing the West, the West is not fully backing New Zealand.

Neither the EU, nor the US are supporting their rhetoric of solidarity and unity with the economic deals New Zealand would need to have a true alternative to China.Geoffrey Miller

There is something not right about the whole Mahuta thing. The Foreign Affairs appointment came so far out of left field it made the Poto Williams appointment look like a stroke of genius.

A person who hates flying but is Foreign Affairs Minister. A person who has barely travelled post Covid, telling us the Pacific is fine and we can wait until the Pacific Leaders Forum next month while the Chinese park themselves locally aiming to achieve God knows what, and Penny Wong on a plane most days to try and mop up the potential damage.

There is a power struggle between the Prime Minister and the Māori caucus. There can be no other explanation for the ridiculous defence over a Minister who is low profile, work shy, and letting her portfolios down.- Mike Hosking

The Australians call it the pub test. Does the fact Mahuta’s husband and other family members getting money for contracts pass the pub test? A simple and easy no. Does the fact family members receive high-powered appointments pass the pub test? The answer is a simple and easy no.

The amount of money so far doesn’t appear to be massive but that’s not the point. The question that needs to be asked and answered is, do the jobs and the contracts go to people in the Mahuta family who offer skills experience and expertise that no one else can offer? The answer is an obvious no.Mike Hosking

The whole Mahuta thing stinks. It should never have happened, and they should have been smart enough to know that.

And yet here we are, more mess, more murk, and more reputational damage. – Mike Hosking

But the world has changed since the 1990s, and it’s changed in a way that makes republicanism seem a lot less attractive. For the past 15 years the 21st century has experienced a “democratic recession”: a global decline of liberal democracy, a widespread failure of liberal and democratic institutions. And almost all of this democratic backsliding has taken place in republics: Turkey, the Philippines, Venezuela, Brazil, the ex-communist republics of central and eastern Europe. Even the US system looks shaky. And they’ve failed, or are failing in exactly the way liberal theorists who favour constitutional monarchies predicted they would: via “autocoups” in which an authoritarian leader wins the presidency and then takes over the country, arresting the opposition, deposing judges, postponing elections, taking over the police and armed forces.  –

Under a constitutional monarchy the presidential role is split out into a ceremonial head of state with almost no political power, and the executive that has power but is legitimised by the monarch. You can’t contest the monarchy because it’s hereditary, and when there’s a legitimacy crisis or a constitutional crisis over who controls the executive, all of the politicians, soldiers and police have sworn to obey the monarch, not the head of government. And the monarch can play no role other than to direct them to serve the legitimately elected government, or for the country to hold new elections. They’re the apolitical actor at the apex of the political system.

During the late 20th century, this extra level of stability seemed superfluous: it prevented coups the same way Lisa Simpson’s rock “kept tigers away”. In the 2020s it looks as if this form of liberal democracy really is more stable. Most of the peer nations we like to compare ourselves to – your Canadas and Australias and Denmarks and Swedens and Norways and Japans – use the same system, and seem in no hurry to change it.  –

The constitutional monarchy is not a perfect system: if the UK’s monarch or presumptive heir looked like Edward VIII, or Thailand’s Rama IX, or Prince Andrew, we’d probably be looking for the exit and a new head of state (King Richie? First Citizen Swarbrick? We’d figure it out). But in the absence of any such crisis it’s no longer obvious that the republican model is inevitable, or even desirable. Our current system is not broken and may be far better than the alternatives. Republicanism is not the solution to any of our current problems, and it may create terrible problems of its own. Danyl Mclauchlan

I’m not interested in importing cultural wars into New Zealand. We have a much bigger agenda at play, which is that we have a great country, we have to realise our potential. We’re heading in the wrong direction. – Christopher Luxon

Throughout my electorate, Parliament, and the places I go in between, food and fuel prices are the biggest topics of conversation.

Given what I do, talks quickly turn to another F word — failure.

Failure by the Government to do anything remotely useful to address the crisis we’re all living in.Barbara Kuriger

Co-governance. Partnership. The unrelenting quest to try to refashion the New Zealand Diceyan unwritten Constitution (one of the modern world’s most successful ever, as it happens) into something else never quite specified, and to do so on the basis of a UN declaration that has the most scanty, exiguous, meagre democratic credentials imaginable. A government with a seemingly pathological desire to downgrade the English language (the world’s reserve language, meaning that to have been born into a country where it is the first language is akin – through no acts on your part, just dumb luck – to having won the biggest lottery going) in favour of the Maori language. Identity politics and the elevation of ethnic or group or race-based thinking and policy-making. After having just returned to Australia from a four-day speaking tour across the Tasman arguing against a radical government report, all this and more would unfortunately describe my observations of New Zealand, the country my family and I happily called home from 1993 to 2004. – James Allan

That government-commissioned report I was asked to critique and flown across the Tasman to speak about wants Aotearoa (what else?) to move away from procedural democracy to a ‘co-governance’ or partnership model – one where about 15 per cent of the population are put into one group and everyone else into the other and the former counted as equal to the latter, with an implicit veto on decision-making. That’s identity politics writ large, though in my view no 15-can-veto-85 setup is stable or sustainable (but what do I know, I never guessed Australians during the pandemic would submit sheep-like to the biggest inroads on our freedoms and civil liberties in three centuries, the preponderance of my fellow citizens seemingly welcoming despotic, petty, irrational rules and oversight by a public health clerisy which got just about everything wrong, we now see). Throw in the desire for a written constitution with that U.N. Declaration and an early nineteenth century short treaty stuffed into it – and surely with the unelected Kiwi judges then empowered to gainsay the elected branches on the basis of both – and you have the idea of the path down which this Ardern government is thinking of travelling. James Allan

The science and scientific approach that has delivered the most spectacular increases in human welfare from which all New Zealanders benefit – derisively dubbed ‘Western science’ – is to be put on the same plane as ‘traditional knowledge’? For this report to suggest that somehow this scientific worldview is tainted due to where it emerged in the world, and that it offers no better answers (in medicine, in food production, in international travel, pick any field you want) than so-called traditional knowledge does, is laughable. The claim, one that is likewise advanced regularly here in Australia by the way, can only be put forward because most people are too polite, actually, to laugh. (Test question: If the authors of this radical report were to get very ill, would they opt for ‘Western’ scientific medicine or traditional concoctions? I’ve got a theory on that one.)

Readers, it’s time a lot more of us started to laugh. And to grow a backbone. That goes doubly for my Kiwi friends. – James Allan

And now, with the apparent prospect of a food shortage worldwide – although New Zealand should be well placed as an agriculturally productive country – the selling of prime agricultural land to those planting pine plantations to eventually replace fossil fuels is folly. So is the ridiculous, punitive decision to now tax farmers for the supposed contribution of their livestock to global warming.

Moreover, the fanatical Climate Change Commission and Ministry for the Environment have both confirmed that the current emissions reduction targets have been envisioned to go much further, requiring farmers to help offset warming produced by other sectors of the economy. The damage to this vital industry will very likely drive many out of business. Yet there has not been a single scientific model of agriculture’s warming effect made publicly available.Amy Brooke 


Vacancy for Nat president

23/06/2022

National Party president Peter Goodfellow has announced he will retire from the role at the AGM, creating a vacancy for the role.

In an email to members he said he would seek re-election for one more year as a director but would not be seeking re-election as president.

He had planned to retire in 2016 but following John Key’s resignation as leader he decided to stay on to help ensure a stable transition of leadership and for the following year’s election campaign.

He was been president for some of the party’s highest points and some of its lowest.

He oversaw some significant changes to the party’s constitution which were confirmed at last year’s AGM,  including a more rigorous candidate selection process and a limit on the number of terms a board member could serve.

The party’s dismal poll results have been reversed with the election of Christopher Luxon as leader and Peter is standing down at a good time for his replacement to take the reins with more or less a year until the next election.


Backwards Budget

20/05/2022

The National Party leader labelled yesterday’s Budget a Backwards Budget:

Budget 2022 confirms that New Zealand is going backwards under Labour faster than ever, Opposition Leader Christopher Luxon says.

“This is the Backwards Budget. Kiwis, the economy and outcomes are all going backwards under Labour and today’s forecasts confirm the situation is only going to get worse before it gets better.

“Labour’s spending addiction means the books are going backward. Not content with a $6 billion spending spree, they’ve also raided future budgets – spending $2 billion from Budget 2023 and $0.4 billion from Budget 2024. And that’s before you count climate spending and the cost of living bandaid – which are on top.

They’re pushing out surpluses and shifting the goal posts to clear the way for more spending by lifting debt limits.

“With inflation at a 30-year-high and prices running laps around wages, Kiwis are experiencing the worst cost of living crisis in a generation. The forecasts today show inflation is rampant for years to come.

“More and more Kiwis are falling behind each week, squeezed by growing costs and a Government that refuses to offer them meaningful income tax relief while ramming through the biggest spend-up in New Zealand history.

“Labour’s cost of living package is a temporary band aid. The squeezed middle are paying the price for Labour’s economic mismanagement.

“And despite smashing the record for government spending, outcomes are going backwards. They’ve added more than 10,000 bureaucrats to the public service, yet outcomes are getting worse.

“Under Labour, wait times for surgery and specialist assessments have blown out, literacy and numeracy achievement rates have hit alarming lows and violent crime and gang numbers have exploded.

“New Zealand is going backwards, fast. We simply cannot afford this Labour Government.”

A transcript of his Budget speech is here.

 We’ve got inflation now at just under 7 percent, we’ve got wage growth only at 3, and that means all Kiwis are going back faster than they’ve been going in the last three decades. Mortgage costs are up because interest rates are up, rents are up $150, food prices are up the highest they’ve been in over a decade, and petrol is up over $3 a litre. And I can tell you, Kiwis up and down this country are feeling that pain. And this Budget will be putting Kiwis backwards into the future. . .

So let me be really clear: the cost-of-living package that this Government announced in the Budget today is just a band-aid on a major wound. It’s a band-aid. They deny that there was, in fact, even a cost-of-living crisis for a long period of time, and now they’ve added a temporary band-aid, which just runs out after three months. And I can tell you, what we just saw was inflation’s going to be running at 3 percent right out to 2025, so Grant Robertson’s big solution to the current cost-of-living crisis is a temporary payment to a small group of people. And I have to tell you: if you’re earning $71,000 a year, you get nothing.

And that means nobody on the average wage gets a cost-of-living payment, because these are the people that would have benefitted from income relief through a very good, sensible, logical plan—our plan, which was just say, “Take the current progressive tax system, and in fairness, why don’t you just live the tax thresholds up by the amount of inflation? And an average Kiwi household would have had $1,600 a year to fight this cost-of-living crisis that they’re facing.” But Grant Robertson said, “No.” And why did he say, “No.”? Because the dirty little secret is that inflation, while it destroys savings, it destroys people’s purchasing power, and it gets into an economy. The dirty little secret is that inflation helps Grant Robertson. Why? Because he’s collected $17 billion more in tax revenue because, as prices go up, taxes go up. And Grant Robertson, as we know, is utterly, totally addicted to spending, and that means that he won’t let Kiwis keep a single cent of their own money, because he thinks he can spend it better than them. And on this side of the House, we know Kiwis with cash in their pocket will spend it and save it a lot better than Grant Robertson. . . 

Let me lay out the facts on why the books are going backwards, because it is very, very important that Kiwis register what has gone on here today because of the economic mismanagement and the lack of economic leadership from this Government. Kiwis up and down this country are tightening their belts at their kitchen tables. They are doing it. Grant Robertson should be doing exactly the same, but he’s not. And what we have seen from this Government is a loss of a culture of financial discipline. We’ve seen a loss of targets. They don’t care about every single dollar being spent as if it’s their own, and they should because it’s not their money—it’s taxpayers’ money. But I’m telling you, Grant Robertson has a problem, and his problem is that he is so deeply and utterly addicted to spending, and I want to say that the impact of his addiction on our fiscal books is incredibly clear, and when you think about it, he’s damaging New Zealand’s economy very strongly. This is—be under no doubt—a massive Budget blowout.

This Government—and I want to just step it through—has increased Government spending since coming to power by 67 percent. You haven’t seen a 67 percent improvement in outcomes or services. And, consequently, we’re spending $127 billion this year in Government spending. That is unprecedented, and that is $51 billion more this year than it was in 2017—$51 billion dollars more. And now, let’s just look at this year, because Grant Robertson said he would spend $6 billion in the biggest Budget spend-up in the history of New Zealand, and he’s actually spending far, far more than that. And I want to take the House and the country through this because it’s actually really important everybody understands what’s going on, because he’s trying to make out that he’s fiscally prudent. And the reality is he’s more addicted to spending than he’s ever been before. There’s the $6 billion he’s already announced, and then you have to remember, earlier in the week, he spent $3 billion from the Climate Emergency Response Fund, earlier in the week—a lot on Labour projects and buzz words and strategies and plans and plans for plans. . . 

 For you to spend money and to deliver outcomes, there’s something in the middle called “implementation, execution, delivery”. Those are the things you need to do. But if you haven’t run anything, you don’t know how to get things done, and that’s exactly the story of all of this front bench: they don’t know how to convert the spending into outcomes. And you can pick any topic you want—any portfolio you want—and you’re going to see a consistent pattern: more spending, more bureaucrats, worse outcomes. 

Let me give you an example; let’s take Chris Hipkins and education because, without doubt, that’s the most damning set of stats I’ve seen since I’ve come into politics, and to this place, 18 months ago. He spent $5 billion more, hired 1,400 more staff—staff earning $120,000 or more has tripled—and yet we have less kids attending school, and we have worse academic outcomes. What we’ve got from Chris Hipkins is more spending, more bureaucrats, and worse outcomes.

Let’s look at Megan Woods and housing, because, if you remember something called KiwiBuild—remember KiwiBuild?—we don’t talk about it anymore, but the flagship KiwiBuild; only delivering 1.3 percent of the promised 100,000 houses. But, even if we put that aside, just think about the four outcomes you actually have to deliver in housing: house prices are up $400,000; rents are up $150; there’s a quadrupling—a fourfold increase—of people wanting a State house; and, sadly, this morning, 4,500 kids woke up in a motel in emergency accommodation. So what I’ve got to say is that from Megan Woods, we’ve seen more spending, more bureaucrats, and worse outcomes.

Let’s talk about Kris Faafoi, because he’s probably going to wake up now. He spent an extra $150 million. He’s hired another 500 people and, on every single visa processing, the wait time has got even longer. What is that? More spending, more bureaucrats, worse outcomes.

I want to talk about Kelvin Davis just quickly, because we should talk about Kelvin and Corrections. He spent $139 million. He increased the back office staff of Corrections by 50 percent, and then those prisoners that desperately need alcohol and drug rehabilitation services dropped from just over 6,000 down to 1,000. More spending, more bureaucrats, worse outcomes.

I really want to talk about Michael Wood and transport—that’s the one I really want to get to, because who would have thought that an $800 million bike bridge across the Waitematā was a killer idea? Brilliant idea. And then you go and spend $55 million on consultants looking at it, and then we’re still hiring an empty office building on Auckland’s waterfront to run a cancelled project for $600,000. He’s tripled the communications staff, we’ve had a tenfold increase in those that are paid over $100,000, and even then they still can’t communicate why you need two props of zeroes for $10,000. I mean, you honestly can’t make this stuff up, and I could go through every single portfolio and the story’s the same: more spending, more bureaucrats, worse outcomes. They don’t know how to get things done.

I just want you to take yourselves back two weeks ago because, two weeks ago, Andrew Little came to this House, and he stood up, and he realised he had a problem with wait-lists on health. And he had a cunning idea, I thought, you know, because the reality is this: there’s been a fifteenfold increase in people waiting more than four months for their first specialist appointment, and that was from when they came to power before COVID in February 2020, and it’s only got worse since then. Anyway, so Andrew Little came to the House and he said, “Look, I can’t just go and create another working group, because that’s what we used to do. We spent nine years in Opposition, we had no ideas, we arrived in Government on day one and we formed 230 plus working groups.” Now, we lost count of them but that’s what they did. So he didn’t just create a working group; he thought about it a bit more and he created what we call a “task force”. That was task force. And the great thing about a task force—this wasn’t just a normal task force, or a bog-standard task force; no, this was a “high-powered task force”, OK. [Cheers from Opposition members] . . .

In closing, let me say that New Zealanders deserve far more than this Government has delivered. Labour has taken so much in taxes, they’ve added so much debt, and they’ve spent so much money, but yet they have delivered so little in public services and outcomes. And this is indeed, sadly, the “backwards Budget”. The books are going backwards, Kiwi households are going backwards, the outcomes are going backwards, and, sadly, the country’s going backwards and we’re heading in the wrong direction. New Zealanders deserve a Government focused on outcomes and getting things done, that listens and works with communities and businesses to do so, and we’re going to do that in the National Party Government that we lead. We do live in the best country on planet Earth. I’m optimistic about New Zealand. I believe we can do so much better than this. I want us to be confident. I want us to be aspirational. I want us to be ambitious. I want us realising our maximum potential—economically, socially, and environmentally. And that’s what New Zealanders can expect, and that’s what they’ll get with a National Government in 2023. Thank you. . . 

 

Nicola Willis says government spending is out of control:

Budget 2022 confirms Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s spending is out of control, National’s Finance Spokesperson Nicola Willis says.

“Not content with a record $6 billion per year spending spree that he planned, Labour has raided future budgets – spending $2 billion from Budget 2023 and $0.4 billion from Budget 2024.

“That’s before you count climate spending and the cost of living payment – which are on top, taking the total spend-up to more than $9 billion per year of government spending.

“At a time when unemployment is very low, Grant Robertson is running a deficit of $19 billion.

“Having announced by far the biggest increase in spending in any Budget, ever, Grant Robertson expects New Zealanders to believe that he will keep his increases to $2.5 billion for the next two years. That is hard to believe.

“Inflation is at a 30-year high of 6.9 per cent, will remain above 5 per cent next year and is expected to stay high for years, not getting back down to below 3 per cent until 2025.

“While Labour might want to blame inflation all on offshore factors, Treasury has confirmed that inflation is being driven by domestic factors.

“Today’s forecast confirm that Labour’s economic mismanagement means Kiwis, the economy and outcomes are all going backwards.” 

The Taxpayers’ Union echoes the backwards theme, recalling Rob Muldoon:

Grant Robertson is the first Minister of Finance since Muldoon to fail to deliver a budget suplus during a time of economic boom, says the Taxpayers’ Union, commenting from today’s Budget 2022 Beehive lockup.

“With Government revenues booming, it is stunning that Grant Robertson has failed to deliver either tax relief or a surplus,” says Jordan Williams, the Executive Director of the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.

“The spike to inflation has seen record revenue flooding into the Beehive due to workers paying higher income tax rates and more GST. But despite the inflation, the lowest unemployment since records began, the end of COVID lockdowns, and better than expected economic numbers, Grant Robertson has actually pushed back the return to surplus.”

“It is stunning that, during a cost of living crisis, Grant Robertson has failed to give back any of his windfall gain to the workers who earned it. His failure to deliver either income tax relief or a balanced budget beggars belief: while households tighten belts, Wellington balloons.”

“With Government revenues as strong as they are, the Finance Minister could have today announced both income tax relief and a surplus. Instead, he’s decided to feast on the revenue with a laundry list of spending commitments.”

“The temporary $27-per week ‘cost of living’ payment is a cruel joke. Unlike genuine tax relief, it fails to improve productivity incentives. It’s just a three month handout, and an ineffective one at that. At current prices, it wouldn’t even buy two blocks of cheese!”

“The only silver lining is pushing back by three months the hike to petrol taxes and Road User Charges. With inflation running at 6.9%, the hike to petrol taxes should have been squashed permanently”

And in a touch of irony:

The figures match but a change in tax brackets would continue for much more than the three months the $27 a week will; and the change in tax brackets would help people across the board, not just those earning less than $70,000, excluding superannuitants and beneficiaries.


Redpeace hates cows

17/05/2022

When raging inflation and high debt requires the government to spend every cent wisely, its Emissions Reduction Plan falls short:

National supports the Government’s emissions budgets and emissions targets but is concerned that today’s Emissions Reduction Plan is a poor use of taxpayers’ money, says Opposition Leader Christopher Luxon says.

“We support the goal of reducing emissions in the economy, but see little evidence that this Government will be able to deliver.

“Too much of the new spending will go to corporate welfare and more working groups.

“The Government is proposing to give hundreds of millions of dollars to companies for investments they should be making anyway.

“We expect those companies to be cutting their emissions without help from taxpayers. A significant part of the Government’s plan looks like a corporate carbon bailout.

“There are elements of the plan that we welcome, including investment in research to reduce agriculture emissions and in expanding options for carbons sinks including native forests and blue carbon.

“However, much of the plan lacks the details we would expect to see after more than two years of work.

“This plan is classic Labour. In the middle of a cost of living crisis, Grant Robertson’s big idea is to spend millions of dollars for more consultants, more working groups, and poorly focused initiatives, with no real milestones for success.

“It is disappointing to see poor quality spending and corporate welfare at a time when New Zealanders’ back pockets are hurting and they want assurance their money is being carefully spent.

“Today’s plan will only add to the perception that this Government talks a big game but does not deliver – whether for the climate or housing or mental health or anything else.”

The Taxpayers’ Union makes a similar point about misspending:

James Shaw is exploiting the commentariat’s failure to understand the Emissions Trading Scheme in order to justify costly middle class welfare and handouts for big business, says Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke.

On cash for clunkers:

“This is brazen middle class welfare dressed up as climate action,” says Mr Houlbrooke. “Giving a fat cash enticement for New Zealanders to switch to electric vehicles is unlikely to benefit poorer households, who will not be in the market for an electric vehicle (even a subsidised one). In fact, scrapping used cars will drive up costs for the poor due to reduced supply in the used market.”

“When this policy was tried in the US, it mainly ended up subsidising purchases that would have happened anyway.”

On corporate welfare:

“Shaw has announced he’s sloshing another $650 million into the ‘decarbonising industry’ corporate welfare fund. This is the pot of money that has seen millions handed over to the likes of Silver Fern Farms, ANZCO, and DB Breweries so that they can upgrade their heating systems. Smaller competitors never seem to get a look in. Regardless, as we have previously pointed out, the funding is redundant: based on the Government’s own numbers, big businesses already have a strong enough incentive to replace boilers and avoid ETS levies.”

Handouts from the GIDI fund so far can be browsed here: Round 1Round 2Round 3.

On the elephant in the room:

“The vast majority of interventions announced today will fail to reduce emissions. That’s because, outside of agriculture, New Zealand’s emissions are capped and traded under the Emissions Trading Scheme. Interventions to force down emissions in say, transport, merely free up carbon credits to be burnt in other sectors.”

“As the United Nations’ IPCC put it: if a cap-and- trade system has a sufficiently stringent cap then other policies such as renewable subsidies have no further impact on total greenhouse emissions. Why does James Shaw think he knows better than the UN’s international climate experts? Of course, simply using the ETS to efficiently reduce emissions would make for fewer announcements and fewer photo-ops with schoolkids, cycleways, and electric vehicles.”

Once again the government shows it doesn’t understand the ETS and the waterbed effect of reductions of emissions in one area allowing increases in another for no net improvement.

However, there is some good in the Emissions Reduction Plan:

Federated Farmers is pleased the government has recognised solutions to agricultural emissions lie in new technologies and tools, and is stepping up investment on that front.

“Nitrate and methane inhibitors, gene editing, animals bred for their lower methane ‘burping’ – they’re the kind of advances that will enable New Zealand’s farming sector to continue to perform for the nation’s economy while maintaining our world-leading meat and dairy carbon footprint,” Feds President and climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said.

It will be important to understand how the proposed new Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions fits with existing bodies such as the NZ Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, the Pastoral GHG Research Consortium (PGGRC) and the international bodies New Zealand partners with, such as the Global Research Alliance.

“New Zealand farmers have been funding millions of dollars into greenhouse gas mitigation tools since 2003 via the PGGRC,” Andrew said.

Do we need another organisation when all of these are already doing good work?

It will also be crucial that our regulatory framework is worked on at the same time as acceleration of research and commercialisation of these tools “so that when they’re ready, we can get on with using them.

“At present there is no category to register feed inhibitors for use on our farms, for example,” Andrew said.

“And Feds again make the point we’ve made many times previously – serious investigation and society-wide discussion is needed on the role genetic technologies – particular gene editing – can play in the thorny environmental issues confronting us. Feds supports giving food producers and consumers the choice with gene editing technology.

“If we are not open to all solutions, we risk losing our world-leading emissions footprint as other countries embrace the innovation we are ignoring.”

Andrew said those who continue to claim the answer lies in just cutting fertiliser and going totally organic need to look at what has just happened in Sri Lanka. “That’s the short-sighted path that nation’s government pursued and now they’re in a food and economic crisis they’re desperate to reverse and get back to where they were.”

That short-sighted path is the one that GreenRedpeace wants:

Greenpeace has dubbed the Government’s Emissions Reduction Plan an ‘Omissions Ridiculous Plan’, for its failure to address New Zealand’s biggest climate polluter – the dairy industry.

Lead agriculture campaigner Christine Rose says, “Intensive dairying is the number one cause of climate pollution in Aotearoa, so it’s absolutely staggering to see that the Emissions Reduction Plan fails to include policy that would reduce cow numbers or phase out the synthetic nitrogen fertiliser that drives emissions.””This Emissions Reduction plan is not credible because it fails to deal with the dirty great cow in the room – New Zealand’s biggest climate polluter – intensive dairy,” says Rose.

Where’s the evidence that cows are the number one cause of climate pollution. Does Redpeace understand the difference between methane and CO2?

Despite initial Climate Commission recommendations that New Zealand needed to reduce the livestock herd and area farmed, the Government has not included these policies in the plan. Other nations have been taking such steps, including the Netherlands which plans to cut the herd by 30% by 2030.

The Netherlands aren’t nearly as efficient at producing milk as we are, nor is dairying such a big part of their economy.

The Government’s projections show the ERP will reduce agricultural emissions by as little as 0.33 Mt CO2e over the 2022-2025 period which is less than 1% of the industry’s projected emissions.

The ERP’s approach to agriculture relies heavily on industry self-regulation – through He Waka Eke Noa – which is also expected to reduce emissions by only 1%.

“Instead of just cutting cow numbers, the Government is relying on industry promises, hypothetical, and unproven techno-fixes to agricultural emissions, and the freshwater reforms that the dairy industry is undermining at every step,” says Rose.

The Emissions Reduction Plan gifts $710 million to the agricultural industry – a quarter of the entire Climate Emergency Response Fund which it has not contributed towards.

“Despite the climate emergency, industrial dairy has yet again been given a free pass that now comes with a huge subsidy from the rest of New Zealand.

“This is a kick in the guts for New Zealanders who are effectively subsidising the intensive dairy industry due to the industry’s exemption from the ETS.

“To truly deal with the climate crisis the Government needs a far better plan than they have produced today. A plan that cuts cow numbers, phases out synthetic fertiliser and drives the transition to more plant-based regenerative organic farming,” says Rose. 

Can Redpeace present any reputable science backing their prescription as being both better for the environment and sustainable?

How expensive does Redpeace want food to become?

How much a reduction in export income and consequent reduction in living standards does Redpeace think is acceptable?

The organisation probably hasn’t considered those questions and wouldn’t be interested in the answers.

The diatribe above shows, it simply hates cows, doesn’t care that fewer cows here would lead to more cows elsewhere, where production is much less efficient, and has no idea that the high social and economic costs of its policy would do little for emissions here and lead to an increase globally.


Majority want to keep own money

05/05/2022

More than two thirds of New Zealanders want to keep more of their own money:

The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll has found an overwhelming majority want a tax cut from the Finance Minister in this year’s Budget 2022. 

Labour’s dramatic drop in Newshub’s poll has the party under pressure and it’s showing. Meanwhile, the National Party is celebrating.  . . 

The poll put National ahead of Labour. It’s only one poll but does continue the trend of National support growing while Labour’s falls.

It gets worse for Labour because the poll also showed overwhelming support for tax cuts.

It’s bad news for them though, because the Finance Minister appears allergic to the idea. But perhaps the latest results of the Newshub-Reid Research poll will make him reconsider.

It asked: Do you think the Government should give New Zealanders a tax cut in the upcoming May Budget?

A clear majority – 68.7 percent – say yes, hand back over the cash, while only 23.7 percent said no. Even a majority of Labour voters – 54.2 percent – want a tax cut, with 35.7 percent saying no. 

But it’s not going to happen. 

“We do not agree that tax cuts that favour those who earn the most are the priority right now,” Robertson said in Parliament on Wednesday.

The political pressure is piling on from National.

“Kiwis are doing it incredibly tough in this cost of living crisis because of inflation and really what we want to do is be able to give more of their money back to them to spend and save it as they wish,” National leader Christopher Luxon said. .

That’s an important point.

This isn’t the government’s money, it’s the earnings of the people and it’s no surprise they want to keep a bit more of it.

Having the government which is wasting so much taking more of what you earn, or keeping a little more of your own money?

No contest.


Quotes of the month

02/05/2022

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

None of the demands of the new left stray from the culture into the material, they are all about flags, statues, word changes, date changes, forced declarations and compelled pronoun announcements, all shielding privilege in virtue. The new green movement’s aim to consolidate international power to control energy production doesn’t seem at all suspicious to the new lefties, I can tell you the old left would have had some bells going off. Edie Wyatt

This agenda to create an elite New Zealand ethnic group is racist, its undemocratic, its destructive, it has no mandate from the people and its directly opposed to the true and communicated intent of Treaty, so to stand against it is a 100% morally defendable position, so stand and do whatever you can, no matter how little. – John Franklin

I was not much surprised after the continual fanatical research by the Thought Police, to read that the Declaration of Independence being displayed at the National Archives in Washington has now attracted a ‘trigger warning’ on one of the original copies. How could we even hope that those resounding words: ‘ We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’  would be acceptable in these days of endless virtuous Thought Correction. Valerie Davies

Liberal thinking, modern concepts of liberty, equality, and diversity, whether in terms of race or gender, were not common in previous ages, so most of the great classics, though they often helped to push the boundaries of thought in all these things, are doomed, I fear.

Literature, described by one writer, as the ‘logbook of the human race,’ will struggle to exist if the woke mobs have their say – and history and theories that enlighten and educate and shift our thought processes, and initiate new paradigms. The creativity of uncensored minds is what leads  civilisation and lifts it to greater heights..

Power corrupts, and the power of virtue signallers of all colours seems to have brought about the disgrace and cancelling of numerous forward looking thinkers, of established and reputable writers like JK Rowling, and even of ordinary people who posses the common sense to see things in  perspective and the courage to speak out, and who lose their jobs and reputations as a result of this persecution. – Valerie Davies

Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of this sort of censorship is the way employees of publishers now seem to hold the upper hand, and refuse to work if they don’t like the content of a book, so that publishers and writers are intimidated. They have become fearful of publishing or writing any book which doesn’t conform to the guidelines of the new groups who demand that we all think like they do.  Valerie Davies

Not only does this sort of policing of our minds and thoughts have terrible similarities both with the Nazi era, and the unforgivable brain washing of the Russian population during this latest unspeakable war, but it also limits the creativity and diversity of thought by which a society itself expands its perceptions, and explores the further reaches of thought and creativity, and the possibilities of the human spirit.

It’s called gaslighting when a person undermines the feelings of another person, making them feel that their feelings have no validity and don’t matter. What is happening to our history, to our literature, to our culture, is another form of gaslighting, which can also be described as bullying. – Valerie Davies

I wish it was different, I wish we had a better leadership, I wish we had more hope and more optimism, and I wish we had people running this place that were just a little bit in touch with the real world.Mike Hosking

One of the criticisms this government faces — and has faced often — is that there is little substance to their policies and at times, little rationale for their decision-making.

There is certainly very little transparency in terms of what’s shaping their thinking, what the intended outcome is, and why they’ve have taken the position they have.  – Rachel Smalley

Forcing local councils into toothless submission via far-reaching national policy directives and rushed legislative change is becoming a familiar refrain. Mike Yardley

Language is central in the culture wars and if you invalidate the words that enable people to articulate their concerns, you strip them of an essential weapon. By characterising users of terms such as “woke” and “political correctness” as alarmist, out of touch and jumping at their own shadows, the neo-Marxist Left seeks to minimise the implications of its radical agenda. The perception that New Zealand democracy is being systematically dismantled as part of a grand ideological project can then be presented as a figment of fevered right-wing imaginations.

Conservative New Zealanders tend to be reticent at the best of times, and are even more likely to keep their views to themselves if they fear being ridiculed for using the wrong words.  – Karl du Fresne

The lesson that arises, which is of acute relevance to the co-governance debate, is that reasonable public consideration of important issues will not take place if it is constrained by a framework constructed by politicians. All that ensures is that the outcome of any such consultation is shaped and ultimately decided according to the partisan political lines dominant at the time.Peter Dunne

The job of the fourth estate is not to take a position and tell anyone what to believe; it is to ask questions and report the answers, and investigate as far as possible and report evidence that may show whether those answers are truthful and comprehensive.

In other words, journalists are not endowed with special powers of insight by dint of their profession – though some may be uncommonly perceptive – and they should not be expected to take either a particularly antagonistic or obsequious stance in order to be seen to be doing their job well. – Andrew Barnes

When people feel afraid, when downtowns are no-go zones when police aren’t there to be seen when Kāinga Ora evicts no one despite the threats to blow you up or burn your house down when you curtail your lifestyle because of fear, and perhaps worst of all when your Government fails to accept any of it is true, just how long can you go rejecting the premise of the question before you are rejecting it from the opposition benches? Mike Hosking

For the record, I was a lousy public servant. Truly. I was the worst of the worst. I was eternally frustrated by the glacial pace of progress, the bureaucracy, the obsession with tiers and titles, a sector-wide fear of ministers, the Wellington-centric view of New Zealand, and the level of waste. – Rachel Smalley

This week, I wondered if the Government had learned anything from KiwiBuild.

Some of its decision-making continues to feel hasty, off-the-cuff, and lacking in strategy and substance. Remember the public sector pay-freeze in the middle of a pandemic? The policy around hate speech that neither Kris Faafoi nor Jacinda Ardern could articulate? The bungled border decisions that left Kiwis stranded overseas? And the little-scrutinised major health reforms announced almost a year ago. – Rachel Smalley

The July deadline is fast approaching and the CEOs of the country’s 20 DHBs have limited insight into what August will look like. In fact, Health NZ is yet to confirm an operating model.

It feels like KiwiBuild all over again. Health NZ began with a big announcement, but there is little substance behind it. The Ministry of Housing & Urban Development couldn’t wait to offload KiwiBuild to Kāinga Ora to manage, and Bloomfield may have timed his exit to avoid having to deal with the inevitable Health NZ mess.

The origins of major reform may lie with ideology, but they must be built on strategy and ‘real world’ thinking. – Rachel Smalley

At universities there has been a strong trend towards what is called “no platforming”, a concept that argues “platforms” shouldn’t be provided for harmful or wrong ideas and debates. It’s essentially the concept of “banning” bad ideas from being available. This concept has led to several speakers and ideas being kept off New Zealand campuses. Not only that, but it has also sent a strong message to academics about the possibility of being “called out” or marginalised if they don’t conform to orthodox views. – Bryce Edwards

In a sense, the left has swung from one extreme in the 20th century, when everything was about economics and class (and important issues around gender and ethnicity were not given their due focus) to one where the focus is much more on culturalist and identity politics. – Bryce Edwards

The modern version of the left – or the “liberal left” – has different ways of pursuing political change. Largely it’s an elite, top-down model of politics, reflective of the left being made up of the highly educated stratum of society. They confidently believe that they know best.

This elite leftwing approach is very compatible with a more censorious approach to politics and that partly explains the authoritarian impulses we are seeing today. – Bryce Edwards

The rise of “culture wars” has been incredibly important for shaping the political atmosphere we are currently in. Rather than debate and discussion, or finding a middle ground, it’s more polarising – with both conservatives and liberals focusing more on personalities. For example, from the left we see widespread labelling of opponents as racists or sexists. There is now a sneering tendency on the left – especially at those who are seen as socially backward.Bryce Edwards

One logical consequence for many on the left is to take an approach of “language policing” and concern for “cultural etiquette”, in an almost Victorian way. Again, this is topsy-turvy – it used to be the conservative or rightwing side of politics that was concerned with policing people’s behaviour, and looking down on the less educated and enlightened.

The contemporary left has a mistrust in the ability of society to make the right decisions or to understand the world. In an elitist way, many on the progressive side of politics view the public as being ignorant or lacking enlightenment. Hence, the view of gender or ethnic inequality or oppression is often understood as something to do with personal behaviour and “bad ideas” (racism, sexism, homophobia) – rather than a fundamental part of how our society is structured. – Bryce Edwards

I think what people would say about me is that I play politics like I played sport.

I mean when I got the ball in rugby, I ran it up the guts. That’s the truth. Because for me if you want to achieve something you look at the best route possible and for me it has always been from A to B. – Louisa Wall

The natural consequence of an ideology that holds the group, not the individual, as the standard of value, is complete disregard for the rights of individuals. If what really matters is the Russian state, who cares if some Ukrainian civilians are sacrificed for that ideal? This sounds callous and brutish to Western ears, precisely because Western culture places great importance on the value of the individual’s life. When that standard of value is lost—when the state or the group replaces it—the door is opened to unthinkable depths of inhumanity. – Thomas Walker-Werth

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in an address to the Russian people that he does not believe the invasion is being perpetrated in their name, echoing the view expressed by many that Putin is acting against the values of Russian people. However, although Putin is clearly a madman, his actions are enabled by a philosophy that has as thoroughly permeated Russia today as it had Germany in the 1930s. This truth is borne out in the reaction of many Russian people to the invasion of Ukraine: According to independent polling agencies cited by Forbes.com and other Western sources, Putin’s approval ratings have increased sharply since the war began.14 Many Russian people accept the government’s “justification” for the invasion.15 There are some valiant individuals who resist, and they deserve enormous credit, as do those Russian soldiers who defect or refuse to obey orders to murder civilians. But they are a small minority.

What is happening now in Ukraine is a kind of barbarism many in the West thought was consigned to history. But the collectivism that led to the murder and brutalization of millions upon millions of people in Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s USSR, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and numerous other collectivist tyrannies during the 20th century, is still alive and capable of inflicting gruesome harm on millions of innocent people.

The only antidote to collectivism is a principled defense of the very ideas Putin opposes: individualism and individual rights. That is what was missing in 1930s Germany, and that is what is missing in Russia and many other countries today. Nationalist parties inspired by Dugin have made significant electoral gains in relatively free European countries such as France and Germany.16 Collectivist ideology even underpins policies of both major American political parties. It will lead to ever more human suffering—until and unless people come to understand and embrace individualism and individual rights. – Thomas Walker-Werth

Even Dr Bloomfield appears reluctant to join the Prime Minister on stage for a repeat of their hit 2020 performances.

Back then it seemed to matter. Now it has the ring of a Culture Club farewell tour playing to shambolic dive bars while still dreaming of the packed stadiums of yesteryear. – Damien Grant

This administration has the feeling of a dead-man-walking. New Zealand has tuned out. Money, interest and attention has now turned towards Messrs Luxon and Seymour, as there is now a sense of inevitability about a change of government.

Here is my take: Outside of Covid, this administration has a terrible record. Inequality, if you care about that metric, has deteriorated. The only way a working family can now obtain a house is through inheritance. We are toiling longer, with unemployment having fallen, but the wages being earned are worth less thanks to inflation.

Few things better define the Ardern government than the Auckland Harbour cycle path. Announced with great fanfare then quietly forgotten. KiwiBuild, the Provincial Growth Fund, transparency, mental health funding and even the entire Well-Being budget framework have all fallen over. – Damien Grant

The poor now struggle to get credit, thanks to changes to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act. The poor now have to pay more for their petrol cars, thanks to the tax on dirty petrol cars. The poor now struggle to cover the cost of groceries as prices rise faster than wages, thanks in part to changes to the mandate of the Reserve Bank away from a single focus on inflation.

Other than increasing benefits at nearly the rate of inflation, the Ardern Government has achieved close to nothing outside of Covid, and in many key areas the welfare of Kiwis has fallen. – Damien Grant

Not all of this is Ardern’s fault. Her agenda was derailed by the pandemic and the paucity of competence within her caucus from which to draw talent. There are only so many portfolios you can force onto Chris Hipkins before he loses focus and begins to bait pregnant journalists trapped in Kabul.

There are still a few big projects on the books. The Fair Pay Agreements and unemployment insurance may become law by the next election, but if the past performance is any guide these reforms will not be well-designed and be implemented badly. – Damien Grant

Never, in the history of the world, have we lived in more generally inclusive and accepting societies than those that make up the West nowadays. That is not to say things are perfect and we should consider the job of promoting equality and fairness done. However, it seems the further we have progressed, the more ardently some quarters of our society declare evil to be found everywhere.

Instead of ‘reds under the bed’, these zealots find racists in the pantry, homophobes in between the couch cushions, transphobes in the bedside drawer, and misogynists under the rug. Again, I am not disputing that there are still the odd ‘phobes’ or bigots lurking unwanted, but the insistence that there is an epidemic of these uncouth kinds of folk runs the risk of manifesting them into existence. – Ani O’Brien

Much of New Zealand lives in incredibly multicultural communities – Wellington to a lesser extent and maybe that’s why bureaucrats are some of the worst offenders when it comes to imagining racists.

We, of all backgrounds, attend kindy together, then school. We are friends, neighbours, lovers, life partners, parents, family, and whanau. We cheer for the same sports teams, despair at the same petrol prices, and often share aspects of the same Kiwi sense of humour.

But despite our integrated, though at times flawed, society there are those who will have you believe that every white New Zealander harbours hatred towards New Zealanders of other ethnic backgrounds and especially Māori.Ani O’Brien

The reductive view these privileged theorists take paints the poorest, drug-addled beggar on the street as the oppressor of a successful and wealthy businessperson if only the beggar is white and the businessperson is not.Their concept of racial privilege is so lacking in nuance that a kid who has his shoes and raincoat supplied by a charity and is fed at school will be taught by his teacher that he is privileged over some of his more fortunate classmates because he is white and they are not.

This constant placing of people in diametrically opposite camps based on race is a recipe not for improved cohesion and furthering equality. It is a sure way to increase divisiveness and create distrust and animosity between groups of people.

When already marginalised people are told constantly that they are “bad” because of the colour of their skin, or that people like them need to “sit down and shut up”, and that they have less claim to their country of birth than the bloke next door, they begin to see themselves as outsiders.

And, when the criteria for being a ‘racist’ or a ‘white supremacist’ is so diluted that accusations are flung about as frequently and as flippantly as they currently are, the accused begin to be a larger and larger group. – Ani O’Brien

In this context, a white identity group is being formed not by those it is being imposed on, but by the mostly white, educated, ‘liberals’ who somehow exclude themselves from the characterisations they make about other white people as entitled, greedy, mean, ignorant, privileged, and, of course, racist.

White identity is being manifested by those who most decry it.

People who have always been more invested in a ‘Kiwi Identity’ untethered to race, now find themselves being repeatedly told that they cannot understand their fellow countrymen and women because they are racially different. People who have heartily taken part in the haka and sung Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi at the top of their lungs are now self-conscious and reluctant to attempt te Reo Māori for fear of being accused of appropriation or disrespect. – Ani O’Brien

White New Zealanders are being told “you stay over there in your lane”, while Māori are told “look at those guys over there – they’re racist and hate you”, and New Zealanders of all other races and ethnicities wonder ‘where do we fit into this dysfunctional situation?’

Division is being driven from the top. Government agencies, academia, media, and our education system are all complicit in dreaming into reality a toxic ‘white identity’ that imposes the very worst of fringe extremism on a population that still makes up the majority of New Zealanders. – Ani O’Brien

There is a glorification of making white New Zealanders uncomfortable as if that in itself is an acceptable and entertaining pastime by those at the top. It is inevitably white people with more institutional and economic power sneering at white people with much less than them. One should, in my opinion, rightly be made uncomfortable if they are racist, but often the shaming that happens is gratuitous and not in the pursuit of bringing an end to genuine racism.

Likewise, it seems to be a small group of wealthy, highly educated Māori who are driving the culture war from their end. Your average Māori, just like your average white New Zealander, is uninterested in ‘intersectional politics’ and reckons everyone should just get a fair go regardless of race. They certainly do not profit from the divisiveness like those who get air time and academic papers out of it. 

It is unlikely that the behaviours driving the manifestation of white identity are going to change anytime soon. The establishment white ‘liberals’ are too drunk on the power of denigrating ‘lower’ white people and promoting their own exceptionalism. They will continue to drive wedges between communities that otherwise live pretty harmoniously.

As with much of the antagonism in the culture wars, the accusation of racism is largely a weapon wielded by the powerful and fortunate against those who they see as the great unwashed and uneducated masses. They cancel others with relative power in order to retain control of the narrative and prevent the empowerment of the majority. Cancellations are punishments for deviating from the dominant discourse, but they are also warnings; ritualistic public shamings intended to make anyone who would be inclined to challenge norms, think twice.

There are ultimately more of us who wish to live peacefully in our multicultural country than those who want to pit us against each other. We can choose not to be afraid of the tactics used to make us comply. We can refuse to allow the toxic ‘White Identity’, they are attempting to manifest, to take hold. We should celebrate our shared values and manifest instead a Kiwi Identity that we can all be proud of.Ani O’Brien

When I heard Ukraine’s President Zelensky arguing for a fundamental overhaul of the United Nations, and especially of the Security Council, I recalled our greatest New Zealand Prime Minister and World War Two leader, Peter Fraser. He envisaged just the sort of issue we face today with Russia’s war on Ukraine. Old Peter, a wily, highly intelligent Scotsman, was one of the world’s few prime ministers to attend the San Francisco conference in 1945 that set up the rules for a postwar body to monitor the peace. With support from nearly all the smaller countries represented at the conference, Fraser objected strenuously to the great power veto that enabled any of the five victorious powers – the US, Britain, France, Russia and China – to block any substantive move the Security Council might want to take in the event of a breach of the UN Charter, even if all other countries favoured action. Peter Fraser pointed out that by allowing a veto, one of the five might behave as it pleased, and then act as judge and jury in its own cause. He was right. That’s exactly what has happened several times since 1945. The US has done it and Russia much more often. The veto is why today the United Nations is such a toothless tiger. It is unable to protect Ukraine, one of its member states, from the ruthless onslaught from neighboring Russia. The recent motion to condemn Russia passed the Security Council with a significant majority. Several Security Council members abstained from voting or absented themselves, but Russia exercised its veto, thereby preventing what should have resulted in international punishment, with Russia having to pay reparations for the damage it has done. – Michael Bassett

Wise heads are needed to work out some way of dealing with nuclear blackmail. Over Cuba in 1962 the United States stared Russia down and Nikita Khruschev blinked rather than take responsibility for blowing up the world. This time the US couldn’t be sufficiently sure that Putin wouldn’t push the nuclear button and blow everything up. The problem with high level threats is that one has to presume that both the offenders and the victims are capable of making rational decisions. With modern Russia, this has always been in doubt. Putin has never produced any rational explanation for the invasion he kept denying he intended, and then suddenly launched. There is considerable speculation that after 22 years in office he’s been removed from reality for too long. In his search for some kind of legitimacy for the corruption and looting that he and his oligarch mates have undertaken within Russia he’s become obsessed with Russian Orthodox Christianity which so far has placed a firm stamp of approval on his years in office. Put simply, he seems to have lost it, and to be beyond reason.

If this is so, it raises a further issue that Peter Fraser and the founders of the United Nations hoped they wouldn’t face again once that Adolf Hitler was dead: how to deal with a madman possessed of the wherewithal to blow up the world. In the meantime, a concerted effort to reform the Security Council and remove the veto powers has become urgent. President Zelensky is right. Michael Bassett

To call a belief a myth is usually to denigrate it, though there are beneficial myths as there are noble lies. There’s no doubt that myths can be harmful, however, for they can, and often do, obstruct critical thought.

In Britain, the mythology of the National Health Service (NHS), which now manages to combine the baleful characteristics of Stalinist administration with pork barrel politics, has obstructed necessary reform for decades. Because of the mythology, the NHS is the nearest to a religion that the country comes, according to Nigel Lawson, the second-most powerful British politician during Margaret Thatcher’s premiership. Even the Iron Lady feared to reform it fundamentally. It was much more difficult for her than confronting the Soviet Union. – Theodore Dalrymple

It’s therefore difficult to know how representative of the whole any scandal is. But the institution is coated in a kind of Teflon, to which no scandal can stick.

And yet everyone knows that it’s better to be ill in almost any European country than in Britain. The outcomes of various diseases—heart attacks or cancer, for example—are worse in Britain than elsewhere. When the NHS was established, in 1948, British life expectancy was six years higher than France’s. Now it’s two or three years lower. Life expectancy is not determined by health care alone, of course, but the government report that led to the establishment of the NHS stated that health care in Britain was superior to that in most of the rest of Europe. No one would claim that any longer.  – Theodore Dalrymple

I had never heard of a colour-coordinated library. I stood looking at her in total disbelief. After about 20 seconds of stunned silence I managed to blurt out, “Well, my books have to be read! I will not sell any of my books just to be put in a fake library and forgotten. You can’t buy any of these books!” – Ruth Shaw

When I hold one of my mother’s books I remember her; I touch the same page she touched, I read the same words she read. Books collected over many years become part of the family. They have been loved, read and re-read, and have often travelled around the world. They live in silence for years in a family home bearing witness to many special occasions, bringing the reader joy and sometimes tears.Ruth Shaw

This underlines a striking trend in recent years for the mainstream media in New Zealand to align themselves consciously and deliberately with causes that they must know alienate a large proportion of their readers, viewers and listeners. Call it slow-motion suicide.

The bigger picture is that the media have abandoned their traditional role of trying to reflect the society they purport to serve in favour of advocating on behalf of divisive and often extremist minority causes. By doing so they create a perception of New Zealand not as a cohesive, stable society made up of diverse groups with vital interests in common, but as one characterised by aggrieved minorities whose interests are fundamentally incompatible with those of a callously indifferent (or worse, deliberately oppressive) majority.

Media outlets that once tried conscientiously to provide a platform for a range of opinions and ideologies now unashamedly attack, or just as insidiously ignore, views and beliefs that run counter to the narrative favoured by the leftist cabal that controls the institutions of power. The most obvious example is the collective undertaking by major media organisations to ignore any opinion, including those of distinguished scientists, that runs counter to the “approved” narrative on climate change or the effectiveness of policies intended to ameliorate it.

Such flagrant suppression of news would have been unthinkable not long ago. Now it’s official editorial policy.- Karl du Fresne

As an occupational group, journalists have long tended to lean to the left. Earlier generations of reporters countered this by restraining their natural impulses, knowing that media credibility hinged on public confidence that events and issues would be covered fairly, accurately and impartially. That professional discipline is long gone, along with the moderating influence exercised by editors who insisted on the now highly unfashionable principle of objectivity.

We are bombarded daily with politically slanted content masquerading as trustworthy and authoritative reportage. A recent example was an episode of the New Zealand Herald’s newly launched podcast The Front Page (which claims to “go behind the headlines” and ask “hard-hitting questions”), in which Herald journalists Damien Venuto and Georgina Campbell purported to examine the Three Waters project without once mentioning its most contentious feature – namely, the proposal for 50/50 co-governance with iwi.

“High-quality, trusted” coverage as promised by Herald managing editor Shayne Currie? It’s time to revive the Tui billboards, surely. – Karl du Fresne

The war immediately combined the personal and public. And this is probably the fatal mistake of the tyrant who attacked us. We are all Ukrainians first, and then everything else. He wanted to divide us, to shatter us, to provoke internal confrontation, but it is impossible to do this with Ukrainians. When one of us is tortured, raped, or killed, we feel that we all are being tortured, raped, or killed. We do not need propaganda to feel civic consciousness, and to resist. It is this personal anger and pain, which we all feel, that instantly activates the thirst to act, to resist aggression, to defend our freedom. Everyone does this the way they can: Soldiers with weapons in their hands, teachers by continuing to teach, doctors by conducting complex surgeries under attacks. All have become volunteers—artists, restaurateurs, hairdressers—as barbarians try to take over our country. I’ve seen this raise the deepest patriotic feelings in our children. Not only my children, but all the children of Ukraine. They will grow up to be patriots and defenders of their homeland.Olena Zelenska

Blocked, destroyed Mariupol is our terrible pain. That continues. And the Kyiv region has become horrible—that’s what we’ve seen as the Russian army has retreated. The world has learned the name Bucha. This is one of the once-beautiful towns near the capital—but the same horrors can be seen in dozens of villages and towns in Kyiv region. People killed on the street. Not military—civilians! Graves near playgrounds. I can’t even describe it. It makes me speechless. But it is necessary to look at it.

I hope we are not the only ones who see the message Russia is sending. This message is not only addressed to us. This is their message to the world! This could be what happens to any country that Russia does not like. – Olena Zelenska

The democratic world must be united and give a tough response, thus showing that in the twenty-first century there is no place for killing civilians and encroaching on foreign territory.Olena Zelenska

The main thing is not to get used to the war—not to turn it into statistics. Continue going to protests, continue to demand that your governments take action. Ukrainians are the same as you, but just over a month ago, our lives changed radically. Ukrainians did not want to leave their homes. But so often they did not have homes left. – Olena Zelenska

My family—just like every Ukrainian—and my compatriots: incredible people who organized to help the army and help each other. Now all Ukrainians are the army. Everyone does what they can. There are stories about grandmothers who bake bread for the army just because they feel this call. They want to bring victory closer.

That is what Ukrainians are like. We all hope for them. We hope for ourselves. – Olena Zelenska

Change in linguistic usage is normal, and it can either add to or detract from language’s expressive power. It’s much more likely to be sinister when it’s directed by some organization acting in an official or public capacity than when it arises spontaneously from the population at large.

Directed change in linguistic usage is usually done in pursuit of some practical or ideological end, acknowledged or unacknowledged—or both. – Theodore Dalrymple

Why is there this drive to exculpate people totally from their own situation, if that situation is in some way undesirable or worse?

First, there’s the desire for power by those who see their fellow beings as pure victims, that is to say, as inanimate objects acted upon but not acting. But I don’t think that this is the whole explanation.

Another part of the explanation is the debased secularization of Christian ethics. Christian ethics enjoin us to forgive our enemies, to love others as oneself, and to be charitable toward the unfortunate. But the secularized version of these ethics omits one important aspect, namely that we’re all sinners in need of mercy. In the secularized version of Christian ethics, there’s no notion of sin, at least not in victims: Only perpetrators, such as commercial interests and governments, can sin in the new revised version.Theodore Dalrymple

In the older view, a Christian could—and, in fact, should—recognize the sinfulness of every person, including the very fat, but at the same time attempt to be compassionate toward him. For essentially he, the Christian, was in the same boat, if not necessarily with regard to the same sin—but he was a sinner of some kind or another.

Again, it isn’t the case that Christians always practiced what they preached or should have preached. Far from it: They can be as censorious, cruel, punitive, and sadistic as anyone else. But at least, in theory, their belief or doctrine allows them the possibility of recognizing both a person’s sinful part in bringing about his own bad situation and being compassionate toward him. – Theodore Dalrymple

 It wants to be compassionate toward those who suffer. But because it hangs on to Christian ethics with the concept of sin removed, that turns almost everyone, including the readers of this, into inanimate objects, with all the potential for a totalitarian dictatorship and abuse that such a worldview inevitably implies.Theodore Dalrymple

Why do we feature car or motorbike racing as though it is sensible to drive very fast to nowhere in particular, or simply round and round to get back to where we started? – Jacqueline Rowarth

Those of us who want our science free of ideology can only stand by helplessly as we watch physics, chemistry, and biology crumble from within as the termites of Wokeism nibble away. I once thought that scientists, whom I presumed would be less concerned than humanities professors with ideological pollution (after all, we do have some objective facts to argue about), would be largely immune to Wokeism.

I was wrong, of course. It turns out that scientists are human beings after all, and with that goes the desire for the approbation of one’s peers and of society.  And you don’t get that if you’re deemed a racist. You can even be criticized from holding yourself away from the fray, preferring to do science than engage in social engineering. (Remember, Kendi-an doctrine says that if you’re not an actively working anti-racist, you’re a racist.)Jerry Coyne

And everybody knows, though few dare to say it, that what’s happening is the erosion of the meritocratic aspects of science, replacing them with standards of social justice determined by a small group of “progressive” people on the Left. Further, the less that merit is considered and used as a fundamental tenet of science, the slower science will progress. But I suppose the proponents of injecting Wokeism into science would say “merit is an outdated criterion; what we really need is equity.” Perhaps, but the effort is all directed at calling present science riddled with “structural racism.” And that’s not true. – Jerry Coyne

Incitement to psychological fragility is one of the most important enemies of freedom today, especially where the taking of offence requires no justification and confers certain moral rights automatically, including those of censorship, upon the offended. Anyone who does not compassionate the offended compounds the supposed reason for his or her having taken offence in the first place. Moreover, taking offence is the highest proof of that most sterling of all human characteristics, vulnerability. Only the insensitive and hard-hearted lack vulnerability.

To increase people’s vulnerability is thus to improve their character. As it happens, it also creates job opportunities, for example those of so-called sensitivity readers, those youngish women, educated in the humanities, who read books for publishers in order to pre-empt any offence that readers might take. Without people primed and ready to take offence, where would they be?

Of course, only certain types or categories of people must be protected from offence; others may be offended with impunity, indeed it is a duty and a pleasure to do so.- Anthony Daniels 

The more people are protected from that against which they might take offence, the more hypersensitive and easily offended they become, so the more protection they need. Sensitivity reading is a job for life.

It is therefore important to seize all possible occasions to emphasise the fragility of the human psyche.  – Anthony Daniels 

Now I am myself somewhat prudish by nature, especially in the matter of bad language. I think it should be kept in reserve and brought out only on very important or special occasions. If used all the time, it has no real impact and is inexpressive. English is rather impoverished when it comes to bad language and so, apart from being bad in the moral sense, it is bad in point of monotony and uninventiveness. I am told that by comparison Hungarian, for example, is rich in expletives and the like, and it is possible to swear and insult in Hungarian for minutes on end without repetition.Anthony Daniels 

I regret very much the resort to bad language in Anglophone life. In England, the rapid increase in its daily use is almost exactly datable, back to the time when the highly superior theatre critic Kenneth Tynan first pronounced a certain word on BBC television, thinking thereby that he was liberating his fellow-countrymen from the terrible chains of respectability. It is sometimes claimed that the Irish writer Brendan Behan had used it before him, but he was so drunk at the time, and his speech so slurred and incoherent, that nobody could quite catch what he said.

Less than fifty years later, it was more or less compulsory for anyone who wanted to be taken seriously to use the word constantly. – Anthony Daniels 

Warnings that assume that we are a population of histrionic or hysterical personality disorders are common these days. Anthony Daniels 

At whom, then, was the warning aimed? Perhaps this is the wrong question: it should be, “What was the purpose of the warning?”

I think it was to instil in the population the idea that there are large numbers of delicate people—adults—in our society who need protection the way that minors were once thought to be in need of protection, because they are psychologically so sensitive, fragile and vulnerable. This in turn necessitates a great army of sensitivity readers and the like to prevent distress, and counsellors, psychologists and so forth to cure it after it has occurred. At the same time as our culture is unprecedentedly vulgar, crude and violent, we must protect people from representations of vulgarity, crudity and violence. In the words of the old Flanders and Swann song, “It all makes work for the working man to do.” But we have progressed somewhat since their benighted time: it makes work for the working woman too. – Anthony Daniels 

As I’ve always said, I don’t mind using whatever pronouns someone wants to be known by, but the buck stops for me when transgender women are considered as full biological women—and by that I mean women who produce (or have the potential to produce) large and immobile gametes. It’s not the word “woman” I object to; it’s the implicit conflation of biological women with transsexual women in every possible way: the equation of biological women with biological males who consider their gender to be female and may or may not take action to change their bodies. (I don’t care if they “transition” physically or not; I’ll be glad to use their pronouns.) In this case the Post uses “people” instead of “women” because they want to go along with the mantra that “transmen are men”, though transmen who can get pregnant are actually biological women, which is the only reason they can get pregnant.Jerry Coyne

There was once a place called the University. I knew it well – in fact I grew up there. The son of a mathematician, I often spent time in my formative years hanging around campus. I enjoyed interacting with my father’s colleagues. They were people who loved to argue. Even when I was a child they paid me the respect of challenging my thinking. They did so in a manner as generous and good-humoured as it was intelligent and robust. The idea that it might take courage to be a dissenting voice would, I think, have occurred to them as strange.

The people who inhabited that University knew what academic freedom was. They didn’t talk about it, they simply lived it. They understood implicitly that academic freedom was both a privilege and a duty. They understood that the University was an institution at the heart of democracy, that the health of democracy is a contest of ideas and that, as academics, they had leading roles in that contest. Academic freedom – the freedom to say things that are controversial, unpopular, almost unthinkable – kept culture fresh and provided grist to the mill of politics.

The University I grew up in is fading fast. In the New University, academic freedom is all too often seen as an embarrassing relic of the past, or worse, as a tool of oppression. Recent research commissioned by the Free Speech Union (FSU) shows just how far it has fallen out of favour. – Dr Michael Johnston

The Treaty, as well as sex and gender issues, have become sacred cows. There are doctrines about them that many academics feel scared to openly disagree with. – Dr Michael Johnston

I will add only that academic freedom is actually one of the principal mechanisms at our disposal for challenging the status quo. But I suspect that the academic who made that comment thinks that the status quo is simply whatever he or she disagrees with.

I encounter some of my dad’s old colleagues around campus from time to time. It’s always good to see them, but it makes me sad about what’s been lost. They’re in their 70s and 80s now, and they must wonder what’s happened to their university. To dispel any doubt, when I say, “their university”, I’m not speaking of a specific university, but of the spirit of open-minded scholarship they embodied. I hope that, in time, we’ll find a way to rekindle that spirit in the bricks and mortar of our country’s campuses. – Dr Michael Johnston

The Black Death (bubonic plague) in the mid-1300s is reckoned to have killed 30 per cent of Europe’s population at the time. The “Spanish” flu a century ago killed 50 million, 2.5 per cent of the world’s population. Covid-19 has so far killed 25 million, according to the Economist’s measure of “excess deaths” of all causes, 0.3 per cent of today’s population.

Clearly a pandemic in epidemiology is not what I imagined it was. But it therefore becomes more important to ask, were lockdowns ever a proportionate response now that we can see what a pandemic really is?John Roughan

We live in an age of serial expertise. First we were experts in climate change, whether or not we believed it was taking place, and consequently in energy policy. Then, with Covid, we became expert epidemiologists, though most of us would shortly before have been hard put to explain what epidemiology as a science actually was. And now, with the war in Ukraine, we have become expert military strategists. – Theodore Dalrymple

How does one become a panjandrum? Is there a special school for them? If there is, I suppose they teach there such subjects as gravitas and pomposity, pretentiousness and portentousness. No doubt students are selected by natural ability in these subjects, and perhaps psychologists have already developed validated and reliable scales for them, as they have for practically all other human characteristics. (Psychology is another subject of our chronic expertise, of course.)Theodore Dalrymple

As to increasing human capital, delightfully so-called, in the hands of government it is likely to result in an overgrowth of qualifications irrelevant to, and even obstructive of, any productive activity whatsoever, to what one might call, if it were a disease, fulminating diplomatosis. – Theodore Dalrymple

I do not want to cast doubt on the idea of expertise in some kind of know-nothing way. But there is no more important task for the citizen than the recognition of true expertise, as well as the recognition of its limits. Theodore Dalrymple

The delusions of the protesters outside Parliament have been debunked. The delusions of those inside Parliament also need debunking.

The fantasies of anti-vaxxers primarily hurt themselves. The fantasies of our leaders hurt us all. – Richard Prebble

An analysis of the Consumers Price Index reveals most of New Zealand’s inflation is domestic. Actions such as printing $55 billion and government deficit spending have pushed up prices more than either fuel increases or supply chain congestion.

The adult minimum wage has gone from $16.50 in 2018 to $21.20 today. Only a politician could call that a “race to the bottom“. – Richard Prebble

Surrounded by lackeys saying “Yes Minister”, it’s a struggle to keep in touch with reality. – Richard Prebble

When it is leaders who have delusions, it is very dangerous. President Vladimir Putin’s delusion that Ukraine is not a country has brought the world to the edge of nuclear war.

Ministers’ refusal to accept that their reckless government spending is inflationary makes reducing inflation very difficult. At a time of full employment, the effectiveness of the Reserve Bank’s anti-inflationary interest rate rises is being countered by inflationary government deficit spending. – Richard Prebble

Awards did not result in cleaners and bus drivers being well-paid. As Minister of Railways I found that, despite unions, awards and industrial action, railway workers needed social welfare to top up their income. As a law clerk, my union negotiated an award wage that was less than the unemployment benefit.

Despite prohibitions on strikes, the system of awards allowed those with industrial power to extort high incomes. For hours worked, wharfies earned more than brain surgeons.Richard Prebble

Successive studies have found that a factor such as having a fifth of all pupils leaving state schools functionally illiterate is one reason for our poor productivity. The appalling productivity in the unionised state sector is another.

One-size-fits-all union wages and conditions mean few are happy. It is why union workplaces often have industrial unrest.Richard Prebble

This Labour Government is the master of gesture politics. Maybe a majority of voters can be persuaded that inflation is imported. Maybe a tenth of all workers will vote for union sector-wide wage fixing.

What we do know is that gestures cannot change reality. Just saying “inflation is imported” will not reduce our grocery bills.

Fantasies that union bargaining results in “higher quality goods and services” cannot make New Zealand a prosperous country. – Richard Prebble

Governments like scapegoats. A good scapegoat can take the blame for something that is a government’s fault. It can also help justify measures the government was itching to take for other reasons.

When all goes well, a very good scapegoat can do both. – Eric Crampton

Greed is a poor explanation for inflation, not because companies are altruists, but because greed is always with us. It isn’t cyclical.

Should we credit corporate public-spiritedness for the five years from December 2011 through December 2016 when inflation ran well below the midpoint of the RBNZ inflation band?

Of course not. Monetary policy drives inflation, not changes in greed. – Eric Crampton

In short, the minister was wrong from beginning to end. Absolute economic ignorance would be the most charitable explanation, but even then he might have considered asking Treasury’s advice.

More plausibly, Clark was scapegoating the supermarkets to justify populist measures against them, or to deflect attention from his government’s failure to keep the Reserve Bank on target, or both.

Voters should be wary of policies justified by scapegoating – Eric Crampton

New Zealand is one of the oldest democracies in the world. This system of government ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’ – that treats all citizens as equals before the law – has been a liberating force of human endeavour throughout the ages. We have indeed been fortunate in New Zealand that successive governments have faithfully upheld policies to protect our democracy as sacrosanct.

That is, until now. – Muriel Newman

Do we uphold the foundation of our Westminster Parliamentary democracy, namely one person one vote, where all votes are equal, or do we go down the path towards an Orwellian Animal Farm democracy, where all are equal – but some are more equal than others?

Unfortunately, this is not a trivial question. It’s time for a national conversation about what we want from our democracy, and in particular, whether we want those New Zealanders identifying as ‘Maori’ to be guaranteed greater rights and privileges than everyone else. – Muriel Newman

A key problem New Zealanders face is that the partnership the Government is using to justify what amounts to totalitarian tribal control – through the transfer of democratic power and public resources to the iwi elite – is actually fake. Since it is constitutionally impossible for a partnership to exist between a Sovereign and the governed, it represents a massive deception of New Zealanders by the Government. – Muriel Newman

The resulting upheaval isn’t measurable so much by legislative change as by a profound shift in the political and cultural tone of the country. Ardern’s re-election was like an injection of steroids for the leftist cabal that now exerts control over all New Zealand’s institutions of power and influence, including the media and the craven business sector.

This university-educated and predominantly middle-class neo-Marxist cabal is distinct from New Zealand’s dwindling old-school socialist/communist Left, which ironically now finds itself aligned with conservatives on issues such as free speech and identity politics. But the New Left wields far more power than the comrades of the Old Left ever dreamed of.Karl du Fresne

How is this leftist cabal’s influence manifested? Chiefly through the divisive phenomenon known as wedge politics, and most provocatively through the promotion of 50-50 co-governance between representatives of the European majority and a minority consisting of people with Maori ancestry.

There are now effectively two levels of citizenship in New Zealand, one of which confers entitlements not available to the other. This is evident across a range of public policies that include compulsory Maori representation on local councils, the appointment of Maori activists to positions of power and the splurging of vast sums of money targetted exclusively at people who happen, by what is effectively a genetic accident, to have a proportion of Maori blood.

All this is predicated on the notion that people of part-Maori descent are entitled to redress for the baneful effects of colonisation. These deleterious effects presumably included the introduction of democratic government, the rule of law and the end of cannibalism, slavery and tribal warfare. – Karl du Fresne

Whether decolonisation includes rejecting such innovations as literacy and Western medicine isn’t clear, since the advocates of decolonisation are careful not to spell out exactly what they mean. – Karl du Fresne

. The stark choice facing New Zealand voters at next year’s general election will be between democracy and a different form of government for which we have no name.

But the cultural upheaval goes far beyond that, stoked by state-subsidised media that have abandoned their traditional purpose of seeking to reflect the society they purport to serve, and which instead bombard the public with indoctrination promoting the interests of attention-seeking minority groups.  – Karl du Fresne

This sense of polarisation is magnified by an authoritarian intolerance of dissent and by Stalinist-style denunciations of anyone bold or foolish enough to speak out against prevailing ideological orthodoxy.

Meanwhile, Ardern floats above it all. She’s a shrewd enough politician to have remained largely aloof from the rancour her government has generated, and who avoids entanglement in any unpleasantness that might detract from her carefully crafted image as an empathetic politician. But she cannot disown responsibility for presiding over a government that is promoting the politics of division and destabilising what was previously an admirably cohesive and harmonious society.Karl du Fresne

What were normal people—those who did not have any trouble defining woman, those who found talk of “pregnant people” and “contested spaces” and “rabbit holes” baffling—to make of this obvious discomfort with “women”?  – Zoe Strimpel 

But now these exemplars of female empowerment—educated, sophisticated, wielding enormous influence—seemed to have forgotten what “woman” meant. Or whether it was okay to say “woman.” Or whether “woman” was a dirty word. 

It wasn’t simply about language. It was about how we think about and treat women. For nearly 2,500 years—from Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata” to Seneca Falls to Anita Hill to #MeToo—women had been fighting, clawing their way out of an ancient, deeply repressive, often violent misogyny. But now that they were finally on the cusp of the Promised Land, they were turning their backs on all that progress. They were erasing themselves.  – Zoe Strimpel 

By the 1980s, women had won several key victories. Equal pay was the law (if not always the reality). No-fault divorce was widespread. Abortion was safe and legal. Women were now going to college, getting mortgages, playing competitive sports and having casual sex. In the United States, they were running for president, and they were getting elected to the House and Senate in record numbers. In Britain, Margaret Thatcher was prime minister.

In the wake of all these breakthroughs, the movement began to lose steam. It contracted, then it splintered, and a vacuum opened up. Academics took over—hijacked—the cause. – Zoe Strimpel 

It wasn’t just that these academics took it upon themselves to develop fiendishly complex theories about women, dressed up in a fiendishly complex language. It was that this hyper-intellectualized feminism, by embracing this hyper-intellectualized language, excluded most women. It transformed feminism from activism to theory, from the concrete to the abstract, from a movement that sought to liberate women from the discriminations imposed on them by their sex to a school of thought that was less interested in sex than gender. 

Sex, to the academics, was outdated. It was crude, fleshy, obvious—the stuff of everyday women everywhere. Gender, on the other hand, was fascinating—the starting point for an endless theorizing that, with each passing paper or book or conference, became more abstruse, more removed from the daily challenges faced by ordinary women. – Zoe Strimpel 

The new, abstracted feminism had little interest in changing political or economic reality, as the older, grittier feminism had. It was like a fancy garment that only the well off—those who had gone to college and lived in big cities and were fluent in the new vernacular—could afford. Or knew to buy. –

It is not an accident that the rise of gender ideology coincides with the long anticipated petering out of the feminist cause.

That’s because the rise of the one and the decline of the other are closely linked with our fetishization of identity. The fight for transgender rights over and above that of biological women’s rights, just like the war on systemic racism, jibes perfectly with our new identity politics.

Unfortunately, identity politics cannot content itself with simply defending women’s rights or LGBT rights or the rights of black people to be treated equally under the law. It must persist indefinitely in its quest for ever-narrowing identities. (The ever-expanding acronym of gay and gay-adjacent and vaguely, distantly, not really in any way connected communities, with its helpful plus sign at the end, neatly illustrates as much.) Everyone is entitled to an identity, or a plethora of identities, and each identity must be bespoke—individualized—and any attempt to rein in the pursuit of identity runs counter to the never-ending fight for inclusivity. Even if that inclusivity undermines the rights of other people. Like women.

This dynamic, with the most marginal interest trumping all others, easily took over a feminism long primed by whacky postmodern ideas like Butler’s—paving the way for its second, related hijacking. This one by biological males. – Zoe Strimpel 

And so Post-Feminist Feminism has morphed into a dark, strange Anti-Feminism. Anti-Feminism borrows from the language of liberation, but it’s not about liberating women. It’s about pushing women out of college sports. It’s about telling girls they aren’t lesbians or tomboys, but in fact men struggling to find themselves. Zoe Strimpel 

To attempt an answer, any answer, to the question—Can you provide a definition for the word ‘woman’?—would be to re-center women, biological sex, the concrete, mundane experience of ordinary, boring, bourgeois and working-class and very poor women the world over. It would be to attempt to undo the hijacking of the feminist cause and to return it to the people for whom that cause was created so many decades ago.

Returning the cause to the people for whom it was created is the only way to save it, and to stop the many discriminations that girls and women still face: domestic violence; the economic and psychological penalty of having babies; the manifold hurts and crimes visited upon countless women in non-Western countries simply for being women. For now, doing anything about all of that is a fantasy. First, we have to honor the actual meaning of words, like woman. We have to insist that those meanings are important. We have to go back, again, to first principles. That is the only way forward. – Zoe Strimpel 

The simple approach is to require integrity in communication and employ strategies suitable for the target audience. The bureaucracy and “political correctness” the Plain Language Bill promotes are not the answer. A basic principle is to communicate in a manner your audience can understand, as I hope I have. Dennnis Gates

Our business leaders big and small are currently being forgotten for their contribution to society. They put themselves on the line, take risks, worry about paying their staff and their bills and hope to make a profit, although, for many that last one is a distant dream, survival now takes priority. They have been broken by having to close their doors or cut right back and for most, it has been the heartbreak of letting people go they have worked with and cared about for many years.

Those that have survived through the worst of the Covid years now need our support more than ever but instead, they are treated with disdain as cost after cost is piled on to them with regulatory changes that make it harder to stay in business. An extra public holiday, increases in the wage bill, transport costs going up and a struggle to get workers will drive a whole lot out of business. Their contribution is more than the goods and services they provide, it is how they play a vital part in our community, employ us and our neighbours and support the many charities that need them – often quietly and without recognition. We need their entrepreneurial spirit and their dream of the next big thing. – Paula Bennett

 I thought the chance of another civil war in the US was minimal and in a country like New Zealand, neglible. . . The most important single factor is when one or more major parties in a country’s political system doesn’t organise around left-right political values but around identity – race, religion or ethnicity. –  David Farrar

The bottom line is that some of our friends on the left want to shoot at the rich, but they wind up wounding the poor instead by greasing the rungs on the ladder of economic opportunity. – Dan Mitchell

FPAs are a solution looking for a problem.Levi Gibbs

Of course, wages in New Zealand are lower than those overseas – most notably in Australia.

But the strong relationship between productivity and wages indicates the problem is not weak collective bargaining power, but our sluggish productivity growth.  – Levi Gibbs

The problem with misdiagnosing a problem like low wages is that the prescribed cure may in fact do harm.

FPAs are inflexible in the face of technological change – firms seeking to maximise productivity need to respond nimbly to new challenges and opportunities presented by change. Sometimes, such a response will necessarily involve adjusting employment arrangements. – Levi Gibbs

One-size-fits-all FPAs will mean “unproductive” firms with low profit margins, unable to bear the same wage costs as their larger competitors, will exit the market. Denying small firms the chance to grow more productive and forcing them to lay off workers is a short-sighted and unimaginative way to make productivity and wages look higher.

Wage floors will mean those on the outside looking in – including 188,000 job seekers and unskilled young people (NEETs) – will find it harder to find work, as they have not developed the skills to justify the entry-level wage. Higher labour costs will reduce the likelihood of firms hiring additional workers, and force those firms that do not simply shut down to reduce their workforce, cut back hours, or accelerate automation. – Levi Gibbs

The increased influence of trade unions will come at the expense of the vulnerable, the low skilled, and less experienced workers. This threatens New Zealand’s good record of high labour participation and low unemployment.

Improving productivity requires investing in people, taking risks on new ideas and innovative processes. It requires reforming New Zealand’s underperforming education system, attracting foreign direct investment, promoting capital reinvestment, and reallocating resources to the productive sector via tax relief. That is how New Zealand makes up for lost time over the past forty years. The ultimate result will be higher wages for workers and more prosperity.

The Fair Pay Agreement fantasy is an ill-advised, union-driven attempt to hack a shortcut to higher wages.Levi Gibbs

Decolonisation is not only destructive but simplistic. Although cultural knowledge is not science, the science-culture distinction doesn’t exclude traditional knowledge from the secular curriculum. It does however put limits on how it is included. Students can be taught in social studies, history, and Māori Studies about the traditional knowledge that Te Hurihanganui describes as the “rich and legitimate knowledge located within a Māori worldview’. But this is not induction into belief and ideological systems. The home and community groups are for induction into cultural beliefs and practices. – Elizabeth Rata

Ironically, decolonisation ideology is justified using the universal human rights argument for equity. But the equity case misrepresents the problem. As with all groups, it is not ethnic affiliation but class-related cultural practices that are the main predictors of educational outcomes. Māori children from professional families are not failing. Rather it is those, Māori and non-Māori alike, living in families experiencing hardship and not engaging in cognitive practices of abstract thinking and literacy development, who are most likely to fail at school. This is not inevitable. Education can make a difference to a child’s life chances but it requires all schools, Maori medium immersion and mainstream alike, to provide quality academic knowledge taught by expert teachers. Elizabeth Rata

Decolonisation will indeed divide society into two groups – but not that of coloniser and colonised locked into the permanent oppressor-victim status used to justify ethno-nationalism. Instead one group will comprise those who receive an education in academic subjects. These young people will proceed to tertiary study with a sound understanding of science, mathematics, and the humanities. Their intelligence will be developed in the long-term and demanding engagement with this complex knowledge. It is to be hoped, though this cannot be assumed given that the rationality-democracy connection is analogous not casual, that they will have the critical disposition required for democratic citizenship, one that is subversive of culture and disdainful of ideology.

The second group comprises those who remain restricted to the type of knowledge acquired from experience and justified in ideologies of culture. Distrustful of academic knowledge as colonising and oppressive, ethnically-based cultural beliefs and practices will provide the community needed for social and psychological security. In this restricted world they are insiders. And as there are insiders, there must be outsiders – in traditionalist ideologies these are the colonists who are seen to have taken everything and given nothing. And yet the tragedy is that it is the cultural insiders who are to be the excluded ones – excluded from all the benefits that a modern education provides.

A revolution is coming. The government’s transformational policies for education make this clear. It will only be stopped by a re-commitment to academic knowledge for all New Zealand children within a universal and secular education system. Colonisation is not the problem and decolonisation is not the solution. – Elizabeth Rata

Once the principle of one person, one vote is abandoned at local government level, pressure will build for something similar at the central government level.

It is hard to think of a more divisive agenda for any government to be pushing. – Paul Goldsmith

Big, radical changes to our democracy are being peddled in obscure local Bills by backbench MPs – with the Minister of Justice, the Attorney General and others nowhere to be seen.

These rushed, sneaky bills have become the stock-in-trade of this government.

It astounds me that the human rights lobby, constitutional lawyers, the Crown Law Office and other members of civil society are so relaxed about all this. Sadly, it speaks of a climate of fear that stifles open debate on these issues. – Paul Goldsmith

Our country is imperfect. We have many inequities, a fraught history and much work to do. But no inequities will be improved by shifting away from the bedrock of our relative success as a nation.

A core element of the liberal democracy we enjoy is the fundamental principle of one person, one vote.

We should not casually throw it away.Paul Goldsmith

Parliament imposed tough penalties. It meant these crimes to be serious. So consider the constitutional consequences of the police deciding to overrule Parliament. If the police are wrong in their judgments about which crimes to enforce, then there is no way for the rest of us to bring about justice. – Josie Pagani

Road rules are rules, but who decided that bus lanes and doing 110 on a brand new motorway are a higher priority than robbery?

Deciding which laws should be enforced is Parliament’s job. If the police do not have enough resources to enforce acts of Parliament, then democracy demands that citizens participate in ranking their priority offences. I want theft policed ahead of driving in a bus lane. – Josie Pagani

Last year, police attended more than 70,000 events that involved a person having a mental health crisis or attempting suicide (an increase of 60% in five years). Police are called in because they are the social agency of last resort.

But mental health professionals are needed for those cases – trained staff who were promised in the ‘’wellbeing Budget’’ and never delivered. The Government had nearly $2b, and three years, to train specialist staff. They can’t train a psychologist in that time, but they could have trained carers with more skills for mental health than a stressed constable. – Josie Pagani

Campaigning on values, mental health, and fixing inequality was electorally successful for Labour. It has been a shameful policy disaster.Josie Pagani

Call the Budget what you want – ‘’Wellbeing’’, ‘’Wellness’’, ‘’Well Done’’. We don’t care. Just make sure it’s not the police turning up when people need mental health professionals and somewhere safe for loved ones to go.

Tell us why we can’t have the decent mental health care that was promised. Don’t wait until the promise has failed.

Let voters make choices about which crimes to enforce, don’t pretend you’re not choosing.

If you can’t have that honesty then you have stolen our trust, like a scooter thief in the night, knowing you won’t be caught. – Josie Pagani

When it comes to the Three Water reforms, it is subordinating the rights of ratepayers to the interests of local iwi, and doing so without consent or compensation.Damien Grant 

We have a process for settling Treaty issues. Not everyone agrees with the outcome of a Waitangi Tribunal decision, but almost everyone agrees to abide by their decisions. It isn’t a perfect system but it works better than Molotov cocktails and hunger strikes. – Damien Grant 

Central to the reform agenda is the claim made by Nanaia Mahuta that 34,000 New Zealanders become ill each year from drinking poor-quality water. This number is softer than a week-old feijoa.Damien Grant 

Taumata Arowai is the regulatory body set up in response to Havelock North. We can see in this organisation that their focus isn’t solely water quality. According to their website, “Our name Taumata Arowai was gifted to us by Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Local Government”.

Having your name “gifted” by the reigning minister has a North Korean feel to it. This body enjoys a Māori advisory board whom it must consult. The chair of this advisory body is the minister’s sister. – Damien Grant 

If iwi believe their water rights have been compromised they can seek refuge in the Waitangi Tribunal, as they did when some energy companies were up for sale in 2012. (I was uncompromising in my support of the Māori Council’s intervention at the time.)

This is not happening, presumably because any such claim would fail. What possible claim can there be on dams and polyethylene pipes constructed and paid for in the 182 years since 1840?

If we are being asked to enter into a new compact with Māori, where rights that do not exist under the Treaty are to be created, then this does need to be put before the public. – Damien Grant 

Mahuta has no electoral, legal or Treaty mandate for her vision of co-governance, and even the claims of poor water quality are based on weak foundations.

If she wants to remove from ratepayers their legal and property rights, perhaps it is she, and not David Seymour, who needs to be putting this issue to the public.

After all, removing property rights without consent is what got us into the mess in the first place. – Damien Grant 

That this government spends record amounts of our money on political spin and social engineering is evident from propaganda campaigns to which we are subjected – none more reprehensible than the $5.3m commercial on the government’s 3 Waters intention.

Also frequently aired is a puerile presentation aimed at convincing us that a reduction in speed on our roads will increase our safety. – Garrick Tremain

Destroying confidence in the science – culture distinction, a distinction which is one of the defining features of the modern world, will be decolonisation’s most significant and most dangerous victory. According to the International Science Council science is ‘the systematic organization of knowledge that can be rationally explained and reliably applied. It is inclusive of the natural (including physical, mathematical and life) science and social (including behavioural and economic) science domains . . .  as well as the humanities, medical, health, computer and engineering sciences.

In contrast, culture is the values, beliefs and practices of everyday life – the means by which children are socialised into the family and community. For a Māori child, this may well involve immersion in marae life – or it may not.  But the experiences of everyday life should not be confused with the ideology of cultural indoctrination, what I call culturalism or traditionalism and others call decolonisation. It is this ideology which is permeating the government, universities and research institutes, the Royal Society Te Apārangi, and mainstream media. Here we are presented with an idealised Māori culture of what should be, not what it actually is.

It is as much a moral, quasi-religious project as a political one, its religiosity responsible for the intensity, and perhaps success, of its march through New Zealand’s institutions. Indeed, the spiritual is a central theme in decolonisation. The belief is promoted that Māori are a uniquely spiritual people with a mauri or life force providing the link to their ancestors – the  genetic claim for racial categorisation. Political rights for the kin-group are justified in this claim. –  Elizabeth Rata

Given that over 50 percent of Māori already have no religious affiliation, it is doubtful that there is a constituency for a spiritual-based education. This is where decolonisation plays its part with Te Hurihanganui and the refreshed curriculum promoting the ideological version of culture. Those hesitant Māori who are suspicious of the ideology will be outed as ‘colonised’, in obvious need of decolonisation.Those who are now racially positioned on the other side, officially the non-Māori, will require decolonisation to ensure support for the new moral and political order. Numerous consultants are already on hand to provide this profitable reprogramming service. Intransigent dissenters, who determinedly refuse the correct thinking will be ostracised as fossilised racists and bigots. 

The tragedy is that this decolonising racialised ideology will destroy the foundations of New Zealand’s modern prosperous society. The principles of universalism and secularism are its pillars in education as elsewhere. Academic knowledge is different from cultural knowledge because it is universal and secular. We could certainly live without this knowledge – our ancestors did,  but would we want to?Elizabeth Rata

 The formidable task of acquiring even a small amount of humanity’s intellectual canon is made even more complex and remote because abstractions are only available to us as symbols – verbal, alphabetical, numerical, musical, digital, chemical, mathematical – creating two layers of difficulty. While it is unsurprising that the much easier education using practices derived from action rather than abstraction is more attractive, to take this path, as teachers are required to do, is a mistake.

We humans are made intelligent through long-term systematic engagement with such complex knowledge. Yet decolonisers reject the fundamental difference between science and culture claiming instead that all knowledge is culturally produced, informed by a group’s beliefs and experiences, and geared to its interests. Indigenous knowledge and ‘western’ knowledge are simply cultural systems with academic education re-defined as the oppressive imposition of the latter on the former.

What is deeply concerning is the extent to which this ideology is believed by those in education and uncritically repeated in mainstream media.  – Elizabeth Rata

Decolonisation is not only destructive but simplistic. Although cultural knowledge is not science, the science-culture distinction doesn’t exclude traditional knowledge from the secular curriculum. It does however put limits on how it is included. Students can be taught in social studies, history, and Māori Studies about the traditional knowledge that Te Hurihanganui describes as the “rich and legitimate knowledge located within a Māori worldview’. But this is not induction into belief and ideological systems. The home and community groups are for induction into cultural beliefs and practices.

What about the proto-science (pre-science) in all traditional knowledge – such as traditional navigation, medicinal remedies, and food preservation? This knowledge, acquired through observation and trial and error, as well as through supernatural explanation, along with the ways it may have helped to advance scientific or technological knowledge, is better placed in history of science lessons rather than in the science curriculum.

Science provides naturalistic explanations for physical and social phenomena. Its concepts refer to the theorised structures and properties of the physical world, its methods are those of hypothesis, testing and refutation, its procedures those of criticism and judgement.  The inclusion of cultural knowledge into the science curriculum will subvert the fundamental distinction, one acknowledged by mātauranga Māori scholars, between naturalistic science and supernaturalistic culture.Elizabeth Rata

As with all groups, it is not ethnic affiliation but class-related cultural practices that are the main predictors of educational outcomes. Māori children from professional families are not failing. Rather it is those, Māori and non-Māori alike, living in families experiencing hardship and not engaging in cognitive practices of abstract thinking and literacy development, who are most likely to fail at school. This is not inevitable. Education can make a difference to a child’s life chances but it requires all schools, Māori medium immersion and mainstream alike, to provide quality academic knowledge taught by expert teachers. – Elizabeth Rata

Unlike authoritarian regimes, liberalism can tolerate some dissent. What it cannot tolerate is the removal of its very foundations – those principles of universalism and secularism that anchor democratic institutions into modern pluralist society. The separation of public and private, of society and community, makes room for both science and local culture. (The recent commonplace practice of using ‘community’ for ‘society’ is one of a number of indications that the separation is being undermined.) Valuing culture and devaluing science in a merger of the two fatally undermines the universalism and secularism that creates and maintains a cohesive society out of many ethnicities and cultures.

Decolonisation will indeed divide society into two groups – but not that of coloniser and colonised locked into the permanent oppressor-victim opposition used to justify ethno-nationalism. Instead one group will comprise those who receive an education in academic subjects. These young people will proceed to tertiary study with a sound understanding of science, mathematics, and the humanities. Their intelligence will be developed in the long-term and demanding engagement with this complex knowledge. It is to be hoped, though this cannot be assumed, that they will have the critical disposition required for democratic citizenship, one that is subversive of local culture and disdainful of ideology.

The second group comprises those who remain restricted to the type of knowledge acquired from experience and justified in ideologies of local culture. Distrustful of academic knowledge as colonising and oppressive, ethnically-based cultural beliefs and practices will provide the community needed for social and psychological security. In this restricted world they are insiders. And as there are insiders, there must be outsiders – in traditionalist ideologies these are the colonists who are seen to have taken everything and given nothing. And yet the tragedy is that it is the cultural insiders who are to be the excluded ones – excluded from all the benefits that a modern education provides.

A revolution is coming. The government’s transformational policies for education make this clear. It will only be stopped by a re-commitment to academic knowledge for all New Zealand children, rich and poor alike, within a universal and secular education system. Colonisation is not the problem and decolonisation is not the solution.Elizabeth Rata

Which brings us cheerfully to our friendly “be kind”, “listen to the science”, “we’re so transparent” Ardern-Robertson government, which seems to be now acting like a “friend” who would like you to look the other way, so it can get on with what’s good for it, such as getting re-elected. – Kevin Norquay

In 2022 NZ, it’s starting to look more like “of the people, by the party, for the party.” Kevin Norquay

“Listening to the science” now carries a taint, as decisions made could be seen as party political, rather than public health related.

It’s an erosion of trust. Why cover up things that are supposedly done in our best interest? – Kevin Norquay

There’s that “friend” again, telling us all the secrecy was for our own good. Whether MIQ did a good job is not the point here, it’s when that good job might have ended.

You could argue “we listen to the science” remains accurate, with the coda “but our decisions are based on the politics”, but transparency was always a fiction written boldly on a blocking PR wall.

What’s the next slogan: “You’ve got to be cruel to Be Kind?”Kevin Norquay

The truth of Hōne Heke’s rebellion deserves to be more widely-known. His  was the beginning of a proud lineage of anti-tax protest that is today carried on by the Taxpayers’ Union (even if we prefer to use arguments over axes). So congratulations to Hōne Heke for rightfully being recognised as one of the greatest New Zealanders. If it were up to us, he might even be ranked number one. How many taxes did Sir Ed cut, after all? – Louis Holubrooke

You don’t want to live in fear but I’m not going to be blasé about it. We are seeing very sick people every day, it’s not worth the risk at the moment. The more I read, the more bad things I find that this virus can do to your body, particularly your brain. You hear people say ‘might as well get it over with’. Well I wouldn’t want to voluntarily risk taking on a bit of brain damage for any reason.Dr Greg White

Whatever New Zealand does in isolation as its contribution to the world wide battle against climate change, it will have next to zero affect on whether or not we reach or even get close to the IPCC’s greenhouse gas emissions reductions that they say will be required to save the planet.

I can make that statement with confidence that l will be proved right simply because those key nations who have the capacity to collectively turn things around, with or without our help, are in fact increasing their use of fossil fuels at an alarming rate and as a result, increasing their emissions as if there was no tomorrow. In that context, our efforts, no matter how self sacrificial, will be like a blip on the radar as the rest of the world continues to condone the destructive activities of those who could and should be making a difference. – Clive Bibby 

We will watch on from the sidelines seemingly unnoticed by even the UN heavy hitters whose praise we appear to crave.

And in the meantime, we will destroy what remains of our agriculturally based economy at a time when we are emerging from the pandemic suffering from self inflicted wounds that already have reduced our capacity to earn overseas funds when we most need them. Clive Bibby 

It appears that the government is still hell bent on cementing in place policies that will negatively effect the two most important ingredients that will determine our survival as a sovereign state.

The first is economic growth and the second is race relations, both of which are in danger of managed decline because both are reflecting the deliberate implementation of programmes that will have the opposite effect of what is needed now more than ever.

If allowed to be fully implemented, these policies: – the emissions reduction policies such as the halving of our dairy herds and the race based legislation that is being un-necessarily promoted giving control of our natural resources to Maori – have the capacity to propel a sufficiently divided nation into a state where civil war is a serious possibility. – Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby 

I choose my words carefully when discussing these potentially dangerous policies simply because it appears we are not yet prepared to acknowledge that the immediate danger to our collective future comes from within rather than anything from the world at large – including climate change.

In order to have a rational discussion about our future, we need to be acutely aware of the options available to us. In that context, the truth remains our only hope.

We can and must stop this erosion of trust before it is too late. Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby 

But if I could go back in time and find a doctor who made me feel like they were treating my health, and not my size, that would have been a real gamechanger. – Megan Whelan

Democratic Socialist. Isn’t that a bit of a contradiction and maybe even an oxymoron?

Presiding over a government that has gone out of its way to decimate democracy by promoting the politics of division, there is nothing democratic in these actions! – John Porter

Don’t you think the way Ardern’s government, its Maori caucus and tribal leaders are surging ahead with their co-governance agenda, is pushing New Zealand close to that point of, if not actual civil war, then certainly civil disruption?

In New Zealand there is a significant degree of apathy and almost total lack of comprehension and knowledge around the subversion of democracy and promotion of Maori exclusivity that is very, very scary.

The overarching concern is that, based on ethnicity, a minority section of the population is being given an absolute right to control the rest of the population without, it appears, any limits on their power or any route for appeal. – John Porter

There is a very small group of those of part-Maori descent, Maori tribal elite, presumably swollen with self-importance because a small part of their cultural inheritance that they are clamouring for co-governance of this country. This co-governance agenda is gathering speed and, dare I say it, credibility at an alarming rate. John Porter

Ardern and her government’s separatist agenda combined with their inept fiscal management, are bringing this country to its knees!

Are we speaking out loudly, are we protecting our democracy, our rights to one person, one vote and do this government actually respect and represent the majority of New Zealanders? – John Porter

It’s either a caricature or merely a hallmark of a modern conservative New Zealand politician to be comfortable with whatever change has happened up to the present, but to think that any more would be a step too far.

This is by and large a positive. The fact that only journalists writing profiles on centre-right politicians, rather than the politicians themselves, ever want to revisit milestones like the marriage equality vote of 2013 means that the country has avoided the destabilising and counterproductive culture wars that have racked the United States for decades. – Ben Thomas

When the government spends $51 million to not build a bridge, that’s inflationary. Spending money on a new hospital that increases the provision of necessary services does not have the same effect. – Liam Hehir

There are six provisions in our law that are so important for democracy that they can only be changed by the vote of 75 percent in parliament or by a majority in a referendum. One is clause 36 of the Electoral Act that guarantees everyone regardless of race has an equal vote. – Richard Prebble

Having unequal voting will not solve Rotorua’s real issues. Here is one. The Labour government has filled our motels with the homeless from all over the Central North Island. There are enough children in our motels to fill a primary school. Borders are reopening. Where are Rotorua’s tourists to stay? – Richard Prebble

For most Westerners, the war unfolding in Ukraine makes no sense. Russians and Ukrainians look the same, speak the same languages, have lived lives that were, until very recently, culturally indistinguishable. Why are they fighting?

The chilling answer is that both sides are commanded by ghosts. It is the unquiet dead, the unpunished crimes, the gagged memories of countless perpetrators and their victims that drive these armies forward. Impulses barely understood, inherited from parents and grandparents who could neither speak about nor forget the horrors they had witnessed or performed.

Two nations to whom great evil has been done are being driven, by dead hands, to do evil in return. Chris Trotter

R for recession comes after I for inflation in the economic alphabet. Then comes v for voter and w for wallet. Get the drift? – Shane Jones

Behind the scenes, officials are working on other ways to make New Zealand less rather than more attractive to prospective students. They have plans to almost double the amount of money each student must bring to New Zealand for each year’s study, and heavily restrict post-study work rights. This is all part of the Government’s immigration re-set, more correctly called an anti-immigration re-set.Steven Joyce

If we are to avoid a recession, which is looking an increasingly difficult goal, we need to encourage more outward facing sectors to grow, rather than be always putting up new barriers to their success. International education is one of the best placed to resume pulling its weight, to the benefit of our country’s education system and the wider economy and society. The Government needs to get over its ambivalence to it. – Steven Joyce

We’ve become accustomed to hearing the words, “I support free speech, but ….” New Zealand is full of people in positions of power and influence who purport to defend free speech, but always with the addition of that loaded word “but”. You can’t say you support free speech and then, in the next breath, put limitations around it beyond the ones that are already clearly established in law and broadly accepted, such as those relating to defamation and incitement to hatred or violence.

We’ve been introduced to phrases unheard of a few years ago: cancel culture, speech wars, hate speech, gender wars, safe spaces, culture wars, trigger warnings, transphobia and no-platforming. We’ve acquired a whole new vocabulary. We’ve seen the emergence of a media monoculture in which all mainstream media outlets adopt uniform ideological positions that effectively shut out alternative opinions, even when those marginalised voices may represent mainstream opinion.

We’ve seen traditional ideological battle lines totally redrawn as people on the left and right of politics unite around the need to save freedom of speech from a new and powerful cohort of people who have co-opted the term “hate speech” as a pretext for banning any opinion that they dislike.

We’ve even seen radical feminists, who were once at the cutting edge of politics, demonised as dangerous reactionaries who must be shut down because of their opposition to a virulent transgender lobby that appeared to spring out of nowhere.

All this has happened within a remarkably short time frame. Mainstream New Zealand has been caught off guard by the sheer speed and intensity of the attack on free speech and as a result has been slow to respond. But what’s at stake here is nothing less than the survival of liberal democracy, which depends on the contest of ideas and the free and open discussion of issues regardless of whether some people might find them upsetting.Karl Du Fresne

The right of free speech, after all, means the right to hear as well as the right to speak. Our Bill of Rights Act doesn’t just talk about the right to speak freely. It refers to “the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and opinions of any kind and in any form”. That seems pretty clear-cut and unambiguous. To deny New Zealanders the right to hear opinions that some politicians and public officials don’t like is a flagrant abuse of power and must be challenged at every turn, which is exactly what this union is doing. – Karl Du Fresne

In other words there are people in the police who apparently think that anyone who criticises the government should be watched. This is how police states begin. Fortunately in this case, wiser senior officers stepped in before things got out of hand.Karl Du Fresne

The reality is that the enemies of free speech have no fixed ideology. Control is enforced with equal brutality whether it’s Nazi Germany or communist North Korea. The only thing the enemies of free speech have in common is a desire to exercise untrammelled power and to forcibly suppress any speech which threatens that power.

As it happens, the present threat to free speech in New Zealand doesn’t come from either the traditional left or the traditional right. It comes from a powerful new cohort that largely controls the national conversation. This cohort is dominant in politics, the bureaucracy, academia and the media and regards the exercise of free speech as serving the interests of the privileged. Free speech to them means licence to attack oppressed minorities and is therefore something to be deterred, if not by law then by denunciation and intimidation.

Depressingly, this group is entrenched in universities and libraries – institutions that have traditionally served as sources of free thought and access to knowledge. Libraries were at the forefront of the effort to shut down the feminist group Speak Up For Women, which was targeted by aggressive transgender activists because it opposed legislation allowing men to identify as female. It was only after this union went to court on the feminists’ behalf that libraries in several cities were forced to back down and allow them to hold public meetings.

A common factor in these instances is the belief that people have a right not to be offended and that this right takes precedence over the right to free speech. It’s as if the woke elements in society have developed an allergic reaction to the robust democracy that most of the people in this room grew up in, where vigorous debate was seen as an essential part of the contest of ideas that democracy depends on.

If a statement can possibly be interpreted as a slur against one’s gender, race, body type or sexual identity, it will be, no matter how innocent the intention of the person who made it. Apologies will be demanded and the ritual humiliation of the transgressor inevitably follows.

The purpose is clear: it sends a message to others that they will get similar treatment if they’re bold or foolish enough to challenge ideological orthodoxy. Yet paradoxically, the same people who insist on the right not to be upset don’t hesitate to engage in vicious online gang-ups and ad hominem attacks on anyone who disagrees with them.

A recurring theme in the speech wars is the notion of safety – not safety from physical danger, which is how most people understand the term, but safety from anything that might upset people or challenge their thinking. – Karl Du Fresne

Safety, then, is a highly elastic concept – critically important for women attending abortion clinics, even if no risk of harm exists, but not a problem if those who feel threatened are white guys in suits.

The enemies of free speech are blind to the contradictions in their position. They bang on about the right to be safe but applaud aggressive and intimidating behaviour against people they don’t like. And they demand protection against hate speech while freely indulging in it themselves on Twitter and other social media platforms, their purpose being to bully people into silence.Karl Du Fresne

I can claim to be something of an authority on freedom of the press if only for the reason that I’ve written two books about it. Back then the concern was with threats to media freedom from outside sources, principally the state. But ironically we’re now in a position where I believe the New Zealand media abuse their own freedom.

They have fatally compromised their independence and their credibility by signing up to a government scheme under which they accept millions of dollars in taxpayer funding and in return commit themselves to abide by a set of ideological principles laid down by that same government.

Defenders of the Public Interest Journalism Fund justify it on the pretext that it enables the media to continue carrying out worthwhile public interest journalism at a time when the industry is financially precarious. They bristle with indignation at the suggestion that their integrity is compromised. But it is. You need only look at the projects approved for funding to grasp that this is essentially an opportunistic indoctrination project funded by taxpayers.

From a free speech standpoint, however, it’s the ideological uniformity of the media that is of even greater concern. The past two decades have seen a profound generational change in the media and a corresponding change in the industry ethos.

News outlets that previously took pride in being “broad church” – in other words, catering to and reflecting a wide range of interests and opinions – are now happy to serve as a vehicle for the prevailing ideology. They have abandoned their traditional role of trying to reflect the society they purport to serve. The playwright Arthur Miller’s definition of a good newspaper as a nation talking to itself is obsolete. The mainstream media are characterised by ideological homogeneity, reflecting the views of a woke elite and relentlessly promoting the polarising agenda of identity politics.

The implications for free speech are obvious. What was previously an important channel for the public expression of a wide range of opinions has steadily narrowed. Conservative voices are increasingly marginalised and excluded, ignoring the inconvenient fact that New Zealand has far more often voted right than left. – Karl Du Fresne

But it’s worse than that, because the prevailing ideological bias doesn’t just permeate editorials and opinion columns. Its influence can also be seen in the way the news is reported – in the stories that the media choose to cover, and perhaps more crucially in the issues they choose not to cover. The Maori co-governance proposals in Three Waters, for example.

Underlying this is another profound change. From the 1970s onward, journalism training – previously done on the job – was subject to academic capture. Many of today’s journalists were subject to highly politicised teaching that encouraged them to think their primary function was not so much to report on matters of interest and importance to the community as to challenge the institutions of power.

Principles such as objectivity were jettisoned, freeing idealistic young journalists to indulge in advocacy journalism, push pet causes and sprinkle their stories with loaded words such as racist, sexist, homophobic and misogynist. In the meantime, older journalists who adhered to traditional ideas of balance and objectivity have been methodically managed out of the industry.

Worse even than that, we now have mainstream media outlets that actively suppress stories as a matter of official editorial policy, and even boast about it. I’m thinking here of climate change, a subject on which major media organisations have collectively agreed not to give space or air time to anyone questioning global warming or even the efficacy of measures aimed at mitigating it. This would have been unthinkable 20 or even 10 years ago. People are bound to wonder what else the media are suppressing.Karl Du Fresne

Robert Muldoon was a tyrant who tried to bully the media into submission, but eventually journalists and editors stood up to him. In the past few years, however, we’ve gone backwards. We now live in a climate of authoritarianism and denunciation that chokes off the vibrant debate that sustains democracy, and tragically the media are part of the problem.

There are positive signs however, and this meeting is one of them. As I said at the start, the sheer speed and intensity of the culture wars caught the country off-guard. Ours is a fundamentally fair and decent society, eager to do the right thing and rightly wary of extremism. For a long time we stood back and allowed the assault on democratic values to proceed virtually unopposed. We were like a boxer temporarily stunned by a punch that we never saw coming.

But the fightback has begun and is steadily gaining momentum. In giddy moments of optimism I even sense that the tide might be turning in the media. Even the most cloth-eared media bosses must eventually realise they have alienated much of their core audience, as reflected in steadily declining newspaper circulation figures and in opinion surveys measuring trust in the media. – Karl Du Fresne

The risk New Zealand runs in 2023 is that the policy promises of the contending parties will be come to be seen by their respective supporters as critical to the survival of the nation. On the Right, the introduction of co-governance will be equated with the death of democracy. On the Left, a racist referendum endorsing the elimination of co-governance will be construed as an all-out assault on the Treaty of Waitangi and the indigenous people it was intended to protect.

In such circumstances, the uncompromising partisans on both sides begin to believe that if they concede defeat there will be no “next time”. At that point the cry goes out for a “continuation of politics by other means”. Bullets replace ballots, and peace ceases to be an option – for anybody.Chris Trotter


Rural round-up

27/04/2022

The loneliness of the long distance rural midwife – Vanessa Bellew:

Pregnant women in one town in Southland have lost the last remaining midwife and are now served by maternity care based 100km-160km away

Te Anau’s only midwife is the latest casualty of the beleaguered maternity system in the South and now it appears the town’s maternal and child hub is being downgraded before it is even fully up and running.

The Southern District Health Board told Newsroom the town and nearby area did “not have sufficient” pregnant women or baby numbers to sustain a maternal and child hub and a full-time midwife in the town.

Health professionals Newsroom spoke to were concerned that the health board was using inaccurate and outdated statistics to justify reducing maternity services further and for not funding a locum midwife. . . 

Christopher Luxon on IPCC climate change report NZ’s dairy herd – The Country:

National Party leader Christopher Luxon is not a fan of culling New Zealand’s dairy herd.

“I’ve got no time for that whatsoever,” he told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

Recently, Greenpeace called for the Government to “halve the herd”, following the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

Luxon said there was no need for this, as Kiwi farmers were already “the most carbon-efficient in the world”. . . 

Solar powered smart cow collars come to Taranaki farms – Elijah Hill:

The best dressed Taranaki dairy cows this year may just be the ones wearing solar-powered, time-saving, smart collars.

New Zealand tech company Halter, which fits solar-powered, GPS-enabled smart collars to cows, is expanding to the region as well as Central Plateau, Otago and Southland.

Cows are trained to respond to sound and vibrations from the collars which allow farmers to ‘steer’ the cows around the farm.

This allows farmers to call cows to the milking shed using their phone, or set ‘virtual fences’ and break feed while having a cup of tea at home. . . 

Are pine trees the problem or the solution? – Keith Woodford:

Pine-forest regulation proposals are creating lots of heat with big implications for land-use and the landscape. 

Right now, there is a fervent debate underway as to where pine trees fit within our future landscape. On one side stand Forestry Minister Stuart Nash and Climate Change Minister James Shaw. They are proposing that existing legislation should be reversed so that pine trees would only be for production forestry and not so-called permanent forests.

Minister Nash has recently come to a position that only native forests should be permanent, and he is supported by many who hold strong environmental values. Dame Anne Salmond is one of the leaders in that camp.

In contrast, Minister Shaw is concerned that if permanent pine forests are allowed, then too much carbon will be stored in this way and urban people will no longer be forced to modify their carbon emitting behaviours. There are some huge ironies there. . . 

The great Kiwi muster – an ancient tradition with a bougie hut – Olivia Caldwell:

Every autumn, teams of musterers take to the South Island high country to corral flocks of sheep for winter. It’s a custom resistant to change, technology and modern living. Almost. OLIVIA CALDWELL reports.

It’s three o’clock on a cold autumn morning up in the mountains of Lake Heron station.

The first and fittest musterer gets out of bed and walks several kilometres to find where the sheep are scattered around hills.

He’s 17, and it’s called delegating. The seven other team members get to sleep-in until 4am, when they get a wake-up call, followed by a giant breakfast of bacon and eggs. They will need it. Over the next 12 hours, they’ll cover 20 kilometres and 2000 metres elevation on foot. . . 

 

New service to help Ukrainian seasonal farm workers in Scotland :

A new service is to be established to offer vital advice and urgent practical support to Ukrainian seasonal horticultural workers in Scotland.

Ukrainian workers play a key role in soft fruit and vegetable production in Scotland, but due to the war they are facing a range of concerns about their work, their homes, and their futures.

The new Worker Support Centre, run by Scottish charity JustRight Scotland, will provide key support to workers on these issues.

It will also provide immigration advice to enable them to stay and work in Scotland while returning to Ukraine is still unsafe. . .