Quotes of the month

01/11/2022

Let us not get bogged down in the need to achieve real benefit for Maori when we can instead deliver a bunch of virtue signalling nonsense that benefits only an elite class of Maori, who can slap each other on the back enjoying the success of bullying those who are trying to advocate for the vulnerable. Casey Costello 

I wonder by whose measure the understanding of my “Maori world” is tested. After six years of advocating for equality of rights for ALL New Zealanders in my role with Hobson’s Pledge, the attacks on my right to speak as a Maori are truly water off a duck’s back. Unlike the Kelvins of this world, I don’t claim to speak for ALL Maori. I am not afraid of my views being challenged and I will debate the issues and demand accountability. I do not need to resort to name-calling and insults that belittle those who have a different point of view.Casey Costello 

So we now expose the truth of the Labour Maori caucus agenda: we are not being divided just by whether we are Maori or non-Maori, that is too simple. For being Maori, although undefined, now requires you to meet the standard set by Labour. The qualification to join this exclusive club is no longer whakapapa, it is whether you agree with the elected and self-appointed elite. – Casey Costello 

This Labour Government has not achieved, in their five years in power, one positive shift in the dial for any measure of Maori outcomes. There have been no better education outcomes, no real reduction in homelessness and no increase in home ownership, no lifting out of poverty, no reduction in prison numbers, no enhancement to mental health………nothing. But rather than hanging their heads in shame or seeking better solutions, they double down, apparently believing the best form of defence is attack. Their failures are laid at the feet of systemic racism and colonisation.

What a perfect scenario: you can be the Government of ineptitude and abject failure but protected from any accountability for that failure – “it’s not our fault, it’s colonisation”.Casey Costello 

It seems in New Zealand we are not championing the aspirational words of Martin Luther King in that we are not seeking to have our children valued on the content of their character but rather judged on the subjective measure assigned by Kelvin Davis. – Casey Costello 

It is looking ever more likely that the economic piper must indeed be paid, with the odds shortening on a worldwide recession in the next 12 months.

It still beggars belief that governments and central bankers didn’t realise what they were flirting with when they opened the fiscal and monetary spigots to such an unprecedented degree during the pandemic.

Or that they took no corrective action once it became apparent we had a supply shock rather than a demand shock. –  Steven Joyce 

We can’t control inflation with big wage increases and partying up at restaurants all the time.

The immediate cause of the inflation we have been seeing is, as always, too much money chasing too few goods and services. – Steven Joyce 

On the supply side, easing supply bottlenecks and the services sectors coming back on stream will help.

However, the big issue both in services and more widely is labour supply and gummed up borders. Plus, in our case, a Government that can’t philosophically or practically get out of its own way long enough to even have a decent crack at solving the problem. – Steven Joyce 

So where did we go so wrong?

I blame a trend I’ll call performative policymaking.

Over the last five to eight years there has been a worldwide tendency to make grand rhetorical gestures that instantly sound good, but with little regard for execution risk or consequences, especially economic consequences. – Steven Joyce 

Our own Government was an early adopter.

Who can forget the oil and gas ban that has directly led to burning more coal, KiwiBuild’s 100,000 homes, reportedly dreamt up in the back of a taxi? The plan to slash migration? Or Shane Jones’ one billion trees? – Steven Joyce 

There is a legitimate debate to be had about the size of the state and money being better off in the hands of the people that earned it rather than legions of bureaucrats.

Particularly in tight economic times and including in our country where a statist Government has significantly increased its own size as a proportion of society under the cover of Covid.

And no surprises which side I’m on. But you can’t be aspirational and half-arsed about it, and forget about balancing the books. Steven Joyce 

Politicians have gotten used to being able to make feel-good announcements and rely on the short news cycles of the social media age to sweep away the need to deliver and be accountable.

But times are a-changing again.

Our political leaders are increasingly being faced with the return of political gravity and economic reality.  – Steven Joyce 

I think we are witnessing a new age of political realism dawning.

It will likely be tough for a while as we unwind all the consequences of this performative policy-making but the world will ultimately be the better for it. – Steven Joyce 

What it gives away is the degree to which people in Britain have come to believe that all money is the government’s and that what is left over for the people has been granted them by the government’s grace and favor. But the government cannot give money (or at least economic product) away; it can only refrain from taking it. – Theodore Dalrymple

Beyond the correct rate of taxation, however, lie the much deeper problems of the country. For years, regardless of who was in power, government policy has been to import cheap unskilled or semi-skilled labor, while paying large numbers of people to remain economically inactive, in the process placing great strain on housing and public services through overpopulation. The government has subsidized socially irresponsible behavior to the point at which, for people at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale, such behavior is more profitable than work; these people depend on the government for everything. Through its education system, Britain has performed miracles of inefficiency, resulting in a substantial population of expensively educated semi-literates, whose labor would be too expensive even if it were free.Theodore Dalrymple

At $370 million, the Government is going to spend more to merge RNZ and TVNZ than the combined net worth of those entities. – Melissa Lee

I was honoured to have been asked to take up a position on the board of Māori Television, and assumed I was there because of the way a small team of clever, young, white people I worked with from Dunedin had started using the latest technologies to bring Māori stories, a Māori world view, to life across a wide range of platforms that now made up the media landscape.

But no – I didn’t have te reo – so I was quite clearly in Willie’s “useless Māori” category.

That didn’t really bother me because nothing Willie said could take away from my sense of who I was and where I came from. Especially because, at the time, I felt his contribution to the media landscape was more hui than doee.

But Willie is now Minister of Broadcasting and Media and he is charged with merging Radio New Zealand and Television New Zealand into a future-focused broadcasting entity that has to face the huge challenges of the new online platforms that are decimating the old world of radio and television. The skillsets and experience needed for a role such as this have challenged some of the largest media organisations in the world, not to mention some of the most tech-savvy storytellers on the planet.

But, when I look at Willie’s CV, there is not a lot to suggest that this is a job he is particularly well qualified for.

He does have te reo – I have to give him that – but where is the detailed knowledge and vision for a future-focused entity that will deliver content that will engage viewers across the wide range of platforms that are now available to all?  – Sir Ian Taylor

There is no place for discrimination by Māori, for Māori who are dismissed as having a “vanilla lens on the Māori world view” simply because they do not have te reo, or who choose to embrace all sides of their whakapapa – my father was Scottish. – Sir Ian Taylor

Kō ngā tāhū ā o tapu wai inanahi, hei tauira ora mō āpōpō.

The footsteps laid down by our ancestors centuries ago, create the paving stones upon which we stand today.

To that we add: innovation is in your DNA, wear it with pride. – Sir Ian Taylor

It’s] pretty clear to me that you are either born a male of female, or else, there are some people who are born with both genders. I have no problem with other people choosing to be whoever they like to be.

Personally, I self-identify as a 27-year-old Slovakian model. – Judith Collins

That Davis and Jackson were quick to temper betrays their character. But it also speaks to a wider problem within the Labour tribe – who prefer invective to rational debate.

This is the anger of the pure believer towards the apostate. It is easier to suppress criticism by dismissing or marginalising the critics as ‘bad’ people (whether that be racist, over-privileged, transphobic, etc) rather than actually addressing the issues.

Ardern’s empathy and cool-headed compassion was not a construct – that is her nature. But it’s easy to be nice when you are winning. Now that the political landscape looks significantly less favourable, some of her MPs are becoming defensive. It is the wrong kind of anger to harness if they want to remain in Government. – Andrea Vance

Things happen in your life and unfortunately they can shape you in negative ways. I became very fearful, I was holding it within me. I actually, in my little kid brain, thought that if I was around drugs or the white powder that I was responsible for killing people because of what I’d seen.

I had this internal guilt, I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. I had no safe spaces at that time so it ate away. But after talking about, accepting it and releasing that guilt and shame [I realised that] sometimes these things happen.

It left no what-ifs about it. If you don’t get on top of your drug problem, this is what happens. It’s a bad road. – Ruby Tui

What happens to us, especially what happens to us as children, doesn’t need to define who we are as adults. And it’s never too late to look into these things that happened to us.

It’s never too late to forgive ourselves. I had to forgive myself because I thought I was killing people, and I wasn’t.

We’re all human and we all have our dark stuff and our dark times. People are so scared of the dark but without those times you can’t appreciate the light. You learn things at rock bottom that you’ll never learn on mountaintops.Ruby Tui

There’s nothing as inspiring as seeing your mum get out of a bad relationship and organise and reach out and get help. It just makes me feel like I can do anything. – Ruby Tui

A stoush between collectivist and individualist Māori is long overdue. It has simmered for a long time but this week boiled over when Kelvin Davis exposed his thinking for all and sundry to examine. He confirmed that a Māori world with its own set of values exists, and that anyone with even a smidgen of Māori heritage should get themselves into it. It wasn’t a kindly suggestion. It was a command. The cost of not complying? Derision and ostracism. It’s reminiscent of the treatment handed out to those who don’t want to be part of the Gloriavale commune.

The tribe is a communistic unit. The tribe takes precedence. It owns you. Its culture is all-encompassing. It provides strength in numbers, security and identity. But it is also stultifying and limiting depending on which lens it is viewed through. Ultimately, inevitably, whether at the micro or macro level, the question must be answered. Is your allegiance to the tribe, or is it to yourself and your chosen group of family and friends. – Lindsay Mitchel 

Mixed partnerships are more common than those with the same ethnicity. And each of these partnerships – many producing children – will face issues of concurrent cultures.

Increasingly, through media and public services, through health, justice and education, the Māori culture is being prioritised. To the point of being romanticized and lionized. Long-standing rules about the state being secular are broken to accommodate Māori spiritualism. Te reo – or knowledge of te ao – is de facto compulsory inasmuch as, if you don’t have it there are now careers that are barred to you. The Māori ‘team’ propelling this are on a roll. They are in ascendancy. They have gathered non-Māori into their tribe with astonishing success and seeming ease, though reflecting on the creeping compulsion maybe ‘ease’ is the wrong word. –  Lindsay Mitchel 

In the middle of last century sociologists observed Pakeha men who married Māori women tended to move into the tribe; Māori men who married non-Māori moved into the non-tribal society. Tension would have existed always but so did the freedom to choose.

What kind of society wants to remove that freedom? One in which the collective trumps the individual.

Forget all the hoo-ha about culture, values and Māori mysticism. Colonisation, oppression and racism. They are only trinkets to tempt followers of fashion.

What is happening is a clash between philosophies. Politics is the practical expression of philosophy.

So it isn’t surprising that the strong-arming to get with the Māori worldview programme is coming from the left (the Labour Māori caucus, Green and Māori Party MPs). And those resisting are coming from the right (National and ACT). What played out in parliament this week, and is still reverberating with non-politicians now entering the fray, is the age-old stoush between collectivism and individualism. It’s New Zealand’s cold war.

If we are going to be forced to take a side, and mounting evidence points to this eventuality no matter your ethnicity, think of the conflict in these terms.

Do you want to own your own life? –  Lindsay Mitchel 

 In public life we need more good people doing things and fewer strutting peacocks admiring their reflection in a wall of camera lenses.

Media attention is addictive and those who crave adulation are driven to ever-greater acts of absurdity. Those who get things done are often unseen and, in the case of Finlayson, unsung.  – Damien Grant

 In what is my favourite line of his book this criticism is airily dismissed: “The pettifogging concerns of professors of law did not worry me.”

Now, I am not qualified to arbitrate on the issues, but I endorse the robustness of the language and the withering contempt that goes along with it. Those that can, do, those that can’t, teach.

This is a book written by someone who was in politics to do something, even if at times the reader gets a sense that the author wasn’t entirely sure what that something was.

But when the ministerial warrants came his way, he applied his mind, energies and a systematic, if at times inconsistent, set of principles to the task before him. –

If you wish to write a book after you leave office, make sure you have something to write about other than snarky barbs traded between colleagues. Although there is enough of that to keep things lively. Journalists would also do well to put down their phones and read it. –

 

So what if they are vulnerable, poor or uneducated or, dare I say it, ‘victims of colonisation’. Go tell that to the dairy owner when his business has been smashed and robbed for the fifth time this year, or when a baseball bat is swung at his head, or the security guard who just got bashed for it. How does that make it OK?

There are thousands upon thousands of kids in our country who have suffered those issues, and more, but they don’t stoop so low as to use it as an excuse to commit violent crime. The vast majority pick themselves up with a thing called ‘pride’ and ‘respect’ and crack on with life in society and are productive and have never committed the crimes the small minority do.Darroch Ball

For goodness sake, any parent knows bringing up kids in a household needs boundaries and consequences. The further they push the boundaries, the harsher the consequences. It’s not a hard concept.

Give these kids what they need – care, genuine adult involvement, boundaries and, most importantly, consequences. And by consequences I mean something they won’t like. Not a slap on the wrist and not giving them ‘street cred’ with their mates. – Darroch Ball

Put money and resources into prevention all you want. But this is not binary. It can’t be at the sacrifice of punishment and accountability – which is what this current government seems to think.

Newsflash – it’s not working and the numbers of youth committing these violent crimes are growing for reason.

“If you keep doing what you’ve done you’re gonna keep getting what you’ve got.”

Time for change.Darroch Ball

I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. Learn how to target, Labour. Find your audience, talk to them. Don’t tarnish our reputation with yet another media conference telling all and sundry that we’re terrible employers.

Give me strength. If National gets into Government, their first job is to rebuild Brand New Zealand and boy, they’ve got a bit of work to do.  – Rachel Smalley

Proof of how people vote undermines the secrecy of voting in a way that telling people how you voted does not. A society in which people regularly show – not just tell – others how they voted, is one that is just a little more open to pressuring and bribery of voters.

There are people in long-term relationships with partners who might tell them how to vote, but who will never actually know if their advice was taken, because we have the secret ballot. A secret ballot reinforced with rules about voting in private and bans on photography in voting places. (I know this also makes less sense with postal voting.) – Graeme Edgeler

Yesterday was one of the proudest days of my life. To be offered the role of CEO of the Essendon Football Club – who I have followed since I was a boy – was a profound honour,” Thorburn wrote.

However, today it became clear to me that my personal Christian faith is not tolerated or permitted in the public square, at least by some and perhaps by many. I was being required to compromise beyond a level that my conscience allowed. People should be able to hold different views on complex personal and moral matters, and be able to live and work together, even with those differences, and always with respect. Behaviour is the key. This is all an important part of a tolerant and diverse society.

Despite my own leadership record, within hours of my appointment being announced, the media and leaders of our community had spoken. They made it clear that my Christian faith and my association with a Church are unacceptable in our culture if you wish to hold a leadership position in society.

This grieves me greatly – though not just for myself, but for our society overall. I believe we are poorer for the loss of our great freedoms of thought, conscience and belief that made for a truly diverse, just and respectful community.Andrew Thorburn

Today’s police could do with taking a leaf out of Robert Peel’s nine principles of policing, which form the basis of policing by consent. Principle five states that officers should be committed ‘to seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy

It’s a lesson worth heeding. If the police continue to pander to political lobby groups, public trust will continue to fall. – Carrie Clark

But the larger the group of employees covered by a Fair Pay Agreement, the less workable will be the outcomes for businesses needing terms and conditions tailored to their individual workplaces.

Even by the 1970s, cracks were emerging in the compulsory centralised wage bargaining system that had dominated New Zealand’s industrial relations for most of the 20th century. It was proving insufficiently flexible to cope with the increasing sophistication of the New Zealand economy.

In New Zealand’s more complex 21st-century economy, the one-size-fits-all approach to collective bargaining will be even more unworkable.

You can almost hear the armies of employment lawyers getting ready for battle. – Roger Partridge

Last week, during her address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern proved, once again, she is the very definition of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

While she poses as the smiling, doe-eyed, “compassionate” face of modern progressivism, beneath the soft veneer is a sneering intolerance for anyone who may challenge her. – Daisy Cousens 

However, what’s important is her use of the words “disinformation” and “misinformation”.

Those two words have been rendered almost meaningless in recent years, thanks to leftist leaders using them relentlessly to silence other points of view.Daisy Cousens 

The purpose of this “mis-or-disinformation” branding was to outlaw dissent by shaming its proponents.

Such attempts to control the conversation are not unique to late 2020; the left have used terms such as “hate speech” and baseless accusations of bigotry to sully competing opinions for many years.

However, since nobody has ever been able to define “hate speech” et al, “mis and disinformation” has become the primary tool of the trade. – Daisy Cousens 

Beware the left-wing leader who accuses the other side of spreading mis-or-disinformation.

A non-alarmist approach to managing climate change is not mis-or-disinformation.

Perhaps if Ardern and her ilk had policies that were actually beneficial to the public, they wouldn’t be so trigger happy when they crack down on dissent.Daisy Cousens 

That’s convenient, isn’t it? The pre-existing rules around fairness and balance in journalism that have worked for decades are suddenly in need of some tweaking, right as Stuff’s ‘Fire and Fury’ documentary is due to come before the Media Council for voiding its bowels all over a group of very disillusioned Kiwis and not bothering to speak to them.  – Ben Espiner

Dealing with nay-sayers and holdouts can definitely be frustrating, especially when the need for change seems urgent. But disagreement is part and parcel of the democratic process, not to mention something that’s protected by the fundamental liberal right of free expression.James Kierstead

Our Government, unfortunately, perceives businesses to be big powerful employers with endless amounts of money – but the opposite is true.

Statistics NZ tell us that only 3 per cent of all New Zealand enterprises employ more than twenty staff while the other 97 per cent are either small employers or just self-employed Kiwi battlers desperately trying to get ahead as independent contractors. – Max Whitehead

A member of the British parliament called Rupa Huq was once a university teacher of sociology and criminology, and may therefore be assumed to have, ex officio, a firm grasp of unreality. Such a grasp is no handicap, of course, to a political career, indeed of late seems almost to be a precondition of one, to judge by the performance of many of our leaders. But some things are unforgivable, and Huq has just committed the unforgivable.

Speaking at a joint meeting of two pressure groups called British Future and the Black Equity Organisation, Huq said of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng, that he was only “superficially a black man,” and that if you heard him speak on the radio, you would not have guessed that he was black.Theodore Dalrymple

But what Huq’s comments suggested was that he wasn’t really a black man because (a) he is highly educated and (b) he does not speak as many denizens of a black ghetto speak. She was but a short step away from saying that the superficiality of his blackness was proved by his non-use of dope or crack, and his lack of a criminal record. If he had been deeply rather than only superficially black, he would have been out mugging old ladies. You can’t really get more racist than this. – Theodore Dalrymple

Now, however, we are plagued by what Stalin, referring to writers, called “engineers of souls” such as DiAngelo: those who will not leave us alone until all our thoughts and feelings are “correct” according to their own conceptions of what is right and proper, thus assuring themselves of a job forever, since our thoughts and feelings are never correct. They underestimate or even deny the possibility of self-control, which is the deepest enemy of the would-be purifiers of our souls.Theodore Dalrymple

New Zealand’s foreign policy should be driven by our values, security, trade and a rational examination of our interests. When our foreign policy is promoting the celebrity status of a politician and her personal agenda the result damages New Zealand.- Richard Prebble

Across the country there is a growing sense of disconnection and disempowerment. So much needs to be done, but the democratic transmission-belts that are supposed to carry the needs and wants of the citizenry to the individuals and entities charged with delivering them, no longer seem to work.

Plans are made, and decisions are taken, but not by citizens: not even by the representatives of citizens. At both the national and the local level, unelected and increasingly unaccountable bureaucrats appear to have taken charge. Everywhere, New Zealanders see evidence of centralisation. Everywhere the checks and balances of democracy are being discarded. Elected councillors are expected to act as rubber stamps. Citizens are the stampees.Chris Trotter

At the start of this year, New Zealand’s then justice minister Kris Faafoi was one of those quoting the nation’s high standings in the index, issuing a press release that again confused a corruption perception index with an actual corruption index. Now just 10 months later – and only three months since leaving the cabinet table – Faafoi has left parliament and started his own lobbying firm.

This is an appalling situation. A politician who was intimately involved in the conversations that shape our country now has a job trying to influence the way those conversations go, and is armed with the knowledge that only someone involved in those conversations would have – from the individual positions of other ministers to highly sensitive information from public servants.

And it speaks to our overall naivety as a country – a naivety that probably helps us on that corruption index. – Henry Cooke 

The rules should not allow him to be reading cabinet papers in June and then lobbying his former colleagues on the same matters in October. Other countries – ones that aren’t naive as us – have so-called “revolving door” policies to stop this very thing, forcing elected officials to cool down for some period of months or years before engaging in lobbying.

Opinions vary on how long these things should last, but at the very least an MP should not be able to start lobbying until the end of the parliamentary term in which they were elected. That would keep Faafoi off the blocks for a bit longer than a year. It would also allow people to lose their jobs at elections and immediately find new ones as lobbyists, which would be far from ideal, but it would be a start.

Yet the structural problem exists not just in our hard and fast rules. It’s also in Wellington’s culture. – Henry Cooke 

Those who leave politics do have a right to build a new career, and use the skills politics gave them in that new vocation. But the public has every right to be appalled when the turnaround is this quick, and the service on offer is not just the skills and knowledge of a seasoned political operative, but also the connections retained from someone’s time acting as a servant of the public.

I have hope we can do this, because I don’t think those survey results are really that far out. It’s true that you can’t bribe a cop to get out of a speeding ticket in New Zealand, and that you don’t need to pay off a border guard to get your goods into the country. Our big public institutions are generally aware of these kinds of risks and do their best to mitigate them with very clear rules and norms. It’s time parliament itself did the same. – Henry Cooke 

Probably the most corrupt and broken part of the New Zealand political system is the role of corporate lobbyists influencing policy decisions of governments on behalf of vested interests. This is a group of political insiders – usually former politicians, party staffers or senior Beehive officials – who work at the centre of power and then depart with inside knowledge and networks that they can leverage to help corporate clients influence government policy.

It’s known as a “revolving door” in which corporate interests can prosper through having insiders who move backwards and forwards in and out of the Beehive and other positions of influence. It’s a growth industry in Wellington.

The extraordinary thing is New Zealand is unique in having no regulations on this part of the policy process.Bryce Edwards

Democratic countries don’t normally allow political insiders like Cabinet Ministers to shift straight into jobs with conflicts of interests. In every other similar country there is a mandatory “cooling off” period for political insiders after they leave their taxpayer-funded positions. Transparency International recommends a minimum of a two-year period. – Bryce Edwards

“Every child born in New Zealand, and every legal immigrant, has the same rights. Those are the rights of a citizen. Nobody should get an extra say because of who their great grandparents were. Nobody should have to be treated differently because of who they are,Nicole McKee

All of the good political movements of the past four hundred years have been about ending discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex and sexuality to treat each person with the same dignity. We are the first country in history that’s achieved equal rights and has division as its official policy. – Nicole McKee

Having spent much of my professional life among convicts, I’m all in favor of attempts to reintegrate them into society once they leave prison. The slate cannot be wiped clean—no wiping of a slate can undo a crime once committed—but the writing on the slate shouldn’t act on the rest of a person’s life as a kind of severe chronic disabling disease.

As is so often the case in human affairs, there’s another side to the question. If I were an employer seeking someone in a position of trust (and practically all positions are those of trust), I should quite like to know if an applicant had been guilty of dishonesty. Other things being equal among applicants, I would probably prefer someone who had not been found guilty of a crime, though in some moods I might feel inclined from a sense of social duty or humanity to offer an ex-criminal a job. However, I would like the choice to be mine.  – Theodore Dalrymple

The energy crisis sees Europe now scrambling to reopen mothballed coal power plants and nurse aging nuclear power stations through the winter. They are scrambling to reopen coal mines and reverse fracking bans – but, unfortunately, finding and developing gas reserves takes time, and new gas energy will not come on stream this winter.

The sad fact is that people will die of the cold. In a normal year in the UK, there are 80 times more climate-related deaths due to cold than to heat; regrettably, this winter, it will be more.

Unfortunately, we have already started down the same policy path as Europe and it is crucial that we stop and learn from their mistakes, or we are doomed to repeat them. And at what cost? –  Stuart Smith

The great virtue of a free market is that it can cause tens of thousands of people to pursue promising technologies and promising ways to reduce carbon at their own expense. The market leads to discovery. Politicians, by contrast, think they know “the” answer, and they’re always wrong.David R. Henderson

India is at 23 per cent of world milk production, and their ambition is to keep growing at 6 per cent per year to be at 43 per cent in 20 to 30 years.

They’ve got a carbon footprint per litre of milk that’s about 10 times what you get for a New Zealand litre of milk … And when questioned on what sustainability meant to them, they said: ‘a full belly’. That’s as far as they’re interested in sustainability going.

And so it really made me think if New Zealand’s place in the world is cutting our own production, cutting our own throats, or is it about taking our know-how and can-do attitude to other agricultural systems in the world. – Andrew Hoggard

Sheep and beef accounts for 92,000 workers in this country. 

If this leads to a straight 20% loss of workers, that’s 18 and a half thousand people. 

And then there’s the cost to the economy.  A 24% drop in net revenue means we could lose up to 2.88 billion a year in sheep and beef exports alone. That’s more our entire education system costs us every year. It’s a huge amount of money to pass up.

And it’s not going to stop climate change from happening. It runs the risk of making it worse. New Zealand farmers are the most efficient farmers in the world.  They produce the least carbon emissions per animal.

You take 20% of our meat out of the word, some other country is simply going to step in and take up the slack and they will not farm that meat as efficiently as us, so every animal of ours that they replace, they will put more emissions into the atmosphere than we would’ve.

This plan is an expensive exercise in stupidity. We are definitely making our country poorer and possibly making the planet hotter, for what? 

For bragging rights.Heather du Plessis-Allan

Nobody, least of all the farmers of this country, should be surprised by the government announcement this week of their immoral plan to drastically reduce the nation’s green house gas emissions for no other reason than the pursuit of a debatable objective that has been abandoned in almost all of the original IPCC supporting countries throughout the western world. Note we don’t include the major polluters of the world who also signed the Paris and Glasgow agreements while having no real intention of participating in this flawed response to the latest round of global warming. – Clive Bibby

Nothing forces politicians to do the proverbial back flip more, even when dealing with policies that have been regarded as sacrosanct when times allowed flexibility of choice, than being subjected to the reality of a rapidly changing world. 
Yet here in little old New Zealand, our government is so driven by its own death wish that it is willing to kill the beating heart that has made us the utopian dreamland where everyone wants to be.Clive Bibby

FOUR ELECTIONS IN A ROW the centre-left romped home with the Auckland mayoralty. Four elections of postal voting. Four elections in which the logistical management of the ballot was contracted out to the private sector. Four elections won by white, male politicians over the age of 55 years. Four elections of entirely satisfactory results – at least from the perspective of the centre-left.

One defeat, however, is all that it has taken for the centre-left (and its more combustible fellow-travellers) to denounce the entire electoral process as a rort, and to strongly insinuate that the victorious mayoral candidate, Wayne Brown, is lacking in democratic legitimacy. If this is not a case of sour grapes on the part of the losers, then it is difficult to imagine what a case of sour grapes might look like!  – Chris Trotter 

A powerful sense of entitlement does, however, lie at the heart of the 2022 losers’ sour grapes. Not the entitlement derived from democratic principle, but the sense of entitlement ingrained in political activists who believe themselves to be on the right (that is to say left) side of history. This certainty concerning their own ideological rectitude exists in inverse proportion to their knowledge of the actual nuts-and-bolts of historical and political agency.Chris Trotter 

Democracy isn’t cheap, and it isn’t easy – but it is simple. Don’t insist that the voters be given what they don’t want. Build your footpaths where the people walk. Never, ever, be a sore loser. And, always remember: vox Populi, vox Dei.

The voice of the people, is the voice of God. – Chris Trotter 

I want to talk (briefly) about a difficulty which has grown up in even talking about the problem – that is an ideology of supposed “antiracism” which is beginning to assume the dimensions of a religion or a cult under the influence of which people and institutions are casually and inaccurately labelled as “racist” without any evidentiary basis for the charge. I say an ideology of “supposed anti- racism” because the underlying assumption of this ideology appears to be that Aboriginal people must exist in a permanent state of victimhood, an assumption that is in fact deeply racist. Further, among those in thrall to this ideology, labelling someone or something “racist” seems in many cases to be an end in itself – not a prelude to remedial action, but a substitute for it.Justice Judith Kelly

… it is important to call out false claims of individual racism and false claims of systemic racism – as it is to call out racism where it occurs. It is not helpful to see victimisation where it doesn’t exist. Apart from anything else, it detracts from the search for solutions.

Not all disadvantage is a result of racism. People (all of us) have enough problems as it is without inventing more. – Justice Judith Kelly

It is either a brave or stupid political party, that having received a clear signal from the electorate on its failure to deliver its transformation agenda, forges ahead with more change just days later.

And while Jacinda Ardern denied that the centre-right swing in the local government elections last week was a rejection of her Government’s failure to deliver on its Three Waters programme and identifiable progress on Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand, that’s exactly what the election of right-wing mayors in Auckland, Rotorua, Whanganui, Christchurch and Dunedin determined.

After all, with less than a year before another general election, and the hallowed trophy of a third term, there are hearts and minds, not to mention votes, to be won.Janet WIlson

It’s also proof that the Government has lost touch with its voters when newspaper headlines tout that its emissions scheme will lead to higher food prices – the No 1 concern now – and it forges ahead anyway, happy to claim a world first with emissions pricing across the board.

There’s a good reason for that. Reasons wrapped up in the politics of self-interest and fraught emotions. Being first may give Brand NZ a shiny halo, but that’s not going to be much use when it collapses its largest industry. – Janet WIlson

It’s a brave or stupid political party that wants to swipe 20% off the sheep and beef industry when last year it was worth $9.1 billion in export earnings.

With farming bodies from Federated Farmers to Groundswell NZ enraged, it’s also relevant to ask if this proposal will go the way of Labour’s other transformation policies only to stall and wash up on the rocks of its own aspiration.Janet WIlson

And if it does pass? That will deliver a double blow for Labour’s core constituency – low-income households – who are already struggling to feed themselves.

It’s a brave or stupid party that decides to implement policies that fail voters. – Janet WIlson

Speech should not be the subject of State interference solely because the message is unpleasant, discomforting, disfavoured or feared to be dangerous by the State. This is known as “content or viewpoint neutrality”. This approach prevents the State from regulating speech simply because the speech’s message, idea or viewpoint is unpleasant, discomforting, offensive, disfavoured or feared to be dangerous by government officials or community members. That approach – what could be called “viewpoint discriminatory” regulation – would attack individual liberty but also democratic principles. Officials could use it to suppress unpopular idea or information or manipulate public debate.

Censoring speech because it is disfavoured, no matter how deeply, violates the viewpoint neutrality principle. That principle is also violated when the State suppresses speech about public issues. This can include “hate speech” simply because its views might have a disturbing impact upon the emotions or psyches of some audience members. The State may not punish “hate speech” or speech with other messages simply because of its offensive, discomforting, disfavoured, disturbing or feared message.

Counterspeech is available to address such messages. Only when the speech crosses the threshold into the emergency test – that is when it directly, demonstrably and imminently causes certain specific, objectively ascertainable serious harms that cannot be averted by other than censorship – may the State intervene. – David Harvey 

One of the difficulties facing freedom of expression in New Zealand lies in the climate of fear that has generated over the period of the Covid pandemic. There has been fear about the consequences of the disease, fear if the various directives of the government are not complied with, and fear arising from the expression of contrary views.

Anti-vax sentiments have morphed into anti-government protests and those who express contrarian views have been accused of spreading misinformation and disinformation. All of these views are in the main disfavoured, disturbing or adding to the climate of fear. So much so that the former Chief Censor lent the weight of his office to a publication about misinformation and disinformation entitled the “The Edge of the Infodemic – Challenging Misinformation in Aotearoa”.

One wonders whether the Chief Censor of the time wished to see misinformation come within his ambit and be subject to classification or even being classed as objectionable. It is difficult to see how misinformation or disinformation could fall within the emergency test. Although it may be disfavoured, wrong-headed or disturbing it falls within the scope of viewpoint neutrality, best met with counterspeech. – David Harvey 

A recent demonstration of the overreaction of the public to forms of expression, the rise of the harmful tendency approach and the belief that the State should intervene is chilling and concerning. Rather than addressing the problem with counterspeech or some such similar demonstration, citizens required the Police to investigate incidents involving the flying of flags. – David Harvey 

Although these cases may seem insignificant or trivial in themselves there is a deeper level of concern. Are we becoming too precious about taking offence? Are we leaning towards a “harmful tendency” position? Is the answer to something with which we disagree to complain to the authorities or try to shut it down? That is not what freedom of expression in a democratic society is all about.

That these sentiments seem to be surfacing should be no surprise. The Government holds itself out as the sole source of truth and any disagreement is cast as misinformation or disinformation. Some elements of the media demonise contrary opinions and there seems to be a developing trend to silence or cancel opposing points of view simply because they are perceived to be disagreeable or offensive, rather than engaging with the issue.

The reason that is advanced for failing to engage with the issue is that to do so merely gives oxygen to a contrary point of view, but only by discussion and challenge can the holders of contrary views understand and perhaps even accept they are wrong.

We need to be more robust in the way that we deal with views with which we disagree. We must remember that those expressing such views have as much right to express their sentiments as we have to express ours. And we must remember that the only time speech should be censored is if there is a clear, immediate and present danger that it may cause harm. If the ideas that are the subject of speech are controversial, offensive or disfavoured the remedy lies in debate or persuasion and not the intervention of the State. – David Harvey 

The relationship between intelligence, education, knowledge, and good sense is far from straightforward. Bad and foolish—but allegedly sophisticated—ideas can beguile the educated, or important portions of the educated, for decades at a time. The Marxian labour theory of value was one such which held much of the European intelligentsia in thrall for a long time, despite its obvious untruth. They wanted it to be true, so for them it was true, and in the process, they often became learned in their own fundamental error. For them, the wish was father to the conviction. Theodore Dalrymple

But in the eyes of most people, the fact that the rich would benefit from the tax cuts more than the poor was enough in itself to condemn them, irrespective of their outcome for their economy as a whole: that is to say, even if they were to increase general prosperity, they would still be undesirable because they would have increased inequality.  – Theodore Dalrymple

A dog-in-the-manger attitude to the rich is now morally de rigueur, even among those whom the majority of their fellow citizens would consider rich. To hate the rich is, ex officio almost, to sympathise with the poor, and therefore be virtuous: but hatred and sympathy are not two sides of the same coin. Hatred not only goes deeper than sympathy but is easier to rouse and to act upon. It is quite independent of sympathy. Hatred of the rich in the name of equality was probably responsible for more death and destruction in the twentieth century than any other political passion. The category of the rich tends to expand as circumstances require: ‘Rich bastards,’ Lenin called the kulaks, the Russian peasants whose wealth would now be considered dire poverty, and which consisted of the possession of an animal or two, or a farm tool, more than other peasants possessed. What Freud called the narcissism of small differences (the psychological equivalent of marginal utility) means that grounds, however trifling, can always be found for hatred and envy.

This is not to say, I hope I do not need to add, that wealth is coterminous with virtue, that the rich always behave well, or that no wealth is illicit. We have probably all known in our time some rich bastards, but it is their conduct, not their wealth, that we should revile. 

An obsession with relative rather than absolute measurement of people’s situation can only foster discontent and envy, if not outright hatred. What matters it to me if someone is three or a thousand times wealthier than I, provided that his conduct or activity does me no harm? – Theodore Dalrymple

It is difficult to overstate the dangers when society begins to divide itself along tribal lines.  This problem is manifesting in New Zealand to a marked and accelerating degree, and shows no sign of abating. Every statistic is broken down by ethnicity, tribe is broken down by iwi, and iwi by hapu. While tribalism seems to be exponentially impacting almost everything in modern New Zealand, it has been a long time coming, and its ultimate results could cost us much of what we value. – Caleb Anderson 

What is interesting is that projection can also occur on a mass scale, and this is when it can become especially dangerous.   This is when whole groups opt to lay all of their ills at the feet of other groups, protestants at the feet of Catholics, atheists at the feet of Christians, eastern nations at the feet of western nations, socialists at the feet of capitalists, liberals at the feet of conservatives, urban at the feet of rural, intellectuals at the feet of the middle class, those who have not at the feet of those who have, indigenous people at the feet of colonizers etc. etc.  This is done with conviction and blind fervour, and we have plenty of similarly minded people to cheer us along, and psychologically stroke our egos. Tribalism provides the perfect opportunity to feel better by demonizing others.  A complex problem becomes simple, singular causality is the order of the day, and we have dodged the bullet.  Caleb Anderson 

History contains many examples of leaders who have advanced their causes through division.  Prior to the emergence of constitutional government and universal suffrage, this was generally the way things were done.  In more recent times, the left, by infiltrating the media and academia, has made an art form of this.  And those who speak words of division, have a burgeoning audience of those who have decided (and have been helped to decide) that any burden of personal responsibility and change, is just too great to bear. The left has conveniently, and nonsensically, divided humanity into oppressor and oppressed classes, and then the oppressed class into an almost unlimited number of oppressed sub-groups.  If you are especially unlucky you qualify as oppressed on multiple grounds simultaneously (something called intersectionality).

The comparative successes of capitalism (notwithstanding its imperfections), and the growth of the middle class, has forced the left to find new “enemies”, be they white, male, middle class, conservative, rural  …  Each is apportioned a dollop of responsibility for the ailments of others and these ailments are laid exclusively at their feet.

While projection is an unconscious action, by and large, the left is well aware of what it is doing, in fact this is its strategy.  If you can divide, and get it right, you will rule.  The current pervasive and never-ending divisions of our population on the basis of ethnicity, as if nothing else mattered, giving loud voice to one group, and no voice to the other, constructing selective narratives of past and present, applying villainy and virtue, as if these were mutually exclusive domains of being, provides rich opportunities for leverage.

By its very nature tribalism contains the seeds of its own destruction.  Once one “enemy” is dispensed with, another needs to be found, because that’s how projection works.  Division continues unabated until there is literally no-one left to blame, and society has divested itself of everything of value.   – Caleb Anderson 

Borrowing the words of Carl Jung, you might say that New Zealand is being swept away by an outbreak of insanity, entirely unaware of where this could lead us.  We have traded the Judeo- Christian imperative of personal responsibility, for a dumbed-down collectivism, which has the potential to sweep away everything of value, and return us to the very dark age from which all of our ancestors emerged, and which, most scarily of all, still resides deep within the hearts of each one of us.  

If we forget where we have come from, most certainly we will return there, and we might not like what we find.  The west is facing multiple crises, but the real crisis the west faces is the absence of responsibilityCaleb Anderson 

It seems a very dangerous predicament when government requires people to lie and to feign agreement with false propaganda in order to contribute their training and experience to our country. It’s totalitarianism, in our case racist, socialist totalitarianism. Who wanted this? – A.E. Thompson

That raises the question; does the prime minister care about reducing emissions to address climate change, or does she want to reduce New Zealand’s emissions regardless of whether that reduction leads to an increase in global emissions? I suspect it is the latter. Stuart Smith 

When the National Party supported the so-called Zero Carbon legislation, we did so with a clear undertaking that we in government would take the following approach: a science-based approach; a focus on innovation and technology (rather than reducing consumption); long-term signals to the economy; New Zealand to act with international partners – not in isolation; [to] consider and manage wider economic impacts. Clearly, the Labour Government’s proposal does not align with at least the last two points, and we will all pay the price for this.

National takes a more rational approach. Yes, we must reduce our emissions; however, moving in isolation ahead of our trading partners will not reduce emissions to the atmosphere. Rather they will likely increase them as production shifts elsewhere to less efficient producers, not to mention decimating one of our major export sectors and impoverishing us all.

We simply should not let the prime minister’s personal ambition of leading the world in climate change compromise our best interests. – Stuart Smith 

This isn’t just environmentalism and it isn’t really railway enthusiasm (which I have some sympathy for, because I like trains), but is hatred of human beings.  Hatred not only of their freedom of choice, but also their lives.  – Liberty Scott

They wont stop protesting until it becomes too hard for them to do so, they will block more roads and demand “action” from whatever government is in power, regardless of the action being carried out for their cause.  Because what they want is applause and approval from the like-minded, their own little network of misanthropes, and most of all, media attention so they can be interviewed, endlessly.

This raises their social standing to have disrupted “evil” car “fascists” and drawn attention to a “righteous” cause (diverting taxpayers’ money to some train services). They’ll feel special and privileged, and hopefully get selected to go on the Green Party’s list.

I doubt ANY of them have ridden on the Northern Explorer, Coastal Pacific or TranzAlpine trains, ever! Because it’s not about trains.

It is, after all, performative, status-seeking, social misanthropy.  – Liberty Scott

 

Breanna McKee

New Zealand farmers, located further away from most markets than any other producers, compete on a global market, a market heavily distorted by import quotas (restricting how much New Zealand farmers can sell), tariffs (taxing their products but not taxing domestic producers) and subsidies (undercutting the higher cost of production). If there were largely a free market for agriculture, similar to many manufactured goods, then inefficient producers (that use more energy and emit more CO2) would be out of business or would need to improve efficiency.  

However there is not.  – Liberty Scott 

The most generous view of this is it is futile. It buys virtue signalling from unproductive multi-national lobbyists like Greenpeace and enables Jacinda Ardern and James Shaw to claim they are “world leading”, but the savings in emissions get replaced by higher emissions from elsewhere. When New Zealand reduces production, others will sell to those markets instead, at a slightly higher price, but with higher emissions and less economic efficiency.  The least generous view of it is that it is economic treachery.  It harms a local industry to ineffectively achieve a policy objective. – Liberty Scott 

Sure, whatever New Zealand does on emissions will make ~0 impact on climate change, but if there is going to be action on emissions New Zealand has to join in, or it faces the likelihood of sanctions from several major economies. What matters though is this small economy does not kneecap its most productive and competitive sectors in order to virtue signal.  
Of course there are plenty who hate the farming sector, either because of what they produce and who they vote for, and the Green Party thinks agriculture should go all organic, produce LESS at HIGHER prices, and you can imagine the impact of this on the poor (but the Greens think they can tax the rich to pay for everyone).  They are very happy to spend the tax revenue collected, but treat it as a sunset industry.

So sure, agriculture needs to be included, but there needs to be a Government that doesn’t want to shrink the sector in which New Zealand has the greatest comparative advantage.  – Liberty Scott 

While we are a long way from having an officially approved national culture we’re not that so far away if a political environment has been encouraged by the Labour Government  that allows Creative NZ to think it’s entitled to defund a thirty year old high school Shakespeare festival because it doesn’t measure up to what it considers to be part of our so-called ’emerging culture’. Of course, Creative NZ has also decided what that ’emerging culture’ is as well.

The absurdity of this view is such that it actively seeks to delegitimise the work of the man widely considered to be the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s greatest dramatist. In the bizarre view of Creative NZ, Shakespeare’s body of work, which includes some of the greatest plays ever written, is nothing more than than a ‘canon of imperialism’. This, in itself, is a nonsensical argument because imperialism, as a feature of the emerging global capitalism, didn’t appear until the late nineteenth century. So Creative NZ’s view of Shakespeare’s work is also lacking in historical context and perspective. – Against the Current

IT IS DIFFICULT to see the Arts Council’s decision to defund Shakespeare as anything other than “propaganda of the deed”. In the current, unusually tense, cultural climate, the idea that a decision to refuse a $30,000 grant to an organisation responsible for introducing the art of William Shakespeare to a total of 120,000 (and counting) secondary school students might, somehow, pass unnoticed and unremarked is nonsensical. The notion that the Council’s decision was a carefully targeted ideological strike is further buttressed by the comments attached to its refusal. To describe these as incendiary hardly does them justice. – Chris Trotter

Putting to one side the self-evident reality that a festival involving thousands of young people in acting, directing, set-designing and painting, costuming, composing and providing incidental music to a host of independent theatrical productions, offers an unassailable prima facie case for being of great relevance to New Zealand’s “contemporary art context”: how should we decode the assessment document’s gnomic formulation: “Aotearoa in this time and place and landscape”?

Given that all state institutions are now required to ensure that their decisions reflect the central cultural and political importance of te Tiriti o Waitangi, as well as their obligation to give practical expression to the Crown’s “partnership” with tangata whenua, the advisory panel’s meaning is ominously clear. At this time, and in this place, the policy landscape has no place for artistic endeavours that draw attention to the powerful and enduring cultural attachments between New Zealand and the British Isles.

Expressed more bluntly, Creative New Zealand is serving notice on applicants for state funding that, unless their projects both acknowledge and enhance the tino rangatiratanga of Māori they will be deemed to have insufficient relevance to the “contemporary art context” to warrant public financial support.

This is even worse than it sounds.  – Chris Trotter

A “decolonising Aotearoa”. Here exposed is the unabashed ideological bias of the Arts Council and its assessors. There is a considerable head-of-steam building among some Māori (and their Pakeha supporters in the public service, academia and the mainstream news media) for a wholesale stripping-out of the political, legal and cultural institutions of the “colonial state”, and for their replacement by the customs and the practices of te ao Māori. At present, this is the agenda of the “progressive” elites only. Certainly, no such proposition has been placed before, or ratified by, the New Zealand electorate.

Not that these same elites would feel at all comfortable about important cultural judgements being placed in the hands of the uneducated masses. Indeed, it is likely that the decision-makers at the Arts Council are entirely persuaded that an important part of their mission is to so radically reshape the cultural landscape that the “decolonising of Aotearoa” comes to be seen as entirely reasonable. If re-educating this benighted Pakeha majority means limiting their own (and their children’s) access to the works of “an Elizabethan playwright” (a man who is, indisputably, among the greatest artists who ever lived) then so be it.Chris Trotter

The panel of assessors is concerned that the festival’s sponsoring organisation, the Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand, is too “paternalistic”, and that the entire Shakespearian genre it is dedicated to promoting is “located within a canon of imperialism and missed the opportunity to create a living curriculum and show relevance”.

That’s an imperialistic “canon” with one “n” – not two! Alluded to here, presumably, is the entire theatrical menu of Western Civilisation: from Aristophanes to Oscar Wilde. (The English had no empire to speak of in Shakespeare’s time!) A cultural collection which, apparently, has no place in a “living curriculum” – from which, one can only deduce, Dead White Males have been ruthlessly purged. Only by excluding the cultural achievements of the past, the Arts Council seems to saying, can any artistic endeavour hope to “show relevance”.

To those who shake their heads in disbelief at this rejection of historical continuity, it is important to make clear just how hostile the post-modern sensibility is to the whole idea of a materially and imaginatively recoverable past – a past with the power to influence both the present and the future. The post-modernists hate the idea of History as both tether and teacher – fettering us to reality, even as it reveals the many ways our forebears have responded to the challenges of their time. When post-modernists talk about relevance, what they really mean is amnesia. Only an amnesiac can inhabit an eternal present – post-modernism’s ideal state-of-being.

Shakespeare and his works are downgraded and rejected precisely because his words and his plays connect us to the past – revealing the tragi-comic continuity of human existence. More than that, Shakespeare’s art is of a power that at once confirms and dissolves history. In his incomparable mastery of the English language he reminds us that we are more than male and female, rich and poor, Māori and Pakeha. What this “Elizabethan playwright” reveals to us, and hopefully will go on revealing to succeeding generations until the end of time, is the wonder and woe of what it means to be human. – Chris Trotter

Creative New Zealand should be about embracing all forms of art and all artists. It should be flexible, empathetic and responsive. It should have a well understood and fair system for allocating funds, with checks and balances throughout. It should operate under proper governmental oversight and public accountability.

But this is a far-off dream. Creative NZ missed the memo. Terry Sheat 

CNZ has a prescriptive and inflexible view of what artistic endeavours are worthy of funding. To be funded, and funded fairly, you must fit within CNZ’s vision of what art should be in New Zealand. The Arts Council, which is supposed to be in control, is most likely being led around by its nose by CNZ and seems to be functioning as little more than a rubber stamp. Governmental oversight is non-existent. No one is held to account.

As well as de-funding, there is a gradual and insidious underfunding of CNZ’s non-preferred grant recipients. Many must suspect that they are already on the slippery slope. – Terry Sheat 

If I were to mark CNZ’s funding criteria and outcomes against the duties under the legislation, I would be forced to give them a failing grade. I wouldn’t give them funding. They are not delivering to the proper scope of their mission statement. Diversity is not diversity of “New Zealand art”, it is diversity of all art in New Zealand, with freedom of artistic expression for all. That is literally in the statute. – Terry Sheat 

But the problem is much more pervasive than just one funding round or a couple of disappointed applicants. The issue is at the core of the general stewardship of the health and well-being of the arts in Aotearoa New Zealand. CNZ appears to be busy funding new arts organisations in their own image to replace existing professional arts infrastructure, and then progressively de-funding those original organisations because they do not align with CNZ’s philosophy. It’s dangerous and self-fulfilling stuff.

Creative NZ should be a trusted and respected organisation with the full faith and backing of the wider arts community. It is not. It’s time for a public inquiry so that all affected parties and the public can have their views heard. – Terry Sheat 

In really simple terms, we take the golden goose of the economy, charge it more, and theoretically save the world. It’s a farce. As our costs go up, and we produce less, someone fills the gap, it’s called market economics.

The Government doesn’t understand that bit and perhaps more dangerously, they don’t want to.

They don’t like farmers or farming. They have been after them for the past five years and treat them like idiots and enviro-terrorists. The fact they are the best in the world never seems to have mattered. Mike Hosking

I think demand was driven largely by expectation.

When people begin to hear about others in their circles being provided with motel accommodation for free they will start to respond. When people see modern state housing being built with attractive income-related rents they will want to get into one even if that means waiting in emergency housing for free for a period.- Lindsay Mitchell

 Labour is tanking in the polls and if the party does win next year, it won’t be with a majority. They’ll have to bring the Greens, Te Pāti Māori and possibly New Zealand First into a coalition to get across the line.

And that’s just a shambles. It will be paralysis by analysis. New Zealand First will block everything unless it involves more free stuff for Boomers, Te Pāti Māori will realise life was a whole lot easier in a coalition with the Nats and ACT,  and the Greens won’t agree to anything unless Labour throws in a free cycle-way or agrees to shoot dead another 200 dairy cows.Rachel Smalley

Also….look at the policies they’re trying to get through. Three Waters, the emissions pricing plan for farmers, HealthNZ’s major overhaul….huge reforms and they’ll trigger huge issues.

So, if Labour wins a third term under Ardern, that’s going to be a hellish ride. Awful. All of the economic and social fallout from COVID will start peaking as well, the impact of the Government’s multi-billion dollar spend – and a good chunk of that was reckless – will start to rear its head. You’ve got the cost of living issues, high-interest rates and inflation will still be trotting along….and while Ardern is good at a number of things, I don’t think she’s good with the numbers. – Rachel Smalley

With respect , if you decide to cancel the greatest writer in English, or any language come to that, you sound like a f***ing idiot. And you make NZ-Aotearoa look bloody stupidSam Neill 

Lifting kids out of themselves, harnessing their own force to something that carries way beyond the mundane and transcends cultural boundaries rather than limiting or suppressing them.

“For heaven’s sake, we’re surely beyond parochialism in this inter-connected world. No one denies the benefits of developing our own stories, but this is ridiculous.- Michael Hurst 

It is a curious phenomenon today that our ruling elites twist themselves in knots to claim that they have protected, via government action, every human life from harm and every human right from being infringed. Yet they often extol a life of individual isolation cut off from every human tie that might demand some self-sacrifice.

Witness the undermining of marriage, the downgrading of having and raising children, and the contempt toward our shared national heritage that might otherwise glue strangers together toward common objectives. Academics as a whole are, of course, the worst, with frequent hatred of unchosen or solemn commitments often mirrored in their trainwreck personal lives. Chris Sheehan 

My suspicion is that, at its heart, much progressivism is the incongruous dream of radical individuals coming together without having to sacrifice a skerrick of their treasured self-expression. Since this never happens, and many are actually disgusted by raw humanity, the next best thing is to use the levers of power to make it look like it is so.

Loving humanity through government is attractive precisely because it is so impersonal. I pay my taxes and the government sets up a program, run by paid professionals, who can deal with whatever problems beset large classes of sorry, oppressed individuals. I don’t have to deal with a single difficult person unless I am paid to do so under controlled conditions.

Government programs can be useful in their time if properly scrutinised. But to think they are a substitute for the thousand daily sacrifices made by those who build their lives on lasting commitments to other imperfect humans is to engage in the worst kind of folly. – Chris Sheehan 

“Every government intervention creates unintended consequences, which lead to calls for further government interventions,” observed the great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises. He was being generous by describing interventionism’s nasty side-effects as “unintended.” Some younger interventionists are naïve, and know not what they do, but the older, street-smart captains of progressive politics understand the harms their policies entail. For them, the adverse consequences are features, not bugs. The only downside is the risk of political retribution at the polls.  Marlo Lewis

I am concerned that it is often not clear to the public or Parliament what outcomes are being sought by governments, how that translates into spending, and ultimately what is being achieved with the public money the Government spends – about $150 billion last year. – John Ryan

Whole-of-government performance reporting that links government spending to outcomes would help focus debate on the longer-term and on some of the more intractable issues we face as a country. And, of course, help answer for the public and Parliament how well governments are playing their role in addressing them. – John Ryan

In my view, a comprehensive review is needed of the arrangements that enable Parliament and the public to understand what governments are seeking to achieve, what is being spent, and what progress is being made. In exchange, this will help the public sector maintain an informed, trusting, and enduring connection with the public they ultimately are there to serve.

An outcome I think we would all support. – John Ryan

Truss and Kwarteng are not wrong in thinking the government taking over half of everything produced in the UK is hurting the British economy. 

Thanks to huge sacrifices in a Chinese experiment we know what happens when the government takes everything, people stop working. The result is famine. Thirty million Chinese starved to death in the Great Leap Forward.

Taxation does not only affect the incentive to be productive, it is costly. It costs money to collect tax. We have to fill out forms, keep records and hire accountants, just to pay tax. It is called the dead weight of tax. The greater share of GDP collected, the higher the cost. There comes a point when even if the rates of tax are increased it is so damaging to the economy the total revenue from taxation cannot increase. Tax rate increases can result in less revenue. Richard Prebble

The economists were asked: “What is New Zealand’s dead weight of tax?” “What percentage of GDP can the government take before it affects the economy’s ability to pay?”

The government was at that time taking 34 per cent of GDP. Dr Sully and Dr Knox Lovell found the dead weight of tax was not 8 cents as Treasury thought but for every extra dollar of tax the cost was a staggering, $2.64. Their modelling indicated once the government was taking 20 per cent of GDP any further taxation reduced the economy’s ability to pay.

The Treasury hired an Australian economist, Ted Sieper, to review the research and disprove it. Sieper did his review and found that once government was collecting 15 per cent of GDP any further tax was counterproductive. Treasury’s response was to close down the project and ignore the results. – Richard Prebble

When the Lange government reduced the top rate of tax from 66 cents to 33 cents the new top rate raised far more revenue than Treasury’s model predicted. The projections of the Office of the Budget are never right. In part because the models fail to predict how incentives change behaviour.Richard Prebble

The demand for free services is infinite. Governments must adopt the ideas of reformers like New Zealand’s Professor Robert McCulloch and Sir Roger Douglas and create patients’ health accounts. Then we will be incentivised to manage our health costs. Otherwise rising health costs will destroy our economies.

No country can afford to have government spending over 30 per cent of GDP. In New Zealand government’s share of GDP has risen from 35.64 per cent under Bill English to 42.94 per cent last year. Treasury predicts this will fall but, as we have noted, treasury predictions are rarely correct. –

Don’t focus on the dead, Prime Minister. Put your voice and energy behind the Iranian women who are dying in protests today. 

Be a woman who stands up for women.Rachel Smalley

Kent’s warning is particularly apposite today, because we live increasingly in a world in which words and words alone are the measure of all things, especially vice and virtue. A good person is one who espouses the right opinions, and an even better one is someone who trumpets them. The converse is also true, that a bad person is one who does not have the right opinions, and an even worse one is someone who trumpets the wrong opinions.

This has a gratifying effect, for it dichotomises people into the kingdom of the damned and the kingdom of the saved: it is gratifying because man is a dichotomising animal who abjures complexity and ambiguity if he can, and loves scapegoats.

Another advantage of making opinion the measure of virtue and vice is that it frees man from the restraint and discipline that were traditionally necessary to be considered a virtuous person. Think and say the right things, and you are free in many spheres of existence that formerly were subject to rules. – Theodore Dalrymple

No doubt every philosophy of life has its anomalies, but what may be called the logocratic conception of virtue (the espousal of the right wordsas the measure of personal moral worth) is especially rich in them. Usually, this modern overemphasis on opinion both decries censoriousness and is highly censorious, particularly about the censoriousness of others: a meta-censoriousness, as it were.

Thus, a person who believes that it is wrong for someone voluntarily to drug himself to the point of intoxication, or who decries the various forms of self-mutilation that are now extolled as a liberation for self-expression, thereby reveals himself to be censorious and intolerant, tolerance now being taken to be a willingness to condemn nothing except condemnation itself, perhaps with the “celebration” of behaviour that deviates transgressively from former social norms. The expropriation of the expropriators has been replaced as a political desideratum by the censure of the censurers.

The fear of appearing censorious soon leads to fear of making moral judgments of any kind, but especially if they are of a straightforward, immemorial or conventional nature.Theodore Dalrymple

But to return to Kent’s warning to Lear not to take words at face value or to assume that they bear only the most literal interpretation. As I have mentioned, this is a lesson to be relearnt today that is particularly apposite in a culture in which opinion is almost the sole touchstone of virtue. One of the consequences of this shallow conception of virtue is an almost inevitable inflation of expression: a verbal arms race in which extravagance of expression is taken as evidence in itself of the depth of feeling and therefore of virtue also. – Theodore Dalrymple

Resentment is the easiest lesson to teach and learn because no life is entirely without reason for it. This is because perfection is not of this world, at least where human existence is concerned. There is almost a natural propensity to resentment, insofar as it offers many sour comforts such as an explanation for failings and failures. No doubt there are some people who have, by exercising self-control, avoided the expression of resentment throughout their lives, but I surmise that there are almost none who have never felt it. And since resentment almost always contains a strong element of dishonesty by focusing on harms done and ignoring benefits received, inflation of language serves its end admirably. Everyone wants to be a victim, not in the sense that everyone has been a victim of something in his life, but a victim in a big way. Little slights therefore have to be magnified into gross, traumatic and lasting insults or worse, rather than a normal part of living in society. It is not surprising that an ever-greater number of people come to believe that they have been flayed alive—permanently. This is an attitude that no amount of success or privilege by comparison with others can assuage. In the midst of the greatest luxury, there is always room for resentment.

Inflation is as bad for language as it is for money. Keynes pointed out, in The Economic Consequences of the Peace (published in 1919), that monetary inflation changes the balance of economic power in a society. Inflation of language changes the balance of political power in society. It is the Gonerils and the Regans who benefit from it while the Cordelias languish. Those who fail to master the arts of exaggeration, self-dramatisation and emotional incontinence (especially when combined with bureaucratese) are sidelined politically and derided culturally, leaving the world in control of specialists in discourse studies.Theodore Dalrymple

It is true that the authoritarian-left is denying biology, but the deeper truth of the situation is perhaps even more concerning. The incoherence of the protesters’ responses and the fact that the walkout was scheduled in advance suggests something darker: the protesters are “read-only,” like a computer file that cannot be altered. They will not engage ideas — they will not even hear ideas — because their minds are already made up. They have been led to believe that exposure to information is in and of itself dangerous.

Scientists, philosophers, and scholars of all sorts have effectively been accused of thoughtcrimes before it is even known what we’re going to say. The very concept of thoughtcrime, as Orwell himself well understood, is the death knell to discourse, to discovery, to democracy. – Heather Heying

Yes, we need better science education and literacy1. But more important — more fundamental — we need to reinvigorate the concept of education itself. Those who are truly educated are also educable, which means taking in new information throughout your life, and being willing to re-investigate, and throw out, even your most cherished beliefs. If our schools and universities are not prepared to do this job, we must ask ourselves: where shall our next educational structures be built?Heather Heying

Freethinkers of Portland State find ourselves confronted with a new secular religion, called “intersectionality.” This doctrine conceives of human beings in terms of a good-and-evil binary of “oppressed” and “oppressor,” reducing individuals to a collection of group identities rated within a hierarchy of “marginalization.”

Intersectionality’s true believers tend to be far less tolerant than traditional religious believers with their sophisticated apologetics. To intersectionalists, skepticism is an existential threat. To question their beliefs, I’ve been told, constitutes “debating someone’s right to exist.” – Andy Ngo

This Government is trying to claim progress on homelessness by making sure the reports it publishes focuses on the amount of money spent and the number of programmes started – not the actual outcomes.

Unfortunately for this Government, starting programmes and throwing money at them is not the same as improving outcomes for New Zealanders. – Chris Bishop

On every metric, housing has gotten worse. Rents are up $140 per week, thousands of households live in emergency housing motels, including nearly 4000 children, and the state house waitlist has increased by over 20,000 applicants since Labour came to office.

The Government now spends over $1 million per week on emergency housing and there has been a quadrupling in the number of families living in cars and tents since 2017.

If failure is the target, then the Government gets a gold star. – Chris Bishop

The private sector is facing the biggest assault from central and local government in living history.

It is now a constant that business, on the back of footing the bill directed by the government response to COVID is now to be the instrument of State to front the fight on equality and climate change. The free market led mixed economy that has provided decades of economic expansion and derivative wealth is fast becoming a command economy. This is the antithesis of your role as business leaders fronting competitive organizations driving profit, productivity and economic growth.

A new era of equal outcomes is dominating the territory previously held by promotion of ability. The State is no longer satisfied by a primary role of providing an even playing field and equality of opportunity. The face of business is now deemed more important than its substance. Business now carries the burden of social and economic engineering dangerously shifting to being an arm of the State, under the realm of this government.- Alistair Boyce

A strong free market liberal democracy is vital. By acquiescing to the ideological assault vulnerable small and medium business becomes gradually condemned to economic starvation. Ultimately the State inherits what’s left of productive capacities and then reconnects it with remaining economic expertise to rescue the inevitably failing experiment. The proliferation of business consultants is needed to bandage and artificially extend the compacting economic tumult.

Do not acquiesce. Be honest and lead the path to a productive growing economy based on New Zealand’s business led multiplier that drives our cities, towns and rural economies. Business of all sizes need the policies of practical reality and an even playing field to have a stable future. Say no to the coerced ‘Fair Pay Agreements’, ‘Emissions Trading Scheme’ and ‘National Income Insurance Scheme’ at every point. Do not allow dilution or negotiated compromise on obviously flawed legislation.

Changing or shaping by coalescing with government and State sector is short term expediency. Bold opposition is required followed by real change in government. – Alistair Boyce

Totalitarian centralized government is at odds with the sprawling socio economic reality of New Zealand’s sparsely populated country. The government sector needs to listen, learn and support the business environment to a goal of equitable growth based on ability, innovation, persistence and entrepreneurship. The low bar of satisfying perceived social equity is stifling confidence and growth.

At some point ineffective lobbying has to turn to outright condemnation.

I challenge and implore you-do not accept the false god of State domination on the back of climate change ideology to minimise and demonise your primary purpose. Any perceived threat to social license is ideologically driven by the State and media as opposed to socio-economic reality.

Please be proud of the economic growth achieved through the thrust of free market liberal democracy and demand it’s primacy. It has achieved growing measures of wealth and derivative independence for the marginalised and oppressed faster and more permanently than State interventions. Global economic growth and productivity has and will allow freedom and equality of opportunity. The market can be the natural curb to climate change albeit only in developed economies. Do not be embarrassed by these principles and this identity. – Alistair Boyce

The State can inhibit what you do best or encourage and promote it within the bounds of civil society, allowing creation of wealth. The State should concentrate on providing a fundamental equality of opportunity for all in equal measure.

Do not compromise to maintain spurious power within the State machine. Work to drive, control and shape the machine positively forward to drive growth and profit. Your independent spirit and resolve will earn respect as the protectorate of economic freedoms. – Alistair Boyce

Preserve stable Liberal Democracy at all costs. Our future depends on this as opposed to marginalising and alienating segments of society and economy through overt State expansion and centralisation.

If business has to continue operating on its knees it is half dead already.

Embrace your knowledge, ability and experience, stay true to business ideals and boldly engage with the State and government.Alistair Boyce

The tests to initiate so-called Fair Pay Agreements are anti-democratic, forcing the process on workers who don’t want them – Paul Goldsmith

These mis-named agreements will reduce flexibility, choice and agility in our workplaces, at the very time when we need to be agile in a competitive world.

There are three hurdles for starting a Fair Pay Agreement: a mere 10 per cent of workers covered by a proposed agreement, or just 1000 workers, which is less than half a per cent of an occupation with 200,000 workers, or a loose public interest test that could apply even if nobody voted for it.

There is nothing ‘fair’ about Fair Pay Agreements, if a tiny fraction of workers can initiate bargaining and dictate terms for the majority.Paul Goldsmith

Even if no one wants an agreement at all, bureaucrats in Wellington can force the bargaining process to begin anyway. Once started, there is no stopping it.Paul Goldsmith

If the majority of workers do not want a Fair Pay Agreement, they should not be forced into a deal at the whim of the unions or because a bureaucrat decides that is what is best for themPaul Goldsmith

We are pouring billions of dollars into an energy transition, health reforms, Three Waters. And our watchdogs are telling us we have no adequate way of knowing whether our efforts are making a difference, or assessing whether one set of initiatives is better than another.

We need better information about what is being attempted and what is being achieved, but, more importantly, better ways to make use of information about policy effectiveness. – Josie Pagani

The chronic inability to be precise about the objective of government initiatives has real-world effects beyond its linguistic crimes.

We saw a fresh example this past week when Creative New Zealand was called out over its decision to decline a funding application from the Shakespeare Globe Centre NZ​. Its own reviewer stated, to global ridicule, that the Bard’s work is located in a ‘’canon of imperialism’’.

Even if it were, Creative NZ is not there to fix the historic sins of imperialism. – Josie Pagani

Ironically, the point of Shakespeare is the improbable precision in his descriptions of universal experiences: ‘’wild goose chase’’ (Romeo and Juliet), ‘’eaten me out of house and home’’ (Henry IV), or ‘’cruel to be kind’’ (Hamlet).

Timeless expressions achieve their beauty through their matchless clarity. From clarity comes transparency, and from transparency emerges accountability and improvement.

A lack of clarity is not just drivel dressed in pretty words. It has a political purpose. Real power resides in the thickets. (Ahem: King Lear.) – Josie Pagani

I have previously advocated for initiatives like much stronger select committees, equipped with sufficient policy grunt to evaluate policy choices, and led by MPs whose career choice to be a legislator balances the choice of others to be executives.

There are legitimate debates to be had about how much money is spent by government in pursuit of goals, and what those goals should be. But no matter where you stand on that, we need far stronger institutions to track value for money, because then we can achieve so much more. – Josie Pagani

magine spending billions of dollars a year and not really knowing whether it makes a difference or not.

Welcome to the world of government. – Brent Edwards

Surely the Treasury must know how effective the spending is? No. It tracks where the money goes and ensures that it is spent according to the Budget appropriations, but not whether it had the desired effect. Inputs and outputs drive the fiscal system, not outcomes.Brent Edwards

More broadly though, most people – whether they support high or low tax rates – would surely want to know whether the taxes they pay make a difference, not just to the environment but particularly in big spending portfolios such as health, education and social services. – Brent Edwards

Better information might also lead to more informed debates about the efficacy of one policy over another. Spending more is always a point politicians can make but the big question is whether their spending achieves anything?Brent Edwards

So, this is not an argument about spending more or less. It is an argument about ensuring whatever amount is spent is as effective as it can be.

Upton, for instance, is not arguing for a reduction in spending on the environment. He does not believe the Government is spending too much protecting the country’s fragile environment. He simply wants to know whether that spending is effective or not.

When it comes to total government spending – now about $150b a year – shouldn’t we all?

The public deserve to know whether that spending is making a difference. – Brent Edwards

I hesitate to give advice, but I have to say that if you’re ever in a situation like the one in which my family found ourselves, do not forget to love, touch and look into the eyes of every other family member regularly. Early during our time in hospital, I started to think of us as five fingers of the same hand. Every finger is important, even the crooked and/or hairy ones. There is a temptation to only pay attention to the patient, especially if they’re a young child, but you ignore other family members at your peril. I can’t speak for my Henry, but I’m willing to bet he was happy that Leah and I took good care of the brothers he loved so much, and each other. Rob Delaney

As to these yokels gluing themselves to walls or pavements or streets, my idea is that they should just be left there to fend for themselves! Give them a few days super-glued to a busy street and see how long before they beg for help.

They are idiots who destroy rather than build. Nothing is sacred for these hoons. But as their destructive antics become even more alarming, one fears for what lies ahead.

As a result of activists terrorising art galleries, we can expect to see the need for far more stringent security measures being put in place, with the costs to visitors going up and the ability to get close to some of these great works of art taken away from us. – Bill Muehlenberg

Conservatives, as the name implies, like to conserve. We like to preserve what is good in a culture. We like to maintain order amid chaos, and some beauty amongst ugliness.

But the radical Left simply wants to tear down and destroy. It is their way or the highway. And their way usually seems to gravitate towards bullying, intimidation, aggression, and destruction. – Bill Muehlenberg

The incapacity and lack of courage of the political class, no matter how lengthily or expensively educated, is a clue to the despair that many people now feel in Britain. Its incompetence and lack of probity, its absence of the most elementary understanding, compares unfavorably with the practical intelligence of the local plumber, carpenter, or electrician. No one has confidence that any replacement of Truss from within or without the Conservative Party will be for the better, only incompetent in some different way.

The wrong lessons will be drawn, of course, from the Truss debacle. If lower taxes (even if only in prospect) do not work, then higher ones must. The solution to Britain’s deep-seated problems now offered by almost the entire political class is to turn the country into a giant version of the National Health Service, the country’s socialized health-care system that has made paupers of almost the whole population, which is obliged to accept what it is given whether good, bad, or indifferent.

By her incompetence, Truss has given lower taxation a bad name. We now face a cycle of high taxation and expenditure, with low growth necessitating ever-higher taxation and expenditure. Much of the educated class already believes in the moral value of taxation irrespective of its effects. The British are now trapped into slavery to their state—a state more incompetent, and more corrupt, than its European equivalents or even than the European Union.

It is an ill wind that blows nobody any good. An apparatchik class will prosper among the embers of the slowly expiring economy. Truss, whom no one will remember with affection, was not to blame for the problems of her country, but by her incapacity and utter lack of common sense, she has worsened those problems for years to come. That’s quite an achievement for 44 days in office. – Theodore Dalrymple

The headlines of the last week will tell you that our health system is indeed in crisis. The educational outcomes and achievements of our young people are at their lowest ever. Those headlines tell the story of a country in decline.Bruce Cotterill

We know that 40 per cent of our kids are leaving school without the necessary literacy or numeracy skills to function in society. I asked an education specialist, a university professor on the topic, what “to function” meant. Her response? To fill out a form!

But the headlines continue. The police lost more than 300 rounds of ammunition in transit. Rotorua hospitality businesses slamming the Government’s approach to seasonal workers. Our immigration stats telling us there are more people leaving than arriving, and our universities saying that the best case scenario is to have international student numbers back to 50 per cent of pre-Covid levels by this time next year.

Sometimes I find myself asking … is this really happening in New Zealand? The answer, sadly, is yes. – Bruce Cotterill

The list above is a fraction of what is going wrong in New Zealand right now. To be fair to the Government, their focus is on something else. They are busy changing the social structure of the country to suit their leftist ideology.

Why you would restructure the health system during a health crisis is beyond me.

Tertiary education has been centralised too, with consequences so far that should send board members scrambling to review their directors’ insurance.

When we’re so short of people across every industry, why would we constrain immigration? When our finances are under so much pressure, why would you spend the equivalent of what it costs to build a regional hospital on the merger of two media outlets that are already government owned? The answer is that you do so if you want to control the narrative. – Bruce Cotterill

Interestingly, a small number of ministers get pushed forward to respond on the Government’s behalf.

These people now carry multiple roles. My observation is that their appointment is based more on their ability in public relations and communications than their ability to get things done. – Bruce Cotterill

I’ll admit, I think political leaders would be better equipped if they had real-life experiences in the workplace before going to a career in politics. Those experiences would provide core executive skills that enable a leader to effectively drive projects and processes, and to assemble management tools for their toolbox: planning skills, execution frameworks, people management capability and the ability to follow up effectively.

I also think we’d be better served by our politicians if they had a maximum term — say nine or 12 years. That way we wouldn’t have people whose entire career is spent inside the walls of the parliamentary system. – Bruce Cotterill

And so we have people who are good at communicating and spinning a story when a microphone is pushed in their face. They’re very good at telling us how many more nurses, teachers or police they’ve recruited. What they don’t tell you is how many have left. They can’t explain why we have the problems we have, nor can they shed any believable light on their proposed solutions.

And yet, in most of the critical operational functions of government, we are in bad shape. Good government would see the existing problems get smaller as new ones emerge. Not here. The problems are just getting bigger. And the attention of government and the ministers seem to be diverted away from the real issues.

The recent emissions policy is a case in point. New Zealand doesn’t need to be a world leader. We don’t need to set world firsts. Even the global elite of the climate change hierarchy state clearly that climate change policy should not come at the expense of food production.

And the reality is that it doesn’t matter what this country does on climate change policy; we are not going to make a difference to the global outcomes for the planet. And yet here we are, risking our biggest export industry, destroying farming families and reducing our own food supply because we think we want to lead the world. – Bruce Cotterill

Education will give these young people skills for life and a new perspective. The military provides discipline and the family environment that these young people could benefit from and perhaps hanker for.

Make it option if you like. A life of crime? Or a life.

But it’s almost as if our leaders have decided that the bad stuff doesn’t matter as long as they can cope with the PR fallout.

Instead, it seems that the time and effort goes into their pursuit of the social adjustments and ideological projects that they want to be remembered for. – Bruce Cotterill

We have seen the face of evil and it sold us sneakers. – Michael Johnston

The word ‘woman’ is rich with centuries of meaning, and has instant recognition. Technically, the definition in reputable dictionaries is adult human female, and is the same understanding that the general law of New Zealand has. In life, culture, and society it informs, conveys, encompasses, evokes, and involves more than we could ever get from the term ‘people with a cervix’. To use that term in place of ‘woman’ is reductive, demeaning, and unnecessarily convoluted. Neither does it arouse the same level of engagement from us as when we read the word ‘woman’.Katrina Biggs

Plain language and inclusive language can be uncomfortable marriage partners. Plain language says that we should use the word ‘women’ for women, because that’s the word that conveys the most meaning and understanding in the shortest possible way. Inclusive language says we should use a term like ‘people with a cervix’ for women, because transgender females and transgender males prefer it, due to the word ‘woman’ potentially causing discomfort for them. This particular type of term to replace the word ‘woman’ is mainly used in health-related narratives concerning our bodies, as transpeoples’ biology and gender identity are at odds with each other.

Language helps us navigate the world by having rules. They ensure that we commonly understand both spoken and written narratives without first having to spend time deciphering or decoding them. Even when language evolves, there are still rules about how it is used. Inclusive language, as we know it in the context of using terms like ‘people with a cervix’, has no rules. Just like gender identities and neo-pronouns, a Google search does not find a concise and stable list of inclusive language terms. All three are mobile concepts, and completely unknown in many walks of life. Yet they are being used in place of language that has rules which enable widespread understanding for the greatest number of people the most amount of time.

Will the Plain Language law apply plain language rules to women, where we will once again be called women instead of ‘people with a cervix? Depending on how it’s applied, we may have a tool in the Plain Language law to fight against inclusive language – a harmless-sounding moniker on the surface, but with deep indignities, misunderstandings, non-engagement, and resentments arising from its’ use. This new law will be tracked with interest, and, feasibly, women will use the full force of it to take back our language. – Katrina Biggs

In our mind we just need to know what the story is here. Under the government proposal, sheep and beef farmers have the potential to be the most affected. Nobody wants that and HWEN would never support a proposal that makes the farming sector unviable – let’s be clear about that. Andrew Morrison

We can’t have rural NZ decimated and we would never support that. We have worked in good faith in partnership and so now we have to quickly sort out why government has failed to deliver on some of our recommendations. – Andrew Morrison

Emissions pricing needs to be practical, pragmatic and fair for farmers, and there is still a lot that needs to be improved to make what the Government have announced workable. Remember that if farmers are asked to do something they need to see the logic of what they have been asked to do and benefits of it.

So we are trying to make sure that whatever is put in place is right and that farmers can say, that makes sense, and will get on with it.Jim van der Poel

It’s gut wrenching to think we have a proposal by government that rips the heart out of the work we have done and to the families who farm the land. Feds is deeply unimpressed with government.- Andrew Hoggard

Now they’ll be selling up so fast you won’t even hear the dogs barking on the back of the ute as they drive off. The Government’s plan means the small towns, like Wairoa, Pahiatua, Taumaranui – pretty much the whole of the East Coast and central North Island and a good chunk of the top of the South – will be surrounded by pine trees quicker than you can say ‘ETS application’  – Andrew Hoggard

Just as the word homophobia has been stretched far beyond its original meaning (that is, a hatred or fear of homosexuals) and the accusation of racism is routinely hurled at anyone who challenges the cult of identity politics, so the claim of misogyny is frequently used as a smear against people who refuse to bow to feminist orthodoxy.- Karl du Fresne

All this tells us is that Parliament is slow to adjust to the times. It may have seemed quaint, but it was hardly misogynistic. Karl du Fresne

It seems inconceivable that at a time of hyper-inflation and global unrest, any government would deliberately destabilise the agricultural sector by introducing policies that would increase costs to primary producers, reduce production, and fuel price increases. Yet that’s what Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Government is planning to do. – Muriel Newman

That our Prime Minister wants the owners of ruminant livestock to pay a penalty for a by-product of a digestive process that is older than the dinosaurs, is madness personified.

Methane, an atmospheric trace gas, is part of an ancient natural cycle. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and using the green chlorophyll in their leaves combine it with water to trap the sun’s energy as food. When plant matter is eaten by ruminants, methane is produced, which breaks down into carbon dioxide and water vapour to continue the cycle.

Over three-quarters of the planet’s methane comes from natural sources such as wetlands, with the balance produced by landfills, rice paddies, and livestock. Since New Zealand has only one percent of the world’s farmed ruminants the actual contribution of Kiwi livestock to methane in the atmosphere is almost too small to measure.  Muriel Newman

Agriculture is New Zealand’s biggest industry, generating more than 70 percent of our export earnings and about 12 percent of our gross domestic product.

The impact of Jacinda Ardern’s tax on the sector will be significant. Prices of home-grown protein – including milk, cheese, and meat – will undoubtedly rise as local production falls. And our crucial export returns will decline – by up to an estimated 5.9 percent for dairy, 21.4 percent for lamb, 36.7 percent for beef, and 21.1 percent for wool.

We can see the potential fallout by reminding ourselves of the consequences of a previous reckless decision by our Prime Minister when, without warning, she banned new offshore oil and gas exploration on the eve of a meeting of world leaders – so she could boast about her decisive climate change leadership.

That decision contributed to the closure of the Marsden Point Oil Refinery – with a loss of 240 local jobs and many hundreds more indirectly – leaving New Zealand dependent on imported fuel that we used to produce ourselves.

Paradoxically, the PM’s actions did not reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but increased them – as the Taranaki based methanol producer Methanex explained: – Muriel Newman

There are very real concerns about the fallout from Jacinda Ardern’s radical plan to tax livestock emissions without allowing farmers to balance their ledger by claiming credits for sequestering carbon dioxide through the plant matter on their farms – including woodlots, shelter belts, riparian planting, native bush, crops, and, of course, pasture.

As a result, the policy will have profound and widespread consequences, far beyond the damage to those farmers who are expected to be forced out of the industry.

Many of their farms are likely to end up in the hands of those seeking land for carbon farming. If that happens, not only will the soil be ruined for future pastoral use, but the resilience of our rural and provincial communities will be undermined through the loss of farming families and the downstream jobs they helped to sustain. Their departure will impact heavily on farm services, meat processing plants, local schools, and the other local businesses.

What’s even more irrational is that the forced exit of the world’s most emission-efficient farmers will increase global emissions as other less efficient nations increase production to fill the gap. Muriel Newman

Given that a day’s worth of their increased emissions will totally swamp a year’s worth of the reductions the PM is planning to impose on our agricultural base, one has to wonder about the sanity of our decision-makers.

Surely common sense should prevail. Firstly, no New Zealand government should even consider dangerous Armageddon-style policies that will fundamentally disrupt the industries that have created our nation’s wealth. And secondly, all climate policies should be put on hold until the main emitters begin to curb their emissions. – Muriel Newman

It’s been two and a half bloody years or more of dumb regulation after dumb regulation after dumb regulation, and  for me, it’s just like, Nah, screw it, I’m done with being polite about it. Andrew Hoggard

Yes, we want the research and development to happen, and we want the science and technology to be able to lower the emissions, but we need to be doing it in step, so pricing can’t get ahead of competitor countries, and we can’t put our food security at risk. – Penny Simmonds

Dumping milk onto floors. Hurling food onto walls. Refusing to eat. Gluing body parts. Throwing paint. Refusing to leave. Threatening to pee and poop in your pants. Screaming accusations. Are those the behaviors of a toddler’s temper tantrum? Yes. But they’re also the dominant tactics of today’s climate activists.Michael Shellenberger, 

The activists who keep degrading precious works of art, and themselves, claim to be concerned about food and energy supplies, but in opposing oil, gas and fertilizerproduction they are actively reducing both. Over the last several months, I have described the demands of climate activists as fanatical and pointed to a large body of evidence suggesting that nihilism, narcissism, and feelings of personal inadequacy are the primary motives.

But nihilism, narcissism, and personal inadequacy alone do not explain why climate activists have chosen temper tantrum tactics. After all, the greatest protest movements of all time engaged in far more grown-up and dignified tactics. Think of the Salt March led by Gandhi, the Montgomery Bus Boycott led by Martin Luther King, and the anti-whaling protests of Greenpeace. – Michael Shellenberger, 

Where protesters in the past asked to be treated like adults, climate protesters today demand to be treated like children. Civil rights activists in the 1950s sat at lunch counters and demanded to be treated like full adults. Notably, it was racist counterprotesters who poured milkshakes over them. Today, it’s the protesters who are spilling milk and throwing food.Michael Shellenberger, 

JK Rowling has written these great books about empowerment, about young children finding themselves as human beings. It’s about how you become a better, stronger, more morally centred human being. The verbal abuse directed at her is disgusting, it’s appalling.

I mean, I can understand a viewpoint that might be angry at what she says about women. But it’s not some obscene, uber-right-wing fascist. It’s just a woman saying, ‘I’m a woman and I feel I’m a woman and I want to be able to say that I’m a woman.’ And I understand where she’s coming from. Even though I’m not a woman. – Ralph Fiennes

Righteous anger is righteous, but often it becomes kind of dumb because it can’t work its way through the grey areas. It has no nuance.Ralph Fiennes

When Kelvin Davis used Question Time to say that I view the world through a “pakeha lens” it was nothing I haven’t heard before: “You’re a whakapapa Māori but you’re not kaupapa Māori”; “You’re a plastic Māori”; “You’re a born-again Māori”. It just comes with the territory of being a Māori woman who doesn’t always fit the left’s comfortable stereotype.

Problem is, I don’t think Kelvin is the only Labour minister who thinks what he said. The others might be smarter at hiding it, but they also worship identity politics.

They believe that who you are can matter more than what you do or say. How do I know this? That attitude is all through the policies they promote. Oranga Tamariki, the area I was asking Kelvin about when he made his comments, is just one example. – Karen Chhour

Oranga Tamariki was happy to take Mary from a loving home, the only place she’d ever had security and stability, and place her back with family members who were known to abuse her.

In fairness to Oranga Tamariki, it was following the law, something called Section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act. Section 7AA means the chief executive of Oranga Tamariki has to consider the Treaty when making decisions.

Sure, 7AA may be well-intentioned. But it creates a conflict between protecting the best interests of the child and race-based factors enshrined in 7AA. This conflict has the potential to cause real harm to our children. – Karen Chhour

Since my Member’s Bill was drawn, I have been called a racist. If anything, the opposite is true. My Bill will make Oranga Tamariki colour-blind. It will have to focus on all of the factors that a child needs, instead of placing race at the centre of their decision-making.

When this Bill comes up for the first reading in Parliament, the predictable and tiresome responses will come from the Labour Party, the Māori Party, and the Greens.

I ask them, before they vote this down, to think about Mary and what was best for her. A family who loved and cared for her? Or returning to her abusers?

Mary’s foster parents traced their family tree back far enough that they could find enough of a link to say they were Māori. This twist also shows how bizarre the law is, Mary’s foster parents are the same people, but something that happened centuries before they were born made it okay for them to parent.

Mary still lives with them. She has come out of her shell, she is doing well at school, she has a home for life where she is safe and is thriving. Thank goodness for that branch they found on the family tree, or Mary’s story might have been very different.

I can only hope that my Bill gets a fair hearing because another child might not be so lucky. – Karen Chhour 

For a doctor, the worst thing that could happen to them is that a patient suffers because they don’t get to see them in time. It’s completely outside their hands, which is where the stress comes from. And so, of course, they try to work harder and harder to get to see more and more patients, and that’s where they make mistakes. And that’s the second worst nightmare for a doctor: that they actually make a mistake and a patient suffers. Dr Deborah Powell

They’re stressed and their morale is really low. They feel the patients’ pain. They understand, but they’re powerless… That’s the sentiment for all health practitioners, but it’s probably worse for doctors because they know if they don’t get to someone, that person might die. That is a huge burden to carry. – Dr Deborah Powell

The population of New Zealand really values its health system and they value the health workforce, but in financial terms not quite so much. Yes, health is expensive, but that’s what it is. I’m not saying we should have an open chequebook – but we shouldn’t be constantly holding budgets down. Dr Deborah Powell

We have insufficient resident doctors coming out of medical school. We need another 200 at least. It takes years to train a doctor. So again, we should have been onto this years ago. It’s just a failure to train enough and be forward-thinking. – Dr Deborah Powell

We now have a workforce crisis on our hands. We were watching it develop, so we had been lobbying for years. And we had to wait for the crisis to hit us before we actually did something. And that’s a recurring theme, I’m afraid. When you get a crisis someone will finally do something, but it’s five years too late. Dr Deborah Powell

The lesson for other conservative parties should be clear. Values drive policy, not the other way around, because values endure.

The evidence around the world is that right-wing parties are learning the wrong lessons from populism. Some may outlast the shelf life of a lettuce. But they risk disappearing faster than that packet of mixed spice that’s been sitting in your cupboard for years.- Josie Pagani

Self made men or women are to be admired and in this particular case you would hope, bring with them a level of reassurance that they actually know what they are doing when it comes to finances.

But none of that has really been covered. He has been treated like an oddity and someone not like us. The problem with people like us is most of us couldn’t run a country, nor would we want to. So why are we so obsessed about the neighbour, the vicar, or the postman being the Prime Minister? They’d be a disaster.

Surely his credentials by way of fiscal success indicate he might have a clue. And while money isn’t the be-all and end-all, is does sort of pay the bills. That’s what we want, isn’t it?

Money is an outworking of endeavour. Rishi Sunak’s endeavour was clearly successful. Don’t we want successful people running the place or running anything?

He’s got a lot of money. That’s good.Mike Hosking

Oxfam reports are like those email scams that put in deliberate typos and grammatical errors so that only the most credulous people believe them, so they don’t have to waste time with people who’ll wise up part-way through. – Eric Crampton

That is to say, after ten years of schooling, only a third of young New Zealanders can write coherently; only half possess basic computational skills; and only two-thirds can cope adequately with a level of written communication fundamental to success in adult life.

These numbers represent a scarcely believable tale of professional failure across New Zealand’s education system. What it reveals is a society that is rapidly losing the ability (if it hasn’t already lost it) to keep itself going – let alone improve itself – on the basis of its own human resources.Chris Trotter 

For decades, we have been telling ourselves that the best way to make our country wealthier, fairer, and happier was by educating its young people to the highest possible international standard. We looked at countries with world-beating education systems – and test results – like Singapore and Finland, and assumed that theirs was the level of performance to which our own educational experts aspired.

Clearly, that was an unwarranted assumption. New Zealand’s education system – once celebrated as one of the most successful in the world – is in free-fall. By all the recognised international comparators, we are failing – and failing fast. So bad have things become that it is increasingly difficult to find a sufficient number of willing and able participants to make our international test-results robust enough, statistically, to stand comparison. In a telling sign of the times, this dearth of suitable participants is being presented by some school principals as a signal that it is time for New Zealand to abandon international comparisons altogether. – Chris Trotter 

Across academia, in the teacher unions, and increasingly at the chalk-face, the whole notion of education being an international enterprise, in which young New Zealanders must be able to participate (and compete) with confidence, is being rejected. In its place, “progressive” educators are erecting a system geared to rectifying the cultural and social inequities arising out of New Zealand’s colonial past.

With increasing vehemence, international standards are rejected as “Eurocentric” – or even “white supremacist” – weapons for obliterating the unique insights of indigenous cultures. The bitter letter-to-the-Listener struggle over the merits of “Western Science” versus “Mātaurānga Māori”, was but the tip of the ontological iceberg currently ripping a massive hole, albeit well below the waterline of public perception, in New Zealand’s education system.

The extent to which this debate has progressed is revealed in the responses to the shocking performance revealed in the trial-run NCEA assessment tests. According to a post on the RNZ website, “independent evaluators” are concerned that: “New literacy and numeracy tests could lower NCEA achievement rates among Māori and Pacific students.” Chris Trotter 

In part, this failure is explained by the unwillingness of the more privileged sectors of our society to state with brutal clarity that breaking free of the dismal cycle of “lows” will only ever be achieved by aiming and scoring “high”. Parents must be told that there will be no special pleading; no softening of standards; no blaming of history. Their children must pass the tests, and they must help them pass the tests. The New Zealand state can build schools, and it can train teachers, but it cannot instill a determination in young Māori and Pasifika to be educated to the fullest extent of their powers. – Chris Trotter 

Having, over a lifetime observing the way modern tribes operate in this part of the world, I am led to believe that the current distortion of our history is being given legitimacy simply because it suits Maoridom in its battle for self determination – some would say control of their own destiny.
In fact, the very basis for our programme of reconciliation and compensation Is designed with tribal history as part of the justification of future state funded settlements. But the history being used in these claims against the Crown is a selective version of what actually happened. Clive Bibby

Parliament: an ironic place where contradictions abound. At first glance stately and formal, but under the surface we know skulduggery abounds. A place of quiet importance and hushed propriety, yet if you’ve ever seen Question Time (or a Caucus meeting), it gives a disrupted kindergarten a run for its money.- Jonathan Ayling

Frankly, it’s difficult to argue against the claim that official documents should be accessible to the general public. In fact, it’s such a good idea there are already annual ‘Plain Language Awards’ celebrating the public service department which uses the clearest language. But that’s not really what’s up for debate in Boyack’s Bill. Rather, it’s a Government funded structure to employ ‘Plain Language Officers’ (could someone write a ‘use-more-original-names’ Bill?) to peer over the shoulder of each public servant, making sure that their language is not convoluted (that means “tricky”, if it wasn’t plain.) This is the more sinister element of this legislation, and with irony again rearing its ugly head again, Boyack, the sponsor of the Bill, is entirely ignorant to it.

Does this seem a bit elaborate (that means “convoluted”)? Let me put it plainly: given the way this Government has tried to control information, speech, and expression, do we really want a ‘language officer’ signing off on every piece of public comms? What happens when the Government does what I just did there without anyone noticing? Take away the ‘plain’ aspect, and just make it a ‘language officer’… is this sounding a little more Ministry of Truth-esque? Public servants need to be able to give free and frank advice to their political overlords and more importantly, to speak openly with the public; erasing certain words from their vocabulary is a step in the wrong direction.

Is that clear? To control language is to control the ideas we can communicate.Jonathan Ayling

Just because it is in practice good to write plainly doesn’t mean we need legislation creating a role to enforce this. And just because the intention of the ‘plain language officer’ isn’t inherently censorious, that doesn’t mean it won’t end up silencing provocative speech. – Jonathan Ayling

Despite what some might say, the public service is not simply a conglomeration of higher beings sitting in great ivory towers in Wellington micromanaging the country through sophisticated decrees. (To put it plainly now) they’re normal people, like us, and can be expected to speak on the same level as the rest of the nation in a way we can all perfectly understand, on their own. Like so many other attempts at restricting and controlling speech, this Bill has proven to be another hopeless solution in desperate search of a problem.

To echo a suggestion from Duncan Garner- perhaps it would be a much better use of Government resources to appoint common-sense officers, perhaps even honesty officers or transparency officials!

(If you skimmed to the bottom of the article for the plain explanation in simple words, you can’t put it better than Chris Penk: ‘this Bill is not good. In fact, it is bad.’)Jonathan Ayling

Just a few years ago, it would have been totally unremarkable for a woman to set clear boundaries over who can lay their hands on her body, especially in a hospital setting. Yet today, thanks to the rise of trans ideology, this perfectly normal request is considered beyond the pale – so much so that a woman can be refused life-saving surgery for making it. This is the dark path the mantra of ‘transwomen are women’ has taken us down. – Raquel Rosario Sanchez

If nothing else, Sunak’s rise is a clear sign that Britain is a successful multiracial democracy, where it is possible for Britons of any ethnic background to reach the highest levels of political life.  – Rakib Ehsan

Predictably, however, Sunak’s coronation has been greeted by the kind of toxic identity politics that now dominates our political discourse. Many ‘anti-racists’ who would normally advocate for ethnic-minority ‘representation’ are now essentially saying that Rishi Sunak doesn’t count. Others have, perversely, tried to present Sunak’s rise as an indictment of Britain – as a sign of our lingering structural racism. Most of these responses have been tortured and confused. – Rakib Ehsan

Those who would normally celebrate diversity and representation are clearly struggling to do so when it comes to Rishi Sunak. Seemingly because Sunak does not subscribe to their identitarian script. This is a script that is as baseless as it is divisive. It is one that views Britain as a country that has historically done more harm than good in the world – and which, thanks to its colonial past, is irredeemably racist.

These ‘anti-racists’ believe that all British institutions – social, economic, political and legal – are deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities. And anyone belonging to an ethnic, racial or religious minority who dares to question this view is presented as somehow inauthentic. Critical opinions are considered to be ‘white’ opinions and the minorities who express them are presumed to be doing so purely for personal advancement.

Those ethnic-minority Britons who say favourable things about Britain or who challenge the woke identitarian outlook are often singled out for abuse by the woke left. In recent years, when ethnic-minority politicians have taken up high-ranking positions in Tory governments, they have been branded as ‘racial gatekeepers’ and traitorous turncoats. – Rakib Ehsan

Ultimately, Sunak’s skin colour should have no bearing on how we judge his premiership. Race is a poor guide to someone’s politics. But when the identitarians say Sunak does not ‘represent’ them, it is not because they have grasped this point. They are not about to adopt a colourblind approach to politics. It is just that Sunak has upset their expectations of what views a non-white politician should hold. And so he can be cast out. The identitarians are still very much wedded to the toxic idea that your race should determine your views.

Besides, Sunak is right not to follow the woke script. The truth is that Britain is one of the most successful multiracial democracies in the world. Britain’s robust anti-discrimination protections and its respect for religious freedoms make it one of the best places to live as a minority. Far from struggling under the weight of systemic racism, many of Britain’s ethnic-minority communities are thriving and are even outperforming the white mainstream. This is not the mean-spirited, racist hellhole that activists make it out to be.

No doubt the success of Rishi Sunak will continue to scramble the minds of Britain’s race obsessives, as they struggle to process any challenge to their worldview. The rest of us would do well to ignore Sunak’s skin colour and concentrate on his policies. – Rakib Ehsan

Britain has pioneered a new kind of economy, having long since abandoned manufacturing as a way of paying its way in the world: a service economy without service. Indeed, the very word service raises hackles in Britain, for it implies hierarchy, the servant who provided it being by definition subordinate to the person for whom the service is performed; and in these prickly democratic, or rather radically egalitarian, times, such subordination is anathema. – Theodore Dalrymple

It is a curious fact that public address announcements in English made in foreign countries, even by foreigners, are now much clearer and more pleasing on the ear than those made in Britain, where the shrieking voice of a person whom I always think of as Ms. Slut-Harridan is much in vogue, probably because there is no suggestion of education, cultivation, politeness, refinement, or any of those other qualities that the British now so detest and find so threatening and reproachful, in her voice. – Theodore Dalrymple

This winter, millions of British citizens, including children, will be tipped, or dumped, into energy poverty severe enough to risk permanent damage to their health. Cold, damp houses provide the perfect breeding ground for mould that not only causes respiratory distress, but renders houses essentially unlivable once established.

One Left-leaning newspaper ran the story outlining the danger, but without a word about why this crisis has emerged: because the woke moralisers of the “environmental” movement helped to create it.

The narcissists of compassion – callow, self-aggrandising, incompetent politicians, their celebrity lackeys, Machiavellian journalists – have insisted ever more loudly over the last five decades that no cost was, and is, too great for others to bear in the pursuit of blind service to “the planet.” Jordan Peterson

Virtue-signalling utopians committed to globalisation claim we are destroying the planet with cheap energy. But are they truly and deeply committed to the environmental sustainability so loudly and insistently demanded, or are they merely hell-bent, in the prototypically Marxist manner, in taking revenge on capitalism?

It appears to be the latter. Why otherwise would the mavens of the environmental movement oppose nuclear power, despite its optimal “carbon footprint”?- Jordan Peterson

The mentality among the eco-extremists is as follows: if we have to doom the poor to destroy the system that made the rich, so be it. You just can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

Here is one fact to remember, while we so madly and ineffectively rush to renewables. 

Research has recently indicated that two decades of intense support for such undertakings has hiked the proportion of energy provided by such means from 13-14 per cent to an utterly underwhelming 15.7 per cent. Unfortunately the liberal Left see Jordan Peterson

Remember: when the aristocracy catches cold, the peasants die of pneumonia. If such extreme measures have become necessary in the richest countries, what in God’s name is going to happen in the poorer ones? When the shortages strike, the poor will inevitably and necessarily turn to less green resources: many, even in Germany, are already stockpiling firewood and coal for the winter, leading to acute shortages. How is incentivising people to cut down and burn trees and use coal in their fireplaces going to help reduce the dreaded “atmospheric carbon load”?  – Jordan Peterson

Perhaps we’ll be able to comfort ourselves, here in the West, with the thought that the food we take for granted will still be available at our tables. But, wait: the crops that nourish our populations cannot be grown without fertiliser (loathed by green folk) and, more specifically, without ammonia. And what, pray tell, is ammonia derived from? Could it be…natural gas? And how many people are dependent for their daily bread on the industrial generation and consequent wide availability of ammonia? Only three or four billion…

The World Bank itself has recently indicated that 222 million people are already experiencing the threat of starvation (described oh-so-nicely as “food insecurity”). The Communists managed to kill 100 million in the last century with their utopian delusions; we’ve barely begun to implement the “save the planet” nightmare, and we’ve already placed twice that number at risk. Jordan Peterson

The masses will have to “tighten their belts” to forestall an even worse future catastrophe. The elite academics, think-tanks and corporate consultants, and the politicians who subsidise their intellectual pretensions, will not be particularly affected by such tightening – “privileged” as they are. But the actual poor? To such an elite, they must be sacrificed now to save tomorrow’s hypothetical poor.

222 million people is, no doubt, an underestimate: as the “food insecurity” gets more severe, more countries will place restrictions on food exports. That will harm the international supply lines we all depend on. Then, when the consequences of that manifest themselves, increasingly desperate politicians will begin to nationalise and centralise food distribution (as the French and Germans have already done on the energy front) and cut their farmers off at the knees, who will in turn stop growing food – not out of spite, but because of dire economic impossibility. Then we will have engendered the kind of feedback loop that can really spiral out of control. It will be poor people who die (first, at least), but as we have all been taught by the malevolent eco-moralisers: the planet has too many people on it anyway.

Think about this, while you shiver all too soon in your cold, damp and increasingly expensive and now sub-standard lodgings. You and your family may well have been deemed an expendable excess. – Jordan Peterson

In the psychological and educational arenas, too, we demoralise young people, feeding them a constant diet of concretised apocalypse, focusing particularly on tempering or even obliviating the laudable ambition of boys, hectoring them into believing that their virtue is nothing but the force that oppresses the innocent and despoils the virginal planet. And, if that doesn’t work – and it does – then there’s always the castration awaiting the gender-dysphoric. And you oppose such initiatives at substantial personal risk. 

But we can reassure ourselves with the fact that a beneficent government is going to set up warm spots in public libraries and museums this winter so that freezing, starving old people can huddle together to keep warm while their grandchildren cough up their lungs in their frigid, damp, and mouldy flats.Jordan Peterson

We could begin by dropping our appalling attitude of moral superiority toward the developing world. We could admit instead that the rest of the planet’s inhabitants have the right and the responsibility to move toward the abundant material life that we have enjoyed, despite ourselves, for the last century and which has been so entirely dependent on industrial activity and fossil fuel usage.  

We could work diligently and with purpose to drive energy and food prices down to the lowest level possible, so that we can ease the burden on the poor, and open up their horizons of possibility, so that they become concerned (as they inevitably and properly will) with long-term sustainability instead of acting desperately and destructively in pursuit of their next meal. In such circumstances – in the race of such mandatory privations and manipulations – it’s obvious that the last thing our tyrannical virtue-signalling governments should be doing is directing their demented attention toward regulating what people serve at their tables. But because meat has also been deemed yet something else that is “destroying the planet,” the woke narcissists of compassion are already insisting that people eat less of it. Plants and bugs for you and your children, peasants. And the sooner you get accustomed to it (or else) the better.  –

We could concentrate on an intelligent plan of stewardship instead of anti-human “environmentalism” along the lines of the plans outlined by multi-faceted and diligent experts such as Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, who pointed out years ago that we have a multitude of crises facing us and not just one (the hypothetically apocalyptic danger of “carbon”), and that we could spend the money we are wasting killing poor people in a much more intelligent and judicious manner, devoting some resources, for example, to ensuring a stable food supply to poor children in the developing world, treating malaria – something we can do and cheaply – and delivering fresh water where it is truly needed. – Jordan Peterson

We could work out our concerns with sustainability through consensus and in the spirit of voluntary association and free play instead of relying on top-down edicts, justified in principle by our misplaced existential terror and carrying with them the moral hazard of the accrual of unjustified and dangerous centralised authority. We could distribute to everyone their requisite responsibility as sovereign actors and can bring them on board with the power of a common vision: one of life more abundant; enough high-quality food for everyone; enough energy so that slavery becomes a thing of the past; enough purpose so that nihilism and decadence no longer beckon; enough reciprocity so that we live in true peace; the generous provision of education and opportunity to everyone in the world; the conviction (to say it again) that policy based on compulsion is misguided and counterproductive.

We could thereby have our cake and eat it too, and so could everyone else, and we could work toward that in a mutual spirit of productive generosity and fair play in competition and cooperation. Or we can let the world go to hell in a handbasket, blame that disintegration on the very enemies we identified as causal in the first place (those damned capitalists!), and fail to clean up our own souls as we persecute the imaginary wrong-doers responsible for the destruction of our planet. – Jordan Peterson

The rate of change is accelerating. Our ability to do almost everything is doubling, faster and faster. As our ability to communicate and to compute accelerates, the consequences of our inner disunity and insufficiency become ever more serious. As we become individually more powerful, in other words, we must take on more responsibility. Or else.

In the psychological and educational arenas, too, we demoralise young people, feeding them a constant diet of concretised apocalypse, focusing particularly on tempering or even obliviating the laudable ambition of boys, hectoring them into believing that their virtue is nothing but the force that oppresses the innocent and despoils the virginal planet. And, if that doesn’t work – and it does – then there’s always the castration awaiting the gender-dysphoric. And you oppose such initiatives at substantial personal risk. 

But we can reassure ourselves with the fact that a beneficent government is going to set up warm spots in public libraries and museums this winter so that freezing, starving old people can huddle together to keep warm while their grandchildren cough up their lungs in their frigid, damp, and mouldy flats.

In such circumstances – in the race of such mandatory privations and manipulations – it’s obvious that the last thing our tyrannical virtue-signalling governments should be doing is directing their demented attention toward regulating what people serve at their tables. But because meat has also been deemed yet something else that is “destroying the planet,” the woke narcissists of compassion are already insisting that people eat less of it. Plants and bugs for you and your children, peasants.Jordan Peterson

Let’s turn our attention to the claim that animal husbandry and the meat it produces cheaply enough for everyone to afford is unsustainable, for a moment, because we haven’t yet dispensed with enough moralising and authoritarian stupidity.

Remember what happened the last time that governmental agencies applied their tender mercy to determining what the people they serve should consume? We were offered the much-vaunted food pyramid, telling us to eat 6-11 servings of grains and carbohydrates a day, with protein and fat at the pinnacle – something to be indulged in with comparative rarity, if indeed necessary at all.

That all turned out to be wrong, and not just a little wrong, but so wrong that it might as well have been not just wrong but a veritable anti-truth: something as wrong as it could possibly get. – Jordan Peterson

So the “health benefits” of a pure vegetarian and vegan diet are dubious at best. But what of the argument that animal husbandry is killing the planet? Well, the American Environmental Protection Agency estimates that all farming produces only 11 per cent of greenhouse gases in the US (transportation produces 27 per cent). Livestock accounts for 3 per cent. And plant-based agriculture? Five per cent. According to the National Academy of Sciences, if we eradicated all animal-based agriculture, we’d reduce greenhouse gases by a mere 2.6 per cent. And it’s no simple matter, by the way – and perhaps impossible – to manage a diet that is sustainable in the medium-to-long-term by merely dining on plants. Jordan Peterson

What might we do, instead, if we chose to be genuinely wise, instead of inflicting want and privation upon the world’s poor, while failing utterly and disastrously to save the planet?

We could begin by assuming, here in the West, that all those frightened into paralysis and enticed into tyranny by their apprehension of the pending apocalypse have bitten off more than they can properly chew; have taken on a dragon much more fire-breathing and dire than they are heroic; have failed entirely to contend with the moral hazard that comes in assuming that the faddish emergency of their overheated imaginations emergency entitles them to the use of power and compulsion.  – Jordan Peterson

It’s time for all of us, but especially the self-righteous moralisers, to get our individual acts together, to take on some real moral responsibility, instead of falsely broadcasting unearned virtue far and wide and so cheaply and carelessly.

It’s time to drop the prideful intellectualism so overweening that we are willing to use compulsion and force to get our way – always for the sake of the general good. It’s time to drop the envy that makes us criticise and demonise anyone who has more than us, driven by the presumptions that such abundance must be the consequence of the application of arbitrary power and the result of theft – while what we have obtained, even though it is more than many possess, was merely garnered by the force of goodwill and morality. 

It’s time to shed the inexcusably pathological presumption among the elite that only corrupt power rules (everyone except them) and to express some gratitude for the traditions of the past and the near-miraculous infrastructure we have been granted. 

It’s time to take on the abandoned civic responsibility that has been justified through an unearned cynicism and return necessary authority to the local levels that moderate top-down tyranny.Jordan Peterson

Finally, it’s time to say no in some absolute and fundamental sense (and without hesitation) to all those who dare to propose that dooming perhaps a billion people to starvation and penury is justified by the potential consequences of failing to do so. So no one gets to say with impunity: “the planet has too many people on it.”

Too many people have already been sacrificed in the last hundred years on the altar of future utopias. Enough, truly, is enough. – Jordan Peterson

We have a moral problem in this country. Not to put too fine a point on it, it’s a cowardice problem.

One of the reasons the other side is winning the culture wars – and no one should be in any doubt that they are – is that too few conservatives and genuine liberals (as opposed to authoritarian neo-Marxists who have hijacked the term) have the guts to stand up and declare themselves.Karl du Fresne

The people who comment know what’s going on. They realise that liberal democracy and capitalism are under unprecedented attack. They are thoughtful and perceptive in identifying the threats posed by the cult of identity politics and they know what’s necessary to counter it.

They understand that we are in an ideological war to protect and preserve the values of the free, tolerant society we grew up in. – Karl du Fresne

The people driving the culture wars have no such qualms. Confident in the knowledge that their world view is shared by the institutions of power and influence – government, the bureaucracy, academia, schools, the media, the arts, even the corporate sector – they promulgate their divisive, corrosive messages without fear.

They are winning by default because too many people on the other side keep their heads down and their identity secret. People whose political instincts are essentially conservative may not be outnumbered, but they are certainly outgunned.

It’s a given that conservatism often equates with passivity and apathy. The vast mass of people who are broadly happy with the status quo will never compete with the ideological zeal of the social justice warriors, and it would be idle to expect them to. But I’m not talking here about the masses who are primarily concerned with raising a family, paying the mortgage and watching rugby; I’m talking about those who are deeply worried about the radical re-invention of New Zealand society and who recognise the need to oppose it. They’re the people who need to raise their heads above the parapet. Karl du Fresne

The emergence of the FSU is a heartening sign that resistance to authoritarian censorship is slowly gaining momentum, but there’s a long way to go. In the meantime, it would help if more people demonstrated their support for free speech by openly and unapologetically exercising it. The more who step forward, the more they give courage to others. It’s called critical mass. – Karl du Fresne

Meanwhile, businesses and households are right to be terrified about what lies ahead.
Over 100,000 households are going to come off fixed mortgages in the next year, and face a tripling of their monthly interest payments.

At the same time, house prices are now picked to fall by more than a quarter off the peak.

A family who bought a $1 million house at the peak with a $250,000 deposit will lose all their savings and have to pay three times as much interest on the $750,000 they borrowed. – Matthew Hooton

Inflation is now endemic in the New Zealand domestic economy and employees and their unions will rightly demand at least 7 per cent pay rises just to stand still.

But 7 per cent is just the start. – Matthew Hooton

China did not make New Zealand its best little friend in the west a generation ago out of benevolence, but to infiltrate, influence and undermine the Five Eyes intelligence alliance through its smallest, weakest and most naive member.Matthew Hooton

The immediate economic risks to New Zealand are stark enough. Add in the medium-term risks and the images of the Prime Minister playing in the snow on what can only be considered a jolly represent a serious political miscalculation.

The next election should be a watershed moment in New Zealand history. Like 1935, 1972, 1984 and 1990, serious decisions about economic and foreign policy need to be made. – Matthew Hooton

This week marks five years since Jacinda Ardern became New Zealand’s 40th prime minister. In modern British political terms, such a period might now be referred to as an era. In New Zealand, too, it feels just like that: a very long time. – Oliver Hartwich 

Instead of simply allocating funds to various government departments, the state now aims for something higher: it aspires to uplift its citizens in an almost spiritual manner. Whether it succeeds in that quest is a different question, but the very idea of the New Zealand state has changed under Ardern.

What has not changed are some negative trends that have plagued New Zealand for many years before her: the country’s sluggish productivity, its declining education system, its infrastructure deficits, its ridiculous house prices. In each of these areas, the problems have continued or indeed worsened.

Ardern’s record is one of deep change in the nature of the New Zealand state and its relationship to citizens. On the country’s most pressing social and economic problems, Ardern has not achieved any improvement. On many measures, the country is actually worse off than it was when she became Prime Minister.

The fact that Ardern’s record on the ground remains poor has been doubly masked: by the aforementioned constitutional changes, which are popular in parts of the electorate and the commentariat, and by Ardern’s superb communication skills. – Oliver Hartwich 

What has really brought this political upheaval to a head across Europe, however, is the energy crisis, driven by a belief that they could be energy independent using only wind and solar generation and decarbonising their economies. Unfortunately, their ambition was well ahead of practical reality, and they consequently became overly dependent on Russian gas and the good will of Vladimir Putin. Putin is not the source of their energy woes; he merely accelerated their energy crisis.Stuart Smith

For too long the world has taken cheap and reliable energy for granted, but there is a close relationship between GDP, energy and life expectancy; something we should not forget. Wind and solar will of course play an important role in the energy sector but it will not be the nirvana that many claim.-

Despite the claims from environmentalists, we are far more dependent on gas than many realise: many homes are reliant on gas and many industries are underpinned by gas, most often with no economically viable alternative.
We could make more of the opportunity that our local gas industry offers us by utilising the methanol produced by Methanex to lower our local shipping industry’s emissions. Methanol is a much cleaner burning fuel than diesel and has lower CO2 emissions as well; that is why shipping giant Maersk has just ordered six new ships that will run on methanol. – Stuart Smith

There’s so much regulation coming at us and costs just keep going up. I wonder whether it will get to the point where it’s not possible to make a living here and then there won’t be farm left here for them to take over.  – Ben Dooley

From what I’ve worked out it will cost us about $1.70 a sheep in the first year and about $5 a head by 2030. Combined with paying that tax and limit setting on the amount of fertiliser you can use, which is the next thing coming, it might not be financially viable to be here.Ben Dooley

Without primary industries in general, but particularly pastoral agriculture, we are in very big trouble as to how to pay for all the imports of goods that we cannot produce here in Aotearoa New Zealand. Solving the methane issue would be a real big deal. – Keith Woodford

Pulling all of this evidence together, the big picture is that there are no magic technology bullets that can drastically alter the reality that ruminants emit methane for a good reason. This methane is the outcome of evolutionary processes that produce animals that are fit for the grassland environment in which they live naturally.

However, that does not mean that no progress can be made in terms of emitting less methane per unit of meat and milk output. Indeed, the last 30 years have produced an amazing but seldom told New Zealand story as to how methane emissions per kg of sheep meat have reduced by about 30%. Dairy emissions per kg of Milksolids (fat plus protein) have reduced by about 20%.

The way these spectacular efficiency improvements have been achieved is by the breeding of more productive animals and incorporating these animals within improved farming systems. Fortunately, improved biological efficiency has also led to efficiency improvements relating to methane emissions. – Keith Woodford

We are engaged in a decades-long conscious-uncoupling from our imperial past and towards some uncertain future firmly anchored in an imagined pre-colonial world, where the inhabitants of these shaky isles lived in harmony with nature and one another.Damien Grant

There is some revisionism going, on but historical narratives are often built on self-deception. Those currently living around the Nile have as valid a claim on the pyramids as the Slavic inhabitants of North Macedonia have on the exploits of Alexander the Great.

Details and facts can be left to historians and pedants while we rush forwards to a glorious past. – Damien Grant

The British Empire is an easy target, especially if you gain your understanding of history from the New Zealand school system or social media memes. Both equally reliable.

But let’s take a longer look at the Empire’s legacy before we tear it from our cultural soil.

The British Empire was remarkable. Only the Romans have cast a more potent historical shadow.Damien Grant

English is the lingua-franca both because of its ability to absorb foreign words, like lingua-franca, and the extent of the Empire’s reach resulted in English being the second language of half the world.

The Empire carried more than the language of the Bard and smallpox to the far corners of humanity. They brought ideas.

Some were rooted in a belief in the racial and cultural superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race, but there were other enlightenment ideals that represent the best of humanity.

The separation of church and state, the importance of an independent judiciary, the freedom of ideas, the sovereignty of the individual and the value of democracy. Some, it pains me to say, originated in Paris rather than London or Glasgow. – Damien Grant

The success of anti-slavery politician William Wilberforce is often hailed as a legacy the Empire can be proud of, and rightly so, but this is to miss the significance of his achievement in securing the abolition of slavery in the Empire in 1833.

Wilberforce prevailed because he was drawing on enlightenment ideas of humanity.Damien Grant

The abolition of slavery was not due to one man’s advocacy, but to an evolution of ideas that also gave us democracy and the legal principles of habeas corpus and ultra vires.

For all the Empire’s failings, it installed in those lands where her writ ran concepts and systems of government that have remained long after the last red-coat slinked off-shore.

Such is the power of these ideals that where they were violated, such as in South Africa, Pakistan and Fiji, the state has never been able to completely eradicate them.

They lurk, like gorse, in the hearts and minds of the populace and, when given an opportunity, reassert themselves. – Damien Grant

 Sunak will succeed or fail based on his merits and achievements, his decisions and the vicissitudes of fortune. His race and religion are cause for comment but neither an obstacle nor an advantage.

We can change the names of our cities, abandon the monarchy and eschew as many Shakespearian nightmares as decency will allow.

We can discard the worst elements of our imperial legacy, repair the damage caused by Treaty breaches and betrayals, and apologise for the mistakes made in a previous era.

But let us preserve the idea that the value of a person is a function of their ability, achievements and character, and nothing else.Damien Grant

Voters don’t reward incumbent governments when they feel poor. Already, some will feel poor on paper as they watch their property value drop. Already, some feel poor in reality as they fork out more and more for rising mortgage rates. And shortly, many more will feel poor as nearly half the country’s mortgages roll over in the next few months and the mortgage interest payments double or triple.

From co-governance to incompetence there is a lot denting Labour’s chances at the next election, but this is probably the worst: homeowners’ mild sense of panic at rising mortgage rates and falling house prices.- Heather du Plessis Allan

Getting ahead of social problems like crime will save money in the long term, but far more important than that, it means fewer victims in the broadest sense of the term.

How we do that we can debate and argue all we like, but there ought to be no debate that prevention is what we absolutely must do. – Jarrod Gilbert

The ideologies of diversity and inclusion, decolonisation, intersectionality (a web of oppressions), gender and critical race theory have spread too deep and wide, leaking like dye and soaking the fabric of society with their toxic hue.

Woke progressives often speak of “re-educating” those who disagree with them. But the sad truth is that if we are to save the soul of the West, we will need not so much to “re-educate” as to persuade our opponents that they are wrong. – Zoe Strimpel 

For children, father absence is associated with poverty, material hardship, abuse and neglect, lower cognitive capacity, substance use, poorer physical and mental health and criminal offending. But estranged fathers can also suffer materially and emotionally. The mortality rate of fathers paying child support is significantly higher than the norm.Lindsay Mitchell

The long march of the left through our institutions is now paying off handsomely as their graduates scale the commanding heights of big business and big government. – Brianna McKee

The Arderns of the world are made in the image of their creators – entrenched left-wing lecturers, administrators, and bureaucrats who fill universities across the Western world, particularly Australia.

These individuals have turned universities into institutions that limit free speech via a culture that is antagonistic to viewpoint diversity. This directly opposes the historical mission of higher education.

The true mission of a university is to impart knowledge and hone the mind through debate and challenge, yet groupthink and cancel culture have been rife on campus for years.Brianna McKee

Increasingly, universities are limiting speech by institutionalising ideology. Indigenous relations, Climate Change, and gender equality litter the policy lists of the higher education sector.

There is no better indication that free-thinking intellectuals are losing the battle than the fact that the number of policies instituted by universities has increased exponentially in recent years, jumping from 136 in 2018 to 281 in 2022. Many of these new policies directly promote social justice causes. – Brianna McKee

By promoting only one side of a controversial issue, universities attach a value judgment to it and suggest it is the superior position to hold.

This closes debate and crushes viewpoint diversity. A university cannot be dedicated to an ideology and simultaneously open to challenging perspectives.

The latest tactic of university-trained elites, like Ardern, is to claim an alleged influx of ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’ when thought goes against their opinion.Brianna McKee

Unprecedented prosperity, opportunity, education, tolerance, and welfare are hallmarks of Western Civilisation and are the products of freedom of speech, thought, and association.

The fall of most great societies take place as they turn against, or fail to value, the things that made them great. – Brianna McKee

Each day more Jacindas are rolling off the university production line. Warm, genteel, and empathetic right up until the moment they want you silenced, cancelled, or fired from your job.

The Enlightenment mission of universities has been turned on its head. Tyranny has indeed had a makeover and every day our graduates exit university more closed and small-minded than ever before.Brianna McKee


Quotes of the month

01/10/2022

Today there are still a few who have faith in Jacinda’s Labour government despite the overwhelming evidence that it is an outmoded religion, lacking analytical and executive skills. Ministers tell you they’ll solve inflation by spending more; they’ll fix the shortage of nurses in hospitals by refusing to allow easy entry for foreign-trained medical staff; they’ll stop our locally trained nurses heading off overseas by getting them to settle their wage claims for half the current rate of inflation; they’ll lift kids out of poverty by persisting with failed methods of teaching literacy and numeracy in schools, and by teaching them Te Reo; they’ll improve Maori lives by giving co-governance powers to Maori aristocrats; they’ll fix all your problems by employing 17,000 more bureaucrats than we had five years ago, and inflation will waft away on the breeze, hopefully in election year…. –  Michael Bassett

The problem with this government is that many of its policies have been shown historically to work no longer. Even before the Labour Party was formed in 1916, rent controls led to landlords selling their rentals, causing central city slums in many countries. By the mid 1940s one European economist who had surveyed rent controls at work in Europe concluded that the only thing that did more damage to central cities than rent controls was pattern bombing. But we hear today’s crop of Labour ignoramuses still musing about possible rent controls. Learning from history is not something the current lot are prepared to risk instead of their doctrine. A caucus of trade union hacks, low level lawyers and lesser bureaucrats simply rely on Labour’s ancient religion: if it moves, control it, if it makes money, tax it, and if there’s still a problem, throw taxpayers’ money at it. – Michael Bassett

The banking lessons learned by the Fourth Labour Government in the 1980s where the ASB and then the BNZ under Jim Bolger quickly strengthened themselves by allying with expanding international entities, will now never be available to Kiwibank. You can count on it not growing much above its current 4% of the banking market. It will be tied hand foot and finger to the Minister of Finance and the government’s purse strings. A stagnant asset. – Michael Bassett

Come the next election, I suspect the Labour government will resemble those 1931 pilgrims, traipsing down the mountain like wet sheep. One has to hope, however, that eventually a brighter, better educated crop of political hopefuls comes along, a group that understands what works and what doesn’t, who aren’t tied to some old-time religion, and have been living in the real world. – Michael Bassett

It’s becoming more apparent every day that this Government is on its way out and I just wonder whether that’s why they’re spiralling now into the realm of the nutty. – Kate Hawkesby

I just don’t know how they’re so tone deaf. Their ability to try to barrel through policy that negatively impacts us, instead of doing anything that’s actually useful, is worrying. Kate Hawkesby

The Nats called it as they saw it; a government addicted to spending, and we know this with the free-for-all spray around treatment of the cost of living payment. – Kate Hawkesby

They’re lucky to be a two-term government – thanks to Covid – but at this stage I don’t think even another pandemic could save them.

This is a circus that fewer and fewer of us want tickets to. – Kate Hawkesby

The Ardern administration has finally confirmed — were confirmation required — that it is the most incompetent New Zealand Government in living memory, and perhaps ever. – Matthew Hooton

This Government has managed to “deliver” the biggest cut for at least 30 years in the real wages of the middle and working class — those a “Labour” Party supposedly represents. It is paying for it in the polls.Matthew Hooton

It took this Government’s special idiocy to decide that which wasn’t broken should be fixed, by moving the Reserve Bank away from its laser-like focus on inflation, approving the appointment of Adrian Orr as Governor and signing the so-called dual mandate in March 2018.

Meanwhile, it accelerated increases to the minimum wage and began putting greater shackles around the labour market, including abolishing automatic 90-day trial periods, and restricting access to foreign labour and preparing the ground for 1970s-style national payment awards for workers.

After all this — and most likely because of it — real wages rose by just 1.5 per cent in Ardern’s first three years, before any effect from Covid. – Matthew Hooton

Infamously, ultra-loose monetary and fiscal policy transferred about $1 trillion to property owners at the expense of wage earners and savers. Now the data is in on real wages.

From mid-2020, real wages began falling and have done so for eight quarters. Since the Labour Cost Index (LCI) began in 1992, that has never happened before.Matthew Hooton

Perhaps a government of political science rather than economics student presidents could be forgiven for putting votes ahead of sound money, but the Ardern regime has proven incompetent even at handing out free cash.

It turns out cost-of-living cash went to foreign landlords, Kiwis living permanently abroad and those who are no longer alive. – Matthew Hooton

Perhaps we should forgive them their confusion for, on everything except public emoting, it is clear that they know not what they do. This is a pattern. –  Matthew Hooton

 The defeat of the Ardern Government is increasingly likely, and more than deserved.

Labour governments can do many things and survive. Enriching property owners while slashing workers’ real wages isn’t one. – Matthew Hooton

I suspect that we are fast approaching a state of society in which pedantry will be the best defence against the prevailing moral and philosophical (not to say physical) ugliness. Find a corner of the world about which nobody cares, and immerse yourself pedantically in it. That will be the way to survive until you reach the bourne from which no traveller returns.Theodore Dalrymple

At its worst, and the worst was on display this week, the party puts too much emphasis on increasing the size of the state, and neglects to ask itself what it’s taxing people for. If no one can articulate a good reason for why the Government is taking citizens’ money, can you really blame them for getting upset? – Thomas Coughlan

Not only is increasing tax difficult at the best of times, but after committing not to introduce taxes beyond what it campaigned on at the 2020 election, Labour proceeded to break its promise in spirit if not letter, multiple times this term, most obviously in its extension of the bright line test, the removal of interest deductions for landlords, and now, on GST.

The party needs to regain the public’s trust on tax.  It won’t do that through stealth taxes on their savings. – Thomas Coughlan

If the Minister of Finance demands evidence on value-for-money in adjudicating between different budget bids, because there will always be more bids than there’s space to accommodate, that drives demand for rigour in analysis. If the Government wants everything put through a soft-focus wellbeing lens instead, then that razor gets dulled. And if you combine it with a ludicrously soft budget constraint where government borrows $50 billion, nominally for Covid, and then spends it on any darned thing that passes a comms test, you’ll get what we’ve had.  – Eric Crampton

It all looks pretty bleak. Europe’s heading for disaster if the energy futures market is anything to go by. Covid shocks were bad but what happens when European factories supplying critical parts into NZ supply chains can’t afford to run? There’s terrible mess ahead, we can’t afford for policy to continue to be this persistently stupid, and there’s no reason to hope that policy will stop being this persistently stupid.Eric Crampton

Lowering the bar means you allow yourself to dream but you don’t chase dreams that are ridiculously out of reach — that they are in the ballpark of possibility for who you are: Your genetic inheritance, talents, skills and work ethic.

And that you don’t hold off celebrating until you’ve smashed that dream over the fence. Instead, you enjoy, and celebrate, all the milestones — the twists and turns and tiny triumphs — along the way.

Because a successful life does not come down to whether you hit any high bar or not. It’s not in the fact that your name and achievement will the answer to a pop quiz question 20 years from now.

It’s in the life you quietly created below the bar, it’s in the people who joined you on your journey and the experiences you had, along the way. It’s in whether you stayed anchored to the things that mattered to you and found fun in the littlest things. – Karen Nimmo

I do not know quite where to place snobbery on the scale of vices, but wherever it is placed, I think it may be very serious in its effects, though it is probably ineradicable from the repertoire of potential human feeling and conduct.

Snobbery is the feeling of social superiority on the grounds of some quality over which the person believed to be inferior has little or no personal control, such as birthplace or parenthood. If this feeling is conspicuously displayed rather than merely felt, it is likely to provoke furious resentment, far more so than actual injustice. Disdain causes the rawest of wounds, which seldom heal. That is why people who triumph over snobbery in practice nevertheless often retain within themselves a strong core of resentment toward those of the type (not necessarily the actual individuals) who formerly disdained them. And this resentment often impels them to do seemingly self-destructive things.Theodore Dalrymple 

It is probable that intellectual and aesthetic snobbery are now more prevalent than the more traditional forms that attach to place of birth and parentage. Many of us are appalled by the tastes and interests of others and secretly, and not so secretly, congratulate ourselves on our superiority to them. I am far from immune myself from such feelings. I have to control myself not so much in my outer behavior—that is a relatively easy thing to do—but in my inner feeling, that is to say to limit my own feelings of superiority to the people whose tastes I despise. After all, there is more to people than their tastes or enthusiasms, and I have never talked to anybody who struck me as anything other than an individual. Just as we are enjoined to hate the sin but not the sinner, so we have to try to dislike the bad taste but not the person who displays it. This requires the overriding of emotion by conscious thought and self-control. – Theodore Dalrymple 

Fear of appearing snobbish is harmful because it threatens the willingness to make judgments between the better and worse; and since the worse is always easier to produce, it contributes to a general decline in the quality of whatever is produced. This fear of appearing snobbish and therefore undemocratic is now very strong and pervades even universities (so I am told), in which one might have supposed that elitism, in the sense of a striving for the best that has been said and thought, would be de rigueur.

One of the forms that snobbery now commonly takes is disdain of simple, repetitive, and unskilled jobs (which are generally ill-paid as well). The educated can imagine no worse fate than to be employed in such a job, no matter how necessary or socially useful it might be—the person at the supermarket checkout (increasingly redundant, of course) being the emblematic example. With a singular lack of imagination and sense of reality about their fellow creatures, they simply put themselves in the place of these people and imagine thereby that they are being empathic. But of course there are people for whom such jobs are not unpleasant and are even rewarding. Not everyone wants to be, or is capable of being, a master of the universe.Theodore Dalrymple 

The trouble is that snobbery toward the unambitious overvalues ambition as a human characteristic, and thereby helps to usher in the regime of ambitious mediocrities, or even sub-mediocrities, under which we now live. There is nothing wrong with mediocrity, it is indeed very necessary; but it is harmful when allied with ambition.

Irrespective, then, of how bad a moral vice snobbery may be, it is socially harmful and must be guarded against—especially where it resides often in secret, that is to say in the human heart. – Theodore Dalrymple 

 The Pharmac Review Panel proposed that Pharmac’s spending be skewed to favour the needs of “priority populations”, notably Māori.

That approach treats Māori lives as being of higher value than those not in a priority population. The report illustrates how this might be quantified. It also shows how even Māori might end up worse off.

Official documents justify this racially polarising approach for health care generally. Their main grounds are relatively poor average health outcomes for Māori, ‘equity’, and the Treaty.

Non-Māori outnumber Māori by 40% in the bottom decile of according to New Zealand’s Deprivation Index. To favour Māori over others in this decile violates horizontal equity. To favour Māori in better-off deciles over non-Māori in the lower deciles violates vertical equity.Bryce Wilkinson

People who do not care for accurate diagnosis cannot care much if their remedy does not work.

Finding remedies that work for all is critical. The previous government’s social investment approach had that focus. The current racially polarising approach does not. – Bryce Wilkinson

While political risk management shouldn’t be the sole focus of any Government, it does actually serve a critical purpose, in applying a blowtorch to policies to make sure they are targeting the right people and there are no unintended consequences.

It’s hard to know which is more damaging in this instance. Devising a policy which would have had such a disastrous effect on peoples’ nest eggs at a time when inflation is already eroding their sense of wealth and wellbeing.

Or being so careless as to wave it through it without even understanding who it would hurt most. – Tracy Watkins

A lambasting by the Auditor General over the cost of living payment and the humiliating backdown on a plan to impose GST on KiwiSaver fees marked a torrid week for the Labour Government.

Both instances raise the question about whether Labour’s political antenna is broken – and its willingness to be take responsibility for stuff-ups. – Claire Trevett 

It may be too soon to tell how the public spending watchdog John Ryan will be remembered when his term finishes – but there are signs he is starting to get under the skin of the Government.

And looking at his work plan for the current year, it is easy to see why. – Audrey Young

What we don’t see on the other side is ‘what did we get for that money?’ For the $130-plus billion a year, what got better, what got worse, how are things trending? Where is the reporting on that?

We really want to push quite hard on agencies to really hold themselves to account for their performance and to connect that to the public in what they are interested in seeing the agency do. – John Ryan

The art of the political U-turn, flip-flop, volte face – call it what you will – is a delicate one. If you don’t call an end to an unpopular policy quickly enough, you stand to entrench voter outrage, which can result in an election loss. If you do too many of them your party is seen as inept and lacking in conviction, beginning with those within your own caucus. Janet Wilson

Then there’s the cost-of-living payment, in which the second of three instalments came out this week. Having earned a reprimand from the auditor-general, who said the Government should have made better efforts to make the sure the payment was going to its intended targets, and having shed a recalcitrant MP only last week, a prudent Government would be desperate to right the ship.

Instead, it finds itself in a conflagration of its own making, seemingly more interested in increasing its own coffers than helping cash-strapped Kiwis whose vote it’ll want next year. – Janet Wilson

The fact that it’s one of many, and is reminiscent of Ardern’s captain’s call in scotching the capital gains tax in April 2019, shows that when presented with either retaining its ideology or staying in power, this party will always choose the latter.

It also paints a party that can’t be trusted when it comes to tax. Janet Wilson

Not running a balanced Budget after the past couple of years is not a criticism, but the fiscal story has become unanchored from that basic discipline, and Robertson and Labour have not found anything significant to replace it.

The National Party, on the other hand, is forming a compelling narrative of economic turgidity with Labour at the centre of it – whether you agree with this or not. Its narrative is coherent, simple and builds a picture of failure, profligacy and incompetence that the current Government cannot fix. – Luke Malpass

Labour’s retirement tax plan might be their biggest mistake yet. It was huge.

It would’ve affected most of us. Three million in all. It would’ve left us poorer. Some would’ve been down $20,000 by the time they reached retirement. And it would’ve hit us when it hurts the most: our old age.Heather du Plessis-Allan

Labour will pay for this. The biggest price is trust.

This is the party that has now twice promised no new taxes and twice broken that promise. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Labour’s sneakiness will also cost them. The only thing worse than someone breaking their promise, is someone breaking their promise and trying to hide it.

Good luck to Labour trying to convince the public at the next election that they won’t introduce new taxes. If National plans to run a tax-and-spend scare campaign at the next election, Labour will have no defence. They can hardly ask us to trust them that there will be “no new taxes”. We’ve been there, done that, and we’re paying the taxes. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

It’s been a tough few weeks for Labour. The Sharma allegations made them look dysfunctional. The Auditor-General slamming them for sending cost-of-living money overseas made them look reckless with our tax dollars. And now they’ve been busted trying to take more without telling us .- Heather du Plessis-Allan

So unless there is a total breakdown of the normal decision-making processes within government, which is highly unlikely, this decision and the underhand way it was announced was premeditated.

How on earth could you get to such a tone deaf point? After all, this is not a new government, it has been in office for five years. Ministers surely knew this decision would wind up ordinary New Zealanders and cement the perception they are a high tax, high spending government. They must also have known that trying to avoid actually announcing the change could be political suicide, particularly given the media had given them fair warning they were interested in this upcoming decision. – Steven Joyce

There is every sign the Government believes its own BS to an unwarranted degree, so maybe it thought it could spin its way through this issue in the same way as it has so many others. The Prime Minister is certainly adept at arguing black is white and that failure to deliver is the result of aspiration, so there’s plenty of evidence for this theory.

An even more likely possibility is that ministers are getting completely out of touch with the public they serve. There is a very long series of announcements suggesting that is the case. The TVNZ-RNZ merger, the bike bridge, Three Waters, Trevor Mallard’s appointment to Ireland and his pending knighthood, the bank credit changes, immigration policy, and industry pay bargaining are some that leap to mind. They are either completely inexplicable (think GST on KiwiSaver), or clearly designed to serve a part of Labour’s power base to the bemusement or downright hostility of the general public. – Steven Joyce

Whatever the final cause of the Government’s awry political antennae, it appears very likely the die has been cast and the public have made up their minds about this lot, and ministers increasingly know it. – Steven Joyce

Expect to see much more attacking of the opposition over the next 12 months. Labour’s strategists may not have been able to work out that adding GST to KiwiSaver this way was political poison, but they are aware that the only way to level the playing field for the next election is to drag the alternative government down and create as much doubt about them as there is about Labour. It’s the 2005 and 2008 playbook all over again. And it won’t be pretty. – Steven Joyce

The failures of letting government aspirations become unanchored from reality are becoming difficult to ignore. Doing a more limited number of things well might just be better than failing at many things simultaneously.Eric Crampton

What is being proposed by Andrew Little and his minions is morally abhorrent. It is a paternalistic, white-man’s burden re-imagined for a modern era.

As the Initiative report’s title states, every life is worth the same. – Damien Grant

If a workplace relations system requires armies of HR people and lawyers to work, it is too complicated.

These workplace relations reforms run under the name ‘Fair Pay Agreements’. It is a misleading label since there is little that is fair about them. And with the threat of compulsion, they are not much of an agreement, either. – Oliver Hartwich

Still, the Fair Pay Agreements approach is based on little more than voodoo economics.

In conventional economics, wages reflect economic conditions. If a company does well, if it increases its productivity and then its profits, that growing pie will be distributed between owners and workers. So, in this way, the wage increase reflects how well the company is doing.

In the Alice-in-Wonderland world of New Zealand Labour, things work differently. Their starting point is not a how the economy is doing but how it should be doing.Oliver Hartwich

This approach is courageous, in a ‘Yes, Minister’ way. No wonder even the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment warned its ministers about proceeding with their Fair Pay Agreements plan.

There is an obvious problem with banking on future productivity increases: They might not happen.

It comes down to companies deciding on paying above-productivity wages in the vague hope they will be able to afford them later.

But business does not work like that. And economies that see wages rise faster than productivity will sooner or later face rising unemployment, since companies will not pay their workers more than what they produce. – Oliver Hartwich

For negotiations to take place, it takes two sides. Though the unions are keen on going down the Fair Pay Agreements path, BusinessNZ has declared it is no longer prepared to represent the employer side. So either the government finds another organisation to represent business, or it must artificially create one.

Either way, while Australia has now started the process of reforming its broken employment relations system, New Zealand has started to break its working one.

That is good news for Australia. And terrible news for New Zealand.Oliver Hartwich

No sane person should be fooled. A climate-cult madness has infected governments and their activist agencies; exemplar, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). Delusions of grandeur is a common manifestation of madness. Climate cultists fit the profile. Clothing themselves in virtue, they strut about proclaiming that they can save the earth from a fiery end if only we would give away the foundational building block of progress and prosperity; namely, fossil fuels. – Peter Smith

Sometimes the best people to fix the problems are actually those affected most by them. Kate Hawkesby

Rarely has a political party promised so much in an election campaign and achieved so little during its time in office.

Labour made extravagant promises to end child poverty, to build 100,000 houses over 10 years and make housing more affordable, to make a major contribution to reducing greenhouse gases, and to improve our education system. Instead child poverty has increased on most measures; the number of new houses built has been trivial and, while house prices are at last easing somewhat, they are still among the most expensive in the world; we’re still burning imported coal to keep the lights on; and more and more kids are coming out of the taxpayer-funded school system unable to read and write.

And to top it off, New Zealanders are now facing the highest inflation in more than 30 years. Some record! – Don Brash

The Prime Minister pretends that local councils will still own the water infrastructure which their ratepayers have funded but by every measure on which “ownership” is judged, this is a total nonsense: local councils will have absolutely no authority over the water infrastructure in their area. Among other things, because any new urban development is dependent on water infrastructure being put in place in a timely way, this means that the great majority of the decisions which a council makes around urban development – where roads and houses should go – will be effectively determined by the four enormous “entities” into which all water infrastructure will be grouped.Don Brash

The legislation establishing the four entities makes it clear that it is tribal authorities which will control the four entities, not the local authorities which notionally retain ownership of the assets. – Don Brash

The audacity of the Government’s move is surely astonishing. The effective confiscation of billions of dollars in water infrastructure assets built up over decades by ratepayers throughout the country is astonishing enough in its own right. But then to hand effective control of those assets to tribal groups up and down the country is almost beyond belief: it is a full frontal assault on any concept of democracy.

This policy alone should cost the Government next year’s election. If it does not, it is a sad indictment on the Opposition parties, on the media, and indeed on every New Zealander. – Don Brash

But there’s another even bigger and more tragic irony that Gorbachev’s death forces us to confront. While we smugly complimented ourselves on winning the Cold War, the democratic, capitalist West was all along being systematically undermined from within by ideological forces far more insidious than Soviet communism.

Call it the culture wars, call it identity politics, call it wokeism, call it neo-Marxism … whatever the label, a multi-faceted assault on Western values has been fermenting for decades, mostly in our institutions of learning, and is now happening in plain sight.

It aggressively manifests itself in attacks on all the values that define Western society and culture: free speech, property rights, the rule of law, economic liberalism, history, science, literature, philosophy and, most damagingly, democracy itself. The attacks are sanctioned by our own institutions, including the media, and have largely gone unopposed by nominally conservative politicians who give the impression of being in a state of paralysis.

We watched enthralled as Gorbachev defied political gravity and neutralised what we regarded as a potential threat to the free world, but I wonder who will save us from the even more menacing enemy within. – Karl du Fresne

Organic beef farms, whose animals take longer to raise and need even more land, lose twice as much nitrogen for each kilogram of meat produced as conventional beef farms. They also create more methane during their extended lifetime.Jacqueline Rowarth

As for veganism and reducing animal emissions, the concept of removing animals from the diet might seem positive, but the reality is that for a human to stay healthy, supplements and more food needs to be consumed, with consequent greater calorie intake, and hence waste material excretion. The waste contains more nitrogen and this has implications in terms of increased greenhouse gases . – Jacqueline Rowarth

 Different people have different perspectives, but the science facts remain – more people, limited land, and organics and veganism are not the answer for the bulk of the population.

What is clear is that meat and milk produced in New Zealand has lower impact than that produced overseas. The global message should be minimising dietary impact by eating only what is needed – and, where possible, choosing New Zealand food. – Jacqueline Rowarth

We’ve had five f——g years of this ‘be kind’ guilt-tripping propaganda shoved down our throats and everywhere you look the results are crippled systems and crippled people. Lindsay Mitchell

Another week, another demonstration of Government incompetence, nastiness and deceit. – Matthew Hooton

However good the political antennae of Ardern, Robertson and the rest of the 20-strong Cabinet, they can’t fulfil even that modest function without reading the papers they receive each Friday. Once upon a time, prime ministers required that every minister read every paper before showing up to Monday’s Cabinet meeting. There were even discussions and arguments before decisions were reached.

Apparently that rudimentary expression of Cabinet collective responsibility and basic political management is out of fashion.

With her PR talents, perhaps Ardern and her Cabinet don’t think they need to understand decisions they are taking or announcements they are making. Besotted cub reporters in other daily media let them spin out of anything that pops up. Matthew Hooton

While other countries are pulling out the stops to attract global talent to their shores, the New Zealand Government seems to think we can manage without it. It’s a decision based on archaic thinking, and it will cost our economy dearly. – Aaron Martin

At a time when we’re competing in a global talent shortage, Australia is rolling out the red carpet to skilled migrants, while New Zealand has put out a dusty old doormat.Aaron Martin

Not staying globally competitive means we’re not only falling behind in attracting the experienced people we need to build our own capability, but also puts us at risk of losing our own talent. – Aaron Martin

The New Zealand Government still appears to be stuck in the mindset that employers should be reducing their reliance on migrant workers. The philosophy of Australia is completely different – for them it’s not about reducing reliance, it’s about the very realistic approach of understanding what resources are needed to help their economy grow.

Reliance is ingrained in the modern economy, especially one that has a low birth rate and a low population – as New Zealand does. Not being able to offer certainty for migrants who are not on the Green List is going to make it hard to attract scarce and valued talent. That talent will be snapped up by countries who are taking a more progressive approach.Aaron Martin

The government is completely blind to the fact that skilled migration actually leads to job creation. Internationally experienced managers play a crucial role in upskilling local staff. Without it, staff capability and business growth is limited, and so is the potential of New Zealand’s economy.

So not only do we miss out on all the benefits of their expertise, but New Zealanders go looking for it offshore. If the government wants to put a stop to the brain drain and fix our skilled migrant shortage it needs to get its skates on to remedy our crippled immigration system. – Aaron Martin

Part of the hard-to-explain grief I feel today is related to how staggeringly rare that level of self-restraint is today. Narcissism is everywhere. Every feeling we have is bound to be expressed. Self-revelation, transparency, authenticity — these are our values. The idea that we are firstly humans with duties to others that will require and demand the suppression of our own needs and feelings seems archaic. Elizabeth kept it alive simply by example. Andrew Sullivan

She was an icon, but not an idol. An idol requires the vivid expression of virtues, personality, style. Diana was an idol — fusing a compelling and vulnerable temperament with Hollywood glamor. And Diana, of course, was in her time loved far more intensely than her mother-in-law; connected emotionally with ordinary people like a rockstar; only eventually to face the longterm consequences of that exposure and crumble under the murderous spotlight of it all.

Elizabeth never rode those tides of acclaim or celebrity. She never pressed the easy buttons of conventional popularity. She didn’t even become known for her caustic wit like the Queen Mother, or her compulsively social sorties like Margaret. The gays of Britain could turn both of these queens into camp divas. But not her. In private as in public, she had the kind of integrity no one can mock successfully.

You can make all sorts of solid arguments against a constitutional monarchy — but the point of monarchy is precisely that it is not the fruit of an argument. It is emphatically not an Enlightenment institution. It’s a primordial institution smuggled into a democratic system. It has nothing to do with merit and logic and everything to do with authority and mystery — two deeply human needs our modern world has trouble satisfying without danger.

The Crown satisfies those needs, which keeps other more malign alternatives at bay. – Andrew Sullivan

The Crown represents something from the ancient past, a logically indefensible but emotionally salient symbol of something called a nation, something that gives its members meaning and happiness. However shitty the economy, or awful the prime minister, or ugly the discourse, the monarch is able to represent the nation all the time. In a living, breathing, mortal person.

The importance of this in a deeply polarized and ideological world, where fellow citizens have come to despise their opponents as enemies, is hard to measure. But it matters that divisive figures such as Boris Johnson or Margaret Thatcher were never required or expected to represent the entire nation. It matters that in times of profound acrimony, something unites. It matters that in a pandemic when the country was shut down, the Queen too followed the rules, even at her husband’s funeral, and was able to refer to a phrase — “we’ll meet again” — that instantly reconjured the days of the Blitz, when she and the royal family stayed in London even as Hitler’s bombs fell from the sky.

Every Brit has a memory like this. She was part of every family’s consciousness, woven into the stories of our lives, representing a continuity and stability over decades of massive change and dislocation. – Andrew Sullivan

The Queen was crowned in the cathedral where kings and queens have been crowned for centuries, in the same ceremony, with the same liturgy. To have that kind of symbolic, sacred, mystical thread through time and space is something that is simply a gift from the past that the British people, in their collective wisdom, have refused to return.Andrew Sullivan

Because, in a way, the Queen became a symbol for many people in the English speaking world, even if England itself meant nothing to them.

A symbol of what you may ask?

Maybe of times gone past, of an old way of doing things.  But maybe of a kind of ideal. A person of good character when so many news pages are filled with politicians and celebrities displaying the opposite.

A person who never stopped doing what she said she would. On her 21st birthday she said “I declare before you all, that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.”

And she kept that promise.

Maybe also because we watched her publicly face the challenges of being a mum, a grandmother, and the head of a family.  That’s a job a lot of us know is hard enough without having to do it in public.- Heather du Plessis-Allan

She would say that Prime Ministers were always faced with difficult decisions to make, and real challenges and there often was not a right answer, but to do the thing that you believed was the correct thing to do, was not always the easy thing to do.

She had huge amounts of grace and warmth, but equally so much history and wisdom that you could ask questions and get answers that came from a perspective and vantage point that probably no other person had seen. –  John Key

In Britain, there have been few manifestations of extreme grief at the death of Queen Elizabeth.  But there is a profound and shared sense of loss, that everything has changed, and all expressed in a controlled way.  How very British.

She had breezed past the markers of mortality for so long, that in a quiet moment one could almost believe that she was a truly permanent fixture.

But the singing of God Save the King on the accession of King Charles was a marker of finality.  And a reminder that one can’t step in the same river twice. – Point of Order

One can guess that Her Majesty felt she had a great deal to live up to.  Most would say she did it superbly.  

And now that burden falls to her son.

Burkean conservatism is all about reconciling continuity and change, when change is necessary and can be undertaken in accordance with the traditions of the country and people.

Queen Elizabeth embodied something about ‘us’ and on her death, we need to reconsider just what ‘we’ means.Point of Order

Perhaps, just for a moment, reflection on her life and death can briefly refract our thinking and remind us that while it does seem impossible to love one another, we do sometimes need to try a bit harder. – Point of Order

Because a human being can embody something that otherwise defies expression. She (or indeed he) can make the intangible concrete in a different way to symbols like flags (New Zealanders might recall) or words in legal documents.  

Of course, in the beginning was the Word.  But don’t forget the still surprisingly widespread conviction that it became Flesh and dwelt among us.Point of Order

Media coverage has laid bare what locals have known for a long time: Rotorua has, whether deliberately or through absolute dereliction of duty, been transformed into a dumping ground. A place where the vulnerable are treated like cash cows, lining the pockets of a select few.

I despair that I’m at the point where I’m writing this column, knowing that more negative publicity will compound the impact upon Rotorua. But the situation is dire, it must change, and the people who have created this nightmare must be held accountable.- Lizzie Marvelly

I find the word “transitional” ironic. Transitioning to where? The people in these motels are stuck. The conditions are squalid, the social challenges are profound and danger is ever-present. Many of the rooms in these motels don’t even have functioning smoke alarms. Single mums and their tamariki have been housed next to 501 deportees from Australia. It makes you wonder whether they are better or worse off than they were before they landed on Fenton Street.

The people who are undoubtedly better off are those receiving millions of taxpayer money to house and care for the vulnerable. But what do we have to show for the money being thrown around? If the system was working we’d see the number of emergency housing motels decreasing. We’d see a reduction in negative social impacts as people received the support and assistance they needed.

We are seeing quite the opposite. What key performance indicators, if any, have been put in place? When organisations and the offshore owners of Fenton Street motels are receiving millions of dollars of public funding, surely the public have a right to know what the spend is achieving. Forgive the crass expression, but in my view millions of dollars of taxpayer money are being pissed into the wind in Rotorua.  Lizzie Marvelly

Rotorua has become a new kind of visitor Mecca, housing visitors who may never leave. – Lizzie Marvelly

It is undoubtedly vital that Rotorua looks after its own vulnerable citizens, with the appropriate support from Government agencies. It is outrageous, however, that such a small city, already decimated by the impact of Covid, is being expected to also take on vulnerable people from other cities and towns around the country. For a start, it fractures valuable social support that people may have in their home regions. Unsurprisingly, it has created a group of displaced, broken people. It’s time for other centres to look after their own people.

What is often missed in the soundbites is that the tourism industry was the biggest employer in Rotorua, and many of the Rotorua people in emergency housing landed there because they lost their tourism industry jobs. How on earth are they going to get back on their feet, and out of transitional housing, if the tourism industry doesn’t recover? And when walking around town in Rotorua can be objectively dangerous, why on earth would tourists want to come back?

It is the view of many at home that the current leadership, both locally and nationally, are destroying Rotorua. Locals have been voicing their concerns to officials for years, yet things continue to get worse. It is difficult to see how the city will recover. There must be an independent review immediately, followed by swift and lasting change. Lizzie Marvelly

What I look like or what my body is like has no bearing on whether or not I’m a good person, whether or not I’m smart, whether or not I’m attractive, whether or not I’m sexy, whether or not I’m fit or motivated. [My size] doesn’t have the relationship to those things that I had previously thought it did – Alice Snedden 

Anyone who’s fat or has ever been fat knows that’s always in the back of your mind because that will have been an insult people have levelled against you. It doesn’t feel like a good thing to be for the most part.Alice Snedden 

I’m interested in being a good person with the least inconvenience possible. It would be good if it were easy but what do we do in the face of knowing that it’s not? – Alice Snedden 

And I remember learning how flowers grow.
That flowers bloom not just with light from the sun, but also with rain from the clouds.

And then I realise that I can grow this way, too.

That grey skies will form and I will feel sad again, but I will grow understanding that my sadness is made of love.

That tears of sadness will come and fall like rain again, but I will grow knowing that my tears are made of life. – Ben Brooks-Dutton

The claims are unbelievable but I would venture to say that none of you has been through the emotional and physical trauma that being overweight can cause.

At first, I didn’t think anyone would believe it. Then I remembered how insecure being overweight made me. How I desperately looked for answers and beat myself up daily for the poor choices I made and my lack of self-control. The company is completely playing on people’s vulnerabilities. It is cruel and I am genuinely sorry for those who have been taken in by it. – Paula Bennett

I think it’s possible to feel ambivalent (at best) about the institution and what it represents, and at the same time a deep respect for the Queen herself as an individual.

In her case, the privileges of the role, the money and castles and special treatment, were surely offset by the extraordinary burden of service.

The figure that stuck with me on Friday was 21,000 – the barely fathomable number of private service engagements the Queen undertook during her reign.

No one on the face of the earth will know a life quite like it. – Jack Tame

In an increasingly tribal and partisan world, she was a steady, neutral force.

She was the steady force. I admired the Queen’s careful restraint.

The Queen lived through arguably the greatest period of change the world has ever seen.

And in that period of great change there is no figure on Earth who has represented a greater picture of stability. Queen Elizabeth was the constant. – Jack Tame

It is a sign of how dysfunctional Auckland Council is that it considers a debt-to-revenue ratio of 258% as a positive. It had budgeted for 290%. Damien Grant

I’m an engineer. We don’t do empathy. We fix things. – Wayne Brown

 New Zealand has amassed billions of dollars in debt trying to make it through a global pandemic. Our debt levels are huge. Businesses, employers….They’ve carried the brunt of it. And now we’re going to ask them to pay for everyone to have a day off, and at the same time face a 20 percent reduction in output and revenue. 

Madness. – Rachel Smalley

What I would say is this – and I realise I am slightly practical when it comes to these matters — but the Queen is dead. This woman who has lived through wars and great upheaval would tell us to crack on. I think she’d tell us that these are challenging economic times and we’ve already been disrupted by COVID and spent too much time at home, so she’d urge us to keep working.

Keep calm, and carry on, perhaps. – Rachel Smalley

 In a world of vacuous comment, more people than not these past few days have come to the party with their thoughts in an eloquent and kind fashion. The energy and effort was put in to say more than you would have expected on other occasions.Mike Hosking

 In a post-Covid world where we have indulged ourselves to a ludicrous degree, for the monarch little changed.

Little changed as we moved to the country, invented quiet quitting, started the great resignation, and all wound up and bound up in our own wee world of upheaval and change.

I wonder how many times the Queen wanted to quietly quit?

But duty, service, and a promise made all those years ago overrode it all. They are wonderful, uplifting, life-affirming characteristics that are so sorely and sadly missing too often these days.

And you didn’t have to be a monarchist to admire that. – Mike Hosking

Everyone is agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic drove people mad, but there is disagreement over who the madmen were, itself another cause of ferocious argument: a kind of meta-madness, as it were.

I am still not clear in my mind what I would or should have done if I had been in charge (would have done and should have done being very different, in all probability), or whether my darling scheme of concentrating efforts exclusively on those at significant risk would have worked.

What constitutes significant risk is, of course, not a purely scientific question. So-called listening to the science can never be enough—quite apart from the fact that the science does not exist where there are still many unknowns. It is not true that no scientific truths are indisputable: No one seriously expects it to be discovered, for example, that the blood does not circulate in the body. But even in the treatment of well-described diseases there are an infinite number of unanswered questions that could be asked.Theodore Dalrymple

Giving up a worldview is more difficult than giving up a bad habit.

That is why conspiracy theories are so attractive to us. We want the world to be tractable, and for events to have been wrought by human design, even if those who do the designing are evil. In fact, it is really quite reassuring that the bad things that happen in the world must be by evil design (as, of course, some of them are). This gives us the hope that, by removal of the evilly disposed persons, the world may be made perfect. Besides, searching out evil is fun. – Theodore Dalrymple

Plenty will say the nation has lost its grandmother, that we are a family bereaved of its matriarch – and that comparison is not so wide of the mark. Not because everyone knew or loved the Queen like a relative, because obviously that is not true. But the comparison holds in this much narrower sense: she was a fixed point in our lives, a figure of continuity when all around was in constant flux. Everything has changed since the day in 1952 when she inherited the throne. That country – of black-and-white television, gentlemen in hats, and Lyons Corner Houses – and this one would barely recognise each other. The one thing they have – had – in common was her.

She was woven into the cloth of our lives so completely, we had stopped seeing the thread long ago.  – Jonathan Freedland

As with parenting, so with serving as the national figurehead: a big part of the job is simply showing up. Elizabeth understood that very deeply, realising that continuity amid turbulence was the great value that a monarchy could add to a democratic system. – Jonathan Freedland

The result was that an epoch that witnessed enormous social upheavals, a shift to the demotic and democratic in manners and mores and an end to deference – an age that could have proved disastrous, if not terminal, for a feudal institution such as monarchy – instead saw royalty cement its position. Republicanism was a lost cause in the Elizabethan era, even as the notion of allocating any other role in public life according to genetic bloodline would have been dismissed as an indefensible throwback.

Advocates of an elected head of state struggled to gain traction for the simple reason that the Queen did the job so well. Republicans could only argue that it was a fluke, that although the lottery of heredity had thrown up a winner this one time, there was no guarantee it would do so again. But it was no good. For as long as she was there, the monarchy seemed to make sense – an illogical, irrational kind of sense, but sense all the same.Jonathan Freedland

But millions will now be mourning something more intimate and more precious: the loss of someone who has been a permanent fixture for their – our – entire lives. Her death will prompt memories of all that has passed these last 70 years, and all those others who we loved and lost. There is grief contained within grief. Today we mourn a monarch. And in that very act, we also mourn for ourselves.- Jonathan Freedland

If republicans want to succeed, they will need to offer New Zealanders something they can gain from a republic, not just something they will lose.Henry Cooke

The sadness I naturally feel at the passing of someone important, who had, in a sense, accompanied me throughout my childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and into my old age, Queen Elizabeth II, is accompanied by a sense of foreboding as to what might follow. It might give an opportunity for political mischief-makers to make mischief, not for the sake of human improvement or happiness, but for the sake of making mischief. – Theodore Dalrymple

There must surely be very few examples of such single-minded dutifulness in contemporary history. That is why she maintained her popularity from the moment she ascended the throne to the day of her death. Her conduct was as modest as her position was exalted. She never made the mistake of thinking that she was an interesting or remarkable person in herself, and thereby became remarkable.Theodore Dalrymple

And then, of course, there are also the republicans who want to fish in troubled waters. Starting from the irrationality of monarchy when considered from abstract first principles, they point to the deficiencies of any monarch, though this was harder to do in the late monarch’s case. In doing so, they forget that, in practice, people are infinitely more likely to be oppressed by their elected representatives than by their constitutional monarch, and indeed are increasingly oppressed by them every day of their lives. Like many intellectuals, they prefer to fight shadows rather than substantive beings: it is easier and more gratifying. – Theodore Dalrymple

Some MPs can swear an oath to the Queen and to “her heirs and successors” and then proclaim they are republicans. As they make promises they never intend to keep why should we be surprised that they do not keep their oaths?

A government that does not want to run on its record might be tempted to stage a diversion and hold a referendum to become a republic. Those who advocate holding a referendum first need to say what sort of republic. – Richard Prebble

Some nations have had parliament elect the president and others the electorate. Even if the head of state’s role is ceremonial the election by itself gives the president power. The temptation to use power is overwhelming.

The conflict between presidents and parliaments is one of the reasons presidential government is so unstable. – Richard Prebble

A hereditary head of state from another country is weird. Constitutional monarchy just works better than the alternatives. The World Economic Forum says New Zealand is the world’s third oldest democracy. The Economist Intelligence Unit this year rated New Zealand the second most democratic country. Why fix what is not broken?

We are a small, isolated country. Having a shared monarchy with the UK and 14 other countries has been advantageous and will be in the future.

Monarchy is more fun. It has given me one of my first memories, a social success, a great embarrassment, a nice compliment and an honour.Richard Prebble

If we became a republic what would the Woman’s Weekly do? Seriously, the record is that our system of government is much more stable than a republic.

We have real issues but being a constitutional monarchy is not one of them. –Richard Prebble

Death holds up a mirror to everything — moments of love, stretches of strife, memories that punish and exalt. This is true if your family is far removed from the public eye, and it’s true if your family is ensconced in the world’s spotlight.  – Patti Davis

All of us know the difficulties and travails of the royal family. Each time the family members come together, the news media and the public analyze every gesture, every interaction. Did William and Harry speak? Embrace? Having been on the receiving end of such scrutiny, I can tell you that it’s a balancing act. You want to be present, available, sincere, yet there is a part of you that’s always aware you’re being watched and, in all likelihood, judged.

Queen Elizabeth had the ability to call her fractured family together to show up … because of her. My father was the beacon of light we all gravitated to, no matter how we felt about each other. When forces like this die, the fault lines in the family that were always there remain. Yet the beauty of memorial services and funerals is that for a while, that breakage is healed. – Patti Davis

Several times during that period, friends remarked on how hard it must have been to mourn in public. I always said, “No, that actually was the easy part.” I felt thousands of locked hands beneath me, keeping me from falling. That’s also why I didn’t want the week to end. Once it did, I would be left with the solitariness of my own grief, slogging through the waters that would inevitably rise around me.

Even if you are the royal family, the most famous family in the world, everyone doesn’t see everything about you. There is grief that spills out in the shadows. We need to remember that when we watch the public ceremonies surrounding the queen’s passing. Patti Davis

Driving home through dark quiet streets, I knew the river of grief that was waiting for me, and I knew I would have to cross it alone.

My hope is that people remember this about the royal family: In the end, though they breathe rarefied air, they grapple as we all do with life and death, with the mystery of what it means to be human. When darkness falls, and they are alone, they sink into the same waters that everyone does when a loved one dies. And they wonder if they’ll make it to the other side. – Patti Davis

I have often been labelled a conservative. This doesn’t mean I am some unthinking reactionary.

Instead, it just means, to me, that we should always very carefully weigh the transaction cost of change.

When it comes to possibly moving on from the monarchy I believe those costs are much higher than would be commonly thought and indeed are too high to meet a threshold for change. – Simon Bridges 

The point of this minor heraldic history, if any, is simply that politicians are almost infinitely and hilariously corruptible, for reasons ranging from cynical to deeply idiosyncratic, at even the most minute level.

Most of this can be easily handled and harnessed by the process of democracy. But as the final constitutional backstop, in the event of uncertainty or chaos, are politicians what we should rely on?  – Ben Thomas

What we might really need is some institution stripped of agendas, aspirations, or even hope. And in the modern royal family, we have that. Of course, monarchy bestows wealth and privilege on the undeserving. And while no-one would overplay the hardships of royal birth in comparison with the vast bulk of humanity, who have something in the nature of real problems, it hardly measures up to ideas of what extreme wealth involves.

Elon Musk can potentially go to Mars. Her late majesty could go to Balmoral, where candid pictures showed a two-bar heater in the fireplace and council flat wallpaper. Mentions of her “life of service” are not a mere platitude, but a recognition of the daily grind of ribbon cuttings, ceaseless tours and banal social interactions.

Sitting up the front of a formal dinner or prizegiving while maintaining a facade of benign interest is fine for an evening. But smiling politely for 70 years?

Well, critics might say, we don’t all love our jobs. The contradiction is not so much dullness in the middle of excess, but the paradox of powerlessness at the very epicentre of the sovereign. Ben Thomas

But our head of state has almost no autonomy that they can exercise without receiving the imprimatur of Parliament or the advice of the prime minister.

The last remaining, ultimate power they have is deciding who has the right to be the prime minister, and will give them the advice to which they are beholden. This is the constitutional equivalent of carrying around the nuclear codes – a responsibility of last resort so great, and terrible, and absolute that it is generally unthinkable that it should ever be used. And in the meantime, sitting still, and acting interested. – Ben Thomas

If you were to take note of most public commentary on the issue, you’d be justified in thinking the weight of public opinion overwhelmingly favours a republic – but that’s only because republicans make up most of the commentariat.

Many of these commentators miss the point, I suspect wilfully. They treat it as an issue of personalities. Their argument, essentially, is that the Queen was popular whereas Charles is not (although the latest opinion polls in Britain show a sudden spike in his favourability rating). Therefore the time has come to sever the constitutional connection with the Crown.Karl du Fresne

Monarchists, on the other hand, view royalty strictly in constitutional terms. They ask the vital question: do our existing constitutional arrangements serve New Zealand well? Unarguably, the answer is yes. We may have acquired them almost by historical accident and they may be ill-defined and poorly understood, but they have made us one of the world’s most stable democracies.

Paradoxically, they depend on a head of state who appears to do little apart from merely existing. The monarch’s powers are more notional than actual, but they serve as a vital constitutional backstop in case they’re needed. It’s weird, but it works. – Karl du Fresne

The crucial point about the monarchy is that it gives us a head of state who is above politics. It provides an element of impartiality, stability and continuity that could never be guaranteed under a president.

Whatever method might be used to elect or appoint a New Zealand president, political factors would intrude.  There are no constitutional mechanisms that can guarantee us a wholly apolitical New Zealand head of state. And unless the post is held for life, which would never be acceptable, there would be the risk of instability and uncertainty whenever it came up for renewal.  – Karl du Fresne

There is another vital respect in which the monarchy works. As one authority has put it, the significance of the monarchy is not the power it possesses but the power it denies others. For “others” read “politicians”, who may not always act with the purest of motives. The fact that the head of state is unelected runs counter to democratic principles, but it means the monarchy is immune to political pressures. As I said: weird, but it works. –

In constitutional terms, the Queen’s death changes nothing. It may be true that people loved the Queen and don’t feel the same about Charles, but the constitutional underpinnings are unchanged. – Karl du Fresne

I feel I knew the Queen because she was almost indistinguishable from my mother. They were born within three years of each other and died within two. Their hairstyles kept pace for 90 years. Their hemlines also. Both married soon after the war, and both had a son, followed by a daughter, followed by two more sons. (Thank you for asking, I am Edward.) Disregarding the odd palace, the Queen and my mother could have swapped photo albums.

Both women, then, were prisoners of their time and their biology. Nothing odd there. Most of us are. But the Queen was also imprisoned by her role, and that role was one of paradox. She was limitlessly wealthy, but she never shopped. She ruled over kingdoms, but went nowhere freely. She was top of the pile, but her job was to serve. She was just an ordinary woman, but it was her lifelong burden to embody the myth of royalty, the big juju.Joe Bennett

Mentally, this country is already a republic. When royals visit, it is as characters from a soap opera, not as potentates or juju-mongers. No-one holds up a sick child for them to touch. So it would seem fitting now to sever the tie.

But there’s a difficulty. Consider Africa. It is thick with republics and I would struggle to name an incorrupt one. The problem as always is power. To whom do you entrust it? – Joe Bennett

If we ditched the monarchy, we could vest its power in an elected politician. But would you be comfortable with, say, a President Muldoon? The alternative is to give power to someone apolitical.

The obvious choice would be the All Blacks captain. All Blacks are already local royalty. But they do tend to be blokes, and blokes have a worse record with power than women. Also, they get knocks to the head. Perhaps a cricketer, then, would be more suited to the role.

In the light of which, and in the event of our becoming a republic, I propose our head of state be the captain of the White Ferns.

Or we could keep Charles.Joe Bennett

The critical minerals that will power green technology need to be mined somewhere. They cannot be recycled at the rate and volume they are needed, though of course the contribution of recycling will be valuable.

The West Coast has potential for such minerals, including, Nickel, Cobalt, Lithium and Rare Earth Elements. GNS Science has assessed that much of that potential lies in the conservation estate.

It makes sense to keep the option open for mining on conservation land to access these minerals. That is not to say it will happen at scale, or that it will be open slather. – Josie Vidal

We don’t want to see opportunities for creating wealth, jobs and healthy regional economies lost overseas.

And we certainly don’t want to see our best and brightest off to Australia which is on the cusp of a mining boom to beat all others.

While we fully support the Government’s conservation objectives, we believe the negative impact of mining is overstated. The truth is that mineral extraction, suitably regulated, can and should contribute to the solution. – Josie Vidal

The real risk for biodiversity is with pests and predators, such as stoats, rats, and possums.

“Mining and other commercial activities can contribute to the funding of pest control. Mining is part of the solution to conservation, not the problem. – Josie Vidal

Of course, I knew that all men are mortal, etc., and therefore (if I had been asked) that the Queen would one day die, but I still entertained the faint and absurd hope than an exception would be made in her case. A locus of stability in an increasingly unstable and dangerous world, at least one thing was beyond contention except by a few professional malcontents. Theodore Dalrymple

For someone in office for seventy years to remain as popular at the end as at the beginning, while also being an immensely privileged person, is surely a most remarkable feat, and a tribute both to that person’s combined sense of duty and psychological canniness. Of course, it helped that she was a figurehead, at most someone with influence behind the scenes, rather than someone who exercised real political power, such exercisers of power retaining their popularity for a few months if even that. But the iron self-control she exercised in the performance of her duties—many of which must have bored her, and some of which, such as meeting and being polite to odious or even evil heads of states or governments, must have repelled her—was testimony to her sense of duty and her determination to keep her vow, made when she was twenty-one, to devote her life to service.

Another cause for astonishment, especially in the present day, is that she survived her seventy years of office, during which she was adulated, deferred to, and so forth, without becoming a monster of egotism. This was attributable, surely, to an existential modesty—an awareness that she received such deference and adulation not through any exceptional qualities, gifts, or virtues of her own, but by sheer accident of birth. Such modesty in celebrity is not exactly the characteristic of our age, to put it mildly. – Theodore Dalrymple

In Elizabeth’s reign of seventy years, the country changed as much as it had during the reign of the previously longest reigning monarch, Queen Victoria. In many respects, especially measurable ones, the changes were for the better. The infant mortality rate, for example, declined by nearly ninety per cent. The kind of poverty in which millions of people had no indoor bathrooms has been eliminated. Comforts that were once the perquisite only of the better off have come to achieve the status almost of unalienable human rights. When Elizabeth ascended the throne, rationing of some items was still in force, the legacy not so much of the war as of the economic policies pursued after it, though with the excuse of war indebtedness—levels of which we may soon approach without having had a war to account for them.Theodore Dalrymple

During her reign, money ceased to be a reliable store of wealth. In nominal terms, for example, it now costs eighty-eight times what it did in 1952 to post a letter. Many things that did not exist then are now deemed indispensable (invention being the mother of much necessity). Other things have become more expensive in nominal terms, but not by so much as postage. In terms of the labour necessary to pay for it, a house takes probably five or ten times as long to buy as it then did.

In intangible ways, the quality of life has deteriorated. At the beginning of her reign, Britain had a low rate of crime, but by its end it was among the most crime-ridden countries in the West. – Theodore Dalrymple

At the start of the Queen’s reign, the general culture had not coarsened to such an extent that decorum and seemliness meant nothing: they had not yet been mocked to death, with the result that coarseness and vulgarity have become marks almost of political virtue.

The Queen was responsible for none of this, of course. She was in no sense an intellectual, and even appeared to have no intellectual interests apart from her formal duties in affairs of state, and this saved her from subscribing to some of the idiocies subversive of conduct and culture that have resulted in the sheer ugliness, physical, spiritual and cultural, of modern Britain.Theodore Dalrymple

It is for their own lost virtues, exemplified by the Queen, that the people mourn, not least their distinctive understated humour and irony, now replaced almost entirely by crudity. – Theodore Dalrymple

Like all wordsmiths, Mr Bartlett understood that if one truly wishes to tell the truth, then one had best write fiction. – Chris Trotter

A government of the people, in Lincoln’s phrase, has changed by degrees into a people of the government. When one considers the number of duties or obligations one must fulfill to the government, it is clear who is boss in the relationship—and it is not we, the people.

Naturally, the government offers us all sorts of benefits, some real but many notional, in return for obedience to its diktats. But it is as unreasonable to expect it to confer those benefits without taking something for itself—especially power—as it is to expect a company to sell us its products at no profit. The trouble is that governments make John D. Rockefeller look like a disinterested do-gooder. – Theodore Dalrymple 

The fundamental point is, however, that the citizen (and bear in mind that I am not quite at the bottom of the social scale, at least not yet) is now so oppressed by his duties toward authorities that they are sufficient to convince him that he is of no more significance or account than is a single bacterium in a colony of bacteria on a petri dish .

And we call ourselves free!Theodore Dalrymple 

People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer. But in all cases those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are long forgotten. – Justin Welby

We will all face the merciful judgement of God: we can all share the Queen’s hope which in life and death inspired her servant leadership.

Service in life, hope in death. All who follow the Queen’s example, and inspiration of trust and faith in God, can with her say: “We will meet again.” Justin Welby

If it was not for the existence of, and the protection of, ’s sporting categories we would have no female medalists or even contenders on the international stage in any sport where strength, speed, or stamina matters. New Zealanders would have never heard the names of athletes like Alison Roe, Susan Devoy, Sophie Pascoe, and Lisa Carrington. As much as some people may wish to deny reality, biology and physiology matters because we play sports with our bodies, not our identities. – Rowena Edge

Save ’s Sports Australasia had heard from female athletes and the parents of girls across New Zealand who have been impacted by the inclusion of male transgender people in their sports category. They have included cricketers, cyclists, roller derby players, swimmers, netballers, runners, hockey players, weight lifters, and mountain bikers, among others. They have shared stories of how they have been injured and given up sports that they love. They have told how they have been ostracized by people they have previously considered to be friends, called bigots and transphobes, and dismissed by their sporting organisations when they raised concerns. – Rowena Edge

As another example, right now in a community cycling club in New Zealand there is a male transgender cyclist who holds the award for both best female cyclist of the season as well as best overall cyclist. Why? Because this cyclist not only cleaned out the ’s field, posting times so fast that no female had a chance of competing for first place, but on some occasions even beat the fastest male competing in the men’s category.

This is what kindness and inclusion now looks like. Female athletes being forced out of sports that they love and out of their rightful placings and recognition because including males in their category is considered to be a higher priority.

Sportswomen don’t need saving, but their category certainly does. – Rowena Edge

Today’s heirs of William the Conqueror are blank sheets that reflect the will of their prime ministers. Nothing emphasises this more dramatically than the speech from the throne, where a docile sovereign reads a speech written for them. Reducing the king to a ventriloquist dummy is a powerful statement.Damien Grant

It is better to have an excellent monarch, such as Elizabeth, rather than one less impressive as Charles threatens to be, but in a constitutional monarchy it does not matter.

Its success in the modern era relies on the impotence of the office. It works because ultimate political power rests with a person unable to exercise it, and it works because it gives us a focus separate from the state, from the nation, from the prevailing political authority. – Damien Grant

In a constitutional monarchy, those with political, administrative, military or judicial power have it on loan from the sovereign. Their time in office is limited and the boundaries of their authority constrained, yet what power they do have is legitimised due to the sovereign’s recognition of it.

No domestic president can compete. Replace Charles III, a literal and metaphorical descendant of Alfred the Great (warming-pan scandals notwithstanding), with some failed political apparatchik or even Richie McCaw, and we will have dropped something of inestimable value, simply for the pleasure of its destruction.Damien Grant

 As it is now common practice to accord sentencing discounts to criminals with childhood experiences beyond their control, what about surcharges for not exercising self-responsibility?

Every individual has the ability to exercise personal agency. It might be argued for some it is reduced to a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea but it is usually evident that arriving at that impasse could have been avoided. – Lindsay Mitchell

Effort and persistence go unremarked while failure and indifference mark out the victims among us. And don’t we love victims.

So long as, of course, the culprits are fashionable – colonization, capitalism, racism and patriarchal oppression. – Lindsay Mitchell

If it were my call, there would be no discounts. They make a mockery of the free will that defines us. They are in direct conflict with the very reason laws exist. Worse, they send an ambiguous and confused message to offenders and society.

If they are going to be handed out, they should be delivered with a surcharge and explanation.

“Yes, you had a terrible childhood, but so did many others who managed to avoid criminality. You knowingly chose the wrong path so here’s a matching surcharge for not exercising the self-responsibility that others with similar backgrounds managed to.” – Lindsay Mitchell

There is a dialectical relationship between human reality and the language in which we describe it, which is why semantic shifts are so important and often contested.Theodore Dalrymple

One of the shifts that I have noticed is in the use of the word depressed for unhappy. No one is unhappy any more, everyone is depressed. It is as if being unhappy were a moral fault, while being depressed is not merely to be ill, but to be laudably sensitive. How can any decent person be happy when there is so much suffering in the world? The news brings us evidence of fresh catastrophes every day: to be happy is to be complacent, and to be complacent is to be callous. To be miserable, therefore, is the only decent stance towards the world.

How did the shift come about? I do not think that anyone decreed or directed it, though no doubt it was convenient for some, for example the drug companies that were able as a result to sell their doubtfully useful wares to millions, even to tens of millions, of people. About a sixth of the Western world’s adult population now takes them, suggesting either the looseness of the diagnosis or the misery of modern life despite its material advantages. – Theodore Dalrymple

The linguistic termites (or police) are now every­where, and while no individual termite has much of an effect, hosts of them will eventually cause a building to collapse, often unexpectedly. I have in the past had one or two struggles with young sub-editors over the new moral correctitude of language, and so far I have been able to gain my point, though I am under no illusion that my little victories can be anything other than local and temporary. Apart from anything else, the struggle is asymmetrical. I do not want to turn myself into a monomaniac by engaging in prolonged struggles with monomaniacs. That is why monomania so often wins the day in the modern world: the subject of the monomania is only one among others for normal people, but it is all in all, the very meaning of life itself, for those who are in the grip of it.Theodore Dalrymple

Semantic shift when it is not genuinely spontaneous is a manifestation of a power struggle that is not solely, or even to a very large extent, semantic. Some words are genuinely offensive, but most of the concern over terminology is not about the elimination of such words from polite conversation. Rather, it is a question, as Humpty Dumpty pointed out long ago, of who is to be master, or perhaps I should say dominant, that’s all.- Theodore Dalrymple

We need unity now more than ever but some of our leaders can’t resist the temptation to focus on separate development as a means to an end. It is a false narrative that will only harm those who need help more than most – it is a lie.Clive Bibby

There’s a reason why most people aren’t engaged with local government, because by and large, the things it tends to do adequately are taken for granted (local roads, footpaths, rubbish collection), and people have busy lives getting on with making a living, looking after their families, their homes, and living their lives.  – Liberty Scott

Local government also attracts a particular type of person.  More often than not it attracts busybodies, planners, pushy finger-wagging types who think they know what’s best, over what people actually indicate according to their willingness to pay. It particularly attracts socialists who see local government as a stepping stone to central government for Labour and Green Party members. Liberty Scott

So vote if you must, but the real problem is that local government has too much power.  It has stuffed up water, the only unreformed network utility (except in Auckland).  Local government used to manage local electricity distribution, but that was taken off it in the 1990s.  At one time it was responsible for milk distribution, which is why until the late 1980s buying milk OTHER than by kerbside bottles was unusual, and indeed there was no plastic or cartoned milk.

So pick candidates who want to get out of the way, of new housing, of new supermarkets, of enterprise and don’t want to promise grand totemic projects that you have to pay for.  Don’t pick those who think that local government can “do so much good” by spending your money and pushing people around.  Maybe pick those who actually have some understanding of the limits of the ability of local government. – Liberty Scott

However, I’m largely quite pessimistic. People wildly enthusiastic about local government are generally the opposite of people I want in local government, because local government attracts far too many meddlers, regulators and planners.

Try to pick the least worst and hope for the best, at least until there is a central government that keeps them on the leash.  You’ll have to make some compromises.Liberty Scott

The pandemic response was the biggest public policy intervention in people’s lives, in our lifetimes. From lockdowns to the mask and vaccine mandates, from closing the schools to effectively closing the hospitals. Everybody was affected. Everyone’s life trajectory changed, some permanently.

People died, some from Covid and some from other things that could be traced to the choices we made about Covid.

We owe it to ourselves and to the memory of those lost to stop and take stock.

We need to examine what worked and what didn’t. What had the biggest positive effect and what was more trouble than it was worth? When should we have moved more quickly, including both into and out of restrictions, and when should we have waited longer?

A Covid inquiry should not be a journey of recrimination or blame. Responding to a pandemic like this was never going to be a game of perfect. This has been a crazy two-and-a-half years of big decisions on top of big decisions where there was no game plan to work from. Nobody could have got everything right.

Some things obviously worked, some obviously didn’t, and the jury is still out on many more. – Steven Joyce

If we do this inquiry right, we will have a game plan for next time. And to me that is the most important thing. The past two-and-a-half years have been a journey of policy experimentation by necessity. We now have a golden opportunity to perfect a blueprint for future pandemics.Steven Joyce

The sort of lessons I’m interested in vary from the big to the small. How much did hard lockdowns achieve versus what other lesser restrictions could have? Could we keep working on, say, big construction sites with strong health and safety protocols without adding significantly to the risk? Could we keep butchers and fruit and vege stores safely open in hard lockdowns? How could we manage our border more humanely and stay connected to the world without materially worsening the risk?

What should be the threshold for closing our schools, and what are the true costs to the children of doing so, balanced against the risks of virus transmission?

How do we scale up hospital capacity quickly without sending ourselves broke in the meantime?

Is there a better procurement system we should use for buying urgently needed equipment and vaccines? And how do we ensure contestable advice from others besides the public health people, while respecting their expertise? – Steven Joyce

A well-constructed commission of inquiry will encourage reflection and planning for the future while learning the lessons of the present. Contrary to the Opposition’s wishes and the Government’s fears, it would likely not offer an advantage to either political side. The Government would probably even attract public kudos if it instituted a clearly nonpartisan inquiry for the country’s benefit, rather than lapsing into its trademark defensiveness.Steven Joyce

On Roe v. Wade, I am with the Supreme Court ruling, though I am by no means as opposed to termination of pregnancies as some people. It seems obvious to me that if you can derive a right to abortion from the American Constitution, you can derive anything from it, for example a children’s right to teddy bears or an employee’s right to four weeks’ paid holiday a year at a resort of his choice. The proper aim of a constitution is not to secure all the things that people would like, but to provide a limiting framework of liberty in which laws should be made. By returning the legislation on the matter of abortion to the states, the Supreme Court was increasing the scope of democracy, not (as was dishonestly alleged) curtailing it. It remains open to believers in, or enthusiasts for, abortion to work for a properly worded constitutional amendment, granting the right they falsely claim to have found in the Constitution as it now stands; or alternatively (and more realistically) to work for changes in the laws of those states that are highly restrictive. That would be the proper way to go about it, if they believed in constitutional democracy, but they don’t: They believe instead in their own virtue and moral right to govern. – Theodore Dalrymple

From the outsider’s point of view, what is alarming about the situation in the United States is the complete polarization of opinion, precisely at a time when opinion is the sole measure of virtue. A man can be an absolute monster, but if he proclaims the right views at sufficient volume, he remains a good man. It follows from this that a man who disagrees with me does not merely have a different opinion from mine, but is a bad person, even a very bad person. And I am told by American friends whom I trust that people of differing political standpoints can scarcely bear to be in the same room together. They tell me (so it must be true) that the left is worse in this respect than the right, and that while a young conservative is happy to date a young liberal, the reverse is not true. It can’t be long before sexual relations with a person of differing political outlook come to be regarded as a sexual perversion, indeed as the only sexual perversion, all others being but a matter of taste.Theodore Dalrymple

Nevertheless, there seems to be something different about the present level of social hostility between people of different political outlooks, which has now become chronic. This cannot be a favorable augury for the future of a functioning democracy—or rather, for a free country (which is not quite the same thing). While a phenomenon that is more or less binary, sex, has become nonbinary, something that should be nonbinary, that is to say political opinion, has become binary. If you know a person’s opinion on one subject, you know his opinion on all, and you either clasp him to your bosom or cast him out of your sight. Tolerance is not an a priori acceptance of how someone is, however he may be; that is indifference, not tolerance. Tolerance is behaving decently toward someone some aspect of whom one dislikes or disagrees with. I have friends with whose outlooks I strongly disagree, and which I believe to be deleterious (as they probably believe mine to be); I have friends with whose religious views I find alien to me. There is a limit to the tolerable, of course, and where that limit should be placed is a matter of judgment and no doubt of circumstance. But I do not want to live in a social world in which there are only two blocs, akin to those of the Cold War. – Theodore Dalrymple

My record of failure does not prevent or even inhibit me from prognostication, however. I think we have entered a golden age of bad temper that will last some time, one of the reasons being that too many people go to university where they have learned to look at the world through ideology-tinted spectacles. There is nothing like ideology for raising the temperature of debate and eventually of avoiding debate altogether. Theodore Dalrymple

Poor evidence bases for major educational initiatives is, regrettably, nothing new. In fact, our education agencies have a history of flying in the face of evidence.

NCEA was introduced in 2002 against the advice of prominent professors of education. They warned that the standards-based assessment system would result in egregious variability in assessment results. In 2005, the Board Chair and Chief Executive of NZQA both resigned amidst a political storm caused by … egregious variability in assessment results.

I could go on: The literacy teaching methods promoted by the Ministry, their failed ‘numeracy project’ and the knowledge-poor New Zealand Curriculum are all examples of educational initiatives implemented against a preponderance of evidence. All have had disastrous results.

Perhaps the true inspiration for MLEs was the open plan offices in which public servants work. If so, the Ministry’s record of failure might be all the evidence we need that MLEs were a bad idea. – Dr Michael Johnston

I fear for New Zealand’s future when the mainstream news media, which not long ago championed free speech, are instrumental in creating a climate of fear, suspicion and denunciation that resembles something from George Orwell. It becomes even more dangerous when government departments appear to have been frightened or bullied by the media into succumbing to a moral panic.  Karl du Fresne

Cosyism: a new word for one of the most chronic problems in New Zealand public life. We are largely spared, thankfully, the envelopes-stuffed-with-cash corruptionthat infects other countries. But we’re suffused with overly close relationships: nepotism, jobs for the boys, all that jazz.

Some call it cronyism, but that doesn’t quite fit here: “cronies” sound too much like Mafia hitmen. “Cosyism” better describes those insidious processes by which public positions, jobs and contracts sometimes go not to the best-qualified applicants but to the friends, contacts and family members of people in power. It’s an apt term for a famously small society in which cousins and mates are always – cosily – rubbing up against each other in public life.

Cosyism isn’t solely an injustice to the well-qualified but poorly connected people who lose out; it can cost us all, since the winners – the well-connected but poorly qualified – often do bad work, expensively.

A cosy society also tolerates the most colossal conflicts of interest: situations where power-holders’ decisions could be biased by a personal incentive, be it to protect a business connection or aid a relative. Even just a public perception of bias can be harmful, corroding trust and promoting political disengagement. – Max Rashbrooke

No doubt the agencies will improve their protocols, at least to meet current standards. But given what they allow, are those standards fit for purpose? Could any public servant, in any department, deal confidently with a contractor – including, if necessary, rejecting substandard work – if they knew the latter were the minister’s relative?

What, too, about the advantageous information a minister could convey to their contractor relative? There may be no reason to doubt the integrity of current ministers, but that’s not the point. We must design systems for the most corrupt actors, not the least.

Some people respond to such problems with a shrug: in a small society, they say, these conflicts are inevitable. But that’s back-to-front: we have to be tougher on these problems precisely because we’re a small society, and they will crop up so often.

The current default is to “manage” a conflict of interest by leaving the room, sometimes literally, when a particular issue is discussed – as if this removes every opportunity to influence the decision. That default needs to change. – Max Rashbrooke

A cosyism crackdown would, of course, be hard on some people. Too bad. That’s the price we pay for probity, and for public faith in our institutions. – Max Rashbrooke

Voters don’t dislike cycleways. They are over the priority placing they get compared to other civic enhancements.

The misalignment between voter preferences and what their elected representatives do is not a local phenomenon.

New data by global polling company YouGov, not yet publicly available but presented to a Toronto conference I attended this week, reveals seismic changes in what voters want governments to do. – Josie Pagani 

Since Covid and rising inflation, our priorities have changed.

The cost of living worries 78% of people. It simply costs too much to exist.

This is an ‘’everyone, everywhere crisis’’: all incomes and political persuasions. It’s a survival issue for some, a top anxiety for others. – Josie Pagani

Seventy-six per cent of voters think that inflation is increasing inequality, and pulling communities apart. Even if you can weather the rise in prices, you’re worried about how this will divide the nation even further.

People expect governments to do more. A whopping 84% of citizens think that it’s a government’s job to help (followed by central banks at 79%).

But only 46% want a one-off direct payment of cash (assuming a government can even get the cash out the door to the right people).Josie Pagani

Here’s another seismic shift: People are prepared to pay more for public services, but with a sting in the tail – they want the services in their local region. More money spent on their parks, sports clubs, wifi, police stations and services, rather than increases in welfare, or even tax credits. Voters want a transfer of wealth to their communities. They resist paying for services if they see the cash being spent elsewhere. – Josie Pagani

People are willing to trade some growth to bring poorer regions up to the level of wealthier ones.

Even if you don’t live in a poorer region, rebuilding nations, and bringing citizens together after Covid, is a priority. Leave no town behind.

No-one in politics should ignore that there has been massive global shift to the left in the way people think about the economy. – Josie Pagani

The daily congestion on the harbour bridge costs the country money in lost productivity. People need to move to make money. They need to get to the pipes to fix them to get paid. They need to drop off the parcels to get paid. They need to open the shop to sell things. Refusing to build cars into the next crossing is actively choosing to keep Auckland and New Zealand poorer than they should be. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

The next Mayor of Auckland should be building a city for future growth, not stealing ideas from the 1970s.Heather du Plessis-Allan

The blinkers have now come off for many. They feel lied-to. They feel cheated. All the promises, all the words about improving everything from child poverty to housing to crime to cost of living have come to nothing. In fact, we are substantially worse off. Yes, people are angry and they don’t feel they are being listened to. – Paula Bennett

Perhaps the Government should listen to some of those angry people. Understand where they are coming from.

Perhaps they should stop with false promises and actually deliver something and then people might happily get on with their lives.Paula Bennett

Through almost every tier of the social spectrum, there seems to be an excess layer of tension and anxiety creating conflict and division.

Whether it’s the homeless fighting outside central city supermarkets, gang shootings, or the fisticuffs of middle-class parents at posh PTA fundraisers – the nation seems to be at boiling point. – Liam Dann

These females are walking, emoting examples of how women have risen to power in recent years and they are enough to put any sensible woman off.

It is increasingly obvious that the female ‘leaders’ held up as flagbearers for feminism, and who spend their time rubbing shoulders with celebrities, are painfully vacuous. They are promoted as ‘nice’ – gracing the covers of fashion magazines where they prioritise image ahead of competence, sound judgment, and the wellbeing of the people they are elected to serve.

No woman with serious mental firepower would want to be associated with such shallowness.Lillian Andrews

It is as if adopting a caring head tilt and sad eyes in Insta(gram)-ready propaganda photos serves as the equivalent of having actual solutions to critical social and economic challenges.

It is also no coincidence that they are uniformly Woke in their politics. – Lillian Andrews

They bleat about how committed they are to openness and transparency while using media teams to deflect scrutiny away from their actions. When politics gets difficult, they opine obsessively about equality and fairness – as if having a vagina bestows some special insight. At the same time, they turn a blind eye to the cold, hard statistics that show deteriorating socioeconomic conditions and more people struggling.

Powerful women like this can thunderously denounce bullying in public life and then attempt to shove under the carpet contentions of rampant bullying that happens under their watch. They fanatically adopt mantras about gender equality to substitute for having no idea about how to increase security and prosperity for all. Then they use this as an excuse to appoint equally dubious women to senior positions, turning a blind eye to subsequent displays of incompetence, nepotism, and cover-ups.

All the while, the only contribution these women make to public debate is to recycle vague, tired platitudes about inclusion, kindness, and social justice. – Lillian Andrews

The message that women in politics send is this: if you want power without principles, influence without intellect, and command without competence, we want you. Women who secretly yearn to be influencers, but instead delude themselves into the belief that they are policy giants who deserve leadership roles, gladly answer this call. However, it is not one that will be heard by those with the strength of character of a Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, or even Helen Clark.

The more this self-perpetuating cycle repeats, the more insecure lightweights are going to become the carefully botoxed face of women in power. – Lillian Andrews

Men in politics are frequently every bit as bungling and hypocritical as women, but men’s grandstanding is fittingly and increasingly ‘called out’ whereas women are allowed to hide almost interminably behind a cloak of faux-compassion and historical ‘systemic’ factors that were caused by somebody else. We are meant to believe that these systemic issues only become apparent after a woman gets elected on the back of promising to deliver a fix. Any woman of integrity rightly sees this as a demeaning and counter-productive double standard.

It is no coincidence that as the new wave of ‘look at how much I care, aren’t I lovely’ female politicians have risen, other women’s interest in being actively engaged in politics has languished.

Society believes it to be fashionable to denounce patriarchal oppression and sexism for causing this. In reality, the reason why women who should go into politics frequently choose not to, is because of the women who are already there.

For as long as their much-feted but ultimately fraudulent model of ‘success’ persists, the only women who will gravitate to politics will be the ones who are most interested in themselves and least suited for truly serving the public. And no amount of talk about childcare, sexual harassment policies, and flexible working conditions are going to change that. – Lillian Andrews

The expression “people of color” has always seemed to me in equal measure stupid, condescending, and vicious. It divides humanity into two categories, whites and the rest, or rather whites versus the rest; it implies an essential or inherent hostility between these two portions of humanity; and it implies also no real interest in the culture or history of the people of color, whose only important characteristic is that of having been ill-treated by, and therefore presumably hating, the whites. Compared with the phrase “people of color,” the language of apartheid was sophisticated and nuanced.

It should not need saying that, as the history of Europe attests, whites have not always been happily united, and that “people of color” do not necessarily form one happy, united family, either. – Theodore Dalrymple

The very phrase “people of color” is as mealy-mouthed as any Victorian prude might have wished for and, among other things, is a manifestation of the fear we now live under, sometimes without quite realizing it. Truth has now to be varnished so thickly that it becomes imperceptible.Theodore Dalrymple

On the whole I found listening to people and understanding where they were coming from was part of the job and actually made me better at it. Hiding from the public and hearing only the good stuff is ignorant and dangerous. – Paula Bennett

The blinkers have now come off for many. They feel lied-to. They feel cheated. All the promises, all the words about improving everything from child poverty to housing to crime to cost of living have come to nothing. In fact, we are substantially worse off. Yes, people are angry and they don’t feel they are being listened to.Paula Bennett

 Perhaps the Government should listen to some of those angry people. Understand where they are coming from. Perhaps they should stop with false promises and actually deliver something and then people might happily get on with their lives. – Paula Bennett

These days we can no longer trust that what we’re reading or seeing is actual smoke, let alone fire. It’s a world where fake news flourishes on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and where any lie can easily be presented as fact – and swallowed as such by anyone who was already inclined to believe it.

But that’s why governments, and those in power, need to be even more mindful of the need for transparency. And that’s also why managing perceptions around issues like the current controversy surrounding Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta is even more critical.Tracy Watkins

My thesis was that the Port of Tauranga, which had been partially privatised and therefore subject to market discipline, would do better than the Port of Auckland that was shielded from commercial scrutiny by being 100% owned by the Council.

No one paid attention and I didn’t expect anyone would. If my wife doesn’t take me seriously there is no reason why others should. Still. Haven’t events played into my hands?

The Port of Tauranga just declared a $111 million profit. The Port of Auckland, by contrast, declared a $10m loss. The red-ink down at Quay St, however, is far greater than what has been reported.  – Damien Grant

I have no view if the port should be moved or not. I think you need to own land in Ruakaka to have a strong opinion on this matter, but it is self-evident that the current governance model is broken and has been for far longer than a decade.

We know, through long and painful experience, that market provides a degree of discipline that those running a local council can never provide.

Perhaps we should try that; or just sell the cursed thing before any more harm is done. However, I am confident this will not happen, and I look forward to revisiting the topic in 2032. – Damien Grant

It’s not easy looking after kids, and I wonder how many people in charge of hiring have never been alone at home with small children for any period of time? They don’t appreciate how hard it is. It’s relentless. You can’t tell your kids ‘Oh you guys can stop needing stuff now, I need a break’. – Kelsey Ellery-Wilson

In early childhood you’re working with really vulnerable children who are going through a critical time in their development, and it’s hard work,” Cherrington says. “We know if we give them a good start now, they’ll do better later in life.

I think the pandemic provided a window into that, and then people just picked themselves up and went back to work and forgot about it. – Sue Cherrington

Obviously I’m a staunch monarchist, but I’ve always thought in this regard, for those who want New Zealand to be a republic, they might want to ask themselves what they would actually get for that. – Sir John Key

If you want to change government direction then stand for government get involved in national politics. If you want to deliver locally for the community within the rules of our nation then stand for local council and get involved in delivering for community today.Sam Broughton

It’s a good example of the disconnect between the media and the real world. When the Queen dies, the media thinks of what the next angle is. Given her death isn’t changing, all you are left with is the republic question. The poll result tells us we have better things to think about.

There are some suggestions the Prime Minister’s offshore presence might have played better for them. I think the reality is that we are over that. If you were ever enamoured with Ardern on the world stage, that has worn well and truly thin, as it’s become apparent that a lot of what she does amounts to literally nothing.- Mike Hosking

I think we’d feel better about the PM promoting New Zealand if and when her Government had addressed all the pressing issues really upsetting New Zealanders right now, like the upsurge in violent crime emergency housing, poverty, inflation and kids not turning up to school.

But if at home is a mess, there’s a fierce labour shortage where many places still don’t even have enough staff to open their doors, and then others who do are being ram raided and smashed into, then what does that say about priorities? Kate Hawkesby

It should not be scary, or dangerous, to go into a mall with your family at the weekend. It should not be dangerous for retailers to go to work and yet, here we still are. – Kate Hawkesby

No person should be judged by their identity but rather by their words and actions,Karen Chhour 

It feels like if you don’t agree with us, you’re not a real Māori, or you’re not Māori enough, or you don’t have the mana of a Māori, and I find that quite hurtful. – Karen Chhour 

But central government is not helping public perceptions of the effectiveness of local government. The more central government tries to centralise and control policy making as it is at present – in housing and water services especially – the more the public will see local government as ineffective. Therefore, to restore public confidence in local government, central government needs to pull back and allow local government more genuine say on these critical issues, rather than continuing to tell them what to do.

Until that happens, public apathy towards local government will continue, and the harder it will become to attract quality candidates for major leadership roles. The likely poor turnout at the coming election will undoubtedly shake local government leaders, but it should be an even bigger wake-up call for central government. – Peter Dunne

There is a modern superstition that for every terrible experience suffered there is an equal and opposite psychological technique that, like an antibiotic in a case of infection, can overcome or dissolve away the distress it caused or continues to cause. This superstition is not only false and shallow but demeaning and even insulting. It denies the depths of suffering that the most terrible events can cause, as well as the heroism and fortitude that people can display in overcoming that suffering. Fortitude can even be sometimes dismissed as ‘repression’. – Theodore Dalrymple

A psychologically fragile population is the delight of bureaucrats, lawyers and professional carers, and resilience and fortitude are their worst enemies. Repression in the psychological sense is deemed by them not only as damaging but almost as treason to the self. A person who does not dwell on his trauma must expect, and almost deserves, later trouble, as does someone who wilfully ignores the formation of an abscess.Theodore Dalrymple

Repression can also mean the deliberate putting memories of trauma to the back of the mind so that life can be got on with. It is not that such memories cannot be called to the conscious mind when necessary, or even that they never do harm: but the person who represses in this fashion has an instinctive understanding that dwelling on them is an obstacle to future life, rather than a precondition of it. They do not forget, either consciously or unconsciously; they choose to think of something else. – Theodore Dalrymple

Psychology seems often to forget or disregard the fact that humans live in a world of meaning, and that they are actors rather than mere objects acted upon. In the process, it destroys resilience, fortitude and self-respect.Theodore Dalrymple

A university is a community of scholars. It is not a kindergarten; it is not a club; it is not a reform school; it is not a political party; it is not an agency of propaganda. A university is a community of scholars. – Robert Maynard Hutchins

How many universities see themselves as lobbies, political parties, reform schools, and agencies of propaganda? I’d say a large fraction, for political statements and social-justice manifestos proliferate on college websites. And of course you know how universities behave as kindergartens: just look at the recent follies of The Evergreen State University, Yale University, or Oberlin College. Will we even recognize the university as a community of scholars in fifty years, or will it abjure its academic mission in favor of an ideological one?Jerry Coyne

There is a disturbing entrenchment happening in regard to attitudes to benefits and that is that it’s just easier to give people a hand out, when the focus really should be on giving people a hand up.- Kate Hawkesby 

But this is a government of ideology and no matter what you tell them, you must always remember that you are wrong, and they aren’t.Mike Hosking

What’s the point of funding a programme if no one hears it, sees it, or reads it?

What’s the point of the money and time if it plays to an audience of no one or one that barely registers? How much time and money do you want to spend on stuff people don’t use, want, or absorb? And how much damage do you want to do to the other players in the industry as you pump up your own little fiefdom with money that isn’t yours anyway?

The biggest issue with this issue is unlike Three Waters or co-governance it’s not a political hot potato. They won’t win or lose votes by doing it hence they’ll probably get away with it. Plus, they seem desperate to get it up by next year.

It’s only years down the track once they’ve been booted out of office that the damage will be done, and the folly exposed.   – Mike Hosking

 

But beyond all this, there is one other enormous and overwhelming reason, never mentioned in the debate, why we must cling to King Charles. The very fact that it is never mentioned is itself significant. It is obvious ~ and yet it is deliberately ignored. The reason is simply this ~ that if the monarchy were to be abolished, that abolition would undoubtedly be the pretext for introducing the ‘principles’ of the Treaty of Waitangi into our fundamental law. The principles, of course, are a blank cheque. The latest announcement from the Waitangi Tribunal is that they require ‘co-governance’ ~ in other words, an end to democracy and racial equality. That not what they meant even a few years ago ~ and for all we know, we may discover a few years down the track that the ‘principles’ require complete Maori control of our country. That is, after all, what some radicals are saying right now.

But whatever the principles are, we can be certain that they would be to our disadvantage ~ and we would have them imposed on us in a new constitutional arrangement. The argument would be that the Treaty ~ in itself, of course, still a legal nullity, and in any case never anything more than a few vague words of general approach ~ was of course entered into by Queen Victoria’s representative. It was a treaty with ‘the Crown’. If we now do away with the Crown , the argument goes, the Treaty itself might somehow vanish, or be weakened ~ and so to avoid that heart-stopping eventuality the Treaty will have to be formally ‘enshrined’, as we enshrine other idols, in a special written constitution, so that it may last even when the ‘Crown’ has disappeared. –  David Round

And once we had the Treaty in our constitution, we would be sunk. No matter how mild the references to the Treaty might be, we can be certain that they would be used, not just by politicians but by politically activist judges in the courts, to impose apartheid on us for ever. Even without such a provision, our previous chief justice, the unlamented Sian Elias, raised the possibility that judges were entitled to ignore Acts of Parliament which did not comply with her own radical interpretation of Treaty principles, and there is no doubt that several decisions of the courts have already done just that.  What a disgraceful claim that was. But whatever we have in a constitution will be interpreted and applied by courts, and against the judgment of the highest of those courts there is no appeal. And even if a parliament far braver than today’s pack of racists, incompetents  and cowards were to say ‘No, that is not what we meant’, the judges would simply reply that parliament was breaching the constitution ~ was behaving unconstitutionally, and illegally ~ in saying that.  Even now, the law is not what parliament says, it is what judges say parliament says. Once we get a written constitution, a higher law which binds parliament itself, there will be no stopping judges as they interpret it as they please. The entire argument for a written constitution, a higher sort of law, is an attempt to remove matters from parliament’s’ authority and hand them over to judges. I have little respect for most of our politicians, as you gather ~ but all the same, I would rather have elected people in charge ~ and after an election or two we might even get some decent ones ~ than hand our entire future over to a tiny handful of unelected woke  racehorse-owning lawyers in the Supreme Court.   

There might indeed even be more in any new constitution. But can we believe that any new constitution we might acquire would be, as in Cromwell’s time, an opportunity for a new start and new just legal and social arrangements? For ending poverty and inequality, making the law available to all, attempting, in whatever way, to make our country a better and finer place? Dream on. At present, any new constitution would merely be the entrenchment of the intellectually bankrupt,  politically correct,  deeply intolerant and racist current establishment.

‘Monarchy’ and ‘Republic’ are but the battle cries. The battle is over what New Zealand is going to look like; what sort of country, in fact, it is going to be. The battle lines are being drawn. As in the English Civil War, when a hundred slightly different shades of support and sympathy for King and Parliament were forced by circumstances to coalesce into support for one side or the other, sometimes surprising alliances are being formed between different shades of opinion that realise that they have more to lose than to gain from standing alone.

Who is going to run our country? Them? Or us?David Round

Under our present constitutional arrangements, the ultimate law-making power rests in Parliament – and, through our elected representatives, voters. That has been our democratic strength as it continues to remind our law makers that they are answerable to the people.

Those calling for a new “written” constitution want to transfer that ultimate law-making power from voters, to unelected judges – who cannot be sacked.

If we want to preserve what little democracy we have left, any attempt to replace our present “unwritten” constitution, must be firmly rejected.

Right now, iwi leaders are scheming over how best to introduce a Treaty-based constitution without alarming the public. If we are to counter this grave threat to New Zealand, we must ensure other Kiwis become aware of the dangers a new constitution represents. – Muriel Newman

At least now, MPs are able to repeal Judge-made law and replace it with laws that voters want.

Imagine just how much worse it would be if Judges held the ultimate law-making power through a new constitution, that usurped the authority of Parliament.

Worse, with Maori supremacists determined to enshrine the Treaty of Waitangi in any new constitution, New Zealand would be turned into an apartheid society, where race would determine whether we are part of a privileged ruling class or are relegated to second-class status.

Anyone pressing for constitutional change in this political climate, no matter what their intentions, would be opening up the country to capture by separatists. There are no two ways about it – a new constitution would lead to Judge-led tribal rule. – Muriel Newman

But sadly, this looming crisis appears to be receiving scant political attention – across the board. Yet the future of our young people is one of the most important determinants of our country’s future overall. It ought to be taken far more seriously by all the political parties, whether in government or not, than appears to be the case at present.

Lofty speeches about the war in Ukraine, the risk of nuclear conflagration, climate change, and cyber security are of course important and deserving of much attention, but equally so too are the educational opportunities, attainments, and wellbeing of our children.

As New Zealand moves on from the pandemic and begins the slow process of recovery, looking after the future wellbeing and educational attainments of our children must become a top priority for all politicians, whatever their political stripe.Peter Dunne

The worst aspect of all this is that the government’s relentless pro-Maori push is seriously damaging race relations in New Zealand. The 83 percent of our population who aren’t Maori – people like Chinese and Indians who have come here to work hard and to get ahead, not to mention the many generations of Europeans – have to watch rewards going to people on the basis of ethnicity rather than work ethic. Hard-working, talented Kiwi without a drop of Maori blood – and that’s all that most self-designated Maori possess – are passed over for promotion and a place in the sun under this government. The hermit kingdom they call “Aotearoa”, with its tightly controlled borders, has become a social laboratory aimed at facilitating a takeover of authority by a small racial minority backed up by a false narrative. – Michael Bassett

When Kelvin Davis used Question Time to say that I view the world through a “pakeha lens” it was nothing I haven’t heard before: “You’re a whakapapa Māori but you’re not kaupapa Māori”; “You’re a plastic Māori”; “You’re a born-again Māori”. It just comes with the territory of being a Māori woman who doesn’t always fit the left’s comfortable stereotype.

Problem is, I don’t think Kelvin is the only Labour minister who thinks what he said. The others might be smarter at hiding it, but they also worship identity politics.

They believe that who you are can matter more than what you do or say. How do I know this? That attitude is all through the policies they promote. Oranga Tamariki, the area I was asking Kelvin about when he made his comments, is just one example.

I came to Parliament out of sheer frustration around these kinds of attitudes and to fight them. As Act’s Children’s spokesperson and as someone who grew up in state care, I’m starting by fighting against what I view as racism within Oranga Tamariki. Karen Chhour

In fairness to Oranga Tamariki, it was following the law, something called Section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act. Section 7AA means the chief executive of Oranga Tamariki has to consider the Treaty when making decisions.

Sure, 7AA may be well-intentioned. But it creates a conflict between protecting the best interests of the child and race-based factors enshrined in 7AA. This conflict has the potential to cause real harm to our children.

I was a Māori child in state care. I could have only dreamed of a loving home like the one Mary was placed in.

What I needed was what every child needs. To be loved, cared for, clothed and fed.

I bounced between the system and family for years. I still carry the physical and mental scars from that time. It didn’t matter to me whether the adults I relied on were Pākehā, Māori, Chinese or African. I just wanted to be loved and cared for.

I came to Parliament to fight for that for other children. – Karen Chhour

Last week, my Member’s Bill was drawn from that Ballot. It repeals Section 7AA.

Since my Member’s Bill was drawn, I have been called a racist. If anything, the opposite is true. My Bill will make Oranga Tamariki colour-blind. It will have to focus on all of the factors that a child needs, instead of placing race at the centre of their decision-making.

When this Bill comes up for the first reading in Parliament, the predictable and tiresome responses will come from the Labour Party, the Māori Party, and the Greens.

I ask them, before they vote this down, to think about Mary and what was best for her. A family who loved and cared for her? Or returning to her abusers?

Mary’s foster parents traced their family tree back far enough that they could find enough of a link to say they were Māori. This twist also shows how bizarre the law is, Mary’s foster parents are the same people, but something that happened centuries before they were born made it okay for them to parent.

Mary still lives with them. She has come out of her shell, she is doing well at school, she has a home for life where she is safe and is thriving. Thank goodness for that branch they found on the family tree, or Mary’s story might have been very different.

I can only hope that my Bill gets a fair hearing because another child might not be so lucky.Karen Chhour

KELVIN DAVIS believes that Karen Chhour is looking at the world through a “vanilla lens”.

Racially-charged sentiments of this sort used to be reserved for embarrassing Pakeha uncles, a little the worse for drink following a big Christmas Dinner. Family members winced at the old man’s reliance on “Māori blood” fractions to determine who was, and wasn’t, a “real Māori”.

Equally embarrassing, however, is the spectacle of a Māori cabinet minister belittling an Act MP of Ngāpuhi descent for refusing to leave “her Pakeha world”. New Zealanders of all ethnicities now need to confront and deconstruct Davis’s objectionable ethnic dualism – because it is extremely dangerous. – Chris Trotter

Essentially, Davis was declaring the existence of two quite distinct realities – Māori and Pakeha. Viewed from the perspective of Pakeha reality, the behaviour of Oranga Tamariki may appear to be egregiously negligent – even cruel. But, viewed from Te Ao Māori, its behaviour may be construed in an entirely different way. The key to unlocking this profound ontological problem is Te Tiriti – or, at least, Te Tiriti as currently interpreted.

The contemporary interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi would have us believe that it set out to define the relationship between Māori, Pakeha, and their respective instruments of governance. That it was, indeed, a document intended to regulate the interaction of two very different realities. Two ethnic worlds, which were to remain separate but equal in perpetuity.Chris Trotter

However prettily the Treaty expressed the fiction of kawanatanga and tino rangatiratanga accommodating each other’s needs in peace and harmony, the Māori world would not long survive its collision with the rest of Planet Earth.

And so it proved. Call it the inexorable march of “civilisation”; call it “colonisation; call it the making of the New Zealand nation; call it what you will. Te Ao Māori soon ceased to be a description of reality and became, instead, a metaphor. And metaphors are poor armour against the real weapons of one’s foes. The Pai Marire faith may have reassured its warriors that a divine power would deflect the Pakeha bullets – or turn their soldiers to stone – but the imperial troopers cut them down regardless. In the end, there is only one world.

Kelvin Davis knows this as well as anyone. So why is he insisting on treating metaphors as if they were scientific facts? The only rational answer is that he, along with those controlling the increasingly powerful Māori corporations arising out of the Treaty Settlement Process, intends to alter the political reality of New Zealand in such a way that the Māori aristocracy, and the te Reo-speaking, tertiary-educated, professionals and managers of the Māori middle-class (the only Māori worth listening to?) will soon be wielding very real authority over the rest of New Zealand.

Included among “the rest” will be all those Māori without te Reo, without tertiary credentials, without six-figure salaries. Māori struggling to make it through the day in a world that has little sympathy for the poor. Māori without proper housing. Māori on the minimum wage. Māori lost to drugs and alcohol and crime. Māori whose kids suffer horribly for the sins of their fathers and mothers. Māori with backgrounds identical to Karen Chhour.

Chhour was demanding to know what Davis was doing for these, the most vulnerable inhabitants of her world, the real world, the only world. And all he could offer, by way of an answer, was a metaphorical bridge to a world that disappeared 250 years ago. A world which certainly cannot be conjured back into existence by a Minister of the Crown who does not care to be questioned by a wahine Māori who, all-too-clearly, sees him struggling to do his job.  – Chris Trotter

When political figures are powerful they need to be held to account, regardless of race. Allegations of racism are extremely powerful, precisely because of the history of appalling discrimination towards Māori in this country. But such allegations should not be used to shield those in power from scrutiny. Te Pāti Māori is a product of our democratic political system and, as such, has to be held to account in the same way as other political parties, especially on an issue so important and fundamental as the funding of political campaigns.  Double standards can’t be accepted by anyone wanting clean and fair politics – especially those of us worried about vested interests looking for ways to leverage their political donations. – Bryce Edwards

Thomas Coughlan, Dr Eric Crampton, Karen Nimmo, Tracy Watkins, Claire Trevett, John Ryan, Audrey Young, Luke Malpass , Janet Wilson, Dr Oliver Hartwich, Peter Smith, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth, Aaron Martin, Andrew Sullivan, Sir John Key, Point of Order, Lizzie Marvelly, Alice Snedden, Paula Bennett, Jack Tame, Wayne Brown, Rachel Smalley, Jonathan Freedland, Henry Cooke, Patti Davis, Joe Bennett, Josie Vidal, Rowena Edge, Liberty Scott, Dr Michael Johnston, Justin Welby, Max Rashbrooke, Josie Pagani, Liam Dann, Lillian Andrews, Kelsey Ellery-Wilson, Sue Cherrington, Sam Broughton, Karen Chhour, Jerry Coyne, Robert Maynard Hutchins, David Round, Dr Bryce Edwards,


Stop the jobs tax

28/09/2022

National has launched a petition to stop the jobs tax:

Labour wants to take more of your hard-earned cash, with a plan to impose a new 1.39% Jobs Tax on every worker and every employer.

The Jobs Tax would make a typical worker (earning $60,000) $834 worse off every year. That’s $834 less for your groceries, your power and other bills, and your own savings. Employers would also be forced to pay the tax for every employee on their pay roll. Yet another cost on business that will put pressure on prices and make it harder to get a pay rise.

The Jobs Tax has been dreamt up by the Government to pay for Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s latest pet project: an “income insurance scheme”. This gold-plated welfare scheme would allow those made redundant to stay off work for up to 6 months on 80% pay. This despite businesses crying out for skilled workers!

The Jobs Tax joins the long line of other taxes Labour has introduced to fleece New Zealanders of their hard-earned cash, all while delivering worse outcomes for you and your family.

Help us stop Labour’s obsession with spending your money. Sign our petition to stop Labour’s Jobs Tax today.

Want to know how much Labour’s Jobs Tax will cost you? See how much worse off you’ll be HERE.

That link takes you to a table that shows someone earning $35,000 would pay $487 a year, the employer would also pay that making a total of $974  taken from the worker and the business in extra tax.

Someone earning $60,000 would have $834 taken from them, so would the employer making a total of $1,668 taken from the worker and the business by the government.

May be an image of 2 people, child and text that says "Labour's Jobs Tax will cost someone earning $60,000... $834 PER YEAR"

Workers earning $135,000 and their employers would pay  $1,820 each, a total of $3,640 taken from those who earned it by the government that promised no new taxes.

That’s a lot of tax that would be taken from workers and employers and who do you think would make better use of the money – the employees and the businesses or the government?

Taking that much tax to redistribute to people who may or may not need it is bad enough. It gets worse when you read Eric Crampton explaining how the scheme would be open to rorts:

A dark part of me hopes the government’s employment insurance scheme is enacted exactly as proposed.

It will be terrible.

But the rorts it will spawn will be the stuff of which economics columnists’ dreams are made.

The scheme really is not insurance. Insurance charges premiums that vary with risk. The government’s employment insurance scheme simply charges a proportion of a worker’s salary.

It’s not an insurance scheme it’s a tax and it’s not needed by many, perhaps most workers.

Has anyone bothered to investigate how many people are really at risk of losing their jobs and how many of those who, in the current environment, would walk straight into another job?

Consider seasonal employment which is only covered if a worker is made redundant before the end of the contracted picking season.

But employers making workers redundant every year will not pay a higher insurance premium.

Clever employers will put seasonal workers on to permanent contracts before making them redundant towards the end of the picking season. Workers in on the bargain will work through the initial four weeks of redundancy covered by the employer if they want to play the game again next season.

And a lengthy period on 80 per cent of their prior salary awaits.

You might even consider it a subsidy scheme for seasonal work. Attracting workers out to the regions is easier if those workers can enjoy six months of government-provided redundancy pay as part of the bargain. . . 

Or consider maternity benefits.

Parental leave provides payments of up to $621.76 per week. But if a parent-to-be were to be made redundant, just consider the benefits for those on higher incomes!

Rather than see their pay drop to a meagre $621.76 per week, they could receive up to about $2000 per week – if they earned $130,000 or more before taking parental redundancy.

It really is brilliant. Labour has come up with a mechanism ensuring higher-earning women face fewer costs when having children, while doing fairly little for women on lower wages.

If a right-wing government had come up with the scheme, it would be accused of doing it deliberately, and possibly with eugenic intentions.

What employer would be so mean as to decline their employee’s request to be made redundant before the birth of their child?

And while parental leave is only available to one parent at a time, both parents in a two-income family could take redundancy. They could enjoy a full year with one parent at home with the new baby, or six months of family togetherness. On an “insurance” payment. . .

Labour has done a lot to make better-off people better-off while the poor have got poorer.

The jobs tax would do more of that and it would foster make-work schemes for employment lawyers:

Under current employment law, it is impossibly difficult to fire underperforming workers in some circumstances. It is too easy for employers to find themselves tied up in personal grievance claims for months – to the benefit of the lawyers.

But if both sides in a fractured employment relationship can agree that the worker will be made redundant, with an “insurance” scheme picking up months and months of redundancy payments at 80 per cent of the worker’s salary, everything becomes easier.

The employer neither needs to come up with a very expensive golden handshake, nor deal with months of workplace toxicity as a personal grievance case works its way through.

The worker can simply be made redundant.

You might even view it as a tidy second-best workaround to dysfunctional employment legislation. It will be far easier for employers to fire problem workers, with their agreement, when the scheme is in place. . . 

If there’s ever a good time to add a new tax, it’s not when all but the wealthy are struggling with the impacts of steeply rising prices.

If there’s ever a good time to make it easier for people to not work, it’s not when there’s a nation-wide shortage of workers.

This is a bad tax made worse by the potential for rorts and really bad timing.

 

 

 


Rent controls hurt renters

23/08/2022

The Human Rights Commission is calling for rent controls:

The departure of the Human Right’s Commission from its core role to defend classical human rights into left wing ideological advocacy would be comical if the policies it is pushing weren’t so dangerous, says the Taxpayers’ Union.

“This was always the risk when the Government appointed Paul Hunt – a far left activist who couldn’t even find a home in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. The taxpayer-funded HRC has been highjacked to fight for leftwing dogma,” Executive Director Jordan Williams says.

“Rent controls represent one of the most dangerous public policy interventions known to housing. Swedish economist Assar Lindbeck once called them ‘the most efficient technique presently known to destroy a city—except for bombing’.”

“Rent control is a discredited policy that will see a litany of costly unintended consequences. Renters will desperately cling to rent-controlled tenancies, reducing liquidity in the market and locking others out. Meanwhile landlords will make up revenue shortfalls by neglecting basic maintenance.”

“It is worth noting the polarised way a taxpayer funded media outlet is reporting on this matter. Just days after publishing a documentary about Kiwis falling into conspiratorial rabbit holes and not trusting mainstream media, Stuff lead the way. With no sense or irony, they choose to report on the HRC’s report by interviewing the sole political party in support of rent controls (the Greens) and leftwing pressure groups on the same. No room for the 99% of economists against such measures, a mainstream housing expert, or indeed anyone who hasn’t swallowed the kool-aid.”

“We’ll do what Stuff will not: host a debate with Paul Hunt for him to defend this public advocacy on stage or on a podcast with an economist. We will be issuing the formal invitation shortly.”

Here’s what happened when Ireland tried rent controls, high tax, no deductions and no evictions.

Any measures that make owning rental properties more expensive and make it more difficult to remove tenants lead to a reduction in the supply of rental properties.

It’s an issue on which most economists agree:

The government has begun to admit their contribution to the shortage here with their mistake in removing interest deductibility for landlords but they haven’t gone far enough:

Labour’s U-turn on interest deductibility rules for corporate investors should be extended to all rental property owners, National’s Housing Spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“Labour campaigned on not introducing any taxes but broke their promise straight after the 2020 Election by imposing a new tax on tenants, through the removal of interest deductibility as a legitimate expense for rental property owners.

“The Labour Government was warned by everyone – from officials to landlords – that this tax would lead to higher rents, and put pressure on the state house waiting list and emergency housing.

“Labour refused to listen. Now rents have gone up $140 a week, the state house waiting list is up by more than 20,000, and the Government spends $1 million per week housing people in motels.

“Worst of all, data released by National this week shows more than 200 kids are living in cars – four-and-a-half times more since Labour came to office.

“Labour’s Tenant Tax is hurting the very people it was intended to help.

“The Government has now done a massive U-turn and excluded big Build to Rent developments by corporate investors from this new tax.

“While we welcome this move, we’re campaigning for it to be extended to everyone – not just big corporate investors.

“Labour’s removal of interest deductibility was always unprincipled, as well as being a broken promise. A fundamental principle of tax law is to tax profit, not revenue.

“Mum and Dad landlords aren’t the enemy. They’re critical in addressing our housing supply problems.

“The next National Government will reverse Labour’s Tenant Tax, as well as the extension of the brightline test to 10 years.

“But while Kiwis wait for an economically-sensible government, we will work to get Labour to extend their big U-turn on interest deductibility to all investors.

“Kiwis can sign up to our campaign at: https://www.national.org.nz/tenanttax” 

The HR commissioner doesn’t appear to have noticed the impact of Labour’s policies on the availability of rental properties and rising rents.

It is to be hoped the HR commissioner knows more about his core business than economics if he doesn’t understand this.

If he accepts the TU’s invitation to debate the issue we might find out how much, or how little, he knows.


Quotes of the month

01/07/2022

A 2021 Canadian law on assisted suicide contains a provision that will allow doctors to provide assisted suicide to the psychiatrically ill starting next year. Given that severe psychiatric disorder tends to cloud the judgment of those who suffer from it, one wonders who will benefit most from this law, if passed. Certainly, it might remove from society people who are often difficult, unproductive, and expensive for others. They might be encouraged to shuffle off this mortal coil as a service to their relatives or even to their county. The distinction between the voluntary and the compulsory might become blurred. – Theodore Dalrymple

An illness may be serious but not fatal; it may be bearable or unbearable, but whether it is the one or the other is not simply a technical question that can be answered by ticking a few boxes on a form. An easy way out will always tempt people to take it who might otherwise have carried on. And in times of economic stringency, they might well be encouraged to take it. Our hospitals, after all, are full, and often urgently in need of beds for those who can be helped.

On the other side of the question is the fact that everyone can easily imagine circumstances in which he would rather die than carry on and would appreciate an easeful death. The principle of double effect, according to which doctors are permitted to prescribe drugs intended to comfort the dying but that will also shorten their lives, has long been in operation. It is not a perfect solution to the dilemma—but then, there is no perfect solution. –Theodore Dalrymple

WHETHER NANAIA MAHUTA followed the conflict-of-interest rules set out in The Cabinet Manual hardly matters. A dangerous political narrative is forming around the appointment of, and awarding of contracts to, Mahuta’s whanau in circumstances that, at the very least, raise serious questions about this Government’s political judgement. Enlarging this narrative is the growing public perception that the mainstream news media is refusing to cover a story that would, in other circumstances, have attracted intense journalistic interest. The conflation of these two, highly damaging narratives with a third – the even more negative narrative of “co-governance” – has left the Labour Government in an extremely exposed and vulnerable position. – Chris Trotter

Since the widespread assumption among Pakeha New Zealanders is that co-governance and representative democracy are fundamentally incompatible, Labour’s willingness to be presented as co-governance’s friend runs the risk of being cast as democracy’s enemy.

Of even greater concern is the inevitability of this anti-democratic characterisation being extended to an ever-increasing fraction of the Māori population. Statements from Māori leaders appearing to discount the importance of, or even disparage, the principles of democracy have done little to slow this process. –

The problem with this willingness to indulge in ad hominem attacks on people holding genuine reservations about the Government’s proposals is that more and more of them will decide that they might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, and embrace the very racism of which they stand accused. In this context, the revelations that some members of a Māori Minister of the Crown’s whanau have been the recipients of Government funds, and appointed to roles not unrelated to the furtherance of the Minister’s policies, will be taken as confirmation that all is not as it should be in Aotearoa-New Zealand. – Chris Trotter

The result could very easily be the emergence of what might be called a “super-narrative” in which all the negatives of co-governance, media capture, and Neo-Tribal Capitalism are rolled into one big story about the deliberate corruption of New Zealand democracy. The guilty parties would be an unholy alliance of Pakeha and Māori elites determined to keep public money flowing upwards into protected private hands. In this super-narrative, the structures set forth in He Puapua to secure tino rangatiratanga, will actually ensure the exclusion of the vast majority of New Zealanders from the key locations of power. The only positive consequence of which will be a common struggle for political and economic equality in which non-elite Māori and Pakeha will have every incentive to involve themselves. Chris Trotter

What lies ahead, as the institutions of co-governance take shape, is the coming together of two very privileged birds of a feather: the Pakeha professionals and managers who have taken command of the society and economy created by Neoliberalism, and the Māori professionals and managers created to produce and operate the cultural and economic machinery of Neo-Tribal Capitalism.

This, ultimately, will be the spectre that arises out of the controversy swirling around Nanaia Mahuta. The spectre of the worst of both the Pakeha and the Māori worlds. Worlds in which the powerful trample all over the weak. Where tradition constrains the free exploration of ideas and techniques. And where the petty advantages of separation are elevated above the liberating effects of unity. Where “Aotearoa” creates two peoples out of one. – Chris Trotter

Crying in the movies and in response to really compelling stories, it actually shows … you have a strong empathy response and empathy is one of the five key characteristics of emotional intelligence, so it’s a strength. – Deborah Rickwood

People who are high in emotional intelligence have better social and intimate relationships, and it helps you to deal with stress and conflict, and I guess it just means that you’re more aware and attuned to your emotions, and as long as you can regulate them, that makes you better able to be socially connected, get along with other people. – Deborah Rickwood

Crying is basically a way of getting over getting upset and humans are the only animals who emotionally cry.

“Crying releases endorphins in your brain. I mean, [for] most of us, if you have a really good cry, you’ll notice you need to go and have a little sleep afterwards. You’re kind of drained, you’re more relaxed, it is a release of emotion that’s good for us.  – Deborah Rickwood

You hear particularly from people who become parents and especially men when they become fathers, they find that when they see movies about fathers and sons … they will cry and really respond to that, which they wouldn’t have before they became a father.

So, I think the older you get, the more experience of social connections, the more things you pay attention to that are meaningful to you, so more things then emotionally arouse you. – Deborah Rickwood

I’d love New Zealand to establish a Victims of  Museum which details all the mass deaths caused by communism. It could even include half price entry for people living in Aro Valley.David Farrar

When I was Governor of the Reserve Bank I used to talk about the contrasting fortunes of my uncle and me, to illustrate the effect of inflation. In 1971, my uncle sold an apple orchard he had spent a life-time developing and, being of a cautious disposition, invested the proceeds in 18-year government bonds at 5.5% interest. Perhaps fortunately, by the time those bonds matured my uncle and his wife were dead, because the $30,000 for which he had sold his orchard was by then worth only a small fraction of what it had been worth in 1971. In 1971, $30,000 would have bought my uncle 11 Toyota Corolla cars. By 1989, $30,000 would have bought him just one Corolla, with a small amount of change left over.

By coincidence, in 1971 my wife and I returned from the United States to a very well-paying job in Auckland. We bought a five-bedroom home with a great sea view for $43,000, which was almost exactly three times my substantial salary. By the late eighties, the house was worth more than ten times what we had paid for it, and I have no doubt that today it would be worth several million dollars (I have had no financial interest in the house for more than 30 years).- Don Brash

There are simply no good reasons why an under-populated country like New Zealand should tolerate the ridiculous “house prices” (really, ridiculous land prices) which we currently have. Blame central and local government politicians, not greedy speculators, people with Chinese-sounding names, or the purveyors of building materials.Don Brash

The use of the word “outcomes” (aka results, deliverables) should not be so earth-shattering but our media, entranced by this Government’s strategy of throwing money at problems to make them go away, have now realised we also need ‘outcomes’ or ‘results’.

Luxon and Willis, having grabbed the narrative and set the agenda, are re-educating the media (the public already knew) that it actually is results that we want and we don’t have much evidence of that with this Government so far. Just billions of wasted spending and excessive appointments of highly paid public servants, which National have promised to go through with a fine-tooth comb once they gain office next year. – Wendy Geus

A creative writing course at a British university has withdrawn graduation requirement that students should attempt a sonnet, not on the reasonable grounds that it is futile to try to turn people with cloth ears for language into sonneteers, but because the sonnet is a literary form that is white and Western.Theodore Dalrymple

As a psychiatrist, I understand identity as a crucial part of every person’s self-concept. Each person’s identity is cobbled together from multiple identity fragments: for example, gender, race, religion, nation, family, and ideology. These fragments can include their opposites, a negative identity fragment that represents something that person absolutely is not and defines themselves against. They might include someone’s love or hatred of flowers, sports, or the ballet. Over a person’s lifetime, these fragments may conflict with each other and get reordered and revalued in ways big and small, many times.

In the political and other societal realms, identity conflicts play out in an analogous way to how they play out within individuals. The key conflicts are over the prioritization of identities, particularly which comes first. In a totalitarian society, one identity is required to be the primary focus of all public and private action. This directive can serve as a definition of totalitarianism. – Elliot S Gershon

What seems to be overlooked in the rush toward “equity, diversity, and inclusion” is the fact that when one identity fragment within a population is selected for benefits, or favored for whatever reason, the other fragments are penalized. This has been proven mathematically for Darwinian selection and applies to any other selection within a finite environment. Elliot S Gershon

Identity-based regimes, like the one taking hold in the United States, do not necessarily consider the extent to which people agree with or give importance to the race or gender to which they are assigned. Based on my skin color, I might appear to be white, but I never think of myself as white. My grandfather and other family members were murdered in the Holocaust because they were not white, according to the identity-based regime of the time. So am I white? Not according to me.

Doctrinal identity assignments routinely disregard voluntary identity choices, limit transitions, accentuate distinctions, and generate very severe reactions among those who are assigned to favored and unfavored groups. Persons assigned to one identity are encouraged to see other identities as enemies or oppressors. Identity-based entitlements can therefore generate resentment and even violence, which can become routine, and can be used to justify the continuation of entitlements ad infinitum, even as the institutionalization of entitlements based on state-assigned identity groups creates its own devastatingly destructive forms of exclusion and corruption. – Elliot S Gershon

Gender identity is widely accepted as a matter of choice for everyone. But gender fluidity is a doctrine, and it generates resentments. Many parents of young children resent fluid-gender-identity education programs; they have their own understanding that children in those ages should be encouraged to integrate and solidify the gender identity of their natal sex. Gender transition has also led to widespread resentment when male-to-female transgender athletes win prizes competing against girls and women who are born female. Yet in the same political and social context where gender is held to be a matter of choice, race is considered immutable. Any person can be accused of having “white privilege” or “unconscious bias,” regardless of their actual ancestry or beliefs.

Although there is a case to be made for gender transitions, there is a stronger case to be made for racial transitions. Gender as a social construct is very closely related to biological sex, an unambiguous characteristic of the vast majority of humans. Race is also a social construct, associated with statistical differences among population groups. Race, however, does not have a rational or scientific definition unambiguously applicable to all individuals, and for many people it is impossible to determine—leading to casually racist assumptions based on skin pigmentation or “one drop” theories that lack any legal or scientific currency.Elliot S Gershon

There is nothing pure about race. As a category, it is remarkably fluid. In a modern American urban population, we statistical geneticists frequently find people who self-classify as white or Black but whose genotypes are ambiguous. People with the same amount of “white” or “Black” ancestry may identity with either race, or with neither race. Many people who are identified as “Latinx” by Harvard would identify themselves as “white,” while many “whites” would identify themselves as something else, based on ancestry, upbringing, culture, or personal affinity. Why should the state or private elite institutions be empowered to impose these slippery and often poorly framed identities on individuals without their consent, especially when the social cost to the society of doing so is real?

One way out of our current identity conflicts is to permit individuals to freely choose their own racial and gender identities and at the same time to forbid any societal rewards or penalties based on these identities. – Elliot S Gershon

Pursuing race- and gender-blindness under the law is preferable to enforced alternatives that have consistently failed for more than a century. – Elliot S Gershon

My faith is not a political agenda, right? I am there to represent all New Zealanders, not one faith or one religion, and you shouldn’t vote for me because of my faith, and you shouldn’t reject me because of my faith. –  Christopher Luxon

My faith is actually about tolerance, compassion – not discriminating, not rejecting people. That’s what I think my faith is about. – Christopher Luxon

Every human being in this country is valuable and equal. That’s the guts of it. I want everybody to genuinely flourish and so when I arrive in a business environment and I don’t see diversity being embraced and people being able to come to work as their whole self, that’s a problem. – Christopher Luxon

There is no substitute for personal knowledge of the patient and their conditions. It saves the health system huge amounts of money. If they turn up at an ED in crisis, they end up having scans, tests, all sorts of expensive treatment that good GP care could have prevented.Dr Samantha Murton

When fundamental facts of human nature, and fundamental values and institutions such as marriage and the family are contradicted by law and taught to new generations, of course those who disagree will feel alienated. Some will persevere in dialogue about these issues, but others will find an outlet not just on social media, but, as we have seen, in more militant ways.

Then, keyboard warriors will be the least of our worries. – Carolyn Moynihan

This Government’s activist-driven drive towards a Maori-dominated neo-apartheid political structure, cannot be allowed to continue. We must not just stand by and watch our democratic structure and democracy be overridden and destroyed — particularly by a group of in-caucus-activists driven solely by self-interest and totally, deliberately and fraudulently misrepresenting and misinterpreting the Treaty of Waitangi  in an attempt to justify what they are about.

What we are seeing and being subjected to is a TOTAL abuse of the privilege, power, objective-responsibility and trust and integrity inherent in and expected of those in Parliamentary office. Particularly galling is the fact that it has all been fraudulently sprung on us, following the election, without notice. It is treachery at its very worst — and it must be stopped. – Hugh Perrett

Lying awake at night imagining the worst possible complications – amputations, kidney failure, blindness? That sucks too. People with chronic illnesses will understand this, and this is hardly something I am alone in, but the worst part is the way my diabetes is a shadow over my whole life. It’s a constant companion I live with and try to placate. – Megan Whelan

There are many studies that show deprivation is a significant factor in both developing type 2, and in having complications from it. People who are having to choose between buying fresh vegetables and sending the kids to school camp aren’t quibbling over which protein powder brand is the best. – Megan Whelan

Green energy is a wild bull in the electricity china shop. Australia’s new green government has a $20B plan to “rewire the nation” to connect the spreading rash of wind and solar toys. Eastern Australia recently had a couple of days of high wind, which caused many outages as trees and powerlines were blown down. Imagine the outages after a cyclone cuts a swathe thru this continent-wide spider-web of fragile power lines connecting green energy generators, batteries and markets. – Viv Forbes

Working for Families has given us a mess that may have no solution. Or at least no solution that doesn’t cause other problems.Eric Crampton

A 57 percent Effective Marginal Tax Rate facing families who pay zero percent net tax is a mess. But it does not seem to be the kind of mess that can be cleaned up.

Unlike housing.

Would that governments fixed the problems that can be fixed before putting effort into the intractable ones. Ending the housing shortage and improving supermarket competition could do a lot more good for family budgets than tweaking transfers to middle-income families. – Eric Crampton

In a democracy, as on the marae, matters of collective interest should be decided by robust and respectful debate. The Government should stop trying to curate the conversation and force predetermined outcomes on constitutional matters, because this is backfiring. Exchanges based on racial framings provoke racist reactions; and questions that need airing are being swamped in a tsunami of racist abuse, foreclosing a proper (‘tika’) discussion.Dame Anne Salmond

By using the Treaty ‘partnership’ deception to justify giving control of essential services to the Maori elite, Jacinda Ardern is deliberately robbing New Zealanders of crucial democratic safeguards, placing them instead at the mercy of unelected and unaccountable iwi business leaders working in their own best interests, not in the public good.

The reality is that once co-governance is put in place, the opportunities for tribal enrichment will be endless, with contracts, fees, and other mechanisms able to be used to secure taxpayer funding – exposing the country to the problems that plague all tribal societies including corruption and nepotism.   – Muriel Newman

Jacinda Ardern’s path to co-governance and tribal rule, has barely got off the ground, but is already proving to be a recipe for Maori privilege by an inherited elite that will divide and weaken our society. Their end goal, of course – as outlined in He Puapua – is to ‘take the country back’ to tribal rule by 2040.

Are we really prepared to stand by and let this become the future for New Zealand? – Muriel Newman

It’s just possible that one reason so many MPs are unknown to the public is that the media have largely abandoned their traditional function of reporting what happens in Parliament. And I mean in Parliament – not outside the debating chamber where members of the press gallery (sometimes known as the wolf pack, but perhaps more accurately characterised as a mob of sheep taking their cue from whoever happens to be the most aggressive among them) wait to ambush whichever politician they have collectively decided will be that day’s target.

We are largely ignorant not only about who represents us in Parliament, but also what they do there. The only time the mainstream media take an interest in the debating chamber is when something happens to excite them, such as a squabble involving the Speaker or the inflammatory hurling of an insult.- Karl du Fresne

Much of the time we have no idea what business is being conducted in the House, still less any knowledge of which MPs are making speeches or asking questions. Often we don’t learn about important legislation until its consequences – not always welcome ones – become apparent long after it has been passed.

This means there is a vacuum at the heart of the democratic process. We elect our representatives every three years, and then what? To all intents and purposes they disappear into a void until the next election, with the exception of the handful of activist MPs already mentioned who attract journalists’ attention. The feedback loop that should tell us what all those other MPs are doing is broken.

Yet the right to observe and report Parliament is arguably the most fundamental of press freedoms.Karl du Fresne

My guess is that you’re more likely to see a polar bear in Bellamy’s than a row of reporters busily taking shorthand notes of speeches in the House. As a result, MPs largely escape the public scrutiny that should inform our votes. This magnifies an absence of accountability already inherent under MMP, where a substantial proportion of MPs are answerable not to the public but to their party hierarchy. Call them the invisible MPs.

Online platforms (NewsroomBusinessDeskPoint of Order, to name three) fill some of the gaps in parliamentary coverage, and Radio New Zealand’s The House caters to a small audience of political obsessives. But it’s hit and miss, and the result is that we are arguably less informed about the business of Parliament than at any time in living memory. That can’t be good for democracy. – Karl du Fresne

Wording is no doubt a small thing by comparison with the horror of a mass shooting such as the one of schoolchildren and teachers at Uvalde, but it’s nonetheless of some significance. In all the reports, I noticed that 8, 9, and 10-year-old children were referred to as “students.”

They were not students, they were pupils.

Does it matter what you call them, you might ask? If words matter, then it does matter (and Confucius thought so more than 2,500 years ago, for he wrote that when words were used wrongly, the state and society could not hold).

In fact, nobody believes that words don’t matter, least of all at the present time, when bitter disputes break out about nomenclature and by what pronouns people should be addressed. Such disputes are battles for power rather than for improvement or happiness. Since speech is so central to human existence, forcing people to change their language is an exercise in power over them, which isn’t to say that in no circumstances whatsoever should such changes be suggested or even mandated. It’s true that there are terms that are intrinsically degrading to those whom they designate, but with a few exceptions, struggles over language are not usually concerned with them. –  Theodore Dalrymple

A pupil is a child who is under the authority of a teacher who chooses for him what he should learn. This is because the child isn’t capable of choosing or deciding for himself: If the child were so capable, there probably wouldn’t be any need for teachers in the first place.  . . .

A student is a young person old enough to be at least partly self-directed in the choice of what to learn, increasingly so as he progresses. – Theodore Dalrymple

What does the abandonment of the word pupil signify? In the first place, it’s unctuous and hypocritical, for in practice adults are still obliged to choose what it is that young children should learn, even if they have changed their opinions as to what it is that should be taught.

But there’s something deeper than this, a kind of insincere refusal of authority as such. People now refuse to admit that they are exercising authority even as they are doing so, because authority is supposedly so undemocratic or paternalist in nature.  Theodore Dalrymple

This denial of proper distinctions is a characteristic of our age. For example, the distinction between men and women, inscribed in biology, is increasingly being denied because (what is true) there are some marginal cases. Those who wish to eradicate distinctions, however, start by making the marginal central to all considerations. Failing to agree to this sleight of hand is characterized by the eradicators of distinctions as a sign of intolerance or worse, as if everyone who thought that the marginal should not be made central necessarily is in favor of ill treatment of the marginal, which, of course, is true neither empirically nor in logic. Moreover, few people recognize that the virtue of tolerance can be exercised only in the presence of disapproval or distaste, for unless there’s one or the other, there’s nothing to tolerate. Everyone, surely, tolerates what he likes or approves of. Nor is acceptance of something the same as celebrating it. For example, I accept rock music in the sense that I don’t wish to suppress it, but I don’t celebrate it and avoid it when I can.

No doubt there are some 8-year-olds somewhere who are capable of being students in the sense of choosing what and how to learn, but I think that they must be about as rare as giant pandas, if not rarer. By calling such young children students we’re suggesting that they have authority, and you can’t suggest such a thing without children taking you at your word and coming to think of themselves as authorities. This is abject. – Theodore Dalrymple

The mainstream media tells the public repeatedly that the criteria in the $55 million media fund mandating the promotion of a radical view of the Treaty as a 50:50 partnership are insignificant and do not compromise their independence with regard to reporting on matters such as Three Waters.

However, their unwillingness to contact a highly qualified analyst who is closely investigating the power structures of Three Waters — which is probably the most contentious political issue for the government right now — certainly won’t convince the public they are not constrained by the criteria they signed up to as a condition of receiving handsome amounts of government cash.- Graham Adams,

A good Speaker, like a good person in any public role, needs to know when it is time to go. –  ODT editorial

New Zealanders may not be the most forthright people when it comes to saying what they really think. But in the Three Waters debate, this ‘Yeah, nah’ culture is reaching new heights.

Three Waters is about everything. It is about the government’s new race-relations agenda. It is about the Ardern Government’s direction for the country. It is about the divide between Wellington and the regions.

And yes, it may even be a little about water. But not for everyone.Oliver Hartwich

If skills like reading and arithmetic are not learned, creativity is stunted and well-being is compromised. Without knowledge, critical thinking is empty. If young people cease to learn disciplines like history and science, cultural and technological innovation will gradually grind to a halt. Or maybe we’ll just outsource those things to machines as well. – Michael Johnston

Until Jacinda Ardern became PM, New Zealanders were largely trusting of their Prime Ministers, secure in the knowledge that if they deviated too much from the straight and narrow, the Fourth Estate would hold them to account.

Not so anymore. Labour’s $55 million Public Interest Journalism Fund ‘bribe’ has put paid to that.

As a result, through her own actions, Jacinda Ardern has gravely undermined trust in the Government for many New Zealanders.Dr Muriel Newman

Luxury beliefs have, to a large extent, replaced luxury goods.

Luxury beliefs are ideas and opinions that confer status on the upper class, while often inflicting costs on the lower classes. – Rob Henderson

The yearning for distinction is the key motive here.

And in order to convert economic capital into cultural capital, it must be publicly visible.

But distinction encompasses not only clothing or food or rituals. It also extends to ideas and beliefs and causes.   – Rob Henderson

In the past, people displayed their membership in the upper class with their material accoutrements.

But today, because material goods have become a noisier signal of one’s social position and economic resources, the affluent have decoupled social status from goods, and re-attached it to beliefs. – Rob Henderson

Expressing a luxury belief is a manifestation of cultural capital, a signal of one’s fortunate economic circumstances.Rob Henderson

Plenty of research indicates that compared with an external locus of control, an internal locus of control is associated with better academic, economic, health, and relationship outcomes. Believing you are responsible for your life’s direction rather than external forces appears to be beneficial. – Rob Henderson

Undermining self-efficacy will have little effect on the rich and educated, but will have pronounced effects for the less fortunate.Rob Henderson

When people express unusual beliefs that are at odds with conventional opinion, like defunding the police or downplaying hard work, or using peculiar vocabulary, often what they are really saying is, “I was educated at a top university” or “I have the means and time to acquire these esoteric ideas.”

Only the affluent can learn these things because ordinary people have real problems to worry about. – Rob Henderson

The chief purpose of luxury beliefs is to indicate evidence of the believer’s social class and education.

Members of the luxury belief class promote these ideas because it advances their social standing and because they know that the adoption of these policies or beliefs will cost them less than others.Rob Henderson

Why are affluent people more susceptible to luxury beliefs? They can afford it. And they care the most about status.

In short, luxury beliefs are the new status symbols.

They are honest indicators of one’s social position, one’s level of wealth, where one was educated, and how much leisure time they have to adopt these fashionable beliefs.

And just as many luxury goods often start with the rich but eventually become available to everyone, so it is with luxury beliefs.

But unlike luxury goods, luxury beliefs can have long term detrimental effects for the poor and working class. However costly these beliefs are for the rich, they often inflict even greater costs on everyone else. – Rob Henderson

We don’t need last centuries, centralised, one-size must fit all ideology imposed on a vastly different modern workplace. Alan McDonald

The idea of equal suffrage – equal voting rights, regardless of gender, class and ethnicity – has been a pillar of our democracy for decades. All New Zealanders should have an equal say in who governs them; an equal say in appointing the people that make the decisions that affects their lives.

Equally fundamental to our system is the ability to throw poor performers out at the next election – that is the bedrock accountability in our democracy.  – Paul Goldsmith

If we as a country no longer think that equal voting rights apply at one level of government, pressure will build for change in national elections. – 

We recognise the burden of history, but no past injustices are fixed by undermining something that makes this country the great place it is – preserving the pillars of our open democracy. – Paul Goldsmith

If Jacinda Ardern and her  Ministers no longer think that Kiwis should have equal voting rights, then they should make the case and ask New Zealanders whether they agree.

It would be a constitutional outrage to use a transitory parliamentary majority to set a precedent that changes the nature of our democracy so dramatically, without asking the people first.Paul Goldsmith

The real crime with the incompetency is not only were we all affected in terms of their inability to do their job properly, but the fact we had no choice.

The entire Covid response has been a top down exercise in dictatorship. Rules, regulations, and instructions we had no option but to follow.

In this specific case, the testing was a mess because they refused to recognise RATs, labs and private facilities were screaming out to help, to fill gaps, to provide products, and to solve problems. But no, the Ministry knew best. And yet, they didn’t.

It started at the start of Covid the lack of PPE, it rolled on through the lack of vaccine, the lack of testing, and the lack of beds . – Mike Hosking 

This report this week will be dismissed along with all the other reports that got dismissed. When one day we have the Royal Commission, it’ll find all the same stuff, and that will be dismissed as well.

Where was the anger? Where were the demands to be better? Or do the majority these days just enjoy being shafted by incompetence, hence it’s not really news?   – Mike Hosking 

The Bill of Rights is oft-quoted; however, what people forget, particularly those quoting it in order to engage in yet more undisciplined behaviour, is the consideration of whether it interferes with others’ rights. – Wendy Geus

The wish to avoid evident but uncomfortable truths, and to allow people to maintain their blindness to them, makes it difficult for politicians to speak about the real problems that confront their respective societies. One might almost define truth in these circumstances as that which people wish to evade or do not want to hear about. The wish to preserve a treasured worldview is another reason for blindness to the obvious: We prefer our worldview to the world. Such willful blindness is not confined to one political tendency; it is common to all. It is a human trait.

In the modern world—perhaps in all worlds that have ever existed—blindness becomes institutionalized. The very existence of jobs may depend on not recognizing complex verities. Vested interests are, of course, visible in proportion to the square of the distance from the person perceiving them. Everyone thinks that the pursuit of his own vested interests is simply a manifestation of his own desire to do good in the world.Theodore Dalrymple

 I would give his appointment the charity of my silence. I don’t think he’s the appropriate person to send for any sort of diplomatic role but bigger than that it raises a more serious question,” he told AM Ealy host Bernadine Oliver-Kerby.

“Diplomatic roles and jobs overseas of that nature aren’t there to be political rewards for long-servers. There have been a few of them over the years from both parties I know, I just think it brings that whole question into starker relief that you don’t use a plum appointment overseas as an excuse to bump someone off the scene domestically, that seems to be what has happened. – Peter Dunne

Minus 0.2 pecent is a mess. It was avoidable, it is the result of an astonishing fiscal error from the Government and Reserve Bank, and don’t let them tell you differently. Yes, the war doesn’t help. But neither does money we never had tossed at bollocks and expecting it not to wreck us.Mike Hosking

$337,000 for cutting a ribbon. And you wonder why we are broke. – Mike Hosking

What I know from the real world is the Government gave us $50 billion plus to blow on crap, and blow it we did.

But once we had blown it and we needed to pay for stuff ourselves, the price of everything was rising, and we had to cut back. And when you cut back and 70 percent of your economic activity is in the services sector, guess what happens? You go backwards.Mike Hosking

I don’t blame the forecasters; we all get stuff wrong. But if you can’t see a recession when it’s knocking on your door, if you can’t smell the lack of confidence, then it’s time you got off the whiteboard and walked the streets for a while. – Mike Hosking

Economic growth matters for everyone. It has made people in the United States and other rich countries better off. And it has pulled more than one billion people out of extreme poverty. We also have a pretty good idea of what institutions are required for economic growth. One key factor is free trade. Another, as the comparisons of North and South Korea and East and West Germany show, is a relatively high dose of economic freedom. –  Dr David R. Henderson

Three Waters will bail out those councils who neglected their water infrastructure – and penalise those that didn’t. – Frank Newman

It has become more and more obvious that this Government is not governing for all New Zealanders – this united team of five million is actually a disaffected and dissatisfied group with tensions the worst I have seen for decades. Let’s use this Matariki to find the good. – Paula Bennett

Free speech exists for no other reason than to protect minority views from the tyranny of the majority opinion. A language, which encapsulates the soul of a people, articulates a unique point of view. If a politician wants to offer a heartfelt tribute in this language, and your response is to threaten them, you are no better than the extremist who believes that their political or religious views must dominate the discourse, to the complete exclusion of others. – Dane Giraud

But I say all this to remind you that the free speech battle in Aotearoa will not be won in the courts. It will not even be won by convincing politicians that this central progressive value is of benefit to us all.

It will be won when New Zealanders en masse exhibit the tolerance that should define the populations of all democratic nations. Understanding what was lost by Māori, and supporting efforts to reclaim it, would be a good place to start.Dane Giraud

Restructuring rarely succeeds in achieving sustainable improvements. But the Government instead listened to external consultants who, unsurprisingly, are the biggest beneficiaries of this restructuring.

Health structures were not the cause of the workforce crisis and neither is restructuring the (or part of) solution. This is an ABC of health systems, but one that the Government has failed to grasp. – Ian Powell 

There is no way ‘Team Interim’ (aka Health NZ) will turn this crisis around so it makes a tangible difference to healthcare access before the next election.

But what has made the situation doubly worse is the most incompetent decision I’ve seen made by a government in health – in the middle of a pandemic dismantling the system of provision and delivering healthcare in communities and hospitals and replacing it with an untested alternative which, for some time at least, will have an interim leadership.

By the time of the next election the government will be in no position to blame the workforce crisis on DHBs or the previous government. Labour is trending in the polls towards being under Damocles’ Sword. It will certainly be under it by the time of the election. – Ian Powell 

From the outset, Three Waters has been a damning indictment of the Labour Government. Built on lies and misrepresentations, the whole reform programme is shaping up to be a major election issue in 2023. – Muriel Newman

Whichever way you look at the Three Waters reforms, given there are many different ways central government could help councils upgrade their water infrastructure – including emulating the 50:50 shared funding arrangement they use for local roading – the inevitable conclusion is that the primary motivation for the reforms is Minister Mahuta’s desire to advance the interests of Maori in water. Muriel Newman

This is not democracy, as we know it. This is Jacinda Ardern delivering on yet another He Puapua goal – in this case, tribal control of water.

Since Three Waters will not be fully operational until 2024, it will become a defining election issue: vote Labour for iwi control of water infrastructure and services – or vote for the opposition to ensure local authorities and their communities retain control of this crucial public resource. – Muriel Newman

Treasury helpfully publish statistics on Who pays income tax… and how much? (treasury.govt.nz)

Those figures record that in 2020 (the last year for which figures are available) the top 5% of income earners (some 196,000 individuals – the very people that the Greens are targeting) paid a total of $11.31billion in income tax (out of total income tax of $36.85billion paid by the 3.85million individual taxpayers). 

So the top 5% already pay 31% of all tax paid by individual taxpayers. By contrast, the bottom 74% of income earners (2.84m individuals) pay only $10.95billion, which represents only 29.7% of all tax paid by individuals. 

This means the top 5% are already paying more tax than the bottom three-quarters of taxpayers combined.  – Mark Keating

Every day’s Inbox brings pleas about new and surprising regulatory and policy abominations. The combined efforts of Hercules and Sisyphus would not clear it.

In graduate school, my professor of regulation told the class that even if the most an economist might ever achieve is the delaying of a bad regulation by a few months, the value of that breathing space would easily exceed our lifetime salaries many times over. He also reminded us that we’re all part of the equilibrium – things would be far worse without our labours.

He didn’t warn us that we’d wind up envying Sisyphus.- Eric Crampton

Pick a government department, any government department.

All they’ve done to try and fix deep seated, really big issues within our Government departments is hire communication teams to again adapt the jazz hands approach and just not front, they just will not front and you kind of see why.

How do you explain it? How do you justify?

You can’t, so you refuse interviews and you don’t show. It’s appalling. I don’t know how you fix it.Kerre Woodham

Good to see that after five years in power and months into a plasterboard shortage, the Government has again hit the ground reviewing. – Luke Malpass

It is a human trait to harbour a cherished opinion and then torture evidence and employ rhetorical legerdemain in its support as if it were a conclusion.Theodore Dalrymple

The transformation of what is desirable into a right is the delight of politicians, lawyers and bureaucrats, for the more such rights there are, the more they need to be adjudicated and disputes resolved when there are contradictions between them. Moreover, supposed rights to tangible benefits always raise tempers and the temperature of disputes: for what is more outrageous than a right denied? And once a right is granted or, if you prefer, won after a prolonged struggle, it enters the realm of the untouchable. The period before the right was recognised as such becomes, in the minds of those who believe in it, the equivalent of jahiliyyah in Islamic thought, that is to say the period of ignorance before enlightenment was attained. And in a sense, this is logical: for a right to be a true right, it must always have existed, like America before Columbus, albeit in an ethereal or platonic world. It was simply that no one had discovered it yet, usually as a consequence of the malice of the powerful or of wilful human blindness. – Theodore Dalrymple

Where rights alone determine the permissible, the government, from whom rights to tangible benefits derive, becomes the sole arbiter of conduct. “There is no law against it” becomes “I have a right to do it”, even if “it” is bound to cause the antagonism of others. The only dialogue possible is that of the deaf, sure of their rights, and irresolvable conflict is the result. – Theodore Dalrymple

This government cannot get anything done, it doesn’t matter which portfolio you pick up, they’re actually spending more money, hiring more bureaucrats and getting worse outcomes. – Christopher Luxon

For bureaucrats, procedure is holy, a rite that must be followed come what may, however absurd it may appear to outsiders; a bureaucrat’s superior is a god who must be propitiated.Theodore Dalrymple

The bureaucrat who asks the question out of obedience and fear for his position comes to believe that he’s engaged in important work for social reform. There’s no one as shameless as a bureaucrat following orders who has persuaded himself that those orders are for the good of humanity.

Naturally, he must suppress in himself the inclination and even the ability to laugh. He must have no sense of the absurd. – Theodore Dalrymple

While no one likes to admit to himself that he’s performing worthless tasks merely so that he may continue to collect his salary and eventually his pension, in a situation in which the task is as fatuous as asking a 66-year-old man whether he’s pregnant, a subliminal awareness of its absurdity, at least, must defeat the best attempts at denial. The person of whom such a task is demanded therefore lives in bad faith, at one and the same time demanding that a task be taken seriously and knowing that it’s nothing short of ludicrous.

Such a man, of course, is emasculated; at heart, he despises himself, for he knows that he’s useless or worse than useless (which is why he’s so often touchy and defensive). And that’s also why my detestation of idiotic bureaucracy is tempered by personal pity for the bureaucrat whose work it is.Theodore Dalrymple

That such patent absurdity as I’ve described could actually become inscribed in an important institution, one that’s supposedly dedicated to saving human life, an absurdity that probably met with about as much opposition as a piece of tissue paper offers to a monsoon, is an indication of how thoroughly not only our institutions but also our characters have been rotted. – Theodore Dalrymple

Are we running this country on Blu-Tack and paperclips?

We almost had power cuts again this morning and apparently we need to get used to it because this is just the way our winters are going to be from now on.Heather du Plessis Allan

So is this all women’s fault? No: the decline in opportunities for working-class men isn’t a malign feminist conspiracy, but rather an effect of technological developments. It makes little sense to blame women as a sex for structural material changes that have disadvantaged working-class men. But it makes a great deal of sense to point the finger at knowledge-workers as a class for their efforts to wave away externalities, via a self-righteous ideology that often flies under the banner of feminism. – Mary Harrington

A long way from its roots in the labour movement, progressivism has become a story knowledge-class women tell about why their material interests are good in an absolute moral sense. And once you believe that, you can say with perfect conviction that anyone opposing my class interests is an enemy of progress, and thus is by definition a fascist. And faced with this accusation, we may have difficulty persuading working-class men not to turn their ire, frustration and resentment on women — especially while economic shifts that feel like disastrous decline continue to be narrated by the progressive Left as feminist progress.Mary Harrington

Primary care in New Zealand is falling over … it’s been chronically underfunded by the Government and we’ve tightened and tightened and tightened to keep it on the road. But it is now in the process of falling over right in front of us. – Dr Peter Boot

Is it not the height of hypocrisy to laugh along with the atheists who poke fun at the Christian eucharist, only to recoil in horror from the suggestion that there might be something just a wee bit peculiar about offering-up a cooked meal to a random configuration of stars?

For a country which, historically, has eschewed the very idea of a state religion, isn’t it also a little jarring to hear state broadcasters helpfully instructing New Zealanders on the ways in which their new state-sanctioned religious festival can be appropriately celebrated?Chris Trotter 

At times, it can be surprisingly difficult to see clearly from the ninth floor of the Beehive.

To understand what people are thinking out in regional New Zealand, you have to look past the officials in the office buildings arrayed protectively around the seat of power, past the Wellingtonians with their unique take on life, and most of all, past the preoccupations of your own Cabinet and caucus. – Steven Joyce

In regional New Zealand, the only immigration re-set that’s needed is one that brings people to help sustain and grow their communities. – Steven Joyce

Regional people have watched suspiciously as Wellington takes away their ability to run their local polytech or hospital on the grounds that Wellington knows better, with the unspoken corollary that locals aren’t up to it. – Steven Joyce

Regional businesses fear national pay agreements making it harder to run a niche exporter from places like Gisborne and Invercargill – where such businesses are celebrated and all too thin on the ground. And regional people are sick of hearing about vanity projects in Auckland and Wellington with ridiculous price tags, like bike bridges and light rail.Steven Joyce

Few in the regions are under any illusion that the convoluted spaghetti of governance arrangements has been set up to suit Labour’s Māori caucus and pretty much no-one else.

Good luck working out who to call if your “water service entity” fails to fix a sewer pipe, or a stormwater drain causes a pothole in the road outside your gate. In past times you’d ring the mayor and get it fixed. Now you’ll be given an 0800 number and no way of voting the bastards out. – Steven Joyce

Regional people suspect their interests are being sacrificed for Labour’s internal political needs, and not for the first time. They’ve had a gutsful. Steven Joyce

We’ll make it through winter. We always do. But we’ll do it on the sweat and tears and long hours of Kiwi health workers. And maybe we’ll lose some Kiwis who didn’t need to die if only there were enough nurses and doctors to see them. And Labour will have no excuse for not fixing a problem they knew existed five years ago. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

The health system is in meltdown. Call it a crisis, or don’t. It is collapsing around us.

Healthcare staff are at the end of their rope – undervalued and underpaid for years, the wave of strikes is a cry for help. Most are distressed because they know people will die because they can’t access treatment.

As the system buckles, there is incredulity that Health Minister Andrew Little is pushing ahead with a bureaucratic overhaul. Doctors are being asked to work – unpaid – on groups advising the ministry on how to bed in the new regime. No-one seems to know how it will work – the changes are yet another burden that the workforce cannot absorb.

Instead of prioritising a flow of overseas healthcare workers, or returning normal care to reasonable timeframes, his Ministry is pre-occupied with an administrative rejig. The reforms have their merits and are necessary – but staff say they can wait until this storm passes.Andrea Vance

The entire system requires a rethink – inequalities and uneven access need tackling, and the priority must be prevention, and social care.

But workers are too busy dealing with the immediate crisis. Rather than deal with the long term health of the system, we have no choice but to make do with emergency treatment. – Andrea Vance

Who, then, are ideologists? They are people needy of purpose in life, not in a mundane sense (earning enough to eat or to pay the mortgage, for example) but in the sense of transcendence of the personal, of reassurance that there is something more to existence than existence itself. The desire for transcendence does not occur to many people struggling for a livelihood. Avoiding material failure gives quite sufficient meaning to their lives. By contrast, ideologists have few fears about finding their daily bread. Their difficulty with life is less concrete. Their security gives them the leisure, their education the need, and no doubt their temperament the inclination, to find something above and beyond the flux of daily life.

If this is true, then ideology should flourish where education is widespread, and especially where opportunities are limited for the educated to lose themselves in grand projects, or to take leadership roles to which they believe that their education entitles them. The attractions of ideology are not so much to be found in the state of the world—always lamentable, but sometimes improving, at least in certain respects—but in states of mind. And in many parts of the world, the number of educated people has risen far faster than the capacity of economies to reward them with positions they believe commensurate with their attainments. Even in the most advanced economies, one will always find unhappy educated people searching for the reason that they are not as important as they should be. – Theodore Dalrymple

The need for a simplifying lens that can screen out the intractabilities of life, and of our own lives in particular, springs eternal; and with the demise of Marxism in the West, at least in its most economistic form, a variety of substitute ideologies have arisen from which the disgruntled may choose.

Most started life as legitimate complaints, but as political reforms dealt with reasonable demands, the demands transformed themselves into ideologies, thus illustrating a fact of human psychology: rage is not always proportionate to its occasion but can be a powerful reward in itself. Feminists continued to see every human problem as a manifestation of patriarchy, civil rights activists as a manifestation of racism, homosexual-rights activists as a manifestation of homophobia, anti-globalists as a manifestation of globalization, and radical libertarians as a manifestation of state regulation.

How delightful to have a key to all the miseries, both personal and societal, and to know personal happiness through the single-minded pursuit of an end for the whole of humanity! – Theodore Dalrymple

Some ideologies have the flavor of religion; but the absolute certainty of, say, the Anabaptists of Münster, or of today’s Islamists, is ultimately irreligious, since they claimed or claim to know in the very last detail what God requires of us.

The most popular and widest-ranging ideology in the West today is environmentalism, replacing not only Marxism but all the nationalist and xenophobic ideologies that Benda accused intellectuals of espousing in the 1920s. Now, no one who has suffered respiratory difficulties because of smog, or seen the effects of unrestrained industrial pollution, can be indifferent to the environmental consequences of man’s activities; pure laissez-faire will not do. But it isn’t difficult to spot in environmentalists’ work something more than mere concern with a practical problem. Their writings often show themselves akin to the calls to repentance of seventeenth-century divines in the face of plague epidemics, but with the patina of rationality that every ideology needs to disguise its true source in existential angst.Theodore Dalrymple

The environmentalist ideology threatens to make serious inroads into the rule of law in Britain. This past September, six environmentalists were acquitted of having caused $50,000 worth of damage to a power station—not because they did not do it but because four witnesses, including a Greenlander, testified to the reality of global warming.

One recalls the disastrous 1878 jury acquittal in St. Petersburg of Vera Zasulich for the attempted assassination of General Trepov, on the grounds of the supposed purity of her motives. The acquittal destroyed all hope of establishing the rule of law in Russia and ushered in an age of terrorism that led directly to one of the greatest catastrophes in human history. – Theodore Dalrymple

In the end this sinister drift towards authoritarianism in the name of fairness to Maori has to be sheeted home to the feeble quality of Labour’s current caucus. Did none of that slew of low-level lawyers raise questions about “Te Tiriti” let alone its use in a nation-wide move to undermine our constitution by way of co-governance? And about the semi take-over of the MSM that comes with strings attached to the Public Interest Journalism Fund? Co-governance is contrary to the real Treaty that was signed in 1840, contrary to our Bill of Rights, and to international conventions among those countries that believe in democracy. The Fund is contrary to customary democratic standards that govern the relationship between governments and the MSM outside of authoritarian regimes.Michael Bassett

We’re heading into some worse economic times. I do not expect it will lead to better policy. Rather the opposite. – Dr Eric Crampton

The problem is that while New Zealand is increasingly backing the West, the West is not fully backing New Zealand.

Neither the EU, nor the US are supporting their rhetoric of solidarity and unity with the economic deals New Zealand would need to have a true alternative to China.Geoffrey Miller

There is something not right about the whole Mahuta thing. The Foreign Affairs appointment came so far out of left field it made the Poto Williams appointment look like a stroke of genius.

A person who hates flying but is Foreign Affairs Minister. A person who has barely travelled post Covid, telling us the Pacific is fine and we can wait until the Pacific Leaders Forum next month while the Chinese park themselves locally aiming to achieve God knows what, and Penny Wong on a plane most days to try and mop up the potential damage.

There is a power struggle between the Prime Minister and the Māori caucus. There can be no other explanation for the ridiculous defence over a Minister who is low profile, work shy, and letting her portfolios down.- Mike Hosking

The Australians call it the pub test. Does the fact Mahuta’s husband and other family members getting money for contracts pass the pub test? A simple and easy no. Does the fact family members receive high-powered appointments pass the pub test? The answer is a simple and easy no.

The amount of money so far doesn’t appear to be massive but that’s not the point. The question that needs to be asked and answered is, do the jobs and the contracts go to people in the Mahuta family who offer skills experience and expertise that no one else can offer? The answer is an obvious no.Mike Hosking

The whole Mahuta thing stinks. It should never have happened, and they should have been smart enough to know that.

And yet here we are, more mess, more murk, and more reputational damage. – Mike Hosking

But the world has changed since the 1990s, and it’s changed in a way that makes republicanism seem a lot less attractive. For the past 15 years the 21st century has experienced a “democratic recession”: a global decline of liberal democracy, a widespread failure of liberal and democratic institutions. And almost all of this democratic backsliding has taken place in republics: Turkey, the Philippines, Venezuela, Brazil, the ex-communist republics of central and eastern Europe. Even the US system looks shaky. And they’ve failed, or are failing in exactly the way liberal theorists who favour constitutional monarchies predicted they would: via “autocoups” in which an authoritarian leader wins the presidency and then takes over the country, arresting the opposition, deposing judges, postponing elections, taking over the police and armed forces.  –

Under a constitutional monarchy the presidential role is split out into a ceremonial head of state with almost no political power, and the executive that has power but is legitimised by the monarch. You can’t contest the monarchy because it’s hereditary, and when there’s a legitimacy crisis or a constitutional crisis over who controls the executive, all of the politicians, soldiers and police have sworn to obey the monarch, not the head of government. And the monarch can play no role other than to direct them to serve the legitimately elected government, or for the country to hold new elections. They’re the apolitical actor at the apex of the political system.

During the late 20th century, this extra level of stability seemed superfluous: it prevented coups the same way Lisa Simpson’s rock “kept tigers away”. In the 2020s it looks as if this form of liberal democracy really is more stable. Most of the peer nations we like to compare ourselves to – your Canadas and Australias and Denmarks and Swedens and Norways and Japans – use the same system, and seem in no hurry to change it.  –

The constitutional monarchy is not a perfect system: if the UK’s monarch or presumptive heir looked like Edward VIII, or Thailand’s Rama IX, or Prince Andrew, we’d probably be looking for the exit and a new head of state (King Richie? First Citizen Swarbrick? We’d figure it out). But in the absence of any such crisis it’s no longer obvious that the republican model is inevitable, or even desirable. Our current system is not broken and may be far better than the alternatives. Republicanism is not the solution to any of our current problems, and it may create terrible problems of its own. Danyl Mclauchlan

I’m not interested in importing cultural wars into New Zealand. We have a much bigger agenda at play, which is that we have a great country, we have to realise our potential. We’re heading in the wrong direction. – Christopher Luxon

Throughout my electorate, Parliament, and the places I go in between, food and fuel prices are the biggest topics of conversation.

Given what I do, talks quickly turn to another F word — failure.

Failure by the Government to do anything remotely useful to address the crisis we’re all living in.Barbara Kuriger

Co-governance. Partnership. The unrelenting quest to try to refashion the New Zealand Diceyan unwritten Constitution (one of the modern world’s most successful ever, as it happens) into something else never quite specified, and to do so on the basis of a UN declaration that has the most scanty, exiguous, meagre democratic credentials imaginable. A government with a seemingly pathological desire to downgrade the English language (the world’s reserve language, meaning that to have been born into a country where it is the first language is akin – through no acts on your part, just dumb luck – to having won the biggest lottery going) in favour of the Maori language. Identity politics and the elevation of ethnic or group or race-based thinking and policy-making. After having just returned to Australia from a four-day speaking tour across the Tasman arguing against a radical government report, all this and more would unfortunately describe my observations of New Zealand, the country my family and I happily called home from 1993 to 2004. – James Allan

That government-commissioned report I was asked to critique and flown across the Tasman to speak about wants Aotearoa (what else?) to move away from procedural democracy to a ‘co-governance’ or partnership model – one where about 15 per cent of the population are put into one group and everyone else into the other and the former counted as equal to the latter, with an implicit veto on decision-making. That’s identity politics writ large, though in my view no 15-can-veto-85 setup is stable or sustainable (but what do I know, I never guessed Australians during the pandemic would submit sheep-like to the biggest inroads on our freedoms and civil liberties in three centuries, the preponderance of my fellow citizens seemingly welcoming despotic, petty, irrational rules and oversight by a public health clerisy which got just about everything wrong, we now see). Throw in the desire for a written constitution with that U.N. Declaration and an early nineteenth century short treaty stuffed into it – and surely with the unelected Kiwi judges then empowered to gainsay the elected branches on the basis of both – and you have the idea of the path down which this Ardern government is thinking of travelling. James Allan

The science and scientific approach that has delivered the most spectacular increases in human welfare from which all New Zealanders benefit – derisively dubbed ‘Western science’ – is to be put on the same plane as ‘traditional knowledge’? For this report to suggest that somehow this scientific worldview is tainted due to where it emerged in the world, and that it offers no better answers (in medicine, in food production, in international travel, pick any field you want) than so-called traditional knowledge does, is laughable. The claim, one that is likewise advanced regularly here in Australia by the way, can only be put forward because most people are too polite, actually, to laugh. (Test question: If the authors of this radical report were to get very ill, would they opt for ‘Western’ scientific medicine or traditional concoctions? I’ve got a theory on that one.)

Readers, it’s time a lot more of us started to laugh. And to grow a backbone. That goes doubly for my Kiwi friends. – James Allan

And now, with the apparent prospect of a food shortage worldwide – although New Zealand should be well placed as an agriculturally productive country – the selling of prime agricultural land to those planting pine plantations to eventually replace fossil fuels is folly. So is the ridiculous, punitive decision to now tax farmers for the supposed contribution of their livestock to global warming.

Moreover, the fanatical Climate Change Commission and Ministry for the Environment have both confirmed that the current emissions reduction targets have been envisioned to go much further, requiring farmers to help offset warming produced by other sectors of the economy. The damage to this vital industry will very likely drive many out of business. Yet there has not been a single scientific model of agriculture’s warming effect made publicly available.Amy Brooke 


Quotes of the month

02/05/2022

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

None of the demands of the new left stray from the culture into the material, they are all about flags, statues, word changes, date changes, forced declarations and compelled pronoun announcements, all shielding privilege in virtue. The new green movement’s aim to consolidate international power to control energy production doesn’t seem at all suspicious to the new lefties, I can tell you the old left would have had some bells going off. Edie Wyatt

This agenda to create an elite New Zealand ethnic group is racist, its undemocratic, its destructive, it has no mandate from the people and its directly opposed to the true and communicated intent of Treaty, so to stand against it is a 100% morally defendable position, so stand and do whatever you can, no matter how little. – John Franklin

I was not much surprised after the continual fanatical research by the Thought Police, to read that the Declaration of Independence being displayed at the National Archives in Washington has now attracted a ‘trigger warning’ on one of the original copies. How could we even hope that those resounding words: ‘ We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’  would be acceptable in these days of endless virtuous Thought Correction. Valerie Davies

Liberal thinking, modern concepts of liberty, equality, and diversity, whether in terms of race or gender, were not common in previous ages, so most of the great classics, though they often helped to push the boundaries of thought in all these things, are doomed, I fear.

Literature, described by one writer, as the ‘logbook of the human race,’ will struggle to exist if the woke mobs have their say – and history and theories that enlighten and educate and shift our thought processes, and initiate new paradigms. The creativity of uncensored minds is what leads  civilisation and lifts it to greater heights..

Power corrupts, and the power of virtue signallers of all colours seems to have brought about the disgrace and cancelling of numerous forward looking thinkers, of established and reputable writers like JK Rowling, and even of ordinary people who posses the common sense to see things in  perspective and the courage to speak out, and who lose their jobs and reputations as a result of this persecution. – Valerie Davies

Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of this sort of censorship is the way employees of publishers now seem to hold the upper hand, and refuse to work if they don’t like the content of a book, so that publishers and writers are intimidated. They have become fearful of publishing or writing any book which doesn’t conform to the guidelines of the new groups who demand that we all think like they do.  Valerie Davies

Not only does this sort of policing of our minds and thoughts have terrible similarities both with the Nazi era, and the unforgivable brain washing of the Russian population during this latest unspeakable war, but it also limits the creativity and diversity of thought by which a society itself expands its perceptions, and explores the further reaches of thought and creativity, and the possibilities of the human spirit.

It’s called gaslighting when a person undermines the feelings of another person, making them feel that their feelings have no validity and don’t matter. What is happening to our history, to our literature, to our culture, is another form of gaslighting, which can also be described as bullying. – Valerie Davies

I wish it was different, I wish we had a better leadership, I wish we had more hope and more optimism, and I wish we had people running this place that were just a little bit in touch with the real world.Mike Hosking

One of the criticisms this government faces — and has faced often — is that there is little substance to their policies and at times, little rationale for their decision-making.

There is certainly very little transparency in terms of what’s shaping their thinking, what the intended outcome is, and why they’ve have taken the position they have.  – Rachel Smalley

Forcing local councils into toothless submission via far-reaching national policy directives and rushed legislative change is becoming a familiar refrain. Mike Yardley

Language is central in the culture wars and if you invalidate the words that enable people to articulate their concerns, you strip them of an essential weapon. By characterising users of terms such as “woke” and “political correctness” as alarmist, out of touch and jumping at their own shadows, the neo-Marxist Left seeks to minimise the implications of its radical agenda. The perception that New Zealand democracy is being systematically dismantled as part of a grand ideological project can then be presented as a figment of fevered right-wing imaginations.

Conservative New Zealanders tend to be reticent at the best of times, and are even more likely to keep their views to themselves if they fear being ridiculed for using the wrong words.  – Karl du Fresne

The lesson that arises, which is of acute relevance to the co-governance debate, is that reasonable public consideration of important issues will not take place if it is constrained by a framework constructed by politicians. All that ensures is that the outcome of any such consultation is shaped and ultimately decided according to the partisan political lines dominant at the time.Peter Dunne

The job of the fourth estate is not to take a position and tell anyone what to believe; it is to ask questions and report the answers, and investigate as far as possible and report evidence that may show whether those answers are truthful and comprehensive.

In other words, journalists are not endowed with special powers of insight by dint of their profession – though some may be uncommonly perceptive – and they should not be expected to take either a particularly antagonistic or obsequious stance in order to be seen to be doing their job well. – Andrew Barnes

When people feel afraid, when downtowns are no-go zones when police aren’t there to be seen when Kāinga Ora evicts no one despite the threats to blow you up or burn your house down when you curtail your lifestyle because of fear, and perhaps worst of all when your Government fails to accept any of it is true, just how long can you go rejecting the premise of the question before you are rejecting it from the opposition benches? Mike Hosking

For the record, I was a lousy public servant. Truly. I was the worst of the worst. I was eternally frustrated by the glacial pace of progress, the bureaucracy, the obsession with tiers and titles, a sector-wide fear of ministers, the Wellington-centric view of New Zealand, and the level of waste. – Rachel Smalley

This week, I wondered if the Government had learned anything from KiwiBuild.

Some of its decision-making continues to feel hasty, off-the-cuff, and lacking in strategy and substance. Remember the public sector pay-freeze in the middle of a pandemic? The policy around hate speech that neither Kris Faafoi nor Jacinda Ardern could articulate? The bungled border decisions that left Kiwis stranded overseas? And the little-scrutinised major health reforms announced almost a year ago. – Rachel Smalley

The July deadline is fast approaching and the CEOs of the country’s 20 DHBs have limited insight into what August will look like. In fact, Health NZ is yet to confirm an operating model.

It feels like KiwiBuild all over again. Health NZ began with a big announcement, but there is little substance behind it. The Ministry of Housing & Urban Development couldn’t wait to offload KiwiBuild to Kāinga Ora to manage, and Bloomfield may have timed his exit to avoid having to deal with the inevitable Health NZ mess.

The origins of major reform may lie with ideology, but they must be built on strategy and ‘real world’ thinking. – Rachel Smalley

At universities there has been a strong trend towards what is called “no platforming”, a concept that argues “platforms” shouldn’t be provided for harmful or wrong ideas and debates. It’s essentially the concept of “banning” bad ideas from being available. This concept has led to several speakers and ideas being kept off New Zealand campuses. Not only that, but it has also sent a strong message to academics about the possibility of being “called out” or marginalised if they don’t conform to orthodox views. – Bryce Edwards

In a sense, the left has swung from one extreme in the 20th century, when everything was about economics and class (and important issues around gender and ethnicity were not given their due focus) to one where the focus is much more on culturalist and identity politics. – Bryce Edwards

The modern version of the left – or the “liberal left” – has different ways of pursuing political change. Largely it’s an elite, top-down model of politics, reflective of the left being made up of the highly educated stratum of society. They confidently believe that they know best.

This elite leftwing approach is very compatible with a more censorious approach to politics and that partly explains the authoritarian impulses we are seeing today. – Bryce Edwards

The rise of “culture wars” has been incredibly important for shaping the political atmosphere we are currently in. Rather than debate and discussion, or finding a middle ground, it’s more polarising – with both conservatives and liberals focusing more on personalities. For example, from the left we see widespread labelling of opponents as racists or sexists. There is now a sneering tendency on the left – especially at those who are seen as socially backward.Bryce Edwards

One logical consequence for many on the left is to take an approach of “language policing” and concern for “cultural etiquette”, in an almost Victorian way. Again, this is topsy-turvy – it used to be the conservative or rightwing side of politics that was concerned with policing people’s behaviour, and looking down on the less educated and enlightened.

The contemporary left has a mistrust in the ability of society to make the right decisions or to understand the world. In an elitist way, many on the progressive side of politics view the public as being ignorant or lacking enlightenment. Hence, the view of gender or ethnic inequality or oppression is often understood as something to do with personal behaviour and “bad ideas” (racism, sexism, homophobia) – rather than a fundamental part of how our society is structured. – Bryce Edwards

I think what people would say about me is that I play politics like I played sport.

I mean when I got the ball in rugby, I ran it up the guts. That’s the truth. Because for me if you want to achieve something you look at the best route possible and for me it has always been from A to B. – Louisa Wall

The natural consequence of an ideology that holds the group, not the individual, as the standard of value, is complete disregard for the rights of individuals. If what really matters is the Russian state, who cares if some Ukrainian civilians are sacrificed for that ideal? This sounds callous and brutish to Western ears, precisely because Western culture places great importance on the value of the individual’s life. When that standard of value is lost—when the state or the group replaces it—the door is opened to unthinkable depths of inhumanity. – Thomas Walker-Werth

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in an address to the Russian people that he does not believe the invasion is being perpetrated in their name, echoing the view expressed by many that Putin is acting against the values of Russian people. However, although Putin is clearly a madman, his actions are enabled by a philosophy that has as thoroughly permeated Russia today as it had Germany in the 1930s. This truth is borne out in the reaction of many Russian people to the invasion of Ukraine: According to independent polling agencies cited by Forbes.com and other Western sources, Putin’s approval ratings have increased sharply since the war began.14 Many Russian people accept the government’s “justification” for the invasion.15 There are some valiant individuals who resist, and they deserve enormous credit, as do those Russian soldiers who defect or refuse to obey orders to murder civilians. But they are a small minority.

What is happening now in Ukraine is a kind of barbarism many in the West thought was consigned to history. But the collectivism that led to the murder and brutalization of millions upon millions of people in Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s USSR, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and numerous other collectivist tyrannies during the 20th century, is still alive and capable of inflicting gruesome harm on millions of innocent people.

The only antidote to collectivism is a principled defense of the very ideas Putin opposes: individualism and individual rights. That is what was missing in 1930s Germany, and that is what is missing in Russia and many other countries today. Nationalist parties inspired by Dugin have made significant electoral gains in relatively free European countries such as France and Germany.16 Collectivist ideology even underpins policies of both major American political parties. It will lead to ever more human suffering—until and unless people come to understand and embrace individualism and individual rights. – Thomas Walker-Werth

Even Dr Bloomfield appears reluctant to join the Prime Minister on stage for a repeat of their hit 2020 performances.

Back then it seemed to matter. Now it has the ring of a Culture Club farewell tour playing to shambolic dive bars while still dreaming of the packed stadiums of yesteryear. – Damien Grant

This administration has the feeling of a dead-man-walking. New Zealand has tuned out. Money, interest and attention has now turned towards Messrs Luxon and Seymour, as there is now a sense of inevitability about a change of government.

Here is my take: Outside of Covid, this administration has a terrible record. Inequality, if you care about that metric, has deteriorated. The only way a working family can now obtain a house is through inheritance. We are toiling longer, with unemployment having fallen, but the wages being earned are worth less thanks to inflation.

Few things better define the Ardern government than the Auckland Harbour cycle path. Announced with great fanfare then quietly forgotten. KiwiBuild, the Provincial Growth Fund, transparency, mental health funding and even the entire Well-Being budget framework have all fallen over. – Damien Grant

The poor now struggle to get credit, thanks to changes to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act. The poor now have to pay more for their petrol cars, thanks to the tax on dirty petrol cars. The poor now struggle to cover the cost of groceries as prices rise faster than wages, thanks in part to changes to the mandate of the Reserve Bank away from a single focus on inflation.

Other than increasing benefits at nearly the rate of inflation, the Ardern Government has achieved close to nothing outside of Covid, and in many key areas the welfare of Kiwis has fallen. – Damien Grant

Not all of this is Ardern’s fault. Her agenda was derailed by the pandemic and the paucity of competence within her caucus from which to draw talent. There are only so many portfolios you can force onto Chris Hipkins before he loses focus and begins to bait pregnant journalists trapped in Kabul.

There are still a few big projects on the books. The Fair Pay Agreements and unemployment insurance may become law by the next election, but if the past performance is any guide these reforms will not be well-designed and be implemented badly. – Damien Grant

Never, in the history of the world, have we lived in more generally inclusive and accepting societies than those that make up the West nowadays. That is not to say things are perfect and we should consider the job of promoting equality and fairness done. However, it seems the further we have progressed, the more ardently some quarters of our society declare evil to be found everywhere.

Instead of ‘reds under the bed’, these zealots find racists in the pantry, homophobes in between the couch cushions, transphobes in the bedside drawer, and misogynists under the rug. Again, I am not disputing that there are still the odd ‘phobes’ or bigots lurking unwanted, but the insistence that there is an epidemic of these uncouth kinds of folk runs the risk of manifesting them into existence. – Ani O’Brien

Much of New Zealand lives in incredibly multicultural communities – Wellington to a lesser extent and maybe that’s why bureaucrats are some of the worst offenders when it comes to imagining racists.

We, of all backgrounds, attend kindy together, then school. We are friends, neighbours, lovers, life partners, parents, family, and whanau. We cheer for the same sports teams, despair at the same petrol prices, and often share aspects of the same Kiwi sense of humour.

But despite our integrated, though at times flawed, society there are those who will have you believe that every white New Zealander harbours hatred towards New Zealanders of other ethnic backgrounds and especially Māori.Ani O’Brien

The reductive view these privileged theorists take paints the poorest, drug-addled beggar on the street as the oppressor of a successful and wealthy businessperson if only the beggar is white and the businessperson is not.Their concept of racial privilege is so lacking in nuance that a kid who has his shoes and raincoat supplied by a charity and is fed at school will be taught by his teacher that he is privileged over some of his more fortunate classmates because he is white and they are not.

This constant placing of people in diametrically opposite camps based on race is a recipe not for improved cohesion and furthering equality. It is a sure way to increase divisiveness and create distrust and animosity between groups of people.

When already marginalised people are told constantly that they are “bad” because of the colour of their skin, or that people like them need to “sit down and shut up”, and that they have less claim to their country of birth than the bloke next door, they begin to see themselves as outsiders.

And, when the criteria for being a ‘racist’ or a ‘white supremacist’ is so diluted that accusations are flung about as frequently and as flippantly as they currently are, the accused begin to be a larger and larger group. – Ani O’Brien

In this context, a white identity group is being formed not by those it is being imposed on, but by the mostly white, educated, ‘liberals’ who somehow exclude themselves from the characterisations they make about other white people as entitled, greedy, mean, ignorant, privileged, and, of course, racist.

White identity is being manifested by those who most decry it.

People who have always been more invested in a ‘Kiwi Identity’ untethered to race, now find themselves being repeatedly told that they cannot understand their fellow countrymen and women because they are racially different. People who have heartily taken part in the haka and sung Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi at the top of their lungs are now self-conscious and reluctant to attempt te Reo Māori for fear of being accused of appropriation or disrespect. – Ani O’Brien

White New Zealanders are being told “you stay over there in your lane”, while Māori are told “look at those guys over there – they’re racist and hate you”, and New Zealanders of all other races and ethnicities wonder ‘where do we fit into this dysfunctional situation?’

Division is being driven from the top. Government agencies, academia, media, and our education system are all complicit in dreaming into reality a toxic ‘white identity’ that imposes the very worst of fringe extremism on a population that still makes up the majority of New Zealanders. – Ani O’Brien

There is a glorification of making white New Zealanders uncomfortable as if that in itself is an acceptable and entertaining pastime by those at the top. It is inevitably white people with more institutional and economic power sneering at white people with much less than them. One should, in my opinion, rightly be made uncomfortable if they are racist, but often the shaming that happens is gratuitous and not in the pursuit of bringing an end to genuine racism.

Likewise, it seems to be a small group of wealthy, highly educated Māori who are driving the culture war from their end. Your average Māori, just like your average white New Zealander, is uninterested in ‘intersectional politics’ and reckons everyone should just get a fair go regardless of race. They certainly do not profit from the divisiveness like those who get air time and academic papers out of it. 

It is unlikely that the behaviours driving the manifestation of white identity are going to change anytime soon. The establishment white ‘liberals’ are too drunk on the power of denigrating ‘lower’ white people and promoting their own exceptionalism. They will continue to drive wedges between communities that otherwise live pretty harmoniously.

As with much of the antagonism in the culture wars, the accusation of racism is largely a weapon wielded by the powerful and fortunate against those who they see as the great unwashed and uneducated masses. They cancel others with relative power in order to retain control of the narrative and prevent the empowerment of the majority. Cancellations are punishments for deviating from the dominant discourse, but they are also warnings; ritualistic public shamings intended to make anyone who would be inclined to challenge norms, think twice.

There are ultimately more of us who wish to live peacefully in our multicultural country than those who want to pit us against each other. We can choose not to be afraid of the tactics used to make us comply. We can refuse to allow the toxic ‘White Identity’, they are attempting to manifest, to take hold. We should celebrate our shared values and manifest instead a Kiwi Identity that we can all be proud of.Ani O’Brien

When I heard Ukraine’s President Zelensky arguing for a fundamental overhaul of the United Nations, and especially of the Security Council, I recalled our greatest New Zealand Prime Minister and World War Two leader, Peter Fraser. He envisaged just the sort of issue we face today with Russia’s war on Ukraine. Old Peter, a wily, highly intelligent Scotsman, was one of the world’s few prime ministers to attend the San Francisco conference in 1945 that set up the rules for a postwar body to monitor the peace. With support from nearly all the smaller countries represented at the conference, Fraser objected strenuously to the great power veto that enabled any of the five victorious powers – the US, Britain, France, Russia and China – to block any substantive move the Security Council might want to take in the event of a breach of the UN Charter, even if all other countries favoured action. Peter Fraser pointed out that by allowing a veto, one of the five might behave as it pleased, and then act as judge and jury in its own cause. He was right. That’s exactly what has happened several times since 1945. The US has done it and Russia much more often. The veto is why today the United Nations is such a toothless tiger. It is unable to protect Ukraine, one of its member states, from the ruthless onslaught from neighboring Russia. The recent motion to condemn Russia passed the Security Council with a significant majority. Several Security Council members abstained from voting or absented themselves, but Russia exercised its veto, thereby preventing what should have resulted in international punishment, with Russia having to pay reparations for the damage it has done. – Michael Bassett

Wise heads are needed to work out some way of dealing with nuclear blackmail. Over Cuba in 1962 the United States stared Russia down and Nikita Khruschev blinked rather than take responsibility for blowing up the world. This time the US couldn’t be sufficiently sure that Putin wouldn’t push the nuclear button and blow everything up. The problem with high level threats is that one has to presume that both the offenders and the victims are capable of making rational decisions. With modern Russia, this has always been in doubt. Putin has never produced any rational explanation for the invasion he kept denying he intended, and then suddenly launched. There is considerable speculation that after 22 years in office he’s been removed from reality for too long. In his search for some kind of legitimacy for the corruption and looting that he and his oligarch mates have undertaken within Russia he’s become obsessed with Russian Orthodox Christianity which so far has placed a firm stamp of approval on his years in office. Put simply, he seems to have lost it, and to be beyond reason.

If this is so, it raises a further issue that Peter Fraser and the founders of the United Nations hoped they wouldn’t face again once that Adolf Hitler was dead: how to deal with a madman possessed of the wherewithal to blow up the world. In the meantime, a concerted effort to reform the Security Council and remove the veto powers has become urgent. President Zelensky is right. Michael Bassett

To call a belief a myth is usually to denigrate it, though there are beneficial myths as there are noble lies. There’s no doubt that myths can be harmful, however, for they can, and often do, obstruct critical thought.

In Britain, the mythology of the National Health Service (NHS), which now manages to combine the baleful characteristics of Stalinist administration with pork barrel politics, has obstructed necessary reform for decades. Because of the mythology, the NHS is the nearest to a religion that the country comes, according to Nigel Lawson, the second-most powerful British politician during Margaret Thatcher’s premiership. Even the Iron Lady feared to reform it fundamentally. It was much more difficult for her than confronting the Soviet Union. – Theodore Dalrymple

It’s therefore difficult to know how representative of the whole any scandal is. But the institution is coated in a kind of Teflon, to which no scandal can stick.

And yet everyone knows that it’s better to be ill in almost any European country than in Britain. The outcomes of various diseases—heart attacks or cancer, for example—are worse in Britain than elsewhere. When the NHS was established, in 1948, British life expectancy was six years higher than France’s. Now it’s two or three years lower. Life expectancy is not determined by health care alone, of course, but the government report that led to the establishment of the NHS stated that health care in Britain was superior to that in most of the rest of Europe. No one would claim that any longer.  – Theodore Dalrymple

I had never heard of a colour-coordinated library. I stood looking at her in total disbelief. After about 20 seconds of stunned silence I managed to blurt out, “Well, my books have to be read! I will not sell any of my books just to be put in a fake library and forgotten. You can’t buy any of these books!” – Ruth Shaw

When I hold one of my mother’s books I remember her; I touch the same page she touched, I read the same words she read. Books collected over many years become part of the family. They have been loved, read and re-read, and have often travelled around the world. They live in silence for years in a family home bearing witness to many special occasions, bringing the reader joy and sometimes tears.Ruth Shaw

This underlines a striking trend in recent years for the mainstream media in New Zealand to align themselves consciously and deliberately with causes that they must know alienate a large proportion of their readers, viewers and listeners. Call it slow-motion suicide.

The bigger picture is that the media have abandoned their traditional role of trying to reflect the society they purport to serve in favour of advocating on behalf of divisive and often extremist minority causes. By doing so they create a perception of New Zealand not as a cohesive, stable society made up of diverse groups with vital interests in common, but as one characterised by aggrieved minorities whose interests are fundamentally incompatible with those of a callously indifferent (or worse, deliberately oppressive) majority.

Media outlets that once tried conscientiously to provide a platform for a range of opinions and ideologies now unashamedly attack, or just as insidiously ignore, views and beliefs that run counter to the narrative favoured by the leftist cabal that controls the institutions of power. The most obvious example is the collective undertaking by major media organisations to ignore any opinion, including those of distinguished scientists, that runs counter to the “approved” narrative on climate change or the effectiveness of policies intended to ameliorate it.

Such flagrant suppression of news would have been unthinkable not long ago. Now it’s official editorial policy.- Karl du Fresne

As an occupational group, journalists have long tended to lean to the left. Earlier generations of reporters countered this by restraining their natural impulses, knowing that media credibility hinged on public confidence that events and issues would be covered fairly, accurately and impartially. That professional discipline is long gone, along with the moderating influence exercised by editors who insisted on the now highly unfashionable principle of objectivity.

We are bombarded daily with politically slanted content masquerading as trustworthy and authoritative reportage. A recent example was an episode of the New Zealand Herald’s newly launched podcast The Front Page (which claims to “go behind the headlines” and ask “hard-hitting questions”), in which Herald journalists Damien Venuto and Georgina Campbell purported to examine the Three Waters project without once mentioning its most contentious feature – namely, the proposal for 50/50 co-governance with iwi.

“High-quality, trusted” coverage as promised by Herald managing editor Shayne Currie? It’s time to revive the Tui billboards, surely. – Karl du Fresne

The war immediately combined the personal and public. And this is probably the fatal mistake of the tyrant who attacked us. We are all Ukrainians first, and then everything else. He wanted to divide us, to shatter us, to provoke internal confrontation, but it is impossible to do this with Ukrainians. When one of us is tortured, raped, or killed, we feel that we all are being tortured, raped, or killed. We do not need propaganda to feel civic consciousness, and to resist. It is this personal anger and pain, which we all feel, that instantly activates the thirst to act, to resist aggression, to defend our freedom. Everyone does this the way they can: Soldiers with weapons in their hands, teachers by continuing to teach, doctors by conducting complex surgeries under attacks. All have become volunteers—artists, restaurateurs, hairdressers—as barbarians try to take over our country. I’ve seen this raise the deepest patriotic feelings in our children. Not only my children, but all the children of Ukraine. They will grow up to be patriots and defenders of their homeland.Olena Zelenska

Blocked, destroyed Mariupol is our terrible pain. That continues. And the Kyiv region has become horrible—that’s what we’ve seen as the Russian army has retreated. The world has learned the name Bucha. This is one of the once-beautiful towns near the capital—but the same horrors can be seen in dozens of villages and towns in Kyiv region. People killed on the street. Not military—civilians! Graves near playgrounds. I can’t even describe it. It makes me speechless. But it is necessary to look at it.

I hope we are not the only ones who see the message Russia is sending. This message is not only addressed to us. This is their message to the world! This could be what happens to any country that Russia does not like. – Olena Zelenska

The democratic world must be united and give a tough response, thus showing that in the twenty-first century there is no place for killing civilians and encroaching on foreign territory.Olena Zelenska

The main thing is not to get used to the war—not to turn it into statistics. Continue going to protests, continue to demand that your governments take action. Ukrainians are the same as you, but just over a month ago, our lives changed radically. Ukrainians did not want to leave their homes. But so often they did not have homes left. – Olena Zelenska

My family—just like every Ukrainian—and my compatriots: incredible people who organized to help the army and help each other. Now all Ukrainians are the army. Everyone does what they can. There are stories about grandmothers who bake bread for the army just because they feel this call. They want to bring victory closer.

That is what Ukrainians are like. We all hope for them. We hope for ourselves. – Olena Zelenska

Change in linguistic usage is normal, and it can either add to or detract from language’s expressive power. It’s much more likely to be sinister when it’s directed by some organization acting in an official or public capacity than when it arises spontaneously from the population at large.

Directed change in linguistic usage is usually done in pursuit of some practical or ideological end, acknowledged or unacknowledged—or both. – Theodore Dalrymple

Why is there this drive to exculpate people totally from their own situation, if that situation is in some way undesirable or worse?

First, there’s the desire for power by those who see their fellow beings as pure victims, that is to say, as inanimate objects acted upon but not acting. But I don’t think that this is the whole explanation.

Another part of the explanation is the debased secularization of Christian ethics. Christian ethics enjoin us to forgive our enemies, to love others as oneself, and to be charitable toward the unfortunate. But the secularized version of these ethics omits one important aspect, namely that we’re all sinners in need of mercy. In the secularized version of Christian ethics, there’s no notion of sin, at least not in victims: Only perpetrators, such as commercial interests and governments, can sin in the new revised version.Theodore Dalrymple

In the older view, a Christian could—and, in fact, should—recognize the sinfulness of every person, including the very fat, but at the same time attempt to be compassionate toward him. For essentially he, the Christian, was in the same boat, if not necessarily with regard to the same sin—but he was a sinner of some kind or another.

Again, it isn’t the case that Christians always practiced what they preached or should have preached. Far from it: They can be as censorious, cruel, punitive, and sadistic as anyone else. But at least, in theory, their belief or doctrine allows them the possibility of recognizing both a person’s sinful part in bringing about his own bad situation and being compassionate toward him. – Theodore Dalrymple

 It wants to be compassionate toward those who suffer. But because it hangs on to Christian ethics with the concept of sin removed, that turns almost everyone, including the readers of this, into inanimate objects, with all the potential for a totalitarian dictatorship and abuse that such a worldview inevitably implies.Theodore Dalrymple

Why do we feature car or motorbike racing as though it is sensible to drive very fast to nowhere in particular, or simply round and round to get back to where we started? – Jacqueline Rowarth

Those of us who want our science free of ideology can only stand by helplessly as we watch physics, chemistry, and biology crumble from within as the termites of Wokeism nibble away. I once thought that scientists, whom I presumed would be less concerned than humanities professors with ideological pollution (after all, we do have some objective facts to argue about), would be largely immune to Wokeism.

I was wrong, of course. It turns out that scientists are human beings after all, and with that goes the desire for the approbation of one’s peers and of society.  And you don’t get that if you’re deemed a racist. You can even be criticized from holding yourself away from the fray, preferring to do science than engage in social engineering. (Remember, Kendi-an doctrine says that if you’re not an actively working anti-racist, you’re a racist.)Jerry Coyne

And everybody knows, though few dare to say it, that what’s happening is the erosion of the meritocratic aspects of science, replacing them with standards of social justice determined by a small group of “progressive” people on the Left. Further, the less that merit is considered and used as a fundamental tenet of science, the slower science will progress. But I suppose the proponents of injecting Wokeism into science would say “merit is an outdated criterion; what we really need is equity.” Perhaps, but the effort is all directed at calling present science riddled with “structural racism.” And that’s not true. – Jerry Coyne

Incitement to psychological fragility is one of the most important enemies of freedom today, especially where the taking of offence requires no justification and confers certain moral rights automatically, including those of censorship, upon the offended. Anyone who does not compassionate the offended compounds the supposed reason for his or her having taken offence in the first place. Moreover, taking offence is the highest proof of that most sterling of all human characteristics, vulnerability. Only the insensitive and hard-hearted lack vulnerability.

To increase people’s vulnerability is thus to improve their character. As it happens, it also creates job opportunities, for example those of so-called sensitivity readers, those youngish women, educated in the humanities, who read books for publishers in order to pre-empt any offence that readers might take. Without people primed and ready to take offence, where would they be?

Of course, only certain types or categories of people must be protected from offence; others may be offended with impunity, indeed it is a duty and a pleasure to do so.- Anthony Daniels 

The more people are protected from that against which they might take offence, the more hypersensitive and easily offended they become, so the more protection they need. Sensitivity reading is a job for life.

It is therefore important to seize all possible occasions to emphasise the fragility of the human psyche.  – Anthony Daniels 

Now I am myself somewhat prudish by nature, especially in the matter of bad language. I think it should be kept in reserve and brought out only on very important or special occasions. If used all the time, it has no real impact and is inexpressive. English is rather impoverished when it comes to bad language and so, apart from being bad in the moral sense, it is bad in point of monotony and uninventiveness. I am told that by comparison Hungarian, for example, is rich in expletives and the like, and it is possible to swear and insult in Hungarian for minutes on end without repetition.Anthony Daniels 

I regret very much the resort to bad language in Anglophone life. In England, the rapid increase in its daily use is almost exactly datable, back to the time when the highly superior theatre critic Kenneth Tynan first pronounced a certain word on BBC television, thinking thereby that he was liberating his fellow-countrymen from the terrible chains of respectability. It is sometimes claimed that the Irish writer Brendan Behan had used it before him, but he was so drunk at the time, and his speech so slurred and incoherent, that nobody could quite catch what he said.

Less than fifty years later, it was more or less compulsory for anyone who wanted to be taken seriously to use the word constantly. – Anthony Daniels 

Warnings that assume that we are a population of histrionic or hysterical personality disorders are common these days. Anthony Daniels 

At whom, then, was the warning aimed? Perhaps this is the wrong question: it should be, “What was the purpose of the warning?”

I think it was to instil in the population the idea that there are large numbers of delicate people—adults—in our society who need protection the way that minors were once thought to be in need of protection, because they are psychologically so sensitive, fragile and vulnerable. This in turn necessitates a great army of sensitivity readers and the like to prevent distress, and counsellors, psychologists and so forth to cure it after it has occurred. At the same time as our culture is unprecedentedly vulgar, crude and violent, we must protect people from representations of vulgarity, crudity and violence. In the words of the old Flanders and Swann song, “It all makes work for the working man to do.” But we have progressed somewhat since their benighted time: it makes work for the working woman too. – Anthony Daniels 

As I’ve always said, I don’t mind using whatever pronouns someone wants to be known by, but the buck stops for me when transgender women are considered as full biological women—and by that I mean women who produce (or have the potential to produce) large and immobile gametes. It’s not the word “woman” I object to; it’s the implicit conflation of biological women with transsexual women in every possible way: the equation of biological women with biological males who consider their gender to be female and may or may not take action to change their bodies. (I don’t care if they “transition” physically or not; I’ll be glad to use their pronouns.) In this case the Post uses “people” instead of “women” because they want to go along with the mantra that “transmen are men”, though transmen who can get pregnant are actually biological women, which is the only reason they can get pregnant.Jerry Coyne

There was once a place called the University. I knew it well – in fact I grew up there. The son of a mathematician, I often spent time in my formative years hanging around campus. I enjoyed interacting with my father’s colleagues. They were people who loved to argue. Even when I was a child they paid me the respect of challenging my thinking. They did so in a manner as generous and good-humoured as it was intelligent and robust. The idea that it might take courage to be a dissenting voice would, I think, have occurred to them as strange.

The people who inhabited that University knew what academic freedom was. They didn’t talk about it, they simply lived it. They understood implicitly that academic freedom was both a privilege and a duty. They understood that the University was an institution at the heart of democracy, that the health of democracy is a contest of ideas and that, as academics, they had leading roles in that contest. Academic freedom – the freedom to say things that are controversial, unpopular, almost unthinkable – kept culture fresh and provided grist to the mill of politics.

The University I grew up in is fading fast. In the New University, academic freedom is all too often seen as an embarrassing relic of the past, or worse, as a tool of oppression. Recent research commissioned by the Free Speech Union (FSU) shows just how far it has fallen out of favour. – Dr Michael Johnston

The Treaty, as well as sex and gender issues, have become sacred cows. There are doctrines about them that many academics feel scared to openly disagree with. – Dr Michael Johnston

I will add only that academic freedom is actually one of the principal mechanisms at our disposal for challenging the status quo. But I suspect that the academic who made that comment thinks that the status quo is simply whatever he or she disagrees with.

I encounter some of my dad’s old colleagues around campus from time to time. It’s always good to see them, but it makes me sad about what’s been lost. They’re in their 70s and 80s now, and they must wonder what’s happened to their university. To dispel any doubt, when I say, “their university”, I’m not speaking of a specific university, but of the spirit of open-minded scholarship they embodied. I hope that, in time, we’ll find a way to rekindle that spirit in the bricks and mortar of our country’s campuses. – Dr Michael Johnston

The Black Death (bubonic plague) in the mid-1300s is reckoned to have killed 30 per cent of Europe’s population at the time. The “Spanish” flu a century ago killed 50 million, 2.5 per cent of the world’s population. Covid-19 has so far killed 25 million, according to the Economist’s measure of “excess deaths” of all causes, 0.3 per cent of today’s population.

Clearly a pandemic in epidemiology is not what I imagined it was. But it therefore becomes more important to ask, were lockdowns ever a proportionate response now that we can see what a pandemic really is?John Roughan

We live in an age of serial expertise. First we were experts in climate change, whether or not we believed it was taking place, and consequently in energy policy. Then, with Covid, we became expert epidemiologists, though most of us would shortly before have been hard put to explain what epidemiology as a science actually was. And now, with the war in Ukraine, we have become expert military strategists. – Theodore Dalrymple

How does one become a panjandrum? Is there a special school for them? If there is, I suppose they teach there such subjects as gravitas and pomposity, pretentiousness and portentousness. No doubt students are selected by natural ability in these subjects, and perhaps psychologists have already developed validated and reliable scales for them, as they have for practically all other human characteristics. (Psychology is another subject of our chronic expertise, of course.)Theodore Dalrymple

As to increasing human capital, delightfully so-called, in the hands of government it is likely to result in an overgrowth of qualifications irrelevant to, and even obstructive of, any productive activity whatsoever, to what one might call, if it were a disease, fulminating diplomatosis. – Theodore Dalrymple

I do not want to cast doubt on the idea of expertise in some kind of know-nothing way. But there is no more important task for the citizen than the recognition of true expertise, as well as the recognition of its limits. Theodore Dalrymple

The delusions of the protesters outside Parliament have been debunked. The delusions of those inside Parliament also need debunking.

The fantasies of anti-vaxxers primarily hurt themselves. The fantasies of our leaders hurt us all. – Richard Prebble

An analysis of the Consumers Price Index reveals most of New Zealand’s inflation is domestic. Actions such as printing $55 billion and government deficit spending have pushed up prices more than either fuel increases or supply chain congestion.

The adult minimum wage has gone from $16.50 in 2018 to $21.20 today. Only a politician could call that a “race to the bottom“. – Richard Prebble

Surrounded by lackeys saying “Yes Minister”, it’s a struggle to keep in touch with reality. – Richard Prebble

When it is leaders who have delusions, it is very dangerous. President Vladimir Putin’s delusion that Ukraine is not a country has brought the world to the edge of nuclear war.

Ministers’ refusal to accept that their reckless government spending is inflationary makes reducing inflation very difficult. At a time of full employment, the effectiveness of the Reserve Bank’s anti-inflationary interest rate rises is being countered by inflationary government deficit spending. – Richard Prebble

Awards did not result in cleaners and bus drivers being well-paid. As Minister of Railways I found that, despite unions, awards and industrial action, railway workers needed social welfare to top up their income. As a law clerk, my union negotiated an award wage that was less than the unemployment benefit.

Despite prohibitions on strikes, the system of awards allowed those with industrial power to extort high incomes. For hours worked, wharfies earned more than brain surgeons.Richard Prebble

Successive studies have found that a factor such as having a fifth of all pupils leaving state schools functionally illiterate is one reason for our poor productivity. The appalling productivity in the unionised state sector is another.

One-size-fits-all union wages and conditions mean few are happy. It is why union workplaces often have industrial unrest.Richard Prebble

This Labour Government is the master of gesture politics. Maybe a majority of voters can be persuaded that inflation is imported. Maybe a tenth of all workers will vote for union sector-wide wage fixing.

What we do know is that gestures cannot change reality. Just saying “inflation is imported” will not reduce our grocery bills.

Fantasies that union bargaining results in “higher quality goods and services” cannot make New Zealand a prosperous country. – Richard Prebble

Governments like scapegoats. A good scapegoat can take the blame for something that is a government’s fault. It can also help justify measures the government was itching to take for other reasons.

When all goes well, a very good scapegoat can do both. – Eric Crampton

Greed is a poor explanation for inflation, not because companies are altruists, but because greed is always with us. It isn’t cyclical.

Should we credit corporate public-spiritedness for the five years from December 2011 through December 2016 when inflation ran well below the midpoint of the RBNZ inflation band?

Of course not. Monetary policy drives inflation, not changes in greed. – Eric Crampton

In short, the minister was wrong from beginning to end. Absolute economic ignorance would be the most charitable explanation, but even then he might have considered asking Treasury’s advice.

More plausibly, Clark was scapegoating the supermarkets to justify populist measures against them, or to deflect attention from his government’s failure to keep the Reserve Bank on target, or both.

Voters should be wary of policies justified by scapegoating – Eric Crampton

New Zealand is one of the oldest democracies in the world. This system of government ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’ – that treats all citizens as equals before the law – has been a liberating force of human endeavour throughout the ages. We have indeed been fortunate in New Zealand that successive governments have faithfully upheld policies to protect our democracy as sacrosanct.

That is, until now. – Muriel Newman

Do we uphold the foundation of our Westminster Parliamentary democracy, namely one person one vote, where all votes are equal, or do we go down the path towards an Orwellian Animal Farm democracy, where all are equal – but some are more equal than others?

Unfortunately, this is not a trivial question. It’s time for a national conversation about what we want from our democracy, and in particular, whether we want those New Zealanders identifying as ‘Maori’ to be guaranteed greater rights and privileges than everyone else. – Muriel Newman

A key problem New Zealanders face is that the partnership the Government is using to justify what amounts to totalitarian tribal control – through the transfer of democratic power and public resources to the iwi elite – is actually fake. Since it is constitutionally impossible for a partnership to exist between a Sovereign and the governed, it represents a massive deception of New Zealanders by the Government. – Muriel Newman

The resulting upheaval isn’t measurable so much by legislative change as by a profound shift in the political and cultural tone of the country. Ardern’s re-election was like an injection of steroids for the leftist cabal that now exerts control over all New Zealand’s institutions of power and influence, including the media and the craven business sector.

This university-educated and predominantly middle-class neo-Marxist cabal is distinct from New Zealand’s dwindling old-school socialist/communist Left, which ironically now finds itself aligned with conservatives on issues such as free speech and identity politics. But the New Left wields far more power than the comrades of the Old Left ever dreamed of.Karl du Fresne

How is this leftist cabal’s influence manifested? Chiefly through the divisive phenomenon known as wedge politics, and most provocatively through the promotion of 50-50 co-governance between representatives of the European majority and a minority consisting of people with Maori ancestry.

There are now effectively two levels of citizenship in New Zealand, one of which confers entitlements not available to the other. This is evident across a range of public policies that include compulsory Maori representation on local councils, the appointment of Maori activists to positions of power and the splurging of vast sums of money targetted exclusively at people who happen, by what is effectively a genetic accident, to have a proportion of Maori blood.

All this is predicated on the notion that people of part-Maori descent are entitled to redress for the baneful effects of colonisation. These deleterious effects presumably included the introduction of democratic government, the rule of law and the end of cannibalism, slavery and tribal warfare. – Karl du Fresne

Whether decolonisation includes rejecting such innovations as literacy and Western medicine isn’t clear, since the advocates of decolonisation are careful not to spell out exactly what they mean. – Karl du Fresne

. The stark choice facing New Zealand voters at next year’s general election will be between democracy and a different form of government for which we have no name.

But the cultural upheaval goes far beyond that, stoked by state-subsidised media that have abandoned their traditional purpose of seeking to reflect the society they purport to serve, and which instead bombard the public with indoctrination promoting the interests of attention-seeking minority groups.  – Karl du Fresne

This sense of polarisation is magnified by an authoritarian intolerance of dissent and by Stalinist-style denunciations of anyone bold or foolish enough to speak out against prevailing ideological orthodoxy.

Meanwhile, Ardern floats above it all. She’s a shrewd enough politician to have remained largely aloof from the rancour her government has generated, and who avoids entanglement in any unpleasantness that might detract from her carefully crafted image as an empathetic politician. But she cannot disown responsibility for presiding over a government that is promoting the politics of division and destabilising what was previously an admirably cohesive and harmonious society.Karl du Fresne

What were normal people—those who did not have any trouble defining woman, those who found talk of “pregnant people” and “contested spaces” and “rabbit holes” baffling—to make of this obvious discomfort with “women”?  – Zoe Strimpel 

But now these exemplars of female empowerment—educated, sophisticated, wielding enormous influence—seemed to have forgotten what “woman” meant. Or whether it was okay to say “woman.” Or whether “woman” was a dirty word. 

It wasn’t simply about language. It was about how we think about and treat women. For nearly 2,500 years—from Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata” to Seneca Falls to Anita Hill to #MeToo—women had been fighting, clawing their way out of an ancient, deeply repressive, often violent misogyny. But now that they were finally on the cusp of the Promised Land, they were turning their backs on all that progress. They were erasing themselves.  – Zoe Strimpel 

By the 1980s, women had won several key victories. Equal pay was the law (if not always the reality). No-fault divorce was widespread. Abortion was safe and legal. Women were now going to college, getting mortgages, playing competitive sports and having casual sex. In the United States, they were running for president, and they were getting elected to the House and Senate in record numbers. In Britain, Margaret Thatcher was prime minister.

In the wake of all these breakthroughs, the movement began to lose steam. It contracted, then it splintered, and a vacuum opened up. Academics took over—hijacked—the cause. – Zoe Strimpel 

It wasn’t just that these academics took it upon themselves to develop fiendishly complex theories about women, dressed up in a fiendishly complex language. It was that this hyper-intellectualized feminism, by embracing this hyper-intellectualized language, excluded most women. It transformed feminism from activism to theory, from the concrete to the abstract, from a movement that sought to liberate women from the discriminations imposed on them by their sex to a school of thought that was less interested in sex than gender. 

Sex, to the academics, was outdated. It was crude, fleshy, obvious—the stuff of everyday women everywhere. Gender, on the other hand, was fascinating—the starting point for an endless theorizing that, with each passing paper or book or conference, became more abstruse, more removed from the daily challenges faced by ordinary women. – Zoe Strimpel 

The new, abstracted feminism had little interest in changing political or economic reality, as the older, grittier feminism had. It was like a fancy garment that only the well off—those who had gone to college and lived in big cities and were fluent in the new vernacular—could afford. Or knew to buy. –

It is not an accident that the rise of gender ideology coincides with the long anticipated petering out of the feminist cause.

That’s because the rise of the one and the decline of the other are closely linked with our fetishization of identity. The fight for transgender rights over and above that of biological women’s rights, just like the war on systemic racism, jibes perfectly with our new identity politics.

Unfortunately, identity politics cannot content itself with simply defending women’s rights or LGBT rights or the rights of black people to be treated equally under the law. It must persist indefinitely in its quest for ever-narrowing identities. (The ever-expanding acronym of gay and gay-adjacent and vaguely, distantly, not really in any way connected communities, with its helpful plus sign at the end, neatly illustrates as much.) Everyone is entitled to an identity, or a plethora of identities, and each identity must be bespoke—individualized—and any attempt to rein in the pursuit of identity runs counter to the never-ending fight for inclusivity. Even if that inclusivity undermines the rights of other people. Like women.

This dynamic, with the most marginal interest trumping all others, easily took over a feminism long primed by whacky postmodern ideas like Butler’s—paving the way for its second, related hijacking. This one by biological males. – Zoe Strimpel 

And so Post-Feminist Feminism has morphed into a dark, strange Anti-Feminism. Anti-Feminism borrows from the language of liberation, but it’s not about liberating women. It’s about pushing women out of college sports. It’s about telling girls they aren’t lesbians or tomboys, but in fact men struggling to find themselves. Zoe Strimpel 

To attempt an answer, any answer, to the question—Can you provide a definition for the word ‘woman’?—would be to re-center women, biological sex, the concrete, mundane experience of ordinary, boring, bourgeois and working-class and very poor women the world over. It would be to attempt to undo the hijacking of the feminist cause and to return it to the people for whom that cause was created so many decades ago.

Returning the cause to the people for whom it was created is the only way to save it, and to stop the many discriminations that girls and women still face: domestic violence; the economic and psychological penalty of having babies; the manifold hurts and crimes visited upon countless women in non-Western countries simply for being women. For now, doing anything about all of that is a fantasy. First, we have to honor the actual meaning of words, like woman. We have to insist that those meanings are important. We have to go back, again, to first principles. That is the only way forward. – Zoe Strimpel 

The simple approach is to require integrity in communication and employ strategies suitable for the target audience. The bureaucracy and “political correctness” the Plain Language Bill promotes are not the answer. A basic principle is to communicate in a manner your audience can understand, as I hope I have. Dennnis Gates

Our business leaders big and small are currently being forgotten for their contribution to society. They put themselves on the line, take risks, worry about paying their staff and their bills and hope to make a profit, although, for many that last one is a distant dream, survival now takes priority. They have been broken by having to close their doors or cut right back and for most, it has been the heartbreak of letting people go they have worked with and cared about for many years.

Those that have survived through the worst of the Covid years now need our support more than ever but instead, they are treated with disdain as cost after cost is piled on to them with regulatory changes that make it harder to stay in business. An extra public holiday, increases in the wage bill, transport costs going up and a struggle to get workers will drive a whole lot out of business. Their contribution is more than the goods and services they provide, it is how they play a vital part in our community, employ us and our neighbours and support the many charities that need them – often quietly and without recognition. We need their entrepreneurial spirit and their dream of the next big thing. – Paula Bennett

 I thought the chance of another civil war in the US was minimal and in a country like New Zealand, neglible. . . The most important single factor is when one or more major parties in a country’s political system doesn’t organise around left-right political values but around identity – race, religion or ethnicity. –  David Farrar

The bottom line is that some of our friends on the left want to shoot at the rich, but they wind up wounding the poor instead by greasing the rungs on the ladder of economic opportunity. – Dan Mitchell

FPAs are a solution looking for a problem.Levi Gibbs

Of course, wages in New Zealand are lower than those overseas – most notably in Australia.

But the strong relationship between productivity and wages indicates the problem is not weak collective bargaining power, but our sluggish productivity growth.  – Levi Gibbs

The problem with misdiagnosing a problem like low wages is that the prescribed cure may in fact do harm.

FPAs are inflexible in the face of technological change – firms seeking to maximise productivity need to respond nimbly to new challenges and opportunities presented by change. Sometimes, such a response will necessarily involve adjusting employment arrangements. – Levi Gibbs

One-size-fits-all FPAs will mean “unproductive” firms with low profit margins, unable to bear the same wage costs as their larger competitors, will exit the market. Denying small firms the chance to grow more productive and forcing them to lay off workers is a short-sighted and unimaginative way to make productivity and wages look higher.

Wage floors will mean those on the outside looking in – including 188,000 job seekers and unskilled young people (NEETs) – will find it harder to find work, as they have not developed the skills to justify the entry-level wage. Higher labour costs will reduce the likelihood of firms hiring additional workers, and force those firms that do not simply shut down to reduce their workforce, cut back hours, or accelerate automation. – Levi Gibbs

The increased influence of trade unions will come at the expense of the vulnerable, the low skilled, and less experienced workers. This threatens New Zealand’s good record of high labour participation and low unemployment.

Improving productivity requires investing in people, taking risks on new ideas and innovative processes. It requires reforming New Zealand’s underperforming education system, attracting foreign direct investment, promoting capital reinvestment, and reallocating resources to the productive sector via tax relief. That is how New Zealand makes up for lost time over the past forty years. The ultimate result will be higher wages for workers and more prosperity.

The Fair Pay Agreement fantasy is an ill-advised, union-driven attempt to hack a shortcut to higher wages.Levi Gibbs

Decolonisation is not only destructive but simplistic. Although cultural knowledge is not science, the science-culture distinction doesn’t exclude traditional knowledge from the secular curriculum. It does however put limits on how it is included. Students can be taught in social studies, history, and Māori Studies about the traditional knowledge that Te Hurihanganui describes as the “rich and legitimate knowledge located within a Māori worldview’. But this is not induction into belief and ideological systems. The home and community groups are for induction into cultural beliefs and practices. – Elizabeth Rata

Ironically, decolonisation ideology is justified using the universal human rights argument for equity. But the equity case misrepresents the problem. As with all groups, it is not ethnic affiliation but class-related cultural practices that are the main predictors of educational outcomes. Māori children from professional families are not failing. Rather it is those, Māori and non-Māori alike, living in families experiencing hardship and not engaging in cognitive practices of abstract thinking and literacy development, who are most likely to fail at school. This is not inevitable. Education can make a difference to a child’s life chances but it requires all schools, Maori medium immersion and mainstream alike, to provide quality academic knowledge taught by expert teachers. Elizabeth Rata

Decolonisation will indeed divide society into two groups – but not that of coloniser and colonised locked into the permanent oppressor-victim status used to justify ethno-nationalism. Instead one group will comprise those who receive an education in academic subjects. These young people will proceed to tertiary study with a sound understanding of science, mathematics, and the humanities. Their intelligence will be developed in the long-term and demanding engagement with this complex knowledge. It is to be hoped, though this cannot be assumed given that the rationality-democracy connection is analogous not casual, that they will have the critical disposition required for democratic citizenship, one that is subversive of culture and disdainful of ideology.

The second group comprises those who remain restricted to the type of knowledge acquired from experience and justified in ideologies of culture. Distrustful of academic knowledge as colonising and oppressive, ethnically-based cultural beliefs and practices will provide the community needed for social and psychological security. In this restricted world they are insiders. And as there are insiders, there must be outsiders – in traditionalist ideologies these are the colonists who are seen to have taken everything and given nothing. And yet the tragedy is that it is the cultural insiders who are to be the excluded ones – excluded from all the benefits that a modern education provides.

A revolution is coming. The government’s transformational policies for education make this clear. It will only be stopped by a re-commitment to academic knowledge for all New Zealand children within a universal and secular education system. Colonisation is not the problem and decolonisation is not the solution. – Elizabeth Rata

Once the principle of one person, one vote is abandoned at local government level, pressure will build for something similar at the central government level.

It is hard to think of a more divisive agenda for any government to be pushing. – Paul Goldsmith

Big, radical changes to our democracy are being peddled in obscure local Bills by backbench MPs – with the Minister of Justice, the Attorney General and others nowhere to be seen.

These rushed, sneaky bills have become the stock-in-trade of this government.

It astounds me that the human rights lobby, constitutional lawyers, the Crown Law Office and other members of civil society are so relaxed about all this. Sadly, it speaks of a climate of fear that stifles open debate on these issues. – Paul Goldsmith

Our country is imperfect. We have many inequities, a fraught history and much work to do. But no inequities will be improved by shifting away from the bedrock of our relative success as a nation.

A core element of the liberal democracy we enjoy is the fundamental principle of one person, one vote.

We should not casually throw it away.Paul Goldsmith

Parliament imposed tough penalties. It meant these crimes to be serious. So consider the constitutional consequences of the police deciding to overrule Parliament. If the police are wrong in their judgments about which crimes to enforce, then there is no way for the rest of us to bring about justice. – Josie Pagani

Road rules are rules, but who decided that bus lanes and doing 110 on a brand new motorway are a higher priority than robbery?

Deciding which laws should be enforced is Parliament’s job. If the police do not have enough resources to enforce acts of Parliament, then democracy demands that citizens participate in ranking their priority offences. I want theft policed ahead of driving in a bus lane. – Josie Pagani

Last year, police attended more than 70,000 events that involved a person having a mental health crisis or attempting suicide (an increase of 60% in five years). Police are called in because they are the social agency of last resort.

But mental health professionals are needed for those cases – trained staff who were promised in the ‘’wellbeing Budget’’ and never delivered. The Government had nearly $2b, and three years, to train specialist staff. They can’t train a psychologist in that time, but they could have trained carers with more skills for mental health than a stressed constable. – Josie Pagani

Campaigning on values, mental health, and fixing inequality was electorally successful for Labour. It has been a shameful policy disaster.Josie Pagani

Call the Budget what you want – ‘’Wellbeing’’, ‘’Wellness’’, ‘’Well Done’’. We don’t care. Just make sure it’s not the police turning up when people need mental health professionals and somewhere safe for loved ones to go.

Tell us why we can’t have the decent mental health care that was promised. Don’t wait until the promise has failed.

Let voters make choices about which crimes to enforce, don’t pretend you’re not choosing.

If you can’t have that honesty then you have stolen our trust, like a scooter thief in the night, knowing you won’t be caught. – Josie Pagani

When it comes to the Three Water reforms, it is subordinating the rights of ratepayers to the interests of local iwi, and doing so without consent or compensation.Damien Grant 

We have a process for settling Treaty issues. Not everyone agrees with the outcome of a Waitangi Tribunal decision, but almost everyone agrees to abide by their decisions. It isn’t a perfect system but it works better than Molotov cocktails and hunger strikes. – Damien Grant 

Central to the reform agenda is the claim made by Nanaia Mahuta that 34,000 New Zealanders become ill each year from drinking poor-quality water. This number is softer than a week-old feijoa.Damien Grant 

Taumata Arowai is the regulatory body set up in response to Havelock North. We can see in this organisation that their focus isn’t solely water quality. According to their website, “Our name Taumata Arowai was gifted to us by Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Local Government”.

Having your name “gifted” by the reigning minister has a North Korean feel to it. This body enjoys a Māori advisory board whom it must consult. The chair of this advisory body is the minister’s sister. – Damien Grant 

If iwi believe their water rights have been compromised they can seek refuge in the Waitangi Tribunal, as they did when some energy companies were up for sale in 2012. (I was uncompromising in my support of the Māori Council’s intervention at the time.)

This is not happening, presumably because any such claim would fail. What possible claim can there be on dams and polyethylene pipes constructed and paid for in the 182 years since 1840?

If we are being asked to enter into a new compact with Māori, where rights that do not exist under the Treaty are to be created, then this does need to be put before the public. – Damien Grant 

Mahuta has no electoral, legal or Treaty mandate for her vision of co-governance, and even the claims of poor water quality are based on weak foundations.

If she wants to remove from ratepayers their legal and property rights, perhaps it is she, and not David Seymour, who needs to be putting this issue to the public.

After all, removing property rights without consent is what got us into the mess in the first place. – Damien Grant 

That this government spends record amounts of our money on political spin and social engineering is evident from propaganda campaigns to which we are subjected – none more reprehensible than the $5.3m commercial on the government’s 3 Waters intention.

Also frequently aired is a puerile presentation aimed at convincing us that a reduction in speed on our roads will increase our safety. – Garrick Tremain

Destroying confidence in the science – culture distinction, a distinction which is one of the defining features of the modern world, will be decolonisation’s most significant and most dangerous victory. According to the International Science Council science is ‘the systematic organization of knowledge that can be rationally explained and reliably applied. It is inclusive of the natural (including physical, mathematical and life) science and social (including behavioural and economic) science domains . . .  as well as the humanities, medical, health, computer and engineering sciences.

In contrast, culture is the values, beliefs and practices of everyday life – the means by which children are socialised into the family and community. For a Māori child, this may well involve immersion in marae life – or it may not.  But the experiences of everyday life should not be confused with the ideology of cultural indoctrination, what I call culturalism or traditionalism and others call decolonisation. It is this ideology which is permeating the government, universities and research institutes, the Royal Society Te Apārangi, and mainstream media. Here we are presented with an idealised Māori culture of what should be, not what it actually is.

It is as much a moral, quasi-religious project as a political one, its religiosity responsible for the intensity, and perhaps success, of its march through New Zealand’s institutions. Indeed, the spiritual is a central theme in decolonisation. The belief is promoted that Māori are a uniquely spiritual people with a mauri or life force providing the link to their ancestors – the  genetic claim for racial categorisation. Political rights for the kin-group are justified in this claim. –  Elizabeth Rata

Given that over 50 percent of Māori already have no religious affiliation, it is doubtful that there is a constituency for a spiritual-based education. This is where decolonisation plays its part with Te Hurihanganui and the refreshed curriculum promoting the ideological version of culture. Those hesitant Māori who are suspicious of the ideology will be outed as ‘colonised’, in obvious need of decolonisation.Those who are now racially positioned on the other side, officially the non-Māori, will require decolonisation to ensure support for the new moral and political order. Numerous consultants are already on hand to provide this profitable reprogramming service. Intransigent dissenters, who determinedly refuse the correct thinking will be ostracised as fossilised racists and bigots. 

The tragedy is that this decolonising racialised ideology will destroy the foundations of New Zealand’s modern prosperous society. The principles of universalism and secularism are its pillars in education as elsewhere. Academic knowledge is different from cultural knowledge because it is universal and secular. We could certainly live without this knowledge – our ancestors did,  but would we want to?Elizabeth Rata

 The formidable task of acquiring even a small amount of humanity’s intellectual canon is made even more complex and remote because abstractions are only available to us as symbols – verbal, alphabetical, numerical, musical, digital, chemical, mathematical – creating two layers of difficulty. While it is unsurprising that the much easier education using practices derived from action rather than abstraction is more attractive, to take this path, as teachers are required to do, is a mistake.

We humans are made intelligent through long-term systematic engagement with such complex knowledge. Yet decolonisers reject the fundamental difference between science and culture claiming instead that all knowledge is culturally produced, informed by a group’s beliefs and experiences, and geared to its interests. Indigenous knowledge and ‘western’ knowledge are simply cultural systems with academic education re-defined as the oppressive imposition of the latter on the former.

What is deeply concerning is the extent to which this ideology is believed by those in education and uncritically repeated in mainstream media.  – Elizabeth Rata

Decolonisation is not only destructive but simplistic. Although cultural knowledge is not science, the science-culture distinction doesn’t exclude traditional knowledge from the secular curriculum. It does however put limits on how it is included. Students can be taught in social studies, history, and Māori Studies about the traditional knowledge that Te Hurihanganui describes as the “rich and legitimate knowledge located within a Māori worldview’. But this is not induction into belief and ideological systems. The home and community groups are for induction into cultural beliefs and practices.

What about the proto-science (pre-science) in all traditional knowledge – such as traditional navigation, medicinal remedies, and food preservation? This knowledge, acquired through observation and trial and error, as well as through supernatural explanation, along with the ways it may have helped to advance scientific or technological knowledge, is better placed in history of science lessons rather than in the science curriculum.

Science provides naturalistic explanations for physical and social phenomena. Its concepts refer to the theorised structures and properties of the physical world, its methods are those of hypothesis, testing and refutation, its procedures those of criticism and judgement.  The inclusion of cultural knowledge into the science curriculum will subvert the fundamental distinction, one acknowledged by mātauranga Māori scholars, between naturalistic science and supernaturalistic culture.Elizabeth Rata

As with all groups, it is not ethnic affiliation but class-related cultural practices that are the main predictors of educational outcomes. Māori children from professional families are not failing. Rather it is those, Māori and non-Māori alike, living in families experiencing hardship and not engaging in cognitive practices of abstract thinking and literacy development, who are most likely to fail at school. This is not inevitable. Education can make a difference to a child’s life chances but it requires all schools, Māori medium immersion and mainstream alike, to provide quality academic knowledge taught by expert teachers. – Elizabeth Rata

Unlike authoritarian regimes, liberalism can tolerate some dissent. What it cannot tolerate is the removal of its very foundations – those principles of universalism and secularism that anchor democratic institutions into modern pluralist society. The separation of public and private, of society and community, makes room for both science and local culture. (The recent commonplace practice of using ‘community’ for ‘society’ is one of a number of indications that the separation is being undermined.) Valuing culture and devaluing science in a merger of the two fatally undermines the universalism and secularism that creates and maintains a cohesive society out of many ethnicities and cultures.

Decolonisation will indeed divide society into two groups – but not that of coloniser and colonised locked into the permanent oppressor-victim opposition used to justify ethno-nationalism. Instead one group will comprise those who receive an education in academic subjects. These young people will proceed to tertiary study with a sound understanding of science, mathematics, and the humanities. Their intelligence will be developed in the long-term and demanding engagement with this complex knowledge. It is to be hoped, though this cannot be assumed, that they will have the critical disposition required for democratic citizenship, one that is subversive of local culture and disdainful of ideology.

The second group comprises those who remain restricted to the type of knowledge acquired from experience and justified in ideologies of local culture. Distrustful of academic knowledge as colonising and oppressive, ethnically-based cultural beliefs and practices will provide the community needed for social and psychological security. In this restricted world they are insiders. And as there are insiders, there must be outsiders – in traditionalist ideologies these are the colonists who are seen to have taken everything and given nothing. And yet the tragedy is that it is the cultural insiders who are to be the excluded ones – excluded from all the benefits that a modern education provides.

A revolution is coming. The government’s transformational policies for education make this clear. It will only be stopped by a re-commitment to academic knowledge for all New Zealand children, rich and poor alike, within a universal and secular education system. Colonisation is not the problem and decolonisation is not the solution.Elizabeth Rata

Which brings us cheerfully to our friendly “be kind”, “listen to the science”, “we’re so transparent” Ardern-Robertson government, which seems to be now acting like a “friend” who would like you to look the other way, so it can get on with what’s good for it, such as getting re-elected. – Kevin Norquay

In 2022 NZ, it’s starting to look more like “of the people, by the party, for the party.” Kevin Norquay

“Listening to the science” now carries a taint, as decisions made could be seen as party political, rather than public health related.

It’s an erosion of trust. Why cover up things that are supposedly done in our best interest? – Kevin Norquay

There’s that “friend” again, telling us all the secrecy was for our own good. Whether MIQ did a good job is not the point here, it’s when that good job might have ended.

You could argue “we listen to the science” remains accurate, with the coda “but our decisions are based on the politics”, but transparency was always a fiction written boldly on a blocking PR wall.

What’s the next slogan: “You’ve got to be cruel to Be Kind?”Kevin Norquay

The truth of Hōne Heke’s rebellion deserves to be more widely-known. His  was the beginning of a proud lineage of anti-tax protest that is today carried on by the Taxpayers’ Union (even if we prefer to use arguments over axes). So congratulations to Hōne Heke for rightfully being recognised as one of the greatest New Zealanders. If it were up to us, he might even be ranked number one. How many taxes did Sir Ed cut, after all? – Louis Holubrooke

You don’t want to live in fear but I’m not going to be blasé about it. We are seeing very sick people every day, it’s not worth the risk at the moment. The more I read, the more bad things I find that this virus can do to your body, particularly your brain. You hear people say ‘might as well get it over with’. Well I wouldn’t want to voluntarily risk taking on a bit of brain damage for any reason.Dr Greg White

Whatever New Zealand does in isolation as its contribution to the world wide battle against climate change, it will have next to zero affect on whether or not we reach or even get close to the IPCC’s greenhouse gas emissions reductions that they say will be required to save the planet.

I can make that statement with confidence that l will be proved right simply because those key nations who have the capacity to collectively turn things around, with or without our help, are in fact increasing their use of fossil fuels at an alarming rate and as a result, increasing their emissions as if there was no tomorrow. In that context, our efforts, no matter how self sacrificial, will be like a blip on the radar as the rest of the world continues to condone the destructive activities of those who could and should be making a difference. – Clive Bibby 

We will watch on from the sidelines seemingly unnoticed by even the UN heavy hitters whose praise we appear to crave.

And in the meantime, we will destroy what remains of our agriculturally based economy at a time when we are emerging from the pandemic suffering from self inflicted wounds that already have reduced our capacity to earn overseas funds when we most need them. Clive Bibby 

It appears that the government is still hell bent on cementing in place policies that will negatively effect the two most important ingredients that will determine our survival as a sovereign state.

The first is economic growth and the second is race relations, both of which are in danger of managed decline because both are reflecting the deliberate implementation of programmes that will have the opposite effect of what is needed now more than ever.

If allowed to be fully implemented, these policies: – the emissions reduction policies such as the halving of our dairy herds and the race based legislation that is being un-necessarily promoted giving control of our natural resources to Maori – have the capacity to propel a sufficiently divided nation into a state where civil war is a serious possibility. – Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby 

I choose my words carefully when discussing these potentially dangerous policies simply because it appears we are not yet prepared to acknowledge that the immediate danger to our collective future comes from within rather than anything from the world at large – including climate change.

In order to have a rational discussion about our future, we need to be acutely aware of the options available to us. In that context, the truth remains our only hope.

We can and must stop this erosion of trust before it is too late. Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby 

But if I could go back in time and find a doctor who made me feel like they were treating my health, and not my size, that would have been a real gamechanger. – Megan Whelan

Democratic Socialist. Isn’t that a bit of a contradiction and maybe even an oxymoron?

Presiding over a government that has gone out of its way to decimate democracy by promoting the politics of division, there is nothing democratic in these actions! – John Porter

Don’t you think the way Ardern’s government, its Maori caucus and tribal leaders are surging ahead with their co-governance agenda, is pushing New Zealand close to that point of, if not actual civil war, then certainly civil disruption?

In New Zealand there is a significant degree of apathy and almost total lack of comprehension and knowledge around the subversion of democracy and promotion of Maori exclusivity that is very, very scary.

The overarching concern is that, based on ethnicity, a minority section of the population is being given an absolute right to control the rest of the population without, it appears, any limits on their power or any route for appeal. – John Porter

There is a very small group of those of part-Maori descent, Maori tribal elite, presumably swollen with self-importance because a small part of their cultural inheritance that they are clamouring for co-governance of this country. This co-governance agenda is gathering speed and, dare I say it, credibility at an alarming rate. John Porter

Ardern and her government’s separatist agenda combined with their inept fiscal management, are bringing this country to its knees!

Are we speaking out loudly, are we protecting our democracy, our rights to one person, one vote and do this government actually respect and represent the majority of New Zealanders? – John Porter

It’s either a caricature or merely a hallmark of a modern conservative New Zealand politician to be comfortable with whatever change has happened up to the present, but to think that any more would be a step too far.

This is by and large a positive. The fact that only journalists writing profiles on centre-right politicians, rather than the politicians themselves, ever want to revisit milestones like the marriage equality vote of 2013 means that the country has avoided the destabilising and counterproductive culture wars that have racked the United States for decades. – Ben Thomas

When the government spends $51 million to not build a bridge, that’s inflationary. Spending money on a new hospital that increases the provision of necessary services does not have the same effect. – Liam Hehir

There are six provisions in our law that are so important for democracy that they can only be changed by the vote of 75 percent in parliament or by a majority in a referendum. One is clause 36 of the Electoral Act that guarantees everyone regardless of race has an equal vote. – Richard Prebble

Having unequal voting will not solve Rotorua’s real issues. Here is one. The Labour government has filled our motels with the homeless from all over the Central North Island. There are enough children in our motels to fill a primary school. Borders are reopening. Where are Rotorua’s tourists to stay? – Richard Prebble

For most Westerners, the war unfolding in Ukraine makes no sense. Russians and Ukrainians look the same, speak the same languages, have lived lives that were, until very recently, culturally indistinguishable. Why are they fighting?

The chilling answer is that both sides are commanded by ghosts. It is the unquiet dead, the unpunished crimes, the gagged memories of countless perpetrators and their victims that drive these armies forward. Impulses barely understood, inherited from parents and grandparents who could neither speak about nor forget the horrors they had witnessed or performed.

Two nations to whom great evil has been done are being driven, by dead hands, to do evil in return. Chris Trotter

R for recession comes after I for inflation in the economic alphabet. Then comes v for voter and w for wallet. Get the drift? – Shane Jones

Behind the scenes, officials are working on other ways to make New Zealand less rather than more attractive to prospective students. They have plans to almost double the amount of money each student must bring to New Zealand for each year’s study, and heavily restrict post-study work rights. This is all part of the Government’s immigration re-set, more correctly called an anti-immigration re-set.Steven Joyce

If we are to avoid a recession, which is looking an increasingly difficult goal, we need to encourage more outward facing sectors to grow, rather than be always putting up new barriers to their success. International education is one of the best placed to resume pulling its weight, to the benefit of our country’s education system and the wider economy and society. The Government needs to get over its ambivalence to it. – Steven Joyce

We’ve become accustomed to hearing the words, “I support free speech, but ….” New Zealand is full of people in positions of power and influence who purport to defend free speech, but always with the addition of that loaded word “but”. You can’t say you support free speech and then, in the next breath, put limitations around it beyond the ones that are already clearly established in law and broadly accepted, such as those relating to defamation and incitement to hatred or violence.

We’ve been introduced to phrases unheard of a few years ago: cancel culture, speech wars, hate speech, gender wars, safe spaces, culture wars, trigger warnings, transphobia and no-platforming. We’ve acquired a whole new vocabulary. We’ve seen the emergence of a media monoculture in which all mainstream media outlets adopt uniform ideological positions that effectively shut out alternative opinions, even when those marginalised voices may represent mainstream opinion.

We’ve seen traditional ideological battle lines totally redrawn as people on the left and right of politics unite around the need to save freedom of speech from a new and powerful cohort of people who have co-opted the term “hate speech” as a pretext for banning any opinion that they dislike.

We’ve even seen radical feminists, who were once at the cutting edge of politics, demonised as dangerous reactionaries who must be shut down because of their opposition to a virulent transgender lobby that appeared to spring out of nowhere.

All this has happened within a remarkably short time frame. Mainstream New Zealand has been caught off guard by the sheer speed and intensity of the attack on free speech and as a result has been slow to respond. But what’s at stake here is nothing less than the survival of liberal democracy, which depends on the contest of ideas and the free and open discussion of issues regardless of whether some people might find them upsetting.Karl Du Fresne

The right of free speech, after all, means the right to hear as well as the right to speak. Our Bill of Rights Act doesn’t just talk about the right to speak freely. It refers to “the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and opinions of any kind and in any form”. That seems pretty clear-cut and unambiguous. To deny New Zealanders the right to hear opinions that some politicians and public officials don’t like is a flagrant abuse of power and must be challenged at every turn, which is exactly what this union is doing. – Karl Du Fresne

In other words there are people in the police who apparently think that anyone who criticises the government should be watched. This is how police states begin. Fortunately in this case, wiser senior officers stepped in before things got out of hand.Karl Du Fresne

The reality is that the enemies of free speech have no fixed ideology. Control is enforced with equal brutality whether it’s Nazi Germany or communist North Korea. The only thing the enemies of free speech have in common is a desire to exercise untrammelled power and to forcibly suppress any speech which threatens that power.

As it happens, the present threat to free speech in New Zealand doesn’t come from either the traditional left or the traditional right. It comes from a powerful new cohort that largely controls the national conversation. This cohort is dominant in politics, the bureaucracy, academia and the media and regards the exercise of free speech as serving the interests of the privileged. Free speech to them means licence to attack oppressed minorities and is therefore something to be deterred, if not by law then by denunciation and intimidation.

Depressingly, this group is entrenched in universities and libraries – institutions that have traditionally served as sources of free thought and access to knowledge. Libraries were at the forefront of the effort to shut down the feminist group Speak Up For Women, which was targeted by aggressive transgender activists because it opposed legislation allowing men to identify as female. It was only after this union went to court on the feminists’ behalf that libraries in several cities were forced to back down and allow them to hold public meetings.

A common factor in these instances is the belief that people have a right not to be offended and that this right takes precedence over the right to free speech. It’s as if the woke elements in society have developed an allergic reaction to the robust democracy that most of the people in this room grew up in, where vigorous debate was seen as an essential part of the contest of ideas that democracy depends on.

If a statement can possibly be interpreted as a slur against one’s gender, race, body type or sexual identity, it will be, no matter how innocent the intention of the person who made it. Apologies will be demanded and the ritual humiliation of the transgressor inevitably follows.

The purpose is clear: it sends a message to others that they will get similar treatment if they’re bold or foolish enough to challenge ideological orthodoxy. Yet paradoxically, the same people who insist on the right not to be upset don’t hesitate to engage in vicious online gang-ups and ad hominem attacks on anyone who disagrees with them.

A recurring theme in the speech wars is the notion of safety – not safety from physical danger, which is how most people understand the term, but safety from anything that might upset people or challenge their thinking. – Karl Du Fresne

Safety, then, is a highly elastic concept – critically important for women attending abortion clinics, even if no risk of harm exists, but not a problem if those who feel threatened are white guys in suits.

The enemies of free speech are blind to the contradictions in their position. They bang on about the right to be safe but applaud aggressive and intimidating behaviour against people they don’t like. And they demand protection against hate speech while freely indulging in it themselves on Twitter and other social media platforms, their purpose being to bully people into silence.Karl Du Fresne

I can claim to be something of an authority on freedom of the press if only for the reason that I’ve written two books about it. Back then the concern was with threats to media freedom from outside sources, principally the state. But ironically we’re now in a position where I believe the New Zealand media abuse their own freedom.

They have fatally compromised their independence and their credibility by signing up to a government scheme under which they accept millions of dollars in taxpayer funding and in return commit themselves to abide by a set of ideological principles laid down by that same government.

Defenders of the Public Interest Journalism Fund justify it on the pretext that it enables the media to continue carrying out worthwhile public interest journalism at a time when the industry is financially precarious. They bristle with indignation at the suggestion that their integrity is compromised. But it is. You need only look at the projects approved for funding to grasp that this is essentially an opportunistic indoctrination project funded by taxpayers.

From a free speech standpoint, however, it’s the ideological uniformity of the media that is of even greater concern. The past two decades have seen a profound generational change in the media and a corresponding change in the industry ethos.

News outlets that previously took pride in being “broad church” – in other words, catering to and reflecting a wide range of interests and opinions – are now happy to serve as a vehicle for the prevailing ideology. They have abandoned their traditional role of trying to reflect the society they purport to serve. The playwright Arthur Miller’s definition of a good newspaper as a nation talking to itself is obsolete. The mainstream media are characterised by ideological homogeneity, reflecting the views of a woke elite and relentlessly promoting the polarising agenda of identity politics.

The implications for free speech are obvious. What was previously an important channel for the public expression of a wide range of opinions has steadily narrowed. Conservative voices are increasingly marginalised and excluded, ignoring the inconvenient fact that New Zealand has far more often voted right than left. – Karl Du Fresne

But it’s worse than that, because the prevailing ideological bias doesn’t just permeate editorials and opinion columns. Its influence can also be seen in the way the news is reported – in the stories that the media choose to cover, and perhaps more crucially in the issues they choose not to cover. The Maori co-governance proposals in Three Waters, for example.

Underlying this is another profound change. From the 1970s onward, journalism training – previously done on the job – was subject to academic capture. Many of today’s journalists were subject to highly politicised teaching that encouraged them to think their primary function was not so much to report on matters of interest and importance to the community as to challenge the institutions of power.

Principles such as objectivity were jettisoned, freeing idealistic young journalists to indulge in advocacy journalism, push pet causes and sprinkle their stories with loaded words such as racist, sexist, homophobic and misogynist. In the meantime, older journalists who adhered to traditional ideas of balance and objectivity have been methodically managed out of the industry.

Worse even than that, we now have mainstream media outlets that actively suppress stories as a matter of official editorial policy, and even boast about it. I’m thinking here of climate change, a subject on which major media organisations have collectively agreed not to give space or air time to anyone questioning global warming or even the efficacy of measures aimed at mitigating it. This would have been unthinkable 20 or even 10 years ago. People are bound to wonder what else the media are suppressing.Karl Du Fresne

Robert Muldoon was a tyrant who tried to bully the media into submission, but eventually journalists and editors stood up to him. In the past few years, however, we’ve gone backwards. We now live in a climate of authoritarianism and denunciation that chokes off the vibrant debate that sustains democracy, and tragically the media are part of the problem.

There are positive signs however, and this meeting is one of them. As I said at the start, the sheer speed and intensity of the culture wars caught the country off-guard. Ours is a fundamentally fair and decent society, eager to do the right thing and rightly wary of extremism. For a long time we stood back and allowed the assault on democratic values to proceed virtually unopposed. We were like a boxer temporarily stunned by a punch that we never saw coming.

But the fightback has begun and is steadily gaining momentum. In giddy moments of optimism I even sense that the tide might be turning in the media. Even the most cloth-eared media bosses must eventually realise they have alienated much of their core audience, as reflected in steadily declining newspaper circulation figures and in opinion surveys measuring trust in the media. – Karl Du Fresne

The risk New Zealand runs in 2023 is that the policy promises of the contending parties will be come to be seen by their respective supporters as critical to the survival of the nation. On the Right, the introduction of co-governance will be equated with the death of democracy. On the Left, a racist referendum endorsing the elimination of co-governance will be construed as an all-out assault on the Treaty of Waitangi and the indigenous people it was intended to protect.

In such circumstances, the uncompromising partisans on both sides begin to believe that if they concede defeat there will be no “next time”. At that point the cry goes out for a “continuation of politics by other means”. Bullets replace ballots, and peace ceases to be an option – for anybody.Chris Trotter


Rural round-up

29/04/2022

Federated Farmers – Rabobank survey shows continued strong growth in farm staff pay :

Average growth of 13 percent in pay packages in the last two years is another reason for more New Zealanders to consider a career in agriculture, Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard says.

The 2022 Federated Farmers-Rabobank Farm Remuneration Report, released today, shows that since the 2019/2020 survey weighted average incomes in the dairy sector have grown 15% (to a ‘total package’ average value of $67,251). They’re up 14%, to an average of $66,859, in the sheep & beef sector; and up 7% in arable (to $68,618).

“Our survey shows that on top of wages adding in other factors that make up the total value of remuneration packages for farm staff, such as accommodation, meat, firewood and KiwiSaver, there’s several thousand dollars of extra value to workers across all the sectors,” Andrew says. . . 

“In towns and cities, big chunks of workers’ income are swallowed by accommodation costs. But in our dairy sector 75 percent of employers provide accommodation for staff (61% sheep/beef; 41% arable), with the average accommodation cost per week being $157-$187.” . . .

Fonterra tells wholesalers it’s increasing dairy prices due to inflation and record commodity prices :

Fonterra’s wholesalers have been telling dairy prices are on the rise and a hospitality boss says increases cost will be passed on to customers.

Fonterra Brands managing director Brett Henshaw said it told customers late last year it would be increasing wholesale prices in stages over the first few months of the year.

Global dairy commodity prices are at a record high, which had led to an increase in the wholesale price Fonterra Brands, and other companies, paid for the milk required to manufacture their products, he said.

Inflation was also pushing up the price Fonterra Brands was paying for other goods and services used to manufacture its products, he said.  . .

Government chips away at emissions trading scheme – Eric Crampton:

If a tree is planted in the forest, should it be taxed or subsidised?

Opinion: Wellington is a confusing place.

In 2017, the Government wanted to plant One Billion Trees and set a lot of costly policies to achieve it. It thought tree-planting was an essential part of the country’s climate response.

Now, the Government is fed up with trees. It is consulting on whether it should break part of the Emissions Trading Scheme to discourage planting.

The Government was wrong in 2017, and it is wrong again today. . . 

Global oilseed shortages push canola prices up, bringing good tidings for Australian growers – Xanthe Gregory:

Natural disasters and trade bans are creating a perfect storm for Australian vegetable oil producers as prices skyrocket globally. 

War in Ukraine and a drought in Canada have left a hole in the market, which has been filled by Australia’s record harvest. 

Canola on the world market is now worth $1,184.70 CAD per tonne, according to the Canada Price Index, which has almost doubled from about $680 a year ago. 

Prices in Australia are at all-time highs, exceeding $1,000 a tonne over the past six months.  . . 

Finalists strive to achieve prestigious Dairy Industry Awards:

The 32 finalists representing 11 regions in the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards have been found.

The National winners will be announced at a black tie awards dinner at Te Pae in Christchurch on Saturday May 14, after the finalists complete a final round of judging. Tickets can be purchased via http://www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.

The finalists will compete for a total prize pool worth around $200,000 and the honour of winning either the 2022 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year, 2022 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year or the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the year title.

General Manager Robin Congdon says the 32 finalists from 11 regions are the cream of the crop from all the entries received. . .

Outstanding start for agricultural equipment deliveries in 2022 :

2022 agricultural equipment deliveries have kicked off to fantastic start. This coupled with many machines that are already on order as customers begin to gear up for spring / summer 2022 is driving the current performance. TAMA president Kyle Baxter said, “he was seeing and hearing first-hand how strengthened commodity prices are giving farmers and rural contractors the confidence to invest in new equipment”. The flow of equipment into New Zealand has increased dramatically, and this has offered much welcomed relief for customers who are requiring a new piece of equipment, which is then being put to work straight away when it arrives.

“Overall tractor sales are up more than 25 percent for the year to date compared to 2021 (which was already an increase on 2020 by around 19%) and this trend looks set to continue with confidence in the agri-sector remaining strong”, according to the Tractor and Machinery Association.

There have been consistent increases across every horsepower sector, with some stand out results in certain sectors such as a 20% increase in the sub 40HP sector, coupled with over a 30% increase in the 100-150HP plus sector which is predominantly used in the dairy segment. Regional performance which has a strong diary influence such as Northland, Waikato, Taranaki, and Southland, have also experienced significant growth. Lastly, in 40Hp – 100HP sector significant growth of 27% has been achieved, with this category predominately focused on horticulture & some dairy segments in the regions such as Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, Nelson. Again, the strong commodity prices are driving and providing buyer confidence. . . 


Theft as servants

19/04/2022

A letter from the bank told me the supposed good news.

The interest on my savings account is going up from not very much to a little bit more.

I don’t expect a letter form my bank to talk about tax and inflation and it didn’t mention that the government will take tax off the interest nor did it say that inflation will take even more not just from the interest but the real value of the money invested.

When that money is for extras, that’s unfortunate. When it’s for rainy days, it undermines security and feeds uncertainty, and when, as it will be for a lot of people, it is for necessities it will lead to hardship.

Inflation is even worse for people with no savings as it feeds the cost of living crisis:

New figures on food prices from Statistics New Zealand confirm the cost of living crisis is only getting worse on Labour’s watch, says National’s Finance Spokesperson Nicola Willis.

Data released today shows the highest annual food price increase in a decade at 7.6 per cent, with fruit and vegetable prices increasing a staggering 18 per cent in the past year.

“These numbers confirm what Kiwis already know: New Zealand is experiencing a worsening cost of living crisis, with prices running laps around wage growth.

“Meanwhile the Minister of Finance continues to pat himself on the back, telling Kiwis they are better off, while in reality many Kiwis are slipping further behind each month as they struggle to keep up with skyrocketing costs.

“Labour needs to stop playing the blame game on inflation and do their bit to rein in costs.

“The War in Ukraine isn’t to blame for fruit and vegetables going up by 18 per cent in the last 12 months.

“The Government should rein in its big spending plans, hit pause on plans to add more costs to business and prioritise tax relief for the squeezed middle.

“Right now the biggest beneficiary of runaway inflation is the Finance Minister – who will rake in billions more in tax receipts as a result.  He should put New Zealanders first and give them some relief. 

“Kiwi families deserve relief. Under National’s tax plan, a family with two earners each on the average wage would receive $1600 a year in tax relief. In contrast, Labour is doing nothing for the squeezed middle and their failed policies are pushing everyone further behind.”

Last week Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs David Clark blamed supermarkets for inflation but as Eric Crampton pointed out, that’s economic nonsense:

. . . Greed is a poor explanation for inflation, not because companies are altruists, but because greed is always with us. It isn’t cyclical.

Should we credit corporate public-spiritedness for the five years from December 2011 through December 2016 when inflation ran well below the midpoint of the RBNZ inflation band?

Of course not. Monetary policy drives inflation, not changes in greed. . .

And whose responsible for monetary policy? The Reserve Bank. And whose responsible for the Bank’s target and ensuirng it meets it? The government.

. . . In short, the minister was wrong from beginning to end. Absolute economic ignorance would be the most charitable explanation, but even then he might have considered asking Treasury’s advice.

More plausibly, Clark was scapegoating the supermarkets to justify populist measures against them, or to deflect attention from his government’s failure to keep the Reserve Bank on target, or both.

Voters should be wary of policies justified by scapegoating.

The government’s excessive borrowing, reckless spending and the RB’s missing its target are to blame for inflation that is well above the bank’s targetted range.

Theft as a servant is a serious criminal offence. It doesn’t apply to public servants in this context but inflation is theft and they – the government and RB are responsible for it.


Quotes of the month

01/04/2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Is Jacinda Ardern a megalomaniac?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No prudent government lets inflation get established.Richard Prebble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What divides democracy and dictatorship? Public accountability.

And all of us need answers. – Rachel Smalley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a shockingly poor state of affairs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What the Treaty does say is still important today.

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

Property rights are guaranteed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Quotes of the month

05/03/2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prudence matters. – Eric Crampton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As with so many things, the proper public expression of emotion is a matter of judgment rather than of doctrine or predetermined principle. It is also a question of good taste. . . If I had to choose between them (which of course I do not) I would choose emotional constipation rather than emotional diarrhoea. At least the former can give rise to powerful drama, whereas the latter gives rise to crude soap opera at best. Concealment is more interesting than revelation, and often ultimately more revealing into the bargain.    – Theodore Dalrymple

The government’s response to Omicron over the summer break has had too little method and too much madness. – Eric Crampton

But it is difficult to reconcile the tightening up of test-to-travel restrictions, to reduce risk, with the subsequent move to allow rapid antigen tests instead of PCR tests before travel. If the government considered rapid antigen tests to be safe enough because travellers were entering MIQ, why tighten the window for PCR tests in the first place? –  Eric Crampton

Education, the ladder out of poverty, has been kicked away. In the English-speaking world, New Zealand pupils are worst at maths, science and literacy. Last year, 44 per cent of Auckland students did not turn up for NCEA exams. Richard Prebble

Covid is not responsible for the growth in inequality. Covid infects the rich and the poor.

The growing inequality is the result of government policies and galloping inflation.  – Richard Prebble

The Government is becoming Muldoonist. Like Muldoon, Labour calculates huge “think big” spending is electorally more popular than the pain of tackling inflation.Richard Prebble

Studies reveal that urban rail schemes never come in on budget or on time and rarely meet passenger projections. Worldwide, 75 per cent of urban rail projects have cost escalations of at least 33 per cent. A quarter have cost escalations of 60 per cent or more. The cost of light rail will escalate from the estimate of $15b to over $20b.

Here is another way to think about the cost. For less taxpayers’ money, every passenger could have a free Uber ride in an electric car to where they actually want to go. – Richard Prebble

The Reserve Bank is seeking a soft option. Returning “inflation to target too quickly would result in unnecessary instability”. Now inflation is established, there are no soft options. All that printed money is debt. The bank is yet to tell us how it is going to reduce its bond holdings.

While the Reserve Bank procrastinates, the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.  – Richard Prebble

This Government has become like a can of CRC, oiling every irritating squeak which has become a deafening cacophony in recent weeks.  – Barry Soper

I’m not sure if it was the word “loyal” or the long-simmering anger towards the nation of my birth coming to a head, but I suddenly didn’t want to honour New Zealand by choosing a song by one of its legends.

I’m angry at Jacinda Ardern, I’m angry at her parochial and uber-protective policies and I’m angry that I’m banned from the place where – more than any other – I felt I belonged. It’s fair to say I’ve lost faith in the country I once loved and revered.Angela Mollard

The cumulative stories about the human impact of the border policies have sullied New Zealand’s reputation as a fair and decent place.

All countries care about their reputations but it is more important to small countries because they do not hold economic or military power. Being a good international citizen, being an honest broker, doing the right thing has been important to New Zealand. – Audrey Young

The damage to New Zealand is exacerbated by the fact that Arderns’s reputation and New Zealand’s are one and the same. Her international brand, through leadership after the Christchurch massacre, is a caring leader.

Damage to New Zealand reflects badly on her; and damage to her reflects badly on New Zealand. . . She was rightly applauded internationally for the initial response to Covid-19. Now, for the most part, she is rightly being criticised.Audrey Young

This is the insanity of what we’re dealing with. This is a rigged lottery. And I’m talking personally, not as Move Logistics executive director, when I say this: Can we have respect for a system where, basically, citizens are told, you can’t come home?

Non-citizens are told, if you’re an essential worker, whatever that description might be on a particular day. Or if you’re pregnant, and you’re in a third world country, you’re allowed in or not allowed in. So the rules are being made up as people go along. – Chris Dunphy

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the Bellis Embarrassment to understand is what on earth possessed those writing the rules to erect even the smallest obstacles to pregnant New Zealand women returning to their homeland to give birth. For most older New Zealanders, the rule has always been: “Women and children first – and pregnant women before everyone!” We were raised on the tragic example of the doomed “Titanic” – where men gave up their places in the lifeboats for the bearers of the next generation.

What does it say about the current crop of public servants that they were able to create a labyrinth of rules and regulations that made it possible for a British deejay to be welcomed into this country, while denying re-entry to a stranded Kiwi woman and her unborn child?More to the point, what does it say about the current crop of Labour ministers – Chris Hipkins in particular – that they did not intervene, with righteous wrath, to put an end to this unconscionable rejection of that most basic human instinct: the urge to protect, at any cost, mothers and their children?Chris Trotter

But where is the “kindness” in the treatment of Charlotte Bellis, and scores of other pregnant New Zealander women aching to get home? If this desperate, pregnant, Kiwi journalist, stranded in starving Afghanistan, does not deserve kindness – then who does? – Chris Trotter

The risk for Robertson isn’t quite voter revolt – not yet. But the Government did just make it far easier for New Zealanders who spent the past two years in the country to think about moving overseas. Cheaper rent and better pay might not have been much of a draw in 2020 or 2021, when it was paired with longer lockdowns, more Covid-19, and no easy way home if you changed your mind. That won’t be true for 2022. – Henry Cooke

If travel broadens the mind, then perhaps the reverse might also be true.

We have become a more insular country since Covid started, and it is very unattractive. The social media vitriol and judgment directed at journalist Charlotte Bellis for daring to speak out about her predicament last week reflects badly on all who indulged. – Steven Joyce

It was Ms Bellis who was let down by her own country. Forget all the whataboutisms. When she needed to come home, when she needed a safe haven where she could be pregnant and give birth to her child, her country said no. That was simply appalling. It has never been who we are.

It was not just appalling for Ms Bellis. She was simply the human straw that broke the camel’s back. In being rebuffed by the bureaucratic monster that is our managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) system, she joins thousands and thousands before her over the past two years who have had their spirits broken in their time of need. – Steven Joyce

There are too many stories to count where a heartless decision-maker showed no empathy, no ability to walk a mile in the shoes of desperate Kiwis overseas, no willingness to make things right.

Somehow, the Government’s sudden ability to find an MIQ slot for Ms Bellis under the public spotlight of the world’s media made an appalling situation even shoddier. It was a brazen attempt at damage control by ministers, presumably breaking the rules their own officials had been zealously upholding. There was no apology for those who had come before, no acceptance that the policy had been wrong, just cold, naked politics at its worst. – Steven Joyce

Special treatment for those prepared to beg publicly is also not our country. What about all those who didn’t want to make waves, who suffered through their life events in silence, hurt by the intransigence of their own countrymen and women?

It is one of the most basic human rights that people be allowed to come home. The Government knows that. That’s why they maintained the legal fig leaf that the border wasn’t closed. It’s just that you have not been allowed to buy a ticket to come here without an MIQ slot. Which you couldn’t get. George Orwell would have been proud. – Steven Joyce

You can argue that in extremis a country can close its borders for short periods in a pandemic to protect the population. The case can be made that stopping the flow of people while a plan is worked on and new health measures are put in place is justifiable.

But not two years, and not while you sit on your hands and do nothing during that period to allow for more people to exercise their fundamental right to come home.

We passed up building more MIQ places, we passed up home isolation, we passed up privately run MIQ facilities, saliva testing, more hospital capacity, a decent booking system, a timely vaccination programme, or even filling the MIQ places we had … we passed up a lot of things that would have reduced the pain and uncertainty of so many Kiwi families. – Steven Joyce

We were a country of voyagers. Striking out to see the world and seek our fortune. We took Dr Seuss’ The Places You’ll Go! to heart. Travel was a rite of passage, which for some turned into careers offshore, with partners and families. We took pride in their success, basking as New Zealand metaphorically punched above its weight on the world stage.

There’s around a million of us who live offshore now — but always able to come home, to see grandparents, siblings, and reconnect.

Until the past two years.

In those two years we have had to stand in line, often behind DJs, children’s characters, performers, sportspeople and Government MPs, all of whom seemed able to win the MIQ lottery while more deserving cases didn’t. Let alone the people whose skills we need to help run our economy, our schools and our hospitals. Good job, some would chortle in their insular way. We don’t need all those bright young foreigners helping to make New Zealand a better place. – Steven Joyce

A wise friend of mine said at the outset of all this that it is much easier to close things down and encourage people to hide away than it will be to open it all up again. And so it seems. Once people have become fearful of the outside world, it’s hard to move beyond that fear.

Yet we must. We must get out and embrace that world again, let our young people take it on, prove themselves, have adventures and live their lives. We must invite people into our home and conquer our virulent insularity.

Let this be the last time we turn our backs on our own people. There must be a better way to protect ourselves in future that doesn’t involve simply barricading the doors.

We should never stop our own citizens coming home to see their dying relatives, or giving birth here. That’s not selfless and kind. That’s not who we are. – Steven Joyce

But open government appears to be on the wane. This is partly because of the growth in the “communications industrial complex”, where vast battalions of people now work to deflect and avoid, or answer in the most oblique manner possible. We journalists are vastly outnumbered by spin doctors.

And it is partly because of the very tight media ship captained by Jacinda Ardern. The prime minister has won plaudits the world over for her empathetic and straightforward communication style. – Anna Fifield

When I was writing about New Zealand’s response to the pandemic for The Washington Post, almost every minister or ministry I contacted for an interview responded with a variation on: I’ll need to check with the prime minister’s office.

Since coming home, I’ve been surprised by the lack of access to ministers outside carefully choreographed press conferences. – Anna Fifield

Perhaps the most alarming, and certainly the most prevalent, trend I’ve noticed is the almost complete refusal of government departments and agencies to allow journalists to speak to subject experts.

Like, you know, the people who are actually implementing complicated reforms and know what they are talking about. – Anna Fifield

We often just get insufficient answers written in bureaucratese.

There is no opportunity to get them to put their words in a more digestible form. There’s no opportunity to ask them to explain the background to a decision.

There’s certainly no chance to ask them anything like a probing question. That, of course, is the whole point of this stonewalling. – Anna Fifield

This obfuscation and obstruction is bad for our society for two key reasons.

One: It’s in everyone’s interest to have journalists understand the complicated subjects they’re writing about. We need to ask questions. We can’t explain things we don’t understand.

Two: It’s called the public service for a reason. They work for the public, aka you. It is the job of the Fourth Estate to hold the powerful to account. So we should be able to ask reasonable questions – like “When will the $1.25 billion Transmission Gully motorway open?” – and expect something that at least resembles an answer. – Anna Fifield

To be clear, our country is free and open compared to many other parts of the world. But I’m not comparing us to Iran (where I used to ask pointed questions at foreign ministry press conferences all the time) or China (ditto).

I’m comparing us to other proudly open and democratic societies. And I’m comparing us to the us we used to be. Where a journalist could ask a straight question and get a straight answer and deliver it to you – straight. – Anna Fifield

But my favourite must be this supremely arrogant line from the Ministry of Health, asked about releasing data during an Omicron wave: “We will release additional information if it is determined that there is a need to do so.”Anna Fifield

I make two further predictions. First, the Ardern government will be utterly decimated in a landslide defeat next year and second, that in the course of time given some perspective, it will be recorded as the most incompetent by a country mile in our post-war history. – Bob Jones

Politicians bright-side scientific advice when they report it accurately, but selectively. They emphasise the politically helpful parts of this advice but omit the careful but politically-awkward provisos that scientists pair with their advice.Nicholas Agar

While there has been little Covid death, the Government’s stance has exacted a price: mental health issues; the interruption of children’s education; the too-long separation of families due to MIQ restrictions; struggling “hospo” and tourism businesses; the inability to source much-needed staff from offshore; and mounting government debt among them. – Fran O’Sullivan

It is too easy to get on and stay on welfare in New Zealand. Labour have enhanced that ease by reducing the use of sanctions to impose work obligations. They recently shifted thousands of jobseekers onto the sole parent benefit because they no longer had to look for a job. The policy settings changed. It is now OK to keep adding children to a benefit to avoid work. That is not a “well-functioning” welfare system.Lindsay Mitchell

Why anyone, however, would trust the Local Government Minister or the Prime Minister to deal with them in good faith after their sustained deception about mandating Three Waters remains a mystery. – Graham Adams

This is a vengeful government, it’s a nasty government, it’s the exact opposite of a kind government, and it’s exact opposite of an open, honest, and transparent government. Mike Hosking

Because here’s a fact we need to accept: no matter how important climate change is to people, it is hardly ever more important than being able to pay your bills or keep your job. Most people will vote for jobs and a warm house before they vote for the climate.

Governments should – and obviously do – bear that in mind. – Heather du Plessis Allan

Scientific studies show that singing has positive effects on mental health. People who sing are more inclined to be content with life.
Group singing seems to induce the production of oxytocin – the binding hormone that can reduce stress and anxiety, and decrease a sense of loneliness.
Singing heals pain and sorrow and increases a sense of well-being. –
Robert Fulghum

A government that allows trespassers to unlawfully occupy and obstruct the entrances to the land and buildings symbolising its authority, and to block the main streets of its capital city, raises questions about whether it is truly sovereign.

Everyone has a right to go to Parliament’s grounds and protest, but everyone else has a right to visit those grounds and drive around Wellington. In more than three decades of watching students, teachers, farmers, unions, environmentalists, Māori and activists on both sides of social issues march on Parliament, none has behaved as disgracefully as the mob who turned up on Tuesday and refused to leave. – Matthew Hooton

Many are so caught up in conspiracism that their problems appear more medical than legal.

Yet the Wellington political, bureaucratic and media establishments should not kid themselves that only a deranged fringe is feeling enraged by the current situation. Two years of pandemic and the long and preventable Auckland lockdown have fuelled a seething anger towards the Government from a much larger and more reasonable segment of the population, even if its source may be difficult to pinpoint. Matthew Hooton

But more is based on legitimate irritation with a Beehive communications strategy seemingly targeted towards children rather than voting adults, and which cannot admit the slightest fault or setback for fear of undermining Ardern’s global brand as Covid vanquisher. – Matthew Hooton

For its part, the Wellington bureaucracy is under so much pressure from its political masters to support the Beehive narrative that it increasingly provides information that is radically incomplete, contradictory or just plain wrong. – Matthew Hooton

The incoherence in the Government’s Omicron strategy means public co-operation is radically declining, including for tracking and testing. The Beehive may think a few more earnest homilies from the podium of truth will turn that around, but the public isn’t stupid. – Matthew Hooton

This is sneaky reform. Three Waters is designed to relieve smaller communities of the inordinate costs of compliance with an excessive regulatory regime already enacted in law. I doubt it will make beaches and rivers one jot cleaner than current regional council efforts can achieve.

All we stand to get is another fungal outgrowth of government, four super-regional agencies, each with floors of box-ticking bureaucrats making work for contractors, consultants, researchers and publicity staff to comfort you and me, the disenfranchised suckers paying for it.  – John Roughan

Just 53 people have died here from Covid, and our prime minister has been lavished with praise as a result. For much of the pandemic, the team of five million went about their lives pretty much as normal, working maskless, travelling domestically and attending large outdoor gatherings in sunny weather, going home in the evenings to wade through tear-soaked emails from contacts abroad marvelling at our apparent Covid success.

But there has always been another team milling in the shadows, the team of one million, the expatriate Kiwis stranded abroad who have paid a heavy price for their home country’s Covid elimination strategy. – David Cohen

Jacinda Ardern’s plummeting popularity indicates a country questioning not only her racist white-anting of our democracy, but the hypocrisy of her kindness and well-being mantras. Her repeated emphasis on ‘well-being’ on which she stressed her intent to focus, instead of on GDP – when introducing her budget in 2019 – is apparently an important part of the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s ‘Great Reset’ agenda.

New Zealanders have been sold a pup. The economic, mental and emotional well-being of New Zealanders has been far from prioritised by her Labour coalition doing extraordinary damage – and determined on more of the same, judging from the controversial legislation it continues to ram through. – Amy Brooke

The European Commission has tried, so far unsuccessfully, to direct its staff not to refer to Christmas, as if mere mention of the word would act on atheists, animists, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Hindus, and no doubt others, much as garlic flowers or crucifixes acted on Dracula (at least as portrayed by Christopher Lee).

Oddly enough in these times of multiculturalism, mere words provoke apoplexy, at least metaphorically, as never before. Euphemism, evasion and renaming flourish — supposedly in the name of tolerance, but really as exercises of power.  – Theodore Dalrymple

The academics, intellectuals and sub-editors of university presses who use the new style evidently believe that the world is populated by people of extreme psychological fragility, and whose self-esteem, which can be shattered by the mere usage of BC and AD, it is their duty to protect.

Thus does condescension and sentimentality unite with megalomania to produce absurd circumlocutions.Theodore Dalrymple

And this is where cancel culture is eating itself. It’s so inane and ridiculous that you now cannot even enjoy being the gender you are, for fear it upsets those who don’t believe in gender.  – Kate Hawkesby

Where is all this going? What’s the end game here? Why do we all have to be the same? And why do we have to bend and change ourselves constantly to fit in with whoever the latest person or group to be offended is? Surely that’s a bottomless pit?  

There will be no individuality left at all, if we go down that track. I mean the Tweeters that are outraged that she’s apparently confused teenagers by saying she loves being a woman, what about the teenagers who’re seeing this bullying backlash against a woman for saying she likes being a woman? What message is that sending them?  – Kate Hawkesby

Whether you agree or not with the people protesting on parliament grounds is not the debate anymore. What this government, that proclaimed it would govern for all New Zealanders, has done is turn its back on a good number of its people.

How hard can it be to at least front up and talk to the people assembled on parliament grounds?

The final straw for me, and what prompted me to go public, is the way government is treating these people – turning the sprinklers on them knowing there was a storm coming, and playing loud music at night so as to not let them sleep and make them feel miserable. No farmer would treat animals like that!

Although this protest has a different focus to Groundswell NZ, we support their right to be heard and cannot understand or agree with the Government’s actions. What is becoming of our once united and proud country? – Bryce McKenzie

Trevor Mallard has officially lost the plot. . . He’s done it under the guise of protection of course – appointing himself as some overarching protector of all – whether they want or need to be protected or not. 

It’s an old school ‘I know best’ approach that reeks of patriarchy and has no place here in the modern world. But what the Government’s tried to do here – and failed in my opinion, is grab the narrative on this protest and shut it down. Problem is they’ve only made things worse. – Kate Hawkesby

Refusing to speak to the protestors, writing them all off as wacko conspiracy theorists, and rabid far-right anti-vaxxers is a big mistake – and has only served to gaslight the situation. Media who’ve ignored Mallard’s instructions, have managed to gauge a large diversity of views from a raft of other people there too – yes there are your fringe nutters, but actually, the anger runs deep and there’re some genuinely aggrieved people out there too.

Only a fool would dismiss them and hope they go away.

Yet that’s what Mallard, Robertson and Ardern are trying to do. Robertson’s rolled out the usual sneering condescending frown down the nose rhetoric which is so popular in the left-leaning sandpit of Twitter.. just writing them off as dangerous rabid crazies. Mallard has taken it next level – he’s stooped to childish antics of pulling dumb – as someone pointed out “boomer” stunts -– like sticking hoses on them and playing them the Macarena. –Kate Hawkesby

Not even the Police support his actions and have distanced themselves from that stupidity. And why give it this much attention if the government line is supposed to be ignore them? Ardern on the other hand has done what she does best – head in sand, fingers in ears – vanish. She’s invisible. But when put on the spot to address it, she joins the Robertson ‘write them off’ camp.

But it’s not working, the protest is only swelling in number, not even a cyclone diminished their enthusiasm.

The other problem for the government is the hypocrisy on display here. Let’s not forget all these MP’s decrying the protest were all proud protestors themselves back in the day. So they support free speech, and your right to protest.. but only if it aligns with their views. I’m not on the side of the protestors here by the way – they’ve blown this by a long shot – it’s a disorganised shambolic out of control mess.Kate Hawkesby

But I wouldn’t be so arrogant as to write them all off as anti-vaxxers and far-right conspirators. There is genuine anger that runs deep in this now very divided country, over mandates and the campaign of control and fear.

So to just write off those protesting without even hearing them, is a dangerous move I think, by a government increasingly out of its depth. –Kate Hawkesby

Although the protestors aren’t necessarily many people’s cup of tea in terms of approach, demeanour and attitude – the general consensus seems to be that they in their own way represent a wider frustration, if not anger, among many of us. 

That’s why there isn’t a leader or a point of contact or a specific cause. hat’s why it’s been a mistake to call them an anti-vax protest or an anti-mandate group. It’s been a mistake to suggest it’s a mistake that they didn’t have a singular point.

That’s the point, about the lack of a point. They represent all of us that right now have a sense that things aren’t right.Mike Hosking

But it is an outpouring of emotion and I admire people who want to give up a lot of time and effort to travel and hunker down and presumably get a sense of some sort of accomplishment.

Which is why Trevor Mallard specifically, and the Government more generally, have misread this so badly. As a tiny collective they can be, and have been, dismissed but that’s to fail to see that they represent a wider mood.

The Government and Mallard in particular are on the wrong side of this. When you start turning sprinklers on, start playing loud, bad music at them, start pumping out covid-19 ads – you’re being obtuse. – Mike Hosking

Telling the media not to talk to protestors is anti-democratic. Opening your Speaker’s Balcony and telling media to look down on the protestors is also anti-democratic, authoritarian and controlling, not to mention the height of arrogance.

The fact so many of the media acquiesced is of deep concern and probably plays into the protestors beliefs that too much of the media is controlled. It’s certainly not open honest and transparent as Labour so often wanted us to believe they are. 

If the protestors need to be moved that is the job of the police, not a jumped bureaucrat with a puffed-up view of their own entitlement. There are no winners in this. But the more the Mallards of this world look to decry, misinform and bully, the sympathy will build behind those who just want to have their say.   – Mike Hosking

New Zealand’s secular liberal saint, Jacinda Ardern, seems to be losing a little of her previously strong odor of sanctity.  – Theodore Dalrymple

In typical bureaucratic fashion, the rules were interpreted strictly, and made no allowance for the fact that to be stranded pregnant in Afghanistan is a good deal more worrying than to be stranded, middle-aged, non-pregnant, and prosperous, in, say, Switzerland. No doubt the bureaucracy wanted to avoid charges of favoritism—one rule for the prominent and another for the unknown—but it did Ardern’s popularity no good that Bellis felt constrained to turn to those well-known feminist humanitarians, the Taliban, for assistance. They seem to have done the trick: Bellis has now been allowed to return to New Zealand; but in the process, Ardern’s government, not long ago praised as the model for all civilized countries to follow, has been made to look stupid, cruel, and weak.Theodore Dalrymple

The bad news is that each time we’ve made the right decision to buy more time, we’ve made it late and with insufficient planning in place. The strategy has served us well, but the execution much less so.

When the Prime Minister spoke to the nation for the first time this year on 20 January, she repeated stressed that ‘every day counts’ and it was urgent to prepare for Omicron, before going on to tell us that over the summer the government and its agencies had done… sod all.

One example: A new testing regime and the introduction of rapid antigen testing was announced, not with the information that the test were in the country and ready to go, but that they were on order, and in insufficient quantities. – Tim Watkin

Government hesitancy or poor management have been as consistent as the ‘buy time’ tactic. The initial lockdown was a week or two late, the testing at the border got into gear weeks after it was meant to, security at MIQs was only sorted after a number of escapes, more ICU beds were only announced 22 months into the pandemic, and – crucially – the move to order the vaccine and roll out a programme was slow, for all its eventual effectiveness. And we’re paying the price for that slowness now, cutting the gap between second and third doses and less widely boosted than we could have been.

The urgent language Ardern has used since 20 January was also needed before Christmas and over summer. National’s Covid-19 Response spokesman Chris Bishop on 30 December issued a statement headed “Govt must act on boosters, kids vaccines and rapid tests”. –Tim Watkin

Time and again we’ve done the right thing, but late and lackadaisically. And time and again we’ve got lucky. Or, the rightness of the decision has bought us the time to play catch-up. That, for me, has been the defining story of our Covid response and our consistent ‘buy time’ tactics.

But now we face a new phase for New Zealand. Covid-19 has begun entering the community at a level we’ve never seen before. I give thanks to all that is holy that we have bought time and we are facing this now – informed, vaccinated, prepared, up against a less deadly variant – and not at any other time over the past two years, like so much of the rest of the world. – Tim Watkin

Critics have repeatedly – for the best part of two years – insisted that the government’s tactics have run their course and it needs to change. And they’re repeatedly been shown up. But now we truly are at the end of the ‘buy time’ era. We’ve bought all the time we could and the wave is upon us. Two years in and the government will need to pivot and take a new approach. Let’s hope their decision-making is as sound, but their execution improves. Because the thing about waves is that they keep on coming.Tim Watkin

Critics have repeatedly – for the best part of two years – insisted that the government’s tactics have run their course and it needs to change. And they’re repeatedly been shown up. But now we truly are at the end of the ‘buy time’ era. We’ve bought all the time we could and the wave is upon us. Two years in and the government will need to pivot and take a new approach. Let’s hope their decision-making is as sound, but their execution improves. Because the thing about waves is that they keep on coming.Tim Watkin

The day a Speaker dictates to the media on how a story can be told would be a dark day for democracy.

It fits with the current Beehive though: a government by remote control, refusing to engage with those on the ground who don’t fit their mould and that’s most certainly unwise if not unkind. – Barry Soper

We’re fighting all these regulations and restrictions to keep operating, to keep job security going.. . It’s just decimating and it’s so hard for businesses to figure this out when the rules are constantly changing, we’re just tired of all these changes and restrictions. If it was simple – if it was like just RAT tests, clear, come to work, that’d be great, but it’s not, we’ve got all these minefields to work through.Simon Berry

Our besotted would-be train-spotters seriously oversell the benefits of “light” rail, such as the downtown-airport link. Who would want to trundle along in a train, stopping and starting at 18 stations en route, when an express bus using dedicated bus lanes can get you there in 35 minutes, as it often got me there pre-Covid? – Tim Hazledine

Even without the patently loony proposal to dig a long tunnel under Sandringham Rd, we have here a proposed “light” rail project that will cost New Zealand’s three million taxpayers between three and five thousand dollars each. This for the benefit of about 30,000 Auckland commuters, to improve their access to the higher-paid jobs in the CBD, if that’s still what they want to do. Tim Hazledine

THE NEW ZEALAND liberal or woke left, most of it directly connected to the Labour Party or supportive of it, has lost its mind. How else can you explain its maniacal pursuit of ‘right wing extremists’, ‘Nazis’ and ‘white supremacists’ within the several hundred people dancing to Bob Marley on Parliament grounds? When Rob Muldoon used to be mocked by Labourites for looking for ‘reds under the bed’, today’s Labourites are worthy of our derision as they hunt for Nazis in every occupation tent.  – Against the Current

What the liberal left has been demonstrating is something other than liberalism. It instead owes much to the scourge of identity politics. It has displayed a toxic politics that’s profoundly anti-working class and which has jettisoned tolerance and free debate for  shaming, threats and intimidation. While the folk at the occupation have been remarkably optimistic and good humoured in the circumstances, the liberal left has been petulant, joyless, trivial and status quo-perpetuating. Against the Current

More disturbingly though, the liberal left has displayed a willingness to unleash state violence against dissenters. The mask has come off to reveal something very ugly.  – Against the Current

The liberal left has indeed lost its mind. What we have seen on display for the past eight or so days is a motley rabble of cowardly keyboard warriors who are seeking to extinguish an emerging independent working class politics that owes no allegiance to the political status quo that the woke left benefits from. This is the real ‘crime’ of the Wellington occupation. Against the Current

Shoot me now!  New Zealand’s system of science education continues to go down the toilet (along with Donald Trump’s papers, I guess) as everyone from government officials to secondary school teachers to university professors pushes to make Mātauranga Māori (“MM”) or Māori “ways of knowing” coequal with science, to be taught as science in science classes. All of them intend for this mixture of legend, superstition, theology, morality, philosophy and, yes, some “practical knowledge” to be given equal billing with science, and presumably not to be denigrated as “inferior” to real science. (That, after all, would be racism.) It’s one thing to teach the indigenous ways of knowing as sociology or anthropology (and but of course “ways of knowing” differ all over the world); it’s another entirely to say that they’re coincident with modern science.

The equation of “ways of knowing” like MM with modern science is, of course, part of the Woke Program to “decolonize science”. The problem, of course, is we have a big conflict—one between a “way of knowing that really works“, which is science, and on the other side a reverence for the oppressed and their culture, embodied in MM.  The result is, of course, that the oppressed win, and all over the Anglophonic world science is being watered down, downgraded, pushed aside, or tarred with adjectives like “white supremacist” and “colonialist.” – Jerry Coyne

The purpose of education, at least as I see it, is to impart generally accepted knowledge to students, and to teach them how to think and how to defend and analyze their views. This is precisely the opposite of MM, which is a kind of theology that cannot be questioned or falsified. Under my construal, education is indeed for everyone, but for those groups who have spiritual/religious/moral values that differ from those of other groups, they have to get those things reinforced on their own time.Jerry Coyne

People of Aotearoa: rise up against this nonsense! Do you want your science education to become the laughingstock of the world? For that is what will happen if the benighted keep barrelling along that dual carriageway of science and nescience. – Jerry Coyne

his country survives on trading, often in markets at the other side of the world.

The fact that our standard of living is rated amongst the richest countries on the planet is solely dependent on our exporters having a better product to sell and being able to market it better than our competitors. It follows that the more you sell at these prices, the more we can afford to deliver higher living standards to the whole population of New Zealand. More and better schools and health services. More aged care and handicapped facilities. Better infrastructure, sporting, and leisure facilities.

As the economy grows, we all benefit.Clive Bibby

It says something about the time we are in that politicians cannot state they are listening to a group without it being assumed they are therefore part of that group.- Brigitte Morten

It is unlikely the protestors, now emboldened by seven days in horrible weather, blasting music, and overflowing portaloos, will be easily mollified. But it is clear that the government’s decision to dismiss their views has validated these citizen’s argument that they do not have a voice.Brigitte Morten

Irrespective of where you sit in the mandated vaccination debate, it is an extreme level of government coercion. Some of us will roll with it. In fact, close to 90% of the eligible population has done what the government has asked of it. But enforced coercion must be proportionate to the level of risk to public health and this is where the case for the mandated vaccination enters murky ground for those who gathered outside Parliament. The vaccine will stop our hospital system being swamped, but it doesn’t stop transmission.

You have both removed a citizen’s right to choose what is injected into their bloodstream and you have told them they will also get the virus. Are we really that surprised people have taken to the streets to oppose mandated vaccination? Has New Zealand society ever been this divided and this angry?  – Rachel Smalley

As I write this, the government hasn’t met with any of the protestors. Sure, some of the behaviour has been appalling and there are security issues, but few, if any, of the protestors would describe themselves as feeling recognised and free from prejudice. I don’t agree with their argument, but I support their right to be heard. And if you refuse to listen, the mob just keeps yelling.  Rachel Smalley

Two years into this pandemic, the government and many of its agencies are still heavily distracted by Covid. The focus remains laser-like on the virus, but the protests have shown us what happens when a government loses its peripheral vision across all of society. New Zealand is turning on itself. . . The government is throwing everything at containing the Covid monster but, in doing so, it has run the risk of fuelling another monster that is far, far harder to contain.   – Rachel Smalley

The fight is far from over. Trans activists wield an enormous amount of cultural power, and their ideology is far from discredited in the eyes of progressive politicians, delusional academics, and their media microphones. Many still insist that without sex change surgeries and life-long dependence on drugs, gender dysphoric children will kill themselves—and this threat packs potent power. Yet, from the British Isles to the Continent to the Nordic nations, people are beginning to wake up. Major medical institutions are beginning to put research over ideology. Each time this happens, trans activists lose power that they can never recover. And as the ugly and irreversible consequences of their delusional experiment become clearer, we can begin to hope that their narrative will implode sooner than seemed possible only a short time ago.

For the sake of the children being inducted into lives of perpetual medicalization, I desperately hope so.  – Jonathon Van Maren 

Truth is never absolute. We should be inherently wary of those who proclaim a particular viewpoint – political, religious, or otherwise – with a ferocity that tolerates no possibility of an alternative view, let alone that it may contain some points of validity.

Unfortunately, we live in circumstances where not only has truth become absolute, but also where virtually any actions in defence of that new absolute are considered acceptable. In nearly every aspect of today’s society, reason and considered debate are giving way to uncompromising absolutes, with little room for the traditional middle ground between them. – Peter Dunne

 There is a new vehemence abroad that accepts no good in any contrary view and no acceptable justification in any stand or action taken to promote that view. Because the particular view being expressed is considered to be wrong, all those who hold or even dally with it are mercilessly scorned and vigorously condemned.

The bigger picture, beyond this protest, and beyond Covid-19, is far more disturbing. Something is seriously wrong when protestors can see threatening to execute politicians and journalists because they disagree with them as legitimate. Equally, when political leaders can justify not being willing to engage in any form of dialogue with the protestors simply because they do not like the views they are expressing smacks of high-handed intolerance. It suggests our capacity for rational discourse and reasoned debate about a controversial issue has broken down completely. More worryingly, the vehemence of expression on both sides of the argument makes it difficult to see how differences of this type can ever be resolved constructively while such polarised positions and mistrust endure. – Peter Dunne

Having tasted attention and notoriety this way, the mob will not be easily dissuaded from similar action the next time an issue that riles them arises. We need to redefine the rules of social engagement in such circumstances, in a way that brings respect, reason and debate, rather than abusive slogans and haranguing, back to the forefront of public discourse. However unacceptable or offensive they may consider the views of the protestors, political leaders cannot remain haughtily detached, hiding behind civil authorities such as the police.

At its heart good leadership is about engagement – hearing from and listening to the disparate views of the community at large and then acting in a considered way in response. Good leadership is not simply telling people what to do and expecting unquestioning compliance. It also means having the courage to acknowledge the diversity of public opinion and its right to be expressed.

Personally distasteful it may feel, our political leaders across the spectrum need to initiate some form of dialogue with protest leaders to ease tensions and limit future recurrences. Otherwise, like Covid-19 itself, the new intolerance now emerging will, to our collective detriment, quickly become endemic. Peter Dunne

The transfer of sympathy from the victims of crime to the criminal has been going on for a long time. This transfer is now taken as a sign of broadmindedness and moral generosity, marking out the intellectual from the general run of prejudiced, thoughtless or censorious persons. – Theodore Dalrymple

It is hardly surprising criminals take advantage of a tendency among the educated to view them as the victims of their own conduct. The criminals may be ignorant, ill-educated and foolish, but they are not therefore stupid. They know the emotional and intellectual weaknesses of their enemies or opponents and are prepared to exploit them.Theodore Dalrymple

The root cause of crime is the decision to commit it: indeed, without such a decision, there is, or ought to be, no crime to answer. Of course, human decisions are affected by many factors, among them (but not exclusively) the likely adverse legal consequences for the people who make them. – Theodore Dalrymple

A fascinating political and sociological fault line has opened up – one that defies the normal understanding of New Zealand’s political dynamics. People at the bottom of the heap, as political scientist Bryce Edwards describes them – many of them working-class and provincial, with no formal organisational structure – have risen up in defiance of the all-powerful political class, the urban elites who are accustomed to calling the shots and controlling political discourse. I would guess most of the protesters outside Parliament have not previously been politically active and may not feel allegiance to any particular party. They appear to be angry about a number of things.  Covid-19 and the vaccination mandate galvanised them into action, but it’s possible there are deeper, less easily articulated grievances – such as perceptions of powerlessness and exclusion – simmering beneath the surface. – Karl du Fresne

 Most commentators in the mainstream media are framing the occupation of the parliamentary lawn as being orchestrated by sinister right-wing extremists, and therefore devoid of any legitimacy. How paper-thin their tolerance of the right to dissent has proved to be. The clear implication (where it’s not explicitly stated) is that the occupation is not a legitimate expression of the right to protest by sincerely motivated New Zealanders who present no threat to anyone, but an alarming phenomenon driven by alt-right agitators with an ulterior agenda. But there’s a very marked discrepancy between reports from people who have actually been on the ground at Molesworth St, who generally describe the event as peaceful and good-natured, and those who make judgments from afar and take refuge in simplistic stereotypes about the type of people who are protesting. – Karl du Fresne

I get the distinct impression that politicians from all the parties in Parliament, even ACT, feel threatened by this sudden gesture of assertiveness by the great unwashed and don’t know how to handle it. MPs have done themselves no favours by refusing to engage with the protesters. For one thing, it looks cowardly; for another, it reinforces the perception that the politicians prefer to remain isolated in their bubble rather than sully themselves by talking to a bunch of scruffs who dared to challenge the political consensus. Unusually, this protest is a rebuke to the entire political establishment, which the politicians probably find unsettling because it’s outside their realm of experience.  But they need to get off their high horse; the people standing in the mud outside Parliament are New Zealanders, after all. – Karl du Fresne

As part of the Parliament protest there are conspiracy theorists trying to take advantage to sell their wares, offensive signs, threatening language, destruction of property, and abuse of bystanders and local business.  None of this is okay.

Some use these reasons to treat protestors like they are deplorables; to argue that because some of the group are like this, none of the group should be listened to. But, as we saw in Trump’s America, the deplorables have a vote just like the intellectuals. And they have some valid grievances.Brigitte Morten

No politicians, from any party, have met with the protestors. They are too scared of media reporting contact by them with protestors as if it signified anti-vax sentiment. That is not fanciful. It says something about the time we are in that politicians cannot state they are listening to a group without it being assumed they are therefore part of that group. – Brigitte Morten

There is no such thing as a ‘right to protest’. In our Bill of Rights there are rights to free speech and freedom of assembly. But not explicitly to protest. There is no unfettered right for the protestors to camp on the lawns or increasingly block more roads in the Wellington CBD.

In the same way the government was not able to hold Aucklanders in lockdown as long as they wanted because people simply would not comply; the protestors will also lose empathy for their cause if they continue their hinderance of Wellingtonians for too long. You cannot argue the government mandates unfairly treated destroyed your livelihood while destroying the livelihoods of the businesses surrounding Parliament. The social contract goes both ways. – Brigitte Morten

Those calling for the Police to forcibly remove people from Parliament grounds underestimate how difficult this will be. If the current protesters are violently suppressed, the conspiracy claims of far right inspiration will become real. Thousands of previously apolitical New Zealanders will have seen that our democracy has no place for them, and the language of force is all that is left if they are not to be oppressed indefinitely. – Brigitte Morten

It is unlikely the protestors, now emboldened by seven days in horrible weather, blasting music, and overflowing portaloos, will be easily mollified.

But it is clear that the government’s decision to dismiss their views has validated these citizen’s argument that they do not have a voice.Brigitte Morten

 What are the building blocks of democracy? As “anti-mandate” protesters camp on Parliament grounds and images of police versus protesters fill our newsfeeds, it’s a timely reminder that trust, transparency, informed debate and respect for our civil institutions underpin a healthy democracy.

Beyond the many humanitarian and economic costs due to Covid, we cannot afford democracy and social cohesion to become casualties. – Sir Peter Gluckman

Trust in the political process has progressively fallen, the manipulation of information, the emergence of alternative facts, the blatant loss of transparency and respect for the truth are all features of many so-called democracies. Sir Peter Gluckman

Democracy has always depended on the integrity of both policy and political institutions and transparency in policymaking and knowledge. It requires ideas and policy to be contested civilly both through an informed and empowered opposition and an engaged civil society with the assistance of a robust fourth estate. From Plato’s thinking onwards, an honest and well-informed electorate has been central to effective democracy. – Sir Peter Gluckman

Arguably, there have been other costs, including democracy as an institution itself. There is a sense that decisions have been made without the deep oversight of Parliament and the plurality of external voices that makes for a quality democracy. Issues over Covid testing date well over a year now, including severe criticism from the Auditor-General over contracts, and now the availability of rapid antigen tests. There remains uncertainty about the rationale behind those decisions.

Crisis management is always best served by contesting ideas and approaches before decisions are made. In the private sector and military, “red teams” are commonly used to explore alternatives and ask frank questions of those managing the response. The furore about the role of the private sector and how its operational expertise could be of value has been evident since early in the pandemic and the next phase of the pandemic will be even more complex.Sir Peter Gluckman

Sustaining trust and cohesion is hard and requires real efforts to reinforce transparency and promote open discussion on difficult matters. This involves respecting the value of diverse inputs and avoiding any sense of Government abdicating accountability through confusing language. An informed electorate, open discourse, empowered citizens, and respect for the institutions of civic society are some of the greatest assets New Zealand could have. – Sir Peter Gluckman

Prognostication’s a curse. You can see the train wreck coming, you can shout about it, but you just can’t convince an utterly useless government to do a damned thing about it. 

Bit of a shame that the Herald piece didn’t mention that all of this was entirely predictable, was predicted, and could have been avoided by contracting for more capacity with a testing lab that wasn’t running pooled samples. Eric Crampton

Dismissive arrogance towards the protesters at Parliament is making the situation worse.

That’s not just Parliament’s high-handed approach. Opinion pieces and public sentiment that mock and sneer at people’s sincerely held beliefs serves to isolate those in our community who reckon the Government has got it wrong. – David Fisher

These are just some of the chisels placed in cracks in our civil society. And then the pandemic came along, bringing anxiety, fear and uncertainty and smashed them like a sledgehammer. It caused industries to collapse, businesses and jobs to go, people’s dreams and hopes to disappear. Across our society, there is tension and, among many, the vacuum of despair.

That’s the hole dis/misinformation filled. That’s how it became possible for some people to self-radicalise and how it led to the protest at Parliament.David Fisher

With such absolute surety on both sides, arguing over who is right and who is wrong is pointless. Rational argument and discussion has little place here. Those who have committed to their respective positions will not shift.

To dismiss those people – as the Prime Minister does by citing our 95 per cent vaccination rate – is wrong. To mock those people, as some in Parliament have done, is worse. Isolation is a classic part of the radicalisation process. The further and harder you push people away, the more fixed they become. – David Fisher

For every person that did make the journey, there are many others who wished they were there. They are people who stayed home and expected when they came out it would be over, who got their jabs and then thought that would be it, who had children stuck overseas, who knew someone who couldn’t go to their mother’s funeral, who lost their house when they lost their job. – David Fisher

The way out of the protest is not through the protest but with the protest. Rather than dismiss the protesters, recognise that the views they hold are genuine and hard-earned. Recognise they dedicated considerable thought to their views and adopted a stance that is honest and principled.

Having done so, recognise too that it is the one thing on which we disagree that is making it difficult to see what we like about each other. Finding a circuit-breaker to do that is hard but necessary.

Ultimately, most of those on Parliament’s forecourt want the same thing as those inside Parliament’s walls – for New Zealand to be a free and open democracy in which we are able to live our lives in the best way possible, subject to the freedoms enjoyed by each other.- David Fisher

For me, that’s been one of the interesting little hypocrisies in this whole episode. On one hand, politicians wanted to take a moralistic high ground by refusing to meet with protesters. How dare anyone dignify them with a response?! Only the moralistic high ground apparently didn’t apply to the Speaker, his sprinklers, and his irritating playlist.

Trevor Mallard’s efforts can only have served to antagonise the protesters. And every bit of scorn and hate hurled upon them only reinforces their self-image. The team of five million? Ha. This rabble, confused, misled, and deluded as they may be, felt well and truly left out of the team of five million. They joined together to protest precisely because they felt like outsiders. They felt ostracised. Very little from the past 10 days will have changed their minds. – Jack Tame

Yes, there were terrible, hateful, threatening messages. As far as I’m concerned, anyone making death threats should have been arrested immediately. But in this morass of different grievances and complaints are some very reasonable and articulate concerns around extraordinary state mandates. Personally, I don’t know why any right-thinking person who was only protesting the mandates would choose to stay and be associated
with someone making death threats. But the mandate issue is worthy of protest. I don’t agree with the protesters, but they do have a right to be heard. – Jack Tame

Hindsight is a very effective strategist, but there is one moment police may look back upon as the lost opportunity to nip the anti-mandate protests at Parliament in the bud.

That was on the afternoon of the first day the protesters arrived – Tuesday nearly two weeks ago. Claire Trevett

The poor old police in particular have been made to look like laughing stocks. They appear to have severely underestimated the size and intent of the protest group, despite the social media that prefaced it.

There have been moments that have begged to be lampooned. High among them was Police Commissioner Andrew Coster’s so-called towing crackdown.

Coster did not front publicly until Tuesday – a week after the protesters arrived. He said the protest was now “untenable” and put protesters on notice that if they did not move their cars, the towing would begin the next day. He also admitted they could not find towies to do the job, and the Army didn’t have the right equipment.

The next day the only car that was actually towed was a police car, which had a flat tyre. – Claire Trevett

The protesters have not made serious attempts to storm Parliament, beyond a brief flurry at the very start. Coster’s “de-escalation” strategy appears to be police-speak for hoping like hell the protesters stay that way. Claire Trevett

But the protest has long gone past the point at which police could simply wade into it and break it up. Coster has set out why: moving in with force at this point would be very ugly indeed.

Consent – the consent of the protesters rather than the wider public – is pretty much the only option left. – Claire Trevett

There is a danger the inhabitants of the parliamentary precinct have spent the week missing the wood for the trees. In focusing on the protesters directly in front of them, they seem oblivious to a much bigger mood shift that’s going on around the country.

What if what they are seeing is just the tip of the iceberg?Steven Joyce

There is, however, a large and growing group of New Zealanders who have had their lives severely disrupted by the Government’s actions “for the greater good”, who are sick of having their plight ignored.

And there is a big bunch more who have had a gutsful of the ever-changing rules and restrictions in the face of what they see as a very mild strain of Covid-19. It is these larger groups the Government should be most worried about.

The evidence of discontent and disagreement is growing all around us. – Steven Joyce

 The Covid response has created many losers. We’ve rightly talked a lot about the people caught on the wrong side of the border. But they are not the only ones.

Anyone who owns or works in a hospitality business or a small retail shop is another. People working in tourism or international education have been in a world of woe. Young people have had their education disrupted and their sporting dreams curtailed.

There are people living in pain because their elective surgery or cancer treatment has been postponed to the never-never. They have all been stopped from doing things which were previously part of normal life. Covid has whipped the rug out from under them.

It is perhaps not surprising when so many have had their lives turned upside down through no fault of their own, that a few will turn to conspiracy theories and the like.Steven Joyce

The Government certainly didn’t create the pandemic, but some of their actions have made it much worse than it needed to be. The vaccination delays, the inexplicable obstinacy against new forms of testing, the failure to increase hospital capacity, the layers upon layers of levels, traffic lights and stages which make people’s heads spin. – Steven Joyce

Then there are all the other tone-deaf announcements that heap insult on injury. What planet would you have to be on to think that whacking small businesses with a 6 per cent minimum wage increase and a new social insurance tax, plus the spectre of centralised wage negotiations, were good ideas now?

Why would you think that announcing a $15 billion light rail project for a privileged few in Auckland makes any sense when you are racking up debt all over the place that the next generation is going to be lumbered with? And at the same time as there is a real question mark over the future of commuting as we knew it?

And why would you be consulting on tighter immigration, visitor and student controls when your biggest problem after some pretty shoddy treatment amid two years of closed borders will be persuading enough people to come here?Steven Joyce

The Government’s dogmatic determination to continue with a policy programme made instantly out of date by the pandemic indicates the same lack of flexible thinking apparent in their Covid response. They expect everyone else to adjust and cope but they intend to sail on, determined to do things they thought of six or seven years ago irrespective of current circumstances.

And their blind loyalty to the Ministry of Health and its Director-General is a sight to behold. Dr Bloomfield has been politically dissembling at best about his organisation’s confiscation of RAT test orders. In any other Government he would have been carpeted and there would be talk of resignation. – Steven Joyce

The country’s mood is darkening, and in dismissing the protesters and their motivations, the Prime Minister and her MPs are giving the appearance that they are dismissing all the concerns people are raising, or even just quietly thinking about.

I can’t tell the Government how to get the protesters to go home, although firing Trevor Mallard would probably help. I suspect in the meantime the numbers will only grow.

Ministers need to lift their sights and focus on the wider discontent among the public outside Wellington and outside the Bowen triangle.

If ministers showed a willingness to genuinely listen, adjust their policy response, and convince Kiwis they both care about and will mitigate the disruption in people’s lives, then they can right the ship. At that point the protest will also probably peter out. If they don’t, then a few hundred assorted protesters and conspiracy theorists camped on the lawn at Parliament will be the least of their problems.Steven Joyce

I would say there’s probably a three-tier mandate. So the hairy shirt level is employment and losing your job, the next level down is the irritation level of not being able to do stuff you want to do, and then the third level down, which I think to be perfectly honest probably shouldn’t have been there in the first place, is a kind of mandate creep where we’ve been trying to really encourage secondary school students in that 12 to 17 year old age group to step up and get their doses which they have,” McIntyre said.

But schools have overinterpreted that and are imposing all these unnecessary restrictions on kids in that age group, not being able to play sport, not being able to go and participate in school activities, and it’s all because of their parents’ decisions which they are being punished for,” he said.

And let’s face it, you know, even if they are vaccinated, they are mixing with a whole group of other kids who are very low risk and they’re incredibly low risk now they’ve had their two doses, so I think particularly that third group, the kind of mandate that should never have been there in the first place, so I think that’s really an important one to tackle first. – Peter McIntyre

Why has a school been denied tests whilst it seeks to protect the health & safety of its own students & parents? Why has the government interfered with the contract? Our politicians and public officials would tell you that it has to do with things like MedSafe Approval – that health & safety red-tape is necessary when importing medical-related products.

However, that’s just one half of the truth. The other half is that our government has a very strong ideological problem with private sector involvement in the health-care sector.Robert MacCulloch

Yes, the government doesn’t want buyers & sellers which it doesn’t control coming together to do deals together in the health-sector. Although they say its about public health, it’s equally as much about ideology. Labour has an anti-privatization philosophy. At present, in the context of virus-testing, that philosophy has just become a health hazard. – Robert MacCulloch

Largely Covid-free, New Zealand has been viewed as a paradise for much of the last two years. Jacinda Ardern, already considered by many the Mother Teresa of the Antipodes, excelled in the early stages, acting decisively and with compassion. Appealing to the population to act as one, her “Team of Five Million” approach did wonders for national unity at a time when most other leaders were floundering and failing. No wonder I voted for her – twice.

But times have changed. Once saintly, Jacinda now appears merely silly, having led New Zealand to a place that looks more like a smug cul-de-sac than a nation wholly reliant on overseas tourism and trade. Then again, long-term strategic thinking was never a feature of her government’s Covid response, with “elimination” taking precedence over vaccination for much of 2021.   – Joanna Grochowicz

Not that anyone in New Zealand is really focusing on what she got wrong. Ardern’s $55 million (£27m) sweetener in the form of the Public Interest Journalism Fund has enabled her government to exert tremendous influence over private sector media outlets, as well as tightly control-messaging through state media channels. So much so that any coverage critical of Ardern now originates from pundits in Australia or Britain. Most recently, opposition leader David Seymour had to turn to the Daily Mail to get an opinion piece printed. This is when silly starts looking sinister.

If democracy is built on the ability to question those in power and hold them to account, then the Kiwi media are wholly complicit in Ardern’s swing from immaculate heart to autocrat. The major opposition party National have only made their job easier by offering nothing more headline-grabbing than leadership squabbles. Then again, the opposition’s perceived infighting might just be the PM’s grand media bribe in action. Gosh, she’s good!  – Joanna Grochowicz

Nobody can see the silent assassin at work next door; nor the mental health crisis her government’s Covid response has unleashed on New Zealand, where youth suicide rates are already the highest in the developed world. It certainly doesn’t fit the image of the leader I voted for – the young woman breastfeeding her new born at the UN General Assembly, the compassionate leader who offered succour to survivors of 2019’s Christchurch massacre. Here was a rare thing! A leader who understood both grand gestures and nuance.

Of course, there is nothing nuanced about Ardern’s shameless Covid scare tactics. They’ve worked a treat, keeping the public vehemently opposed to opening the country’s borders, and compliant in the face of tyrannical restrictions even as the rest of the world is emerging from crisis. Especially when combined with the bread of endlessly extended wage subsidies; and circuses in the form of a parade of overseas DJs, sports teams and stage shows that have breezed in without needing to enter the dreaded MIQ lottery.Joanna Grochowicz

Her latest diversion has worked. Terrifying the Team of Five Million, and focusing their fear and loathing on outsiders importing pestilence into paradise, is a highly effective strategy – if a little lacking in originality. Despots for thousands of years have deployed such methods to distract their subjects from something infinitely more damaging to long-term wellbeing – an unchallenged leader.

Ardern’s lack of transparency runs deep. One example, the He Puapua report currently before her Cabinet, was hidden from former coalition partner, New Zealand First. Finally outed as a result of an Official Information Act request, the report recommends a raft of co-governance structures along racial lines. – Joanna Grochowicz

Already, we are witnessing the corrosive impact of these policies and plans on national unity; and yet these issues and many others are being decided behind closed doors, with no regard for democratic process. Governments do this all the time, right? At least, oppressive regimes do.

What’s particularly galling for me is the mind control Ardern has exerted over the population. Coming back here, I’m shocked at how few have lost their faith, and baffled by the self-congratulatory mood that pervades the country. After two years of sermonising from Ardern and nowhere to drink other than from the government fountainhead, New Zealanders have turned into a nation of self-congratulatory, cavorting maenads.

Mea culpa. In voting for Mother Teresa, I unwittingly ushered Caligula into office. The parallels are there: noble and moderate for a period, admired all over the world “from the rising to the setting sun”. Our esteemed leader has become self-absorbed, cruel and dangerous. Where’s it all leading? I’d love to know, but getting to the truth in New Zealand is a tricky business nowadays. I prefer my chances at the London bacchanal – there at least I can be assured in vino veritas!Joanna Grochowicz

There are, of course, complaints and complaints. Some are purely individual or egotistical, but some point to general problems that affect many other people or the whole of society itself. A complaint is then emblematic of something beyond itself and may even become socially useful or necessary. Complaint that is merely about oneself is often akin to whining, and often serves to justify descent into the psychological swamp of resentful self-pity. – Theodore Dalrymple

There is thus an asymmetry between complaint and gratitude: one complains when things don’t work as they should, but one feels no gratitude when they do. There is a similar asymmetry where human rights are concerned: you complain when they are violated but are not grateful for receiving your due.

Perhaps this explains why people seem so angry all the time despite the unprecedented physical ease of their lives. As we grow ever more technically sophisticated as a society, but individually dependent upon mechanisms of whose workings we have not the faintest idea, we come to expect life to proceed like a hot knife proceeds through butter. When things go wrong – the computer crashes, the train is late, the car won’t start, the gutter is blocked, the bank’s website has a temporary problem, the promised delivery doesn’t arrive – we feel a quite disproportionate despair because of our expectations, though the inconvenience we suffer as a result is trivial by comparison with the kind of problems and deprivations that our forebears had to endure even within living memory, and did so with more equanimity than we can muster.Theodore Dalrymple

It is now almost impossible to remain out of range of those with whom we would rather have no contact. Future generations will never know the joys of being incommunicado. The world is too much with us, wrote Wordsworth getting and spending – and that was in 1802! It is not too much with us now; it is with us perpetually, all the time. – Theodore Dalrymple

On the other hand, recognition of what is and is not within our control is an important manifestation of maturity. How far that control extends was the most important intellectual quarrel of the twentieth century, with extremists arguing either that nothing in a man’s life, or alternatively that everything, was under his control. The extreme positions obviate the need for judgment of individual cases, which Hippocrates told us (in the medical context) is difficult. However, that something is difficult does not go to show that it can or ought to be dispensed with. Life is not the passage of a hot knife through butter. – Theodore Dalrymple

Those MPs who are refusing to even meet with the protesters, seem to have forgotten that they were elected to listen to the concerns of constituents and represent their views in Parliament.

Not only have our political elite shown themselves to be tone deaf about the protest, they also appear to be equally uninformed about Omicron, which is now sweeping through the country at a great rate of knots. – Muriel Newman

The political elite in Wellington have misjudged the situation by maligning and dismissing the protesters. Their misrepresentation of those who are standing up for what they believe, will simply harden their resolve, and result in more good Kiwis like Sir Russell Coutts going to Wellington to support a movement that is aimed at ending forced vaccinations and restoring human rights, dignity, and the freedom of choice for New Zealanders. Muriel Newman

We live in a community. Obligations to one another flow from that. At the same time, obligations must be checked by individual freedoms because it is almost impossible for an individual to opt out. The law follows you to the boundaries of the State. Civilised societies try to find the right balance between communal obligations and individual freedoms. People tend to gravitate to societies which are relatively skewed towards individual freedoms. Migration flows speak to that. Empirically, such societies are also the most prosperous. Individual freedoms and prosperity move in sync. – Peter Smith

There is no opposition among the major political parties on combatting the virus, as there isn’t any more on combatting so-called “climate change.” In such circumstances despotism flourishes.

Media today verses yesterday: For sure, much more leftness, greenness, feminisation and callowness; but, dwarfing all of these pernicious trends is a precipitous fall in questioning curiosity, objectivity and common sense. Shows no signs of reversing. – Peter Smith

There’s something symbiotic about the protestors outside Parliament Buildings and the ministers inside who won’t talk to them. Both are motley, arrogant and short-sighted; they radiate confusion and specialize in messaging that is hard to understand. Virtually everything ministers have promised over the last four and a half years has crumpled in their hands, from building 100,000 new houses, abolishing homelessness, lifting people out of poverty, improving education, fixing the country’s creaking infrastructure, and enhancing race relations that have never been in a worse state. – Michael Bassett

The protestors are similarly confused on everything from a clear purpose through to whether they even want to talk to those who don’t want to talk to them. Most in this diverse assemblage of New Zealand’s modern underclass are engaged in a rumble with an “up you” message to the rest of us. As well, there’s a thin layer of brighter ideologues who are worried about the creeping shroud of authoritarianism that Jacinda Ardern is encasing us in. But, for the most part the IQ level on both sides is about equal. Some protestors would have happily joined Trump’s January 2021 Capitol riot; others are drawing welfare rather than having any work obligations. Both sides are mostly on the public payroll. The current ministers have similarly impoverished educational backgrounds and narrow life experience. Both sides seem ill-equipped to talk to produce a constructive dialogue, even if anyone wanted to.Michael Bassett

The Prime Ministerial complaint appears to be that anti-mandate protests are acceptable, but anti-vaccine protesters were beyond some imaginary red line and thus were not to be tolerated.

But – and I realise this will come to as a shock to a few in the Beehive and those who pander to them – our political elites do not get to define the boundaries of legitimate dissent. –  Damien Grant

What the prime minister meant, I suspect, is it isn’t how she and her cohort of performance revolutionaries choose to conduct themselves, where the object was to get the Instagram photo and move on somewhere comfortable for a soy latte and vegan muffin. Getting mud on your designer clothing was to be avoided and being arrested was definitely not on the cards. Thank you very much.Damien Grant

There is a qualitative difference between the theatre of protest and the real thing. Those who marched in Auckland in support of Black Lives Matter or against Donald Trump in the Women’s March after his election, were engaging in performative protest.

Their lives were not impacted, they had no expectation of effecting change, and the wrong being committed was happening in another country. This isn’t to diminish the significance of the issues or the genuine feelings of those who turned out, but we should not confuse these marchers with those who stood in the field at Rugby Park in Hamilton wearing helmets. – Damien Grant

Yet we understand that florid language is the last recourse of the powerless, a final act of impotent defiance against the relentless power of the state. To point at the weakest member of our community, whose pitiful status is the result of your policies, and feign outrage as he scribbles pathetically in chalk is a weak moral position.

It makes sense that Trevor Mallard put on the sprinklers and played bad music at the crowd, because such a strategy would have deterred him and his parliamentary colleagues. Demonstrations were to be done only in fine weather and during gentlemen’s hours.Damien Grant

Those who refuse the vaccines do so for a variety of complex reasons, but if you are willing to lose your career rather than take the jab, then we need to acknowledge that this belief is genuine, if mistaken. But then, many believe all sorts of things are bad for them, from religion to a liking for craft beer.

If you believe that mRNA is going to rewire your genetics, you are not going to take the vaccine no matter how drastic the consequences, despite the fact that you, like me, have no idea what mRNA is.

The solution for most of us, when faced with the mandates, is to submit, whether we want it or not; but not everyone is built this way. Throughout history, we see examples of people taking strange ideological positions and being willing to suffer great hardship rather than compromise. – Damien Grant

But within the makeup of humanity, there is a small percentage willing to die for their beliefs and a larger cohort willing to stand in solidarity in the rain and muck of the parliamentary grounds to defy these mandates.

The prime minister is stuck. She cannot negotiate. She cannot back down. She needs to look upon those on the lawn and despair – for those rabble are the captains now. For as long as they can remain in place, they are the story.Damien Grant

Rather than hailing the achievements of the Labour-led government’s management of the covid crisis, this left should have been decrying the government’s lack of an economic programme for those hurting due to the exacerbation of poverty and inequality. – John A.Z. Moore

What I’ve seen at Ministry of Health level borders on incompetent, and no one is taking advice that in any way shifts their thinking.Ian Taylor

The emergency legislation in response to Covid-19 giving our Government the right to control our freedom of movement is no longer demonstrably justified in removing the fundamental rights to which New Zealanders are entitled.  –  Lady Deborah Chambers

However, section 5 in operation appears to be interpreted as broad enough to drive several trucks through. Our Government has removed our fundamental freedom of movement in a way that no other previous government has done. If the Government’s actions are justified under section 5, then that section needs to be narrowed and strengthened. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

The incessant and futile attempts to impose Covid-19 zero strategies will continue to fall away against the inevitable path towards endemic Covid-19. The never-ending onslaught of emergency powers and inane rules should be replaced now with sensible precautions, encouraged but not legislated by the Government, with an ongoing concentration of treatments, vaccinations, and health resourcing.

Instead, our Government has continued – against international trends – to impose even more draconian measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

It is not justified to restrict the fundamental rights of other New Zealanders when we know that it is only a particular group in our community who are vulnerable to a low risk of death from this disease. The better approach in terms of human rights is that citizens who are vulnerable be more cautious and aware. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

The average age of Covid deaths is still higher than the average life expectancy. We do not need a government to talk to us like we are 5-year-olds over these risk factors. New Zealanders know them. New Zealanders know whether they are part of a vulnerable group and should be trusted to act accordingly and take that into account in the decisions they make about their lives without having the Government use that as an excuse to become authoritarian. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

Thirdly, the emergency regulations taking away our freedom of movement fail to properly balance social, educational, economic, and even other medical damage in favour of an obsessive focus on Covid-19 to the exclusion of all else. This is why health bureaucrats and epidemiologists should only ever have been a key source of advice, not dictators of Government policy.

I do not doubt that the Government genuinely thinks it is taking these extreme measures for all the right reasons, but the Government’s rulemaking is no longer proportionate to the risk and does not meet the requirements of the section 5 exemption. The “nanny knows best routine” is no longer justified.

Fourthly, to those who say that our Government’s refrain that they are entitled to claim credit for “keeping people safe” and go even further and demand a continuation of this protection pretense, I say this: It is not the Government’s role to attempt to prevent all death at any cost. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

Part of the reason large elements of the public are entranced by the unachievable goal of permanent insulation from Covid-19 is that our politicians have raised expectations that our Government cannot meet by using paranoia and political one-upmanship.

Some New Zealanders will not be happy until they ruin another school year or chalk up another $60 billion in debt and ruin the early careers of so many young people weighing them down with taxation for decades to come. Those views are not a justification for overriding the fundamental rights of other New Zealanders.

If you are very risk-averse, then the answer is simple: you choose to take the steps you wish to take to avoid infection. The answer is not that our Government removes fundamental freedoms by emergency regulations when we are now in a very different position from when we first faced Covid-19 without vaccines, little knowledge, and a much stronger variant.

Our leaders assure us we are no longer in elimination mode. They urged us to get vaccinated so we could dispense with the restrictions on our fundamental freedoms, but still, we are overwhelmed with onerous and illogical rules and restrictions. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

Most media are addicted to Covid-19 catastrophism, down-playing or ignoring the social and economic costs. Fear is even better than sex at selling newspapers. Oppositions have been too timid to call it out, preferring to profit from outrage and trepidation, preferring to complain about a bungled vaccination rollout when we have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world and one of the lowest fatality rates.

It is time we elevated civil rights as a key component to decision-making. So far, the influence of the Bill of Rights has been zip.  – Lady Deborah Chambers

The pandemic has provided a stress test for the freedom of movement guaranteed to us and the results are not pretty.

The most common way people give up their rights is by thinking that they do not have any. New Zealanders should be justifiably proud and be prepared to defend the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. It is time we did.

Nothing strengthens authoritarianism so much as silence. – Lady Deborah Chambers

The rule of law needs to be respected and upheld. Should people reach the view they are not bound by it and the right to protest is unlimited, chaos would eventually descend upon us. It is a slippery slope. . . 

While the Bill of Rights reinforces the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of association and freedom of movement, none of these rights is absolute.Sir Geoffrey Palmer

When Labour governments run out of ideas they have usually resorted to centralisation and more controls. In its final term, Peter Fraser’s ministry that had been one of the most creative in New Zealand’s history, centralised as tired ministers hoped their trusted bureaucrats would keep Labour’s faltering show on the road. The ministries of Walter Nash, Norman Kirk and Bill Rowling followed similar paths. Jacinda Ardern’s government, you’ll recall, had very little policy to start with. So little in fact that when it came to office in 2017 it had to set up more than two hundred committees and inquiries to tell it what to think and do. The results were pitiful. Almost no Kiwibuild houses were constructed, homeless numbers increased, poverty figures rose rather than declined, educational achievement standards kept slipping against other countries, and major infrastructure construction fell well behind schedule. Whenever criticised, rookie ministers blamed the previous government, and then Covid. Message? Centralising everything can’t compensate for the absence of carefully-thought-through policy. – Michael Bassett

Despite their lack of specific policies, they had ever-so-itchy fingers. They engaged across a wide front tinkering with everything in sight, thinking some ancient Labour dogma overlaid with a big dose of special privilege for Maori would fix things. The public hospital structure had been set in place by Helen Clark’s ministry. It is only twenty years old, but it is now being turned on its head for no good reason except that a more centralized system makes it easier to favour Maori. Health Department officials who have been under huge stress coping with Covid are also having to restructure a hospital system that wasn’t broken. Nor is there anything so wrong with water and drainage services nationally that they require Nanaia Mahuta’s Three Waters in the form set out in her current proposals. Her centralizing scheme seems to have only one over-arching purpose: control by Maori. Meanwhile, the school history curriculum is being restructured with one special purpose in mind: teaching a bogus version of New Zealand history to school kids about the Treaty of Waitangi. Making Labour’s centralisation work certainly keeps officials busy. Wellington has become a gigantic Lego-fest.Michael Bassett

Over the years, the best ideas behind successful government schemes have always taken time to germinate. If they are specific to places or regions there has to be buy-in from locals who will benefit. And the best way to test the extent of that buy-in is to expect the same locals to own the project and pay the lion’s share. Centralizing everything always means bureaucracy and waste. But then, Jacinda’s ministry is so other worldly that they don’t know these stark realities. Her government is too expensive to indulge any further. – Michael Bassett 

Compulsory wokeness, for example, has had limited success in healing division; while classifying people by what they say, rather than what they do, has not promoted much virtue.

State management of the economy to reduce instability and help the weak now threatens long-run productivity growth.  Meanwhile, support for decarbonisation evaporates as life-changing costs become transparent.   

And the taking by the state of ever-wider powers to regulate our lives to make us better people increasingly creates more problems than it solves. Oblivious of how it looks, we find the most ardent defenders of civil liberties yearning for extraordinary powers.Point of Order

There’s an unmistakeable note of panic in the posturing of the woke Left. They suddenly realise they no longer control the public debate and are wildly lashing out at the scruffy mob that usurped their right to make a nuisance of themselves. How dare they! – Karl du Fresne

The level of condescension and intellectual snobbery on display from people who think of themselves as liberal has been breathtaking. The tone has alternated between sneering at this supposedly feral underclass and alarm at their sudden, forceful presence on the national stage – a stage the wokeists are accustomed to hogging for themselves.Karl du Fresne

Oddly enough, we never hear experts on Morning Report expressing alarm about people being radicalised by the extreme Left, although it’s been happening for decades at the taxpayers’ expense and has succeeded in transforming New Zealand into a country that some of us barely recognise.

Similarly, we should conclude that ideological manipulation is a problem if it’s practised on an ignorant lumpenproletariat, but not when it happens to gullible middle-class students in university lecture theatres, where it flourishes unchallenged. – Karl du Fresne

What we can infer from this barrage of anti-Camp Freedom propaganda is that the woke Left is terrified of losing the initiative in the culture wars. It’s desperate to reclaim its sole right to lecture the rest of us and wants to do so without the distraction of an unruly mob that has the effrontery to adopt the Left’s own tactics.

The irony here is that having spent most of their lives kicking against the establishment, the wokeists are the establishment. They have won the big ideological wars and are on the same side as all the institutions of power and influence: the government, the bureaucracy, the media, academia, the arts and even the craven business sector.

The dissenters, disrupters and challengers of the status quo – in other words the people protesting outside Parliament – are the new radicals. This requires the moralisers of the Left to recalibrate their political thinking, and I get the impression it’s more than some of them can cope with.Karl du Fresne

An unprovoked attack on a peaceful, democratic neighbour has not happened in Europe since World War II. It is a barbaric act that could take us into a dark age. It shakes the foundations of the international order and the world economy.

With the fall of Communism, there was hope for a new, liberal world order. Globalisation was spreading, as was democracy. There was a peace dividend in the form of reduced military spending and less need for autarky, especially in energy. It was the supposed ‘end of history’. – Oliver Hartwich

If the West needed a final wake-up call, this is it. If those who believe in liberal democracy, civil liberties, free markets and the rule of law still care about their values, this is the time to defend them.

Talk of solidarity with Ukraine is good, but it can only be hollow. There is no way to come to Ukraine’s military defence without provoking an even bigger war.

What the free and democratic world must do urgently is to reconnect with its own fundamental values. That requires a reality check. – Oliver Hartwich

We must rediscover the cultural and political foundations of our civilisation. It is the Enlightenment values of freedom and peace that we must defend against illiberalism, both at home and abroad.

It is a historic moment. But it is our choice how to respond to it.Oliver Hartwich

They say having a baby changes what you value and it’s true. I want more for our country now. Nine months ago, a politician could’ve convinced me with a tax break. But now, I want to know that politician has a plan to keep New Zealand as wonderful as it was for us to grow up in. I want to know that our schools are world-class, that our jobs pay well and that our cities are good places to live. I want this boy to want to live here, in the same country as his mum and dad, and never leave for a better lifestyle in Sydney and London and New York. I want things that benefit all Kiwis, because what is good for all Kiwis is good for him. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

A commonality of skin color and associated facial features is as nothing compared to the fact that human beings of all races share the faculty of reason. The former may allow for an interesting group photo once in a while.

The latter is what underlies the accumulation and application of knowledge and gives to the members of all races the ability to produce the goods and services that the members of all races need and desire. – George Reisman


Quotes of the year

01/01/2022

How do we prevent child abuse? First, we have to stop racism. That message has lately invaded the child-welfare system. The triumph of today’s fashionable ideological nonsense in this particular field carries exceptionally high costs — and abused kids will pay them. – Naomi Schaefer Riley

Kindness is as kindness does. And the one thing kindness cannot do is force people to be kind. – Chris Trotter

Of course, to assume that her missive would be engaged with in the spirit in which it was intended, is to make the mistake of imagining that the identitarian left is broadly committed to secular, rational discourse. It is not. Its activist component has transmogrified into a religious movement, which brooks no opposition and no discussion. You must agree with every tenet or else you’re a racist, sexist, transphobic bigot, etc. Because its followers are fanatics, Rowling is being subjected to an extraordinary level of abuse. – Petra Bueskens

The norms of civil discourse are being eroded, as we increasingly inhabit individualised media ecosystems, designed to addict, distract, absorb, outrage, manipulate and incite us. These internecine culture wars damage us all. – Petra Bueskens

If you deal primarily in subjective experience and impulse-driven reaction, under the assumption that you occupy the undisputed moral high ground, and you’ve been incited by fake news and want to signal your allegiances to your social media friends, then you can’t engage in rational discussion with your opponent. Your stock in trade will be unsubstantiated accusations and social shaming. – Petra Bueskens

Trans women are women is not an engaged reply. It is a mere arrangement of words, which presupposes a faith that cannot be questioned. To question it, we are told, causes harm—an assertion that transforms discussion into a thought crime. If questioning this orthodoxy is tantamount to abuse, then feminists and other dissenters have been gaslit out of the discussion before they can even enter it. This is especially pernicious because feminists in the west have been fighting patriarchy for several hundred years and we do not intend our cause to be derailed at the eleventh hour by an infinitesimal number of natal males, who have decided that they are women. Now, we are told, trans women are women, but natal females are menstruators. I can’t imagine what the suffragists would have made of this patently absurd turn of events. – Petra Bueskens

COVID has shown us that voters will excuse an astronomical level of incompetence, excused by collective amnesia, and the subsequent human toll as long as they believe they’re being kept safe. Fear really is the opiate of the masses. – Gemma Tognini 

We want a simplistic story sometimes – big naughty chicken companies are ripping us off – but it’s more complicated than that. It’s biosecurity, it’s iconic birds, it’s minimum wage and animal rights, which are all things the public support – Tim Morris

It should not be controversial to centre victims in discussions about crime and justice. In fact, it isn’t. The real world doesn’t play out like a Twitter timeline. For most New Zealanders the abolition of prisons is utterly insane and our government would be wise to remember that. – Ani O’Brien

 In the desire for an easy prey, hunters and journalists are the same.Theodore Dalrymple

Ideology is what all this ‘ethics’ crap is about – it has nothing to do with ethics as I understand the term. ‘Ethics’ has become a smokescreen for ideological vetting of research proposals and keeping findings that may not square with PC doctrine out of the academic literature. – Barend Vlaardingerbroek

So far I have lived—stayed safe, if you like—through predicted global cooling, global warming, mass famine, nuclear winter, asteroidal collision, and viral and prion-disease epidemics. . . Just because no catastrophe has yet touched me, then, it does not mean that none in the future will ever do so. That is why anxiety springs eternal in the human breast.Theodore Dalrypmple

And far too few of those who make the laws and regulations governing our lives will get anywhere near a farm, let alone develop a deep understanding of how agriculture works. If they did understand, there’d be much less chance they’d make laws that didn’t account for something as fundamental and unalterable as the changing of seasons. – Stephen Barnard

But “mother” is a fundamental biological, emotional, familial reality. It captures the irreplaceable bond between a baby and the woman who bore her in her womb. That others can be excellent guardians — a fact no one disputes — can’t justify extirpating Mom from our vocabulary. (For that matter, the political erasure of “dad” is also dehumanizing, because it ­entails the loss of our capacity to describe relationships that define what it means to be fully human.) – Abigail Shrier

By all means, call people what they prefer. But language in the law, by definition, ushers words into action. Words grant rights or take them away. Words can enhance or diminish status, placing people and concepts beyond the bounds of legal protection. . . That’s where we’re headed, isn’t it? Erasing “mothers,” and “women,” because the concepts are insufficiently inclusive to gender ideologues. The rights women struggled to win become undone, paradoxically, in the name of ­inclusion. – Abigail Shrier

The problem we have online is that an algorithm decides what we want to see, which ends up creating a simplistic, binary view of society. It becomes a case of either you’re with us or against us. And if you’re against us, you deserve to be ‘cancelled’.

It’s important that we’re exposed to a wide spectrum of opinion, but what we have now is the digital equivalent of the medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn. So it is scary for anyone who’s a victim of that mob and it fills me with fear about the future.Rowan Atkinson

Tarrases, on the other hand, are rare and getting rarer. Tarras with its tiny store and its tinier school. Tarras with its searing summers and its biting winters. Tarras with its bleached grasses, its merinos, its huge stations, its distilled New Zealandness. Leave it alone, you greedsters. Do you hear me? Leave it bloody well alone. – Joe Bennett

We all sense something is wrong. Our money is worth nothing to the banks. There is a rush to convert cash into assets. Houses selling as soon as they list. Those who cannot buy assets are just spending their cash. Every credit-fuelled recovery has ended in a recession. Richard Prebble

We are not allowing people to come into Scotland now without an essential purpose, which would apply to him, just as it applies to everybody else. Coming to play golf is not what I would consider an essential purpose. – Nicola Sturgeon

Rock-bottom mortgage rates, comparatively low unemployment, and our freedoms from Covid restrictions are there to be relished this summer, but perhaps not taken for granted. – Tom Pullar-Strecker

Of course, any tax is popular with the people who won’t have to pay it and who think the proceeds will be spent on, or at least trickle down to, them; but given human nature, the main attraction of the tax is probably more that of the certainty of inflicting pain on others than of the hope of benefiting oneself. – Theodore Dalrymple

The purpose of the wealth tax is only tangentially to raise money at a particularly difficult time . . . The purpose behind it is thus social reform, not the meeting of an economic necessity. The crisis is an opportunity: to advance the centralization of power and the permanent boosting of government powers vis-à-vis the population.

There is, however, one small potential fly in the ointment of my argument, namely that I haven’t fully worked out an alternative. But whatever the problem, incipient totalitarianism isn’t the solution. Theodore Dalrymple

Until a few months ago, American elections were the model for the world: fair, transparent and the results implemented. That reputation was undermined tonight, when armed protestors targeted elected representatives and tried to stop the ‘sacred ritual’, as it was described by President-elect Joe Biden, of confirming the election result.

That we are witnessing such scenes speaks to the extent that President Trump has degraded his office – and our politics. And I write this as a lifelong Republican. His behaviour since the election has not been for the benefit of the American people, but for the ego of a man who cannot bear to lose. His narcissism and obsession with winning cost the GOP two Senate seats in Georgia last night, handing full control of Congress to the Democrats. Today, it cost all of us our deepest privilege of being citizens of a country where ballots cast do not result in bullets shot. – Kate Andrews

This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic — not our democratic republic. I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election. – President George W. Bush

Note that I say the politics of race rather than race relations, because relationships between people of different ethnicities in New Zealand – including Maori and Pakeha – remain overwhelmingly respectful and harmonious. But how long this will continue, when ideologically driven agitators are doing their best to create grievance and division, is a moot point. – Karl du Fresne

There are environmental impacts associated with the production of food, period. The dairy industry does have an environmental impact, but if you look at it in the context of the entire U.S. enterprise, it’s fairly minimal. Associated with that minimal impact is a very substantial provision of high quality, digestible, and well-balanced nutrients for human consumption. Robin White

I always advocate for higher wages but there is a Catch-22, when the minimum wage is increased we see workers’ hours cut, or they lose their jobs. – Chloe Ann-King

Whether you are individualistic or collectivist, liberal or conservative, politics is not a culture war, it is about electing governments to act on our behalf to better people’s lives. It’s not just about one person’s outsized ego, it is about voters and their aspirations. That is democracy’s strength — and why it will endure. – Steven Joyce

So not insubstantial sums from Pharmac’s budget are already being spent for training when they should be used for medines. For Maori and anybody else who needs them. – Lindsay Mitchell 

And while, despite my best sewing efforts, little bits of shame still peek through sometimes, I can comfortably say that that’s not my, or other disabled people’s shame to carry.

There is nothing wrong with having a body that looks or works differently.

Our bodies are beautiful, just as they are.

We are worthy of love, just as we are.Erin Gough

Thus literal-mindedness is the enemy of freedom of expression, and represents also a disturbing loss of mental sophistication. But in any case, attachment to freedom of expression as an ideal seems to have lost much of its salience in the western world, having been replaced as a desideratum by that of virtue, moreover virtue of a peculiar but easily achievable kind, not that of acting well, but that of thinking and expressing the right thoughts. The certifiably right thoughts, which can change in an instant, are those that are in conformity with the moral enthusiasms of the moment. –Theodore Dalrymple

Antipathy, dislike, ridicule, and insult are, of course, normal phenomena of human expression, and furthermore are often justified. Without them expressions of more favourable attitudes would probably not be possible either, for they would mean nothing without the possibility of expression of their opposites. Even to contemplate outlawing such normal human reactions displays an alarmingly totalitarian mindset, all the more so in combination with the Scottish government’s desire that people should report so-called hate crime to the police. Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia seem to be its models. –  Theodore Dalrymple

Trying to eliminate antipathy, dislike, ridicule, and insult from the human heart and mind is a task to make that of Sisyphus seem like an afternoon stroll: precisely the type of task that authoritarian governments love, for it gives them the locus standi to interfere ever more intimately with the lives of their subjects. Hatred is hydra-headed, the task is never done, it grows with its very elimination, or rather the attempts by government at its elimination. Failure is the greatest success, since it requires ever more of the same, namely control over society. – Theodore Dalrymple

Nations rely on institutions: political institutions, the public service, universities, companies, churches, families. These all have different roles and duties that serve the societies that encompass them. And part of their purpose is to mould the individuals that pass through them, imbuing them with values that ensure they serve their institution and community instead of just themselves. Simon Bridges

The people who occupy our institutions increasingly understand those institutions not as moulds that ought to shape their behavior and character but as platforms that allow them greater individual exposure and enable them to hone their personal brands. – Yuval Levin

I emerged from what could have been an ordeal, with the knowledge instead, that goodness, kindness, courage, and laughter are as much part of our world as all the misery we read of in the media. I had been reminded that these are the things that keep the world turning, not politics and mayhem. Happy memories and gratitude and the knowledge of the goodness of life, are the lasting after- effects of another profound experience with which life has gifted me. In that alternative universe where goodness triumphs, all is well  and all manner of things are well, as Mother Julian reminded us.Valerie Davies

Coarse speech is as old as language. What has changed is that the decline in manners and the decline of religious observance – two phenomena that are probably connected – has obliterated the distinction between the vulgar and the polite. Language once considered unacceptable in public is now the norm, especially if it’s about sex or religion. Television has blazed a trail here. ‘Your’ ABC, for instance, never tires of having its ‘comedians’ or characters in its tedious attempts at drama refer to God or Christ in some expletive-tainted phrase. The ABC is scrupulous, when anything supposedly offensive to Aborigines is coming up, in interpolating an unctuously-voiced ‘warning,’, but never feels obliged to warn Christians when a torrent of blasphemy is on the way. – Christopher Akehurst

Statistics and everyday observation show that the future of Christianity in Australia is far from rosy. Christians are more liable to be mocked than respected. Semi-pagan beliefs about Gaia are filling the vacuum of faith. We can already see that, along with our belief in our religion, we have lost our belief and our pride in the uniqueness and, yes, superiority of our culture. That way lies extinction. Thanks for 2021? Not specially.Christopher Akehurst

What this all means is that bleeding heart versions of our history (Australia’s John Howard called it “black armband history”) need to be treated with great caution. Those who push the line that everything was lovely in Aotearoa until the colonists arrived, and that they were responsible for depriving Maori of their ancestral lands, are telling selected and often misleading bits of our story.  In reality, Maori society was in a parlous state when colonists arrived in significant numbers in the 1840s and 1850s. Yes, governors, politicians and settlers wanted access to Maori land. Some cut corners acquiring it. But even the most scrupulous land purchasers found many parts of Maori society a minefield of ancient hostilities and were worn down by conflicting assertions about historical ownership. It needs to be remembered that while the wars of the 1860s did terrible damage to what remained of the Maori economy, much damage had already been done to it by other Maori before the colonists arrived. –   Michael Bassett

Teaching a fair and accurate version of New Zealand history won’t be easy unless the Ministry of Education seizes control of the process and ensures that it doesn’t become the preserve of single-minded fanatics claiming to be historians but with axes to grind. They have the potential to stir unwarranted racial animosity in a country which, for much of its existence, tried to be fair to all people according to the norms of the day. – Michael Bassett

 Believers in conspiracy, however, would rather be the victims of a plot than of chance because plots make the world seem pliable to human will, whereas chance by definition escapes human control. A world pliable to human will, even where malign, is more understandable, and therefore less ontologically frightening, than one in which things happen that no human ever intended to happen. – Theodore Dalrymple

ns, none of them pleasant. And we do not live in times of social resignation or passivity. We have already gone through the revolution of rising expectations and reached that of rising, or risen, entitlements. When something to which one believes oneself entitled is not forthcoming, one is more aggrieved than by living at a far lower level without such entitlements. –Theodore Dalrymple

In summary we may say that unfunded government and personal expenditure, which creates the illusion of wealth and social security, necessitates low interest rates, low interest rates favour asset inflation, asset inflation favours the already possessing classes, which in turn leads to social rigidity and frustration down below in the lower reaches of society. Social classes rigidify into castes, and many people become fatalistic without contentment. But fatalism without contentment can undergo a sudden change, the emotional equivalent of a gestalt-switch, and become insensate rage. – Theodore Dalrymple

Taking full advantage of free education, being ambitious to enjoy a full life, making sacrifices for the long term pay-off; all obvious actions totally lacking in the no-hoper sector in our varyingly soft western societies. Thus, at the cost to the majority, governments insist on doing for these failures what they make no effort to do for themselves.Sir Bob Jones

Why did one have to switch energy providers and set a mobile phone alert for bin day, only to find out you can not set an alert because your phone storage is full, so you decide to pay for more storage (until you die), only to find you don’t know your password. By the time you retrieve your password you are sixty-five and howling into the abyss. – Susie Steiner

This cannot end well.  With the New Zealand economy shut in its bubble, Covid-19 ravaging all our international trading partners, local business suffering and unemployment rising, the market is propped up solely by the historically low interest rates upon which all profit projections are based.  But even a small change to those interest rates could prove devastating to many of my new clients.  There may be no greater fools left.  Because in 2021 all the shoe shine boys have become property developers … – Guest Poster at Kiwiblog

Simply put, the opening of the border does not depend on anything that happens in New Zealand but on the virus being brought under control globally. Like every other multilateral issue from climate change to free trade, that has little to do with what happens in Wellington and everything to do with decisions and operational competence in the likes of Washington, Beijing, Brussels, Brasilia and New Delhi. On the border, we are ultimately a policy taker, not a policy maker. – Matthew Hooton

But under the Ardern government, old-fashioned notions about property rights, due process and the rule of law are susceptible to being overturned when protesters can wave the Treaty of Waitangi and toss words like “colonialism” and “stolen” into their rhetoric. – Bob Edlin

I don’t think people realise the intergenerational commitment they’re making, in terms of totally removing choice over the land in the future, unless some other magic [CO2 sequestration] technology springs up. –