Quotes of the month

01/12/2021

The gross mismanagement of Covid will mark this government as the most incompetent in our post-war history.  Sadly, authoritarian governments are now the norm world-wide as the evidence is clear that a sizeable timorous section of populations like being told what to do. That’s certainly true of New Zealand.

Conversely there’s also a sizeable section who prefer to stand on their own feet and not be bossed about. They’re the doers and shakers critical to a society’s success and right now they’re seething with rage. – Bob Jones

Frankly, I fear for New Zealand as the disastrous economic and social legacy of this government will take a decade to repair. – Bob Jones

If the Prime Minister frustrates the aspirations of her Maori caucus, she will risk losing the Maori seats Labour holds and possibly wider support in Maoridom as well.

If she continues to indulge them, she will open a clear path to a National-Act government in 2023, given that both parties, smelling blood, have pledged to return the assets to councils.

Three Waters has all the signs of becoming Ardern’s Waterloo. – Graham Adams

From PPE gear, to testing kits, to vaccine roll outs, to MIQ, to decisions that weren’t made, borders that got breached, to the current shambles we find ourselves in.   

It’s been a trail of haphazard unprofessionalism and needless economic and social damage. – Mike Hosking

The real Royal Commission will be in September of 2023.

We call it an election.

The only hope this Government has, of course, is memory fade. If Covid is in the rear-view mirror by the end of next year all may be forgiven.

But as we sit here today if a government can be voted in, in record numbers, based on Covid and the fear that surrounded it a year ago, surely their ensuing handling of the following two years will be a judgement that if executed today, they would be deeply fearful of.  – Mike Hosking

To get real traction on anything, anywhere, politicians actually have to do more than just talk. They have to be authentic and they have to have their actions match their words. Staying awake also helps.   Kate Hawkesby

In other words, women who would like to be men but still have their ovaries and wombs can become pregnant by sexual intercourse with fertile men, the latter now being known as “penis-containing” persons. (The venerable but increasingly lunatic medical journal The Lancet recently decided to call women “bodies with vaginas.” How long can it be before we no longer address meetings or assemblies as Ladies and Gentlemen but as Penis-containers and Vagina-bearers, or perhaps P and V for short?)

At the same time as we are enjoined to think of biological sex as unimportant to the point of nonexistence, and to believe that men who can have babies by penis-containers are men in precisely the same sense that Tarzan was a man, we are also told to distinguish human beings solely by one or other of their genitive features. This makes the doublethink of Nineteen Eighty-Four seem straightforward or even lucid by comparison. – Theodore Dalrymple

It is possible that I am mistaken, of course, and that thorough research would prove me wrong, but I do not think that anyone would have used the expression penis-containing partner ten, maybe not even five, years ago. It seems that civilizations go bankrupt like people, first slowly, then quickly.Theodore Dalrymple

The first cultural trend is an increasing reluctance to accept any limitation whatsoever to the satisfaction of one’s desires that are placed by circumstances beyond one’s control, that is to say an exaggerated or exacerbated Prometheanism: You can be anything you want, without limitation, and therefore you do not have to accept anything you were born with as ineluctable. In such a culture, death itself becomes unacceptable, an insult to our desired omnipotence; it is not any particular kind of death that we reject or fight against, often with success, but death itself. – Theodore Dalrymple

The second trend is to magical thinking, despite the supposed rationality of our age and its vaunted defeat of superstition. We believe that we can change reality by means of mere verbal incantations. If we alter our language enough, reality itself will change. –Theodore Dalrymple

The third trend is the worship of power. The object of deliberate language change is not to improve the state of the world, or even anyone’s state of mind, but the exertion and consolidation of power for its own sake. – Theodore Dalrymple

The fourth trend is centralization of the marginal; that is to say, a marginal phenomenon such as transsexualism comes to occupy the center of intellectual attention. To employ a different metaphor, the tail wags the dog. Theodore Dalrymple

The fifth trend is to the increasing spinelessness or cowardice of much of the intelligentsia, who in this case have proved themselves astonishingly easy to intimidate, a pack of intellectual Neville Chamberlains (but Chamberlain had more excuse, for he had lived through the horror of the First World War, which he did not want to repeat). Nothing has proved too absurd for this intelligentsia to swallow; indeed, the swallowing of absurdity is easier for the intelligentsia than others, for rationalization is their métier. There is no point in being an intellectual if you think only what everyone else thinks. – Theodore Dalrymple

Postmodernist councilors have white-anted the scientific integrity of our Royal Society, and brought political, racial, cultural, and religious bias into its workings. In embracing the Treaty, they are imposing political, racial and cultural obligations, expectations, and limitations on scientists – the equivalent of imposing the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, the Hindu Vedas, or the Book of Mormon on them. Bob Brockie

World science and matauranga cannot be reconciled. Science operates in the natural world but Maori thought is rooted in the supernatural.

Matauranga is often defined as traditional knowledge, passed from generation to generation. A prominent Maori maintains that indigenous knowledge belongs to iwi and that they should control it. How different is science! All science is provisional, and open to criticism and challenges. But challenge matauranga and you will be branded a racist. – Bob Brockie

Our Royal Society was once a bastion of science but has now abandoned truth, reason, and science, to become a mouthpiece for faddish woke politics. The supernatural world of matauranga would be better taught in religious studies instead of science. Bob Brockie

This year, I have made more complaints to the Ombudsman than in any previous year. So far, every one has been upheld. – Andrea Vance

In my 20-year plus time as a journalist, this Government is one of the most thin-skinned and secretive I have experienced. Many of my colleagues say the same.

Even squeezing basic facts out of an agency is a frustrating, torturous and often futile exercise. – Andrea Vance

It’s now very difficult for journalists to get to the heart and the truth of a story. We are up against an army of well-paid spin doctors. – Andrea Vance

Since the current Government took office, the number of communications specialists has ballooned. Each minister has at least two press secretaries. (Ardern has four).

In the year Labour took office, the Ministry for the Environment had 10 PR staff. It now has 18. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade more than doubled its staff – up to 25.

MBIE blew out from 48 staff to 64. None of those five dozen specialists could give me those figures for many weeks – and again I was forced to ask the Ombudsman to intervene. – Andrea Vance

The super ministry – and its colleagues uptown at the Health Ministry – are notorious for stymieing even the simplest requests. Health’s information gatekeepers are so allergic to journalists they refuse to take phone calls, responding only (and sporadically) to emails. 

But it is the New Zealand Transport Agency that take the cake: employing a staggering 72 staff to keep its message, if not its road-building, on track – up from 26 over five years.

At every level, the Government manipulates the flow of information. Andrea Vance

It also keeps journalists distracted and over-burdened with a rolling maul of press conferences and announcements, which are often meaningless or repetitive and prevent sustained or detailed questioning.

In this age of live-streaming and blogging, organisations often feel obliged to cover every stage-managed utterance for fear of missing out. – Andrea Vance

Perhaps the trials and tribulations of the nation’s journalists do not concern you. Why should you care?

Because the public’s impression of this government is the very opposite.

They see a prime minister that has captivated the world with her ‘authentic’ communication style, intimate social media postings, daily Covid briefings and proactive releases of Cabinet papers.

It is an artfully-crafted mirage, because the reality is very different. This is a Government that is only generous with the information that it chooses to share. Andrea Vance

I doubt that the thought of collapsing economies and massive social dislocation keeps Thunberg awake at night, assuming that it even occurs to her. But these are factors politicians must weigh in deciding how far to go in countering climate change. Thunberg, on the other hand, just wants action, regardless of the human cost.

For all their glib talk and showboating, the politicians she disparages have to live with the consequences of whatever they decide. In that vital respect they are the moral superiors of Thunberg and her moronic followers. It’s a shame the fawning media coverage doesn’t reflect that. – Karl du Fresne

Imagine that you still want to believe the experts and the commentators, but now that requires you to believe your country is racist, that men are bad, and that gender is a social construct, which is an idea you still don’t really understand. – Konstantin Kisin

Imagine your confusion as the same people who spent three months telling you not only that masks don’t work, but that there are several reasons you shouldn’t wear or purchase them, suddenly introduce mask mandates. We’re “following the science,” they tell you. This seems to make little sense, but a pandemic is no time for questions. And who knows, maybe our understanding of the science evolved?

As you cautiously go to the supermarket, you notice that masks have made people less likely to socially distance. You remember reading somewhere that bicycle helmets work similarly: They give the wearer more confidence, and the result is often more accidents and injuries, not fewer. “Silly people,” you say to yourself. “If only they would follow the experts.” Konstantin Kisin

Now that a bigot is no longer president of the United States, closing national borders to visitors from other countries is no longer considered xenophobic. In fact, it is widely advocated in the media. Likewise, it is no longer considered racist to detain people at the border, to put them in holding cells, to deport them, or to simply turn them away.

The supposedly racist conspiracy theory that the virus came from a lab in Wuhan is now also open for discussion. It even looks like the most credible explanation of the origins of the virus.  Konstantin Kisin

The same people who told you Brexit would never happen, that Trump would never win, that when he did win it was because of Russian collusion but also because of racism, that you must follow lockdowns while they don’t, that masks don’t work, that masks do work, that social justice protests during pandemic lockdowns are a form of “health intervention,” that ransacking African American communities in the name of fighting racism is a “mostly peaceful” form of protest, that poor and underserved children locked out of shuttered schools are “still learning,” that Jussie Smollett was a victim of a hate crime, that men are toxic, that there is an infinite number of genders, that COVID couldn’t have come from a lab until maybe it did, that closing borders is racist until maybe it isn’t, that you shouldn’t take Trump’s vaccine, that you must take the vaccine developed during the Trump administration, that Andrew Cuomo is a great leader, that Andrew Cuomo is a granny killer, that the number of COVID deaths is one thing and then another … are the same people telling you now that the vaccine is safe, that you must take it, and that if you don’t, you will be a second-class citizen.

Understand vaccine hesitancy now? – Konstantin Kisin

What is clear from the polling trend is support for Labour is sliding away as a groundswell of discontent builds against the government’s reform agenda.

No doubt Labour’s MPs sitting in marginal electorates or in the lower echelons of the party list will be wondering if Labour has gone too hard, too fast, and too extreme. They must be thinking that it is they who will pay the price. Frank Newman

We’re a little country at the bottom of the world, we’ve always paid a higher price and risk premium for the debt that we borrow. The higher those debt-to-GDP levels, the more exposed you become, and in a GFC they’re shown up to be even more. – John Key

If you take New Zealand and you look at inflation, and look at that globally, and you make the case, as now [Reserve Bank governor] Adrian Orr is, that interest rates will have to go up, it doesn’t take too much to realise how much pressure that is going to put on households already.John Key

The co-existence of a major recession in 2020 with record-high sharemarket indices, record gains in US household net worth, and falling bankruptcies is bizarre and unnerving. – Bryce Wilkinson and Leonard Hong

If you want proof that Jacinda Ardern’s is the most racist government in New Zealand’s history, just take a look at the proposed legislation for the new health structure. The Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill introduced last week that was sent to a select committee concerns itself almost exclusively with Maori health. Maori are mentioned in most clauses of the legislation. The health of 17% of the population seems to be the only concern of this government. Pacific Islanders get a look-in briefly, the Minister being required to produce a specific strategy for their health. But all the rest of us who make up 70% of the people are never mentioned, and are dismissed at one point as “the other populations”. By the time Maori health providers have been accommodated in the new health structure which is amazingly top-heavy and bureaucratic, there won’t be any room for Pakeha or Asian input on anything. The Bill is a further indicator that Jacinda Ardern regards Pakeha as interlopers of whom her government is contemptuous. Like so much else, it too has Nanaia Mahuta’s malign influence stamped all over it. She has become Rasputin to the Tsarina, intent on running a faltering ministry. – Michael Bassett

Achieving “equitable outcomes” in health or indeed in any area of life, is an impossibility. Always has been, and always will be. First, we aren’t all born with equal intelligence; we don’t all have parents who care about us; and up to 40% of Maori children are truant on any normal school day. But if all children got their ante-natal jabs, were cared for, got to school, made an effort, and passed their exams, they still wouldn’t have equitable outcomes in life, either amongst themselves, or with other racial groups. DNA and sheer luck play big parts in peoples’ lives. So, if the government persists with Section 7 (1) (a) (iii) of the Bill and gives achieving equitable health outcomes priority then the whole expenditure of $24 billion on Health is in jeopardy. Not even the resourcing of “Kaupapa Maori”, or “culturally safe services” reflecting an undefined “Matauranga Maori” in the delivery of services will produce equitable outcomes for them, let alone for all Kiwis. – Michael Bassett

You can only pull the wool over voters’ eyes for so long. You can only rely on goodwill for so long. You can only bank on your support, in such a smug fashion, for so long. What voters want is transparency (which this Government promised and has failed to deliver on), authenticity, also now out the window, surety that there’s a plan, a way forward, some leadership. That’s all missing and has been for a while. It goes to show the huge highs this party enjoyed were a post Covid love-in where people were emotive.  

This time around, there’s still plenty of emotion – but in the opposite direction.  

People are angry, disillusioned, divided, locked out of their home country, in the case of many Kiwis overseas, and being driven to despair. Instead of being honest and admitting when they’ve got it wrong, this Government continues to put its head in the sand and tell us ‘nothing to see here’.  

They govern on the hoof, are reactive not proactive, lack experience and political nous, and continue to railroad through policy they won’t even bother consulting on.  – Kate Hawkesby

No, the truly depressing part of this week has been the crisis of faith now keeping the general, red-voting masses up until 2am eating toast in the kitchen.

Because the worry is, if they’re not good at beating Covid, what are they good at? – Verity Johnson

Recent protests have been dominated by a hotchpotch of weirdos whose comparisons of Ardern with the worst mass murderers are as offensive as they as stupid. Ardern is not a Hitler, Stalin or Mao. But she is increasingly governing like a second-term Robert Muldoon or Helen Clark, which is surely bad enough — especially given what followed in their third terms, with moves like the Clutha Development (Clyde Dam) Empowering Act and the Electoral Finance Act.

A stench of bewilderment, detachment from reality, confusion and lack of candour has joined the old odour of incompetence that has surrounded Ardern’s Government since it first became obvious in early 2018 that it had no idea how to go about delivering its signature promise to build 100,000 KiwiBuild homes. – Matthew Hooton

With a handful of exceptions like David Parker, the criticism that this is a government of student politicians rings true. It is not just that they don’t know how business produces goods and services to generate revenue to pay wages and returns on investment, but that most have never even thought about how the paper and toner gets in the photocopier in the university library, or how the campus gets cleaned at night.

In the face of Covid, they could shut everything down easily enough but have made a hash of anything operational and of opening up. – Matthew Hooton

Equal pay is now determined by gender identity, not sex; statistical data is likewise collected by gender identity instead of sex. Prison accommodation too is determined by self-identification, meaning that people with fully intact male bodies can be placed with the country’s most vulnerable women.  – Jan Rivers & Jill Abigail

If a new religion was created that encouraged gays and lesbians to be sterilised, would this be acceptable? Yet in teaching our children that it is possible to “change sex”, gender identity activists are doing just that. Transgender medicine uses drugs that suspend puberty and thus the development of sexuality. Almost all children treated with these drugs progress to cross-sex hormones, and many have surgery too.

It is not love and acceptance to encourage children to believe they were “born in the wrong body”. Children can have no concept of the downstream impacts on their later lives of infertility and the inability to respond sexually. They cannot anticipate what these losses entail, let alone the other effects of ongoing medicalisation. – Jan Rivers & Jill Abigail

Instead of immediate affirmation, a ‘watchful waiting’ approach for a child expressing gender dysphoria allows them time to explore their feelings without making decisions that are irreversible. Studies have shown that gender questioning is resolved by puberty in more than 80 per cent of affected children. A high proportion grow up to be gay or lesbian adults. – Jan Rivers & Jill Abigail

It is far too easy to slap labels of bigotry and hate speech on people raising concerns. What we really need is a careful, well-informed discussion about how to secure women’s rights, and develop a rights framework for transgender people, without damaging children. – Jan Rivers & Jill Abigail

This is lazy legislation without thought to the damage it will do to New Zealand’s reputation or investment in additional testing capacity. Replace the words “testing laboratories” with any other term and this is a template for state seizure, through requisition, at the whim of public officials. As such, all Parliamentarians should be concerned.

Enacting this legislation will restrain new investment in COVID testing technology by innovators. Those that do, would be at risk of seizure under this law. New Zealand will miss out on future advances in COVID testing technology. These provisions also lower the standards of testing to the lowest common standard. By overriding normal health standards public confidence in the existing standard will be undermined. – Leon Grice

The Ministry has never considered why its COVID-19 testing regime does not scale and consistently fails to deliver the reach required. The Ministry has repeatedly failed to adequately plan, contract and provide testing infrastructure over the period of the pandemic. This is demonstrated by their inability to deliver widespread saliva testing, some ten months after it was first available in New Zealand. And thirteen months after being directed to in the Simpson-Roche report. – Leon Grice

Giving the Director General of Health draconian powers over laboratories will not fix the ongoing, consistent and fundamental failures in New Zealand’s testing infrastructure. – Leon Grice

We are dealing with a regime so consumed with the righteousness of their cause they are willing to discard traditions and customs won by the barons 800 years ago. Most business leaders have shown themselves to be craven, compliant and cowardly. – Damien Grant

The government, too, is struggling to change its economic playbook in response to events. We can see the same lack of agility here as we have seen with the health response to the pandemic, where ongoing lockdowns and quarantine for Kiwis at the border continue to restrict freedoms and damage livelihoods, despite our now very high levels of vaccination.

Today’s economic problem is not too little stimulation, but too much. Money has been sprayed all over the place, the public service has been super-sized, and the spending keeps on coming. Just in the last couple of weeks we have had announcements about expensive light rail projects and further increases in social welfare payments.Steven Joyce

Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson need to acknowledge that the world has changed. For the first time in 20 years, debt-fuelled government spending is inflationary. And inflation is effectively a tax which hits lower-income people hardest and increases poverty. It also increases the interest bill on our growing mountain of public debt and that restricts society’s choices.

They should be minimising their spending outside of what they need for the actual pandemic response and what they morally need to provide to those people forced to curtail their livelihoods. They should be trying to take the inflationary pressure off household budgets, not talking at every opportunity about spending more. – Steven Joyce

Making it clear the government is responsible for employment would give the public more confidence that the bank will do what it takes to keep inflation under control. It would in turn give the government more pause before implementing its long list of employment-damaging labour market ideas.

The minister could also tell the governor to back off out of issues like climate change, which have very little to do with the bank. A clearer delineation between the government’s role and what the bank is responsible for would be very useful right now. That’s if we want to stop persistent inflation being the next big risk to the prosperity of New Zealanders. – Steven Joyce

It’s predicated on the concept that all Maori, we all think alike. This idea of self-determination must rely on the fact that all Maori identify with the same views, the same political outlooks, the same needs,” she said.

What we’ve actually created is a Maori elite, that their careers, their livelihoods, their relevance, relies on a Maori victimhood and we’ve lost sight of outcomes. – Casey Costello

Is her obvious lack of enthusiasm in backing Three Waters because it is so disastrously unpopular that her strategists are keen for her to distance herself from it?

Or have the reforms been forced on her by her Māori caucus and they won’t let her back down — which would be her usual swift response to any policy that looked like it might cost her the 2023 election?

In short, is the Prime Minister trapped between electoral disaster and the relentless ambitions of her Māori caucus? – Graham Adams

In years to come, when the history of this Government is written, the month of October 2021 will likely be viewed as the time when its honeymoon with the New Zealand public ended. Not only will it be seen as the time when the previous tolerance of restrictions, at whatever level, in the interest of the greater good that the Government had relied on so successfully since March 2020, dissipated, but it was also the time when public patience ran out.

The cumulative effect of prolonged lockdowns, an inept and uncaring MIQ system, and inconsistent rules have finally taken their toll. Unfortunately for the Government, all that has coincided as its own ideas and the luck which has largely sustained it since the outbreak of the virus was also running out. – Peter Dunne

But health cannot possibly be a human right, since death is inevitable and is not generally a sign of health. I have been severely ill several times in my life, but it never occurred to me that my rights were being thereby infringed.Theodore Dalrymple

Sadly, I have come to the conclusion that this is a government that has become increasingly comfortable taking our freedoms away. You see, the more you do something, the more comfortable you become doing it. After a while, it becomes automatic. Even if what you are doing is wrong, it becomes acceptable in your own mind.

Here’s the problem. Apparently it takes just 21 days to learn a new habit. And our political leaders have fallen into the habit of taking our freedoms without giving it a second thought. – Bruce Cotterill

You see, while those making the decisions that affect our lives are collecting their pay cheques every month, there are many New Zealanders who are not. Their businesses are on hold indefinitely. Their busiest time of the year is about to pass them by. And even if they can go back to work one day, their debt and stress levels are unthinkable. It’s no wonder these people are at breaking point.

While our government ministers, together with their respective officials, pop off on their forthcoming European jaunts, there are businesspeople going to court to get permission to travel overseas to enable their businesses to keep going.

And while Aucklanders are locked down, the hardship expands to the rest of the country. – Bruce Cotterill

And I have no doubt that one of the greatest tragedies in all of this mess lies in the group of New Zealanders who want to come home, but can’t. We’re not hearing enough of their stories.

Apparently, we have to make room in our MIQ system for criminals who are deported from other countries, and the entourages accompanying our government ministers on their overseas jaunts.

But the average, law-abiding Kiwi who just wants to come home? We put them into a poorly organised raffle every week. There are 30,000 such people. Kiwis. Our people.  – Bruce Cotterill

But sadly, as one party asserts control, another loses freedom.

Curbing freedoms is becoming more and more a feature of this government. It started with the daily updates. “Tune in at 1 o’clock and hear from the single source of the truth,” they said. Lockdowns. Confiscating water assets. Centralising healthcare. Centralising education.

It’s not hard to see that the arrogance that comes with such behaviour leads to a stifled democracy. While the locked-down people are tired and frustrated, our politicians place unelected representatives onto councils and boards, take control of newly centralised education and healthcare and rewrite school history curriculums. All such roads leading to further curbs on the freedoms of the people.Bruce Cotterill

Here’s the problem. There’s an awful lot of take, take, take going on. The people need some give, give, give. The give should include a government that can run competent border policy, pandemic preparedness such as hospital capacity and ICU enhancement, and a vaccination programme that is informed, well managed and timely.

Our government has failed on each of these measures. Their only solution is to confiscate our freedoms. The failures have been theirs. However, in order for their freedoms to be maintained they are happy to change the rules.- Bruce Cotterill

Many years ago I observed that an incompetent manager will often limit the opportunity for their team or their organisation by slowing things down to a pace that he or she can cope with. In other words, to control the pace to a level that suits their agenda. We are all learning now that an incompetent government can do the same.

When one party asserts control, another loses freedom. – Bruce Cotterill

There is obviously a kind of person who believes that when you pull an economic lever from on high, the result is precisely what you expect and want. Such people must live in a world without unintended consequences, in which human beings are vectors of forces whose trajectories can be calculated in advance and then shifted in precisely the direction desired. Such people suffer from what might be called the technocratic delusion.    – Theodore Dalrymple

The whole saga however highlights a very important truth, after 20 years in existence Fonterra is still bound by legislation that tilts the playing field heavily towards its competitors. The fact that a company could take a democratic shareholder vote and the decision whether to enact the outcome is left to the Government is ludicrous.Craig Hickman

The Prime Minister’s cause du jour, reducing child poverty, is a cover for communistic cravings. Left-wing governments always want to tax the rich to give to the poor in the name of greater equality. Do this under the pretext of alleviating child poverty and sympathetic voters will support you. If redistribution was advocated for the reduction of drug-addicted poverty it might find less appeal. That some children in poverty have parents burning money on their addictions remains a fact … but never mind.

There is no excuse for taking money off productive people to encourage bad decision-making. – Lindsay Mitchell

While RNZ has, historically, leaned slightly to the liberal end of the political spectrum, it has largely remained committed to the traditional journalistic belief of giving truth to power without political favour. 

But RNZ National has, almost imperceptibly and without any debate, been transformed from providing a platform for a diversity of views, the traditional role of a public broadcaster, to being a platform that now amplifies the perspectives of the liberal elite that occupy the upper echelons of New Zealand society. It has become home to a  journalism that has became fixated with culture issues, race and gender. In the process its tone has become so smug and exclusive that it is obviously alienating a large number of listeners who have departed elsewhere.  – Against the Current

The weekend’s #Groundswell protests, and the #Groundswell movement itself, were intended to highlight the plight of the New Zealand farmer under an unsympathetic regime. Instead, however, the organisers have allowed it to become easily gaslighted as something it’s not. As racist, or anti-vax.

And the important message has been lost: that it’s NZ farmers who allow us to live in first-world comfort — that it’s their exported produce that allows us to buy, at not unreasonable prices, all the technology of the world.  – Peter Cresswell

It’s those dairy exports that pay our way in the world; that, more than anything else, allow the average New Zealander to, at a reasonable price, directly acquire technology that allows them to see, hear, read and interact with the whole world’s movies, music, artworks, books, and communications technology  — to each acquire the sort of library that past royalty would have envied — and to indirectly live the sort of lifestyles that people around other parts of the world envy still. It’s those dairy exports that, more than anything else we do here, make it all possible.

Perhaps some gratitude to the farmers, rather than gaslighting them, should be the response they deserve. Peter Cresswell

These are extraordinary times which demand extraordinary measures in emergency time frames.

But in New Zealand, our bureaucracy bumbles it’s way like a plodding sloth to unfortunate outcomes.  – Andrew Dickens

One GP said even though there is high demand for the pulse oximeters, they have not been all that easy to get.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said not every single Covid-19 positive household gets one, but the Ministry of Health said they do – while Minister of Health Andrew Little said they don’t necessarily, and Grant Robertson said everyone does.Jordan Bond

It’s called media control but asking questions is called democracy and accountability. – Barry Soper

Who knew an eminent scientist expressing an honestly held opinion — that mātauranga Māori, while valuable as a form of knowledge, is not science — would end up dealing with an Inquisition in 21st century New Zealand? Graham Adams

There is no greater aspiration than one that thinks more of our legacy to future generations than the immediate difficulties experienced in the process of establishment.

We should return to the days when we all believed in those guidelines. But time is of the essence. It may soon be too late. – Clive Bibby

One of the growing images of this government is that they are on the side of the hopeless and some times worse than that, the just plain ugly. – Mike Hosking

Giving people a hand up has always been the New Zealand way. But like so many of the houses and circumstances themselves, the theory has been, and is being, abused.

It’s not a hand up, it’s a lifestyle. And the government who have sided with those who abuse it all dig an ever-deeper hole for themselves while we foot the bill. – Mike Hosking

We are dealing with monsters here, and [Kāinga Ora] have got this no evictions policy which is outrageous because the deterrence in the system has gone. – Adina Thorn

We don’t want to evict anybody. But sometimes there has to be an endpoint to this when things are completely out of control… it’s a privilege, not a right, to live in a state house. If you’re going to exploit that, something needs to give. – Adina Thorn

It’s not uncommon for Ardern to deliberately evade simple questions and give answers that bear no resemblance to the actual question.

In this case all it does is emphasise there is no increased risk if the changes were implemented ahead of Christmas, and rather than admitting that, Ardern is hoping word soup answers will be a distraction.Jo Moir

We are all going to get Covid antibodies either by vaccination or infection. The traffic lights just delay, increase social division, economic cost and the total lives lost.

The traffic lights are not based on science but on polling. We have gone from being a team of 5 million to scapegoating an unpopular minority. Not the Kiwi way.

A poll-driven government is mob rule. – Richard Prebble

War, after all, is not an equal opportunity employer, or at any rate not for long. The aged, the seriously infirm, the mad, the grossly obese must surely be excluded. A totally inclusive navy would probably sink even before it engaged in action. It would never even put to sea.Theodore Dalrymple

The enunciation of high-sounding but impossible principles disguises from us something that we would rather not know, though in fact we do know it and cannot but know it: namely that the world and life are often intractable and unfair. Not everything can be bent to our wishes, a fact which we find an assault on our self-regard. Better to hide the truth, in the process making ourselves sound liberal and generous. – Theodore Dalrymple

Remember, this is a bill that authorises the government to set constraints on who can and cannot take part in large parts of social life for the foreseeable future, that specifically permits it to require people in certain occupations to be vaccinated, and that is going to authorise other workplaces to decide if their employees have to be vaccinated or else lose their jobs. It’s getting pretty close to effectively mandating that people accept a vaccination, even if it isn’t imposing direct penalties on them for not doing so.

That may well be fine to do. I’m double-vaxxed, my kids are/will be when the age limits shift, and the science is the science. But, still, legislation that allows the state to say “put this in your body or else largely forgo social interactions” is a big step. And it’s one that ought to be taken with due respect; given time for proper scrutiny and debate, with input from an informed public. – Andrew Geddis

 First, the government apparently didn’t realise this request had been made, and so failed to respond to it in the time the OIA allows. Then, it refused to release the information because it will be made public “soon” … in late January, two months after the legislation authorising the use of vaccination certificates has been enacted into force. 

This is, to put it mildly, simply not good enough. Indeed, if you were trying to construct a lawmaking process to set off the conspiracy minded and undermine the social licence needed for success, it would look something like this. Hide the information that’s informed your legislation, introduce it at the very last moment, whip it through the House overnight, and present it as a fait accompli the next day.

Not, I hasten to add, that I subscribe to any conspiracy reasoning here. Rather, the reasons for the government’s behaviour are far more depressingly mundane. It has a parliamentary majority that allows it to act as it pleases.Andrew Geddis

But here’s the thing. When you’re the government, you’ve got to do better than “just enough”. Putting rules in place to allow society to function in the new Covid normal matters. But how you put those rules in place also matters. And in that respect, the government has failed us with this latest bill. – Andrew Geddis

You need a principled, talented opposition to provide an alternative vision, so let’s not worry about individual careers or egos, it’s the country that matters. Chris Finlayson

For me [the announcement] is absolutely useless and I find the ongoing restrictions completely over the top. New Zealand will be 90% vaccinated, so is Australia. It’s time to move on and stop destroying the economy and keeping families apart, and denying New Zealand citizens their rights to return and leave their country. –  Vanessa Freeman

Simply put, our nation locked us out and the populace stayed quiet on that, which alludes to there being a tacit agreement between the two. Teamed with a lack of empathy or compassion for what those of us locked out went through, I have forever been changed by all this.Sharelle Govignon-Sweet 

HOW LONG before Labour’s senior ministers realise how much damage Kāinga Ora is doing to their Government? Because it is difficult to overstate just how bad the optics of the Crown entity’s “unruly tenants” have become. As story after shocking story is picked up by the news media, public disbelief and disgust is growing exponentially. What’s preventing Labour from cauterising this self-inflicted political wound?
The answer would seem to involve the peculiar moral blindness that afflicts so much of the state bureaucracy. Partly, the result of an unrelenting focus on the “challenges” faced by criminal and dysfunctional individuals – challenges that are permitted to obscure, almost entirely, the consequences of their criminality and dysfunction. Partly, the result of the impulse to offer protection to those deemed “beyond the pale” by the rest of society. And, partly, the result of an ingrained bureaucratic reluctance to have any state agency’s shortcomings exposed to public and political scrutiny. Bring all these together, and the chances of the responsible bureaucrats seeing either the bigger picture, or the even bigger problem, are slim. – Chris Trotter

To the rest of the world, of course, the idea of allowing young children to remain in the custody of individuals who abuse and threaten their neighbours, is unthinkable. With that sort of parental example, they would argue, what chance do these kids have of growing into anything other than another generation of violent and uncaring thugs? “Get them out of there! Now!” Would be the immediate response of the average New Zealander. “And then evict their parents!”

In the eyes of the bureaucrats, however, this is exactly what must be avoided. Years of experience have taught them that breaking-up the family unit is only likely to make things worse. They insist that all these allegedly “common sense” solutions end up creating are more unruly citizens. Far from reducing the number of problematic individuals in state houses, you end up multiplying them. (Overlooked, or downplayed, is the fact that equally dire outcomes tend to flow from families in which unpunished violence, intimidation and harassment are part of everyday existence.) – Chris Trotter

So fixated have the bureaucrats become with “managing” the perpetrators of what in many cases are criminal offences, that the harassed and terrified people on the receiving end of those offences are simply forgotten.

This is the moral blindness that drives the victims of such behaviour, and all who read about it, to utter distraction. They begin to feel like lab rats in some dark behavioural science experiment. Their terrible experiences are simply incidental to the pathology of the experimental subjects. The quality of the victims’ lives is not the point of the exercise. The agency’s only concern is how successful their interventions are at rendering unruly tenants less unruly. – Chris Trotter

If law-abiding citizens’ faith in the state’s willingness to protect its citizens from violence, intimidation and harassment is not rewarded with swift and decisive action, then people will look elsewhere, and to others, for protection

Official inertia and vigilantism are not unrelated.Chris Trotter

The greatest failings of government arise when a growing bureaucracy and political ambition replace the principals of service. – Mark Rais

The IOC decision released last week ignores the wealth of scientific evidence, and common sense, that males have a competitive advantage against females in almost all sports,” said the organisation’s spokesperson Ro Edge.

“It has effectively eliminated the female category in sports by now allowing any male to compete in the female category on the basis only of “self-identification” as a woman.Ro Edge

In order to restrict a male from competing as a female, an individual sporting body will have to provide its own “robust and peer-reviewed research” to prove that women will be unfairly disadvantaged.

“This is indefensible….it’s clear the IOC hasn’t been able to figure out how to allow the inclusion of transwomen in the female category without it impacting fairness and safety for female athletes – and that’s because it is an impossible task. – Alison Roe

It [the IOC Transgender Framework] states that “everyone, regardless of gender identity, should be able to participate in sport safely and without prejudice”.

“While no one should disagree with that, the real question is, should a person have the right to participate in any category they choose?Ro Edge

On the contrary, it seems as if the end of communism and apartheid (closely related, for the apartheid regime in South Africa would never have dissolved itself while communists of the African National Congress could hope for an alliance with the Soviet Union, after the downfall of which they swiftly converted to crony capitalism) has liberated the inner totalitarian of the leftist intelligentsia to turn its attention on its own society, and use race, climate, and inequality to further its drive for power.

Far from wishing to ease racial tensions, it wishes to provoke, maintain, and exacerbate them so that they become a pretext for endless political and bureaucratic interference in everyone’s life. As Lenin put it, the worse the better. – Theodore Dalrymple

We’re all familiar with the phrase “the worst of all possible worlds”. Well, I think we now know what that world looks like.

We have an all-powerful, increasingly authoritarian government that combines ideological zealotry with ineptitude, profligacy, laziness and contempt for democratic process – surely the most lethal confluence of malignant political forces in living memory.Karl du Fresne

Speaking of the media, we have a new breed of political journalists whom no one can trust, who regard themselves as players rather than observers, and who treat politics as some sort of entertaining blood sport – one in which all participants risk being maimed with the exception of … the media, who are accountable to no one and are in the uniquely privileged position of ensuring they always come out as winners. I’m reminded of a British journalist’s memorable line about newspaper editorial writers: “They watch from the hills as the fighting rages, then come down and bayonet the wounded.”

That pretty much describes some of today’s Press Gallery journalists, such as Newshub’s political editor Tova O’Brien and her understudy Jenna Lynch, who have no skin in the game and can walk away unscathed from the carnage they helped to orchestrate. Newshub played a key role in National’s leadership crisis, constantly contriving opportunities to undermine the floundering opposition leader while leaving the prime minister – the person actually running the country – untouched within her media-enabled force field. Dirty politics? You have it right there – but don’t expect another book from Nicky Hager.  – Karl du Fresne

No, if you want to trace New Zealand’s parlous situation back to its origin, the trail leads inexorably to Winston Raymond Peters. Remember the 2017 election? With just 7 percent of the vote, Peters held the balance of power and exercised it by anointing Ardern as prime minister when, morally, National had earned the right to govern with 44 per cent of the vote to Labour’s 38 per cent.

Had the New Zealand First leader done the honourable thing in 2017, Bill English would have remained prime minister and might have turned out to be a good one. Not only had he done much of the heavy lifting behind the scenes in the Key government, but he had a social conscience that marked him as a politician in the mould of National Party liberals from the Holyoake era – National’s golden age, when it won four consecutive terms.Karl du Fresne

The media have been complicit in this process, for months on end treating the pandemic as if it was the only story of any consequence and ignoring, or at the very least playing down, elements of the government’s agenda that might cause public disquiet. Covid-19 has forced almost everything else off the news pages and the evening bulletins, allowing Labour’s activists to get on with their project virtually unhindered.

Peters, ironically, found himself ousted from Parliament, the voters finally having had enough of his decades of chicanery, so perhaps there’s some justice after all. But with the NZ First leader again hovering balefully around the periphery of politics, no one should forget his ignoble role in all this. – Karl du Fresne

There is no authority in numbers. There is no weight, in the realm of science, to a consensus if a single fact can disprove the proposition. Damien Grant

The Royal Society is one of the pillars of our civil society. It is funded by the state. It has over three and a half centuries of commitment to open and free inquiry. Membership confers status and recognition.

They should step back from the track they are treading and return to the traditions which has made it one of the great institutions of our time. – Damien Grant

Silencing or punishing someone for an opinion runs counter to reason. … No one is infallible; no one is omniscient. The only way our species has been able to do anything worthwhile is by voicing opinions and allowing them to be criticised…

If you’ve got a regime where merely voicing an opinion gets you silenced or punished then we’ve turned off the only mechanism we have of discovering knowledge. It is a way of locking ourselves into error…

If we have a regime that can subject someone to an investigation based on an opinion, we know from history that’s the way totalitarian autocracies work and oppressive theocracies work.

We know that the countries that have done well — the liberal democracies — have had freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry.Steven Pinker

It is to Chris Luxon’s credit that he is one of the few MPs to have taken a pay cut – in his case of over $4,000,000 a year – to enter Parliament, having left the top position at Air NZ. He is a person who is clearly motivated by public service rather than raiding the taxpayer’s wallet. – Jordan Williams

Journalists had fun mocking the recent Covid vaccine protesters. I did it myself. But, talk to anyone across the land, and I do frequently, who deal with the public, such as gym owners, shop-keepers, GPs and so on and all report a seething anger at the government’s oppressively dictatorial behaviour. The past 15 months inability of Kiwi’s to come home from abroad despite being vaccinated and happy to do a week at home, the absurdity of the South Island semi-lockdown, the PM’s hogging of television until the tide turned, then hiding out for three months under the radar in Wellington, and much, much more.

But over-riding everything is the racial divide the government has brought about by its relentless promotion of Maori favouritism. Bob Jones

Much has been made of my relative newness to Parliament but to be honest, I see it as an advantage. I bring a fresh set of eyes, and what I see is that this place and this country needs a shake-up.  Nicola and I are fresh new faces for a revitalised National Party. We are the reset.

Today we are drawing a line under the events of the last four years, and we are putting them behind us. If you are one of the 413,000 voters who moved away from us, my message to you is: from today, National is back. – Chris Luxon

I have built a career out of reversing the fortunes of under-performing companies and I’ll bring that real-world experience to this role.

Under my leadership, National will use our breadth of talent and real-world experience every day to deliver for each and every New Zealander. Chris Luxon

: New Zealand is at a critical cross-roads as we grapple with, and emerge from, a global pandemic.

We have a choice: a choice between our current road to mediocrity, or a pathway to a more confident, aspirational and prosperous future.

New Zealand needs an alternative now more than ever to take us in the right direction – because frankly, the country is heading the wrong way. – Chris Luxon

I know that there is a massive difference between announcements and achievement.

Talking about something gets you a headline. Actually getting things done is what improves the lives of everyday New Zealanders.

For four years, New Zealand has had a government great at delivering good PR but woeful at delivering much else.

Nice ideas and good intentions don’t pay the rent or the mortgage, educate our children, keep us healthy, keep us safe from crime and gangs, improve our mental health, lower our emissions or keep us united.Chris Luxon

I’ve seen the incredible things that people can accomplish when they are freed up and given the tools and the choices to seize opportunities.

I believe in a New Zealand that rewards hard work; a New Zealand that empowers Kiwis to take a punt and create prosperity for themselves and their families.

Most of all I believe in a New Zealand that while small in size is large in ambition. Let’s rediscover that!

Growing our economy and raising productivity are the single biggest things we can do to improve the lives of all New Zealanders. –  Chris Luxon

I’m proud to lead a government-in-waiting that will work every day to represent all New Zealanders – a “national National Party” that earns back their trust and confidence, and actually delivers for them.

And the National Government I will lead will be a government of action.

We will bring the tide back in and lift all boats.

We need to seize the tremendous opportunities we have, rather than squander them.

As I often say, we’re all going to get the country we deserve – and I firmly believe that together we – each and every one of us – can achieve the very best.Chris Luxon


Quotes of the month

01/07/2021

The cult of celebrity, as a quality in itself irrespective of the value of what it attaches to, is likewise mysterious to me. Many are those who seek celebrity detached from anything else of discernible worth. Fame for its own sake is sufficient for them. But what does it mean that people can be famous for being famous? – Theodore Dalrymple

The celebrity must be such that, fundamentally, he is one of us, the great mass of mediocrities. In fact, a celebrity could have been me if things had been only a little different. Modern celebrity is thus the screen on which mass daydreams are projected. Theodore Dalrymple

Where celebrity is both more desired and more prevalent, it will attach to people of less and less accomplishment. To be completely unknown becomes a wound, a humiliation, a sign of failure; celebrity is the sole guarantor of personal worth. To be known for nothing of any importance is infinitely better than not being known at all. – Theodore Dalrymple

There should be term limits of about 15 years and then you should have a compulsory sabbatical. If you want to come back, it’s over to you, but you’d be pretty stupid to. – Chris Finlayson

 Patel evokes such insensate fury in her opponents not because of her actual practical politics, which could be opposed or disagreed with in a normal way, but because she represents a threat to a worldview. She is the child of refugees, and she experienced racial insult and abuse as a child; therefore, it was her duty to play the professional victim for the rest of her life. Instead, she says that her heroine was Margaret Thatcher, who inspired her to go into politics. By not claiming to be a victim, and by climbing up the greasy pole through sheer determination, she has proved herself a traitor to her class and her race.

Worse still, Patel is a threat to all those who aspire to climb that same greasy pole by denouncing elitism, privilege, and racism as the principal sources of all evil. And there is a growing danger that a substantial proportion of various ethnic minorities will come to think like her. – Theodore Dalrymple

Labour’s record is going to be blowing 30 years of fiscal prudence and creating $100,000 of debt per household. Plus closing down the country and avoiding a mass outbreak of Covid, but how hard was that?Richard Prebble

What if making people dependent is a cause of poverty? What if Labour’s benefit increase traps more people in dependency? Bill English’s Better Public Services programme that provided wrap around services to assist beneficiaries off dependency achieved better results. – Richard Prebble

Spending $486 million restructuring health to a centralised system won’t provide a single extra operation. Andrew Little achieved nothing in three years in justice except expensive hui. He has yet to learn about project optimism. It is the rule that says projects cost twice as much and take four times longer than estimated. The unexpected always happens. – Richard Prebble

The evidence of the last thirty years is that, given the choice, workers prefer not to be represented in their wage negotiations by unions. Unsurprisingly, they choose to have a direct relationship with their employer. This may be bad news for unions, but it is not a systemic weakness in the labour market.

And that is the real reason why the claims in Minister Wood’s Cabinet paper don’t stack up. New Zealand’s labour markets are working well for both firms and workers. But they have not been working well for unions. That is the only “entrenched weakness” of the current framework. And it is only a weakness if you are a union official. For anyone else, the case for FPAs does not compute. – Roger Partridge

Of the services classed as essential during the Covid lockdowns last year, it is important to remember that the only ones supporting income for the country were those to do with food and fibre. The other essential services were … essential, but most, including the public servants now on a wage “pause”, were supported by the Government. 

Farmers and growers working through were not.

Just as the primary sector was vital to maintain the economy during Covid, it is now vital to contribute to debt repayment. It therefore makes little sense to shut down any part of it without considering the full implications and alternatives. – Jacqueline Rowarth

Organic, regenerative production systems do not and cannot yield as well as conventional systems. Globally, depending on crop and season, about 60 per cent of conventional is average.

Occasionally the yields are similar, but generally only on individual harvests – not on a five- or 10-year calculation. And most of the calculations overlook the need to bring in animal manure as nutrient replacement. Green-laundering refers to the fact that this manure has often been created by animals being given conventionally grown food. – Jacqueline Rowarth

The National Science Challenge Our Land and Water has funded research on organic versus conventional yields and people’s willingness to pay. The report indicated that a premium of 38 per cent would be required to offset yield decrease. People were apparently willing to pay an extra 36 per cent, though reality suggests that most people don’t.

It is also important to remember that a premium is paid for something that is not the norm. If everybody is organic or regenerative or whatever, there will be no premium. – Jacqueline Rowarth

Regulation cannot create excellence in anything but compliance, and compliance with regulations set in urban environments, where context is not understood, cannot assist with debt reduction for the country. – – Jacqueline Rowarth

In the four minutes it took to read this column, the national debt increased by $353,333.

Who will pay off this debt if the farmers and growers are out of business? – – Jacqueline Rowarth

Putting New Zealanders first when it comes to local employment is all very well. But it has to be based on more than wishful thinking. It needs to be properly evidence-based that the goal can be achieved. Despite the government’s optimistic rhetoric, there is no substantive evidence of a large number of New Zealanders showing any interest in doing the necessary work that migrants currently carry out. – Peter Dunne

The faster we get that jab into arms up and down this country, the faster we’ll be reconnecting with the world. Heather du Plessis-Allan

 So, her visit was disappointing. Confirming that dogma dictates decisions, while reason runs for cover. Grass doesn’t need water. Tractors don’t need drivers. Regenerative farming makes Lincoln redundant. Maori wards will make gangs evaporate. Pine forests make air travel harmless. Nevertheless, we pray that rain and sanity may one day return to us here in drought land. – Tim Gilbertson

Labour’s problem with the Bill is that it offers choice, when they believe there should only be one choice for the second language – te reo.

“One minute Labour MPs are celebrating Samoan language week in Parliament, next minute they are killing a piece of legislation that would better equip schools to teach Samoan – or Hindi, or Mandarin, or Tongan, or Punjabi or any number of languages widely spoken in communities around New Zealand.Paul Goldsmith

 Confirmed, yet again, is the unhealthily large number of “suck-up, kick-down” personalities currently at large in New Zealand’s Fourth Estate.

So many contemporary journalists appear to be in the job for trophies. Not the sort of trophies one displays on the mantelpiece (although they like them too) but the sort of trophies big-game hunters hang on their walls. The current Press Gallery’s definition of a good political journalist would appear to be based on how many politician’s they have “bagged”. As if stuffing someone’s career is something to be proud of. – Chris Trotter

There is already enough ego and ambition in Parliament to go around – we certainly don’t need to be stoking either in a person before they have even been selected or elected. Monique Poirier 

The victim is the modern hero and also the highest moral authority: for who would dare to question, let alone oppose, the opinion of a victim on the subject of whatever has made him or her a victim? Thus, we listen to victims with a kind of awed and uncritical, but also terrified, reverence even when they speak of abstractions. If they say something which we suspect or even know to be untrue, we fear to let on to others our derogation from the holy word. To disagree publicly with a victim, to question the undiluted veracity of their story, is to increase the harm they have suffered, and in effect to victimise them a second time. – Theodore Dalrymple

 It is small wonder, then, that in a cultural climate such as this, some people are willing and able to claim the status of victim even when what they suffered is only one of the inevitable inconveniences of having been born human. It is as if were prayed not for the Lord to make us strong but to make us fragile. Psychological fragility, of course, is romantic in a way in which strength of mind is not: it is the moral equivalent of the blood that romantic poets coughed up prior to dying early. Apart from anything else, psychological fragility gives one the standing from which to discourse at length upon one’s favourite subject, the subject on which one is a world authority, namely oneself. – Theodore Dalrymple

If you’re ugly, old or badly-dressed, don’t expect crying to work; if you’re male, it’s a gamble; and if you’re not in the in-group, you can forget it. But if your face fits (and you don’t ugly-cry) then you can do what you like. And as long as you sob in public now and then, you’ll be considered a paragon of compassion. – Mary Harrington

In my 20-year plus time as a journalist, this Government is one of the most thin-skinned and secretive I have experienced. Many of my colleagues say the same. Even squeezing basic facts out of an agency is a frustrating, torturous and often futile exercise.Andrea Vance

It’s now very difficult for journalists to get to the heart and the truth of a story. We are up against an army of well-paid spin doctors. – Andrea Vance

But it is the New Zealand Transport Agency that take the cake: employing a staggering 72 staff to keep its message, if not its road-building, on track – up from 26 over five years. At every level, the Government manipulates the flow of information. – Andrea Vance

Perhaps the trials and tribulations of the nation’s journalists do not concern you. Why should you care? Because the public’s impression of this government is the very opposite.

They see a prime minister that has captivated the world with her ‘authentic’ communication style, intimate social media postings, daily Covid briefings and proactive releases of Cabinet papers. It is an artfully-crafted mirage, because the reality is very different. This is a Government that is only generous with the information that it chooses to share. Andrea Vance

Our current monetary regulatory regime works to protect the vested interests of those with capital at the exclusion of those seeking to acquire it. This applies to people wishing to purchase a house, obtain capital for a business or in some cases even open a bank account. This harms the poor and entrenches the wealthy. For historical reasons Māori are over-represented in our lower economic demographics. The Reserve Bank is not doing anything to improve their lot, and in many ways is making their lives harder. – Damien Grant

We’re losing a lot of the satire and the greater comment about what is going on, because people are afraid of what the reaction is going to be. – Matt Elliott 

It’s quite hard to navigate comedy, particularly if you want to do social satire, in these conditions… you really have to twist yourself in knots to not offend. – Ginette McDonald

Some people still continue to have the sense that comedy is the ability to say whatever you want, and that that has always been the case. That’s never always been the case. There’s always been lines and the audience will tell you where that line is, by reacting against it – Te Radar

The only reason we get away with that irreverence and edgy stuff is because on the flipside is heart. – Oscar Knightley

I don’t have rules but ‘stay in your storytelling lane’ is one anyone can trust. Everything (especially the painful stuff) should have an autobiographical pebble in it, because then it resonates. In my experience that’s how marginalised audiences feel seen, which is why I got into comedy writing in the first place. – Jessicoco Hansell 

But comedy’s not like ice skating. You don’t get points for degree of difficulty.” Sometimes, crossing the line can be thought-provoking. Laughter is a physical reaction. It’s honest and instant, and it’s interesting for the audience to laugh and sometimes wonder if it was OK to laugh.

The list of forbidden topics is always changing, and comedy evolves, like society, and it’s the job of the comic to feel where the line is. Sometimes you only find out by tripping over it. I’m sure if you’re the guest speaker at a KKK rally, the line is in a different place than for my audience. – Raybon Kan

The only rule in stand-up comedy from my perspective is tell jokes that you want to tell. Don’t tiptoe around other people because they might get offended. As a comedian, you have to stay true to your craft. – Dave Batten

There are some things that you can try and do something about. And if you want to be able to look at yourself in the mirror, then you’d damn well better do something about them. – Arif Ahmed

Material living standards aren’t everything by any means. But they do seem to count for quite a lot.Michael Reddell

The conversations around the sustainability of red meat – which is often dominated by issues and matters prevalent in the northern hemisphere – means it is important to contribute a New Zealand-centric explanation of how we produce our meat.

The fact is, our system is the ‘EV car model’ of farming. Very efficient at raising animals on pasture and converting inedible grass into high quality, nutrient-dense food.Derek Moot

Kiwis must realise there’s no us and them – farmers are part of New Zealand; an integral part of our country’s welfare. A cursory glance at the rest of the world and we’d recognise how lucky we are here in Aotearoa.

New Zealand is the only OECD country with its economy based on agricultural production. It’s something that we do really, really, well. New Zealand farmers are good at agriculture and Kiwis can be proud of it. – Derek Moot

I’m reminded of the old Soviet Union, where word would spread like wildfire when a fresh delivery of bread or potatoes arrived at the supermarket and people would run to join the queue. Perhaps the government has chosen the same the mode of delivery for the Pfizer rollout. – Karl du Fresne

I don’t know who’s making these calls but I have to say, if you’ve got middle level bureaucrats sitting at their desk in Wellington, they do need to remember that their decisions will affect real people. – Dr Tim Mackle

New Zealanders, on the whole, are a tolerant, decent people, of many cultural and ethnic backgrounds. who abhor racism and inequality and indeed any other “ism” which purports to establish some sort of domination or superiority. “Jack is as good as his master” is a colloquialism long espoused in New Zealand to describe our egalitarian approach to life. There is no doubt whatsoever that any person in New Zealand today, if they have the ability, can aspire to and achieve whatever they want. The opportunity is undoubtedly there. In recent times, the highest offices of the land have been held by distinguished New Zealanders of multiple ethnicities – Maori, Fijian Indian, and yes, those of European or Asian descent. Ethnicity, gender or religion, amongst other political identities, has been no barrier to New Zealanders achieving their goals and dreams. We, all of us – Maori, Pakeha, Pasifika, Asian, African – attended school together, have worked together, played sport together, served and died for our country New Zealand together, and have intermarried to the extent that virtually every person of Maori descent today has a European or Asian ancestor. Few other countries around the world can claim such egalitarian, inter-cultural and relatively peaceful outcomes. – Henry Armstrong

This is not to say we should not be indifferent to the cultural identification, beliefs, needs and practices of cultural minorities, including our Pasifika, Asian and Maori communities – we should of course acknowledge and respect those cultural differences where appropriate. But equally, the same attributes pertaining to the current ethnic majority also need to be acknowledged. Terms like “white privilege” and “white supremacy” are racist insults which have NO PLACE in New Zealand. – Henry Armstrong

Racism goes both ways and is equally hurtful, no matter what a person’s ethnic or cultural identity. My Irish and Polish ancestors, as well as our Pasifika and Chinese brothers and sisters, have all experienced racism in New Zealand. Let’s unite and stamp this out-wherever it comes from, including from Maori! . . .

There is no excuse for justifying and supporting insulting accusations of racism of any type in New Zealand, be it by Pakeha or by Maori, or indeed by anybody else who uses ethnicity as a point of difference. Let us condemn ALL racism, overt, covert or inverse. – Henry Armstrong

If it’s true that a new form of overt racial antagonism is emerging in New Zealand, then its origins are almost certainly domestic. I’d go further and say that the primary provocation is coming not from shadowy white supremacists, as the Dominion Post story speculates, but from the opposite direction – from proponents of critical race theory, the Marxist view that societies such as New Zealand are built on oppressive, systemic racism.

To put it another way, the divisive, polarising race rhetoric that we are bombarded with daily is coming overwhelmingly from one side, and it’s not from Pakeha. If we really to want to identify what’s destabilising race relations in New Zealand, we should point the finger at those who relentlessly promote an ideology of apartness – conveniently denying, as I’ve pointed out in this blog, that even the most strident activists carry the supposed curse of European blood. – Karl du Fresne

The problem for these part-Maori agitators (should we call them Maokeha?) is that if they acknowledged their European descent, the ideological narrative that we are two races, immutably divided into exploiters and exploited, would be deprived of much of its force. But as long as they continue to identify exclusively with their Maori heritage, they lay themselves open to the accusation that they do it because it enables them to exercise power and influence that would otherwise not be available to them.

These are the people who are dialling up the heat in the race debate, and no one should be surprised if a redneck backlash develops. Nothing is more likely to give oxygen to the small minority of true racists in New Zealand – people like the woman Tukaki encountered – than the perception that New Zealand is being reshaped along race-based lines that would advantage those of part-Maori descent. The danger is that the vast majority of New Zealanders who are liberally minded and racially tolerant are likely to get caught in the middle of an unlovely clash between extremes. Karl du Fresne

In reality, the world seems every more filled with what the French call “langue de bois,” that wooden language in which apparatchiks of various apparats, governmental, academic, and commercial, put words to their lack of thoughts. – Theodore Dalrymple

Sentences, which are no more meaningful in the negative than in the affirmative, and whose negative indeed confers nothing to the mind different from the affirmative, are uttered with a gravity intended to suggest that something important is being said.

But it would be a mistake to suppose that, just because the words and sentences uttered have no clear meaning, that they have no purpose. On the contrary, they have a very important purpose. The mastery of this kind of language is the managerial equivalent of freemasons’ ceremonies: it distinguishes the managers from the managed.Theodore Dalrymple

Again, if I may be allowed a paradox, meaninglessness is not without meaning. To talk in verbiage is to commit yourself to nothing, to promise nothing, and therefore to prevent yourself from being held to anything. It therefore excludes nothing.

It facilitates, or is a disguise or smokescreen, for complete ruthlessness: for having uttered something without meaning, without any tether to concrete reality, you may do anything you like without breaking your word.

Where such language is used, there can be no trust, only suspicion, for no one utters anything to which he can be held. All that is left is a struggle for power, the achievement of which has come, ever since Nietzsche and his death of God, to seem the highest, even the only, good. – Theodore Dalrymple

In an age where we are surrounded with everybody’s best version of themselves presented on social media, confidence is king. On reality TV, all shyness and self-consciousness is discarded for 15 minutes of fame. Contestants readily make fools of themselves to gain some notoriety. These incredible levels of confidence shouldn’t be our norm, nor considered healthy.

Before diagnosing yourself with imposter syndrome and chanting affirmations in the mornings, consider that being a little bit self-aware and self-critical is not, in fact, a problem, and perhaps a society which values confidence over self-reflection is.Rachel Peters

The mantra of ‘They Are Us’ repeated over and over like a prayer soon began to lose its meaning. After March 15, many of us felt more isolated than ever before. We looked over our shoulders when we walked through a crowd. We felt our chests tightening while walking into a mosque. Some of us stopped taking our children to Friday prayers.

Others questioned whether or not to abandon wearing the hijab in search of safety. We were all waiting for more attacks to come, and we did not know where they would come from, or when. – Mohamed Hassan

All of us were grateful for the beauty we witnessed in the days that followed, the empathy and warmth and shared grief we were able to experience as a country. It was a moment that shaped us, gave us a path forward through the darkness. But that process has not ended. We are not healed. We are not ready to move on, and the road is long and difficult. –

There were times when ‘They Are Us’ felt hollow. A promise made but not kept. A pat on the back for a job not yet done. – Mohamed Hassan

In its essence, it is a story about an act of white supremacy that is centered around white voices, white feelings and white heroism. The irony is nauseating. The lack of self-awareness is profound. – Mohamed Hassan

But this is not an inspiring story. It is a tragedy, one that must always be centered around the Muslim victims and their families. No one else.

And when they are ready to speak again, the rest of us must sit down and listen. – Mohamed Hassan

At every such juncture, we’ve been admonished to “believe the science.” But this is not science; it’s politics. Science demands a reflexive posture of skepticism toward received wisdom, tempered by trust in empirical evidence. Bowing habitually to expert authority on the strength of titles and credentials is the antithesis of the scientific mindset. Leighton Akira Woodhouse

The scientific establishment, like the political establishment, is a human institution. It’s not an impartial supercomputer, or a transcendent consciousness. It’s a bunch of people subject to the same incentives and disincentives the rest of us are subject to: economic self-interest, careerism, pride and vanity, the thirst for power, fame and influence, embarrassment at admitting mistakes, intellectual laziness, inertia, and ad-hoc ethical rationalization, as well as altruism, moral purpose, and heroic inspiration. Scientific experts deserve the respect due to them by dint of their education and experience, and they deserve the skepticism due to them by dint of their existence as imperfect actors functioning in complicated and deeply flawed human networks and organizations. If you “believe in science,” you don’t bow to their authority. You don’t transform them into living legends and teach your children to follow the example of their lives. You don’t light votive candles to them and castigate anyone who dares doubt their infinite wisdom.

Instead, you demand the best proof they can offer. You consider their motivations, their ideological biases and their conflicts of interest. You interrogate their advice, and weigh it against that of their critics. You exercise diligence. You ask questions. You trust in evidence, not in people. You think for yourself. – Leighton Akira Woodhouse

Never forget that if it was easy to be in business then everybody would be in business. –  Pita Alexander

Honestly, that whole ‘They Are Us’ phrase really bothers me. I know many disagree with me and I’m not gonna’ fight the fight again, but if we really meant ‘They Are Us,’ the Crusaders would have changed their name. If we really meant ‘They Are Us,’ then we might not have planned massacre anniversary commemorations, knowing that most Muslims don’t mark anniversaries.

If they were us then we wouldn’t us the word ‘They’ at all.    – Jack Tame

How is it acceptable that the cycleway is a velvety smooth carpet of asphalt, while the general roadway remains a rutted, dishevelled patchwork quilt of rough and ready repairs? Motorists feel like they’re being contemptuously treated by a rabidly anti-car council.Mike Yardley

 Up to now, this new “age of enlightenment”, as woke followers would call it, is largely constrained to traditional wealthy democracies found in Europe, North America and Australasia. In other words, most of the world, by population, is yet to feel the woke wave or has decided it’s just not for them. Poor ignorant souls, still able to give their misplaced opinions on issues which have been ruled on by our woke leaders as unfit for public debate. – Derek Mackie

 It’s hard to tell how many people are secretly unwoke but I suspect it is a very large number indeed. Why don’t they speak out? If there’s one thing the woke brigade does well, it’s bully and intimidate. This is an age-old human tactic for getting your own way but what makes it particularly hypocritical in this case is the endless woke calls for fairness, kindness and freedom of expression. Like most movements born out of an urge for radical change and revolution, these laudable aims only apply to their own supporters. Anyone who dares to disagree or argue an alternative viewpoint is shouted down, vilified and verbally beaten into submission. –  Derek Mackie

In the last 70 – 100 years the great unwashed, that’s you and me by the way, have gained enormous freedoms and opportunities, not least regular baths and showers, which were denied to our ancestors. I don’t believe we will give these rights up easily. Like all radical movements, Woke will degenerate to more extreme and intolerant ideas, continuing to divide us by race, colour, gender and sexual orientation. These policies will become irreconcilable with preaching the same facade of understanding and fairness.

I hope that, despite the indoctrination planned for future schoolchildren, many will rebel and challenge the woke elite. However, this is likely another generation away, at least. In the meantime, the Great Unwoke need to band together, as best they can, and speak out at every opportunity to encourage others to follow suit. To stay silent and live a quiet life is no longer an option. Let’s bring on a new great age where we can discuss all issues in public life without fear of being branded something repugnant. –  Derek Mackie

I hope the greenies are still enjoying their gas ban and the fact we don’t mine much coal nowadays.

Because both of things mean we’re hurting the planet more than we otherwise would’ve done. Heather du Plessis Allan

That the CCC and the Government have got this far without encountering very much in the way of pushback from the public (farmers don’t count as the public) is because New Zealanders have no idea how much their day-to-day lives will be affected if Carr’s masterplan becomes Government policy. Everybody pays lip service to fighting global warming, but beyond occasionally catching a bus, or walking – instead of driving – to the chippie, it’s business as usual. Hardly anyone is prepared for the radical change of lifestyle which Carr’s recommendations would require. So, when the climate change penny finally drops, all hell is going to break loose. – Chris Trotter

Carr’s plans are typically elitist in their lofty disregard for the lives of ordinary New Zealanders. Indeed, the burden of this plan of his will fall most heavily upon those Kiwis least able to bear it. Is the cleaner living in South Auckland, who travels miles each day by car to reach her workplace, seriously being asked to buy an electric vehicle? And even if the government finances her into one, how is she supposed to power it up? – Chris Trotter

The fact that Labour is surprised at our outrage tells me they don’t understand Middle New Zealand voters.

They badly misjudged how much we would object to this spend and how much we would hate the pay freeze just a few weeks ago. They don’t know what we prioritise.

After years of living in a Wellington politics bubble or a university bubble or a union bubble they’ve stopped bumping into normal people. They are relying on focus groups to try to understand us, but focus groups have limits. Focus groups measure people through a series of questions. People are more complicated than that.

To Labour, Middle New Zealanders are a curiosity they occasionally venture out to study like a zoologist heading out to watch a pack of passing giraffes. –  Heather du Plessis-Allan

The crime committed around the harbour crossing is now two-fold. The ruinous waste of money for a whole new structure, the only positive aspect being it most likely will never happen. The government, by the way, might want to reflect on that widespread type of reaction.

Why are so many people sceptical? Because their delivery record is abysmal, and it’s now haunting them. Governments should make announcements like this and have support, what they get through their own ineptitude is scepticism. – Mike Hosking

In a country crying out for infrastructural reform, not to mention no money and a shortage of skills and materials, the best they can do is a massive cross water cycle lane.

If you don’t see that as the sheer insanity that it is, you’re either employed at a university, in the Green Party, or you’ve lost your marbles. Roads build economies, cycles don’t. – Mike Hosking

Sometimes you get so bogged down with the day-to-day graft that it is hard to see where small improvements can make a big difference. If we stop seeing health and safety as compliance and look at it as productive farming with thriving staff, we might see an improvement in our pretty miserable track record of injuries and deaths on farm.Jake Jarman

Pandemics require two things: The efficient administering of effective vaccines, and truth.

I need reassurance that the country is receiving both. – Gavin Ellis

An army of spin doctors in the ministry and an elite force of them in the Beehive may be responsible for narratives which, if not conflicting, are not perfectly aligned. Either way, information is being manipulated and we would be näive to think otherwise. It’s the way politics and government works.

Nonetheless, it has no place in a pandemic.

When “Can I believe it?” passes the public’s lips in these hazardous times, it’s a signal to reset the strategy. – Gavin Ellis

The truth has a wonderful habit of revealing itself but, with a deadly virus waiting for an opportunity to thrive, we can’t wait a year to hear it. – Gavin Ellis

We need to hear leaders condemn all support for terrorism and all terrorism equally whatever the source, target, and circumstances, and even when it is not politically expedient to do so. – Juliet Moses

The Commission concedes that it is not possible to model the future but then bases its report on modelling.

A Shaman examining the entrails of a goat could make a forecast of GDP in 30 years’ time that would be just as valid. – Richard Prebble

The Commission is using climate change to advance an agenda for a transition to a “fair, inclusive and equitable” society, the eternal justification for socialism.

The report’s recommendations will make reaching zero emissions more costly while making New Zealand less fair, more divided and poorer. – Richard Prebble

If the term “the Establishment” means those who hold power in society and whose ideas dominate the public conversation, then what we thought of as the conservative Establishment in the latter part of the 20th century has long been extinct. We’ve done a 180-degree flip, to the point where what was then considered radical has become mainstream. But just like the old Establishment, the new one is oppressively conformist, authoritarian and intolerant of different ideas and different ways of doing things. That’s the nature of Establishments. – Karl du Fresne

When a major event occurs or a policy proposal announced, your first thought in today’s news feed culture is not your own original idea but almost inevitably a headline or commenter appealing to your worse biases.

Playing to the rawest elements of human nature, today’s social media-driven outrage machine has done great damage to intellectual life, destroying our ability to think independently, and discuss productively across lines of difference.   – Matthew Nisbet

When TV news does report on climate change, portrayals tend to exaggerate the threats, without providing information about what audiences might be able to do to protect against them, a style of fear mongering that can result in feelings of powerlessness or forms of denial. – Matthew Nisbet

In the quest for climate progress, the goal is not to broker cross-alliances between the center-right, center-left, and left wing, drawing on the best ideas that those factions can offer, but rather to build progressive power.

In doing so, the vast complexity of climate politics is reduced to a Manichean storyline that features a battle between the forces of “good and light” and “evil and darkness.” 

Progressives not only see climate change as an epic battle to stave off catastrophe, but also an opportunity to transform the world into their vision of an ideal society. – Matthew Nisbet

Absent the ability to read deeply, reason analytically, or argue effectively, generations of college students are at of risk of missing out on the most essential skills needed to sustain a liberal democracy. – Matthew Nisbet

I applaud and congratulate people who question the official line on any matter, even if sometimes they are in error. There is a freedom to err, a right to be wrong. – John Bishop

Those who say on any matter that the debate is over are propagating their ideology and advertising their power to squelch opposition. They are the enemies of free speech, freedom and democracy, even if they cloak themselves as being on the right side of history. – John Bishop

Today, if left unchallenged, cancel culture, de-platforming speakers, or decrying anyone who strays from the “correct” ideological line will lead inevitably to a denial of free speech rights. People will become afraid to exercise those rights. How can that ever be good?John Bishop

The Government’s announcement on Sunday of subsidies for electric vehicles did not make any case that the benefits to the public would plausibly exceed the costs. To fail to demonstrate positive net benefits is to fail to make a public wellbeing case for the measure.

The puzzle is why a Government that prides itself on having a wellbeing focus seems to have so little regard for it in this and other cases. – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

The Government’s press release covered the absence of a wellbeing benefit case with specious spin. For a start, its claimed environmental benefits are spurious. The ETS caps net emissions. If there are fewer emissions in transport, there will be more emissions elsewhere unless the cap is reduced. The same is true for other “chest-beating” policies such as decarbonising public transport and ‘revitalising rail’. Reducing the cap without subsidising electric vehicles could achieve more while costing less. – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

On the Climate Change Commission’s analysis, the ETS could come close to achieving the government’s net zero goal at a cost of only $50 a tonne of CO2. Why then did the Commission propose a raft of choice-reducing measures that would cost up to and possibly beyond $250 a tonne?

The Commission’s answer in essence is that we, the public, would cut net emissions in the wrong ways. We would not inflict enough pain on ourselves. We would plant too many pine trees. We would also fail to walk and cycle enough. We would drive cars too much. Government needs to change our behaviour in specific ways.

In so doing, the Commission explicitly abandons achieving net zero carbon by 2050 at least cost, as perceived by those incurring the costs. It seeks to force on New Zealanders an unchanged net emissions result at a higher cost. That harms the public’s wellbeing, as perceived by those affected. It does so for no environmental gain. – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

The branch of economics that has studied how best to assess whether a policy might improve people’s experienced wellbeing is welfare economics. People’s own assessment of their wellbeing is at the heart of that analysis. That makes it inherently non-elitist.

The contrast is with paternalistic policies that treat people’s preferences as the problem rather than something to be respected. People who have choices will make the “wrong” choices. Instinctively, paternalists wish to reduce the public’s scope for choice. They may want to prohibit what is not mandated. The Commission comes close to both on petrol versus electric cars. The Government may have the same instincts. – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

The Government’s press release on Sunday is a masterclass in the use of a false comparison. None of the claimed benefits are benefits relative to the ETS.

To cap it all, a tweet a few days ago by a former senior Labour adviser decried heavy imports of SUVs. With supreme elitism it ended: “It’s surprising we allow this at all.” Well, whose country is it? – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

But if the goal of the rollout was to safely vaccinate New Zealanders in the fastest possible time, the government and our health ministry have surely failed. We can’t look back at the initial response to Covid-19 and toot our horns, comparing ourselves favourably with almost every other country on Earth, whilst conveniently ignoring the fact that we are making the amongst the slowest progress with vaccinations in the developed World. – Jack Tame

It seems to me we’re in a funny middle ground. We haven’t done the noble thing. And for whatever reason, we haven’t done the fast thing, either. – Jack Tame

The whole thing has at times felt a bit ramshackle and inconsistent.
I’ve heard politicians say it’s not where we start but where we finish. It’s true that we won’t be entirely safe until our full population is vaccinated. Even then, we face a risk. But the speed of the rollout does matter. Every day someone in our community isn’t vaccinated, we face an increased risk of a community outbreak. The more people are unvaccinated at any one time, the greater the risk. – Jack Tame

The hypocrisy from the political left to conveniently ignore facts which do not suit their political agenda appears to have no shame.

Politicians constantly advertise what they claim are the sparkling clean, green credentials of EVs. I believe these politically driven, so called “noble” assertions are badly misleading and dangerous for the New Zealand public to blindly accept without debating the environmental credibility of EVs and fully understanding the downstream costs to taxpayers. – Troy Bowker

The point being missed, ignored, or not properly debated, is the total cost on the environment from the manufacture, use, and disposal of EVs versus petrol or diesel cars.

There is plenty of research to suggest EVs are actually worse for the environment overall than fossil fuel cars, just as there is research they are better.

None of that research properly deals with the CO2 emissions from the disposal and recycling of batteries. The EV industry lobby groups all tell us to not to be concerned and to “hope” that technology catches up so that the production and disposal of EV batteries will at some stage have a much lower carbon footprint. Surely this is putting the cart before the horse . Why can’t they address the elephant in the room regarding disposing of millions of EV batteries in a climate friendly manner and provide hard facts to support this? They can’t and they won’t because they simply don’t know. – Troy Bowker

A $6000 subsidy on a $60,000 EV is hardly relevant when all of your disposable income is paid in rent, food and heating your home.

I believe that when these issues are fully understood by the public, and the inconclusive message of how clean and green EVs are is replaced with reliable facts and sensible debate, Labour’s car tax will be seen for what is, political left ideology and hypocrisy at its worst. – Troy Bowker

To allow EVs to drive up to 500km in a single charge, these batteries weigh over 350kg and are made out of lithium, cobalt, copper, graphite, and nickel – mined in some of the world’s poorest countries.

The manufacture of these batteries does not come without an environmental cost. Once CO2 emissions from the production of batteries are taken into account, Germany’s Institute of Economic Research argued EVs do more harm to the environment than a modern Diesel engine. – Troy Bowker

Manufacturing is only the start of the problem. After an EV battery loses its ability to hold its charge, the metals and chemicals inside them contain toxic substances that are currently very difficult and expensive to dispose of cleanly. Technology hasn’t developed enough globally to come up with a way to either dispose of them safely, or recycle them in the volumes required.

If Labour wants all of New Zealand’s approximately four million vehicles to be EVs, then before they tax us even more can they please outline the plan to dispose of millions of toxic used EV batteries generally driven by the urban elite? This is not an unreasonable request. – Troy Bowker

Huge areas of land would need to be converted to graveyards for toxic used EV batteries. Suddenly the clean, green future with EVs that Labour advocates looks extremely dirty.

Used EV batteries are prone to spontaneous combustion, emitting poisonous gases into our air. The gases from the fires would travel large distances and be a huge risk to animals and humans. – Troy Bowker

Compared with normal fires, EV fires will be very difficult to put out. Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) national manager Paul Turner recently warned of the risk to human life from EV battery fires.

He reports EV battery fires trigger an irreversible chain reaction called “thermal runaway”, with fires burning at 1000C. FENZ is currently warning of the risks with the influx of a few thousand more EVs, let alone the four million that Labour want to bring into New Zealand. – Troy Bowker

Even more horrifying are the human rights violations in the production of EV batteries in the Congo, where over 50 per cent of the world’s cobalt is mined. A CNN investigation tracked the cobalt used for the production of luxury EVs to mass Congolese child-labour camps, involving children as young as 7. Adult supervisors were filmed assaulting children for not following instructions. – Troy Bowker

Proponents of identity politics and critical race theory, its ideological stablemate, hold that all people of Pasifika or Maori descent have experienced subjugation and have needs and interests that are at odds with those of the white oppressors. The aim is to secure political advantage to atone for their mistreatment, but unfortunately this can only come at the expense of social cohesion that benefits us all. – Karl du Fresne

Denial of one’s European heritage is a necessary starting point, because otherwise those claiming to be descendants of the oppressed must confront the fact that they are also descendants of the oppressors. The proponents of identity politics don’t seem to have yet worked out a way to reconcile this dichotomy without weakening their claims, so they ignore it.

Do they, at the same time as they cry out for justice on behalf of their dark-skinned forebears, also experience paroxysms of self-reproach for the behaviour of their pale ones? Karl du Fresne

It’s a sad reflection of the times we live in that there is an industry of fact-checkers. These usually come in the form of online services that you can access to check the facts surrounding something you’ve seen or heard.

In a world where documentaries, the current affairs reading material we choose, and even the words of our elected officials, don’t always present an accurate view of the facts, fact-checking has become a necessary service. – Bruce Cotterill

We live in a environment where anyone with a mobile phone and an ability to write can be a publisher. And there are many mechanisms to distribute one’s opinions, most of which rely on some form of social media.

As a result there is more information out there than ever before, none of which has been subject to the normal safeguards around checking what is true and what is false. And unlike the news-gatherers of old, there is no obligation on the new age publisher to be accurate. Or honest. 

In my opinion, this puts an even greater onus on the traditional media to call out the inaccuracies. Now, more than ever before, they should be our unchallengeable source of the truth.

In fact, while the old media companies are busy trying to find ways to remain relevant, I suggest that there is an obvious path for them: honest, accurate journalism that can be relied on by readers, viewers and listeners. – Bruce Cotterill

For most of us, when we make promises we should at least have an understanding of how we are going to deliver on them. For our current crop of political leaders, that doesn’t appear to be a consideration. In fact, they appear to see the ill-informed landscape not as a chance to put things right, but an opportunity to further confuse and mislead.

That’s a great shame. I don’t want much from our politicians. But I do want them to be people who tell us the truth, who give us the best information they can give us, and who make good decisions on behalf of the electorate, without hidden agendas, dishonesty or bias.

The problem with misleading people is this: the more you get away with it, the more likely it is to continue. At its worst, we must prepare for a Government that deliberately and frequently lies to us in order to hold on to power. Such behaviour, left unchecked, would put us into irreversible decline. – Bruce Cotterill

Can you credibly believe any policy that says plant your food productive land in exotic trees so you don’t have to change your behaviour? 50 Shades of Green

In normal times, fiscal profligacy is, at base, an act of selfishness at the expense of future generations. It is the same attitude that has seen us pollute our rivers, overfish our seas, use up non-renewable resources, plunder our forests and generally behave in a fashion without thought for our own grandchildren and their grandchildren…My fiscal policies were, as far as possible, about looking to the long term, not spending up to the hilt in the good times. Rainy days do come, and are more likely in New Zealand than in many other countries. – Sir Michael Cullen

Whanau is at the core of humanity. Let’s stop pretending we are ‘kind’. It’s a buzz word that no longer applies to the way we handle those suffering the most for the rest of us. – Sir Ian Taylor

Everybody needs a bit of luck, but luck isn’t a strategy. We need to have a system that holds up, – Sir Brian Roche

The unbelievably insane proposed $800 million ‘cycle bridge’ attached to the Auckland harbour bridge, WILL NOT HAPPEN. Why? Because the understandable uproar across the country has been such, no government could survive such craziness and all governments principal motivation is survival. – Sir Bob Jones

The second reason I suspect a conspiracy behind the $800 million cycle-bridge announcement is because no government is that dumb. It amounted to a plainly ludicrous straw man for the government to earn public points by subsequently cancelling it. Sir Bob Jones

I expected that I was paying this fortune, all this time and energy, to learn how to think. But they are forcing you to think the way they want you to think. – Yeonmi Park

Voluntarily, these people are censoring each other, silencing each other, no force behind it. Other times (in history) there’s a military coup d’etat, like a force comes in taking your rights away and silencing you. But this country is choosing to be silenced, choosing to give their rights away. Yeonmi Park

There is a problem and it needs to be fixed. It is one of short-sightedness in understanding that jobs defined by officials as low skilled, low paid and low priority are actually vital links in keeping a longer and deeper interconnected supply and delivery chain ticking all the way into the market to ensure we can sell the products and services we supply and in return contribute to our national, regional and local economies. – Michael Barnett

We classify our sports in order to pitch like against like and to keep people safe. Heavyweight boxers never fight flyweights. From puberty, the sexes compete separately in most sports most of the time. These are long accepted norms. Or were. – Tanya Aldred

By conflating gender and sex, I would argue we fudge the very reason we have sex categories in sport: the male performance advantage. Without a separate category for females, there would be no women in Olympic finals. – Tanya Aldred

The science is young. Stop. Breathe. Trans women should be able to live their sporting lives to the fullest so if research can find a way for them to participate in female sports without advantage, brilliant. Until then, remove the idea of gender altogether and revert to sex-based categories – a female category and an open category that can cater for trans men who have taken testosterone, trans women and men.

But above all, there needs to be a realisation that you can’t always have it all. Just as women and trans men can’t dominate in men’s sports; and men can’t enter women’s sport; trans women shouldn’t be able to push open a door that was locked for a reason. It isn’t fair. –  Tanya Aldred

Lowering of testosterone is almost completely ineffective in taking away the biological differences between males and females. – Ross Tucker

You take the best part of you, the thing you love and enjoy the most, and you take it away. It’s probably the cruellest thing you could do to somebody.Gray Todd

The so-called low skilled workers were essential and frontline workers through lockdowns. Prioritising visa relaxations based on workers’ skills or the capacity to generate wealth is not only against basic human rights, but is not aligned with brand New Zealand as known internationally. –  Anu Kaloti

Migrants here are left in no doubt whatsoever that this government does not want them and does not value them. – Alastair McClymont

As well as superior height and bone density, males gain a far larger amount of muscle and strength during puberty than females, and multiple studies show this is largely maintained even after an extensive period of testosterone suppression in adulthood. – Dr Emma Hilton

Too many today think that acknowledging the biological differences between the sexes is sexism. This is nonsense. Of course, cultural norms exacerbate biological differences, but there is no escaping the reality that most men are considerably stronger than most women.Jo Bartosch

It is no more offensive to admit that, on average, men outperform women in sport than it is to acknowledge that men can’t give birth. It is, however, offensive to reduce the biological reality of womanhood to a testosterone marker. With training and dedication there was a possibility that Hubbard could have become a champion male weightlifter. But what is certain is that Hubbard will never be a woman. – Jo Bartosch

It’s over-ambitious, under-endowed with talent and too impatient to re-invent the wheel. The bureaucracy is struggling to keep up, and it’s showing. A popular leader isn’t enough to compensate for (or disguise) incompetence, fatigue and hubris. – Karl du Fresne

Roads that keep farms supplied and enable crops and livestock to be transported for processing will be neglected so that affluent Aucklanders can cycle over the harbour on a summer’s day for a leisurely Saturday morning latte. – Karl du Fresne

A government that was rewarded only last year for its empathy and sensitivity is rapidly turning into one that looks arrogant, incompetent and defensive. – Karl du Fresne

Two years on, can we conclude the much-vaunted 2019 Wellbeing Budget was really just a feel-good budget? – Ben Thomas

We’re journalists, we’re not criminals. The fact that the Crown is treating the media like this when we have exposed bad practice in a government department is incredibly disappointing and very heavy-handed. 

If that’s the way Crown Law is going to treat the media then we should be afraid because that’s not the Aotearoa New Zealand that we believe that we’re living in.

Our job is to hold power to account. That’s what we did, that’s what we do and that is what we will continue to do. The Crown being so heavy-handed and ridiculous in taking this case is certainly not going to stop that. – Melanie Reid

Labour’s and the Greens’ sharp swing to the left, in cultural terms, may be acceptable to New Zealanders in the professions, the public service, the universities and the communications industries. After all, these are the highly-educated elites who, in practically all the advanced economies of the West, are the most comfortable, temperamentally, with the politics of race and personal identity. It is not acceptable, however, to the culturally conservative 7-15 percent of the electorate which “switched sides” in 2017 and 2020. They are becoming increasingly alarmed and confused by the Labour Government’s unheralded direction of travel. – Chris Trotter

What Labour would like us to believe is that they are skating on a solid sheet of ideological ice, more that capable of carrying the weight of their cultural revolution. In reality, the ice now bearing their electoral weight is wafer thin. Sadly, Labour’s leaders remain utterly oblivious to the currents surging just below their party’s fragile crust of support. They have no idea how very strong they are, nor how deathly cold.Chris Trotter

We live in a society that abhors discrimination on the basis of many traits. And yet one of the major forms of discrimination is lookism, prejudice against the unattractive. And this gets almost no attention and sparks little outrage. Why?

Lookism starts, like every form of bigotry, with prejudice and stereotypes. – David Brooks

The language of Critical Race Theory is designed to obfuscate, not to enlighten, and its use of language is key. Critical Race Theory has used English to hide within plain sight an entirely new dialect where nothing means what we think it means; where words may not be pronounced differently, but where they have different meanings to the initiated, and these meanings are deeply interlinked with one another, and referential to one another.  – Effi Lincoln

Western civilization has succeeded as much as it has because we have adopted the concepts of liberty, universal human rights, democracy, free enterprise and equality before the law.  We believe that there is an objective truth that is accessible through reason, and we believe in the concept of the reasonable person.

Importantly we recognise the imperfections of our society, but we know that through reason, through scientific method, and through the application of the law, we can continue to improve. –  Effi Lincoln

Liberalism seeks to understand where we are now, and how we arrived here, and to use reason to take people forward to a better future

And the breath of life for Liberalism; its oxygen, is free speech. –Effi Lincoln

To Critical Race Theorists and thus to the Woke, all inequity, no matter how random, is an expression of racism.

For them, any outcome gap between two identity groups must be due to racism – Effi Lincoln

Leftist ideology exists on a continuous downward slope to absurdity because it has no external arbiter of truth. In leftist thought there is no objective truth, no reasonable person standard.  There is only your truth and my truth. And these truths, which emanate from Lived Experiences, are ranked by identity grouping with the most oppressed identity always being bestowed the status of Most Truthful.

In Woke, even the way we speak is seen as part of the power matrix to be dismantled – Effi Lincoln

The aim of the Woke movement (and, integral to it, the Critical Race Theorists) is to enact a social and cultural revolution with the goal of seizing the means of cultural production and flipping society over in such a way that the cultural capital that holds our society together is destroyed;  destroyed in such a way that turns the perceived oppressors into the oppressed and makes those oppressors pay, in perpetuity, for the sins of themselves, in upholding systemic racism, and of their forbears, who first created the systemically racist institutions and then stole from the ancestors of the Critical Race Theorists, their utopian world. – Effi Lincoln

The fact that we have human rights, and a Human Rights Commissioner to uphold those rights is a direct result of Liberalism. 

Critical Race Theorists however see human rights as subservient to the group rights of the identity politics they practice instead. – Effi Lincoln

It’s not hard to see why wokeness is so frequently compared to a religion. The metaphors are everywhere: the washing of feet, the prostrations, the proclamations of faith, the sacraments, the martyrs, the confessions, the heretics, the hallowed ground, the Original Sin, the evangelism. Last summer’s protests for racial justice often had the look of a religious movement. Many of its practitioners saw it explicitly in thoseterms. Even the snarky phrase for this moment of mass political enlightenment, “The Great Awokening”, is derived from the name of an early American religious revival. – Leighton Woodhouse

If religion gives meaning to the lives of the faithful, there are a lot more Americans now who lack that meaning than there used to be, and they’re concentrated on the left side of the political spectrum. It’s not difficult to imagine these people seeking the kind of meaning that religion would otherwise have provided them  — a sense of belonging to a larger community; a feeling of collective purpose; an affiliation with a temporal reality that transcends the duration of a single human lifespan — in other things. In their politics, for example.

The problem is that politics is, in important ways, the very antithesis of religion, and in a democratic society, the more politics takes on the shape of faith, the more intractable and dysfunctional it becomes. That’s because politics, when put to its proper use, is the search for what disparate groups share in common, and the bargaining over their differences. Religion is practically its inverse; at its root, it’s tribal. And so as our politics have taken on the character of religion, they have become tribal, too. – Leighton Woodhouse

Once upon a time, politics served the purpose of weaving together livable compromises out of divergent interests and values. We didn’t rely on political identities to give our lives meaning. Political parties, factions, and institutions were merely the instrumental means through which we brokered a relatively peaceful co-existence with those who didn’t see eye-to-eye with us. Occasionally, and often heroically, it was the basis upon which we mobilized opinion to annihilate those with truly anti-social agendas. But ultimately, it was the toolset with which we built a practical working peace.

Today, politics is a competition for tribal allegiance, the means by which we proudly declare our intractable differences with others. Like religion, it is an instrument we use to forge communities of kinship with one another, but only by declaring war on those who lie outside of them. It is no longer the basis for co-existence in a pluralist society, but the stick with which we draw our battle lines. It is the domain of sectarian holy war. In a democratic society, it will be the vehicle for our undoing. – Leighton Woodhouse

While these reforms are often referred to, quite accurately, as free-market reforms, another way of looking at them is as the removal of an incalculable number of privileges that each benefited the few at the expense of the many. These privileges meant fewer opportunities for New Zealanders to reach their full potential. Once these shackles came off, innovative and entrepreneurial Kiwis started countless new companies and even created new industries. – Nicholas Kerr

While New Zealand has avoided large numbers of COVID-19 deaths or infections, it’s wrong to suggest that this is due to astute policy choices or excellence in their execution. Rather, it had few choices and got lucky. – Nicholas Kerr

New Zealand was able to prevent a major COVID-19 outbreak for two main reasons. First, it’s fortunate to be a remote island nation, so it was feasible to shut down the country’s borders. Second, it has a unicameral legislature and no constitution. – Nicholas Kerr

Once again, New Zealanders will have more limited employment choices. While they might like to trade off salaries or conditions with their preferred employer, that will no longer be possible as the entire sector they are seeking work in will have those locked in place. The least skilled will be priced out of jobs altogether. – Nicholas Kerr

If you value liberty and free markets, you need to continually make the case for them.  – Nicholas Kerr

Free markets allow everyone to reach their full potential and deliver morally sound outcomes. Most of us who understand this would prefer to use our time producing and innovating. But if we truly care for the thing that allows us to be productive—the free market—we need to devote some of our energy to defending it. – Nicholas Kerr

At a business summit earlier this week, the subject of the Prime Minister’s occasional tendency to argue black is white came up. A particularly acute observation was that Ardern was really speaking to her base and giving them the message she wanted them to hear. When it comes to the OECD and Covid, a higher level of truth is required. Fran O’Sullivan

Throughout this pandemic, the burden of a slow government response has been borne by the general population. Excessive personal restrictions have become the go-to tool, in preference to officials having their feet held to the fire by impatient politicians. – Steven Joyce

When there is no clear and present danger, most people can’t be bothered pulling out their phone to scan a barcode every time they go into a shop or cafe.

Unfortunately it looks a lot like the government has the same attitude, shrugging its shoulders and wombling along with a slow vaccination rollout. It fills in its time instead writing policy papers on the utopia that awaits us once they have completely re-organised our previously successful economy some years after the pandemic has passed. – Steven Joyce

The difference between an overly relaxed population and a sleepy government is that we are paying them to look out for our interests. It is their job, and they should be working much harder and with more urgency at getting the place back to normal so people have the freedom to live their lives. – Steven Joyce

Great Britain, the US, Europe are all doing everything in their power to return to normality as quickly as possible. Certainly, they have had it tougher.

But they are also much more realistic that free money and constant government borrowing can’t work forever as a substitute for a vibrant, connected economy. And to them the freedom of their citizens and the ability to go about their lives is important. – Steven Joyce

Beyond the vaccines, the Prime Minister should show some leadership by declaring her intention to get our border back to normal and allow reasonable freedom of movement as soon as is safely possible. She needs to put the boffins and the Fabian Society theorists back in their boxes, and declare that our post-pandemic problem is a shortage of labour, not a surplus. – Steven Joyce

Most importantly, the government needs to grow a backbone when dealing with the public service. They’ve stuffed it full of money and people. It is not Ministers’ job to justify a lacklustre performance. It is their job to demand more on our behalf. – Steven Joyce

Winston Peters’ reappearance in public last weekend was a reminder of the damage he has done to our democracy. When he put the Labour Party into office after the 2017 election, he did not just disappoint the winning party and its voters, he distorted the election’s reflection of public opinion. – John Roughan

Supporters of the winning party assert their views with new confidence thinking most people now agree with them. People who do not share those views become less confident to say so, more likely to keep their concerns quiet for the time being.

This is what has happened since the 2017 election. Ever since Peters put Labour in power its supporters have believed they won that election, despite the fact National had received 44.4 per cent of the vote to Labour’s 36.9 per cent. Even when Labour and Green voters were added together they did not outnumber National’s supporters that year. – John Roughan 

Last year Labour was re-elected with a majority in its own right, the first time any party has won an absolute majority since 1951. It attracted a swag of National votes thanks entirely to Jacinda Ardern’s appeal in a pandemic. But the result has reinforced the confidence of progressive folk that New Zealand has radically changed. They think it might even be Aotearoa.

They are mistaken. You don’t have to be very clever to know there is a subterranean rumbling in the land about a suspected agenda of Māori empowerment. You need only move beyond the bubbles of media, academia and public relations to hear it. – John Roughan

New Zealand has been blessed with very stable government on the whole, because voters normally give plenty of notice when most of them want a change of government. Polls turn against the incumbent a good year or two before the next election, plenty of time for the alternative party to drop or dilute positions it has taken for opposition purposes. – John Roughan

We got a Government unprepared for power and we know how. It need never happen again – John Roughan

Over the last 20 years, the Treaty has been wrenched out of its 1840s context and become the plaything of those who would divide New Zealanders from one another, not unite us. – Don Brash

I love the punctuality and the cleanliness of Pākehā funerals, but I do think they lack a bit of time in terms of spending time with their loved one, with families and just being able to cry and talk and sing and laugh together, instead of having all turn up on the final hour on the day of the funeral and doing it all then. That’s a bit tough to be honest. – Francis Tipene

Among the positive things about journalism are creative listening and humanity, and the voice the media can give to the overlooked and marginalised, and to raise ideas whose time has come. – John GIbb

Twitter is the new Colosseum and its inhabitants are the new mob, deciding what opinions, statements and beliefs can be expressed publicly and what cannot. – Schreibmaschiner

Now it is true that the character of a person wrongfully killed is not germane to the wrongfulness of his death. The law does not distinguish between saints and sinners as victims of murder. It is no defence to a charge of murder that the victim was a swine. . . .a man does not become good by being wrongfully killed. A mother loves her son because he is her son, not because he is good, and therefore the grief of his family is understandable and easily sympathised with; but for others to turn him into what he was not, a martyr to a cause, is to display at once a moral and an intellectual defect. – Theodore Dalrymple

Hate speech laws are always confusing because the concept is subjective. There is no objective test. What makes you feel unsafe is totally subjective. Some people feel unsafe in the dark. Hate speech will be whatever the authorities decide. – Richard Prebble

The government wants to add groups that should be exempt from ridicule and has suggested “religion, gender, sexuality, and disability”. The paper does not explain why these groups. We can easily think of others. Why not the vertically challenged? Height matters. Most US presidents have been over 6 foot tall.

Then what about the most misunderstood? Old white men, a group with which I feel some affinity. There are university courses on “white privilege” that seem designed to make old white men feel “unsafe and unwelcomed”.

Once we are protecting people’s feelings the list of groups is infinite.  – Richard Prebble

Cancel culture is sweeping the West. It is identity politics. Persuading voters that they are victims who need protecting. – Richard Prebble

Why is free speech important? Free speech is the building block on which democracy is constructed. Out of discussion and debate we test ideas. Only by allowing the advancement of false propositions can we prove they are wrong. – Richard Prebble

It is important that the state protects religious freedom including the right to hold no religious belief.

Religious freedom does not extend to the state giving special protection to religious opinions. – Richard Prebble

In a democracy, it is not the role of the government to protect us from having our beliefs challenged no matter how “unsafe and unwelcome” that may make us feel. The risk of being offended is the cost we must pay for having the right to say what we think. Once we empower the state to protect us from being offended we are no longer a free society.

Free speech is our defence against tyranny. It is our ability to say that the government is wrong. – Richard Prebble


First they came for the landlords

26/03/2021

Business NZ asks: will my sector be next?

BusinessNZ has warned a removal of tax deductibility on interest payments for residential property has other sectors worried whether they will be targeted, likening it to the uncertainty created by the 2018 oil and gas ban.

Kirk Hope, chief executive of the influential lobby group, also accused the Government of being “misleading” in the way it is describing the issue as a “loophole”, because in all other sectors of the economy business expenses are tax deductible.

Defenders of this policy change have tried to justify it by saying home owners don’t get a deduction for the interest they pay.

There’s a reason for that, they aren’t businesses and that difference applies across the board.

It’s just like farms or racing stables being able to claim vet bills as legitimate business expenses but no-one can claim a deduction for vet bills for their pets.

Hope said the move had clear and significant implications for property investors, but now people were left wondering whether it affected other parts of the economy and was likely to see investment decisions paused.

“They’ve removed deductibility [of interest payments] from this group of people. Would that happen for a different sector for a different purpose, in terms of businesses being able to deduct particular types of businesses expenses? 

Now the government has opened the door, what else might they shove through it?

“There are certainly going to be some people thinking about how they make investments, and it will have a stalling effect; there’s no doubt about it,” Hope said.

“The last thing we need right now is probably a stalling in business investment because of a decision made around housing.”

Investors would be worried about whether deductibility more generally was being targeted by the Government, given the lack of signalling on the issue.

“If there are other areas they really need to be upfront about that. There’s no doubt they should have signalled it in advance. It’s a really substantial change.”. . 

It’s a change to tax policy, it’s not as the government claims, closing a loophole.

Tax expert Robin Oliver, a former deputy commissioner at the IRD, described the Government’s move on interest payments by landlords as “out there”.

Oliver, who sat on the Government’s tax working group in the last term said he could not think of an example of a sector being unable to deduct an expense which was available to all other sectors of the economy.

It would amount to “a massive tax penalty on renting out property,” he said.

“You’re taxed on income that you don’t actually have, because your profit is your income minus your expenses, but they just ignore the expenses part,” Oliver said.

“You could have almost no profit, maybe a loss, but you still have to fork out thousands of dollars to the IRD. It’s not an income tax, it’s just a penalty.” . . 

It’s a penalty that will push up rents, hitting the poor the hardest and making it harder still for renters to save for a deposit to buy their own homes.

Bryce Wilkinson explains why the policy is shambolic:

Suppose you have an apple orchard. You hire labour to pick and pack your apples. You sell each box of apples for $40. You deduct labour costs of $30 and earn a profit of $10. After paying tax at 33 cents in the dollar, you have $6.70 per box to live on.

Now the Government announces that it is rushing legislation through Parliament to remove what it calls the wage deductibility tax “loophole”. After this Friday, anyone buying your business will pay tax at 33 cents on the dollar on the $40 per box revenue.

This raises the “income tax” on the business from $3.30 to $13.20. Costs now exceed revenue by $3.20 a box. You no longer have a buyer for your business. Worse, in four years, you will be in the same tax situation. Your business will be bust. Your workers will have to find other work or go on welfare. Your former customers will have to do without apples.

The government is pleased you are gone. Orchardists are speculators; they are hoping that the market value of their business will rise. Speculation is bad. Speculators should be driven from the apple market.

Does this sound far-fetched? Not if you are a landlord. This week the Government closed the “interest deductibility loophole” in rental housing for new investors, effective from this Saturday. For existing investors, it is being closed over four years. The Government explained that it wants to remove incentives for speculators, equating them with investors. . . 

He lists what’s wrong with the policy:

First, an income tax should tax income (ie profits), not revenue. Income is what is left of revenue after all business-related expenses have been paid. The apple orchard case illustrates why it is wrong to tax revenue. If there is little or no after-tax profit, there is no business.

In the extreme, if landlords cannot make an after-tax profit, there will be no houses to rent. Those who cannot afford to buy a house are at the mercy of the only remaining landlord – the government. Former East Germans have experienced that situation. . . 

Second, how can it be that landlords are speculators, but owner-occupiers are not? How many recent home buyers paying high prices have not been expecting prices to go even higher? Why discriminate against rental accommodation?

Third, the tax system was already seriously biased against the supply of private rental housing. Owner-occupiers do not pay any tax on the income they receive in the form of forgone rental payments. . . 

Fourth, speculation is a symptom, not a cause. The Reserve Bank has lowered interest rates and flooded the banking system with liquidity to an unprecedented degree. It has jawboned the banks to lend more freely since Covid-19. These actions must have boosted house prices. Imprudent borrowing is the only game in town, with the Government leading by example. . . 

Perhaps the worst aspect is the signal that the Government cares so little for sound income tax principles or prior public debate or scrutiny. If interest deductibility can be wilfully declared a tax loophole, what category of business expense is not a tax loophole?

This tax change will do nothing at all to address the cause of the housing crisis – a shortage of supply that has several causes, not lest of which is the long, slow and expensive consenting process which didn’t even get a mention in this week’s announcements.

It will also worry other businesses. Now the government has made landlords a special class by preventing them deducting interest costs from their income as all other businesses do, there’s very real fears over what other legitimate costs they might declare loopholes.

There is no good time for this sort of anti-investment tax policy and doing it when the country is in recession makes it worse.


$1 in 3 wastefullly spent by govt

19/09/2018

The New Zealand Initiative’s Fit for Purpose? Are Kiwis getting the government they pay for? shows we’re not getting value for money.

Dr Bryce Wilkinson explains:

Taxes in New Zealand have risen four times faster than incomes in the 20th century. Taxes now take more of our income than in almost any country outside Europe. We have become a high tax country.

We, the public, need the government to spend our tax money well.

Government is a dominant provider of many activities, including health and education. Poor performance here would harm current and future New Zealanders.

Government also dictates much resource use through ownership and regulation. It is a major landowner, and there are 50 times more Parliamentary Acts now than in 1908.

It should aim to get the best possible outcomes for New Zealanders from its assets. It should also regulate wisely and administer those regulations well.

The report’s focus on value for money is not ideological. Who would not want to see government doing the best possible job for New Zealanders?

This shouldn’t be ideological or partisan, but the left does too often mistakenly equate more spending with better spending.

How well is government spending our tax money?
The quality of much government spending is poor. The Productivity Commission’s inquiry into public sector productivity showed why. Public sector agencies are not focused on productivity. Measures are too often lacking or neglected.

A 2013 report published by a Canadian think tank, the Fraser Institute, assessed outcomes compared to spending in 192 countries. South Korea came out on top. Its government was spending 27% of GDP to achieve a performance score of 7.5. In New Zealand, government was spending 38% of GDP for a score of 5.5.

Perhaps, one-third of New Zealand government spending is wasteful. That represents around 13% of GDP, or $20,000 per household, annually.

Every cent not wasted is a cent more to spend on something we need, or to leave in taxpayers’ pockets.

Imagine the positive impact of that money being spent where it has a positive impact instead of being wasted and/or of each household keeping more of what they earn.

A 2009 OECD report similarly assessed spending efficiency in school education. The indicated level of waste in New Zealand spending on education was one dollar in six.

Less waste would mean more money to improve outcomes. Currently, around 17% of 15-year-olds can barely read. The government has likely spent more than $130,000 on each of their schooling. Few would regard this as an acceptable outcome.

Nearly a fifth of children getting through school unable to read and write is appalling. There will be many reasons for this failure and wasting a sixth of the budget will be one of them.

That extra dollar in six spent well could improve pay and conditions for teachers and support staff, provide extra help for pupils who need it and/or do away with at least some activity fees and fundraising.

In health, even official reports acknowledge a lack of focus on productivity. The OECD has also assessed the efficiency of health spending across member countries. A 2010 report indicated that New Zealand could spend 2.5% of GDP less a year for similar outcomes. Of the order of one dollar spent in four looks like waste.

One dollar in four wasted – that’s 25% of health spending that’s not getting spent where it should be.

Such findings from international comparisons are only motivational. They do not show what New Zealand would need to change or whether such changes are plausible. Their value is in inviting us to learn from countries that seem to be doing better.

In some cases, government providers would be more focused on productivity if users had more choice of providers. Government providers can fail to give value for money when users are captive. Users will be more empowered if they have a wide choice of providers and if state funding follows them. The funding of pre-school education has this feature.

Choice tends to improve competitiveness and performance but this government isn’t keen on it.

How well is the government doing as a regulator?
The Crown’s performance as a lawmaker and regulator is flawed. There is widespread dissatisfaction among regulators with the quality of the law they have to administer. The statute book has become too prescriptive and too detailed. Parliament cannot hope to keep it up to date and fit for purpose.

It needs to be easier for lawmakers to resist the pressures to legislate poorly. Greater reliance on simpler laws of a more general nature is desirable. Prescriptive law quickly becomes out of date. Change is unlikely as matters stand.

Bad law leads to added costs and unexpected consequences.

What about our high international rankings?
Many international agencies assess countries’ outcomes for aspects of wellbeing and economic performance. New Zealand enjoys top-tier world rankings in many of these measures.

Does this mean government is doing a great job? Yes, and no.

We rank among the best for many but not all aspects. The report identifies 20–30 government-dominated areas of weakness. Some are no surprise. These include overseas investment and aspects of labour market laws. Infrastructure quality is another weakness.

Labour law changes on the table now are going to make matters worse and the redirecting of fuel taxes from roads to public transport and cycleways will too.

More surprising is the weakness in our legal system. We rank poorly in the ease of enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency and the quality of judicial processes.

There is no excuse for our 54th ranking by the World Bank for the quality of our judicial processes. Gallingly, Australia is ranked first.

The bottom line is there is compelling evidence of much government waste. It is occurring for many reasons, but a major symptom is a lack of focus on efficiency.

Were the state to do a better job, it could use the savings to raise wellbeing by:
• maintaining government outputs, while cutting tax revenues; and/or
• increasing government outputs from unchanged government spending.

Those options are outside the scope of this report. The first task is to achieve the savings.

National managed to get some improvement in some areas during the GFC – requiring the public service to do more with less.

Under Bill English’s social investment regime the government focused on treating causes, acknowledging that sometimes you have to spend more in the short term to get savings later.

It also set measurable targets and reported on progress towards them.

But all parties need to focus on getting better value for taxpayers’ dollars.

It would help if all of them acknowledged that the government isn’t always the bet option for providing services; that governments aren’t good at picking winners and that the quality of their spend is far more important than the quantity.

It would also help if more of us didn’t think of the government as the first or only source of support.


%d bloggers like this: