Quotes of the month

01/10/2021

Our Parliament has never before been unilaterally shut by the Speaker. Open Democracy reports that 31 authoritarian governments have used Covid to shut or limit parliaments. Now the list is 32 countries.  –  Richard Prebble

There seems to be a strange alliance developing between the urban environmentalists on the one hand and huge financial interests on the other. The environmentalists want “green” technology not so much to preserve the environment, for whose aesthetic aspects they care little, but as evidence that they “care.” A 600-foot white windmill in a beauty spot does not offend them, on the contrary, they rejoice at it; they see not a bird-slaying eyesore, but an almost religious symbol of salvation, much as crosses used to be placed in the countryside in once-Christian countries. As to the actual effect on the environment, whether the windmill saves or expends energy overall is something that very few of them would be able to compute, but is beside the point, which is to demonstrate compassion toward the biosphere. Meanwhile, subsidies make millionaires. No subsidies, no windmills.Theodore Dalrymple

Intention these days is nine-tenths of virtue, and intention is measured mainly by what people say that their intentions are. After all, each of us is expert on his own intentions, perhaps the only subject on which he is really expert; and therefore if I say I want more 600-feet windmills because that is the only by which the planet be saved, who can gainsay it? – Theodore Dalrymple

I concede, however, that many people feel differently, and regard their car as a symbol of their freedom to be mobile. Voluntary servitude is a well-known condition, but let it not be electrified into the bargain.Theodore Dalrymple

Indeed, looking backwards is a big part of New Zealand’s current predicament. The puttering start to the vaccine rollout while other countries sped ahead. The obvious shortcomings with our managed isolation and quarantine facilities. The Ministry of Health’s failure to stress-test its contact tracing capabilities or even develop workable Bluetooth tracing capability. And the constant repetition of tired slogans from 2020. All this smacks of excessive satisfaction with past success. – Roger Partridge

Looking backwards, elimination has served us well. And New Zealand’s low vaccination rates means the country has no feasible alternative but to use strict lockdowns to try to stamp out the current incursion.

But how sustainable is this strategy going forwards? –  Roger Partridge

The economic costs of lockdowns are not measured by the cost to the taxpayer alone. The real financial costs are to people’s livelihoods. Economist Michael Reddell calculates that last year’s lockdowns wiped $12b from GDP last year. The current lockdown will add billions more to that. Once again, business opportunities will disappear, firms will fail, and jobs will be lost. –  Roger Partridge

Just as the financial costs of lockdown are cumulative, so too are the human costs. Curtailing freedoms comes at a high price. Medical appointments missed. Education foregone. Friends and families cut off from each other, even at times of acute emotional stress during births and bereavements. Even the loss of everyday recreational activities like a day at the beach or in the mountains takes a heavy toll. – Roger Partridge

There are no good options with Covid. But an elimination strategy that was undoubtedly optimal for the first part of the Covid journey, looks much harder to justify for the journey ahead.

A change of course would bring significant benefits. Families separated by the closed borders would have an opportunity to be reunited. Kiwis stranded overseas would have a better chance of returning. Businesses would be able to meet offshore customers and suppliers. – Roger Partridge

More than that, a new course would mark an end of an authoritarian state that at times has seemed more willing to limit our liberty than to learn from its own mistakes. – Roger Partridge

Looking back, few Kiwis would have swapped their experience during the first year-and-a-bit of the pandemic with anyone else’s around the world.

But whether the road ahead requires the same approach is another matter. There are plenty of reasons for Kiwis to question both the driving and the direction of travel. – – Roger Partridge

Anyone who accidentally creates discomfort—whether through their teaching methods, their editorial standards, their opinions, or their personality—may suddenly find themselves on the wrong side of not just a student or a colleague but an entire bureaucracy, one dedicated to weeding out people who make other people uncomfortable. And these bureaucracies are illiberal. They do not necessarily follow rules of fact-based investigation, rational argument, or due process. Instead, the formal and informal administrative bodies that judge the fate of people who have broken social codes are very much part of a swirling, emotive public conversation, one governed not by the rules of the courtroom or logic or the Enlightenment but by social-media algorithms that encourage anger and emotion, and by the economy of likes and shares that pushes people to feel—and to perform—outrage. The interaction between the angry mob and the illiberal bureaucracy engenders a thirst for blood, for sacrifices to be offered up to the pious and unforgiving gods of outrage—a story we see in other eras of history, from the Inquisition to the more recent past.  – Anne Applebaum

There’s another thesis to be written on the contrasting Covid-19 strategies adopted in Australia and New Zealand, and their strikingly different outcomes. Whoever writes it might like to consider, among other things, why New Zealand appears more amenable to lockdowns. Setting aside contrasting political structures, I think it’s another reminder that despite all our superficial similarities, the two countries are culturally and socially quite distinct. Some might say it’s the difference between a larrikin country with lawlessness in its DNA (that would be Australia, in case you’re wondering) and one whose people are meeker and more compliant – or if you prefer, more inclined to pull together in pursuit of a common goal. But I won’t stick my neck out by going any further than that.Karl du Fresne

I’m valuable enough to work in healthcare, but not valuable enough to be a resident. – Yvette du Plessis-Uys

We migrants are not burdens to this country. We are contributing to the country … but are treated like, even less than second class citizens.Thao Joy 

Lack of clarity of goals is a recipe both for inefficiency and an opportunity for bureaucratic overgrowth. Practically nothing goes uncontested; all is confusion. The police are unsure whether their job is to keep public order, prevent and detect crime, or engage in social engineering, by, say, eliminating expressions of hatred or joining in local carnivals by dancing in them. Are teachers supposed to impart certain basic skills and knowledge to children, or turn them into right-thinking mental clones, incapable of bad thoughts? Absurdities proliferate, generating heat but no light. – Theodore Dalrymple

The secret of success, it seems, is an intellectually modest, but very clear, goal in the national interest. In such circumstances, organizational complexity can be managed. It is ideological confusion of purpose that conduces to incompetence.Theodore Dalrymple

Chief Human Rights Commissioners, however, are supposed to uphold the secular character of the New Zealand state. As public servants, they are not entitled to talk like Archbishops. They may tell us what is lawful and unlawful. They may even reiterate the purposes of the Act of Parliament which created their office. But they have no mandate whatsoever to instruct New Zealanders on what is “Right” and what is “Wrong”. – Chris Trotter

Criticism of Ardern is not that she again locked down the country on August 17. Everyone accepts she had no choice, given the circumstances. The criticism is why those circumstances prevailed.Matthew Hooton

Being angry about the Ardern Government’s operational failures is not the same as opposing her objective, strategy or individual decisions. In fact, it is essential those failures be highlighted and those responsible be held to account — in real time by the media, promptly by the Auditor-General and Brian Roche’s continuous monitoring committee, and ultimately by the inevitable Royal Commission into New Zealand’s Covid response and — if necessary — by the judiciary. – Matthew Hooton

Most importantly, academics, the media, the Opposition and the public have a responsibility to continually put the blowtorch on Ardern to ensure her Government prepares for the end of the elimination era a hell of a lot better than it did the arrival of Delta. Cheerleading any government is the most likely way to make it lazy and sloppy.

With Covid, that risks costing people their lives.Matthew Hooton

Current legislation is based on a false interpretation of the original Treaty documents signed by an overwhelming majority of Iwi leaders that clearly stated the terms of the deal reached between the Crown and Maori.

The fact that parts of that agreement were, in subsequent years ignored by the Crown – although reprehensible, does not in itself justify the creation of a separatist society in compensation for the “sins of our Pakeha forebears.” – Clive Bibby

This lockdown feels different. Taking the temperature of friends and colleagues, there seems less stoicism and more grumpiness. There is a weariness about people’s responses when you ask how they are going. Part of it is the novelty wearing off. Making your own bread might have been fun the first time around, but the third or fourth time, not so much. Another part is the sense that we shouldn’t be here.

No matter how much the Government spins, people know it is the low and slow vaccination rate which has meant there is no other option besides lockdown, just as it has been in the eastern states of Australia. Then there is the loss of control over your own life. That sense of frustration and powerlessness and an inability to make plans. For many, that loss of personal agency is debilitating.Steven Joyce

It doesn’t help anyone that there is no sense of direction about what comes next. The Government is playing its cards too close to its chest. Whether they haven’t thought things through or have a fear of subsequently being proven wrong, ministers aren’t saying anything substantive about the future. – Steven Joyce

People need hope. They need to know what is coming next. They need a sense of positive momentum.

And they also need to see a change in approach. There has been too much bumbling around, too much dissembling, and too much poor delivery for things to continue the way they have been.

The Government needs to start by setting a clear vaccination target and a date. It is surely now apparent people are willing to get their vaccinations. Notwithstanding the PM’s comment, the problem is supply, not demand. The Government should set a target for the country to achieve by the end of the year, and go all out to achieve it. That would give everyone something to work towards.Steven Joyce

The game-playing at 1pm also needs to stop. The Government’s management of the message risks insulting the intelligence of voters. The Ministry of Health should provide the data earlier in the day, and ministers should call press conferences when they have something significant to say. – Steven Joyce

Whether it’s a bunker mentality or ideology, it is ridiculous how many talented people who don’t work on the public payroll have been excluded from the pandemic response.

Whether it’s vaccine procurement, provision of MIQ facilities, saliva and antigen testing, contact tracing, hospital preparedness, or dragging the chain on letting pharmacies and GPs give the jabs, two-thirds of the country’s capability has been left on the bench. That has to change. Doing so would visibly give the public confidence that the Government is open to new ideas and new directions.Steven Joyce

And finally, ministers should halt their health reforms. These were designed for another time. It is ludicrous they have continued to trundle along during the pandemic, and each passing month makes it more so. It is generally a bad idea to reorganise an army while it is fighting a war, and that surely applies here.

There is no evidence from the pandemic that greater top-down centralisation of the health sector will achieve better results, and in fact the reverse. From clipboard Charlies preventing pharmacies from providing vaccines to opaque dissembling with information, there is nothing in the ministry’s recent performance that gives confidence that a national health service would do a better job than a local one.

The health sector does need reform in the future but not this reform and not now. Rip it up and let’s start again later. Put the money into the front line. – Steven Joyce

 I just hope this is another time in our country’s history where we come together to show that love is stronger than any hate.Kerre McIvor

Yet the state’s failures in other areas has been shocking. It appears no provision has been made to increase ICU capacity, despite 18 months to prepare. There is no Plan B and Plan A is failing.

Perhaps Delta has been a gift in accelerating the rate of vaccines as well as driving home the message that, in this pandemic, as in mate selection, demanding purity is an unobtainable standard that leads only to disappointment and isolation. – Damien Grant

Violence in the name of ideology is the polar opposite of free speech. It is the ultimate attempt to silence those who do not share your worldview.

Differences of political and religious opinion must be navigated with reason and dialogue. Never through violence. Never through fear.

Those who refuse to resolve ideological differences with words are the ones who turn to violence. Those who refuse to respectfully engage in civil dialogue with those they disagree with are the ones who become hateful extremists in the first place.

Freedom of speech — the fundamental human right to peacefully express one’s opinion — is an inherently non-violent principle. This is why we seek to protect it. –  Free Speech Union

But this act of terrorism is also unthinkable because it was utterly predictable.

Yet it happened anyway. No amount of finger pointing will change that.

But we deserve to know why it went so wrong. – Tracy Watkins

The same people who won’t take a vaccine that has been given to billions to people around the world – an extraordinarily safe vaccine – are willing to take a cow medicine and a cow dose, but their argument against the vaccine is that it’s not safe?Kurt Krause

As things stand, an unvaccinated employee has greater rights than her vulnerable co-worker. It is like banning non-smoking workplaces while prohibiting workers from complaining about the smoker at the next desk. – Eric Crampton

Leadership is about doing not talking. 

There are almost three million Australians directly benefiting from the doing and not a single New Zealander benefiting from the talking. – Mike Hosking

Awareness without access to mental health support is kind of like noticing you’re thirsty but having no water. Noticing the thirst may help you seek out the water, but if you are in a situation where there is literally no water, then you are probably better off trying to forget about the thirst. I’m not sure I can stomach another Mental Health Awareness Week where people are encouraged to reach out, get into nature, but absolutely nothing is done to help those people who have been desperately trying to do that, those people who have been coming up against closed doors. For some people in New Zealand, awareness is still valuable (and there are many appropriate resources available for people facing less severe mental health challenges), but there are many people who are well past awareness and what we actually need is some help.  – Lucy McLean

Twelve months later, it is no longer heretical to question the Ministry of Health’s pandemic management. Indeed, it is mainstream. The litany of the ministry’s failings is too long for questions about its fitness for purpose to be decried. The delayed start of the vaccine rollout. Ongoing border testing bungles. The inexplicable delays with saliva testing. The failure to scale up ICU capacity. The constant refrains about failures being “frustrating” or “not what we expected”. The list goes on and on. Roger Partridge

Gorman and Horn observe that the proverbial “Man from Mars” would puzzle at biosecurity in New Zealand and Australia. Both countries have sophisticated and proactive biosecurity agencies to protect against pests and diseases that threaten their agricultural sectors. Yet, when it comes to biosecurity arrangements that protect their populations from pandemics, both have been found wanting.

They have a point. Indeed, the Martian visitor might also wonder why the Government ever tasked the Ministry of Health with operating managed isolation and quarantine facilities. The ministry’s areas of expertise are in policy, procurement and regulation. It is not expert in complex logistical operations. Little wonder the Government eventually concluded the ministry was not up to the MIQ task and enlisted the army’s assistance.

Yet the Government repeated the mistake when entrusting the ministry with managing the national vaccine rollout. Is anyone surprised the rollout got off to such a poor start? – Roger Partridge

It used to be that each village had an idiot, but now those village idiots can converge online in communities, which create echo chambers that reinforce those beliefs. But if social media provides the oxygen, what about the initial spark?Jarrod Gilbert

Among the prime minister’s significant political skills is the ability to appear to answer a question without really answering it at all.  – Luke Malpass

However, it’s all very well laughing at this nonsensical verbosity, but the implications are serious. What it reveals is an inability to be honest and admit a cock-up, as the Australian PM did and apologised to the nation for, but worse, screaming incompetence and abysmally poor judgement.Bob Jones

The single greatest thing any New Zealander can do right now is go and get vaccinated; I cannot stress how important that is. The vaccines are the single greatest investment this Government, or indeed any government, will make in the economy. – Chris Bishop

The Government doesn’t believe that argument on its own rhetoric. They’re saying other countries needed it more than we did so it’s fine to be last in the world while simultaneously saying the vaccine rollout is going really well.’’

“If it’s true that the moral thing to do is for New Zealand to be second to last in the OECD, then why not give away all our vaccines now and hand them over to the developing world? There’s plenty of African countries not rolling out the vaccine, on their own rhetoric that would be the moral thing to do but we’re not doing that. Chris Bishop

I think they’ve done a pretty good job overall with Covid, but they’ve slipped into complacency and self-congratulation mode at the expense of preparation. We sat back and said, ‘We’re the best in the world, we’ve got freedoms that nobody else has, Six60 is playing at Eden Park and it’s so amazing’ (if you like Six60, which apparently people do). – Chris Bishop

The PM likes to say, ‘We were last to get Delta so we could be prepared’, but where’s the evidence that New Zealand actually spent the time being the last to get Delta, looking overseas and saying, ‘You know what, maybe we need to change up our approach here’. Chris Bishop

The two most powerful emotions a government can engage the public with are fear and hope. This Government has been superb on fear. – Mike Hosking

The messaging has been so effective, a few still think that the 26 who originally died pre-vaccine is a stat worth re-quoting ad nauseum, almost as though the world hasn’t moved on, hasn’t got a vaccine, and hasn’t worked out how to live with Covid.

It’s been so effective some still think this lockdown, although brought about solely through ineptitude in terms of failing to prepare for the inevitable outbreak by not hiring enough contact tracers, not expanding health capacity and not getting enough vaccine at a time we actually need it, is to be defended.

Yes the lockdown this time was the right thing to do, only because it was the only thing to do.  But it was the only thing to do because preparation, foresight, planning and delivery fail this government in a way I have not seen in the modern political era. – Mike Hosking

My fear about the fear is this government doesn’t like hope because it involves aspiration and promising stuff it might not be able to deliver.

Delivering fear is easy, we’ve lived it for 18 months.

If you look at the world now versus 18 months ago and look at us now versus 18 months ago, one is dramatically different and yet one isn’t.

And the one that isn’t is the one crippled by fear, not driven by hope. – Mike Hosking

When a government decides to stop citizens saying what they think, it never ends well for democracy.  – Matt McCarten

The proposed solution is far worse than the problem. Do we really feel we have to be protected from someone espousing nonsense or even venom?

When the state thinks it needs to decide what ideas can be said or heard, it’s inevitably used to suppress voices that the powerful don’t want us to hear. – Matt McCarten

So when my mates on the left say we need legislation to stop hate, my response is: we don’t. The current changes will stop people from saying what they think. Frankly, that’s worse.

Ideas we don’t like can make us uncomfortable. Every change in society requires debate. People say stupid things. Only through discussion can we win the hearts and minds of others, and then, eventually, society adopts these new ideas as a new norm. Do people really believe we should have censors determining what we can say and hear?

Suppressing voices is always worse than having a few idiots mouthing off. Matt McCarten

Anyone with knowledge of history knows that suppression laws will eventually be used by the powerful against the weak. Free speech is not a left versus right debate. It’s about protecting democracy and civil society.  – Matt McCarten

The Ministry of Alphabetical Truth seems to like creating the illusion of men not needing women in order to produce children. Motherhood is erased, and perhaps we are to believe that it is replaced by obliging rainbow storks. Not a woman in sight. – Gary Powell

The white heat of domestic politics can be quick to defeat high-minded virtue. – Claire Trevett

When I joined the Department, I was a committed protectionist, believing that controlling imports the way we were was the right thing for New Zealand. But after a few months of seeing the system at work and having on an almost weekly basis visits from senior business leaders begging the likes of this fresh-faced official for import licences so they could carry on or expand their businesses, I realised its folly and became the ardent supporter of free trade and open markets I remain today.  – Peter Dunne 

The thought that major building and construction industry players are having to go cap in hand to junior officials in MBIE to plead their case to be allowed to resume business seems like import licensing all over again. The sole concern here should be whether it is safe for a business to reopen in a Covid19 environment. There should be nothing more to it than that.

It is most certainly not for MBIE to decide whether this product or that is necessary or desirable. Junior government officials, often with little life experience, making major decisions about when and how significant businesses can operate seems just as ludicrous now as it was when I was doing import licensing. And it will surely prove to be just as an inept and uneven approach. The best people to understand business conditions and the demand for specialist goods and services are those involved in the businesses themselves, not an official with no direct business experience sitting behind a desk in Wellington, or, now more likely, working comfortably from home. – Peter Dunne 

One of the major reasons for import licensing’s ultimate failure was that the assumption and practices which underpinned its administration fell out of step and way behind current business practice of the day. Yesterday’s solutions were no longer fit for purpose for dealing with today’s challenges. Yet setting up a business continuity licensing regime, which is effectively what is occurring at present, run by faceless officials with no practical experience is the modern equivalent of the failed import licensing system.

MBIE’s approach, endorsed by Ministers, amounts to subtle re-regulation of the business sector in a way not seen since Muldoonism of the late 1970s and early 1980s. In line with the axiom, “history repeats itself”, it is likely to be just as spectacular a failure and will have eventually to be unwound and balance restored. But given that the current government seems to think that anything that happened before it came to office in 2017 is ancient history and therefore not worth taking any notice of, that is likely to be some time away. – Peter Dunne 

There are intangible reasons to justify say a year or two at university as a bridging experience between childhood and adult status. But otherwise, unless studying for a traditional career such as medicine or law, to a very large degree trusting and unworldly kids attending university today are victims of a gigantic fraud. –  Bob Jones

The modern university is today largely a scam, exploiting the vulnerable with its ever expanding range of non-intellectual bullshit degrees.Bob Jones

Nothing good comes from the politics of fear and hate.  – Matthew Hooton

The only real way to get out of the debt position New Zealand will find itself in “is to grow the economy like billy-o – Andrew Bayley

If suffering confers moral authority, greater suffering confers greater moral authority; and everyone wants, and believes he has, moral authority, the more of it the better. Hence it is necessary to claim to have suffered enormously, in short to be a survivor. Suffering must be magnified and lengthened: it is no good having suffered if you have merely got over it by, for example, pushing it to the back of your mind and getting on with life. And such is the nature of the human mind, that wonderfully flexible instrument, that you can magnify and lengthen your suffering at will, as much and as long as you wish, or as much and as long as necessary to obtain the desired kudos. At the same time you can disguise from yourself that fact that this is what you are doing.

Moreover, you can be a hereditary sufferer, so to speak. It is not necessary for you to have suffered anything personally to obtain the moral authority of suffering and sufferers. It is only necessary that you should belong to a group that, historically, has been wronged and suffered as a result. The glory of this is that you can claim to have suffered enormously while having, in fact, led a very privileged existence. Your membership of the group that has suffered, or suffers still, turns you into an honorary victim; and as we know, amateurs are often better than professionals. They have a more genuine attachment to their role. – Theodore Dalrymple

If 2021, as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern put it, is the year of the vaccine, then 2020 was the year of the vaccine purchase agreement. And it bears remembering that the former has been delivered in accordance with the terms of the latter. – Kate MacNamara

But it’s important to note that Medsafe’s approval was later than other countries’ regulatory agencies in large measure because New Zealand’s original vaccine purchase was late. Initial data was submitted to Medsafe by Pfizer for the vaccine approval on October 21, only after the first purchase agreement was in place. Kate MacNamara

So the late timing of Pfizer doses was in train much earlier than the Government likes to imply. In addition, scope for reopening deals and paying more for early vaccine delivery certainly existed, though perhaps that window of opportunity was not open as late as February-March of this year. Kate MacNamara

It wouldn’t matter much except vaccination, the Government promises, will restore some normalcy, save billions of dollars, and free us from the blight of lockdowns. Kate MacNamara

Yes, our government stuffed it up big time. It moved too slow due to sluggish administrative, regulatory & bureaucratic processes in Wellington. That’s why we’re all locked down today. It was a $10 billion mistake – and counting – by the Ministry of Health. And the economic costs of moving oh-so-slow amount to half of this country’s entire annual health budget. – Robert MacCulloch

 If there is any risk that the media is skewing their representation of the performance of government, then we are indeed on shaky ground. In fact I suggest that there is nothing quite as dangerous in any democracy as a media that is beholden to the Government.

And there is no doubt in my mind that this Government, as it lurches from clumsy mistakes to avoidable crises, is currently getting an easy ride from the majority of the media operators. – Bruce Cotterill

A free and independent press is a critically important foundation to any democracy. Without it, governments can go unchecked and the rule of law will suffer. – Bruce Cotterill

Sadly, our media does not appear to be as independent and free as we should prefer. We seem to show a lot of photos of the Prime Minister smiling and the opposition leader frowning. – Bruce Cotterill

But reporting what you see and hear is not journalism. Journalism involves questioning what you see and hear. Is it true? Is it right? Who did it? Who said it? Why do you think that? Where is the supporting information and evidence? 

That’s what we’re missing. – Bruce Cotterill

I recently spoke to a senior journalist based in Wellington. He is someone whose opinions and writing I respect. I asked why the questions from the press gallery didn’t seek to dig deeper into what are often flippant answers from our government ministers. He simply said the following; “If you are too tough, you don’t get invited back”. – Bruce Cotterill

Some call this censorship of the press. I call it a denial of access. If the media is threatened with a lack of access, or in other words, if access is used as a negotiating tool or a bargaining chip, then we have a challenge to our democracy that is greater than anything we have had to previously consider.Bruce Cotterill

The media must be free. Free to ask, question, challenge and investigate. Free to publish its findings. Free to hold governments to account. And not just governments.

Businesses, sporting organisations, and high profile personalities, all by virtue of their position in society, need to be held to an appropriate level of conduct and behaviour. – Bruce Cotterill

In a democracy it is very important that a government and indeed members across the political spectrum are able to get their messages out to the people in a way that provides a fair representation of their policies and their activities.

However, it is also equally important that the media question those policies and activities in a way that seeks greater clarity about what those policies are meant to achieve, and greater accountability in regard to their execution and effectiveness. Bruce Cotterill

There is a message in all this. The media who have put out their hands and cheerfully pocketed taxpayer funds they don’t need have only themselves to blame if the public smells a rat and begins to doubt their message. – Michael Bassett

It is possible to build applications that serve our needs, and save lives by providing evidence of vaccinations while also protecting personal privacy.

But it is vital activists, civil society, Parliament and the courts are allowed to carefully scrutinise new measures to ensure that even in the midst of a health panic, we aren’t giving up what we can’t take back. – Andrea Vance

We’ll never know the true cost of 9/11, the cost of the lost of the thousands of lives, what they might have created, what their children might have created, and how much richer humanity would have been for it.  It was an attack not just on them, but on an idea.  The idea that free people can choose how they live, to work, to trade, to enjoy life, and to not have their lives owned by others, by self-serving authority bowing to an ideology that shackles them to the literal interpretation of some aged religious tracts. The idea that Government should be to subordinate people to the will of theocratic bigots, rather than exist to protect their rights and established by the people to protect them from those who wish to take away those rights.  – Liberty Scott

I never once believed —  nor do I now —  that the purpose of instruction was to lead my students to a particular conclusion. Rather, I sought to create the conditions for rigorous thought; to help them gain the tools to hunt and furrow for their own conclusions. This is why I became a teacher and why I love teaching.

But brick by brick, the university has made this kind of intellectual exploration impossible. It has transformed a bastion of free inquiry into a Social Justice factory whose only inputs were race, gender, and victimhood and whose only outputs were grievance and division.

Students at Portland State are not being taught to think. Rather, they are being trained to mimic the moral certainty of ideologues. Faculty and administrators have abdicated the university’s truth-seeking mission and instead drive intolerance of divergent beliefs and opinions. This has created a culture of offense where students are now afraid to speak openly and honestly. Peter Boghossian

This isn’t about me. This is about the kind of institutions we want and the values we choose. Every idea that has advanced human freedom has always, and without fail, been initially condemned. As individuals, we often seem incapable of remembering this lesson, but that is exactly what our institutions are for: to remind us that the freedom to question is our fundamental right. Educational institutions should remind us that that right is also our duty.  – Peter Boghossian

Ovarian cancer is the most deadly gynaecological cancer, and kills more women than New Zealand’s annual road toll and more than melanoma. Yet it remains underfunded and largely ignored. Jane Ludemann

Women need to advocate for themselves, to not be afraid to stand up and say ‘No, I’m not happy with that diagnosis, I want further investigation’. For this to happen, we need to make women aware that these cancers exist, and show them what to look out for. If they don’t have this information, they can’t connect the dots. – Sara Ingram

Having a cancer diagnosis changes everything. Now I do the things that make me happy. It’s about always looking forward, not having regrets and accepting mistakes. Everybody has to deal with tough stuff. It’s about taking that stuff and seeing that something great can be born out of it.Sara Ingram

My point is that even though the decision was wrong, it was made for the right reasons. Our immigration authorities might appear to be incompetent, but they are neither bad, corrupt nor venal. – Damien Grant

This is a law that needs to be changed but a person cannot be deprived of their liberty because what did they should be illegal, if what they did wasn’t illegal. Damien Grant

By upholding the rights of the worst amongst us, we protect the rights of us all. Rights apply to all residents of these islands and are not subject to removal by executive whim. – Damien Grant

These rights are enjoyed by all of us only because they are enjoyed by the least of us. The trade-off between liberty and safety is necessarily high.

It is tempting to consider that less violence would have occurred had we given the state a freer hand, but if you want to understand what the state does with a free hand ask the Waikato Māori. Ultimately, our civil liberties are to protect us from the Crown, who has, unfortunately, a nasty history of abusing its subjects.Damien Grant

The war on terror has eroded our liberties in many small ways, but we have retained a bedrock of institutional restrictions that limit the arbitrary power of the state.

We should remember this as we navigate our way in the months, and possibly years, ahead. The principles that were applied to this terrorist’s rights were developed over 800 years; first laid down in the Magna Carta and refined, expanded and fought for over many centuries.

We should not give them up lightly, or cheaply. We should not give them up at all. – Damien Grant

This is only one event that got across the border and look at the mayhem, one month lockdown, a billion dollars a week that’s just not sustainable in the long term and all the pressure that people are under … the family issues, the schools, the devastation to the economy and the extra health issues.

People aren’t getting their colonoscopys, getting their skin checked for melanoma, heart checks up, all those things are really important health issues.Graham Le Gros

I think that’s where the economic, the other health issues and the social pressures really start to come into play and I think that if you’ve got 70-80 percent vaccinated even with the one jab you’re in a pretty good situation to be able to withstand the major effects of this virus.

I’m not throwing elimination out just yet … but you’ve also just got to face facts if the virus has got away and it’s just staying underground until it pops up again then let’s just focus on vaccination and learning to live with the virus. – Graham Le Gros

The Government’s been caught short again – this time, lacking a clear strategy to get us out of dodge. 

On the one hand, they’re saving Kiwis’ lives. On the other, they’re eliminating businesses and harming mental health. 

Like sunbathers on the beach watching a tsunami roll in, we have not yet – 18 months on from the first outbreak – left the comfort of our beach towels on the sand to build a single managed isolation and quarantine facility outside of Auckland. Ryan Bridge

Jacinda Ardern’s Year of the Vaccination became her year of vacillation, that is until her mate ScoMo across the ditch scouted around his buddies abroad and got some additional vials of the stuff. –  Barry Soper

To use the word corruption is unchallengeable, when any government pays media outlets to propagandise the public — with the same outlets untruthfully claiming to be independent and trustworthy — while basically being bribed to follow a far-Left agenda. That this should happen in not (quite yet) a totalitarian régime, but in what was once thought of as a democracy, with a free press, is quite staggering.  

Ardern’s government is blatantly taking over the media, an important part of any plan to destroy a democracy. It is more than shameful for those at the top of media management to be accepting these bribes, with the inevitable resulting pressure on all journalists to conform. It is to the great credit of those few who are increasingly reluctant to do so –- but who are now at risk of losing their livelihoods.  – Amy Brooke

Xenophobia is, regrettably, not a new strain in the national psyche, more an endemic seasonal virus that has circulated since time immemorial. However, the prevailing attitude, expressed through policy and the rhetoric of our leaders, to New Zealanders outside the border – ranging from frosty indifference to outright hostility – is very much a new development.Ben Thomas

However, since Covid, New Zealanders’ circle of empathy seems to have been pulled tight, like a knot, around the territorial boundaries of the country.

New Zealanders caught outside, or the families of foreign visa holders here doing often essential work including nursing and teaching, feel very much like they are looking in. In some respects, the pandemic has made the country smaller. Our families, our co-workers’ families, our friends, now show up in the public discourse mainly as risks to be managed or, more likely, excluded. – Ben Thomas

In order for values to count as character, they have to endure in good times and bad. Is the New Zealand national identity we treasure a reflection of who we really are, or of the benign times we have lived through until now? With the imminent effects of climate change and the movement of mass refugees from the hell of Afghanistan under the Taliban, these are questions we may be answering soon. – Ben Thomas

Well, you can’t fight a war by hiding under your bed. Deluding itself about a low covid death count the government ignores the soaring suicide numbers, the numerous deaths through inability to access hospitals, the widespread depression as any GP or pharmacist will confirm and the huge toll in families split by the idiotic closed borders.

We look with envy at Europe and North American nations run by grown-ups who are getting on with life. Their covid death tolls are almost totally half-wits who for diverse reasons refuse to be vaccinated. Future historians will record the current government in scathing terms. They remind me of the last 3 years of the Muldoon government, denying reality and lacking the courage to confront a necessary new world order. – Bob Jones

So far, the Wellbeing Budgets have promised many things but I fail to see what they achieved. The Government’s obsession with “wellbeing” comes at the cost of abandoning economic growth and a relatively poor economic performance. – Dennis Wesselbaum

Looking back, the Wellbeing Budgets have never been anything other than a successful public relations exercise.

Sadly, they all fall short of effectively supporting important areas like education (from kindergarten to universities), health, research, housing, and infrastructure and they abandon fostering economic growth.

There is nothing left from the initial worldwide hype around the Wellbeing Budgets. The Ardern-led governments have wasted the chances they had to make New Zealand stronger in the future and missed their election and budget targets.

It would be much better if the Government would stop looking beyond GDP and instead look at developing a proper economic growth strategy. After all, jobs earning decent wages are the foundation of wellbeing. – Dennis Wesselbaum

As time drags on, more and more travel begins to look essential. Cancelling an annual trip home from Oz or the UK is one thing, but a whole generation of overseas Kiwis now face a future disconnected from their friends and families, never knowing their nieces and nephews. After a few years of being grounded, holidays to visit family become essential travel too.

All of this is to say that the Government will fast run out of excuses for why its ministers and officials should travel, while the rest of the country is more or less grounded.Thomas Coughlan

There’s no vaccine against stupidity. James Rifi

It is the way you conduct yourself and if there is a lie, you speak against it. If you see injustice, you try and stop it. If you can’t do it by your action, you do it by your words. This is my life, that’s the way I do thingsJames Rifi

And I want to thank – that fellow Down Under. Thank you, Mr Prime Minister. Appreciate it, pal. – Joe Biden

The costs of Covid-19 extend well beyond the illness itself to continuing impacts of both the virus and our response to it on the rest of the health system, mental health and well-being, and family ties. Sadly, such impacts extend to family violence and economic insecurity as well as ongoing and negative effects on our economy, education, innovation opportunities, international business relationships, and our diplomatic footprint.Sir Peter Gluckman

When will such high vaccination rates allow the balance to tilt from efforts to exclude the virus to a different management strategy?  This cannot be far away. But it too has costs and risks, especially for those who are not vaccinated. Are incentives now needed to get as many as possible of the hesitant and resistant vaccinated? What else needs to be in place? Do we need both internal and external vaccine passports (with strong legal protections on how they would be used)? Should widespread use of rapid self-testing – now well used in Europe – be adopted? Should employers be able to require masks and/or vaccines, and does that need legislative protection?  These questions, which all have ethical and “social licence” dimensions, go hand in hand with the more obvious ones of border triage, rapid testing at the border, modified entry management, ensuring adequate health facilities, and location of quarantine facilities.

Neither science nor politics alone can answer such equations. Whatever choices Government makes will involve trade-offs and time-sensitive decisions. These will necessarily be made in the face of incomplete knowledge and contestable perspectives and values from different elements of our community. “Social licence” and trust will be necessary for whichever choices are made. – Sir Peter Gluckman

 Fear can undermine democracy. Parliament’s 2020 Epidemic Response Committee – a truly democratic innovation receiving much international interest – played a major role through its transparency, contributing to broad public acceptance of trade-offs required in following the elimination route. Similar levels of truth and transparency will be key for future choices. The Government’s challenge is to ensure trust in the pragmatic decisions it must soon make.Sir Peter Gluckman

It is much more challenging to ‘open up’ than ‘close down’. In crisis and risk management, the concept of the ‘Red Team’ has emerged. Comprising a group of experienced and skilled people who have no responsibility for managing the crisis but have access to the same data as those who are, it can ask tough questions of the decision-makers, in real time. Given the complexities and the need to get beyond political point-scoring, trust could be enhanced for our ‘team of five million’ through using such a process. After all, we want our Government to continue to do the best job possible on all our behalf. – Sir Peter Gluckman

In a world of fully vaccinated people, the virus would still cause harm, but at a much lower level. By then, it would have become one of many other dangers such as drowning, falling from ladders, or getting injured in a traffic accident.

Society accepts such risks, even when they can theoretically be avoided, not least because a “zero-harm” approach would be prohibitively expensive. For example, the idea of lighting all country roads, imposing a general 30 km/h speed limit, and only allowing five-star rated cars is absurd. Sure, it would reduce the road toll. But it would also defeat the purpose of promoting mobility. –  Oliver Hartwich 

If we had never gone down the path of Covid elimination, we would regard the virus in just the way as we think of road accidents. Sure, nobody likes accidents, but we would not go to extremes to avoid them. Similarly, while no one wants to get sick or die from Covid, we would not surrender our lives to achieve that aim.

However, this is where our “sunk-cost fallacy”kicks in. Having spent billions on elimination, for many people, the calculus looks different. Even minor health hazards associated with Covid now appear to be unbearable. After all the sacrifices we have made, why should we accept any illness or death in our community? Can’t we just stay with “Zero Covid” forever?   –  Oliver Hartwich 

New Zealanders may view the phrase “learn to live with the virus” as cynical since some will die from it.

But to the English and the Danes, such a connotation does not exist. Because the virus was never eradicated in either country, people have always died from it.

Neither had England and Denmark invested vast amounts and efforts into the goal of elimination. There are no “sunk costs” they now believe they need to protect. As a result, both the English and the Danes can treat the virus as an everyday health risk.Oliver Hartwich 

New Zealand will hopefully reach the same immunisation rates as England and Denmark in time. Perhaps we will get even higher since our compliant population may yield higher vaccination participation than other countries.

And (here is hoping), we will soon realise that our hospital system requires an upgrade (not just to deal with Covid). Having more capacity will also enable us to cope with outbreaks.  –  Oliver Hartwich 

How has the Talibanization of Western mentalities happened? How is it that so many young people have now adapted Henry Ford’s great dictum (to change briefly the source of inspiration of young intellectuals), that you can have any color you like so long as it’s black, to matters of opinion, such that none other than the sanctioned one may get a hearing? How is it that the Taliban’s example in destroying the statues in Bamiyan was so soon copied by the students in those madrassas of the West known as universities? 

The most obvious explanation is the expansion of tertiary education beyond the capacity of those who receive it to derive any mental, spiritual, or even vocational benefit from it. Far from increasing their mental sophistication, this education severely limits it. The numbers following courses in the so-called humanities and social sciences exploded since the 1960s, with the inevitable hollowing out of what a university education meant. All that they are left with is a distorting lens through which to view the world and focus their anger.Theodore Dalrymple

It is true that a deception has been practiced on them: In large part, they have been tricked into indebting themselves to pay for their own unemployment. Politicians whose brains are composed of a combination of those nerve centers that exist in lizards’ nervous systems and tinsel encouraged ever-increasing proportions of young people to attend university in the way that the Soviet Union in its propaganda used to boast about ever-increasing production of pig iron. In a world in which procedural outcomes is much more important than real outcomes, where governments set targets and bureaucrats arrange to meet them, usually by legerdemain, it matters not that the students left university worse educated than when they entered. – Theodore Dalrymple

It is impossible to put a precise date on a social process such as the degradation of our educational system (other than, of course, the day Eve gave the apple to Adam), but it has now continued for so long that many of the university teachers themselves are just as indoctrinated as the students they indoctrinate. In art schools there cannot be a return to teaching such skills as drawing because the teachers themselves were never taught them and therefore cannot teach them in their turn. The best they can do is denigrate them as retrograde or reactionary. 

The Taliban have a ministry for the suppression of vice and the promotion (or imposition) of virtue. I think that they could find many suitable civil servants—and no doubt executioners—in our universities. We produce them, in fact, by the thousands. Of course, there are some slight differences: The Taliban want women to have as many children as possible, while our students are so anxious about the fate of the planet that they think it immoral to bring children into the world.Theodore Dalrymple

People who take risks and are prepared to have a go have made this country what it is, and their energy and courage will take it further still.

Which is one reason why the impacts of these lockdowns trouble me so much. The impact on the people who own so many businesses prevented from operating, who are Kiwis just like you and me, is more immense than it is for most.

If you are in a government job, work for a big corporate that shuffles data for a living, or in the professions, lockdown has been a pain and it has certainly cramped your style, but your income keeps coming in the door. For these people it doesn’t.  – Steven Joyce

Maybe it is hard to imagine if you have never been there. Taking responsibility for paying the rent, the power bill, and all your suppliers, whether or not you have customers or revenue coming through the door.

To feel personally responsible for the incomes of your staff, and for their families’ wellbeing. To have to call the bank to ask for a bigger loan or overdraft, or a bigger mortgage because your house is the only collateral the bank will take.

To postpone your dreams five years or abandon them completely after years of hard work, because that’s how far these lockdowns have set you back.Steven Joyce

The powers that be have reactivated the Covid wage subsidy and that’s good, as far as it goes. But it was always intended as a Band-Aid to keep workers attached to their place of employment.

It doesn’t cover the rent, the rates, the electricity, the HP on the equipment, the vehicle lease, or the spoilt food. And if that wasn’t enough there are new headaches.

The doubling of paid sick leave in July this year, the big annual hikes in the minimum wage you must pay for your newest workers, and the post-Covid prospect of your wage bill and conditions being set in far off Wellington by people that have never set foot in a shop in Dargaville, Palmerston North, or Timaru. – Steven Joyce

The arbitrary pettiness of the lockdown rules drive some business owners bonkers. The small food shops that can’t open while supermarkets can, ostensibly because their public health systems won’t be robust enough.

Of course we trust them to sell perishable food at other times. Or the arbitrary restrictions on the number of people in your cafe in towns that haven’t had Covid for months and months.

One extraordinary example of bureaucratic silliness this week was the news seasonal fruit-pickers from Covid-free countries (note that bit) will no longer be allowed to enter New Zealand without quarantine as had been planned, ostensibly because of Delta.  – Steven Joyce

It is ironic for a country that has been trying to diversify its exports for 30 years that the only exporters able to operate their businesses over lockdown are our primary industries.

The rest of us sail serenely along in our bubbles. We’ve inflated our economy so much with debt and printed money the people in economic pain are almost completely invisible to us.

We have a zero tolerance for Covid health casualties, but not so much for the economic casualties.  – Steven Joyce

The small businesses, the tiny businesses, and the niche exporters, are all carrying a massive share of the cost of this pandemic. That needs to be acknowledged and responded to more by everyone else, from the Beehive down.

We all didn’t choose to have the pandemic disrupt our lives. But these people are paying in a far more brutal and long-lasting way than most.  – Steven Joyce

We’ve had our moments … but negativity just feeds negativity. We’re in a position it’s not going to wipe us out and it’s not going to be our worst year. We’ve got to remain positive and carry on. – Ian Riddell

You genuinely want people to be blessed by your flowers. People buy them for themselves to cheer them up, they give flowers away to cheer up other people. All that cheer got left here.Ian Riddell

Although she is not a daughter by blood, she is a daughter of my heart now. – Mr “Smith”

Oranga Tamariki is broken. You can’t fix an organisation that has fallen into such depravity that Judge Peter Callinicos exposed. It won’t be, of course. It will continue to damage families for many decades to come; driven by ideology and unchastised by this rebuke.

But for the moment, we should take a moment to appreciate that we have decent, bold and courageous people such as these successful caregivers who were prepared to make a stand for the daughter of their heart. They are the heroes of this story. I wish them and Moana all the best. Damien Grant

Murder is carried out by uneducated thugs with a lump of wood or an illegal firearm (weren’t they all handed in?). It’s carried out by psychotically violent men over perceived wrongs or a botched drug deal. It’s messy and nasty and leaves families shattered. Dead bodies don’t lie peacefully on a deep pile carpet in a perfectly manicured room; they bleed out on the front lawn, or into the gutter near a smashed bottle while other drunks continue fighting around them.

That’s where real murder lives; the gutter. There’s nothing fancy about it. Children get killed by those who should be protecting them. It’s gutting and mind-boggling and never seems to stop. – Angus McLean

It is not surprising, then, that one’s opinion on matters social and political has become for a considerable part of the population the measure of virtue. If you have the right opinions you are good; if you have the wrong ones you are bad. Nuance itself becomes suspect, as it is in a tabloid newspaper, for doubt is treachery and nuance is the means by which bad opinions make their comeback. In this atmosphere, people of differing opinions find it difficult to tolerate each other’s presence in a room: the only way to avoid open conflict is either to avoid certain persons or certain subjects. Where opinion is virtue, disagreement amounts to accusation of vice. – Anthony Daniels

The extreme importance now given to opinion (by contrast with conduct) in the estimation of a person’s character has certain consequences. This is not to say that in the past a person’s opinions played no part in such an assessment, and no doubt there are some opinions so extreme or vicious, for example that some whole population should be mercilessly wiped out, that in any day and age one would hesitate to associate with someone who held them. But before, even when someone held an opinion that we considered very bad, we still also assessed the degree of seriousness with which he held it, the degree to which it was purely theoretical, the importance it played in his overall mental life. The holding of such an opinion would not redound to his credit, but if lightly held and with no likely effect on his actual behavior, it would detract only slightly from our view of him. He might still be a good man, albeit one with a quirk, a mental blind spot. – Anthony Daniels

For one thing, the elevation of the moral importance of opinion changes the locus of a person’s moral concern from that over which he has most control, namely how he behaves himself, to that over which he has almost no personal control. He becomes a Mrs. Jellyby who, it will be remembered, was extremely concerned about the fate of children thousands of miles away in Africa but completely neglected her own children right under her own eyes, in her house in London. –Anthony Daniels

The overemphasis on opinion as the main or only determinant of a person’s moral character thus has the effect of promoting irrationalism, and all argument becomes in effect ad hominem. If a person holds one opinion, he is good; if another, he is bad. Everything is decided in advance by means of moral dichotomy. Nuance disappears. –Anthony Daniels

There is a positive-feedback mechanism built into opinion as the measure of virtue, for if it is virtuous to espouse a particular opinion, it is even more virtuous to espouse a more extreme or generalized version of it. It then becomes morally impermissible for a person to hold the relatively moderate opinion; he is denounced with the peculiar venom that the orthodox reserve for heretics. When J. K. Rowling, a feminist once in good odor with the morally self-anointed, delivered herself of an opinion couched in moderate terms stating something so obvious that it will one day (I hope) astonish future social or cultural historians that it needed saying at all, namely that a transsexual woman is not a woman simpliciter, she was turned upon viciously, including by those who owed their great fortunes to her—or at least to her work. She had committed the cardinal sin in a world of opinion as the criterion of virtue of not having realized that the moral caravan had moved on. How easily sheep become goats! Anthony Daniels

 

Taking opinion as the hallmark of virtue has other effects besides provoking dichotomization, bad temper, and the exertion of a ratchet effect in the direction of ever more extreme and absurd ideas. It tends to limit the imagination, moral and otherwise. For example, once something tangible is declared to be a human right, which no decent person can thenceforth question or deny on pain of excommunication by the virtuous, the good procured by the exercise of that right ceases to be a good for any other reason than that it is a right. The recipient has no reason to feel grateful for what he receives, because it was his right to receive it, though he may, of course, feel rightfully aggrieved if he does not receive it. A United Nations rapporteur recently condemned New Zealand for its breach of human rights because it did not provide decent housing for all its citizens (and other inhabitants); rents were expensive and there was overcrowding as well as some homelessness. The New Zealand government, which had committed itself to the view that there was a human right to decent housing, meekly promised to try to do better. It had not promised to treat housing as if it were a human right, but to treat it as a right itself; it was therefore skewered by its own supposed virtue. –Anthony Daniels

The supposed moral quality of the objector trumps the possible validity of his objections, which therefore do not have to be considered. Far from the objector lacking imagination, however, it is the proponent of the human right who lacks it: he fails even to try to imagine what the consequences of what he advocates might be. Words are the money of fools, no doubt, but also of people who desire unlimited powers of interference in the lives of others. Anthony Daniels

The importance accorded to opinion—correct opinion, of course—as the criterion of virtue has another strange effect, besides increasing intolerance and limiting imagination, for it conduces both to a new dictatorial puritanism and a new libertinism whose equilibrium is forever unstable. –Anthony Daniels

Even in my childhood, we used frequently to recite the old proverb in response to an intended insult, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” No more: in a world in which opinion is the measure of Man, words are poison, dagger, Kalashnikov, hand grenade, and atomic bomb, and no one now gains a reputation for moral uprightness who does not sift the words of others for the wickedness they may contain.

No one could possibly deny the great importance of words and opinions in human life, of course, or their power to give offense and even to provoke violence. Words and opinions may inspire people either to the best or the worst acts, but we do not usually absolve people of their responsibility, or fail to praise or blame them, on the grounds that they were inspired or influenced by the words of others. –Anthony Daniels

Where opinion is virtue, the strength of offense taken is a sign of commitment to virtue, which then sets up a type of arms race of moral exhibitionism, in which my offense taken at something must be greater than yours because only thus can I prove my moral superiority over you. Shrillness then becomes a token of depth of feeling, and no one can feel anything who does not parade his outrage in public. – Anthony Daniels

The danger comes when the most dubious, even fatuous, social theories and reforms in the name of virtue become the cynosure of the moral life of a large and influential sector of society, namely the intelligentsia that is ultimately the determinant of a modern society’s history. This is so even, or perhaps especially, when the intelligentsia in question is ignorant, foolish, grasping, power-hungry, and unrealistic.

The effect, if not the purpose, of the overemphasis on opinion as the whole of virtue is both to liberate and to control. The liberation—from restraint on personal conduct—is for the persons with the right opinions; the control is for, and over, the rest of society. The intelligentsia is thus like an aristocracy, but without the noblesse obligeor the good taste that to some extent justified the aristocracy. – Anthony Daniels

That so many Aucklanders have been going to work over the last month underlines that lockdown is largely a middle-class phenomenon. While white collar workers get to work from home or pretend to, those in healthcare, social services, agriculture, forestry, fishing, manufacturing, distribution and retail have been showing up at their workplaces right through. Across the country, over 500,000 essential workers kept the real economy going through the 2020 and 2021 national lockdowns. We should applaud them. – Matthew Hooton 

One thing is inarguable: the vaccine works. It may not stop all Covid transmission, but it stops it from killing you or your loved ones, or you or them getting very sick. According to the Ministry of Health, of the 1071 people who tested positive for Covid, 83 per cent were entirely unvaccinated and just 3 per cent fully vaccinated more than two weeks earlier. Any political pollster or health researcher will tell you that legitimate conclusions can be drawn from a sample size of over 1000.Matthew Hooton 

The data shows that not a single person who had had even their first jab more than two weeks earlier wound up in an intensive care unit (ICU). Not a single person who was fully vaccinated more than two weeks earlier even ended up in hospital, and just one whose second dose had been administered in the previous two weeks had to be admitted to an ordinary ward.

In contrast, if you are unvaccinated and over age 11, the data from the outbreak suggests you have a 13 per cent chance of being hospitalised, and nearly a 3 per cent chance of dying or ending up in ICU. – Matthew Hooton

It’s official. The Government’s impossible Covid elimination strategy has been scrapped, although don’t expect it to admit to that. Just like it would never accept the alert level 4 lockdown in Auckland hasn’t been anything but a raging success. – Barry Soper 

This lockdown isn’t working.  It never was.  We’ve had 8 people turn up at Middlemore with no idea where they got covid, it’s cropped up in the mongrel mob who aren’t known for obedience to the law, it’s been exported over the Auckland border.

One of the strictest lockdowns in the world, couldn’t’ get us back to zero.  – Heather du Plessis-Allan

It is awful having to constantly tell the Government what they’ve done wrong, but then again someone has to do it, that’s why it’s called leader of the opposition, not leader of the cheerleaders. – Judith Collins

The Government don’t want a points system it seems for the simple reason, or excuse, that’s it too complicated. As in too complicated for them to work out how to do it.

Obviously, there is queue from the tech sector who would solve it by Thursday. So, the system is held hostage to a degree by a government that hasn’t got the slightest aspirational gene in its makeup. Nor, tragically, do they have the wherewithal to recognise that and ask for help.

So, for the foreseeable, tens of thousands of New Zealanders are stuck, business is hamstrung, funerals are missed, and sports people can’t make a living. There’s a massive queue of misery and desperation.

Of all the cock ups of this pandemic, behind the abject failure of an urgent vaccine rollout, MIQ would be the biggest. Their fix? A foe lobby followed by a numerical conformation of how screwed you are when you enter. – Mike Hosking

But here it would appear that while New Zealanders are renown for their “can do” approach, our bureaucracy’s response is “can’t”. – Fran O’Sullivan

 The only urgency we’ve seen for months is an enthusiasm to lock down our country, lock up our people and lock out our citizens who are overseas. – John Key

Some people might like to continue the North Korean option. I am not one of them. Public health experts and politicians have done a good job of making the public fearful, and therefore willing to accept multiple restrictions on their civil liberties which are disproportionate to the risk of them contracting Covid.

Another problem with the hermit kingdom model is that you have to believe the Government can go on borrowing a billion dollars every week to disguise that we are no longer making our way in the world. – John Key

A lottery is not a public policy. It’s a national embarrassment. Whether you get to see your grandchild, or your dying mother, or your sister’s wedding, depends on whether or not your number comes up. This is a lottery that is gambling with people’s families and futures. John Key

Meanwhile, those brave New Zealanders who have started or bought a small business are sleepless with worry – as are their workers – because lockdowns are an indiscriminate tool that stops commerce as effectively as it stops Covid. The true harm is being concealed by an economy propped up by borrowing. – John Key

For those who say it’s too hard, or too risky I ask this: one day, when the largest part of the Minister of Finance’s Budget pays only the interest on the debt we are racking up now, and you can’t have the latest cancer drugs, or more police, because New Zealand can’t afford them, what will you think?

Will you wish that in 2021 the Government had acted with the urgency and creativity that Nasa showed when suddenly having to rethink its approach to the Apollo 13 mission? Nasa succeeded. It proved that to get a different outcome, you need a different strategy. John Key

The current setting is to vaccinate as many people as we can while keeping the virus at bay. If we succeed, by this time next year we will have a population with minimal exposure to Covid and with declining vaccine effectiveness.

Why would we do that?

Isn’t this like putting on a raincoat and then staying indoors in case it rains? There isn’t much point in teaching celibacy whilst handing out prophylactics. If we are aiming for 90 per cent vaccine coverage, the latest ad hoc policy in 18 months of ad hoc policy, perhaps the state would care to explain what is going to change if we get there. – Damien Grant

 In an endless series of good bureaucratic intentions creating bad outcomes, we vaccinated the elderly and vulnerable first. They are now the most exposed to breakthrough infections, while the young and healthy have fresh protein spikes coursing through their bloodstreams.Damien Grant

At this point I don’t really care what the plan is, so long as I know what it is. I have a life I want to lead. I have a business that needs direction. I have a family that wants to enjoy the pleasures and joy that are still permitted. – Damien Grant

Behavioural experts say the pandemic has brought about a rise in xenophobia and nationalism, and could mean expat and domestic communities struggle to coalesce beyond the pandemic. The messaging around the “team of five million” could be to blame. –  Ashleigh Stewart

The anti-expat rhetoric started when the government pushed every expat out of the ‘team of five million. Messaging like that has fed the mob online to hurl insults shamelessly towards us. It feels like this resentment has been simmering away for a long time, and now it’s acceptable to scream to ‘close the borders’. Clint Heine

It’s not just that it’s a cruel and inhumane lottery that keeps families and friends and loved ones apart while the Wiggles are waved through; or that it’s cut us off from the rest of the world – or even that it has become a convenient excuse for kicking the can down the road on critical economic decisions.

No, the worst thing is that it seems to have fundamentally changed who we are.

We’ve gone from a nation of travellers and adventurers, to an inward looking and angry mob, cut off and isolated from the rest of the world, and fearful of “strangers” at the border, whether they’re foreigners, or fellow Kiwis rendered stateless by a pandemic that was none of their doing.

We pat ourselves on the back for getting through the first lockdown by being kind – then close our hearts when a dying man pleads for permission to die at home.

We tear down high-flyers who dared to pursue their dreams overseas, and tell them they’re no longer welcome in the country where they found their wings.

And we spit bile at people who want to come home for Christmas with their family, cheered on by the government, who it suits to paint expats as gadabouts and summer holidaymakers. As though wanting to be with family, or ageing parents, over Christmas is not a fundamental human desire.Tracy Watkins

But our success at keeping Covid out for so long has bred complacency.

Hospital ICUs are still critically understaffed and in no shape to cope with a wave of sick Covid patients; we’ve failed to implement rapid advances from overseas, like saliva testing or self-testing, and MIQ is still a hastily knocked-up system of modified hotels, the bulk of them in our most populous city, all but guaranteeing that any breach will have the worst possible outcome.

But questioning it has become akin to heresy – even though no-one is seriously advocating we abandon quarantine and testing as the cornerstone of any new system, especially not with the parlous state of our ICU system, and low rates of vaccination. – Tracy Watkins

There has been no shortage of ideas from New Zealand’s most innovative thinkers on how to improve the system, while still keeping people safe.

But those ideas all go seem to go nowhere. Why? They keep hitting the same wall of bureaucratic and government inertia. There is no political will to make MIQ work better – and that’s because there is no public appetite to open the tap, even with safeguards.

Whenever change is proposed, or the Government’s models questioned, an angry mob steps in to shout it down as treason.

Whatever happened to the number 8 wire Kiwi? Or are they all stranded overseas? – Tracy Watkins

Our world is about to be split into two very definitive tribes; those who have the vaccine and those who don’t. Those who have the jab won’t enjoy the freedoms of the past, but they will be able to travel, while those who don’t have it won’t be able to. That may well become the ultimate decider for the vaccine-hesitant. It may be “my body, my choice” when it comes to vaccination, but only if you can enjoy the freedom that everyone else does. – Janet Wilson

What’s really alarming with this is, there has been millions of dollars spent on consultants and what have we really got? We’ve basically shown Government doesn’t understand how local councils operate. Sam MacDonald

Nonetheless, New Zealanders continued to excel at home and globally in disproportionately large numbers. . . So how is it we have become willing lapdogs, suffering from Stockholm Syndrome? Hovering around daily briefings in the hope our captors will throw us a bone?- Paul Henry

Regardless of whether the news is good or bad, we feel comforted that those who know what’s best for us keep us from harm’s way. Protecting us from the violation that freedom would otherwise bring. We listen for the responses to banal questions that all but the most ignorant citizen would already be able to answer.

In short, we have for the most part surrendered our lives through fear. We accept that our own citizens should be forced into lotteries in order to come home from their adventures and that we may well be refused a seat next to a dying parent. – Paul Henry

What the world did not know then – but has since found out – is New Zealand had moved into phase two of its unofficial Covid strategy, to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. We went hard and fast on borrowing. And borrowing is fine as long as you borrow to invest. But not us.

Did we use our hard-won, Covid-free months – almost a year – to invest in health infrastructure, both hardware and staffing? No.

Did we vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate? No.

Did we invest in money-making initiatives that exploited our Covid-free status? No.  – Paul Henry

We have squandered our leading edge for the lack of a plan. And having lost the lead we undoubtedly had, we are now racing to the back of the pack.

Our economic policy is akin to a reverse mortgage, as we live quite well whilst building debt. Unfortunately, in order to be sound, reverse mortgages require that you die quite soon.

Maybe that’s the third phase of our strategy. Paul Henry

The government has an ideology-driven desire for centralised bureaucratic control. They do not care if it divorces providers from the communities they are supposed to serve and reduces accountability. In doing so they are taking the opportunity to indulge a sectional political constituency at the expense of the principles of democracy and the community. – Gray Judd

Bloody Friday tragically saw 1500 sheep sacrificed in protest. Forty-three years on, and the boot is on the other foot. It’s the farmers themselves who don’t want to be sacrificial lambs on the altar of Ministers David Parker and James Shaw. Jamie Mackay

So add this voice of reason to that of Sir John Key’s, to Sir Ian Taylor’s, to Rob Fyfe’s – these are not people who are mad granny killers, who want to throw New Zealanders to the wolf of Covid.

They just see a government who does not seem to be able to pivot the way it has asked businesses to do, a government that is bereft of ideas, that is anything but transparent and that only knows one simplistic way to manage a crisis.

And that’s to shut everything down.   – Kerre McIvor

But Aucklanders, on the whole, don’t feel better about things.

I think many of us resented the latest lengthy lockdown and blamed the government for it.

We’ve more than done our bit as citizens and businesses and we’d come to the conclusion, by the end of this latest lockdown level 4, that it was pointless and dragging on. As is this level 3 we’re in right now. Why? And why was the South Island at an alert level at all?

Why restrict businesses now with such petty but costly barriers when privately the government has abandoned the Covid elimination strategy and has instead settled on managing the pandemic and keeping hospitalisation numbers down. They won’t admit this, of course, but look at their actions for confirmation. – Duncan Garner

Truth is, this government has to keep hospitalisation numbers down because our hospitals wouldn’t cope with a mass outbreak.

It’s this scenario that mostly keeps those running our pandemic response awake at night.

And it’s been made worse by the huge holes in staffing numbers and a lack of specialist staff. We never had enough ICU beds and when we went all those months Covid free last year, the government failed to build any meaningful increase in capacity in ICU. Just six new beds were created.

How was that ever acceptable to senior ministers and the prime minister? Did they push it? Did they ask questions? Did they even know? The best ministers keep their departments accountable and on task. If that’s happening regularly with this government, it’s not immediately obvious.- Duncan Garner

But, clearly, ‘being kind’ has waned as a phrase. We are rightly furious with the government’s vaccine debacle, which has left us vulnerable. It put cynical political spin ahead of telling the truth about its failure to secure enough vaccinations.

What’s worse is they positioned us as being at the front of a queue that it appears we were never in. It meant we relaxed and we all became complacent – led by a government who appeared to think the job was done. Celebrating daily zero cases was put before long-term planning.  Duncan Garner

The Covid cushion is losing its stuffing, lockdowns usually sees the party getting a sympathetic bump in the polls from a frightened, insecure public. But with one death in 1185 cases in the current outbreak it isn’t creating the climate of fear that they’ve relied on.  – Barry Soper

But neither the new nor the old system were sophisticated enough to prioritise those whose needs were greater or who had waited the longest. The emergency allocations are for a very limited group of people. For everybody else, the sorter doing the prioritising is Lady Luck. – Claire Trevett

Difficulty securing a spot in MIQ may indeed be “reasonably foreseeable” – but it should not be – or at least not beyond the Christmas rush – and not anymore.

It is a government created system and they are government created rules. The system does not allow people to book MIQ rooms months and months in advance, so long-term trip planning is impossible.

People have been forced to take a chance by the system itself – they should not be blamed when that system fails to deliver.

It has also been “reasonably foreseeable” that MIQ was not catering for the numbers it needed to for some time. –   Claire Trevett

The issue is not last year, or those who made it back. It is now, and those who cannot get back. –   Claire Trevett

Thus far, the Government and officials have always been able to muster up a lot of excuses for saying no: usually a shortage of the required health and security staff needed for MIQ facilities, or the inadequacy of ventilation or the space required.

But it did not find the same energy to find solutions for those problems or to work on refining ideas to make them workable.  –   Claire Trevett

Ardern said, when explaining why only businesspeople were being used for a trial of home isolation, it was because they had “skin in the game” so were less likely to try to sneak around the rules.

Businesspeople are not the only ones with skin in the game, Prime Minister. All of us do.

Fix it.  Claire Trevett

It’s a pretty sad day when you sit inside reading an article in a popular farming paper and it’s talking about carbon farming.

Who would have ever thought we could get paid for air? – Mike Firth

Picking and choosing when you listen to science is no way to treat people or their livelihoods, and hopefully people will see the charade for what it is. 

The elimination strategy they’ve fancifully been chasing will suddenly not be so important anymore; they’ll spin us a yarn about how it’s worked out just as they wanted it to, but the numbers will tell the real story. Kate Hawkesby

Labour governments typically have two standard responses to a political problem, or even the mere perception of one. They either throw vast amounts of money at it, or they create an unwieldy, centralised bureaucracy to give the impression something is being done. Sometimes it’s both, since these solutions often overlap. – Karl du Fresne

Once again a centralised, opaque governance structure will be created that will give grossly disproportionate power to unelected Maori, sweep away local representation and discard generations of local knowledge, investment and experience.

Arguably the most offensive aspect of Three Waters is its audacious dishonesty. Rather than solving a problem, the government has invented one. – Karl du Fresne

All this is all intended to create the illusion of decisive, meaningful action, but it’s merely the announcement of a plan that has yet to be formulated. It contains nothing substantive or concrete – not even any goals or targets (they’ll come later, presumably).  It will provide work for lots of highly paid consultants and hangers-on but do nothing in the short term to help people suffering from mental illness. In short, it’s a disgrace and a travesty. – Karl du Fresne

Responsible governments decide what needs to be done then work out what it’s likely to cost. But this one appears to work backwards, plucking a sum out of the air then wondering what to do with it. – Karl du Fresne

 


Least effective govt in 25 years

13/06/2019

Duncan Garner opines:

I’ve watched politics closely for 25 years and this government is the least effective of them all, by some margin.

Warm words are no substitute for effective policy that makes a positive difference to individuals, families, communities and the country.


Social sabotage

02/10/2018
AM show host Duncan Garner called Green co-leader Marama Davidson incompetent for good reason yesterday morning:

The Green Party co-leader appeared on the show on Monday morning to discuss her party’s commitment to raising benefits by 20 percent, but was unable to say how much it would cost. . .

I am staggered by the lack of facts and detailed knowledge that she showed in her interview with me this morning,” Garner said after the interview.

“No detail at all. She’s exposed herself as being underdone at best, and completely incompetent at worst. It’s called flaky. . .

Flaky is a charitable description of the policy she couldn’t give costings for too:

Increasing the baseline amounts for benefits is pretty clear. That increase hasn’t followed wage increases or inflation for far too long. And removing sanctions which we’ve been very, very vocal about, which is about trying going away from that punitive or punishing approach.

Not only doesn’t she know the cost, she doesn’t know the current policy. Benefits do increase with inflation. When it’s low as it has been for some time, the increases aren’t big but they do increase with the cost of living. No sanctions? That means people who, for no good reason, don’t turn up for interviews, don’t try to find work, don’t pass drug and alcohol tests will face  no consequences. People in work are expected to turn up in a fit state to work when and where required, what’s wrong with similar expectations for beneficiaries? No sanctions will also allow non-custodial parents to get away with making no contribution to the support of their children.

Changing the threshold for benefit reductions. There are so many people who want to work, even part time, while raising young children in particular. But those incentives are just really clumsy, confusing , messy, and they don’t make it worth it,” Davidson said.

It’s sad that people regard getting paid for work which gives them a measure of independence as not worth the effort. There might not be much difference financially but even a small increase on what comes from a benefit should be regarded as a bonus, especially when it could be a stepping stone to more work and eventual freedom from benefit dependence. Davidson is right that benefit abatement for people in part-time work are less than ideal, but the alternative is worse.  If the benefit isn’t abated when people start earning, beneficiaries in part-time work would earn more than some people in full time work.

The Greens would also look at combining the in-work tax credit and family tax credit and making them less discriminatory.

They also wanted Work and Income to stay out of people’s personal lives by “moving towards entitlements based on individual needs rather than a blanket policies around starting new relationships and losing entitlements”, Davidson said.

This would mean a beneficiary could be living with someone more than capable of supporting them both and any children, and still be able to keep claiming a benefit. National put a lot of effort into social investment based on the indisputable  financial and human costs of benefit dependency. The Green policy would be social sabotage, creating an underclass of benefit dependents with neither the expectation nor hope that they might become self-supporting. They would turn the welfare safety net into a noose that would entrap people on benefits and saddle the rest of us with the financial and social costs that would result.  

So bad so soon

19/06/2018

How did it get so bad so soon?
It’s a mess of ministers
acting like goons.
My goodness how the
mess has grewn.
How did it get so bad so soon?

With apologies to Dr Seuss, how did it get so bad so soon?

Audrey Young writes that Jacinda Ardern will forgive Winston Peters for anything, even the unforgivable.

A National MP joked this week that the Opposition didn’t want things to get so bad under Jacinda Ardern’s maternity leave that the country was desperate for her return – they just wanted a medium level of dysfunction.

That threshold was almost reached this week even before the big event, and things got worse as the week wore on.

Ardern’s faith in Winston Peters being able to manage the inevitable bush fires that will flare when she is away must be seriously undermined given that he and his party have caused many of them.

A series of accidental and deliberate mishaps has raised questions about a series of important issues including basic coalition management, ministerial conventions, the application of the “No Surprises” policy, and when a minister is not a minister. .  .

Stacey Kirk calls it a three ring circus with one ringmaster at the centre .

Consensus government in action, or a bloody awful mess? 

It’s difficult to characterise the past week as anything but the latter and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern may be worried about whether she’ll have a Government to come back to when she returns from maternity leave. . .

Patrick Gower wants the old Kelvin Davis back.

Patrick Gower on The AM Show. Credits: Video – The AM Show; Image – Newshub.

Kelvin Davis is a “wounded man walking” who better watch out, says Newshub national correspondent Patrick Gower.

The Corrections Minister on Wednesday announced plans for a new prison, but appeared to be unaware how many of its inmates would be double-bunked.

Corrections boss Ray Smith interjected after Mr Davis froze, confirming Newshub’s suggestion it would be around half.

“I get nervous before interviews,” was Mr Davis’ explanation, when asked about it on The AM Show. . . 

Duncan Garner describes government MPs as misfit kids.

. . .It’s taken them three minutes to look as shabby, arrogant and as broken-down as a third-term government suffering rampant hubris and pleading to be put out of its misery.  . .

Sue Bradford thinks the Greens are in mortal danger.

The Green’s water bottling decision exposes potentially fatal flaws and complacency at the heart of Green Parliamentary operations 

The Green parliamentary wing seem to be clueless about the mortal danger they face following news this week that their own minister, Eugenie Sage, has signed off on the sale and expansion of a water bottling plant at Otakiri Springs. . . 

Hamish Rutherford writes with Winston Peters in charge everything could be up for grabs.

. . . These are extraordinary times. Suddenly, with a Government already battling to keep business confidence up, with a story that the economy keeps on rocking, it seems as if everything is up for grabs.

We are now being handed lessons that have been coming since Peters walked into the Beehive theatrette on October 20 and announced he was forming a Government with the Left.

A Government so broad that the issues on which there is division become so amplified that they could almost appear to outnumber ones where there is consensus.

Where previous coalitions since the creation of MMP managed to keep together because the centre of power was so obvious, the timing of Peters’ action will be further unsettling. . . 

Health Minister David Clark has been accused of trying to gag a health board chair.

A leaked voicemail message appears to show Health Minister David Clark attempting to gag top health officials over the woeful state of Middlemore Hospital buildings. 

Clark has rejected the accusation, which has stemmed from audio of him telling former Counties Manukau District Health Board chair Rabin Rabindran it was “not helping” that the DHB kept commenting publicly.  

Emails suggest he also attempted to shut down the DHB from answering any questions along the lines of who knew what, and when, about the dilapidated state of Middlemore buildings. . . 

Peter Dunne asks is the coalition starting to unravel?

Almost 20 years ago, New Zealand’s first MMP Coalition Government collapsed. It was not a dramatic implosion on a major point of principle, but was provoked by a comparatively minor issue – a proposal to sell the Government’s shares in Wellington Airport – and came after a series of disagreements between the Coalition partners on various aspects of policy.

There has been speculation this week in the wake of New Zealand First’s hanging out to dry of the Justice Minister over the proposed repeal of the “three strikes” law that the same process might be starting all over again. While it is far too soon to draw conclusive parallels, the 1998 experience does set out some road marks to watch out for. . . 

Michael Reddell writes on how the government is consulting on slashing productivity growth.

 . .  I have never before heard of a government consulting on a proposal to cut the size of the (per capita) economy by anything from 10 to 22 per cent.  And, even on their numbers, those estimates could be an understatement. . . .

Quite breathtaking really.   We will give up –  well, actually, take from New Zealanders –  up to a quarter of what would have been their 2050 incomes, and in doing so we will know those losses will be concentrated disproportionately on people at the bottom.   Sure, they talk about compensation measures . . 

But the operative word there is could.  The track record of governments –  of any stripe –  compensating losers from any structural reforms is pretty weak, and it becomes even less likely when the policy being proposed involves the whole economy being a lot smaller than otherwise, so that there is less for everyone to go around.  The political economy of potential large scale redistribution just does not look particularly attractive or plausible (and higher taxes to do such redistribution would have their own productivity and competitiveness costs). . . 

And the Dominion Post lists mis-steps and mistakes and concludes:

. . .Some of this has been simply amateurish.

Such things are often a sign of a government that has outlived its mandate and begun to implode around the core of its own perceived importance. In its tiredness it can trip over the most obvious hurdles.

This Government is barely nine months old. It needs to find its feet, and quickly.

Has there ever been a government that has attracted this sort of criticism just a few months after gaining power?

How did this government get so bad so soon?


Was he pushed?

21/03/2018

Fonterra has a strangely worded media release announcing it’s seeking a new CEO:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited (Fonterra) today announced that, as part of a planned CEO succession process, the Fonterra Board and its CEO Theo Spierings have agreed that Mr Spierings will leave his role later this year.

Fonterra says its Board and Mr Spierings had formally commenced succession discussions last year. As a result of that, the Fonterra Board initiated international searches in November last year to identify potential candidates and was now shortlisting candidates.

Fonterra Chairman John Wilson says the Board was taking the decision to bring forward the announcement, which the Board was expecting to make in April, to avoid speculation.

“It is not yet clear exactly when any appointment for Theo’s replacement will be made, but it is absolutely clear that Theo will continue in the meantime to drive the Co-operative’s strategy and business, with special emphasis on China.

“The Board and Theo are committed to a high-quality transition to a new CEO and when we have more information in regards to timing we will let our farmers and the wider market know. Until then it is business as usual with the focus on driving returns to our farmers and unitholders.

“We envisage that even after the announcement of our new CEO, Theo will be involved in an advisory role so that we make best use of his knowledge and expertise during the transition,” says Mr Wilson.

Mr Spierings says that he has been proud to have led Fonterra as CEO for seven years as the Co-operative has established a strong demand-led strategy and oriented itself to become innovative and sustainable.

“It is now time for a new CEO who can lead the Co-operative through this next phase. The time is right for the Co-operative and that is important to me and to the Board.

“It is also the right time for me personally. I look forward to new challenges, but right now my focus is on Fonterra. That will be the case until I finish with the Co-operative.”

The usual wording would be that a CEO was resigning and a replacement was being sought.

The convoluted wording makes it sound like he was pushed.

Whether or not he was, I hope that the new CEO brings a culture change with better communication, including a willingness to front the media.

Last week Duncan Garner on the AM Show complained that no-one from Fonterra would come on the show.

It’s the second time I’ve heard Garner make that complaint and I can’t understand why Fonterra wouldn’t take up the opportunity to tell its story.


Quotes of the year

03/01/2018

. . . And there it was, the secret of all overseas-born grandparents the world over who give up everything, their own brothers and sisters back home, their independence, their everything to look after grandchildren.

They do it so their sons and daughters can work or study full time (and keep the economy running) and avoid insanely expensive childcare options.

They do it because they love their grandchildren so much they are willing to live in a country where they can’t understand a lot of what is being said or written around them, but march on nonetheless.

And, in the case of Nai Nai, they do it knowing that even if they can’t teach their grandchild English they will do whatever they can to make sure someone else can. . . Angela Cuming

Cooking means you use better food and you have far more control over what you eat. It also brings a lot of the things to the table – manners, eye contact, social skills, the art of conversation and confidence. . . Ray McVinnie

. . .Yes, according to the science, dairying is a major factor in a decline in water quality. The science also shows this is the result of 150 years of farming, albeit escalated in the past 20 years.

Dairy farmers are doing everything asked of them to reduce the loss of nutrients from their farms. They have bridged stream crossings, fenced waterways, planted riparian strips and built highly technical effluent treatment systems. They want clean streams as much as any other New Zealanders.

But those with their own axe to grind don’t want to know this. And the ignorant follow along.

The opinion writers and the commenters seem to think that clean streams and lakes can be accomplished immediately, that 150 years of pollution can be erased overnight.

It can’t be – even if all farming was banned and the land converted to trees and bush, the leaching would go on. . . Jon Morgan

The brutal truth is that while the Treaty’s influence has grown to the point where it is now cemented into New Zealand’s unwritten constitution, Waitangi Day is sinking under the weight of its conflicting roles.

It doubles as a mechanism for acknowledging legitimate Maori grievances past and present while also serving as the country’s national day and which is about projecting an image of unity and happy families.

Divisiveness and inclusiveness are oil and water. They don’t mix.

The tiresome antics regularly on display at Waitangi have undermined the power and symbolism of the occasion.

The wider New Zealand public which should be happily embracing the proceedings instead feels alienated by them. – John Armstrong

I can perfectly describe why we’re dying on the roads.

It’s you.

It’s not the lack of cops, or lack of passing lanes, or sub standard roads. It’s you. It’s the 40% in 2016 who died or caused death on the roads due to drugs and alcohol. The 24% who died due to speeding and dangerous driving. And the majority of the remaining deaths caused by those who were so clever they didn’t need a seatbelt. Why the hell wouldn’t you put on a seatbelt when you get in a car? – Bernadine Oliver-Kerby

If you become what you are fighting you have lost. You must fight freedom’s cause in freedom’s way. Helen Dale

Trump is never more certain than when he is completely clueless. The truth is that protection against foreign trade leads away from prosperity and strength. A country that deprives itself of foreign goods is doing to itself what an enemy might try to do in wartime—cut it off from outside commerce. It is volunteering to impoverish itself. – Steve Chapman

Protectionism amounts to the claim that everyone benefits when choices go down and prices go up. The only reason more Americans don’t dismiss that claim as self-evident crackpottery is because it comes cloaked in the language of nationalistic resentment.  – Jeff Jacoby

Honesty is to be preferred. However, there is a genuine gulf between the burdens of opposition and leadership. Opposition is fun, and largely without responsibility.  Leadership only sounds fun, and carries abounding burdens, among them the inchoate demands of “American leadership” and the rather specific requirements of interagency coordination. –  Danielle Pletka

 Greater understanding, insight, knowledge – even wisdom – are  gifts we acquire if we’re lucky, as we grow older, yet it’s when we’re young that we have to step up, and so often blunder blindly into the unknown, sometimes realising fearfully that we don’t know, or often, thinking we know better. – Valerie Davies

It was not so long ago that I was a young boy, crying in my room, wishing that I had real legs.  In an attempt to lift my spirits, my dad said one day someone will build you legs that will allow you to run faster than your friends. – Liam Malone

If only I had known that broadening a church required merely climbing up the steeple to set the clock back 20 years, I could have saved a lot of ink and cognitive energy.  Apparently, all New Zealand voters have been waiting for is for Labour to finally reinvent itself as The Alliance Historical Re-enactment Society.  Is there anything Labour’s deviously brilliant internal polling can’t teach us? – Phil Quin

Agriculture is being attacked by misinformation. Agriculture is being attacked by ignorance. Agriculture is being attacked by science illiteracy. Agriculture is being attacked by deceitful marketing. And those things do not discriminate based on party lines. – Kate Lambert

Mr Average migrant is healthier with less character problems than the average New Zealander because they had to go through all of those hoops before they got permission to stay in our country.David Cooper

My challenge to employers is to hire people based on merit, to give women as many opportunities as men and to pay women what they are worth.

It’s 2017. It’s not about what you can get away with. It’s not about what she is willing to accept.

It’s about what she is worth.-  Paula Bennett

If borrowing to put money into the Super Fund is such a perfect ”free money” scenario, why stop at $13.5 billion? Surely we should borrow a couple of trillion. Nobody will notice – it’s all still on the books somewhere. Then we could make mega trillions, pay all our super costs, and never work again. – Steven Joyce

Not that it matters. None of it matters. Who came from where & what happened there. Because lets admit it, New Zealand is a tiny remote island at the ass-crack of the world…WE ALL CAME ON A BLOODY BOAT SOMETIME OR ANOTHER! – Deanna Yang

By nature, I am a pragmatist, not an ideologue. That is because, in my experience, most people just want results that work. Some people have said that my pragmatism indicates a lack of a clear set of principles. I do not think that is true. It is just that my principles derive mostly from the values and ethics instilled in me by my upbringing, rather than by the “Politics 101” textbook.  . .

Mum taught me the things that allowed me to succeed and which I think are echoed by so many Kiwi parents—that you get out of life what you put in to it, that hard work can create opportunities. And that you really can change your own life, not by wishing it was different but by working to make it different

I have brought to politics an unshakeable belief that, regardless of our circumstances, most of us share the same aspirations: we want our children to be fulfilled and we want them to do better than we have. To most of us, what matters more than anything else are the health, welfare, and happiness of those people about whom we care most. In the end, Mum did not leave me any money, our holidays were always pretty basic, and the house we lived in for a long time was owned by the State Advances Corporation. But, truthfully, she left me the most important gift of all: the determination to succeed and the work ethic to make it happen. . .  – John Key

God, I wish I ran a small country. – David Cameron

The only vision really worth having for any government in a democratic society is enabling individual citizens the maximum amount of freedom to pursue their own visions.

All the rest is just politicians indulging in their personal narcissism.Rob Hosking

But in these troubled times of shifting societal landscapes, the simple joy of a cheese roll is a throwback to when times were perhaps less complicated.

That such a simple dish has survived mostly unchanged and is still revered, is a sign that – at the bottom of the country at least – we still enjoy the simple things in life. – Oscar Kightley

He was another example of that unique Aussie — a New Zealander. We claim him with pride, along with Russell Crowe and Ernest Rutherford.  – Robyn Williams on John Clarke.

If humour is common sense dancing, John Clarke was Nureyev. He proved that you can laugh at this strange part of the world, and still keep your mind and heart fully engaged. – Don McGlashan on John Clarke.

 I think I thought he might have been immortal. The Great God Dead-Pan. – Kim Hill on John Clarke

I always said as long as my mind, my body and my heart were in it, then I could do this for as long as I like. My mind’s been pretty good, my body’s been pretty good, but it was my heart that was on the fence. So, it’s time to go.”  – Eric Murray

We prefer to be in a situation where we have a positive relationship with Australia and Kiwis get a good deal in Australia – that’s better than mutual ‘armed war’ to see who can treat each other’s citizens worse. – Bill English

Keep that moment. You get to hold the baby and the mother is there and it’s an experience you can’t prepare for. There’s going to be so many times when this looks hard and it is, so keep that moment. – Bill English’s advice to new fathers.

Beware of the guy with the soft hands – go with the guy with the calluses on his hands. – Neil Smith

Spend two minutes of the hour being negative, but you have to spend the other 58 being positive.Neil Smith

I’m the person who got us into this mess, and I’m the one who will get us out of it. – Theresa May

Civilisation is built on cultural appropriation.

Every society absorbs influences from other cultures, often cherry-picking the best of what’s on offer. This process cuts both ways, because disadvantaged societies learn from more advanced ones. It’s not all about exploitation.

Those who seek to outlaw what they arbitrarily define as cultural appropriation would condemn us to a monochromatic, one-dimensional world beset by sheer boredom – and one in which New Zealanders would be reduced to eating tinned spaghetti on toast, since it’s one of the very few dishes we can call our own.

On second thoughts, scratch that. Spaghetti’s Italian. – Karl du Fresne

Beaver’s far and beyond what I am – he’s a top man. There’s no movie here. I’m just a little white fella that’s chipping away in Dunedin. – Marty Banks

“Yeah, well just the same way you prepare every day,” Peter Burling in response to a reporter’s question:  “You know, looking back to 13, going, okay, you guys were on match point a lot in 13, how do you prepare for tomorrow?”

The biggest software company in the world just got beaten by little old New Zealand software.” – Grant Dalton.

 . . . it’s a privilege to hold the America’s Cup – it’s not a right. And was embodied in the way Team New Zealand was under Sir Peter Blake. If you’re good enough to take it from us then you will and we’ll try very hard to be good enough to keep it. We won’t turn it so to make sure you can’t.Grant Dalton

More so than any other industry, agriculture is a relationship industry. We work with, and spend money with, people we like. People we trust. People we often times consider part of our family. Sometimes those people work for “Big Ag”. Sometimes they don’t. But farmers don’t do business with corporations or small companies. Farmers do business with people.  – Kate Lambert

You only get 40 attempts at farming. From your 20’s to your 60’s, you get 40 seasons,” says Duncan Logan, the founder and CEO of RocketSpace, a tech accelerator company. “In tech, you get 40 attempts in a week. – Duncan Logan

My philosophy is that people who are born with a healthy body and a healthy mind can look after themselves, but people that are unfortunate [enough] not to have that blessing, I’m prepared to help. – Mark Dunajtschik

I am repeating the warning that free money to able-bodied humans anywhere can do just the opposite of what it intends: take away the will to work, the guts to struggle, the spirit to pick yourself up by the bootstraps. . . – Alan Duff

I got up again. – Bill English

Just because males talk loudly doesn’t mean they have anything to say. – Deborah Coddington

Those who work to change public perception in spite of the evidence use a number of tactics – they cherry pick data, they drive fear, they over simplify, they take data out of context, they deliberately confuse correlation with causation and they undermine trust. –  William Rolleston

Innovation in agriculture is where the future health and wealth of New Zealand lies. As a country we need to invest in how we can support this innovation and practice change. Taxation as an answer to agricultural challenges demonstrates a lack of imagination. – Anna Campbell

. . . once a society makes it permissible to suppress views that some people don’t like, the genie is out of the bottle and the power to silence unfashionable opinions can be turned against anyone, depending on whichever ideology happens to be prevalent at the time. . . . What we are witnessing, I believe is the gradual squeezing out of conservative voices as that monoculture steadily extends its reach.- Karl du Fresne

I learned from the film that if we want to have enough food to feed the 30 billion people soon to inhabit the planet and we only grow organically, we’ll have to chop down the rainforest and make it farmland. But if we grow GMO crops that need less space and less water, the rainforest is safe. – Lenore Skenazy

Personality doesn’t feed your children or keep the rivers clean, personality doesn’t make the country safe, it requires sound leadership strong intellect and the right policies. – Jim Bolger

I got up againBill English

The only thing that could bring English down is Winston Peters choosing to go with Labour and the Greens. – Patrick Gower

There are good and bad people in all parties. Sometimes, people with whom you agree will do something dumb. Sometimes, they will conduct themselves in a manner of which you do not approve.

If your chief criteria for judging propriety and competence boils down to partisan affiliation and advantage, then you really are contributing to a problem that is going to drain all the goodwill out of this country’s politics. – Liam Hehir

This is the only assurance to an irreversible path to national freedom, happiness and economic prosperity.
To our neighbours, you now all know the simple choice you face; either support our rights or our refugees. – Morgan Tsvangirai

Loss comes in all forms, not just death, but loss of careers, loss of confidence, loss of relationships and marriage, my own succumbing to the high percentage of those that end upon the death of a child.

With all our collective legislative wisdom, there shouldn’t also have to be loss of faith in a system supposedly designed to protect those that need it at precisely the time when they most need it. . . .

Politics really did become personal for me then. A flick of the pen, wording of an amendment, an exchange in the debating chamber – parliament’s processes affect everyday lives.- Denise Lee

We are not a nation of holier-than-thou busybodies. We are friendly, moral realists who face facts and credit others with doing the best they can when they are in circumstances we are fortunate not to share. That is how we should be represented to the world. – John Roughan

. . . Abundance is no long-term solution. We can’t have as much as we want, for as long as we want. That’s not how life works, it’s not up to us to decide when the fun ends.

We ought to make the most of moments, of the people, of the laughs, because we are numbered. They are numbered. As you wind through them, one day there will be a final click.

We all know this deep down, but we gloss over it day to day. Either because more pressing issues take centre stage, or because pondering mortality of loved ones and ourselves isn’t that enjoyable.

Yes, looking back on captured moments after they’re developed is great. But being present in these moments is key to truly appreciating the finite things in life. –  Jake Bailey

Telling the truth is colour blind. – Duncan Garner

. .  .New Zealand’s GST is uniquely, and admirably, clean. It applies broadly. Every producer has an incentive to report honestly because they also report the GST they paid to their suppliers on every item when claiming GST on their inputs.

Were New Zealand to exempt healthy foods from GST, we would well be on the slippery slope. It is one of those things that sounds really easy, but would be an utter disaster in practice. . . Eric Crampton

I must say, it has been a bit rich sitting here listening to the moral awesomeness and self-congratulation of the Labour Government over the family incomes package when they opposed every single measure that it took to generate the surpluses that they are handing out. That is why they won’t get the credit they expect from the New Zealand public, because the New Zealand public know it’s a bunch of people who found the lolly bag and ran the lolly scramble without having any idea where it came from.  – Bill English

Everybody wants to do the right thing; they just want to know what the expectations are, how long they have got, what it’s going to cost, where the tools are, and they will get up and they will get on with it.  – Barbara Kuriger

. . . the United Nations has just declared access to the internet a basic human right. It’s no more that than ownership of a Rolls Royce.

One can laugh at this stuff but for humanity to make progress it’s actually damaging, leading as it does to false expectations. Far better if the UN was to talk sense and describe it as an aspiration achievable through effort rather than by right. – Sir Bob Jones

The number of children the Labour-led government will lift out of poverty next year is 12,000. That’s over and above the 49,000 the previous government’s 2017 Budget was already lifting out. That”s right 80% of the new government’s achievement was already in train.

The new caring and sharing government’s achievement is much more modest when compared with the previous heartless government’s achievement. But that’s the power of the headline.   – Rodney Hide

Essentially, progressives tend to make up their minds about things according to a grievance hierarchy, which goes something like this: Worries about Palestine trump concerns about gay rights. And concerns about gay rights trump women’s rights which, despite the big and necessary push against harassment and abuse over the past several months, tend to wind up as the last unionised, fair-pay electric cab off the left’s organised and properly supervised rank.

Or to put it another way, being anti-Western means never having to say you’re sorry, but being female doesn’t mean that the left will let you get away with having your own opinion. – James Morrow

One of the wonderful things about living the years that I have, is that Time has taught me so much about myself. In doing so, Time and opportunity have set me free to be the essence of who I really am, rather than the person who has been beset by the grief of bereavement, abandonment, divorce, poverty, pain and rejection. The insights that Time has allowed me to gather, have set me free from those profound and painful experiences to be joyful, happy, fearless, and, – I hope -loving… – Valerie Davies


Front up Fonterra

14/12/2017

On the AM Show this morning Duncan Garner criticised Fonterra for not fronting up.

The company had been asked to come on the show to talk about the price of butter.

No-one would.

I don’t understand why.

Explaining the high price of butter is simple.

After years of being advised to eat less fat in general and less butter in particular, the advice has changed. Butter is no longer the bad diet bogey it was, people are discovering, or rediscovering, the joy of it and demand has risen faster than supply.

How hard would it have been for someone from the company to explain that?

This isn’t the first time Fonterra wouldn’t front the media. If the company doesn’t want all the good its advertising campaign is doing to be undone it must be the last.

Chief executive Theo Spierings is paid an eye watering amount to run the company.

I don’t have a problem with that but I do have a problem if he isn’t doing his job properly. Part of a CE’s job is to front the media or, if he’s not the right person to do so, to find that person and make sure s/he does.

Fonterra is running a very good advertising campaign which shows the interconnections between everyone who contributes to making the company work and work well and the economic and social benefits of that.

It’s not just about converting grass to milk and processing and selling it. It’s about all the people who use the milk and the ones who do the work between the paddock and plate, glass or cup who enable them to do so.

It’s a really good story but there is a huge risk that good will be undone if the company turns down requests to front the media.


MoU is MoM

25/08/2017

The Memorandum of Understanding between Labour and the Green Party did a lot more for the latter than the former.

The Greens had everything to gain at the cost of Labour which only lost.

Often it was less a MoU and more a MoM – memo of misunderstanding

Any pretence the agreement is worth anything is useless now when the Greens have done a u-turn and decided to stand candidates in Ohariu.

They might try to say it is to maximise the party vote, and that will be one motivation. But James Shaw’s refusal to endorse the Labour candidate makes it something more.

One poll shows it has less than 5% support and a couple of others show it above the threshold but at only half the level of support it had a few weeks ago. The Greens without the safety net of an electorate seat are now fighting for survival.

Taking votes, whether they be electorate or list, from Labour, in the process, won’t worry them.

On the AM Show* yesterday morning, host Duncan Garner gave Shaw several opportunities to endorse the Labour candidate and he refused to do so.

The winner in this is National’s candidate Brett Hudson who has worked as a list MP based in Ohariu for three years as a Green candidate will split the opposition vote.

The Green Party has a new candidate in Hutt South, after the previous one pulled out a few weeks ago. That is good news for National list MP Chris Bishop who seriously eroded the majority of Labour MP Trevor Mallard last election.

Mallard is standing list only and Bishop, who has had a deservedly high profile in the electorate in the last three years, was odds-on to take the seat against a newcomer. His chances are even better now the Green candidate will split the vote in this seat too.

All of this begs the question: if Labour and the Green Party can’t play nicely in opposition, what chance would they have of doing so in government?

* Newshub covers the interview here but makes no mention of Shaw’s repeated refusal to endorse the Labour candidate.

 


Labour now the Sweatshop Boys

23/06/2017

Duncan Garner has the line of the day on the AM Show – he’s calling Labour the Sweatshop Boys.

He’s referring to the party’s botched intern scheme :

There are calls for Immigration NZ to investigate a Labour-linked election campaign which used unpaid labour in the guise of an education programme.

More than 80 overseas students have been doing unpaid “drudge work”, and living in a cramped Auckland marae without a working shower, reports political blog Politik. . .

Rivals ACT called the campaign a “sweat shop filled with immigrant labour”.

“I cannot believe the Labour Party’s do as we say, not as we do attitude. This is a new low for hypocrisy, even for them,” ACT leader David Seymour said.

“Who would believe in Labour’s promised crackdown on cheap student labour when Labour are one of the worst offenders in the country?” . . .

That is hypocrisy writ large.

National Party campaign chairman Steven Joyce said Labour had to explain how it could justify “exploiting” international students for its election campaign while it was also speaking out against international education providers.

“This is truly appalling behaviour both for its lack of human decency and industrial strength hypocrisy,” Joyce said.

“If the allegations are correct, Labour has brought international students to New Zealand on false pretences, failed to look after them, and failed to meet their obligations to the students in the most basic way, while at the same time campaigning against exploitation of migrants.” . . .

Employers are very, very worried about Labour’s threatened changes to immigration.

Skills shortage in many sectors including IT, trades, farming, contracting and hospitality mean employers are already struggling to get anyone to fill positions. They’re wasting time, money and energy working their way through the process of employing immigrants.

Labour’s threatened changes would make that much, much worse.

These employers are working hard making a significant and positive economic and social contribution to New Zealand.

Labour wants to hobble them and yet has the hypocrisy to bring in people from overseas, not to work in productive businesses,  but to campaign for the party, and do it without pay.

Compounding that, the party that is supposed to stand up for workers put them up in sub-standard accommodation.

Matt McCarten did a mea culpe yesterday but the party can’t blame the mess only on him.

Newshub has obtained internal documents outlining Labour’s ambitious plans to put foreign students to work on its campaign.

The plan shows the party needed to find $270,000 in funding to pull it off and was banking on unions to fund a lot of it. . .

The budgeting was based on 100 students staying for an average of eight weeks. The cost of feeding and housing them in motorhomes was estimated at $240,000, with an operational budget of $30,000 for petrol, venues and AT HOP cards.

The documents show First and Unite unions agreed to contribute $100,000, “white collar unions” – likely the likes of the PSA – committed to $50,000, while Union Trust put up a start-up loan of $25,000.

The plan was to get E tū and “other appropriate unions” on board too.

The Council of Trade Unions was also to be involved in management of the project, and while Labour has been distancing itself from the project, the documents explicitly states: “The programme and certification is the responsibility of Labour.” . . .

Hypocrisy is bad enough, but there are also questions over which visas the students are on.

. . . We know these “fellows” are being given free accommodation in exchange for their work, so they are in breach of their visitor visa conditions, if they have visitor visas.

It is possible they have other visas, such as work visas. But it is hard to imagine they could qualify for work visas, and the hypocrisy would be great – Labour bringing in unpaid fellows on work visas, while campaigning against such work visas.

So it looks like either Labour has arranged 85 work visas for its unpaid fellows while campaigning to reduce the number of work visas for unskilled jobs or Labour has been complicit in a huge case of immigration fraud.

Even if the students are on working holiday visas, there are other questions:

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse did not know whether Immigration NZ or MBIE’s labour inspectorate was investigating the issue, but believed Labour had serious questions to answer about possible breaches.

Woodhouse said the students would be allowed to undertake the work if they were on working holiday visas, as Labour believed, but there were still questions about whether there had been breaches of employment law.

“What I am aware of is similar schemes to this have been investigated very seriously by the labour inspectorate because it is work masquerading as voluntary work, and I think that is also a question that should be asked of the Labour Party.”

Providing services for food and board counted as work under employment law, he said.

“Regardless of what visa they’re on, there are certainly questions about the nature of the work they’re doing and whether that meets the definition of employment.” . .

The Sweatshop boys and girls in Labour will be sweating over this.

Even if there is no immigration fraud, what they are doing is in direct contradiction of their immigration policy and their supposed role in protecting workers from exploitation.

 

 


Regions need these migrants

18/08/2016

Duncan Garner asks why New Zealand is giving visas to migrants to work in retail and cafés.

Someone with the right attitude, and reasonable numeracy and literacy ought to be able to be trained for that work without too much trouble.

But in the regions, especially in less populous areas,  getting people with all that isn’t easy.

The pool of available labour is small and often very shallow.

A café  owner in a small village with a tiny permanent population and more than 40 kilometres from a reasonable sized town regularly struggles to get staff.

She has employed all the locals who are willing and able to work so ends up with migrants, usually young people most of whom want short to medium term work.

Every time any of her staff leaves she has to go through the same rigmarole even though it might only be a few weeks, and sometimes days since she’s been through it before.

She advertises and almost always gets only people from overseas replying. She then has to go to WINZ to ensure there’s no-one on their books who could do the work, and there hasn’t been yet. Only then can she employ a foreigner.

Cities might be awash with people needed for retail and cafes but tourism is booming in the southern South Island and there simply aren’t enough locals to fill these jobs in the small towns and villages.

That begs the question of who’s responsible for getting the people on WINZ’s books work-ready. But if you’re a small business, like most shops and cafés you can’t afford the time or money it takes to train someone who hasn’t got the basic skills to hold down a job; you need people ready and able to fill vacancies and more often than not there aren’t locals who can.


TPPA true & false

04/02/2016

The National Party has a webpage giving the facts and refuting the myths on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) which is being signed in Auckland today.

Don’t believe that?

Chapman Tripp says:

The TPP began life modestly as an initiative between New Zealand and Singapore, but the ambition was that it would evolve into a trans-Pacific agreement.  The first recruits were Chile and Brunei and the net has subsequently extended to Australia, the United States, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru and Vietnam.

New Zealand now finds itself in the vanguard of the new wave of economic globalisation.  This is a coincidence of the worldwide focus on FTAs to further integrate economies, the prominence of Asia, and the United States’ and Japan’s renewed interest in the Pacific Rim. 

Some find this uncomfortable.  Many, including the protesters at Seattle, found the birth of the WTO in 1994 similarly uncomfortable.

Difficult as change can be, this is an opportunity which will not come again.  In its final form, the TPP is the biggest free trade deal in a generation and will establish the architecture of Asia Pacific trading relationships for decades to come.  . . 

and concludes

. . . Labour’s frustration is understandable.  The TPP does not appear to include the specific reservation of rights Labour wanted.  New Zealand negotiators could perhaps have sought a more nuanced provision, such as appears in the NZ-Korea FTA, which arguably preserves some scope to expand the OIA screening regime.  It is hard to see that the more absolute language in the relevant TPP annex was a deal breaker for other negotiating parties. 

Negotiating parties tend not to publicly announce their bottom lines in advance to avoid painting themselves into a corner, as Labour has effectively done.  One cannot, of course, sensibly weigh up the overall merits or demerits of a 6000 page 12 party agreement by looking only at one provision.  To attempt this is to miss the wood for the trees. 

None of the signatory countries will be perfectly satisfied with the deal.  Each will have a particular clause or clauses that they would prefer were not there.  The US Republican Senator, Orrin Hatch, for instance is chagrined that the IP chapter grants only five, and not eight, years’ protection to biologics. 

But if support for the deal was premised on perfection, then it would go the way of the Doha Round.  It is no coincidence that TPP opponents play the single issue game.  Conflating whether one gets everything one wants, and whether the deal is acceptable overall, is a classic black hat strategy. 

The art of negotiating involves being able to push hard for one’s positions, then to stand back and work out whether (even if one did not get all one wanted) the deal on the table is better than no deal at all. 

Here, the question is even more stark.  Would New Zealand be better off inside, or outside, the tent?  MFAT’s national interest analysis reaches a firm conclusion, having weighed everything up over 276 pages.  It is respectfully suggested that this conclusion deserves to be afforded more weight than anyone’s position based on a single issue.

Those last two paragraphs nail it.

The deal isn’t perfect but it is better than no deal at all and New Zealand is better inside the tent than outside it.

The usual nonsense at Waitangi purports to be about the TPPA threatening the Treaty but the Federation of Maori Authorities is cautiously supportive:

. . .Chair Traci Houpapa said there were benefits and opportunities for Māori and all New Zealanders.

“We’ve analysed those documents ourselves and while we have a level of comfort we agree with the 12 month consultation process that the signing on the 4th of February triggers.”

Ms Houpapa said the removal of some or most tariffs for exporters would have financial benefits for the federation’s regional members.

“Māori have a predominate footprint in primary sector industries, we are land, water or sea based so our exporters have obvious benefits if the removal of tariffs are in place and TPP provides for that.”

FOMA is happy with the provisions within the agreement that acknowledge the Treaty of Waitangi, which say it must be enshrined, but FOMA recognises further analysis of what that means is required. . . 

“We recognise TPP is a complex trade arrangement which requires time to fully digest and understand. Our members support the trade benefits and want assurance that our national sovereignty and Treaty partnership are maintained. We welcome proper engagement with government and our members on this important matter,” said Ms Houpapa.

Proper engagement will achieve what all the protests prefaced on political agendas won’t.

Charles Finny says the TPPA deserves praise from Maori:

I believe that rather than being inadequate in its protections for Maori, TPP is if anything a taonga in the way it protects the rights of the New Zealand Government to discriminate in favour of Maori. This in turn, I think, adds enormous mana to Maori.

I feel Maori are being poorly advised from some quarters and it is essential that ministers and government officials spend even more time explaining the protections for Maori in the agreement and the trade benefits that will flow to Maori from it. These benefits are substantial.

TPP is an agreement between 12 countries. Pretty much all the 12 jurisdictions are home to indigenous minorities – for example, the First Peoples of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, the Aboriginal people in Australia, the Malays in Singapore and Malaysia, and the Ainu in Japan.

Yet none of these peoples is mentioned in the main text of the deal and none of their Governments has secured agreement from the other members that they should be allowed to discriminate in favour of them.

In contrast Maori are mentioned, as is the Treaty of Waitangi. Article 29.6 of TPP is actually titled “Treaty of Waitangi”. It says that “provided that such measures are not used as a means of arbitrary or unjustified discrimination against persons of the other parties or as a disguised restriction on trade in goods, trade in services and investment, nothing in this agreement shall preclude the adoption by New Zealand of measures it deems necessary to accord more favourable treatment to Maori in respect of matters covered by this agreement, including in fulfilment of its obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi”.

This is pretty much the same clause that has been included in all free trade agreements (FTAs) New Zealand has negotiated since 2001. It has stood the test of time. It has allowed multiple Treaty settlements to be completed and has not had (as some critics claim will happen under TPP) “a chilling effect” on Government’s ability to adopt policies more favourable to Maori than other New Zealanders or nationals of these FTA partners.

TPP’s protection of the Treaty goes even further than earlier FTAs. It states “the parties agree that the interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi, including as to the nature of the rights and obligations arising under it, shall not be subject to the dispute settlement provisions of this agreement.” This means it is entirely up to New Zealand to determine if any discrimination has occurred because of the treaty (so long as this is not a disguised restriction on trade).

I am frankly amazed the US and others have agreed to this provision. Our ministers and officials have done a great job achieving this. All Maori should be saying: “Well done!” . . 

He also posts on Facebook:

TPP contains two types of dispute settlement. In the media and political criticism the two are often confused. There is the standard (in WTO and all our FTAs apart from CER – the reason why apples took so long to resolve)provisions which allow parties to the agreement to challenge breaches of the agreement. This is a purely government to government process and applies to the full agreement unless specified (e.g. interpretation of the Treaty of Waitingi the dispute settlement provisions do not apply). Then, in the investment chapter only, there is the investor state dispute settlement mechanism. This allows a company to challenge a government if it believes that government has breached its commitments in the investment chapter only. Many of the critics (who should know better) suggest that governments can be sued for breaches of outside of the investment provisions. This is not possible.

It is important to stress that TPP is worded differently to NAFTA and the Australian investment treaties that were used to challenge plain packaging of cigarettes. The critics often cite these agreements as examples of why we should fear ISDS without noting the fact that TPP has been drafted with the sloppy drafting in earlier agreements in mind.

New Zealand has been agreeing (indeed advocating for ) ISDS provisions in investment treaties and FTAs since the late 1980s (see for example the original China NZ Investment protection agreement). To date the NZ Government has yet to face a challenge.

Put simply I believe these provisions provide useful security for NZ investors offshore. Some of the governments we trade with and have FTAs or investment treaties are far more likely to breach these agreements than we are.

There are multiple exclusions (e.g. our Overseas Investment laws) and multiple acceptances of our right to regulate to protect the environment, to protect human health and safety, to discriminate for Maori under the Treaty of Waitangi etc to ensure that TPP will not have the type of chilling effect on policy making that the critics maintain. And, on top of the above protections, tobacco is completely carved out of the agreement so no worries there.

But is you want to nationalise huge hunks of the economy without compensation – you do have a problem. As you would if you tried to use human health as a justification for a policy if there was no science to justify the policy. Until recently I did not think that future NZ Governments would act in this way. This is why I think we have nothing to fear and that these provisions can only benefit NZ.

Stephen Jacobi wrote an open letter to Labour leader Andrew Little. It’s worth reading in full, I have chosen the extract with most relevance to farming:

. . . I agree that the dairy aspects of TPP are not as good as they could have been and as we had hoped.  But they are in the view of the negotiators and the dairy industry the best that could have been achieved in the circumstances.  Dairy still benefits more than any other sector from tariff cuts in key markets and the establishment of new tariff quotas.  The meat deal – specifically beef to Japan – is a significant market opening about which the industry has welcomed. Without this we will not be able to compete with Australia which already has an FTA with Japan. To call the rest ‘not much’ is a serious under-estimation – tariff reductions and/or elimination for horticultural products including kiwifruit, wine, wood products and seafood cannot so easily be dismissed. Addressing tariff and non-tariff barriers for manufactured products like health technologies and agricultural equipment is also significant.  This will result in the creation of new markets as you suggest. . . 

Duncan Garner says the political consensus on free trade is over:

After decades of supporting free trade, Labour has chosen to veer left into the bosom of New Zealand First and the Greens and oppose the TPP. It’s short-sighted and totally hypocritical, in my view. It looks like the party has had its strings pulled by anti-TPP academic Jane Kelsey.

This is a serious and controversial departure for Labour, and it may yet hurt the party among middle New Zealand voters.

Do these politicians know that our bottled wine can be sold tariff-free in Canada, Japan and the US on day one of the TPP being implemented? Why would you oppose that after we as a country have fought for this for so long? Most fruit and other produce can be exported tariff-free too, as a result of the TPP.

I travelled the world with Labour and National Party ministers for years, watching them fight bloody hard for market access for our exporters. I have seen a block of New Zealand butter selling for $25 in Japan; the same with cheese. Some of these tariffs are so high our exporters are locked out.

I’ve also seen Phil Goff, Helen Clark, John Key, Mike Moore and Tim Groser invest thousands of hours over the years for this sort of deal. Rather than accuse them of selling out, I’d argue they’ve done a great job. . . 

The truth is Labour has taken a massive risk opposing the TPP. I sense the silent majority understands we have to be part of it, despite the noise from the usual suspects.

Labour is divided and bleeding over the TPP. More Labour MPs want to voice their opinions in support but they’ve been silenced.

Ms Clark, Mr Key, Mr Moore, Mr Groser and David Shearer aren’t idiots. They know New Zealand has no choice but to be on board. Foreign investment is crucial into New Zealand too.

My friend runs a hotel in rural Waikato. The Chinese bought it recently. They have invested thousands into doing it up; they employ 33 locals in and around Tirau and Rotorua. Without the Chinese owners it would have closed and 33 Kiwis would be out of work. We have no option but to be international traders. Without it we die, slowly.

I predict the sky won’t fall in. And exporters stand to make billions more in the years ahead.

We won’t get rich buying and selling to each other; we need barriers broken and global doors open.

That’s why we must continue to fight for international trade deals — knowing there will always be a boisterous but small mob who hate the idea, no matter what the facts. 

Brian Easton who is no apologist for the right, asks can we afford not to adopt the TPPA?

. . . While there has been much focus on the TPP deal, there has been hardly any mention of the WTO (World Trade Organisation) agreement in Nairobi which prohibits agricultural export subsidies. Some 30 years ago a trade negotiator commented to me that getting rid of this dumping might be the best single thing we could do for our exporters. Not only would it stop the undercutting of their markets but it would force domestic agricultural reform because the dumping nations could no longer export the surpluses arising from their subsidies. There is not a lot of this subsidising going on at the moment but without an agreement export subsidies are likely to come back – to New Zealand’s detriment.

What was not always mentioned was that the chair of the WTO agricultural committee which negotiated the deal was a New Zealand ambassador, who is the fifth New Zealand chair in succession. This not only reflects the excellence of our Geneva ambassadors and the priority we give to agriculture in the WTO, but that the powerful – most notably the US – trust New Zealand to do a good job. That trust arises from the way we behave in other trade negotiations, including the TPP. The implication is that if we defaulted on the TPPA we would damage that trust and our ability to function effectively in a wide range of other international negotiations we care about, including on climate change.

That puts us in an extremely invidious position over the TPPA. Sure, we could turn it down, losing both its benefits and its downsides. Were we to do so, however, we would compromise the trust our international activity depends upon, especially the possibility of other trade deals which would open up markets currently restricting our exports. . . 

. . . Japan and the US (indeed the whole of the North American bloc) are members of the TPP. We have been struggling for ages to get deals with these two but have been too low on their pecking order to be noticed. So you might think of the TPPA as a means of getting the deals.

That is a positive, but of course the deals have to be favourable to us. Many argue they are not although their vehemence is offset by those who argue the opposite. The truth is that there are positives and negatives and different people balance them differently. In my opinion it is not much use focussing on a subset of the outcomes and ignoring everything else. Deals are about giving and taking.

The logic in this column is that we now do not have much choice about the TPPA. The government is trapped into agreeing to it because rejecting it has implications for other trade deals and our wider international relations. That is probably what our MFAT officials are advising, although no doubt there are many diverse views in there, just as there were with Vietnam. Here is my best guess about what is likely to happen.

There is a signing of the agreement in Auckland this Thursday. The exercise is primarily ceremonial – agreeing to a common text and exhibiting solidarity. I suppose the protests outside are ceremonial and for solidarity too.

The twelve partners then go away and prepare for the implementation of the text. Some things can be done by regulation, some require a change in law. The degree to which each partner has to do this differs according to their constitutional arrangements. . . 

 

By now there are so many imponderables that there is insufficient room in a column to pursue them all in a balanced way. My guess is that, given the way we are trapped by the wider international issues, the cautious advice is to proceed on the path of implementing the legislation for the TPPA, making as much international progress elsewhere. We can then review whether we really want to go ahead with the implementation. Legislation can always be reversed, agreements abrogated, although if the government changes its mind it is better that some other partner pulls the plug. Much of what is due to happen will be less ceremonial than this Thursday.  

And Prime Minister John Key says:

. . . “Opponents claim we’re giving away our sovereignty and that’s completely wrong – the TPP has almost identical provisions to the China free-trade agreement.”

Mr Key said other countries would not be able to write New Zealand laws and the TPP didn’t increase the cost of pharmaceuticals.

“The TPP is our biggest free-trade deal, successive governments have worked to get free trade with countries like the United States, Japan and Canada for 25 years,” he said.

“It will create significant new trade and economic opportunities for New Zealand… it gives our exporters access to 800 million customers in 11 countries across Asia and the Pacific.”

And those new opportunities will create jobs here, increase our GDP and earn us the money we need to pay our way.

The deal isn’t perfect but it’s better than what we’ve got and a long way better than what we’d have if our competitors were in the warmth of the tent and we were left out in the cold.


Tweeting panel

08/08/2015

TV3 asked me to join The Nation’s tweet panel with Generation Zero co-founder Kirk Serpes this morning.

It was an interesting exercise.

Good interviewers listen to what interviewees say and base their next question on what they hear. I tried to do that with my tweets but kept missing the next point as I was tweeting on the last and trying to keep up with other tweets coming in.

Lisa Owen interviewed Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings talking about the farm gate milk price announcement today. This was followed by  reporter Torben Akel discussing governments appointing ex-MPs to government boards and an interview with American journalist Ben Taub who’s been writing about why teenagers’ journeys to jihad. 

The studio panelists were Heather du Plessis-Allan, Jacqueline Rowarth and Bernard Hickey.

Having Heather on the panel was very good marketing for Story which she’ll be co-hosting with Duncan Garner. It starts this Monday.

You can see the tweets here.


Current affairs sails on

25/06/2015

In the beginning was the good ship Campbell Live and the captain was John.

And John steered his ship through troubled waters and calm and braved many storms and was admired by many for his skill although sometimes his ship listed somewhat dangerously to port.

But his crew was not troubled nor were the people of  the left who praised him mightily for sailing into the right whence he created tempests.

But  every night Captain John was called to sail his ship in a race for the coveted trophy Ratings for the winner of this race was graced with advertising dollars.

But night after night Captain John failed to win the trophy though he navigated through diverse waters, from the shallows of celebrity to the depths of despond.

And so the admirals of the TV3 fleet spoke for they were unimpressed and they beseeched Captain John to change course.

And John said no for verily he stood on the poop deck of his own importance and did not want to chart another course.

So the admirals and Captain John parted ways and the good ship Campbell Live sank amidst the tears of its crew and passengers.

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth among the people of the left who were sore afraid that all the socialist treasure was lost with the ship and that current affairs would not sail again.

But lo, two experienced captains,  Heather du Plessis-Allan And Duncan Garner were enticed from other craft to command a new ship and the admirals said its name would be Story.

And the admirals said that Story would be a smart, fun and thought-provoking ship that would lead the way in daily current affairs.

And the people went about their business, eating their dinners, playing with their smart phones, accessing the internet and watching television or not as it wasn’t in the beginning but is now and may or may not evermore be.

 

 

 

 


Cunliffe resigns – for now

27/09/2014

David Cunliffe will resign as leader of the Labour Party after Tuesday’s caucus but plans to seek re-election:

I have today decided to resign the leadership of the Labour Party, effective from the end of caucus on Tuesday.

The party has suffered an historic election loss and in resigning as leader I take responsibility for that.

The party will review all the contributing factors. That process has begun and I give it my full support. . . .

We need to renew and rebuild our culture, accountabilities, how we do things and present to the world.

Achieving that in time for the 2017 election will require experienced and determined leadership with a broad mandate.

Whatever decisions are made must be in the best interests of New Zealand to have a strong and vital Labour Party.

The Party’s interests must come before any personal interests. I have thought carefully before responding to the calls to re-offer myself for the leadership of the party. 

Consultation with colleagues, members and affiliates has affirmed that the whole party must participate in this choice, and not just one part of it.

Therefore I am announcing today that I will nominate for a primary contest, which will be held across the caucus, the party membership and the affiliates as the party constitution requires. . . .

Cunliffe was never the first choice of most of his caucus. Duncan Garner reckons it’s now even fewer:

. . . My sources tell me he can count his supporters on one hand, with only four MPs left backing him. Even his most loyal and ardent supporters, such as Palmerston North’s Iain Lees-Galloway, have deserted him. . .

For graphic evidence of why Cunliffe appears to be on another planet, take a look at these photos of him – at the beach in a suit.

He was elected on the strength of the unions and ordinary members and they still have the same voting power.

Will they accept that the leader must have the confidence of his/her caucus or will they again impose someone they don’t want on them?

 


Labour’s numbers don’t add up

06/09/2014

The NBR has interviewed tax experts who say that Labour’s expert panel couldn’t sort out the complexities of the CGT in time to prevent a revenue hole.

The print edition has fuller coverage by Rob Hosking which says that wishful thinking and invention play too large a part of Labour’s fiscal policies.

. . .  The questions do not just involve the much discussed capital gains tax  – although this certainly features prominently.

Also under question are assumptions about an unspecified tax crack-down which is supposed to net $200 million ain extra tax revenue a year.

But more critical is the framework of all this – something highlighted by Labour leader David Cunliffe’s floundering response to a challenge by Prime Minsiter John Key in this week’s leaders’ debate in in Christchurch  . . .

One over-riding problem with the plan is the need for the panel to resolve technical issues and tax changes ready for the next financial year.

“I just can’t see them being able to do that,” says Ernst & Young tax partner Aaron Quintal. . . .

Deloitte technical director of tax Robyn Walkers . . . also warns the capital gains tax could be higher than Labour is promising. . .

Labour’s policy is for 15% CGT but the Green and Internet Mana parties want it to be levied at the individual’s marginal tax rate which will mostly be the top one.

The other question that could affect that narrow surplus target is promises for even bigger tax crack-downs that Inland revenue has been running in recent years.

Labour’s budget plan involves an assumption this crackdown will bring in $200 million a year in tax revenue.

“That is just a made-up figure says Deloitte tax specialist Alex Mitchell. . .

The other ‘revenue hole’ comes back to the capital gains tax and this is to do with the gap between rhetoric and the reality of such a tax.

The political and emotional attraction of a CGT is that it will combat inequality but it doesn’t gather enough to do that.

“Capital gains taxes do not raise much revenue,” Mr Quintal says. “In the UK it is around 1% of the tax take: in Australia it is half of 1%. . .

” . . . In New Zealand realistically we are only looking at something around $500 million a year probably.

“That is not going to do what they say it is going to do.”

The $200 million in extra revenue isn’t the only thing that’s been made up, so is the assertion that IRD have been consulted on the CGT.

Duncan Garner asked David Cunliffe if he’d consulted the IRD on Labour’s capital gains tax.

Cunliffe said he hadn’t personally but the party had.

Garner asked IRD and got a response saying they’d had no discussions on it:

Labour’s big spending promises are based on more and higher taxes based on rhetoric which won’t be matched in reality.

That would be bad enough if the party was able to govern alone. The higher spending and tax policies of the mis-matched group of parties it would need to from a government make the outlook under a labour-led government even more dire.

If the numbers don’t stack up nor will any of the other policies which depend on them.

John Armstrong says Labour is the living dead after its tax fiasco.

It’s suffering from a variety of self-inflicted wounds, not least of which is that its numbers don’t stack up.


Compare the chairs

02/09/2014

Duncan Garner chaired last week’s debate between the finance spokespeople for five parties.

He began by saying each speaker had three minutes to give a pitch and he’d accept interjections if they were witty.

The speakers largely abided by his rules and on the few occasions any tried to speak over another Garner quelled him.

On Sunday  Corin Dann chaired a debate between Finance Minister Bill English and Labour’s spokesman David Parker.

He kept control throughout, only rarely did one of the MPs try to talk over the other and Dann kept good control when that happened.

In both debates the audience heard almost every word the speakers said.

Contrast that with the Leaders’ Debate between Prime Minister John Key  and Labour’s David Cunliffe on Thursday.

Mike Hosking rarely seemed to be in control and let Cunliffe away with constant interruptions.

The result was he looked like a boor and it was difficult to hear what either he of the PM was saying.

I wondered if Hosking was worried about the perception of bias, Kerre McIvor does too:

. . . Moderator Mike Hosking could have been more aggressive himself.

There had been criticism from Labour over the choice of Hosking to chair the debate. It felt he had pinned his colours to the mast by introducing Key at a business meeting and exhorting those there to vote for him.

Perhaps Hosking felt a little hamstrung – if he pulled up Cunliffe too often, the accusations of bias would appear to have some justification. . .

That a debate could have a strong influence on how people vote is concerning.

But whether or not it does, it should allow the speakers to speak and the audience to hear what they say and it’s the chair’s role to ensure they do.

Not PC has some advice on a proper debate.

Garner and Dann showed how to do it.

The chairs in the remaining debates should follow their example.


Peters scared of Craig

27/08/2014

The Queenstown ASB debate between the finance spokespeople for five parties attracted a sell-out crowd last night.

debate

The photo shows, chair Duncan Garner, Finance Minister Bill English for National, Conservative leader Colin Craig, Labour’s David Parker, Act’s Jamie Whyte and Green Russel Norman.

Duncan Garner said that the Maori Party declined the invitation, Mana didn’t reply and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters refused to come if Craig was there.

The chair gave each speaker three minutes to give a pitch then gave them a few questions before taking questions from the floor.

Labour’s trying to campaign on being positive but its finance spokesman started by being negative about the economy and the outlook.

Jamie Whyte started by quoting Adam Smith:

Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.

He also asked who’s going to make better decisions – someone putting their own money at risk in search of profit of someone using other people’s money in search of votes?

Duncan Garner asked him to name one Green policy he agreed with and he said he couldn’t think of one.

The question Duncan Garner put to Russel Norman at the end of his three minutes was whether he could say something good about the Finance Minister and he said he’d been very responsible.

Colin Craig rattled through his policy which includes tax cuts at the lower end.

The chair asked him to say whether he’d go with National or Labour if he had the choice after the election. He said National because the party would have the most votes.

Clutha Southland MP Bill English got the biggest welcome from his home crowd.

He started by giving people the credit for their resilience, responsible and work and how important that was because the economy doesn’t just exist in an office in Wellington, it’s what people do.

That, in partnership with National-led government’s careful management of public finances, had put New Zealand back on the right track.

He said we now have a platform built on our resilience the positive encouragement from government and the most positive Prime Minister New Zealand has had that will allow us to have sustainable growth.

“You have set that direction and we can keep it,” he said.

There’s a video of the debate here.


When party vote doesn’t count

16/07/2014

Under MMP it’s the party vote that counts.

That’s the one which determines how may seats a party gets and ultimately which parties are in government.

That’s the message parties try to give to voters and it’s the one their MPs are supposed to give too.

But Duncan Garner has noticed that at least three Labour MPs are giving a very good indication that they’re a lot more interested in staying in parliament than helping their party get into government.

Three Labour MPs have broken ranks in recent weeks – quite loudly and very publicly.

They are interested in one thing: self-preservation. They want to win their seats and they’ve given up relying on their party. They are clearly concerned Labour will poll poorly on election night, so they’ve decided to run their own campaigns – away from head office and away from the leader.

These MPs have either chosen not to be on the list or they have a low-list spot. They are vulnerable. It’s all or nothing for them.

They must win their seats to return to Parliament; this sort of pressure usually focuses an MP’s mind. They want to be back in Parliament and they want the $150k salary.

I’m talking about West Coast-Tasman MP, Damien O’Connor, Hutt South MP, Trevor Mallard and list MP and Te Tai Tokerau candidate, Kelvin Davis.

Mallard either turned down the list spot he was offered or chose not to go on it.  O’Connor and Davis will need Labour to get more support than it’s had in recent polls to get a list seat.

Take Davis: yesterday he engaged Labour in its biggest u-turn in years. He told me he supported the Puhoi-Wellsford road project that his party has openly mocked and criticised.

Labour MPs call it the holiday highway; David Cunliffe has campaigned against it. Labour, until yesterday, was going to can the project upon taking office. Who knows where they stand now!

Davis told me people in the north tell him they want the controversial project and so does he.

The rest of Labour don’t understand how important this road is to the people of Northland  and how insulting it is to them to refer to it as a holiday highway.

Further south in Wellington, Trevor Mallard is openly campaigning for the return of the moa – against the wishes of his party and the leadership. It’s a desperate cry for attention: Mallard needs visibility and the moa got him the headlines.

That this is the best idea he can come up with to get attention speaks volumes about him and the elvel of desperation to which he’s sunk.

And further south again, Damien O’Connor voted with the Government 10 days ago to allow storm-damaged native trees to be harvested in protected forests.

That supposedly showed his strength but it also showed he’s incapable of getting his party to see sense.

These three blokes are the outliers in the Labour Caucus. And they are blokes too; they need to make some noise to be heard. They clearly have issues with the tame approach within their caucus.

They want to stand out and stand for something that their electorates want (not sure that Hutt South really wants the moa back, though!).

O’Connor and Davis certainly look in touch with middle New Zealand, their electorates and their issues. They have given the one-fingered salute to their struggling party and put self-preservation first.

Who can blame them?

Their colleagues and the volunteers in the party who are still working to stem the slipping in support which threatens to turn into a landslide will blame them.

If they can’t persuade all their MPs it’s the party vote that counts, how can they hope to persuade voters?


Schadenfreude

05/03/2014

David Cunliffe’s many mistakes over the use of a trust to hide donations to help  his leadership campaign have provided his opponents with the opportunity to accuse him of all sorts of things, including hypocrisy.

Probably none relishes this more keenly than John Banks who can be forgiven for more than a wee bit of schadenfreude:

ACT MP John Banks labelled Mr Cunliffe and former leader David Shearer, who initially failed to declare an overseas bank account, as hypocrites.

“These are the same people who paraded in the house as paragons of virtue and railed against me day after day, week after week and month after month. They should look at themselves – these people are hypocrites.” . . .

Duncan Garner also employs the h word:

. . . David Cunliffe is a former high-flying business consultant – his wife is a top lawyer – they know how these things work. His friends are business people. His wife knew about it and kept all this secret. How on earth did she think they were going to get away with this approach? Their collective judgement on this is woeful.

Where was he when Labour rallied against National’s use of trusts to fund its many elections campaigns? It’s why Labour changed the law and brought in the Electoral Finance Law. Was he not in the Parliament at the time? No, he was there. Did he speak up against National’s use of secret trusts? Oh yes he did.

Labour politicians of all shapes and sizes criticised National for months for receiving secret money. Cunliffe was in there, boots-‘n’-all. Trevor Mallard went further and claimed there was a ‘secret American bag-man.’ It was never proved.

I’ll never forget Labour climbing into National over electoral finances. Now Cunliffe looks like a complete hypocrite despite the apology. National has every right to pile into him on this. Just like Labour piled into National over secret trusts and campaign donations.

I’m starting to wonder just who Cunliffe is. What does he stand for? Is he anti-business or pro-business? Does he care about the poor? Or hang out with the rich? My big question really is this: Who is the real David Cunliffe?

Is he a fake?

That’s an f word no politician can afford to have directed at them, especially when more than half his caucus will also be feeling more than a wee bit of  schadenfreude.


Saying it with flowers

20/02/2014

Cameron Slater sent Annette King a bunch of flowers for publicising his blog in parliament yesterday.

Her response was less than gracious:

. . . “I’ve always enjoyed receiving flowers, and it was nice to be thanked by Cameron for promoting his blog. But I think his blog must be in financial trouble because it’s the most miserable bunch of flowers I’ve ever received. The flowers will not require me to put them on my Pecuniary Interests register.” . . .

Ms King said it did show that Mr Slater at least had a sense of humour.

Apropos of flowers and humour, Duncan Garner attempted to end Gerry Brownlee feud, sends Valentine’s Day flowers:

The year started sour between Duncan Garner and Minister Of Lots Of Things Gerry Brownlee. The Earthquake Recovery Minister flatly refused to appear on Drive.

When pressed in Wellington, Brownlee replied there was no issue with Garner.

“I think it’s a lover’s tiff, I’m expecting champagne and roses any time,” he smirked.

So today, being Valentine’s Day, Duncan sent him a gift (picture 1 below). Gerry received the present and is very happy about the present.

He has also sent us a picture of him with his gift for Garner. Though, the gift itself is yet to arrive.

Happy Valentine’s Day Gerry!

The photos show the bunch of red roses and box of chocolates Garner sent the Minister and him with the single bloom and heart-shaped chocolate he was sending in return.

 

 


%d bloggers like this: