Quotes of the month

01/06/2021

If policy is developed by ministerial staff and implemented by DPMC, what do all of Robertson’s ministerial colleagues and their thousands of highly paid advisers do all day? Because the description of the Implementation Unit sounds an awful lot like the current role of a ministerial office. – Danyl Mclauchlan

Are we, as mere minions of this Labour government, just voters not to be trusted with a report that suggests a fundamental change to New Zealand society? Peter Williams

Frankly, we have to have a major talk in this country about two things – what is self-determination, and what is indigenous? And until we have those defined we really can’t go any further can we? – Peter Williams

This government has no moral authority to tell private sector employers that they have to quote ‘improve wages,’ when they themselves are not going to do it for the next three years.  Something’s going to have to give; either this government abandons the wage freeze or abandons the fair pay agreements.

But they cannot tell businesses around this country to do something they are not prepared to do. The hypocrisy is blinding. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

As it stands, I don’t trust the media and I’m in it, but I trust bits and in that is the key.

Trust requires work. The media as a whole in this country is in a parlous and decaying state. Journalism sadly is frequented by too many inexperienced people, naïve people, thick people, and people on band wagons. – Mike Hosking

Unions have good reason to celebrate. Their power will soon outstrip what would be justified by their membership. It will take much longer for better conditions to be felt by large numbers of workers.

Given the sheer number of public sector workers likely to be hit by the pay freeze, this week appears to have been much more about improving the strength of unions than it was about helping workers.Hamish Rutherford

This Labour Government is growing more interventionist by the day. It has not met a problem it doesn’t think can be solved through more centralisation, regulation, bureaucracy, and more power in the hands of the Government. – Scott Simpson

It seems odd and increasingly criminal we can be recognised for a solid Covid response but because of our own fear and lack of planning cut ourselves out of the joining the rest of the world. – Mike Hosking

You know how the whole cancel thing works, right? It’s pretty simple. First you do a bit of due diligence on a scheduled speaker or soon-to-be-published author. Find something ropey they once said (easy in my case, but I’m only an email away if anyone needs direction). Then head for the open sewer running through the Dickensian lunatic asylum that is Twitter. Declare yourself upset beyond belief. Don’t worry about grammar or humour or context or any of that boring stuff. Repetition is what counts. Consider hammering the point home with an amazingly colourful word that rhymes with “bunt”. And don’t forget to use a nifty hashtag. – David Cohen

Cancel culture goes after writers by harnessing something old (the desire of the mob to scalp dissenters) with something relatively new (the ubiquity of social media) and something else that sounds rather borrowed (crypto-religious demands for demonstrations of public piety). And as the former Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon pointed out the other day, while the language the ringleaders use to rally the troops is often collectivist, the tone is all Me Me Me. Every second sentence seems to start with a, “Speaking as a …” – David Cohen

But is opinion what it’s about anyway? More and more, it seems to me, what’s happening doesn’t seem to be in the interests of fostering the vigorous exchange of views or even correcting people who may have got something significantly wrong. At heart, I think, cancel culture is part of a wider linguistic turf war currently being fought on many fronts over who gets to control the language.  David Cohen

I’m not a Labour Party Māori or an on-the-marae Māori. I can be pretty frank about that, there’s reasons for that, I just wasn’t brought up that way. These are things we all have to reconcile in our heads but what is true is it doesn’t make me less Māori. We don’t think you’re only Scottish if you wear a kilt.  It’s a free world, my whakapapa is what it is, and I’m proud of it. – Simon Bridges

There is also always a place for punishing those who traumatise others, who destroy the lives of other people, who kill, murder, rape.Those things must be treated with the force of the law, and I won’t apologise for that. – Nicola Willis

I have to say, to blow the health system up when you’re trying to vaccinate 4 million people, that’s not particularly clever timing, is it? . . . This lack of planning, I mean, this is an iterative problem. We’ve got to take it away from politicians and away from doctors like me – may I add – and put it in the hands of professional governors and managers.Des Gorman

Yes there is an argument that vaccination has most application in countries with rampant disease, but there’s an equally strong argument we’re like a shag on a rock, and we’ll be a shag on a rock until we’re vaccinated, and our economy suffers. The next GFC, the next earthquake in Christchurch, we can’t buffer it. – Des Gorman

For the most open honest transparent government, things haven’t been looking too transparent of late. The pulpit of ‘truth’ is proving a stretch, are they being ‘too definitive?’ – Kate Hawkesby

This is why everyone should fight against cancel culture. Everyone has led lives of imperfection. I want a society that doesn’t judge people by the worst thing they have ever done, but by their overall contribution. – David Farrar

This, of course, is the great weakness of unionism. Most pay rises are not productivity based; they are threat based. Pay us or we are out. – Mike Hosking

So just who is it they’re appealing to? Do you have the same trouble British Labour now has? There isn’t a working-class Kiwi who would touch them. It’s the party of socialist ideologues who hang out at universities, NGOs, and pressure groups.

This smacks of whack-a-mole government. No vision, no big picture, no strategy, just a trail of bewildered, disowned, and disenfranchised supporters who no longer know who they’re dealing with. – Mike Hosking

The window of opportunity for New Zealand to attract talent is evaporating rather rapidly as the developed world becomes vaccinated.- Peter Gluckman

Also if you can print me a steak, you can also print me up a takahe drumstick or a slab of whale. I could munch on endangered animals with impunity. There is a small, but creepy, seam of wannabe cannibals on the internet who are also excited about this avenue. – Nicola Dennis

And there you have the three reasons people help others: they’re bullied, they’re paid, or they love. – Rodney Hide

Why they matter is because these stats drive taxation/redistribution policies. They influence how much is taken from Paul to give to Peter. Doesn’t matter how hard Paul worked, what sacrifices he made, how careful he was not to have more children than he could personally afford to raise. If he is defined as ‘rich’ and Peter is ‘poor’ you know the outcome. – Lindsay Mitchell

What has suddenly changed is the slavish, craven and witless embrace of identity politics that has swept through government, academia, the media, the arts, the corporate sector and even sport. – Karl du Fresne

The advertising business likes to celebrate itself as edgy, idiosyncratic and anarchic, but it strikes me as deeply conformist, risk-averse and prone to groupthink. Its suspiciously abrupt, across-the-board conversion to the virtues of diversity suggests much the same level of fearlessly independent thought as you’d find in a mob of romney ewes. – Karl du Fresne

And I’m sorry, but as long as Labour ministers like Chris Hipkins just don’t care whether our money is wasted in uneaten school lunches, as long as that happens, Labour will be perceived to be the party that just throws cash away. Pay freeze the nurses all you like, that perception will stick, because it’s warranted.Heather du Plessis Allan

A state broadcaster rigorously excluding any and all voices dissenting from the official line, is something most New Zealanders would expect to encounter in Moscow or Beijing – not in Wellington. – Chris Trotter

Vegans and vegetarians are the gullible foot soldiers for the processed food industry and religious ideology. – Dr Gary Fettke

History has us at our healthiest from a metabolic aspect when our diets were predominantly animal based. – Dr Gary Fettke

Generally, plant-based diets require supplementation for at least vitamin B12 and iron. It’s almost not fair to compare beef and rice. To get the protein in 200 grams of beef you need to eat nearly a kilogram of rice, and still you would be missing the micronutrients.Dr Gary Fettke

We often get people in this country whom we consider – and I hate the word – but we often call them ‘low value’ but they work hard and they have incredible work ethics and that goes through to their children – Erica Stanford

They are starting a new life. There is always that sword of Damocles hanging over them. They have got to keep working hard to stay here to get their residence and they do – they know this is a new chance, a new life and they do work very, very hard.

These people were quite vulnerable. They didn’t have any rights. They didn’t know the system. Sometimes they couldn’t speak English very well and they would often make mistakes or get themselves in trouble and just being able to help them and change their lives was so rewarding. – Erica Stanford

Right now the top priority for New Zealand is to make this country the most desirable place for migrants to want to come to because if we want the best migrants, which we do, the most skilled, the ones that have a lot to offer our economy and our society, we need to be their best option and right now, we are far from that.  – Erica Stanford

 I am quite close to this but I can’t turn away. I cannot turn away. How can you turn away from their grief and their anxiety and their stress? A lot of them have terrible mental health problems and are beside themselves because they haven’t seen their partners and their children.

“I can’t turn away turn away from that. I can’t walk away. I can’t not scream from every rooftop, every chance I get to give these guys a road map to reunification so they can see their families again. – Erica Stanford

The world isn’t rejecting left-leaning progressive thinking for no reason, they’re rejecting it because it doesn’t work. – Mike Hosking

We’ve got to make sure we’re taking an approach to it that doesn’t lead to some particularly grim financial outcomes, which a lot of what we’ve seen in recent times certainly do. 

We need to make sure people have an appreciation of what those things mean. Some people are happy to accept the cost being worn by someone else, rather than contributing themselves, and we’re hearing a lot of that in the zero carbon space. – Jared Ross

The government is not only doing too much, it is doing too much of that too much too badly – Eric Crampton

With New Zealand’s democracy now white-anted by racist policies, we will also deservedly become a laughing stock if our politicians and bureaucrats continue to pay obeisance to primitivism.  – Amy Brooke

The kind of values needed to raise children with their wellbeing absolutely utmost cannot be learned from a government. They cannot be replaced by unearned income. – Lindsay Mitchell

Give a family another $20 or $50 a week and, hey presto – just like that – 33,000 children are lifted out of poverty. In itself that is heartless isn’t it? That poverty is only measured by money. But is the life of those 33,000 kids going to be noticeably better in 12 months time? I would doubt it unless the attitude and approach to life of their parents or caregiver had shifted significantly. Will that person have made moves to get a job? To make the children’s lunch? To ensure they go to school at least 90 percent of the time?  – Peter Williams

If it takes “true grit” to be Opposition leader, then Judith Collins has it in spades. – Fran O’Sullivan

It is not racist to suggest that proposals such as those contained in the He Puapua report should be openly debated rather than sitting in some drawer in a Cabinet Minister’s office.Fran O’Sullivan

It was hard to give the Budget much credence after reading the Auditor-General’s report on the Covid-19 vaccination programme this week. The gulf between word and deed in Government has probably never been greater.

From the moment the Cabinet gave the vaccination programme entirely to the Ministry of Health you just knew it wouldn’t turn out well. Ministries these days do what the Auditor-General calls “high-level” planning. He doesn’t mean high quality, he means the plans made on high that do not get down to the harder work of deciding exactly who will do what, when, where and how. – John Roughan

“High-level” planning isn’t just disconnected from practice on the ground, it thinks up needless things that get in the way of practical work. But mostly it just wastes time and high salaries thinking of the bleeding obvious.  – John Roughan

Being in Parliament sometimes feels a bit like a kindergarten. There are squabbles, the occasional tantrum, and many questions that can seem quite repetitive to the public, and irritating to the Government too. The ability to question is vital for democracy. As politicians, it’s our job to question the policies and intentions of the Government in order to make sense of where we’re heading as a country. What laws will the Government pass? What problem are they trying to solve? How will the change impact the life of a child just starting school, the pocket of a solo mum, the small business owner struggling to find staff and pay taxes? How will we know if the policy’s been a success or failure? – Brooke van Velden

It is not racist to question policy that creates two systems for New Zealanders. Brooke van Velden

I want to live in a country where we can acknowledge our differences and seek better outcomes for all children regardless of race. It’s time to focus on our common humanity rather than constantly looking for division. We need better ideas, and to have honest conversations. Accusing others of racism when they challenge your idea is simply lazy. It stifles debate and breeds resentment.

It speaks to a growing sentiment I’m hearing across New Zealand. People are more and more cautious to express their opinions because others choose to take offence at ideas they don’t support. We should all be respectful in the way we deal with each other, whether we agree or disagree. We should show leadership by standing up for the ability to freely think and ask questions in our Parliament. How can we teach our children the importance of critical thinking, if we don’t expect it from our leaders? – Brooke van Velden

The issue should not be about race, as some would like to make it out to be. It is about which vision is more likely to give every child born in New Zealand the best chance to succeed. I don’t really care if our country is called New Zealand or Aotearoa. How about we focus on the outcomes for kids?Brooke van Velden

Can I give Craig, your good selves and, for that matter, the current Speaker, Trevor Mallard, a last piece of media advice? Do not endlessly and obsessively relitigate a losing argument. Take it on the chin. Move on. The public have short memories and it is sometimes possible to rebuild your reputation. Keep arguing a lost cause and you will not. – Bill Ralston

If, as looks increasingly likely, the vaccination programme turns out to be another KiwiBuild rather than another Covid elimination effort, all bets are off. Ardern had better hope Robertson’s announcement of the $1.4b for the vaccination programme turns out to be one of those old-fashioned Budget initiatives that turn out to be at least somewhat correlated with reality.- Matthew Hooton

The people who feed this misinformation online have no idea what it is like to live through a deadly virus.  We could have died, and we would have been a loving memory for our whānau, but we lived, and we lived with side effects. Death is a clean option.

Surviving is the hard and dangerous part. Those keyboard warriors don’t know what survival means – that fight is forever. And we see that with Covid-19 survivors most have recovered from the immediate effects but [some] have ongoing side effects that are far more damaging than anything else.

So when they say [on social media] Covid won’t kill you, they don’t realise that death is the clean way out and surviving is the scary part. John Forbes

Getting vaccinated isn’t about just you, it’s about protecting the ones you love. It’s an act of aroha. –  Maea Marshall

Getting doctors and nurses into poorly-serviced regions will improve Māori health. Economic growth that lifts New Zealanders out of poverty will improve Māori health. Better education will. Vaccinations will. Actually, building decent housing will. Shifting all health decisions to Wellington will not. – Judith Collins

National’s view is that every dollar spent must be spent on growing New Zealand’s economy. This is the key difference between National and Labour.Labour spends money on initiatives designed to keep people dependent on government. National spends on money on initiatives that empower New Zealanders by creating opportunities for every individual, every family, and every whānau to be in the driver’s seat of their own lives.Judith Collins

For the record, disparities are a statistical observation: they don’t think or act. They can’t themselves be racist. They are a fact. They can no more be racist than a rock or the sun.  – Rodney Hide

Everything measured differs on average from group to group. It would be odd if it didn’t. But the difference now is racism. It doesn’t require anyone past or present to have done anything racist. It requires averages only to differ. It’s difficult to know what to do about racist numbers. Would racism be reduced if I took up smoking? Or got fatter?Rodney Hide

But we should take comfort in another racist disparity: Maori women are more likely to be married or partnered to a non-Maori than a Maori. The same is true for Maori men. We are not just brothers and sisters but husbands and wives raising children together, living together, working together.

The government and the media are running a separatist agenda. It appears they are making a good play as they make up the daily news. But they are not. That’s because the rest of us are just getting on with our lives. Together.  – Rodney Hide

Labour and compliance issues aside, water in all its components, quality and quantity, is one of the major issues currently facing the rural sector, and for that matter, most of the urban centres throughout the countryBrian Peacocke

 The draft has the air of a 21st century revival of the 18th century Enlightenment concept of the ‘noble savage’, children of nature in an undisturbed state. – Philip Temple

The impact and lasting influence of the Musket Wars on New Zealand history, right up to the present day, need to be understood. If we are to teach our country’s history honestly, usefully and in a balanced way then the accounts and lessons from scholarship such as Ron Crosby’s Forgotten Wars must be included along with what one media outlet describes as ‘Our Story’ of the crimes and misdemeanours of British colonisers. We need a warts’n all history about the whole of ‘Our Story’, Pākehā  and Māori. For our children, we do not need a curriculum that tiptoes through myths of goodies and baddies with the omission of whole tranches of history. They – indeed everybody – need a set of interwoven truths we can all understand, relate to and accept. Philip Temple

It has become the norm for people of part-Maori descent to recite iwi connections, but without any reference to their European lineage. That inconvenient part of their ancestry is routinely erased.

I say “inconvenient” because I suspect it suits many part-Maori activists not to acknowledge their bicultural heritage, the reason being that their bloodlines demonstrate that New Zealand is a highly integrated society. This conflicts with their aim of portraying us as intrinsically and irreparably divided, with one side exerting dominance over the other. – Karl du Fresne

The truth, to put it in simple terms, is that we’re all in this together. We’re all in the same waka.

If this were truly a racist country, those “Maori” activists with distinctly European features and Anglo-Saxon surnames – testimony to a high degree of historical intimacy between Maori and Pakeha – would not be here. They exist because somewhere in their past, Maori and European partners were attracted to each other and procreated on equal and willing terms. That hardly seems indicative of a racist society. – Karl du Fresne

It suits 21st century agitators to overlook the fact that they carry the DNA of their supposed colonial oppressors and therefore have inherited their supposedly racist legacy. But if those of us who are descended solely from European colonisers carry the taint of racism, then so do they. Have they disowned their Pakeha bloodlines, or are they in denial? Do they, in dark moments of the soul, confront their forebears’ wicked acts as colonisers? I keep waiting for someone to explain how they reconcile these contradictions, but I suspect it’s easier to ignore them. –  Karl du Fresne

This selective exploitation of racial heritage is just one of many awkward incongruities and half-truths that go unremarked in the divisive propaganda with which New Zealanders are bombarded daily.- Karl du Fresne

None of this should be taken as meaning we shouldn’t honour and respect our Maori heritage. It is a rich part of our history and one that’s too often invisible, certainly to most Pakeha.Karl du Fresne

The truth is that a great deal of beneficial cross-fertilisation has taken place between Maori and Pakeha, and a deep reservoir of mutual goodwill accumulated. Most New Zealanders would probably agree this is something unique in the world and worth preserving. We should steadfastly resist those who place it at risk by trying to drive us into angry opposing camps.  – Karl du Fresne

The reason I am so concerned about our cyber education is simple; the Internet is our new border and we are at a growing risk of malicious damage to our nation through online actors then we are now through our airports, particularly during COVID times. Millions upon millions is lost out of our economy due to the damage that one email with a virus can contain and we must do more. The State has to take far more responsibility as our democracy, our health and ultimately, our lives are now at risk. It is not hyperbole to say that when clinics and hospitals across the Central North Island are facing one of the greatest crisis our nation has seen. – Melissa Lee

Ultimately, this situation goes beyond the Labour Government not doing their job. It is seeing individual New Zealanders being harmed at their most vulnerable being forced to travel the length of the country for medical treatment and with growing anxiety about what unknown hackers know about their personal lives. – Melissa Lee

If gangs are trying to get me sacked, I must be doing something right – Simeon Brown

 My dad was a meter reader. There wasn’t a lot of money to buy books, but we were a reading family. Library books were piled by each bed, beside the bath and on the dining table where we propped them against the teapot and read, rather than risk the conversations that would turn inevitably to argument. Library books were our salvation, our way out, our way up.  – Fiona Farrell

Libraries are many things to many people, but for me as a writer, they have been primarily a resource, like Mitre 10 for a builder or a patch of bush for an eager botanist. Their contents have formed the foundation for everything I have written over 30 years. The internet has its uses, but the things I read online always feel curated, universally available, ordinary. I encounter everything in an identical format, on the same screen, with the same levels of light and intensity. A library shelf lined with books, however, is eccentric. A book is such a perfect geometry, narrow and rectangular, to contain fact or fancy, word or image. A library shelf presents the possibility of random juxtapositions, discovery, surprise. I value that. Fiona Farrell

Freedom of speech in a democracy means having to tolerate the expression of diverse views. It works in both ways, people are entitled to voice their views and others are entitled to criticise those views, but they should be able to speak nonetheless. – Judith Collins

Health and safety should not be allowed to be used as an excuse to ‘deplatform’ speakers unless there are threats to physical safety. . . The small vocal group of self-appointed opinionators who complained about this need to mind their own business and let adult citizens in a free society mind theirs. David Seymour

For if despite everything, immigrants or people of immigrant descent, especially those of different races, are prospering and integrating well into society, there is no need of a providential class of academics, journalists, bureaucrats, and others to rescue them from the slough of despond supposedly brought about by prejudice and discrimination. Many a career opportunity would be lost if there were no systemic injustices of this sort to untangle. –  Theodore Dalrymple

The aggregation of all ethnic minorities into a single category (when there are sufficient numbers of each for meaningful disaggregation to be undertaken) is designed to disguise or hide the real differences between the minorities, precisely because if such differences were admitted, they would not only threaten, but actually refute the whole worldview of the providential class, namely that the society is so riddled with prejudice and discrimination that something akin to a revolution is required, rather than, say, dealing with problems on a case-by-case basis as they arise. – Theodore Dalrymple

For the providential class, nothing succeeds like the failure of others: it therefore needs there to be perpetual grounds for grievance by minorities, creating a constituency that looks for salvation by political means. – Theodore Dalrymple

There is a huge issue of fairness and independence with this local Government process alone.  The consultative process of local government is usually along the lines of – “Tell us whether you agree with what we have decided” and therein lies the problem. Genuine consultation has to occur at the formative stages which simply doesn’t happen or is rare to say the least. – Gerry Eckhoff

I have a term for it: Righteous prohibition.

I define that as the willing – or enforced – suppression of information because people believe it may have negative effects. It ranges from preventing a man from whipping up a lynch mob to neutralising a language because specifics may make a small number of people feel excluded. – Gavin Ellis

Paraphrased, that means legislators are hard-pressed to draught laws that define hate speech in such a way that society is protected while its rights and freedoms are held intact.

Unfortunately, hate speech is what we want it to be. The devil is in the definition. – Gavin Ellis

I believe it was the result of our language becoming sterilised, as more and more develop what I might call idiomatic mysophobia or a pathological fear of the use of certain contaminating words in case someone might have their feelings hurt. – Gavin Ellis

People can lose their jobs or find themselves cancelled when labelled as racist (whether or not they are), or prejudiced against different sexes, or religions. Yet as a Christian in a Christian country you may not wear a cross on a chain, though you may wear a hijab or a turban. –  Valerie Davies

These are strange and apocalyptic times. There is no stopping the human tide of peoples who want a piece of the peace and plenty and prosperity of Europe. But perhaps they have to make some compromises in order to preserve that way of life. It is ironic that so called liberals have castigated and condemned the past, decrying the evils of colonialism, while ignoring the hospitals and schools, railways and roads, law and order that colonialism brought to so many corners of the globe; while at the same time too, so many people in deprived places around the world, want to be part of the very culture and society that western protesters of all kinds and colours and beliefs sneer at. Yet until much maligned colonialism arrived, tribes in Africa, for example, faced the same poverty and oppression, murder and mayhem from their own people, that so many refugees are fleeing now. –  Valerie Davies

But we can create our own world of goodness and human connection. The human connection is what in the end sustains us, and always will, whatever lies ahead. As we all take this unavoidable evolutionary leap into the void of the future, we have each other. Valerie Davies

It would be nice to think that opinions in this forum and others are the result of expertise, scrupulous consideration of all the facts, relevant experience and an understanding of all factual material and different perspectives.

I suspect, however, that most opinions are more the result of feeling than thinking. That is not to say there is always a right opinion but rather that temperament and emotion play a much bigger role in opinion than we would like to think. It’s said that character is your fate. It might also be said that character is your opinion. Facts used to support a view are often chosen to support a stance, after the stance has formed. – Martin van Beynen

As an opinion writer, it’s easier to identify what you oppose rather than what you support. I don’t like being told I’m to blame. I don’t like zealots and young know-nothings telling me what to do. I don’t like wokeness or virtue signalling or cancelling people for some trivial perceived infringement of current sensibilities. I don’t like being told I’m privileged or that I had it too good because of being pale and male. I don’t like tailoring my views to suit a new zeitgeist. I don’t like the implication that everything done to improve people’s lives prior to the latest orthodoxy has been a disastrous failure and that some new system will bring in a utopia.Martin van Beynen

Rapid change, particularly the sort of changes New Zealand is experiencing at the moment, implies we should feel guilty, ignorant, outdated and prejudiced if we want to take a more sceptical and contrary line.

And yet I realise that society moves on and a new generation taking over will always seem naive and dogmatic to old-timers like me. – Martin van Beynen

I remain very much in favour of free speech with the usual riders. I think the media is too much dominated by a polite conversation with strict self-imposed boundaries on what can be said or tolerated. What we need are some thunderous voices from the silent majority. Declaring some views beyond the pale doesn’t mean they go away. They fester in the dark and grow more potent. No-one has a monopoly on truth and morality.Martin van Beynen

Having failed to teach NZ history properly in the last 50 years, it is important that the curriculum presents the most relevant facts and context, in order that our children can reach a balanced and informed view.   It appears however those involved in drafting the curriculum, have decided to skip that stage and go straight to themes.  This is a terrible mistake. – Barrie Saunders

Third, there is a strong sense running through the document that a primary purpose of studying history is to judge the past (and those in it) rather than to understand it.   Particularly when such young children are the focus, and when the curriculum is designed for use in schools across the country (attended by people of all manner of races, religions, political and ideological views), that focus is misplaced.    Understanding needs to precede attempts at judgement/evaluation, but there is no sign – in this document, or elsewhere in the curriculum – of children being equipped with the tools that, as they move into mature adulthood, will allow them to make thoughtful judgements or (indeed, and often) simply to take the past as it was, and understand how it may influence the country we inhabit today.    There is little or no sense, for example, that one reasonably be ambivalent about some aspects of the past or that some people might, quite reasonably, evaluate the same facts differently. Michael Reddell

If a New Zealand history curriculum is to be anything more than an effort of indoctrination by a group who temporarily hold the commanding heights in the system, this draft should simply be scrapped and the whole process begun again with a clean sheet of paper.  – Michael Reddell

Fourth, not only does the document seem to operate in a mode more focused on evaluation and judgement than on understanding, it seems to champion a particular set of judgements, and a particular frame for looking at the history of these islands (evident, as just a small example, in its repeated use of the term “Aotearoa New Zealand”, a name with neither historical nor legal standing, even if championed at present by certain parts of the New Zealand public sector).     This includes what themes the authors choose to ignore – religion, for example, is not mentioned at all, whether in a Maori context or that of later arrivals, even though religions always (at least) encapsulate key aspects of any culture’s understanding of itself, and of its taboos).   Economic history hardly gets a mention, even though the exposure to trade, technology, and the economic institutions of leading economies helped dramatically lift average material living standards here, for all groups of inhabitants.   Instead, what is presented in one specific story heavily focused on one particular (arguably ahistorical) interpretation and significance of the Treaty of Waitangi.  These are contested political issues, on which reasonable people differ, and yet the curriculum document has about it something very much of a single truth.Michael Reddell

We should be deeply suspicious of the phrase “public interest journalism”. It sounds harmless – indeed, positively wholesome – but it comes laden with ideology.

Like “social justice”, it’s a conveniently woolly term with no settled definition. It sounds like something we should have more of. Who couldn’t be in favour of it? But those who promote “public interest journalism” generally have a very clear idea of what they mean, and it’s not necessarily how ordinary people might interpret it.- Karl du Fresne

Public interest sounds noble. I mean, who could object to something being done for the public good? The crucial question, though, is who decides where the public interest lies. That’s the trap with so-called public interest journalism, because it usually reflects a narrow, fixed, elitist and ideologically slanted view of what’s best for the public. Whether or not the public actually wants it is often immaterial. They’re left out of the equation.

To put it another way, public interest journalism is a coded term that disguises an ideological project. Far from viewing the role of journalists as being to convey information in a non-partisan way, advocates of “public interest” journalism regard journalism as a tool for the pursuit of particular goals. – Karl du Fresne

 It’s true that journalism can lead to systemic change, and often does, but that shouldn’t be its purpose. To put it another way, journalism provides the information that often serves as a catalyst for change; but to actively work toward that end leads to the arrogant assumption that idealistic young reporters know what’s best for society and should be free to angle their stories accordingly, emphasising whatever supports their case but excluding evidence or opinions they disagree with. Karl du Fresne

Objectivity in journalism is fashionably denounced as a myth, thereby giving reporters licence to decide what their readers should know and what should be kept from them. The worthy idea that journalists could hold strong personal opinions about political and economic issues but show no trace of them in their work, which used to be fundamental, has been jettisoned.   Karl du Fresne

The PIJF should be seen not as evidence of a principled, altruistic commitment to the survival of journalism, which is how it’s been framed, but as an opportunistic and cynical play by a left-wing government – financed by the taxpayer to the tune of $55 million – for control over the news media at a time when the industry is floundering and vulnerable. Karl du Fresne

Ask yourself which is preferable: a hollowed-out news media, unable to properly fulfil its functions (which, to all intents and purposes, is what we have now), or a more powerful one whose priorities are determined by apparatchiks of the state? I’m sure I know which presents the greater hazard. Karl du Fresne


Strike two

18/02/2015

Labour has been plagued by political mismanagement under its last three leaders and it hasn’t got any better under this one.

Strike one for  Andrew Little came with the very tardy payment of a contractor. Bad enough in itself from a former union head and at least of bad a reflection on his office:

. . . Any small business owner will tell you that the one thing they really hate is people who don’t pay their bills.

But one of the worst aspects of this is the shocking political management. Someone, anyone on Little’s team should have paid this bill. It was obvious that Cohen would go feral.

Even when Cohen wrote about it in the National Business Review, Labour still didn’t pay, allowing Steven Joyce to expose and embarrass Little in Parliament.

Why didn’t chief of staff Matt McCarten step in and clean up the mess?

All for the sake of $950 and a bit of internet banking.

First strike on the hypocrisy front for Andrew Little.

And strike one for mismanagement.

Strike two was Little’s failure to consult other parties on the membership of the  Intelligence and Security committee:

Climate change targets, deep sea oil drilling, the Trans Pacific Partnership … there are many thorny issues that could divide Labour and Greens.

In fact, all it took was membership of a parliamentary committee and some clumsy manners from Andrew Little.

The Labour leader raised the hackles of out-going co-leader Russel Norman by excluding his party from Parliament’s Intelligence and Security committee, instead choosing David Shearer.

The Green party learned of the decision through the media – Little had not even informed his own chief of staff Matt McCarten.

To further rub salt into the wound, Little then slighted co-leader Metiria Turei by suggesting she could not compete with Shearer’s knowledge, skills or understanding of security issues.

He appeared to under-estimate the Green Party’s anger, quipping “ask them [if they are upset] tomorrow” when pressed on how he would smooth ruffled feathers.

Little’s first mistake was in seemingly breaking the law by not consulting with the other opposition parties. Refusing to take Norman seriously was his second – and the Greens retaliated with fury. . .

Little is right about Shearer being better qualified than Turei or, as David Farrar points out, any member of the Green Party:

 The Greens are effectively opposed to the very existence of the intelligence agencies. Hence appointing them to an oversight committee means that their interest is just to find ways to discredit the agencies, not to play a constructive role in oversight. . .

However, that doesn’t excuse Little’s failure to follow the law in consulting other Opposition parties.

Political leaders don’t get a very long honeymoon, these two strikes signal Little’s is over and that he’s dogged by the problems of mismanagement which dogged the last three Labour leaders.

P.S. the column in which David Cohen raised the issue of the non-payment is here.

. . . What I was being asked to provide was not media advice or training, after all, but to take out a few hours to talk with Mr Little and then independently distill his views as they might sound to an outsider. Mr Matthews seemed to think his man could do with a bit more clarity. 

As assignments go, it sounded offbeat but I’ve taken far odder ones in my time.  . .

As a nosey-parker, too, I was interested to know more about the opposition’s calamitous recent history and perhaps even some of its current internal tensions. 

Happily on that last point, this was something Mr Matthews immediately hinted at with a number of less-than-enthusiastic references to Grant Robertson and Jacinda Ardern, along with a slightly baffling digression on how the party’s fortunes will yet be reversed by installing the MP for Kelston, Carmel Sepuloni, as deputy party leader ahead of the next general election. 

Scrolling back through a number of more recent clips of his television interviews, though, I could see why Mr Little’s friends might feel he needed a touch more clarity. 

Like many trained lawyers, and indeed working journalists, I think he tries to parse tumbling thoughts into cogent words as he speaks. Sometimes this serves him better than others. There were occasions when I couldn’t make head or tail of what he was saying. . .

 The atmosphere was congenial if a touch odd. Nobody had thought to turn the lights on, which lent a slightly film noir-ish air to the next couple of hours.

But the conversation was illuminating enough. We talked about Mr Little’s view of his own personal attributes – a lifetime of private sector engagement, an intimate knowledge of the organisation and a track record for bringing people together – and how these may or may not rejuvenate his party. 

We chatted about his time representing journalists as a union leader. He spoke about his general engagement with the media. 

From there, the conversation moved on to last year’s ghastly election campaign, Labour’s perceived image problems and what seems to me to be the piquant irony of a party claiming the mantle of diversity and yet almost consistently refusing to welcome businesspeople into its ranks. 

Interesting stuff. I wrote up my notes as best I could, and sent them off along with an invoice for the time spent. Both were received with thanks.  

Then came the silence.

Four months, many inquiring telephone calls and gazillions of emails on – as of the time of this writing – I’m still none the financially richer for having taken this oddball assignment.  Not by a bean. I’ve been left feeling rather like a one-man nocturnal performer in a Christchurch insurance office. 

Oh well. Isn’t that how things so often are for we self-employed and small business types grinding away in the engine room of the economy? 

This supports my theory that Labour and unions want to be tough on employers because of their own poor record with employees.

There are bad employers and bad employees but they are the minority. Employment law should not be designed as if all employers and sinners and all employees saints.


More than little late to pay

18/02/2015

NBR columnist David Cohen wrote in the print edition of the paper last Friday that Labour leader Andrew Little hadn’t paid a bill he’d sent him.

Cohen had been asked to analyse Little’s communication, did so, sent the bill and followed up with phone calls and emails.

It was only yesterday, four months late and after Steven Joyce raised the matter in parliament, that Little paid up:

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce attacked Little over his stance on employment law changes after revealing Little had not settled his bill with National Business Review columnist David Cohen.

Writing in the NBR last week Cohen confirmed he did paid work for Little to help him secure the Labour leadership but four months later was still waiting for the cheque.

Joyce said he raised the overdue bill because it was important for Parliamentarians to “pay people promptly”.

Little insisted afterward that the bill had been paid – but would not confirm or deny that the payment had only been put through after Joyce raised the matter in Parliament.

“It’s been paid today.”

Little insisted afterward that the bill had been paid – but would not confirm or deny that the payment had only been put through after Joyce raised the matter in Parliament.

“It’s been paid today.”

He said the bill had been sent in good faith but went to his campaign team rather than himself.

“It was on that person’s desk and flitted around some others,” Little said.

“Had it come to me at the time he remitted it, it would have been paid at that time.”

Little would not say what time he paid the bill and whether it was after Joyce raised the issue.

“It hasn’t been paid as a result of what Steven Joyce said in the House but it’s been paid.” . . .

Can Little be blamed for the tardiness of a member of his campaign team and the others whose desks the invoice flitted around?

At least as much as it shows a problem with processes and not just in a huge hole in the way bills are dealt with but also in media monitoring.

The leader of the Labour Party won’t’ have time to read every column inch that’s written but someone in his office ought to be monitoring the media for every mention of him.

I read Cohen’s column last week and it’s difficult to believe that either no-one in Little’s office, caucus and the wider party did.

It is easier to wonder if they did and didn’t alert him.

If no-one monitors the media, or isn’t doing it properly, Little has a problem. If people who are supposed to support him read the story and didn’t tell him, he’s got an even bigger problem.

Four months is more than a little late to pay a bill, especially when you’re leading a party that purports to stand up for workers and wants to court small business people.

There’s no smaller business than a one-man one.

Update: Cohen makes this point on Radio NZ:

. . . He sent in his report and invoice four months ago.

“During that time I followed up the invoice, I called his office, I spoke with Matt McCarten, his Chief of Staff, many emails were exchanged and it became abundantly clear that the waiter had been stiffed, as it were.”

Mr Cohen said he found this ironic given Mr Little’s recent attempts to connect with small business and the self-employed.

“Andew Little has been crafting excellent speeches on the pressures felt by small business, by freelancers, by sole operators and he’s been committing himself to lessening the stress and strain that one in five New Zealanders, like me, experience.

“Now, you can’t really hold forth on these subjects and not look after your own creditors.”

Mr Joyce was being questioned by one of Mr Little’s Labour MPs about whether the government intended to take a tougher line on zero hour contracts.

Mr Joyce used that as an opportunity to take a potshot at Mr Little.

“This is obviously not a zero-hour contract.

“It could perhaps be better described as a zero-payment contract – the employer in this case being then-leadership aspirant for the Labour Party, one Andrew Little, the current Labour leader.” . .

A Chief of Staff and unionist who doesn’t understand the importance of paying bills properly?

Where’s his concern for the worker and where are his political antennae?

 

 

 


10 years and they’ve done what?

14/12/2009

The Greens have been celebrating 10 years in parliament.

They might think that’s an achievement but it’s been 10 years not in government.

Given their left leaning social and economic agenda it’s not surprising they weren’t offered a place in the National-led government.

But for all but the last year of their decade in parliament there was a Labour led government. If they couldn’t get around the cabinet table in three terms with Labour they ought to be taking a serious look at themselves, what they want to achieve and how best to achieve it.

They should especially look at their environmental agenda because as David Cohen points out there’s not much green about the few things which can be attributed to the party or its MPs.


Second hand smug endangers credulity

08/09/2009

This is a contender for sentence of the day. But it’s two sentences because while it’s the second which is worthy of note, it needs the first for context.

Smoking is not good for one’s personal health, that’s for sure, but journalistic credulity isn’t much chop, either. Martin Johnston really seems to have fallen victim — cough, cough! — to breathing in too much second-hand smug.

From David Cohen at the NBR.


Editorials on referendum

25/08/2009

The Southland Times says Let’s reassure parents:

It’s one thing to accept that police have been very careful about the way the law is being interpreted, right now. But there’s no getting around it that a great many parents remain worried about a wider anti-smacking agenda and that the sands may shift underneath parents in future, and a much harder line be taken by the law as it now stands.

Underscoring that view is the widespread public recognition of the distaste from many in the so-called PC corridors of power, notably the law’s original drafter Sue Bradford, for any sort of smacking. It’s a distaste this newspaper shares . . .

The explicit intention of the law’s final form was that nobody could commit the sort of assault against a child that would previously have landed them in court and rightly so in the eyes of mainstream New Zealanders but then raise the arcane previous defence that they were within the rights of parental correction. That defence was removed under the Bradford legislation, and so it should have been.

But, okay. Maybe the existing law does need to be refined to give greater assurance that normal parental guardianship and discipline will still be the preserve of the parents.

It’s got the bit about reasonable force wrong – that’s still allowed for prevention.

The Press says the vote was a fiasco:

The question posed was flawed, the participation of voters low, the campaign unengaging, the cost of the exercise prohibitive and the results inconsequential. In short, the referendum was a fiasco.

The question was flawed, though its intent was clear it has enabled the governmetn to address the result without changing the law. But the turnout wasn’t low and the cost was the fault of the previous Prime Minsiter who decreed the referendum couldn’t take place with last year’s election.

The Nelson Mail says politicians need to resist mob pressure:

Nelson MP Nick Smith was on the money in suggesting the anti-smacking referendum result reflected a strong reaction against the “nanny state”.

The overwhelming “no” vote nearly 90 per cent, with a turnout of more than half of this country’s registered voters is also a slap in the face for children’s rights and anti-violence advocates. It delivers an unfortunate message about New Zealand’s underlying conservatism and represents an important challenge to the country’s politicians as they consider how to respond to it.

The Dominon Post editorialises  In the Dominion Post Richard Long says: on making an ass of our laws:

Even a 100 per cent vote against the anti-smacking law would not have made it possible to revoke.

It  might be frightening the  daylights out of decent, law- abiding middle class parents, but  now it is on the statute books we  are stuck with it. To do otherwise  would be signalling open slather  on kids. It would be saying  whacking is fine.

David Cohen asks is an editorial smack part of good part of good media discipline?:

With the votes now counted and an emphatic result in, the biggest loser in the recently concluded child-discipline referendum appears to be the news media.
 
Almost 90 percent of people who participated in the citizens-initiated referendum asking New Zealanders whether smacking should be illegal voted No. An entirely unsurprising result, that. . .
 
 
A significant aspect in much of the media coverage in the lead-up to the referendum was the almost uniformly negative press accorded to potential No voters.
 
He says almsot everything in the NZ Herald was desisgned to put No voters in the worst possible light, but the Herald editorial is the only post-vote one which wants a change in the law.
 
It says parliament should act to define force:
 
The people have spoken and the Government is obliged to act. The vote against the criminalisation of parental “correction” is too decisive to be ignored. The referendum question may have been biased by its reference to “good” parental correction but it is doubtful that anyone who wanted to outlaw smacking was misled by it. . .
 
This whole debate has disguised a high level of consensus about the place of violence in child discipline. Before the referendum the Herald commissioned a DigiPoll survey of parents . . .  It found the number who smack their children at least once a week has dropped drastically in the past decade to just 8.5 per cent. The number who never smack – just 10 per cent in the previous decade – has risen to 36 per cent.

Yet 85.4 per cent of that same sample intended to vote against the criminalisation of smacking. Plainly today’s parents have found better ways to bring up children but overwhelmingly they do not want the law to forbid their resort to force if they need it.

The law does not forbid it, and never has.
 
It too is wrong on this last point. The ammendment to Section 59 permits reasonable force for prevention but makes it illegal to smack a child for the purposes of correction.
 
Another point several editorials made is that there are much more important things to worry about. They are right, but that won’t make this issue go away.
 
UPDATE:
The Marlborough Express says Costly referendum a waste of money:
 
The law was brought in as there was a clear problem defining what reasonable force was. In a climate of despair over repeated child abuse in this country the law made it clear that it was not okay to hit children.
 
But it didn’t. It still allows reasonable force for prevention.
 
The Dominion Post says Smacking vote carries clout:
 
The question is loaded and ambiguous. It presupposes that smacking is part of good parenting –  a debatable point – and ignores the fact that the existing law specifically permits the use of reasonable force, including smacking, in certain circumstances.

Those circumstances are fairly comprehensive. They include: to prevent harm to children or others, to stop offensive or disruptive behaviour and to stop criminal behaviour.

At least one paper understands the current law still allows the reasonable force which the Act’s proponents – and a lot of its opponents – wanted to get rid of.

 
 
 

Growing up as a parent

25/08/2009

He’s the father of young children.

He said he had smacked them – lightly – in the past. At least some of the time, it was more a reflection of how he was feeling than on what the children had done.

He hadn’t smacked them recently and didn’t think he would again.

“That might have something to do with the anti-smacking legislation, because obviously I don’t want to break the law. But even more than that, I think it’s because I’ve grown up as a parent.”

Smacking was a lot more common when I was a child than it was when I had my children. That’s now more than 20 years ago and smacking is less common now than it was then.

There has been a cultural evolution and a bit of a nudge might have sped that up.

Last year’s law change wasn’t a nudge it was a shove with a steamroller. Parents, grandparents and a whole lot of people who don’t want to smack their children didn’t like being steamrolled. I’m not sure what level of comfort they’ll get from being told the people driving the steamroller are being directed to steer round them.

However, the wording of the referendum question is partly to blame for that. It didn’t ask for a law change.


Media messengers or masters of the message?

15/08/2009

Karl du Fresne’s Feeding the Hungry Dog is a thoughtful look at the role of the media in shaping public policy.

Cutting and pasting selected quotes won’t do it justice, I recommend you read it in full.

On a related topic, if you’re worried that the media tends to lean to port rather than starboard, David Cohen’s Press Gallery’s finest receive curious honour will confirm your fears.


Did you see the one about

14/06/2009

Quotes and tips at Something should go here (where there’s several other jokes posted too).

Hager vs Crosby/Textor round 94  at David Cohen’s blog

At the carwash at Quote Unquote

Skating on thin ice at RivettingKateTaylor

Question of the day at In A Strange Land which came from In which I forget the purpose of posting at 2B Sophora

Nostalgia at Kismet Farm

Toxoplasmosis caused the crash your honour at Frenemy

Newspaper death watch – desperate remedies at Dim Post

You go girl  at Anti Dismal

What good is a right to life ? at The Visible Hand

Return of the stump speech at goNZo Freakpower

Milk Link shows just what a co-op can do  at Phil Clarke’s Business Blog

And a new – to me – blog: The Definitive 1000 Songs of All Time 1955 – 2005


Did you see the one about . . .

18/05/2009

OMG you won’t believe this at Kismet Farm (the end of a saga, you need to read some earlier posts to understand it).

Mortgage madness  at Frenemy

Businesspeople, the media and double super secret background  by David Cohen at This is not a Blogpost

Serve it up Bruce  at Cactus Kate

NZX and CPL Update  at Quote Unquote and while you’re there check out Pet Airways

Beware the $1000 clock  by Adolf at No Minister

Bizarre ad aims to scare potential teen mums  at The Hand Mirror

The old days  at Lindsay Mitchell

The most distrubing blog I think I have written  at Laughy Kate (warning, not for sensitive stomachs).


It pays to be clean

29/03/2009

The Sunday Times Story of the family who got repeated stomach bugs because their cleaner wiped the loo with their towels is revolting.

But what shocked me most was that the cleaning company charged $50 a hour.

I have nothing against a business making money and realise the hourly rate will cover not just wages but overheads.

But either they do things differently in the city or I’m very out of touch because $50 an hour for cleaning sounds exorbitant to me.

I wonder how much the cleaner got?

If it was half the amount the home owner paid, it would be a little more than twice the sum offered to a graduate journalist in an advertisement spotted by David Cohen:

Starting salary is $25,000.

Interesting. According to the Department of Labour, the minimum wage is $12 an hour, or $24,960 a year, which puts the offered amount here only microscopically higher (not quite 2c an hour before tax) than what an entry-level burger-flipper might expect to command at McDonald’s.

Even if the cleaner got a quarter of the charge-out rate, s/he would be nearly 50 cents an hour better paid than the reporter.


%d bloggers like this: