Quotes of the month

01/12/2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can we all agree on compassion?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

85 percent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, policy failures matter.Roger Franklin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because what else have we got?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the “trans community”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew Birchall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a mixed message. – Kate Hawkesby

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This decision takes us places.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voting makes children into adults.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Most of the commonly-raised arguments are unconvincing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is no accountability to the shareholders.

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

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

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

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

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

Happy bloody Christmas, Adrian Orr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 We’ve lost five years to paper pushing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OK. Watch out for what you wish for.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lame duck governments are dangerous. Richard Prebble

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

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

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

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

The version of New Zealand history conveyed to those attending these workshops is remarkably consistent: colonisers = baddies; the heroic Māori who resisted the colonisers’ ruthless predations = goodies. Only by giving full effect to te Tiriti o Waitangi can the wrongs of the past be righted: only then will equity and justice prevail.

Many of those attending Treaty workshops will have been invited to “check their privilege” and “confront their racism”. This can be a harrowing experience for many Pakeha, leaving them with a strong inclination to keep silent and step aside whenever those on the receiving end of “white privilege” are encouraged to step forward and speak out. In the most extreme cases, Pakeha are actively discouraged from sharing their opinions, lest their higher education and superior facility with the English language overawe and “silence” those denied such privileges.

When Labour’s Māori caucus (the largest ever after the 2020 general election) sought to take full advantage of the party’s absolute parliamentary majority to advance their Treaty-centric agenda, it is entirely possible they found themselves pushing on an open door. – Chris Trotter

It is, perhaps, unsurprising that Labour’s Māori caucus has found the party’s Pakeha majority so easy to cajole into backing what, from its perspective, is an entirely legitimate constitutional agenda. Led by Nanaia Mahuta and Willie Jackson, the Māori caucus has taken full advantage of the fact that their Pakeha colleagues’ lack of constitutional conviction has never been a match for their own passionate intensity.

Three Waters may be the hill Labour dies on, but when the victors survey the field of battle, the only corpses they’ll find will be Pakeha. Each one clutching the “Big Idea” for which their party has paid the ultimate price. Chris Trotter

While tinkering around the house is an enjoyable pastime that can also yield some improvements, it is not a productive approach to government policy-making, and rarely leads to the best of outcomes. – Leeann Watson

New Zealand’s political environment seems to be stuck in an unfortunate position, because of the three-year election cycle, where we tend not to bother on the big things, and we instead focus on tinkering with the little things– the quick wins and the headline grabbers. And when we do focus on the big things, we do it in a way that is rushed, and often not with a long-term view in mind. We’ve digressed from a Parliament that is solely focused on creating better outcomes for New Zealanders, and identifying problems before we attempt to fix them.Leeann Watson

One of the big pieces of legislation that has been plaguing the business community this year is Fair Pay Agreements. In my previous column, I wrote about these in more depth, and I will repeat the point we hear from Canterbury businesses ad nauseam. Why has a complicated and convoluted piece of legislation that will make it more difficult for businesses to operate been introduced to solve a problem that does not exist? New Zealand enjoys some of the best employment relations in the developed world, with flexibility and agility that we cannot lose. So what are we fixing?

One of the pieces of legislation that was introduced in urgency last week was one that will require all businesses in New Zealand to elect a health and safety representative, including the small business that might employ three people, which now has to invest in training for their staff, at a time where the economy is under significant pressure. Previously, small businesses did not need to worry about this unless they were a high-risk industry, such as forestry or mining, so, again, what is the problem we are trying to solve? Are small businesses really that unsafe?

The business community is losing faith in our policymakers’ ability to define problems and create meaningful and fair solutions. We are stuck in a Catch-22 type situation, because the complex problems that need to be addressed – rising levels of crime, investment in infrastructure, reforming aspects of our public system that are not delivering successful outcomes – all require a long-term approach. And the level and extent of reform needed to fix them, is prohibited by election cycles. – Leeann Watson

Reform is a word that has lost its true meaning. Reform is bold. Reform is about pulling things apart and reassembling something that is faster, better and more efficient than it was originally. The reform we have seen of late has not fit that definition at all.

Let’s consider the reform of the health system. A new name and a restructure is not a reform. It is a new name and a restructure. The same entity still exists, and it is still delivering the same outcomes and, in some cases, maybe worse than before. The components might look different, or be slotted in a slightly different place, but it is still the same. It hasn’t gained anything new, or lost anything clunky that is preventing it from delivering better outcomes for New Zealanders. As has been the case in Christchurch this year, cancelling all non-urgent appointments because the system is about to collapse under pressure is just not acceptable. A new name is not going to fix that.Leeann Watson

At a time when we desperately need to be investing and focusing our attention on equipping the future workforce, we are seeing the merger of entities – some of which are performing quite well on their own. The headlines, instead, indicate it is fraught with scandals, resignations, and our future workforce, and our younger generation, are no better off because of it.

That’s not to mention the changes in almost every other aspect of the public sector that are occurring, including Three Waters. Is changing everything, all the time, all at once, really the best method? Should we not be focusing on the most pressing issues first and doing it properly, with a view of creating better outcomes over the long term rather than quick wins? – Leeann Watson

 Christchurch aside, where new infrastructure was required immediately due to the earthquakes, elsewhere in New Zealand we seem to take the approach that it is not until a road is constantly congested, and motorists (read: voters) are unhappy, that we make decisions to invest and expand. We should be starting projects decades before they are needed. Not after they’re needed. But that doesn’t win votes.

There is a growing and quite compelling case that our current electoral system is limiting the ability for successive Governments to be bold and to engage in actual reform, and not just tinker with minor alterations and the headline-grabbing policy wins that sound great on paper and are good for the polls, rather than the tough actions that solve problems, and leave New Zealand in a better position.

As we head into the barbeque season before an election year and the inevitable political debates amongst family and friends occur, maybe it’s time to focus on the system and not the political personalities, and consider, whether it may not necessarily be the political parties alone that are not delivering to their best extent, but rather a political system that is not hindering the ability to deliver long term outcomes – and a public service as a whole that would benefit from a new operating model that enables agility, innovation, a growth mindset and is focused on execution versus tinkering.Leeann Watson

This new fog canon measure is too late – they know it, we know it.

Worse yet, the PM tried to deflect all blame from her Government by saying that there’d be a delay on said fog cannons – due to a global shortage. This turns out to be an outright lie.

Newstalk ZB Drive host Heather du Plessis Allan smelt a rat straight away and last night called a fog cannon supplier to fact check the PM on this one. No surprises in his response.. he said to her, ‘I see the Queen of Spin is at it again..’

He said the facts are, there is no global shortage of fog cannons, the supply issue is due to the Government not placing any orders for them. They’ve dropped the ball, again. – Kate Hawkesby

So the delay is the Government’s fault, it’s on them. Remind anyone of the vaccine rollout?

This is a government of inaction and indecision. Unless it’s Three Waters legislation of course, that appears to be able to be rammed through no holds barred. But this fog canon supply shortage claim – or should I say lie, is akin to the same lie the PM trotted out yesterday, that the Government’s new increased support for dairy business owners is not based on the death of Janak Patel. – Kate Hawkesby

The Government wants to pretend it’s considerate, organized and proactive enough not to wait for a death, in order to act, but that’s simply not true. Spinning us lies is just not working anymore; this Government has a credibility problem.

The PM has a credibility problem. Included in her post Cab was the other audacious claim that they’ve been tough on crime.

She “rejected” criticism her Government was soft on crime. She “rejected” that the Government had acted too slowly, she “rejected” the idea that it took Patel’s death for the Government to act. – Kate Hawkesby

I can tell you this for nothing, rejecting this stuff doesn’t make it go away. It is a crisis for every single victim and every family member of victims in these burglaries and raids.

But the other real crisis we’re in at the moment is a spin crisis. There’s too much of it coming from the Pulpit of Truth.

We’re drowning in it; we’re exhausted from being fed it. I do worry about all those who just accept it without question though, or have checked out because they don’t even care anymore.

We should care; we are being fed a steady diet of BS, from a government that has no idea what the words accountability or responsibility mean.Kate Hawkesby

In his great book titled Russia in 1839, the Marquis de Custine called the Tsar “eagle and insect.” He was eagle because he soared high above the country over which he ruled, completely alone, taking it all in at a glance, but he was insect because there was nothing too small or trivial for him to interfere with: he or his power burrowed into the very fabric of society as a termite burrows into the fabric of a wooden house. There was no escaping him.

This is the image I have in my mind of the operation of the adherents of Woke ideology. They have a grand vision, at least implicitly, both about the nature of the society in which they live and what should replace it. Insufficient, incoherent, or absurd as their vision might be, it actuates them. As human history demonstrates, intellectual insufficiency is no bar to effectiveness in the search for power; indeed it might be an advantage insofar as more scrupulous searchers after truth and goodness are riven by doubt.

On the other hand, nothing is too small for their attention. Being visionaries, they can infuse their slightest actions with the most grandiose theoretical significance. This gives them self-importance and confidence that they are doing what once might have been called God’s work. Triviality is thus reconciled with transcendence. They are part of the movement of History with a capital H, whose right side they both define and bring forward by their actions. – Theodore Dalrypmple

The eagle is sharp-eyed while the adherent of Woke ideology has cataracts. When the house crumbles to dust because of the action of the termites, it is not because they desired such a denouement: it was, rather, a natural consequence of their conduct. The destruction wrought by the adherents of Woke ideology is a good deal more deliberate. Theodore Dalrypmple

I have been proud to be part of the New Zealand health sector. When I started in GP I didn’t feel the need to have private health insurance. The health system, while it had its limitations, generally worked well. I would do everything I could to manage the patient in the community and when I needed help I could refer the patient on and they would be seen. I was so proud of the initial government response to Covid, one that prioritised public safety, that I applied for citizenship.

How things have changed. The health system is fundamentally broken and I can’t see how it is going to be fixed. Patients who need to be managed in secondary care aren’t, instead being pushed back into primary care. Patients going to Emergency are not getting the imaging they require on presentation; they are given pain relief and told to see their GP in the morning and get referred for an ultrasound. The patient then needs to pay to see me (and I usually have to double-book them to see them promptly). Unless they are one of the chosen few eligible for community-funded radiology that ultrasound will cost them $280 and will require a four week wait.

Good medical practice prioritises early intervention for children with developmental delays. The Child Development Service, which does the majority of assessments for autism, global developmental delay and other conditions, has a waitlist of over 12 months. Even if a family has the resources to go private, I have no one to refer to. – Dr Corinne Glenn

Every consult becomes more and more complex as patients get sicker waiting for care. Patients have to wait longer for an appointment so by the time they come there are multiple issues to deal with. Follow-up is hard as patients struggle to pay for repeat appointments. We don’t have the medications that are bog-standard in other parts of the world. We have only recently funded some diabetes medications (empagliflozin and dulaglutide) that are second line treatments elsewhere. The special authority criteria are so strict there are many who can’t access them.

Please don’t mention mental health. Again, I am really confident managing a range of mental health conditions. However good mental health management requires a team. Access to counsellors, and sometimes a psychiatrist. There is no one I can refer to. Funded counselling is very scarce and limited to the most needy. Most people can’t afford to pay $160-170 an hour to see a psychologist and even if they can, I can’t find one with open books. If I have a patient in crisis in my rooms and I need to call the Crisis Team, I wait on hold for 30-40 minutes. The patient has normally left the room by then and my other patients are left waiting.

No new antidepressants have been funded for years. GPs are often accused of jumping straight to medication – but often it is the only affordable option I have to offer patients.Dr Corinne Glenn

So much of my time is spent battling to get patients the care they need. As soon as a patient comes in I am desperately looking at their demographic: do they have a community services card? What quintile is their address in? If they don’t have a community services card and live in a quintile 3 street I have no chance of getting them counselling or imaging that they don’t have to pay for (and usually can’t).

I used to be able to have some friendly banter with my practice team during the day. Now I sit in my room through breaks, trying to catch up on the neverending mounds of paperwork. ACC requests for information. Ministry of Social Development disability forms. Letters for Kainga Ora for a place without stairs for my patient with severe arthritis. I work most evenings and for two hours on a Sunday. One Friday evening at 5.30 I logged out of the patient management system. By Saturday afternoon when I logged back in I had 105 inbox documents waiting to be checked. Dinner table conversation is taken up with stories of patients I can’t help. Sometimes I can share a win, however those are getting fewer by the week. – Dr Corinne Glenn

Some days I am filled with rage at the injustice of it all. Some days I am just tired and sad. I am proud of the work that I do, but I am no longer proud of the system I work in.

I have sold my house and put in my notice. I fly back to Australia on Boxing Day. I have a new job lined up – it really wasn’t hard to find one. GPs are just as scarce as they are here. The Australian system is different. It has its pros and cons. All I know is that I can’t stay here.

The New Zealand health system is broken, and it has broken me.Dr Corinne Glenn

We’re told that the fundamental problem is poverty. Well guess what? The only sure path out of poverty begins with education. Lotto isn’t going to do it, and nor is social welfare.

I understand that some of us ordinary folk might have difficulty with the extraordinarily complex idea (not!) of taking kids out of a toxic environment and giving them a chance to learn skills and develop attitudes that will change their lives for the better. The media, though, has no excuse.

Whatever one thinks of National’s “boot camp” proposal for recidivist young offenders — my view is that it offers a promising start, but is only one ingredient of a proper solution — it is surely worth discussing, and considering, without the hysterics displayed by many. – Peter Jackson

For a start, who says taking kids who are well on the way to becoming career criminals out of the environment that has damaged them so and putting them where, for the first time in their lives, they have the chance to fulfil their potential is punitive? Have I missed something here?

As I read it, these “boot camps” (a derogatory term that is designed to disparage the policy before it even gets off the ground) will have nothing to do with punishment. If you’re going to bandy about words like brutal and punitive, then obviously you know something I don’t. Peter Jackson

Sixty per cent of kids aren’t attending school regularly. The Government’s less than lofty goal is to reduce that to 30 per cent over the next couple of years. And you don’t have to be an expert to understand how kids who are under-educated are likely to fare as adults.

We’re told that the fundamental problem is poverty. Well guess what? The only sure path out of poverty begins with education.

Lotto isn’t going to do it, and nor is social welfare. There is no reason, apart from poor parenting and misguided politicians, why every child in this country shouldn’t have a shot at succeeding, in whatever it is that they want to do. And for some, National’s proposal will be a godsend. – Peter Jackson

I do have a proviso. There seems to be little point in giving young people a glimpse of what the world could offer them, if, at the end of the programme, they are sent back to the same dysfunctional families that they came from. While the kids are away, their families will need to be “rehabilitated”. It is totally unrealistic to expect a young teenager to come home, with a whole new outlook on life, not to be dragged back down by drug and alcohol abuse, violence, dishonesty and whatever else made them the way they were in the first place.

We also need to restore education to the pedestal it should be sitting on. All you need to know about where we’ve gone wrong is encapsulated in the current drive to make school so interesting and exciting that kids will want to be there. Do sane, rational people actually believe this stuff?

There is a reason why primary and secondary schooling are called compulsory education. It is compulsory, and parents who don’t send their kids to school are breaking the law. More to the point, they are likely sentencing their children to lives of misery. – Peter Jackson

Is it possible that we’ll see the defeat of the Russian Army and the collapse of the Chinese Communist Party in the same year? Authoritarians can only squeeze their people so far, and liberal democracy, for all its greedy bankers and silly pronouns, still has the moral upper hand. Yet one feels impotent in the face of such evil.Tim Stanley

Foreign tyrants are leviathans with feet of clay, and our own government should not limit our liberties in order to supposedly protect us against them. – Pierre Lemieux

If we exclude possible wars, there is only one reason why residents of a free, or more or less free, country should feel economically threatened by a foreign authoritarian state. It is that the subjects of the latter will have limited opportunities to trade, both among themselves and internationally, and will thus be poorer. And it is more beneficial to have trading partners, either as suppliers or customers, who are richer than poorer.Pierre Lemieux

It is true that leviathans like the Russian, Chinese, or North Korean states finance themselves out of the total production of all their subjects. Especially with nuclear weapons, they represent a security risk for other individuals in the world; I think that they would even be dangerously to an anarchic society if such a society ever exists. But trying to become like “them” in order to protect us against them provides only an illusion of security.

Protectionism is one big step in this fool’s errand, at least when an actual war is not raging. – Pierre Lemieux

Terrorist charges need to be used for terrorist activity, not regulating material that has nothing to do with terrorism. Watering down such a significant term runs the risk of seeing Kiwis legally branded ‘terrorists’ without ever performing any terrorist act, or even accessing material which promotes terrorism. 

The act of terrorism comes with appropriately harsh penalties. By extending terrorism related charges to individuals who possess certain ‘objectionable material’, these significant penalties may be placed on those who have simply accessed censored material, despite it being unrelated to terrorism.

Legislation already allows for individuals in possession of material which advocates or inspires terrorism to be charged under terrorism laws. Extending this further to material that is entirely unrelated to terrorism is a law ripe for abuse.

New Zealand already has a strict censorship regime. It’s not hard to imagine the incredible harm which could occur to speech rights and other liberties if this amendment was used as a precedent to justify the prohibition of other material under terrorism legislation. –  Jonathan Ayling


Quotes of the month

02/05/2022

Personally, I believe you don’t need two systems to deliver public services, you need a single system that has enough innovation to target for people on the basis of need. – Christopher Luxon

None of the demands of the new left stray from the culture into the material, they are all about flags, statues, word changes, date changes, forced declarations and compelled pronoun announcements, all shielding privilege in virtue. The new green movement’s aim to consolidate international power to control energy production doesn’t seem at all suspicious to the new lefties, I can tell you the old left would have had some bells going off. Edie Wyatt

This agenda to create an elite New Zealand ethnic group is racist, its undemocratic, its destructive, it has no mandate from the people and its directly opposed to the true and communicated intent of Treaty, so to stand against it is a 100% morally defendable position, so stand and do whatever you can, no matter how little. – John Franklin

I was not much surprised after the continual fanatical research by the Thought Police, to read that the Declaration of Independence being displayed at the National Archives in Washington has now attracted a ‘trigger warning’ on one of the original copies. How could we even hope that those resounding words: ‘ We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’  would be acceptable in these days of endless virtuous Thought Correction. Valerie Davies

Liberal thinking, modern concepts of liberty, equality, and diversity, whether in terms of race or gender, were not common in previous ages, so most of the great classics, though they often helped to push the boundaries of thought in all these things, are doomed, I fear.

Literature, described by one writer, as the ‘logbook of the human race,’ will struggle to exist if the woke mobs have their say – and history and theories that enlighten and educate and shift our thought processes, and initiate new paradigms. The creativity of uncensored minds is what leads  civilisation and lifts it to greater heights..

Power corrupts, and the power of virtue signallers of all colours seems to have brought about the disgrace and cancelling of numerous forward looking thinkers, of established and reputable writers like JK Rowling, and even of ordinary people who posses the common sense to see things in  perspective and the courage to speak out, and who lose their jobs and reputations as a result of this persecution. – Valerie Davies

Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of this sort of censorship is the way employees of publishers now seem to hold the upper hand, and refuse to work if they don’t like the content of a book, so that publishers and writers are intimidated. They have become fearful of publishing or writing any book which doesn’t conform to the guidelines of the new groups who demand that we all think like they do.  Valerie Davies

Not only does this sort of policing of our minds and thoughts have terrible similarities both with the Nazi era, and the unforgivable brain washing of the Russian population during this latest unspeakable war, but it also limits the creativity and diversity of thought by which a society itself expands its perceptions, and explores the further reaches of thought and creativity, and the possibilities of the human spirit.

It’s called gaslighting when a person undermines the feelings of another person, making them feel that their feelings have no validity and don’t matter. What is happening to our history, to our literature, to our culture, is another form of gaslighting, which can also be described as bullying. – Valerie Davies

I wish it was different, I wish we had a better leadership, I wish we had more hope and more optimism, and I wish we had people running this place that were just a little bit in touch with the real world.Mike Hosking

One of the criticisms this government faces — and has faced often — is that there is little substance to their policies and at times, little rationale for their decision-making.

There is certainly very little transparency in terms of what’s shaping their thinking, what the intended outcome is, and why they’ve have taken the position they have.  – Rachel Smalley

Forcing local councils into toothless submission via far-reaching national policy directives and rushed legislative change is becoming a familiar refrain. Mike Yardley

Language is central in the culture wars and if you invalidate the words that enable people to articulate their concerns, you strip them of an essential weapon. By characterising users of terms such as “woke” and “political correctness” as alarmist, out of touch and jumping at their own shadows, the neo-Marxist Left seeks to minimise the implications of its radical agenda. The perception that New Zealand democracy is being systematically dismantled as part of a grand ideological project can then be presented as a figment of fevered right-wing imaginations.

Conservative New Zealanders tend to be reticent at the best of times, and are even more likely to keep their views to themselves if they fear being ridiculed for using the wrong words.  – Karl du Fresne

The lesson that arises, which is of acute relevance to the co-governance debate, is that reasonable public consideration of important issues will not take place if it is constrained by a framework constructed by politicians. All that ensures is that the outcome of any such consultation is shaped and ultimately decided according to the partisan political lines dominant at the time.Peter Dunne

The job of the fourth estate is not to take a position and tell anyone what to believe; it is to ask questions and report the answers, and investigate as far as possible and report evidence that may show whether those answers are truthful and comprehensive.

In other words, journalists are not endowed with special powers of insight by dint of their profession – though some may be uncommonly perceptive – and they should not be expected to take either a particularly antagonistic or obsequious stance in order to be seen to be doing their job well. – Andrew Barnes

When people feel afraid, when downtowns are no-go zones when police aren’t there to be seen when Kāinga Ora evicts no one despite the threats to blow you up or burn your house down when you curtail your lifestyle because of fear, and perhaps worst of all when your Government fails to accept any of it is true, just how long can you go rejecting the premise of the question before you are rejecting it from the opposition benches? Mike Hosking

For the record, I was a lousy public servant. Truly. I was the worst of the worst. I was eternally frustrated by the glacial pace of progress, the bureaucracy, the obsession with tiers and titles, a sector-wide fear of ministers, the Wellington-centric view of New Zealand, and the level of waste. – Rachel Smalley

This week, I wondered if the Government had learned anything from KiwiBuild.

Some of its decision-making continues to feel hasty, off-the-cuff, and lacking in strategy and substance. Remember the public sector pay-freeze in the middle of a pandemic? The policy around hate speech that neither Kris Faafoi nor Jacinda Ardern could articulate? The bungled border decisions that left Kiwis stranded overseas? And the little-scrutinised major health reforms announced almost a year ago. – Rachel Smalley

The July deadline is fast approaching and the CEOs of the country’s 20 DHBs have limited insight into what August will look like. In fact, Health NZ is yet to confirm an operating model.

It feels like KiwiBuild all over again. Health NZ began with a big announcement, but there is little substance behind it. The Ministry of Housing & Urban Development couldn’t wait to offload KiwiBuild to Kāinga Ora to manage, and Bloomfield may have timed his exit to avoid having to deal with the inevitable Health NZ mess.

The origins of major reform may lie with ideology, but they must be built on strategy and ‘real world’ thinking. – Rachel Smalley

At universities there has been a strong trend towards what is called “no platforming”, a concept that argues “platforms” shouldn’t be provided for harmful or wrong ideas and debates. It’s essentially the concept of “banning” bad ideas from being available. This concept has led to several speakers and ideas being kept off New Zealand campuses. Not only that, but it has also sent a strong message to academics about the possibility of being “called out” or marginalised if they don’t conform to orthodox views. – Bryce Edwards

In a sense, the left has swung from one extreme in the 20th century, when everything was about economics and class (and important issues around gender and ethnicity were not given their due focus) to one where the focus is much more on culturalist and identity politics. – Bryce Edwards

The modern version of the left – or the “liberal left” – has different ways of pursuing political change. Largely it’s an elite, top-down model of politics, reflective of the left being made up of the highly educated stratum of society. They confidently believe that they know best.

This elite leftwing approach is very compatible with a more censorious approach to politics and that partly explains the authoritarian impulses we are seeing today. – Bryce Edwards

The rise of “culture wars” has been incredibly important for shaping the political atmosphere we are currently in. Rather than debate and discussion, or finding a middle ground, it’s more polarising – with both conservatives and liberals focusing more on personalities. For example, from the left we see widespread labelling of opponents as racists or sexists. There is now a sneering tendency on the left – especially at those who are seen as socially backward.Bryce Edwards

One logical consequence for many on the left is to take an approach of “language policing” and concern for “cultural etiquette”, in an almost Victorian way. Again, this is topsy-turvy – it used to be the conservative or rightwing side of politics that was concerned with policing people’s behaviour, and looking down on the less educated and enlightened.

The contemporary left has a mistrust in the ability of society to make the right decisions or to understand the world. In an elitist way, many on the progressive side of politics view the public as being ignorant or lacking enlightenment. Hence, the view of gender or ethnic inequality or oppression is often understood as something to do with personal behaviour and “bad ideas” (racism, sexism, homophobia) – rather than a fundamental part of how our society is structured. – Bryce Edwards

I think what people would say about me is that I play politics like I played sport.

I mean when I got the ball in rugby, I ran it up the guts. That’s the truth. Because for me if you want to achieve something you look at the best route possible and for me it has always been from A to B. – Louisa Wall

The natural consequence of an ideology that holds the group, not the individual, as the standard of value, is complete disregard for the rights of individuals. If what really matters is the Russian state, who cares if some Ukrainian civilians are sacrificed for that ideal? This sounds callous and brutish to Western ears, precisely because Western culture places great importance on the value of the individual’s life. When that standard of value is lost—when the state or the group replaces it—the door is opened to unthinkable depths of inhumanity. – Thomas Walker-Werth

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in an address to the Russian people that he does not believe the invasion is being perpetrated in their name, echoing the view expressed by many that Putin is acting against the values of Russian people. However, although Putin is clearly a madman, his actions are enabled by a philosophy that has as thoroughly permeated Russia today as it had Germany in the 1930s. This truth is borne out in the reaction of many Russian people to the invasion of Ukraine: According to independent polling agencies cited by Forbes.com and other Western sources, Putin’s approval ratings have increased sharply since the war began.14 Many Russian people accept the government’s “justification” for the invasion.15 There are some valiant individuals who resist, and they deserve enormous credit, as do those Russian soldiers who defect or refuse to obey orders to murder civilians. But they are a small minority.

What is happening now in Ukraine is a kind of barbarism many in the West thought was consigned to history. But the collectivism that led to the murder and brutalization of millions upon millions of people in Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s USSR, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and numerous other collectivist tyrannies during the 20th century, is still alive and capable of inflicting gruesome harm on millions of innocent people.

The only antidote to collectivism is a principled defense of the very ideas Putin opposes: individualism and individual rights. That is what was missing in 1930s Germany, and that is what is missing in Russia and many other countries today. Nationalist parties inspired by Dugin have made significant electoral gains in relatively free European countries such as France and Germany.16 Collectivist ideology even underpins policies of both major American political parties. It will lead to ever more human suffering—until and unless people come to understand and embrace individualism and individual rights. – Thomas Walker-Werth

Even Dr Bloomfield appears reluctant to join the Prime Minister on stage for a repeat of their hit 2020 performances.

Back then it seemed to matter. Now it has the ring of a Culture Club farewell tour playing to shambolic dive bars while still dreaming of the packed stadiums of yesteryear. – Damien Grant

This administration has the feeling of a dead-man-walking. New Zealand has tuned out. Money, interest and attention has now turned towards Messrs Luxon and Seymour, as there is now a sense of inevitability about a change of government.

Here is my take: Outside of Covid, this administration has a terrible record. Inequality, if you care about that metric, has deteriorated. The only way a working family can now obtain a house is through inheritance. We are toiling longer, with unemployment having fallen, but the wages being earned are worth less thanks to inflation.

Few things better define the Ardern government than the Auckland Harbour cycle path. Announced with great fanfare then quietly forgotten. KiwiBuild, the Provincial Growth Fund, transparency, mental health funding and even the entire Well-Being budget framework have all fallen over. – Damien Grant

The poor now struggle to get credit, thanks to changes to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act. The poor now have to pay more for their petrol cars, thanks to the tax on dirty petrol cars. The poor now struggle to cover the cost of groceries as prices rise faster than wages, thanks in part to changes to the mandate of the Reserve Bank away from a single focus on inflation.

Other than increasing benefits at nearly the rate of inflation, the Ardern Government has achieved close to nothing outside of Covid, and in many key areas the welfare of Kiwis has fallen. – Damien Grant

Not all of this is Ardern’s fault. Her agenda was derailed by the pandemic and the paucity of competence within her caucus from which to draw talent. There are only so many portfolios you can force onto Chris Hipkins before he loses focus and begins to bait pregnant journalists trapped in Kabul.

There are still a few big projects on the books. The Fair Pay Agreements and unemployment insurance may become law by the next election, but if the past performance is any guide these reforms will not be well-designed and be implemented badly. – Damien Grant

Never, in the history of the world, have we lived in more generally inclusive and accepting societies than those that make up the West nowadays. That is not to say things are perfect and we should consider the job of promoting equality and fairness done. However, it seems the further we have progressed, the more ardently some quarters of our society declare evil to be found everywhere.

Instead of ‘reds under the bed’, these zealots find racists in the pantry, homophobes in between the couch cushions, transphobes in the bedside drawer, and misogynists under the rug. Again, I am not disputing that there are still the odd ‘phobes’ or bigots lurking unwanted, but the insistence that there is an epidemic of these uncouth kinds of folk runs the risk of manifesting them into existence. – Ani O’Brien

Much of New Zealand lives in incredibly multicultural communities – Wellington to a lesser extent and maybe that’s why bureaucrats are some of the worst offenders when it comes to imagining racists.

We, of all backgrounds, attend kindy together, then school. We are friends, neighbours, lovers, life partners, parents, family, and whanau. We cheer for the same sports teams, despair at the same petrol prices, and often share aspects of the same Kiwi sense of humour.

But despite our integrated, though at times flawed, society there are those who will have you believe that every white New Zealander harbours hatred towards New Zealanders of other ethnic backgrounds and especially Māori.Ani O’Brien

The reductive view these privileged theorists take paints the poorest, drug-addled beggar on the street as the oppressor of a successful and wealthy businessperson if only the beggar is white and the businessperson is not.Their concept of racial privilege is so lacking in nuance that a kid who has his shoes and raincoat supplied by a charity and is fed at school will be taught by his teacher that he is privileged over some of his more fortunate classmates because he is white and they are not.

This constant placing of people in diametrically opposite camps based on race is a recipe not for improved cohesion and furthering equality. It is a sure way to increase divisiveness and create distrust and animosity between groups of people.

When already marginalised people are told constantly that they are “bad” because of the colour of their skin, or that people like them need to “sit down and shut up”, and that they have less claim to their country of birth than the bloke next door, they begin to see themselves as outsiders.

And, when the criteria for being a ‘racist’ or a ‘white supremacist’ is so diluted that accusations are flung about as frequently and as flippantly as they currently are, the accused begin to be a larger and larger group. – Ani O’Brien

In this context, a white identity group is being formed not by those it is being imposed on, but by the mostly white, educated, ‘liberals’ who somehow exclude themselves from the characterisations they make about other white people as entitled, greedy, mean, ignorant, privileged, and, of course, racist.

White identity is being manifested by those who most decry it.

People who have always been more invested in a ‘Kiwi Identity’ untethered to race, now find themselves being repeatedly told that they cannot understand their fellow countrymen and women because they are racially different. People who have heartily taken part in the haka and sung Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi at the top of their lungs are now self-conscious and reluctant to attempt te Reo Māori for fear of being accused of appropriation or disrespect. – Ani O’Brien

White New Zealanders are being told “you stay over there in your lane”, while Māori are told “look at those guys over there – they’re racist and hate you”, and New Zealanders of all other races and ethnicities wonder ‘where do we fit into this dysfunctional situation?’

Division is being driven from the top. Government agencies, academia, media, and our education system are all complicit in dreaming into reality a toxic ‘white identity’ that imposes the very worst of fringe extremism on a population that still makes up the majority of New Zealanders. – Ani O’Brien

There is a glorification of making white New Zealanders uncomfortable as if that in itself is an acceptable and entertaining pastime by those at the top. It is inevitably white people with more institutional and economic power sneering at white people with much less than them. One should, in my opinion, rightly be made uncomfortable if they are racist, but often the shaming that happens is gratuitous and not in the pursuit of bringing an end to genuine racism.

Likewise, it seems to be a small group of wealthy, highly educated Māori who are driving the culture war from their end. Your average Māori, just like your average white New Zealander, is uninterested in ‘intersectional politics’ and reckons everyone should just get a fair go regardless of race. They certainly do not profit from the divisiveness like those who get air time and academic papers out of it. 

It is unlikely that the behaviours driving the manifestation of white identity are going to change anytime soon. The establishment white ‘liberals’ are too drunk on the power of denigrating ‘lower’ white people and promoting their own exceptionalism. They will continue to drive wedges between communities that otherwise live pretty harmoniously.

As with much of the antagonism in the culture wars, the accusation of racism is largely a weapon wielded by the powerful and fortunate against those who they see as the great unwashed and uneducated masses. They cancel others with relative power in order to retain control of the narrative and prevent the empowerment of the majority. Cancellations are punishments for deviating from the dominant discourse, but they are also warnings; ritualistic public shamings intended to make anyone who would be inclined to challenge norms, think twice.

There are ultimately more of us who wish to live peacefully in our multicultural country than those who want to pit us against each other. We can choose not to be afraid of the tactics used to make us comply. We can refuse to allow the toxic ‘White Identity’, they are attempting to manifest, to take hold. We should celebrate our shared values and manifest instead a Kiwi Identity that we can all be proud of.Ani O’Brien

When I heard Ukraine’s President Zelensky arguing for a fundamental overhaul of the United Nations, and especially of the Security Council, I recalled our greatest New Zealand Prime Minister and World War Two leader, Peter Fraser. He envisaged just the sort of issue we face today with Russia’s war on Ukraine. Old Peter, a wily, highly intelligent Scotsman, was one of the world’s few prime ministers to attend the San Francisco conference in 1945 that set up the rules for a postwar body to monitor the peace. With support from nearly all the smaller countries represented at the conference, Fraser objected strenuously to the great power veto that enabled any of the five victorious powers – the US, Britain, France, Russia and China – to block any substantive move the Security Council might want to take in the event of a breach of the UN Charter, even if all other countries favoured action. Peter Fraser pointed out that by allowing a veto, one of the five might behave as it pleased, and then act as judge and jury in its own cause. He was right. That’s exactly what has happened several times since 1945. The US has done it and Russia much more often. The veto is why today the United Nations is such a toothless tiger. It is unable to protect Ukraine, one of its member states, from the ruthless onslaught from neighboring Russia. The recent motion to condemn Russia passed the Security Council with a significant majority. Several Security Council members abstained from voting or absented themselves, but Russia exercised its veto, thereby preventing what should have resulted in international punishment, with Russia having to pay reparations for the damage it has done. – Michael Bassett

Wise heads are needed to work out some way of dealing with nuclear blackmail. Over Cuba in 1962 the United States stared Russia down and Nikita Khruschev blinked rather than take responsibility for blowing up the world. This time the US couldn’t be sufficiently sure that Putin wouldn’t push the nuclear button and blow everything up. The problem with high level threats is that one has to presume that both the offenders and the victims are capable of making rational decisions. With modern Russia, this has always been in doubt. Putin has never produced any rational explanation for the invasion he kept denying he intended, and then suddenly launched. There is considerable speculation that after 22 years in office he’s been removed from reality for too long. In his search for some kind of legitimacy for the corruption and looting that he and his oligarch mates have undertaken within Russia he’s become obsessed with Russian Orthodox Christianity which so far has placed a firm stamp of approval on his years in office. Put simply, he seems to have lost it, and to be beyond reason.

If this is so, it raises a further issue that Peter Fraser and the founders of the United Nations hoped they wouldn’t face again once that Adolf Hitler was dead: how to deal with a madman possessed of the wherewithal to blow up the world. In the meantime, a concerted effort to reform the Security Council and remove the veto powers has become urgent. President Zelensky is right. Michael Bassett

To call a belief a myth is usually to denigrate it, though there are beneficial myths as there are noble lies. There’s no doubt that myths can be harmful, however, for they can, and often do, obstruct critical thought.

In Britain, the mythology of the National Health Service (NHS), which now manages to combine the baleful characteristics of Stalinist administration with pork barrel politics, has obstructed necessary reform for decades. Because of the mythology, the NHS is the nearest to a religion that the country comes, according to Nigel Lawson, the second-most powerful British politician during Margaret Thatcher’s premiership. Even the Iron Lady feared to reform it fundamentally. It was much more difficult for her than confronting the Soviet Union. – Theodore Dalrymple

It’s therefore difficult to know how representative of the whole any scandal is. But the institution is coated in a kind of Teflon, to which no scandal can stick.

And yet everyone knows that it’s better to be ill in almost any European country than in Britain. The outcomes of various diseases—heart attacks or cancer, for example—are worse in Britain than elsewhere. When the NHS was established, in 1948, British life expectancy was six years higher than France’s. Now it’s two or three years lower. Life expectancy is not determined by health care alone, of course, but the government report that led to the establishment of the NHS stated that health care in Britain was superior to that in most of the rest of Europe. No one would claim that any longer.  – Theodore Dalrymple

I had never heard of a colour-coordinated library. I stood looking at her in total disbelief. After about 20 seconds of stunned silence I managed to blurt out, “Well, my books have to be read! I will not sell any of my books just to be put in a fake library and forgotten. You can’t buy any of these books!” – Ruth Shaw

When I hold one of my mother’s books I remember her; I touch the same page she touched, I read the same words she read. Books collected over many years become part of the family. They have been loved, read and re-read, and have often travelled around the world. They live in silence for years in a family home bearing witness to many special occasions, bringing the reader joy and sometimes tears.Ruth Shaw

This underlines a striking trend in recent years for the mainstream media in New Zealand to align themselves consciously and deliberately with causes that they must know alienate a large proportion of their readers, viewers and listeners. Call it slow-motion suicide.

The bigger picture is that the media have abandoned their traditional role of trying to reflect the society they purport to serve in favour of advocating on behalf of divisive and often extremist minority causes. By doing so they create a perception of New Zealand not as a cohesive, stable society made up of diverse groups with vital interests in common, but as one characterised by aggrieved minorities whose interests are fundamentally incompatible with those of a callously indifferent (or worse, deliberately oppressive) majority.

Media outlets that once tried conscientiously to provide a platform for a range of opinions and ideologies now unashamedly attack, or just as insidiously ignore, views and beliefs that run counter to the narrative favoured by the leftist cabal that controls the institutions of power. The most obvious example is the collective undertaking by major media organisations to ignore any opinion, including those of distinguished scientists, that runs counter to the “approved” narrative on climate change or the effectiveness of policies intended to ameliorate it.

Such flagrant suppression of news would have been unthinkable not long ago. Now it’s official editorial policy.- Karl du Fresne

As an occupational group, journalists have long tended to lean to the left. Earlier generations of reporters countered this by restraining their natural impulses, knowing that media credibility hinged on public confidence that events and issues would be covered fairly, accurately and impartially. That professional discipline is long gone, along with the moderating influence exercised by editors who insisted on the now highly unfashionable principle of objectivity.

We are bombarded daily with politically slanted content masquerading as trustworthy and authoritative reportage. A recent example was an episode of the New Zealand Herald’s newly launched podcast The Front Page (which claims to “go behind the headlines” and ask “hard-hitting questions”), in which Herald journalists Damien Venuto and Georgina Campbell purported to examine the Three Waters project without once mentioning its most contentious feature – namely, the proposal for 50/50 co-governance with iwi.

“High-quality, trusted” coverage as promised by Herald managing editor Shayne Currie? It’s time to revive the Tui billboards, surely. – Karl du Fresne

The war immediately combined the personal and public. And this is probably the fatal mistake of the tyrant who attacked us. We are all Ukrainians first, and then everything else. He wanted to divide us, to shatter us, to provoke internal confrontation, but it is impossible to do this with Ukrainians. When one of us is tortured, raped, or killed, we feel that we all are being tortured, raped, or killed. We do not need propaganda to feel civic consciousness, and to resist. It is this personal anger and pain, which we all feel, that instantly activates the thirst to act, to resist aggression, to defend our freedom. Everyone does this the way they can: Soldiers with weapons in their hands, teachers by continuing to teach, doctors by conducting complex surgeries under attacks. All have become volunteers—artists, restaurateurs, hairdressers—as barbarians try to take over our country. I’ve seen this raise the deepest patriotic feelings in our children. Not only my children, but all the children of Ukraine. They will grow up to be patriots and defenders of their homeland.Olena Zelenska

Blocked, destroyed Mariupol is our terrible pain. That continues. And the Kyiv region has become horrible—that’s what we’ve seen as the Russian army has retreated. The world has learned the name Bucha. This is one of the once-beautiful towns near the capital—but the same horrors can be seen in dozens of villages and towns in Kyiv region. People killed on the street. Not military—civilians! Graves near playgrounds. I can’t even describe it. It makes me speechless. But it is necessary to look at it.

I hope we are not the only ones who see the message Russia is sending. This message is not only addressed to us. This is their message to the world! This could be what happens to any country that Russia does not like. – Olena Zelenska

The democratic world must be united and give a tough response, thus showing that in the twenty-first century there is no place for killing civilians and encroaching on foreign territory.Olena Zelenska

The main thing is not to get used to the war—not to turn it into statistics. Continue going to protests, continue to demand that your governments take action. Ukrainians are the same as you, but just over a month ago, our lives changed radically. Ukrainians did not want to leave their homes. But so often they did not have homes left. – Olena Zelenska

My family—just like every Ukrainian—and my compatriots: incredible people who organized to help the army and help each other. Now all Ukrainians are the army. Everyone does what they can. There are stories about grandmothers who bake bread for the army just because they feel this call. They want to bring victory closer.

That is what Ukrainians are like. We all hope for them. We hope for ourselves. – Olena Zelenska

Change in linguistic usage is normal, and it can either add to or detract from language’s expressive power. It’s much more likely to be sinister when it’s directed by some organization acting in an official or public capacity than when it arises spontaneously from the population at large.

Directed change in linguistic usage is usually done in pursuit of some practical or ideological end, acknowledged or unacknowledged—or both. – Theodore Dalrymple

Why is there this drive to exculpate people totally from their own situation, if that situation is in some way undesirable or worse?

First, there’s the desire for power by those who see their fellow beings as pure victims, that is to say, as inanimate objects acted upon but not acting. But I don’t think that this is the whole explanation.

Another part of the explanation is the debased secularization of Christian ethics. Christian ethics enjoin us to forgive our enemies, to love others as oneself, and to be charitable toward the unfortunate. But the secularized version of these ethics omits one important aspect, namely that we’re all sinners in need of mercy. In the secularized version of Christian ethics, there’s no notion of sin, at least not in victims: Only perpetrators, such as commercial interests and governments, can sin in the new revised version.Theodore Dalrymple

In the older view, a Christian could—and, in fact, should—recognize the sinfulness of every person, including the very fat, but at the same time attempt to be compassionate toward him. For essentially he, the Christian, was in the same boat, if not necessarily with regard to the same sin—but he was a sinner of some kind or another.

Again, it isn’t the case that Christians always practiced what they preached or should have preached. Far from it: They can be as censorious, cruel, punitive, and sadistic as anyone else. But at least, in theory, their belief or doctrine allows them the possibility of recognizing both a person’s sinful part in bringing about his own bad situation and being compassionate toward him. – Theodore Dalrymple

 It wants to be compassionate toward those who suffer. But because it hangs on to Christian ethics with the concept of sin removed, that turns almost everyone, including the readers of this, into inanimate objects, with all the potential for a totalitarian dictatorship and abuse that such a worldview inevitably implies.Theodore Dalrymple

Why do we feature car or motorbike racing as though it is sensible to drive very fast to nowhere in particular, or simply round and round to get back to where we started? – Jacqueline Rowarth

Those of us who want our science free of ideology can only stand by helplessly as we watch physics, chemistry, and biology crumble from within as the termites of Wokeism nibble away. I once thought that scientists, whom I presumed would be less concerned than humanities professors with ideological pollution (after all, we do have some objective facts to argue about), would be largely immune to Wokeism.

I was wrong, of course. It turns out that scientists are human beings after all, and with that goes the desire for the approbation of one’s peers and of society.  And you don’t get that if you’re deemed a racist. You can even be criticized from holding yourself away from the fray, preferring to do science than engage in social engineering. (Remember, Kendi-an doctrine says that if you’re not an actively working anti-racist, you’re a racist.)Jerry Coyne

And everybody knows, though few dare to say it, that what’s happening is the erosion of the meritocratic aspects of science, replacing them with standards of social justice determined by a small group of “progressive” people on the Left. Further, the less that merit is considered and used as a fundamental tenet of science, the slower science will progress. But I suppose the proponents of injecting Wokeism into science would say “merit is an outdated criterion; what we really need is equity.” Perhaps, but the effort is all directed at calling present science riddled with “structural racism.” And that’s not true. – Jerry Coyne

Incitement to psychological fragility is one of the most important enemies of freedom today, especially where the taking of offence requires no justification and confers certain moral rights automatically, including those of censorship, upon the offended. Anyone who does not compassionate the offended compounds the supposed reason for his or her having taken offence in the first place. Moreover, taking offence is the highest proof of that most sterling of all human characteristics, vulnerability. Only the insensitive and hard-hearted lack vulnerability.

To increase people’s vulnerability is thus to improve their character. As it happens, it also creates job opportunities, for example those of so-called sensitivity readers, those youngish women, educated in the humanities, who read books for publishers in order to pre-empt any offence that readers might take. Without people primed and ready to take offence, where would they be?

Of course, only certain types or categories of people must be protected from offence; others may be offended with impunity, indeed it is a duty and a pleasure to do so.- Anthony Daniels 

The more people are protected from that against which they might take offence, the more hypersensitive and easily offended they become, so the more protection they need. Sensitivity reading is a job for life.

It is therefore important to seize all possible occasions to emphasise the fragility of the human psyche.  – Anthony Daniels 

Now I am myself somewhat prudish by nature, especially in the matter of bad language. I think it should be kept in reserve and brought out only on very important or special occasions. If used all the time, it has no real impact and is inexpressive. English is rather impoverished when it comes to bad language and so, apart from being bad in the moral sense, it is bad in point of monotony and uninventiveness. I am told that by comparison Hungarian, for example, is rich in expletives and the like, and it is possible to swear and insult in Hungarian for minutes on end without repetition.Anthony Daniels 

I regret very much the resort to bad language in Anglophone life. In England, the rapid increase in its daily use is almost exactly datable, back to the time when the highly superior theatre critic Kenneth Tynan first pronounced a certain word on BBC television, thinking thereby that he was liberating his fellow-countrymen from the terrible chains of respectability. It is sometimes claimed that the Irish writer Brendan Behan had used it before him, but he was so drunk at the time, and his speech so slurred and incoherent, that nobody could quite catch what he said.

Less than fifty years later, it was more or less compulsory for anyone who wanted to be taken seriously to use the word constantly. – Anthony Daniels 

Warnings that assume that we are a population of histrionic or hysterical personality disorders are common these days. Anthony Daniels 

At whom, then, was the warning aimed? Perhaps this is the wrong question: it should be, “What was the purpose of the warning?”

I think it was to instil in the population the idea that there are large numbers of delicate people—adults—in our society who need protection the way that minors were once thought to be in need of protection, because they are psychologically so sensitive, fragile and vulnerable. This in turn necessitates a great army of sensitivity readers and the like to prevent distress, and counsellors, psychologists and so forth to cure it after it has occurred. At the same time as our culture is unprecedentedly vulgar, crude and violent, we must protect people from representations of vulgarity, crudity and violence. In the words of the old Flanders and Swann song, “It all makes work for the working man to do.” But we have progressed somewhat since their benighted time: it makes work for the working woman too. – Anthony Daniels 

As I’ve always said, I don’t mind using whatever pronouns someone wants to be known by, but the buck stops for me when transgender women are considered as full biological women—and by that I mean women who produce (or have the potential to produce) large and immobile gametes. It’s not the word “woman” I object to; it’s the implicit conflation of biological women with transsexual women in every possible way: the equation of biological women with biological males who consider their gender to be female and may or may not take action to change their bodies. (I don’t care if they “transition” physically or not; I’ll be glad to use their pronouns.) In this case the Post uses “people” instead of “women” because they want to go along with the mantra that “transmen are men”, though transmen who can get pregnant are actually biological women, which is the only reason they can get pregnant.Jerry Coyne

There was once a place called the University. I knew it well – in fact I grew up there. The son of a mathematician, I often spent time in my formative years hanging around campus. I enjoyed interacting with my father’s colleagues. They were people who loved to argue. Even when I was a child they paid me the respect of challenging my thinking. They did so in a manner as generous and good-humoured as it was intelligent and robust. The idea that it might take courage to be a dissenting voice would, I think, have occurred to them as strange.

The people who inhabited that University knew what academic freedom was. They didn’t talk about it, they simply lived it. They understood implicitly that academic freedom was both a privilege and a duty. They understood that the University was an institution at the heart of democracy, that the health of democracy is a contest of ideas and that, as academics, they had leading roles in that contest. Academic freedom – the freedom to say things that are controversial, unpopular, almost unthinkable – kept culture fresh and provided grist to the mill of politics.

The University I grew up in is fading fast. In the New University, academic freedom is all too often seen as an embarrassing relic of the past, or worse, as a tool of oppression. Recent research commissioned by the Free Speech Union (FSU) shows just how far it has fallen out of favour. – Dr Michael Johnston

The Treaty, as well as sex and gender issues, have become sacred cows. There are doctrines about them that many academics feel scared to openly disagree with. – Dr Michael Johnston

I will add only that academic freedom is actually one of the principal mechanisms at our disposal for challenging the status quo. But I suspect that the academic who made that comment thinks that the status quo is simply whatever he or she disagrees with.

I encounter some of my dad’s old colleagues around campus from time to time. It’s always good to see them, but it makes me sad about what’s been lost. They’re in their 70s and 80s now, and they must wonder what’s happened to their university. To dispel any doubt, when I say, “their university”, I’m not speaking of a specific university, but of the spirit of open-minded scholarship they embodied. I hope that, in time, we’ll find a way to rekindle that spirit in the bricks and mortar of our country’s campuses. – Dr Michael Johnston

The Black Death (bubonic plague) in the mid-1300s is reckoned to have killed 30 per cent of Europe’s population at the time. The “Spanish” flu a century ago killed 50 million, 2.5 per cent of the world’s population. Covid-19 has so far killed 25 million, according to the Economist’s measure of “excess deaths” of all causes, 0.3 per cent of today’s population.

Clearly a pandemic in epidemiology is not what I imagined it was. But it therefore becomes more important to ask, were lockdowns ever a proportionate response now that we can see what a pandemic really is?John Roughan

We live in an age of serial expertise. First we were experts in climate change, whether or not we believed it was taking place, and consequently in energy policy. Then, with Covid, we became expert epidemiologists, though most of us would shortly before have been hard put to explain what epidemiology as a science actually was. And now, with the war in Ukraine, we have become expert military strategists. – Theodore Dalrymple

How does one become a panjandrum? Is there a special school for them? If there is, I suppose they teach there such subjects as gravitas and pomposity, pretentiousness and portentousness. No doubt students are selected by natural ability in these subjects, and perhaps psychologists have already developed validated and reliable scales for them, as they have for practically all other human characteristics. (Psychology is another subject of our chronic expertise, of course.)Theodore Dalrymple

As to increasing human capital, delightfully so-called, in the hands of government it is likely to result in an overgrowth of qualifications irrelevant to, and even obstructive of, any productive activity whatsoever, to what one might call, if it were a disease, fulminating diplomatosis. – Theodore Dalrymple

I do not want to cast doubt on the idea of expertise in some kind of know-nothing way. But there is no more important task for the citizen than the recognition of true expertise, as well as the recognition of its limits. Theodore Dalrymple

The delusions of the protesters outside Parliament have been debunked. The delusions of those inside Parliament also need debunking.

The fantasies of anti-vaxxers primarily hurt themselves. The fantasies of our leaders hurt us all. – Richard Prebble

An analysis of the Consumers Price Index reveals most of New Zealand’s inflation is domestic. Actions such as printing $55 billion and government deficit spending have pushed up prices more than either fuel increases or supply chain congestion.

The adult minimum wage has gone from $16.50 in 2018 to $21.20 today. Only a politician could call that a “race to the bottom“. – Richard Prebble

Surrounded by lackeys saying “Yes Minister”, it’s a struggle to keep in touch with reality. – Richard Prebble

When it is leaders who have delusions, it is very dangerous. President Vladimir Putin’s delusion that Ukraine is not a country has brought the world to the edge of nuclear war.

Ministers’ refusal to accept that their reckless government spending is inflationary makes reducing inflation very difficult. At a time of full employment, the effectiveness of the Reserve Bank’s anti-inflationary interest rate rises is being countered by inflationary government deficit spending. – Richard Prebble

Awards did not result in cleaners and bus drivers being well-paid. As Minister of Railways I found that, despite unions, awards and industrial action, railway workers needed social welfare to top up their income. As a law clerk, my union negotiated an award wage that was less than the unemployment benefit.

Despite prohibitions on strikes, the system of awards allowed those with industrial power to extort high incomes. For hours worked, wharfies earned more than brain surgeons.Richard Prebble

Successive studies have found that a factor such as having a fifth of all pupils leaving state schools functionally illiterate is one reason for our poor productivity. The appalling productivity in the unionised state sector is another.

One-size-fits-all union wages and conditions mean few are happy. It is why union workplaces often have industrial unrest.Richard Prebble

This Labour Government is the master of gesture politics. Maybe a majority of voters can be persuaded that inflation is imported. Maybe a tenth of all workers will vote for union sector-wide wage fixing.

What we do know is that gestures cannot change reality. Just saying “inflation is imported” will not reduce our grocery bills.

Fantasies that union bargaining results in “higher quality goods and services” cannot make New Zealand a prosperous country. – Richard Prebble

Governments like scapegoats. A good scapegoat can take the blame for something that is a government’s fault. It can also help justify measures the government was itching to take for other reasons.

When all goes well, a very good scapegoat can do both. – Eric Crampton

Greed is a poor explanation for inflation, not because companies are altruists, but because greed is always with us. It isn’t cyclical.

Should we credit corporate public-spiritedness for the five years from December 2011 through December 2016 when inflation ran well below the midpoint of the RBNZ inflation band?

Of course not. Monetary policy drives inflation, not changes in greed. – Eric Crampton

In short, the minister was wrong from beginning to end. Absolute economic ignorance would be the most charitable explanation, but even then he might have considered asking Treasury’s advice.

More plausibly, Clark was scapegoating the supermarkets to justify populist measures against them, or to deflect attention from his government’s failure to keep the Reserve Bank on target, or both.

Voters should be wary of policies justified by scapegoating – Eric Crampton

New Zealand is one of the oldest democracies in the world. This system of government ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’ – that treats all citizens as equals before the law – has been a liberating force of human endeavour throughout the ages. We have indeed been fortunate in New Zealand that successive governments have faithfully upheld policies to protect our democracy as sacrosanct.

That is, until now. – Muriel Newman

Do we uphold the foundation of our Westminster Parliamentary democracy, namely one person one vote, where all votes are equal, or do we go down the path towards an Orwellian Animal Farm democracy, where all are equal – but some are more equal than others?

Unfortunately, this is not a trivial question. It’s time for a national conversation about what we want from our democracy, and in particular, whether we want those New Zealanders identifying as ‘Maori’ to be guaranteed greater rights and privileges than everyone else. – Muriel Newman

A key problem New Zealanders face is that the partnership the Government is using to justify what amounts to totalitarian tribal control – through the transfer of democratic power and public resources to the iwi elite – is actually fake. Since it is constitutionally impossible for a partnership to exist between a Sovereign and the governed, it represents a massive deception of New Zealanders by the Government. – Muriel Newman

The resulting upheaval isn’t measurable so much by legislative change as by a profound shift in the political and cultural tone of the country. Ardern’s re-election was like an injection of steroids for the leftist cabal that now exerts control over all New Zealand’s institutions of power and influence, including the media and the craven business sector.

This university-educated and predominantly middle-class neo-Marxist cabal is distinct from New Zealand’s dwindling old-school socialist/communist Left, which ironically now finds itself aligned with conservatives on issues such as free speech and identity politics. But the New Left wields far more power than the comrades of the Old Left ever dreamed of.Karl du Fresne

How is this leftist cabal’s influence manifested? Chiefly through the divisive phenomenon known as wedge politics, and most provocatively through the promotion of 50-50 co-governance between representatives of the European majority and a minority consisting of people with Maori ancestry.

There are now effectively two levels of citizenship in New Zealand, one of which confers entitlements not available to the other. This is evident across a range of public policies that include compulsory Maori representation on local councils, the appointment of Maori activists to positions of power and the splurging of vast sums of money targetted exclusively at people who happen, by what is effectively a genetic accident, to have a proportion of Maori blood.

All this is predicated on the notion that people of part-Maori descent are entitled to redress for the baneful effects of colonisation. These deleterious effects presumably included the introduction of democratic government, the rule of law and the end of cannibalism, slavery and tribal warfare. – Karl du Fresne

Whether decolonisation includes rejecting such innovations as literacy and Western medicine isn’t clear, since the advocates of decolonisation are careful not to spell out exactly what they mean. – Karl du Fresne

. The stark choice facing New Zealand voters at next year’s general election will be between democracy and a different form of government for which we have no name.

But the cultural upheaval goes far beyond that, stoked by state-subsidised media that have abandoned their traditional purpose of seeking to reflect the society they purport to serve, and which instead bombard the public with indoctrination promoting the interests of attention-seeking minority groups.  – Karl du Fresne

This sense of polarisation is magnified by an authoritarian intolerance of dissent and by Stalinist-style denunciations of anyone bold or foolish enough to speak out against prevailing ideological orthodoxy.

Meanwhile, Ardern floats above it all. She’s a shrewd enough politician to have remained largely aloof from the rancour her government has generated, and who avoids entanglement in any unpleasantness that might detract from her carefully crafted image as an empathetic politician. But she cannot disown responsibility for presiding over a government that is promoting the politics of division and destabilising what was previously an admirably cohesive and harmonious society.Karl du Fresne

What were normal people—those who did not have any trouble defining woman, those who found talk of “pregnant people” and “contested spaces” and “rabbit holes” baffling—to make of this obvious discomfort with “women”?  – Zoe Strimpel 

But now these exemplars of female empowerment—educated, sophisticated, wielding enormous influence—seemed to have forgotten what “woman” meant. Or whether it was okay to say “woman.” Or whether “woman” was a dirty word. 

It wasn’t simply about language. It was about how we think about and treat women. For nearly 2,500 years—from Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata” to Seneca Falls to Anita Hill to #MeToo—women had been fighting, clawing their way out of an ancient, deeply repressive, often violent misogyny. But now that they were finally on the cusp of the Promised Land, they were turning their backs on all that progress. They were erasing themselves.  – Zoe Strimpel 

By the 1980s, women had won several key victories. Equal pay was the law (if not always the reality). No-fault divorce was widespread. Abortion was safe and legal. Women were now going to college, getting mortgages, playing competitive sports and having casual sex. In the United States, they were running for president, and they were getting elected to the House and Senate in record numbers. In Britain, Margaret Thatcher was prime minister.

In the wake of all these breakthroughs, the movement began to lose steam. It contracted, then it splintered, and a vacuum opened up. Academics took over—hijacked—the cause. – Zoe Strimpel 

It wasn’t just that these academics took it upon themselves to develop fiendishly complex theories about women, dressed up in a fiendishly complex language. It was that this hyper-intellectualized feminism, by embracing this hyper-intellectualized language, excluded most women. It transformed feminism from activism to theory, from the concrete to the abstract, from a movement that sought to liberate women from the discriminations imposed on them by their sex to a school of thought that was less interested in sex than gender. 

Sex, to the academics, was outdated. It was crude, fleshy, obvious—the stuff of everyday women everywhere. Gender, on the other hand, was fascinating—the starting point for an endless theorizing that, with each passing paper or book or conference, became more abstruse, more removed from the daily challenges faced by ordinary women. – Zoe Strimpel 

The new, abstracted feminism had little interest in changing political or economic reality, as the older, grittier feminism had. It was like a fancy garment that only the well off—those who had gone to college and lived in big cities and were fluent in the new vernacular—could afford. Or knew to buy. –

It is not an accident that the rise of gender ideology coincides with the long anticipated petering out of the feminist cause.

That’s because the rise of the one and the decline of the other are closely linked with our fetishization of identity. The fight for transgender rights over and above that of biological women’s rights, just like the war on systemic racism, jibes perfectly with our new identity politics.

Unfortunately, identity politics cannot content itself with simply defending women’s rights or LGBT rights or the rights of black people to be treated equally under the law. It must persist indefinitely in its quest for ever-narrowing identities. (The ever-expanding acronym of gay and gay-adjacent and vaguely, distantly, not really in any way connected communities, with its helpful plus sign at the end, neatly illustrates as much.) Everyone is entitled to an identity, or a plethora of identities, and each identity must be bespoke—individualized—and any attempt to rein in the pursuit of identity runs counter to the never-ending fight for inclusivity. Even if that inclusivity undermines the rights of other people. Like women.

This dynamic, with the most marginal interest trumping all others, easily took over a feminism long primed by whacky postmodern ideas like Butler’s—paving the way for its second, related hijacking. This one by biological males. – Zoe Strimpel 

And so Post-Feminist Feminism has morphed into a dark, strange Anti-Feminism. Anti-Feminism borrows from the language of liberation, but it’s not about liberating women. It’s about pushing women out of college sports. It’s about telling girls they aren’t lesbians or tomboys, but in fact men struggling to find themselves. Zoe Strimpel 

To attempt an answer, any answer, to the question—Can you provide a definition for the word ‘woman’?—would be to re-center women, biological sex, the concrete, mundane experience of ordinary, boring, bourgeois and working-class and very poor women the world over. It would be to attempt to undo the hijacking of the feminist cause and to return it to the people for whom that cause was created so many decades ago.

Returning the cause to the people for whom it was created is the only way to save it, and to stop the many discriminations that girls and women still face: domestic violence; the economic and psychological penalty of having babies; the manifold hurts and crimes visited upon countless women in non-Western countries simply for being women. For now, doing anything about all of that is a fantasy. First, we have to honor the actual meaning of words, like woman. We have to insist that those meanings are important. We have to go back, again, to first principles. That is the only way forward. – Zoe Strimpel 

The simple approach is to require integrity in communication and employ strategies suitable for the target audience. The bureaucracy and “political correctness” the Plain Language Bill promotes are not the answer. A basic principle is to communicate in a manner your audience can understand, as I hope I have. Dennnis Gates

Our business leaders big and small are currently being forgotten for their contribution to society. They put themselves on the line, take risks, worry about paying their staff and their bills and hope to make a profit, although, for many that last one is a distant dream, survival now takes priority. They have been broken by having to close their doors or cut right back and for most, it has been the heartbreak of letting people go they have worked with and cared about for many years.

Those that have survived through the worst of the Covid years now need our support more than ever but instead, they are treated with disdain as cost after cost is piled on to them with regulatory changes that make it harder to stay in business. An extra public holiday, increases in the wage bill, transport costs going up and a struggle to get workers will drive a whole lot out of business. Their contribution is more than the goods and services they provide, it is how they play a vital part in our community, employ us and our neighbours and support the many charities that need them – often quietly and without recognition. We need their entrepreneurial spirit and their dream of the next big thing. – Paula Bennett

 I thought the chance of another civil war in the US was minimal and in a country like New Zealand, neglible. . . The most important single factor is when one or more major parties in a country’s political system doesn’t organise around left-right political values but around identity – race, religion or ethnicity. –  David Farrar

The bottom line is that some of our friends on the left want to shoot at the rich, but they wind up wounding the poor instead by greasing the rungs on the ladder of economic opportunity. – Dan Mitchell

FPAs are a solution looking for a problem.Levi Gibbs

Of course, wages in New Zealand are lower than those overseas – most notably in Australia.

But the strong relationship between productivity and wages indicates the problem is not weak collective bargaining power, but our sluggish productivity growth.  – Levi Gibbs

The problem with misdiagnosing a problem like low wages is that the prescribed cure may in fact do harm.

FPAs are inflexible in the face of technological change – firms seeking to maximise productivity need to respond nimbly to new challenges and opportunities presented by change. Sometimes, such a response will necessarily involve adjusting employment arrangements. – Levi Gibbs

One-size-fits-all FPAs will mean “unproductive” firms with low profit margins, unable to bear the same wage costs as their larger competitors, will exit the market. Denying small firms the chance to grow more productive and forcing them to lay off workers is a short-sighted and unimaginative way to make productivity and wages look higher.

Wage floors will mean those on the outside looking in – including 188,000 job seekers and unskilled young people (NEETs) – will find it harder to find work, as they have not developed the skills to justify the entry-level wage. Higher labour costs will reduce the likelihood of firms hiring additional workers, and force those firms that do not simply shut down to reduce their workforce, cut back hours, or accelerate automation. – Levi Gibbs

The increased influence of trade unions will come at the expense of the vulnerable, the low skilled, and less experienced workers. This threatens New Zealand’s good record of high labour participation and low unemployment.

Improving productivity requires investing in people, taking risks on new ideas and innovative processes. It requires reforming New Zealand’s underperforming education system, attracting foreign direct investment, promoting capital reinvestment, and reallocating resources to the productive sector via tax relief. That is how New Zealand makes up for lost time over the past forty years. The ultimate result will be higher wages for workers and more prosperity.

The Fair Pay Agreement fantasy is an ill-advised, union-driven attempt to hack a shortcut to higher wages.Levi Gibbs

Decolonisation is not only destructive but simplistic. Although cultural knowledge is not science, the science-culture distinction doesn’t exclude traditional knowledge from the secular curriculum. It does however put limits on how it is included. Students can be taught in social studies, history, and Māori Studies about the traditional knowledge that Te Hurihanganui describes as the “rich and legitimate knowledge located within a Māori worldview’. But this is not induction into belief and ideological systems. The home and community groups are for induction into cultural beliefs and practices. – Elizabeth Rata

Ironically, decolonisation ideology is justified using the universal human rights argument for equity. But the equity case misrepresents the problem. As with all groups, it is not ethnic affiliation but class-related cultural practices that are the main predictors of educational outcomes. Māori children from professional families are not failing. Rather it is those, Māori and non-Māori alike, living in families experiencing hardship and not engaging in cognitive practices of abstract thinking and literacy development, who are most likely to fail at school. This is not inevitable. Education can make a difference to a child’s life chances but it requires all schools, Maori medium immersion and mainstream alike, to provide quality academic knowledge taught by expert teachers. Elizabeth Rata

Decolonisation will indeed divide society into two groups – but not that of coloniser and colonised locked into the permanent oppressor-victim status used to justify ethno-nationalism. Instead one group will comprise those who receive an education in academic subjects. These young people will proceed to tertiary study with a sound understanding of science, mathematics, and the humanities. Their intelligence will be developed in the long-term and demanding engagement with this complex knowledge. It is to be hoped, though this cannot be assumed given that the rationality-democracy connection is analogous not casual, that they will have the critical disposition required for democratic citizenship, one that is subversive of culture and disdainful of ideology.

The second group comprises those who remain restricted to the type of knowledge acquired from experience and justified in ideologies of culture. Distrustful of academic knowledge as colonising and oppressive, ethnically-based cultural beliefs and practices will provide the community needed for social and psychological security. In this restricted world they are insiders. And as there are insiders, there must be outsiders – in traditionalist ideologies these are the colonists who are seen to have taken everything and given nothing. And yet the tragedy is that it is the cultural insiders who are to be the excluded ones – excluded from all the benefits that a modern education provides.

A revolution is coming. The government’s transformational policies for education make this clear. It will only be stopped by a re-commitment to academic knowledge for all New Zealand children within a universal and secular education system. Colonisation is not the problem and decolonisation is not the solution. – Elizabeth Rata

Once the principle of one person, one vote is abandoned at local government level, pressure will build for something similar at the central government level.

It is hard to think of a more divisive agenda for any government to be pushing. – Paul Goldsmith

Big, radical changes to our democracy are being peddled in obscure local Bills by backbench MPs – with the Minister of Justice, the Attorney General and others nowhere to be seen.

These rushed, sneaky bills have become the stock-in-trade of this government.

It astounds me that the human rights lobby, constitutional lawyers, the Crown Law Office and other members of civil society are so relaxed about all this. Sadly, it speaks of a climate of fear that stifles open debate on these issues. – Paul Goldsmith

Our country is imperfect. We have many inequities, a fraught history and much work to do. But no inequities will be improved by shifting away from the bedrock of our relative success as a nation.

A core element of the liberal democracy we enjoy is the fundamental principle of one person, one vote.

We should not casually throw it away.Paul Goldsmith

Parliament imposed tough penalties. It meant these crimes to be serious. So consider the constitutional consequences of the police deciding to overrule Parliament. If the police are wrong in their judgments about which crimes to enforce, then there is no way for the rest of us to bring about justice. – Josie Pagani

Road rules are rules, but who decided that bus lanes and doing 110 on a brand new motorway are a higher priority than robbery?

Deciding which laws should be enforced is Parliament’s job. If the police do not have enough resources to enforce acts of Parliament, then democracy demands that citizens participate in ranking their priority offences. I want theft policed ahead of driving in a bus lane. – Josie Pagani

Last year, police attended more than 70,000 events that involved a person having a mental health crisis or attempting suicide (an increase of 60% in five years). Police are called in because they are the social agency of last resort.

But mental health professionals are needed for those cases – trained staff who were promised in the ‘’wellbeing Budget’’ and never delivered. The Government had nearly $2b, and three years, to train specialist staff. They can’t train a psychologist in that time, but they could have trained carers with more skills for mental health than a stressed constable. – Josie Pagani

Campaigning on values, mental health, and fixing inequality was electorally successful for Labour. It has been a shameful policy disaster.Josie Pagani

Call the Budget what you want – ‘’Wellbeing’’, ‘’Wellness’’, ‘’Well Done’’. We don’t care. Just make sure it’s not the police turning up when people need mental health professionals and somewhere safe for loved ones to go.

Tell us why we can’t have the decent mental health care that was promised. Don’t wait until the promise has failed.

Let voters make choices about which crimes to enforce, don’t pretend you’re not choosing.

If you can’t have that honesty then you have stolen our trust, like a scooter thief in the night, knowing you won’t be caught. – Josie Pagani

When it comes to the Three Water reforms, it is subordinating the rights of ratepayers to the interests of local iwi, and doing so without consent or compensation.Damien Grant 

We have a process for settling Treaty issues. Not everyone agrees with the outcome of a Waitangi Tribunal decision, but almost everyone agrees to abide by their decisions. It isn’t a perfect system but it works better than Molotov cocktails and hunger strikes. – Damien Grant 

Central to the reform agenda is the claim made by Nanaia Mahuta that 34,000 New Zealanders become ill each year from drinking poor-quality water. This number is softer than a week-old feijoa.Damien Grant 

Taumata Arowai is the regulatory body set up in response to Havelock North. We can see in this organisation that their focus isn’t solely water quality. According to their website, “Our name Taumata Arowai was gifted to us by Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Local Government”.

Having your name “gifted” by the reigning minister has a North Korean feel to it. This body enjoys a Māori advisory board whom it must consult. The chair of this advisory body is the minister’s sister. – Damien Grant 

If iwi believe their water rights have been compromised they can seek refuge in the Waitangi Tribunal, as they did when some energy companies were up for sale in 2012. (I was uncompromising in my support of the Māori Council’s intervention at the time.)

This is not happening, presumably because any such claim would fail. What possible claim can there be on dams and polyethylene pipes constructed and paid for in the 182 years since 1840?

If we are being asked to enter into a new compact with Māori, where rights that do not exist under the Treaty are to be created, then this does need to be put before the public. – Damien Grant 

Mahuta has no electoral, legal or Treaty mandate for her vision of co-governance, and even the claims of poor water quality are based on weak foundations.

If she wants to remove from ratepayers their legal and property rights, perhaps it is she, and not David Seymour, who needs to be putting this issue to the public.

After all, removing property rights without consent is what got us into the mess in the first place. – Damien Grant 

That this government spends record amounts of our money on political spin and social engineering is evident from propaganda campaigns to which we are subjected – none more reprehensible than the $5.3m commercial on the government’s 3 Waters intention.

Also frequently aired is a puerile presentation aimed at convincing us that a reduction in speed on our roads will increase our safety. – Garrick Tremain

Destroying confidence in the science – culture distinction, a distinction which is one of the defining features of the modern world, will be decolonisation’s most significant and most dangerous victory. According to the International Science Council science is ‘the systematic organization of knowledge that can be rationally explained and reliably applied. It is inclusive of the natural (including physical, mathematical and life) science and social (including behavioural and economic) science domains . . .  as well as the humanities, medical, health, computer and engineering sciences.

In contrast, culture is the values, beliefs and practices of everyday life – the means by which children are socialised into the family and community. For a Māori child, this may well involve immersion in marae life – or it may not.  But the experiences of everyday life should not be confused with the ideology of cultural indoctrination, what I call culturalism or traditionalism and others call decolonisation. It is this ideology which is permeating the government, universities and research institutes, the Royal Society Te Apārangi, and mainstream media. Here we are presented with an idealised Māori culture of what should be, not what it actually is.

It is as much a moral, quasi-religious project as a political one, its religiosity responsible for the intensity, and perhaps success, of its march through New Zealand’s institutions. Indeed, the spiritual is a central theme in decolonisation. The belief is promoted that Māori are a uniquely spiritual people with a mauri or life force providing the link to their ancestors – the  genetic claim for racial categorisation. Political rights for the kin-group are justified in this claim. –  Elizabeth Rata

Given that over 50 percent of Māori already have no religious affiliation, it is doubtful that there is a constituency for a spiritual-based education. This is where decolonisation plays its part with Te Hurihanganui and the refreshed curriculum promoting the ideological version of culture. Those hesitant Māori who are suspicious of the ideology will be outed as ‘colonised’, in obvious need of decolonisation.Those who are now racially positioned on the other side, officially the non-Māori, will require decolonisation to ensure support for the new moral and political order. Numerous consultants are already on hand to provide this profitable reprogramming service. Intransigent dissenters, who determinedly refuse the correct thinking will be ostracised as fossilised racists and bigots. 

The tragedy is that this decolonising racialised ideology will destroy the foundations of New Zealand’s modern prosperous society. The principles of universalism and secularism are its pillars in education as elsewhere. Academic knowledge is different from cultural knowledge because it is universal and secular. We could certainly live without this knowledge – our ancestors did,  but would we want to?Elizabeth Rata

 The formidable task of acquiring even a small amount of humanity’s intellectual canon is made even more complex and remote because abstractions are only available to us as symbols – verbal, alphabetical, numerical, musical, digital, chemical, mathematical – creating two layers of difficulty. While it is unsurprising that the much easier education using practices derived from action rather than abstraction is more attractive, to take this path, as teachers are required to do, is a mistake.

We humans are made intelligent through long-term systematic engagement with such complex knowledge. Yet decolonisers reject the fundamental difference between science and culture claiming instead that all knowledge is culturally produced, informed by a group’s beliefs and experiences, and geared to its interests. Indigenous knowledge and ‘western’ knowledge are simply cultural systems with academic education re-defined as the oppressive imposition of the latter on the former.

What is deeply concerning is the extent to which this ideology is believed by those in education and uncritically repeated in mainstream media.  – Elizabeth Rata

Decolonisation is not only destructive but simplistic. Although cultural knowledge is not science, the science-culture distinction doesn’t exclude traditional knowledge from the secular curriculum. It does however put limits on how it is included. Students can be taught in social studies, history, and Māori Studies about the traditional knowledge that Te Hurihanganui describes as the “rich and legitimate knowledge located within a Māori worldview’. But this is not induction into belief and ideological systems. The home and community groups are for induction into cultural beliefs and practices.

What about the proto-science (pre-science) in all traditional knowledge – such as traditional navigation, medicinal remedies, and food preservation? This knowledge, acquired through observation and trial and error, as well as through supernatural explanation, along with the ways it may have helped to advance scientific or technological knowledge, is better placed in history of science lessons rather than in the science curriculum.

Science provides naturalistic explanations for physical and social phenomena. Its concepts refer to the theorised structures and properties of the physical world, its methods are those of hypothesis, testing and refutation, its procedures those of criticism and judgement.  The inclusion of cultural knowledge into the science curriculum will subvert the fundamental distinction, one acknowledged by mātauranga Māori scholars, between naturalistic science and supernaturalistic culture.Elizabeth Rata

As with all groups, it is not ethnic affiliation but class-related cultural practices that are the main predictors of educational outcomes. Māori children from professional families are not failing. Rather it is those, Māori and non-Māori alike, living in families experiencing hardship and not engaging in cognitive practices of abstract thinking and literacy development, who are most likely to fail at school. This is not inevitable. Education can make a difference to a child’s life chances but it requires all schools, Māori medium immersion and mainstream alike, to provide quality academic knowledge taught by expert teachers. – Elizabeth Rata

Unlike authoritarian regimes, liberalism can tolerate some dissent. What it cannot tolerate is the removal of its very foundations – those principles of universalism and secularism that anchor democratic institutions into modern pluralist society. The separation of public and private, of society and community, makes room for both science and local culture. (The recent commonplace practice of using ‘community’ for ‘society’ is one of a number of indications that the separation is being undermined.) Valuing culture and devaluing science in a merger of the two fatally undermines the universalism and secularism that creates and maintains a cohesive society out of many ethnicities and cultures.

Decolonisation will indeed divide society into two groups – but not that of coloniser and colonised locked into the permanent oppressor-victim opposition used to justify ethno-nationalism. Instead one group will comprise those who receive an education in academic subjects. These young people will proceed to tertiary study with a sound understanding of science, mathematics, and the humanities. Their intelligence will be developed in the long-term and demanding engagement with this complex knowledge. It is to be hoped, though this cannot be assumed, that they will have the critical disposition required for democratic citizenship, one that is subversive of local culture and disdainful of ideology.

The second group comprises those who remain restricted to the type of knowledge acquired from experience and justified in ideologies of local culture. Distrustful of academic knowledge as colonising and oppressive, ethnically-based cultural beliefs and practices will provide the community needed for social and psychological security. In this restricted world they are insiders. And as there are insiders, there must be outsiders – in traditionalist ideologies these are the colonists who are seen to have taken everything and given nothing. And yet the tragedy is that it is the cultural insiders who are to be the excluded ones – excluded from all the benefits that a modern education provides.

A revolution is coming. The government’s transformational policies for education make this clear. It will only be stopped by a re-commitment to academic knowledge for all New Zealand children, rich and poor alike, within a universal and secular education system. Colonisation is not the problem and decolonisation is not the solution.Elizabeth Rata

Which brings us cheerfully to our friendly “be kind”, “listen to the science”, “we’re so transparent” Ardern-Robertson government, which seems to be now acting like a “friend” who would like you to look the other way, so it can get on with what’s good for it, such as getting re-elected. – Kevin Norquay

In 2022 NZ, it’s starting to look more like “of the people, by the party, for the party.” Kevin Norquay

“Listening to the science” now carries a taint, as decisions made could be seen as party political, rather than public health related.

It’s an erosion of trust. Why cover up things that are supposedly done in our best interest? – Kevin Norquay

There’s that “friend” again, telling us all the secrecy was for our own good. Whether MIQ did a good job is not the point here, it’s when that good job might have ended.

You could argue “we listen to the science” remains accurate, with the coda “but our decisions are based on the politics”, but transparency was always a fiction written boldly on a blocking PR wall.

What’s the next slogan: “You’ve got to be cruel to Be Kind?”Kevin Norquay

The truth of Hōne Heke’s rebellion deserves to be more widely-known. His  was the beginning of a proud lineage of anti-tax protest that is today carried on by the Taxpayers’ Union (even if we prefer to use arguments over axes). So congratulations to Hōne Heke for rightfully being recognised as one of the greatest New Zealanders. If it were up to us, he might even be ranked number one. How many taxes did Sir Ed cut, after all? – Louis Holubrooke

You don’t want to live in fear but I’m not going to be blasé about it. We are seeing very sick people every day, it’s not worth the risk at the moment. The more I read, the more bad things I find that this virus can do to your body, particularly your brain. You hear people say ‘might as well get it over with’. Well I wouldn’t want to voluntarily risk taking on a bit of brain damage for any reason.Dr Greg White

Whatever New Zealand does in isolation as its contribution to the world wide battle against climate change, it will have next to zero affect on whether or not we reach or even get close to the IPCC’s greenhouse gas emissions reductions that they say will be required to save the planet.

I can make that statement with confidence that l will be proved right simply because those key nations who have the capacity to collectively turn things around, with or without our help, are in fact increasing their use of fossil fuels at an alarming rate and as a result, increasing their emissions as if there was no tomorrow. In that context, our efforts, no matter how self sacrificial, will be like a blip on the radar as the rest of the world continues to condone the destructive activities of those who could and should be making a difference. – Clive Bibby 

We will watch on from the sidelines seemingly unnoticed by even the UN heavy hitters whose praise we appear to crave.

And in the meantime, we will destroy what remains of our agriculturally based economy at a time when we are emerging from the pandemic suffering from self inflicted wounds that already have reduced our capacity to earn overseas funds when we most need them. Clive Bibby 

It appears that the government is still hell bent on cementing in place policies that will negatively effect the two most important ingredients that will determine our survival as a sovereign state.

The first is economic growth and the second is race relations, both of which are in danger of managed decline because both are reflecting the deliberate implementation of programmes that will have the opposite effect of what is needed now more than ever.

If allowed to be fully implemented, these policies: – the emissions reduction policies such as the halving of our dairy herds and the race based legislation that is being un-necessarily promoted giving control of our natural resources to Maori – have the capacity to propel a sufficiently divided nation into a state where civil war is a serious possibility. – Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby 

I choose my words carefully when discussing these potentially dangerous policies simply because it appears we are not yet prepared to acknowledge that the immediate danger to our collective future comes from within rather than anything from the world at large – including climate change.

In order to have a rational discussion about our future, we need to be acutely aware of the options available to us. In that context, the truth remains our only hope.

We can and must stop this erosion of trust before it is too late. Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby 

But if I could go back in time and find a doctor who made me feel like they were treating my health, and not my size, that would have been a real gamechanger. – Megan Whelan

Democratic Socialist. Isn’t that a bit of a contradiction and maybe even an oxymoron?

Presiding over a government that has gone out of its way to decimate democracy by promoting the politics of division, there is nothing democratic in these actions! – John Porter

Don’t you think the way Ardern’s government, its Maori caucus and tribal leaders are surging ahead with their co-governance agenda, is pushing New Zealand close to that point of, if not actual civil war, then certainly civil disruption?

In New Zealand there is a significant degree of apathy and almost total lack of comprehension and knowledge around the subversion of democracy and promotion of Maori exclusivity that is very, very scary.

The overarching concern is that, based on ethnicity, a minority section of the population is being given an absolute right to control the rest of the population without, it appears, any limits on their power or any route for appeal. – John Porter

There is a very small group of those of part-Maori descent, Maori tribal elite, presumably swollen with self-importance because a small part of their cultural inheritance that they are clamouring for co-governance of this country. This co-governance agenda is gathering speed and, dare I say it, credibility at an alarming rate. John Porter

Ardern and her government’s separatist agenda combined with their inept fiscal management, are bringing this country to its knees!

Are we speaking out loudly, are we protecting our democracy, our rights to one person, one vote and do this government actually respect and represent the majority of New Zealanders? – John Porter

It’s either a caricature or merely a hallmark of a modern conservative New Zealand politician to be comfortable with whatever change has happened up to the present, but to think that any more would be a step too far.

This is by and large a positive. The fact that only journalists writing profiles on centre-right politicians, rather than the politicians themselves, ever want to revisit milestones like the marriage equality vote of 2013 means that the country has avoided the destabilising and counterproductive culture wars that have racked the United States for decades. – Ben Thomas

When the government spends $51 million to not build a bridge, that’s inflationary. Spending money on a new hospital that increases the provision of necessary services does not have the same effect. – Liam Hehir

There are six provisions in our law that are so important for democracy that they can only be changed by the vote of 75 percent in parliament or by a majority in a referendum. One is clause 36 of the Electoral Act that guarantees everyone regardless of race has an equal vote. – Richard Prebble

Having unequal voting will not solve Rotorua’s real issues. Here is one. The Labour government has filled our motels with the homeless from all over the Central North Island. There are enough children in our motels to fill a primary school. Borders are reopening. Where are Rotorua’s tourists to stay? – Richard Prebble

For most Westerners, the war unfolding in Ukraine makes no sense. Russians and Ukrainians look the same, speak the same languages, have lived lives that were, until very recently, culturally indistinguishable. Why are they fighting?

The chilling answer is that both sides are commanded by ghosts. It is the unquiet dead, the unpunished crimes, the gagged memories of countless perpetrators and their victims that drive these armies forward. Impulses barely understood, inherited from parents and grandparents who could neither speak about nor forget the horrors they had witnessed or performed.

Two nations to whom great evil has been done are being driven, by dead hands, to do evil in return. Chris Trotter

R for recession comes after I for inflation in the economic alphabet. Then comes v for voter and w for wallet. Get the drift? – Shane Jones

Behind the scenes, officials are working on other ways to make New Zealand less rather than more attractive to prospective students. They have plans to almost double the amount of money each student must bring to New Zealand for each year’s study, and heavily restrict post-study work rights. This is all part of the Government’s immigration re-set, more correctly called an anti-immigration re-set.Steven Joyce

If we are to avoid a recession, which is looking an increasingly difficult goal, we need to encourage more outward facing sectors to grow, rather than be always putting up new barriers to their success. International education is one of the best placed to resume pulling its weight, to the benefit of our country’s education system and the wider economy and society. The Government needs to get over its ambivalence to it. – Steven Joyce

We’ve become accustomed to hearing the words, “I support free speech, but ….” New Zealand is full of people in positions of power and influence who purport to defend free speech, but always with the addition of that loaded word “but”. You can’t say you support free speech and then, in the next breath, put limitations around it beyond the ones that are already clearly established in law and broadly accepted, such as those relating to defamation and incitement to hatred or violence.

We’ve been introduced to phrases unheard of a few years ago: cancel culture, speech wars, hate speech, gender wars, safe spaces, culture wars, trigger warnings, transphobia and no-platforming. We’ve acquired a whole new vocabulary. We’ve seen the emergence of a media monoculture in which all mainstream media outlets adopt uniform ideological positions that effectively shut out alternative opinions, even when those marginalised voices may represent mainstream opinion.

We’ve seen traditional ideological battle lines totally redrawn as people on the left and right of politics unite around the need to save freedom of speech from a new and powerful cohort of people who have co-opted the term “hate speech” as a pretext for banning any opinion that they dislike.

We’ve even seen radical feminists, who were once at the cutting edge of politics, demonised as dangerous reactionaries who must be shut down because of their opposition to a virulent transgender lobby that appeared to spring out of nowhere.

All this has happened within a remarkably short time frame. Mainstream New Zealand has been caught off guard by the sheer speed and intensity of the attack on free speech and as a result has been slow to respond. But what’s at stake here is nothing less than the survival of liberal democracy, which depends on the contest of ideas and the free and open discussion of issues regardless of whether some people might find them upsetting.Karl Du Fresne

The right of free speech, after all, means the right to hear as well as the right to speak. Our Bill of Rights Act doesn’t just talk about the right to speak freely. It refers to “the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and opinions of any kind and in any form”. That seems pretty clear-cut and unambiguous. To deny New Zealanders the right to hear opinions that some politicians and public officials don’t like is a flagrant abuse of power and must be challenged at every turn, which is exactly what this union is doing. – Karl Du Fresne

In other words there are people in the police who apparently think that anyone who criticises the government should be watched. This is how police states begin. Fortunately in this case, wiser senior officers stepped in before things got out of hand.Karl Du Fresne

The reality is that the enemies of free speech have no fixed ideology. Control is enforced with equal brutality whether it’s Nazi Germany or communist North Korea. The only thing the enemies of free speech have in common is a desire to exercise untrammelled power and to forcibly suppress any speech which threatens that power.

As it happens, the present threat to free speech in New Zealand doesn’t come from either the traditional left or the traditional right. It comes from a powerful new cohort that largely controls the national conversation. This cohort is dominant in politics, the bureaucracy, academia and the media and regards the exercise of free speech as serving the interests of the privileged. Free speech to them means licence to attack oppressed minorities and is therefore something to be deterred, if not by law then by denunciation and intimidation.

Depressingly, this group is entrenched in universities and libraries – institutions that have traditionally served as sources of free thought and access to knowledge. Libraries were at the forefront of the effort to shut down the feminist group Speak Up For Women, which was targeted by aggressive transgender activists because it opposed legislation allowing men to identify as female. It was only after this union went to court on the feminists’ behalf that libraries in several cities were forced to back down and allow them to hold public meetings.

A common factor in these instances is the belief that people have a right not to be offended and that this right takes precedence over the right to free speech. It’s as if the woke elements in society have developed an allergic reaction to the robust democracy that most of the people in this room grew up in, where vigorous debate was seen as an essential part of the contest of ideas that democracy depends on.

If a statement can possibly be interpreted as a slur against one’s gender, race, body type or sexual identity, it will be, no matter how innocent the intention of the person who made it. Apologies will be demanded and the ritual humiliation of the transgressor inevitably follows.

The purpose is clear: it sends a message to others that they will get similar treatment if they’re bold or foolish enough to challenge ideological orthodoxy. Yet paradoxically, the same people who insist on the right not to be upset don’t hesitate to engage in vicious online gang-ups and ad hominem attacks on anyone who disagrees with them.

A recurring theme in the speech wars is the notion of safety – not safety from physical danger, which is how most people understand the term, but safety from anything that might upset people or challenge their thinking. – Karl Du Fresne

Safety, then, is a highly elastic concept – critically important for women attending abortion clinics, even if no risk of harm exists, but not a problem if those who feel threatened are white guys in suits.

The enemies of free speech are blind to the contradictions in their position. They bang on about the right to be safe but applaud aggressive and intimidating behaviour against people they don’t like. And they demand protection against hate speech while freely indulging in it themselves on Twitter and other social media platforms, their purpose being to bully people into silence.Karl Du Fresne

I can claim to be something of an authority on freedom of the press if only for the reason that I’ve written two books about it. Back then the concern was with threats to media freedom from outside sources, principally the state. But ironically we’re now in a position where I believe the New Zealand media abuse their own freedom.

They have fatally compromised their independence and their credibility by signing up to a government scheme under which they accept millions of dollars in taxpayer funding and in return commit themselves to abide by a set of ideological principles laid down by that same government.

Defenders of the Public Interest Journalism Fund justify it on the pretext that it enables the media to continue carrying out worthwhile public interest journalism at a time when the industry is financially precarious. They bristle with indignation at the suggestion that their integrity is compromised. But it is. You need only look at the projects approved for funding to grasp that this is essentially an opportunistic indoctrination project funded by taxpayers.

From a free speech standpoint, however, it’s the ideological uniformity of the media that is of even greater concern. The past two decades have seen a profound generational change in the media and a corresponding change in the industry ethos.

News outlets that previously took pride in being “broad church” – in other words, catering to and reflecting a wide range of interests and opinions – are now happy to serve as a vehicle for the prevailing ideology. They have abandoned their traditional role of trying to reflect the society they purport to serve. The playwright Arthur Miller’s definition of a good newspaper as a nation talking to itself is obsolete. The mainstream media are characterised by ideological homogeneity, reflecting the views of a woke elite and relentlessly promoting the polarising agenda of identity politics.

The implications for free speech are obvious. What was previously an important channel for the public expression of a wide range of opinions has steadily narrowed. Conservative voices are increasingly marginalised and excluded, ignoring the inconvenient fact that New Zealand has far more often voted right than left. – Karl Du Fresne

But it’s worse than that, because the prevailing ideological bias doesn’t just permeate editorials and opinion columns. Its influence can also be seen in the way the news is reported – in the stories that the media choose to cover, and perhaps more crucially in the issues they choose not to cover. The Maori co-governance proposals in Three Waters, for example.

Underlying this is another profound change. From the 1970s onward, journalism training – previously done on the job – was subject to academic capture. Many of today’s journalists were subject to highly politicised teaching that encouraged them to think their primary function was not so much to report on matters of interest and importance to the community as to challenge the institutions of power.

Principles such as objectivity were jettisoned, freeing idealistic young journalists to indulge in advocacy journalism, push pet causes and sprinkle their stories with loaded words such as racist, sexist, homophobic and misogynist. In the meantime, older journalists who adhered to traditional ideas of balance and objectivity have been methodically managed out of the industry.

Worse even than that, we now have mainstream media outlets that actively suppress stories as a matter of official editorial policy, and even boast about it. I’m thinking here of climate change, a subject on which major media organisations have collectively agreed not to give space or air time to anyone questioning global warming or even the efficacy of measures aimed at mitigating it. This would have been unthinkable 20 or even 10 years ago. People are bound to wonder what else the media are suppressing.Karl Du Fresne

Robert Muldoon was a tyrant who tried to bully the media into submission, but eventually journalists and editors stood up to him. In the past few years, however, we’ve gone backwards. We now live in a climate of authoritarianism and denunciation that chokes off the vibrant debate that sustains democracy, and tragically the media are part of the problem.

There are positive signs however, and this meeting is one of them. As I said at the start, the sheer speed and intensity of the culture wars caught the country off-guard. Ours is a fundamentally fair and decent society, eager to do the right thing and rightly wary of extremism. For a long time we stood back and allowed the assault on democratic values to proceed virtually unopposed. We were like a boxer temporarily stunned by a punch that we never saw coming.

But the fightback has begun and is steadily gaining momentum. In giddy moments of optimism I even sense that the tide might be turning in the media. Even the most cloth-eared media bosses must eventually realise they have alienated much of their core audience, as reflected in steadily declining newspaper circulation figures and in opinion surveys measuring trust in the media. – Karl Du Fresne

The risk New Zealand runs in 2023 is that the policy promises of the contending parties will be come to be seen by their respective supporters as critical to the survival of the nation. On the Right, the introduction of co-governance will be equated with the death of democracy. On the Left, a racist referendum endorsing the elimination of co-governance will be construed as an all-out assault on the Treaty of Waitangi and the indigenous people it was intended to protect.

In such circumstances, the uncompromising partisans on both sides begin to believe that if they concede defeat there will be no “next time”. At that point the cry goes out for a “continuation of politics by other means”. Bullets replace ballots, and peace ceases to be an option – for anybody.Chris Trotter


Quotes of the month

05/03/2022

This is February’s quotes, a few days late.

Over the past two years we’ve heard it ad nauseam. We’re a team of five million. We are constantly reminded to be kind to each other. And yes, the messages have come from the self-appointed team leader, Jacinda Ardern.

Many of us retired from the team shortly after it was created and it now grates to still be described as members of it.Barry Soper

New Zealand’s universities are at a defining crossroads. Do we remain a universitas, a community of scholars developing knowledge according to the universal principles and methods of science or do we continue down the path of a racialised ideology? – Elizabeth Rata

Unfounded accusations of racism or other silencing strategies muzzle discussion about what is happening in our universities and schools. There are many layers needing discussion – the difference between science and culture, between cultural safety and intellectual risk-taking, between universalism and parochialism. However intense and heated the discussion may be it must take place. Too much is at stake to pretend that all is well. – Elizabeth Rata

University students from all racial and cultural groups tend to come from knowledge-rich schools which provide a solid foundation for university study. These are often the children of the professional class who have benefited from such knowledge in their own lives and insist that schools provide it for their children.

It is access to the abstract quality of academic knowledge and language, its very remoteness from everyday experience, and its formality – science in other words – that is necessary for success. Tragically this knowledge is miscast as ‘euro-centric’. The aim of the decolonisation and re-indigenisation of New Zealand education is to replace this knowledge with the cultural knowledge of experience.

But science is not euro-centric or western. It is universal. This is recognised in the International Science Council’s definition of science as “rationally explicable, tested against reality, logic, and the scrutiny of peers this is a special form of knowledge”. It includes the arts, humanities and social sciences as human endeavours which may, along with the physical and natural sciences, use such a formalised approach. The very children who need this knowledge the most, now receive less.

The science-ideology discussion matters for many reasons – the university’s future, the country’s reputation for science and education, and the quality of education in primary and secondary schools. But at its heart it is about democracy. Science can only thrive when democracy thrives. – Elizabeth Rata

To be clear, I was and consider myself very lucky to be adopted into a loving, caring family. For reasons outlined in this article below I am grateful for the life I’ve had considering the one that was offered to me at birth.  – Dan Bidois

I learned many things from this process. Above all, is that you’re not defined by the circumstances of your birth but by the environment you grow up in. And finally, identity or whakapapa is an important part of one’s confidence, wellbeing, and purpose in life.

Understanding one’s past provides the fuel needed for a happier and more fulfilling life in the future. – Dan Bidois

This whole thing has a Groundhog Day vibe about it. I mean, how come we’re still, as we go into our third year of this pandemic, still being reactive and responding on the hoof.

It beggars belief that lessons have not been learned, plans have not been made, preparations have not gotten into full swing.

We are behind on RAT kits, way behind, it’s woeful, it’s the vaccine rollout all over again. We have no greater ICU capacity than when we started, in fact suggestions are we even have fewer ICU beds than when we started. We have not bolstered our health workforce, we have not advanced our tragic and cruel MIQ system, we have not boosted enough people or jabbed enough children, because again, we were too slow with our vaccine rollout.  – Kate Hawkesby

Why can’t they learn the lesson? Why is the Government so slow on the uptake? Why’d they take an elongated holiday when they should’ve been planning and sorting and preparing?

Why are they so allergic to the private sector and reticent to include them more? Are they afraid of the private sector? Or are they just so arrogant now they think they know best, better than any established business?

Most importantly, why are we still asking these questions? How can all the same mistakes still be made? If you hear from the Government, when they’ve bothered rolling back into the office from the beach, they’ll tell you they’re world leading.

They’re faultless, blameless, it’s all perfect, we should be so proud of them. The fact they’re still peddling this crap and still in self-congratulatory mode also worries me.

It’s delusional. They’re backwards focused.Kate Hawkesby

How many businesses look at KPI’s or performance reviews and go, “Oh well it’s a bit of a mess at the moment but two years ago was really good.”

No one does that, because it’s not real. It’s not relevant, it’s not honest. So why should we be expected to buy into that tosh from our government?

Our Rapid Antigen Testing situation is embarrassing, our MIQ lottery is embarrassing, our hermit mentality is embarrassing, our lack of vaccination coverage for children and booster coverage is embarrassing. Our Covid response looks antiquated and fear driven, and stale. But if you listen to this Government and it’s cheerleaders, we should be over the moon about it.

The disconnect here is actually beyond embarrassing, it’s tragic.Kate Hawkesby

And that’s the tragedy of all this. Have a platform, make a song and dance, get a result. Surely the only message here is that unless you’re going to really publicly and internationally discredit and embarrass the Government, you’re not going to get a spot.  – Kate Hawkesby

A free society needs more than the incentives provided by the rule of law and the discipline of profit and loss. Both are underpinned by and help to reinforce a set of virtues – prudence chief among them. The prudence to buy low and sell high. And the prudence “to trade rather than invade, to calculate the consequences, to pursue the good with competence.”

Prudence matters. – Eric Crampton

The government had been imprudently late in ordering the tests that it ultimately decided were needed for the public health effort.

But no matter. The government had set itself a call option. It could simply take the results of others’ prudential efforts.

When the prudent expect predation, expect less prudence. Expect as well that many businesses will have cancelled remaining test kit orders rather than wait for them to be stolen by a predatory state.

McCloskey emphasised the prudence of trading rather than invading and stealing; of calculating the consequences of actions; and of pursuing the good with competence.

It is hard to see much evidence of prudence in this government. Prudent and imprudent alike will bear the cost.Eric Crampton

At the end of an interview recently, I was asked whether people should express their emotions. I replied that it rather depended on the emotions that they had and their mode of expression. There were some emotions that were best kept to oneself, and some ways of expressing them that were disgusting.Theodore Dalrymple

It seems to me (though I may be mistaken) that, at least in Anglophone countries, there has been a tendency of late years for ever more extravagant public expressions of emotion, which is something that I do not welcome. It leads not to the palace of wisdom, but to crudity of apprehension, and to an unfortunate positive feedback loop: if you want to show how much you feel, you have to indulge in ever more extravagant such demonstrations. – Theodore Dalrymple

This development favours the explicit over the implicit and the bogus over the genuine. Indeed, it reduces people’s capacity to distinguish between the two, or even to understand that there is a distinction between the real and the bogus. No one would now say, as did an old patient of mine upon whom fate had piled undeserved tragedy upon undeserved tragedy, that she would not cry in public because it might embarrass other people and her grief was her own: people would now accuse her of mere unfeelingness.Theodore Dalrymple

The very notion of dignity and seemliness is destroyed by incontinent emotional expression. I haven’t tried the experiment, but I doubt that many people could or would now even attach a meaning to the word seemliness: but seemliness is to self-respect what incontinent expression is to self-esteem, and the difference between self-respect and self-esteem is of great importance. The first is demanding, effortful and social, the second is undemanding, egotistical and akin to an inalienable human right that survives any amount of bad behaviour. – Theodore Dalrymple

There are other advantages to negative emotions: insofar as they are far easier to stoke, can last much longer than positive emotions—joy is rarely more than fleeting—and are usually more intense, they are, in the long run, more rewarding, especially when, as in the present day, the locus of people’s moral concern is political rather than personal. It is surely almost self-evident that the strongest political emotions are negative: for example, the rich are hated much more than the poor are loved.

In such circumstances, expressions of hatred are often mistaken for expressions of love. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down the life of another for some class of person whom he favours in the abstract. Thus vehemence of expression comes to be taken as strength of feeling, and the greater one’s vehemence, the greater one’s strength of feeling and therefore of one’s virtue—virtue now being a matter almost entirely of the opinions one holds. Extreme expression of hatred becomes a virtue. – Theodore Dalrymple

As with so many things, the proper public expression of emotion is a matter of judgment rather than of doctrine or predetermined principle. It is also a question of good taste. . . If I had to choose between them (which of course I do not) I would choose emotional constipation rather than emotional diarrhoea. At least the former can give rise to powerful drama, whereas the latter gives rise to crude soap opera at best. Concealment is more interesting than revelation, and often ultimately more revealing into the bargain.    – Theodore Dalrymple

The government’s response to Omicron over the summer break has had too little method and too much madness. – Eric Crampton

But it is difficult to reconcile the tightening up of test-to-travel restrictions, to reduce risk, with the subsequent move to allow rapid antigen tests instead of PCR tests before travel. If the government considered rapid antigen tests to be safe enough because travellers were entering MIQ, why tighten the window for PCR tests in the first place? –  Eric Crampton

Education, the ladder out of poverty, has been kicked away. In the English-speaking world, New Zealand pupils are worst at maths, science and literacy. Last year, 44 per cent of Auckland students did not turn up for NCEA exams. Richard Prebble

Covid is not responsible for the growth in inequality. Covid infects the rich and the poor.

The growing inequality is the result of government policies and galloping inflation.  – Richard Prebble

The Government is becoming Muldoonist. Like Muldoon, Labour calculates huge “think big” spending is electorally more popular than the pain of tackling inflation.Richard Prebble

Studies reveal that urban rail schemes never come in on budget or on time and rarely meet passenger projections. Worldwide, 75 per cent of urban rail projects have cost escalations of at least 33 per cent. A quarter have cost escalations of 60 per cent or more. The cost of light rail will escalate from the estimate of $15b to over $20b.

Here is another way to think about the cost. For less taxpayers’ money, every passenger could have a free Uber ride in an electric car to where they actually want to go. – Richard Prebble

The Reserve Bank is seeking a soft option. Returning “inflation to target too quickly would result in unnecessary instability”. Now inflation is established, there are no soft options. All that printed money is debt. The bank is yet to tell us how it is going to reduce its bond holdings.

While the Reserve Bank procrastinates, the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.  – Richard Prebble

This Government has become like a can of CRC, oiling every irritating squeak which has become a deafening cacophony in recent weeks.  – Barry Soper

I’m not sure if it was the word “loyal” or the long-simmering anger towards the nation of my birth coming to a head, but I suddenly didn’t want to honour New Zealand by choosing a song by one of its legends.

I’m angry at Jacinda Ardern, I’m angry at her parochial and uber-protective policies and I’m angry that I’m banned from the place where – more than any other – I felt I belonged. It’s fair to say I’ve lost faith in the country I once loved and revered.Angela Mollard

The cumulative stories about the human impact of the border policies have sullied New Zealand’s reputation as a fair and decent place.

All countries care about their reputations but it is more important to small countries because they do not hold economic or military power. Being a good international citizen, being an honest broker, doing the right thing has been important to New Zealand. – Audrey Young

The damage to New Zealand is exacerbated by the fact that Arderns’s reputation and New Zealand’s are one and the same. Her international brand, through leadership after the Christchurch massacre, is a caring leader.

Damage to New Zealand reflects badly on her; and damage to her reflects badly on New Zealand. . . She was rightly applauded internationally for the initial response to Covid-19. Now, for the most part, she is rightly being criticised.Audrey Young

This is the insanity of what we’re dealing with. This is a rigged lottery. And I’m talking personally, not as Move Logistics executive director, when I say this: Can we have respect for a system where, basically, citizens are told, you can’t come home?

Non-citizens are told, if you’re an essential worker, whatever that description might be on a particular day. Or if you’re pregnant, and you’re in a third world country, you’re allowed in or not allowed in. So the rules are being made up as people go along. – Chris Dunphy

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the Bellis Embarrassment to understand is what on earth possessed those writing the rules to erect even the smallest obstacles to pregnant New Zealand women returning to their homeland to give birth. For most older New Zealanders, the rule has always been: “Women and children first – and pregnant women before everyone!” We were raised on the tragic example of the doomed “Titanic” – where men gave up their places in the lifeboats for the bearers of the next generation.

What does it say about the current crop of public servants that they were able to create a labyrinth of rules and regulations that made it possible for a British deejay to be welcomed into this country, while denying re-entry to a stranded Kiwi woman and her unborn child?More to the point, what does it say about the current crop of Labour ministers – Chris Hipkins in particular – that they did not intervene, with righteous wrath, to put an end to this unconscionable rejection of that most basic human instinct: the urge to protect, at any cost, mothers and their children?Chris Trotter

But where is the “kindness” in the treatment of Charlotte Bellis, and scores of other pregnant New Zealander women aching to get home? If this desperate, pregnant, Kiwi journalist, stranded in starving Afghanistan, does not deserve kindness – then who does? – Chris Trotter

The risk for Robertson isn’t quite voter revolt – not yet. But the Government did just make it far easier for New Zealanders who spent the past two years in the country to think about moving overseas. Cheaper rent and better pay might not have been much of a draw in 2020 or 2021, when it was paired with longer lockdowns, more Covid-19, and no easy way home if you changed your mind. That won’t be true for 2022. – Henry Cooke

If travel broadens the mind, then perhaps the reverse might also be true.

We have become a more insular country since Covid started, and it is very unattractive. The social media vitriol and judgment directed at journalist Charlotte Bellis for daring to speak out about her predicament last week reflects badly on all who indulged. – Steven Joyce

It was Ms Bellis who was let down by her own country. Forget all the whataboutisms. When she needed to come home, when she needed a safe haven where she could be pregnant and give birth to her child, her country said no. That was simply appalling. It has never been who we are.

It was not just appalling for Ms Bellis. She was simply the human straw that broke the camel’s back. In being rebuffed by the bureaucratic monster that is our managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) system, she joins thousands and thousands before her over the past two years who have had their spirits broken in their time of need. – Steven Joyce

There are too many stories to count where a heartless decision-maker showed no empathy, no ability to walk a mile in the shoes of desperate Kiwis overseas, no willingness to make things right.

Somehow, the Government’s sudden ability to find an MIQ slot for Ms Bellis under the public spotlight of the world’s media made an appalling situation even shoddier. It was a brazen attempt at damage control by ministers, presumably breaking the rules their own officials had been zealously upholding. There was no apology for those who had come before, no acceptance that the policy had been wrong, just cold, naked politics at its worst. – Steven Joyce

Special treatment for those prepared to beg publicly is also not our country. What about all those who didn’t want to make waves, who suffered through their life events in silence, hurt by the intransigence of their own countrymen and women?

It is one of the most basic human rights that people be allowed to come home. The Government knows that. That’s why they maintained the legal fig leaf that the border wasn’t closed. It’s just that you have not been allowed to buy a ticket to come here without an MIQ slot. Which you couldn’t get. George Orwell would have been proud. – Steven Joyce

You can argue that in extremis a country can close its borders for short periods in a pandemic to protect the population. The case can be made that stopping the flow of people while a plan is worked on and new health measures are put in place is justifiable.

But not two years, and not while you sit on your hands and do nothing during that period to allow for more people to exercise their fundamental right to come home.

We passed up building more MIQ places, we passed up home isolation, we passed up privately run MIQ facilities, saliva testing, more hospital capacity, a decent booking system, a timely vaccination programme, or even filling the MIQ places we had … we passed up a lot of things that would have reduced the pain and uncertainty of so many Kiwi families. – Steven Joyce

We were a country of voyagers. Striking out to see the world and seek our fortune. We took Dr Seuss’ The Places You’ll Go! to heart. Travel was a rite of passage, which for some turned into careers offshore, with partners and families. We took pride in their success, basking as New Zealand metaphorically punched above its weight on the world stage.

There’s around a million of us who live offshore now — but always able to come home, to see grandparents, siblings, and reconnect.

Until the past two years.

In those two years we have had to stand in line, often behind DJs, children’s characters, performers, sportspeople and Government MPs, all of whom seemed able to win the MIQ lottery while more deserving cases didn’t. Let alone the people whose skills we need to help run our economy, our schools and our hospitals. Good job, some would chortle in their insular way. We don’t need all those bright young foreigners helping to make New Zealand a better place. – Steven Joyce

A wise friend of mine said at the outset of all this that it is much easier to close things down and encourage people to hide away than it will be to open it all up again. And so it seems. Once people have become fearful of the outside world, it’s hard to move beyond that fear.

Yet we must. We must get out and embrace that world again, let our young people take it on, prove themselves, have adventures and live their lives. We must invite people into our home and conquer our virulent insularity.

Let this be the last time we turn our backs on our own people. There must be a better way to protect ourselves in future that doesn’t involve simply barricading the doors.

We should never stop our own citizens coming home to see their dying relatives, or giving birth here. That’s not selfless and kind. That’s not who we are. – Steven Joyce

But open government appears to be on the wane. This is partly because of the growth in the “communications industrial complex”, where vast battalions of people now work to deflect and avoid, or answer in the most oblique manner possible. We journalists are vastly outnumbered by spin doctors.

And it is partly because of the very tight media ship captained by Jacinda Ardern. The prime minister has won plaudits the world over for her empathetic and straightforward communication style. – Anna Fifield

When I was writing about New Zealand’s response to the pandemic for The Washington Post, almost every minister or ministry I contacted for an interview responded with a variation on: I’ll need to check with the prime minister’s office.

Since coming home, I’ve been surprised by the lack of access to ministers outside carefully choreographed press conferences. – Anna Fifield

Perhaps the most alarming, and certainly the most prevalent, trend I’ve noticed is the almost complete refusal of government departments and agencies to allow journalists to speak to subject experts.

Like, you know, the people who are actually implementing complicated reforms and know what they are talking about. – Anna Fifield

We often just get insufficient answers written in bureaucratese.

There is no opportunity to get them to put their words in a more digestible form. There’s no opportunity to ask them to explain the background to a decision.

There’s certainly no chance to ask them anything like a probing question. That, of course, is the whole point of this stonewalling. – Anna Fifield

This obfuscation and obstruction is bad for our society for two key reasons.

One: It’s in everyone’s interest to have journalists understand the complicated subjects they’re writing about. We need to ask questions. We can’t explain things we don’t understand.

Two: It’s called the public service for a reason. They work for the public, aka you. It is the job of the Fourth Estate to hold the powerful to account. So we should be able to ask reasonable questions – like “When will the $1.25 billion Transmission Gully motorway open?” – and expect something that at least resembles an answer. – Anna Fifield

To be clear, our country is free and open compared to many other parts of the world. But I’m not comparing us to Iran (where I used to ask pointed questions at foreign ministry press conferences all the time) or China (ditto).

I’m comparing us to other proudly open and democratic societies. And I’m comparing us to the us we used to be. Where a journalist could ask a straight question and get a straight answer and deliver it to you – straight. – Anna Fifield

But my favourite must be this supremely arrogant line from the Ministry of Health, asked about releasing data during an Omicron wave: “We will release additional information if it is determined that there is a need to do so.”Anna Fifield

I make two further predictions. First, the Ardern government will be utterly decimated in a landslide defeat next year and second, that in the course of time given some perspective, it will be recorded as the most incompetent by a country mile in our post-war history. – Bob Jones

Politicians bright-side scientific advice when they report it accurately, but selectively. They emphasise the politically helpful parts of this advice but omit the careful but politically-awkward provisos that scientists pair with their advice.Nicholas Agar

While there has been little Covid death, the Government’s stance has exacted a price: mental health issues; the interruption of children’s education; the too-long separation of families due to MIQ restrictions; struggling “hospo” and tourism businesses; the inability to source much-needed staff from offshore; and mounting government debt among them. – Fran O’Sullivan

It is too easy to get on and stay on welfare in New Zealand. Labour have enhanced that ease by reducing the use of sanctions to impose work obligations. They recently shifted thousands of jobseekers onto the sole parent benefit because they no longer had to look for a job. The policy settings changed. It is now OK to keep adding children to a benefit to avoid work. That is not a “well-functioning” welfare system.Lindsay Mitchell

Why anyone, however, would trust the Local Government Minister or the Prime Minister to deal with them in good faith after their sustained deception about mandating Three Waters remains a mystery. – Graham Adams

This is a vengeful government, it’s a nasty government, it’s the exact opposite of a kind government, and it’s exact opposite of an open, honest, and transparent government. Mike Hosking

Because here’s a fact we need to accept: no matter how important climate change is to people, it is hardly ever more important than being able to pay your bills or keep your job. Most people will vote for jobs and a warm house before they vote for the climate.

Governments should – and obviously do – bear that in mind. – Heather du Plessis Allan

Scientific studies show that singing has positive effects on mental health. People who sing are more inclined to be content with life.
Group singing seems to induce the production of oxytocin – the binding hormone that can reduce stress and anxiety, and decrease a sense of loneliness.
Singing heals pain and sorrow and increases a sense of well-being. –
Robert Fulghum

A government that allows trespassers to unlawfully occupy and obstruct the entrances to the land and buildings symbolising its authority, and to block the main streets of its capital city, raises questions about whether it is truly sovereign.

Everyone has a right to go to Parliament’s grounds and protest, but everyone else has a right to visit those grounds and drive around Wellington. In more than three decades of watching students, teachers, farmers, unions, environmentalists, Māori and activists on both sides of social issues march on Parliament, none has behaved as disgracefully as the mob who turned up on Tuesday and refused to leave. – Matthew Hooton

Many are so caught up in conspiracism that their problems appear more medical than legal.

Yet the Wellington political, bureaucratic and media establishments should not kid themselves that only a deranged fringe is feeling enraged by the current situation. Two years of pandemic and the long and preventable Auckland lockdown have fuelled a seething anger towards the Government from a much larger and more reasonable segment of the population, even if its source may be difficult to pinpoint. Matthew Hooton

But more is based on legitimate irritation with a Beehive communications strategy seemingly targeted towards children rather than voting adults, and which cannot admit the slightest fault or setback for fear of undermining Ardern’s global brand as Covid vanquisher. – Matthew Hooton

For its part, the Wellington bureaucracy is under so much pressure from its political masters to support the Beehive narrative that it increasingly provides information that is radically incomplete, contradictory or just plain wrong. – Matthew Hooton

The incoherence in the Government’s Omicron strategy means public co-operation is radically declining, including for tracking and testing. The Beehive may think a few more earnest homilies from the podium of truth will turn that around, but the public isn’t stupid. – Matthew Hooton

This is sneaky reform. Three Waters is designed to relieve smaller communities of the inordinate costs of compliance with an excessive regulatory regime already enacted in law. I doubt it will make beaches and rivers one jot cleaner than current regional council efforts can achieve.

All we stand to get is another fungal outgrowth of government, four super-regional agencies, each with floors of box-ticking bureaucrats making work for contractors, consultants, researchers and publicity staff to comfort you and me, the disenfranchised suckers paying for it.  – John Roughan

Just 53 people have died here from Covid, and our prime minister has been lavished with praise as a result. For much of the pandemic, the team of five million went about their lives pretty much as normal, working maskless, travelling domestically and attending large outdoor gatherings in sunny weather, going home in the evenings to wade through tear-soaked emails from contacts abroad marvelling at our apparent Covid success.

But there has always been another team milling in the shadows, the team of one million, the expatriate Kiwis stranded abroad who have paid a heavy price for their home country’s Covid elimination strategy. – David Cohen

Jacinda Ardern’s plummeting popularity indicates a country questioning not only her racist white-anting of our democracy, but the hypocrisy of her kindness and well-being mantras. Her repeated emphasis on ‘well-being’ on which she stressed her intent to focus, instead of on GDP – when introducing her budget in 2019 – is apparently an important part of the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s ‘Great Reset’ agenda.

New Zealanders have been sold a pup. The economic, mental and emotional well-being of New Zealanders has been far from prioritised by her Labour coalition doing extraordinary damage – and determined on more of the same, judging from the controversial legislation it continues to ram through. – Amy Brooke

The European Commission has tried, so far unsuccessfully, to direct its staff not to refer to Christmas, as if mere mention of the word would act on atheists, animists, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Hindus, and no doubt others, much as garlic flowers or crucifixes acted on Dracula (at least as portrayed by Christopher Lee).

Oddly enough in these times of multiculturalism, mere words provoke apoplexy, at least metaphorically, as never before. Euphemism, evasion and renaming flourish — supposedly in the name of tolerance, but really as exercises of power.  – Theodore Dalrymple

The academics, intellectuals and sub-editors of university presses who use the new style evidently believe that the world is populated by people of extreme psychological fragility, and whose self-esteem, which can be shattered by the mere usage of BC and AD, it is their duty to protect.

Thus does condescension and sentimentality unite with megalomania to produce absurd circumlocutions.Theodore Dalrymple

And this is where cancel culture is eating itself. It’s so inane and ridiculous that you now cannot even enjoy being the gender you are, for fear it upsets those who don’t believe in gender.  – Kate Hawkesby

Where is all this going? What’s the end game here? Why do we all have to be the same? And why do we have to bend and change ourselves constantly to fit in with whoever the latest person or group to be offended is? Surely that’s a bottomless pit?  

There will be no individuality left at all, if we go down that track. I mean the Tweeters that are outraged that she’s apparently confused teenagers by saying she loves being a woman, what about the teenagers who’re seeing this bullying backlash against a woman for saying she likes being a woman? What message is that sending them?  – Kate Hawkesby

Whether you agree or not with the people protesting on parliament grounds is not the debate anymore. What this government, that proclaimed it would govern for all New Zealanders, has done is turn its back on a good number of its people.

How hard can it be to at least front up and talk to the people assembled on parliament grounds?

The final straw for me, and what prompted me to go public, is the way government is treating these people – turning the sprinklers on them knowing there was a storm coming, and playing loud music at night so as to not let them sleep and make them feel miserable. No farmer would treat animals like that!

Although this protest has a different focus to Groundswell NZ, we support their right to be heard and cannot understand or agree with the Government’s actions. What is becoming of our once united and proud country? – Bryce McKenzie

Trevor Mallard has officially lost the plot. . . He’s done it under the guise of protection of course – appointing himself as some overarching protector of all – whether they want or need to be protected or not. 

It’s an old school ‘I know best’ approach that reeks of patriarchy and has no place here in the modern world. But what the Government’s tried to do here – and failed in my opinion, is grab the narrative on this protest and shut it down. Problem is they’ve only made things worse. – Kate Hawkesby

Refusing to speak to the protestors, writing them all off as wacko conspiracy theorists, and rabid far-right anti-vaxxers is a big mistake – and has only served to gaslight the situation. Media who’ve ignored Mallard’s instructions, have managed to gauge a large diversity of views from a raft of other people there too – yes there are your fringe nutters, but actually, the anger runs deep and there’re some genuinely aggrieved people out there too.

Only a fool would dismiss them and hope they go away.

Yet that’s what Mallard, Robertson and Ardern are trying to do. Robertson’s rolled out the usual sneering condescending frown down the nose rhetoric which is so popular in the left-leaning sandpit of Twitter.. just writing them off as dangerous rabid crazies. Mallard has taken it next level – he’s stooped to childish antics of pulling dumb – as someone pointed out “boomer” stunts -– like sticking hoses on them and playing them the Macarena. –Kate Hawkesby

Not even the Police support his actions and have distanced themselves from that stupidity. And why give it this much attention if the government line is supposed to be ignore them? Ardern on the other hand has done what she does best – head in sand, fingers in ears – vanish. She’s invisible. But when put on the spot to address it, she joins the Robertson ‘write them off’ camp.

But it’s not working, the protest is only swelling in number, not even a cyclone diminished their enthusiasm.

The other problem for the government is the hypocrisy on display here. Let’s not forget all these MP’s decrying the protest were all proud protestors themselves back in the day. So they support free speech, and your right to protest.. but only if it aligns with their views. I’m not on the side of the protestors here by the way – they’ve blown this by a long shot – it’s a disorganised shambolic out of control mess.Kate Hawkesby

But I wouldn’t be so arrogant as to write them all off as anti-vaxxers and far-right conspirators. There is genuine anger that runs deep in this now very divided country, over mandates and the campaign of control and fear.

So to just write off those protesting without even hearing them, is a dangerous move I think, by a government increasingly out of its depth. –Kate Hawkesby

Although the protestors aren’t necessarily many people’s cup of tea in terms of approach, demeanour and attitude – the general consensus seems to be that they in their own way represent a wider frustration, if not anger, among many of us. 

That’s why there isn’t a leader or a point of contact or a specific cause. hat’s why it’s been a mistake to call them an anti-vax protest or an anti-mandate group. It’s been a mistake to suggest it’s a mistake that they didn’t have a singular point.

That’s the point, about the lack of a point. They represent all of us that right now have a sense that things aren’t right.Mike Hosking

But it is an outpouring of emotion and I admire people who want to give up a lot of time and effort to travel and hunker down and presumably get a sense of some sort of accomplishment.

Which is why Trevor Mallard specifically, and the Government more generally, have misread this so badly. As a tiny collective they can be, and have been, dismissed but that’s to fail to see that they represent a wider mood.

The Government and Mallard in particular are on the wrong side of this. When you start turning sprinklers on, start playing loud, bad music at them, start pumping out covid-19 ads – you’re being obtuse. – Mike Hosking

Telling the media not to talk to protestors is anti-democratic. Opening your Speaker’s Balcony and telling media to look down on the protestors is also anti-democratic, authoritarian and controlling, not to mention the height of arrogance.

The fact so many of the media acquiesced is of deep concern and probably plays into the protestors beliefs that too much of the media is controlled. It’s certainly not open honest and transparent as Labour so often wanted us to believe they are. 

If the protestors need to be moved that is the job of the police, not a jumped bureaucrat with a puffed-up view of their own entitlement. There are no winners in this. But the more the Mallards of this world look to decry, misinform and bully, the sympathy will build behind those who just want to have their say.   – Mike Hosking

New Zealand’s secular liberal saint, Jacinda Ardern, seems to be losing a little of her previously strong odor of sanctity.  – Theodore Dalrymple

In typical bureaucratic fashion, the rules were interpreted strictly, and made no allowance for the fact that to be stranded pregnant in Afghanistan is a good deal more worrying than to be stranded, middle-aged, non-pregnant, and prosperous, in, say, Switzerland. No doubt the bureaucracy wanted to avoid charges of favoritism—one rule for the prominent and another for the unknown—but it did Ardern’s popularity no good that Bellis felt constrained to turn to those well-known feminist humanitarians, the Taliban, for assistance. They seem to have done the trick: Bellis has now been allowed to return to New Zealand; but in the process, Ardern’s government, not long ago praised as the model for all civilized countries to follow, has been made to look stupid, cruel, and weak.Theodore Dalrymple

The bad news is that each time we’ve made the right decision to buy more time, we’ve made it late and with insufficient planning in place. The strategy has served us well, but the execution much less so.

When the Prime Minister spoke to the nation for the first time this year on 20 January, she repeated stressed that ‘every day counts’ and it was urgent to prepare for Omicron, before going on to tell us that over the summer the government and its agencies had done… sod all.

One example: A new testing regime and the introduction of rapid antigen testing was announced, not with the information that the test were in the country and ready to go, but that they were on order, and in insufficient quantities. – Tim Watkin

Government hesitancy or poor management have been as consistent as the ‘buy time’ tactic. The initial lockdown was a week or two late, the testing at the border got into gear weeks after it was meant to, security at MIQs was only sorted after a number of escapes, more ICU beds were only announced 22 months into the pandemic, and – crucially – the move to order the vaccine and roll out a programme was slow, for all its eventual effectiveness. And we’re paying the price for that slowness now, cutting the gap between second and third doses and less widely boosted than we could have been.

The urgent language Ardern has used since 20 January was also needed before Christmas and over summer. National’s Covid-19 Response spokesman Chris Bishop on 30 December issued a statement headed “Govt must act on boosters, kids vaccines and rapid tests”. –Tim Watkin

Time and again we’ve done the right thing, but late and lackadaisically. And time and again we’ve got lucky. Or, the rightness of the decision has bought us the time to play catch-up. That, for me, has been the defining story of our Covid response and our consistent ‘buy time’ tactics.

But now we face a new phase for New Zealand. Covid-19 has begun entering the community at a level we’ve never seen before. I give thanks to all that is holy that we have bought time and we are facing this now – informed, vaccinated, prepared, up against a less deadly variant – and not at any other time over the past two years, like so much of the rest of the world. – Tim Watkin

Critics have repeatedly – for the best part of two years – insisted that the government’s tactics have run their course and it needs to change. And they’re repeatedly been shown up. But now we truly are at the end of the ‘buy time’ era. We’ve bought all the time we could and the wave is upon us. Two years in and the government will need to pivot and take a new approach. Let’s hope their decision-making is as sound, but their execution improves. Because the thing about waves is that they keep on coming.Tim Watkin

Critics have repeatedly – for the best part of two years – insisted that the government’s tactics have run their course and it needs to change. And they’re repeatedly been shown up. But now we truly are at the end of the ‘buy time’ era. We’ve bought all the time we could and the wave is upon us. Two years in and the government will need to pivot and take a new approach. Let’s hope their decision-making is as sound, but their execution improves. Because the thing about waves is that they keep on coming.Tim Watkin

The day a Speaker dictates to the media on how a story can be told would be a dark day for democracy.

It fits with the current Beehive though: a government by remote control, refusing to engage with those on the ground who don’t fit their mould and that’s most certainly unwise if not unkind. – Barry Soper

We’re fighting all these regulations and restrictions to keep operating, to keep job security going.. . It’s just decimating and it’s so hard for businesses to figure this out when the rules are constantly changing, we’re just tired of all these changes and restrictions. If it was simple – if it was like just RAT tests, clear, come to work, that’d be great, but it’s not, we’ve got all these minefields to work through.Simon Berry

Our besotted would-be train-spotters seriously oversell the benefits of “light” rail, such as the downtown-airport link. Who would want to trundle along in a train, stopping and starting at 18 stations en route, when an express bus using dedicated bus lanes can get you there in 35 minutes, as it often got me there pre-Covid? – Tim Hazledine

Even without the patently loony proposal to dig a long tunnel under Sandringham Rd, we have here a proposed “light” rail project that will cost New Zealand’s three million taxpayers between three and five thousand dollars each. This for the benefit of about 30,000 Auckland commuters, to improve their access to the higher-paid jobs in the CBD, if that’s still what they want to do. Tim Hazledine

THE NEW ZEALAND liberal or woke left, most of it directly connected to the Labour Party or supportive of it, has lost its mind. How else can you explain its maniacal pursuit of ‘right wing extremists’, ‘Nazis’ and ‘white supremacists’ within the several hundred people dancing to Bob Marley on Parliament grounds? When Rob Muldoon used to be mocked by Labourites for looking for ‘reds under the bed’, today’s Labourites are worthy of our derision as they hunt for Nazis in every occupation tent.  – Against the Current

What the liberal left has been demonstrating is something other than liberalism. It instead owes much to the scourge of identity politics. It has displayed a toxic politics that’s profoundly anti-working class and which has jettisoned tolerance and free debate for  shaming, threats and intimidation. While the folk at the occupation have been remarkably optimistic and good humoured in the circumstances, the liberal left has been petulant, joyless, trivial and status quo-perpetuating. Against the Current

More disturbingly though, the liberal left has displayed a willingness to unleash state violence against dissenters. The mask has come off to reveal something very ugly.  – Against the Current

The liberal left has indeed lost its mind. What we have seen on display for the past eight or so days is a motley rabble of cowardly keyboard warriors who are seeking to extinguish an emerging independent working class politics that owes no allegiance to the political status quo that the woke left benefits from. This is the real ‘crime’ of the Wellington occupation. Against the Current

Shoot me now!  New Zealand’s system of science education continues to go down the toilet (along with Donald Trump’s papers, I guess) as everyone from government officials to secondary school teachers to university professors pushes to make Mātauranga Māori (“MM”) or Māori “ways of knowing” coequal with science, to be taught as science in science classes. All of them intend for this mixture of legend, superstition, theology, morality, philosophy and, yes, some “practical knowledge” to be given equal billing with science, and presumably not to be denigrated as “inferior” to real science. (That, after all, would be racism.) It’s one thing to teach the indigenous ways of knowing as sociology or anthropology (and but of course “ways of knowing” differ all over the world); it’s another entirely to say that they’re coincident with modern science.

The equation of “ways of knowing” like MM with modern science is, of course, part of the Woke Program to “decolonize science”. The problem, of course, is we have a big conflict—one between a “way of knowing that really works“, which is science, and on the other side a reverence for the oppressed and their culture, embodied in MM.  The result is, of course, that the oppressed win, and all over the Anglophonic world science is being watered down, downgraded, pushed aside, or tarred with adjectives like “white supremacist” and “colonialist.” – Jerry Coyne

The purpose of education, at least as I see it, is to impart generally accepted knowledge to students, and to teach them how to think and how to defend and analyze their views. This is precisely the opposite of MM, which is a kind of theology that cannot be questioned or falsified. Under my construal, education is indeed for everyone, but for those groups who have spiritual/religious/moral values that differ from those of other groups, they have to get those things reinforced on their own time.Jerry Coyne

People of Aotearoa: rise up against this nonsense! Do you want your science education to become the laughingstock of the world? For that is what will happen if the benighted keep barrelling along that dual carriageway of science and nescience. – Jerry Coyne

his country survives on trading, often in markets at the other side of the world.

The fact that our standard of living is rated amongst the richest countries on the planet is solely dependent on our exporters having a better product to sell and being able to market it better than our competitors. It follows that the more you sell at these prices, the more we can afford to deliver higher living standards to the whole population of New Zealand. More and better schools and health services. More aged care and handicapped facilities. Better infrastructure, sporting, and leisure facilities.

As the economy grows, we all benefit.Clive Bibby

It says something about the time we are in that politicians cannot state they are listening to a group without it being assumed they are therefore part of that group.- Brigitte Morten

It is unlikely the protestors, now emboldened by seven days in horrible weather, blasting music, and overflowing portaloos, will be easily mollified. But it is clear that the government’s decision to dismiss their views has validated these citizen’s argument that they do not have a voice.Brigitte Morten

Irrespective of where you sit in the mandated vaccination debate, it is an extreme level of government coercion. Some of us will roll with it. In fact, close to 90% of the eligible population has done what the government has asked of it. But enforced coercion must be proportionate to the level of risk to public health and this is where the case for the mandated vaccination enters murky ground for those who gathered outside Parliament. The vaccine will stop our hospital system being swamped, but it doesn’t stop transmission.

You have both removed a citizen’s right to choose what is injected into their bloodstream and you have told them they will also get the virus. Are we really that surprised people have taken to the streets to oppose mandated vaccination? Has New Zealand society ever been this divided and this angry?  – Rachel Smalley

As I write this, the government hasn’t met with any of the protestors. Sure, some of the behaviour has been appalling and there are security issues, but few, if any, of the protestors would describe themselves as feeling recognised and free from prejudice. I don’t agree with their argument, but I support their right to be heard. And if you refuse to listen, the mob just keeps yelling.  Rachel Smalley

Two years into this pandemic, the government and many of its agencies are still heavily distracted by Covid. The focus remains laser-like on the virus, but the protests have shown us what happens when a government loses its peripheral vision across all of society. New Zealand is turning on itself. . . The government is throwing everything at containing the Covid monster but, in doing so, it has run the risk of fuelling another monster that is far, far harder to contain.   – Rachel Smalley

The fight is far from over. Trans activists wield an enormous amount of cultural power, and their ideology is far from discredited in the eyes of progressive politicians, delusional academics, and their media microphones. Many still insist that without sex change surgeries and life-long dependence on drugs, gender dysphoric children will kill themselves—and this threat packs potent power. Yet, from the British Isles to the Continent to the Nordic nations, people are beginning to wake up. Major medical institutions are beginning to put research over ideology. Each time this happens, trans activists lose power that they can never recover. And as the ugly and irreversible consequences of their delusional experiment become clearer, we can begin to hope that their narrative will implode sooner than seemed possible only a short time ago.

For the sake of the children being inducted into lives of perpetual medicalization, I desperately hope so.  – Jonathon Van Maren 

Truth is never absolute. We should be inherently wary of those who proclaim a particular viewpoint – political, religious, or otherwise – with a ferocity that tolerates no possibility of an alternative view, let alone that it may contain some points of validity.

Unfortunately, we live in circumstances where not only has truth become absolute, but also where virtually any actions in defence of that new absolute are considered acceptable. In nearly every aspect of today’s society, reason and considered debate are giving way to uncompromising absolutes, with little room for the traditional middle ground between them. – Peter Dunne

 There is a new vehemence abroad that accepts no good in any contrary view and no acceptable justification in any stand or action taken to promote that view. Because the particular view being expressed is considered to be wrong, all those who hold or even dally with it are mercilessly scorned and vigorously condemned.

The bigger picture, beyond this protest, and beyond Covid-19, is far more disturbing. Something is seriously wrong when protestors can see threatening to execute politicians and journalists because they disagree with them as legitimate. Equally, when political leaders can justify not being willing to engage in any form of dialogue with the protestors simply because they do not like the views they are expressing smacks of high-handed intolerance. It suggests our capacity for rational discourse and reasoned debate about a controversial issue has broken down completely. More worryingly, the vehemence of expression on both sides of the argument makes it difficult to see how differences of this type can ever be resolved constructively while such polarised positions and mistrust endure. – Peter Dunne

Having tasted attention and notoriety this way, the mob will not be easily dissuaded from similar action the next time an issue that riles them arises. We need to redefine the rules of social engagement in such circumstances, in a way that brings respect, reason and debate, rather than abusive slogans and haranguing, back to the forefront of public discourse. However unacceptable or offensive they may consider the views of the protestors, political leaders cannot remain haughtily detached, hiding behind civil authorities such as the police.

At its heart good leadership is about engagement – hearing from and listening to the disparate views of the community at large and then acting in a considered way in response. Good leadership is not simply telling people what to do and expecting unquestioning compliance. It also means having the courage to acknowledge the diversity of public opinion and its right to be expressed.

Personally distasteful it may feel, our political leaders across the spectrum need to initiate some form of dialogue with protest leaders to ease tensions and limit future recurrences. Otherwise, like Covid-19 itself, the new intolerance now emerging will, to our collective detriment, quickly become endemic. Peter Dunne

The transfer of sympathy from the victims of crime to the criminal has been going on for a long time. This transfer is now taken as a sign of broadmindedness and moral generosity, marking out the intellectual from the general run of prejudiced, thoughtless or censorious persons. – Theodore Dalrymple

It is hardly surprising criminals take advantage of a tendency among the educated to view them as the victims of their own conduct. The criminals may be ignorant, ill-educated and foolish, but they are not therefore stupid. They know the emotional and intellectual weaknesses of their enemies or opponents and are prepared to exploit them.Theodore Dalrymple

The root cause of crime is the decision to commit it: indeed, without such a decision, there is, or ought to be, no crime to answer. Of course, human decisions are affected by many factors, among them (but not exclusively) the likely adverse legal consequences for the people who make them. – Theodore Dalrymple

A fascinating political and sociological fault line has opened up – one that defies the normal understanding of New Zealand’s political dynamics. People at the bottom of the heap, as political scientist Bryce Edwards describes them – many of them working-class and provincial, with no formal organisational structure – have risen up in defiance of the all-powerful political class, the urban elites who are accustomed to calling the shots and controlling political discourse. I would guess most of the protesters outside Parliament have not previously been politically active and may not feel allegiance to any particular party. They appear to be angry about a number of things.  Covid-19 and the vaccination mandate galvanised them into action, but it’s possible there are deeper, less easily articulated grievances – such as perceptions of powerlessness and exclusion – simmering beneath the surface. – Karl du Fresne

 Most commentators in the mainstream media are framing the occupation of the parliamentary lawn as being orchestrated by sinister right-wing extremists, and therefore devoid of any legitimacy. How paper-thin their tolerance of the right to dissent has proved to be. The clear implication (where it’s not explicitly stated) is that the occupation is not a legitimate expression of the right to protest by sincerely motivated New Zealanders who present no threat to anyone, but an alarming phenomenon driven by alt-right agitators with an ulterior agenda. But there’s a very marked discrepancy between reports from people who have actually been on the ground at Molesworth St, who generally describe the event as peaceful and good-natured, and those who make judgments from afar and take refuge in simplistic stereotypes about the type of people who are protesting. – Karl du Fresne

I get the distinct impression that politicians from all the parties in Parliament, even ACT, feel threatened by this sudden gesture of assertiveness by the great unwashed and don’t know how to handle it. MPs have done themselves no favours by refusing to engage with the protesters. For one thing, it looks cowardly; for another, it reinforces the perception that the politicians prefer to remain isolated in their bubble rather than sully themselves by talking to a bunch of scruffs who dared to challenge the political consensus. Unusually, this protest is a rebuke to the entire political establishment, which the politicians probably find unsettling because it’s outside their realm of experience.  But they need to get off their high horse; the people standing in the mud outside Parliament are New Zealanders, after all. – Karl du Fresne

As part of the Parliament protest there are conspiracy theorists trying to take advantage to sell their wares, offensive signs, threatening language, destruction of property, and abuse of bystanders and local business.  None of this is okay.

Some use these reasons to treat protestors like they are deplorables; to argue that because some of the group are like this, none of the group should be listened to. But, as we saw in Trump’s America, the deplorables have a vote just like the intellectuals. And they have some valid grievances.Brigitte Morten

No politicians, from any party, have met with the protestors. They are too scared of media reporting contact by them with protestors as if it signified anti-vax sentiment. That is not fanciful. It says something about the time we are in that politicians cannot state they are listening to a group without it being assumed they are therefore part of that group. – Brigitte Morten

There is no such thing as a ‘right to protest’. In our Bill of Rights there are rights to free speech and freedom of assembly. But not explicitly to protest. There is no unfettered right for the protestors to camp on the lawns or increasingly block more roads in the Wellington CBD.

In the same way the government was not able to hold Aucklanders in lockdown as long as they wanted because people simply would not comply; the protestors will also lose empathy for their cause if they continue their hinderance of Wellingtonians for too long. You cannot argue the government mandates unfairly treated destroyed your livelihood while destroying the livelihoods of the businesses surrounding Parliament. The social contract goes both ways. – Brigitte Morten

Those calling for the Police to forcibly remove people from Parliament grounds underestimate how difficult this will be. If the current protesters are violently suppressed, the conspiracy claims of far right inspiration will become real. Thousands of previously apolitical New Zealanders will have seen that our democracy has no place for them, and the language of force is all that is left if they are not to be oppressed indefinitely. – Brigitte Morten

It is unlikely the protestors, now emboldened by seven days in horrible weather, blasting music, and overflowing portaloos, will be easily mollified.

But it is clear that the government’s decision to dismiss their views has validated these citizen’s argument that they do not have a voice.Brigitte Morten

 What are the building blocks of democracy? As “anti-mandate” protesters camp on Parliament grounds and images of police versus protesters fill our newsfeeds, it’s a timely reminder that trust, transparency, informed debate and respect for our civil institutions underpin a healthy democracy.

Beyond the many humanitarian and economic costs due to Covid, we cannot afford democracy and social cohesion to become casualties. – Sir Peter Gluckman

Trust in the political process has progressively fallen, the manipulation of information, the emergence of alternative facts, the blatant loss of transparency and respect for the truth are all features of many so-called democracies. Sir Peter Gluckman

Democracy has always depended on the integrity of both policy and political institutions and transparency in policymaking and knowledge. It requires ideas and policy to be contested civilly both through an informed and empowered opposition and an engaged civil society with the assistance of a robust fourth estate. From Plato’s thinking onwards, an honest and well-informed electorate has been central to effective democracy. – Sir Peter Gluckman

Arguably, there have been other costs, including democracy as an institution itself. There is a sense that decisions have been made without the deep oversight of Parliament and the plurality of external voices that makes for a quality democracy. Issues over Covid testing date well over a year now, including severe criticism from the Auditor-General over contracts, and now the availability of rapid antigen tests. There remains uncertainty about the rationale behind those decisions.

Crisis management is always best served by contesting ideas and approaches before decisions are made. In the private sector and military, “red teams” are commonly used to explore alternatives and ask frank questions of those managing the response. The furore about the role of the private sector and how its operational expertise could be of value has been evident since early in the pandemic and the next phase of the pandemic will be even more complex.Sir Peter Gluckman

Sustaining trust and cohesion is hard and requires real efforts to reinforce transparency and promote open discussion on difficult matters. This involves respecting the value of diverse inputs and avoiding any sense of Government abdicating accountability through confusing language. An informed electorate, open discourse, empowered citizens, and respect for the institutions of civic society are some of the greatest assets New Zealand could have. – Sir Peter Gluckman

Prognostication’s a curse. You can see the train wreck coming, you can shout about it, but you just can’t convince an utterly useless government to do a damned thing about it. 

Bit of a shame that the Herald piece didn’t mention that all of this was entirely predictable, was predicted, and could have been avoided by contracting for more capacity with a testing lab that wasn’t running pooled samples. Eric Crampton

Dismissive arrogance towards the protesters at Parliament is making the situation worse.

That’s not just Parliament’s high-handed approach. Opinion pieces and public sentiment that mock and sneer at people’s sincerely held beliefs serves to isolate those in our community who reckon the Government has got it wrong. – David Fisher

These are just some of the chisels placed in cracks in our civil society. And then the pandemic came along, bringing anxiety, fear and uncertainty and smashed them like a sledgehammer. It caused industries to collapse, businesses and jobs to go, people’s dreams and hopes to disappear. Across our society, there is tension and, among many, the vacuum of despair.

That’s the hole dis/misinformation filled. That’s how it became possible for some people to self-radicalise and how it led to the protest at Parliament.David Fisher

With such absolute surety on both sides, arguing over who is right and who is wrong is pointless. Rational argument and discussion has little place here. Those who have committed to their respective positions will not shift.

To dismiss those people – as the Prime Minister does by citing our 95 per cent vaccination rate – is wrong. To mock those people, as some in Parliament have done, is worse. Isolation is a classic part of the radicalisation process. The further and harder you push people away, the more fixed they become. – David Fisher

For every person that did make the journey, there are many others who wished they were there. They are people who stayed home and expected when they came out it would be over, who got their jabs and then thought that would be it, who had children stuck overseas, who knew someone who couldn’t go to their mother’s funeral, who lost their house when they lost their job. – David Fisher

The way out of the protest is not through the protest but with the protest. Rather than dismiss the protesters, recognise that the views they hold are genuine and hard-earned. Recognise they dedicated considerable thought to their views and adopted a stance that is honest and principled.

Having done so, recognise too that it is the one thing on which we disagree that is making it difficult to see what we like about each other. Finding a circuit-breaker to do that is hard but necessary.

Ultimately, most of those on Parliament’s forecourt want the same thing as those inside Parliament’s walls – for New Zealand to be a free and open democracy in which we are able to live our lives in the best way possible, subject to the freedoms enjoyed by each other.- David Fisher

For me, that’s been one of the interesting little hypocrisies in this whole episode. On one hand, politicians wanted to take a moralistic high ground by refusing to meet with protesters. How dare anyone dignify them with a response?! Only the moralistic high ground apparently didn’t apply to the Speaker, his sprinklers, and his irritating playlist.

Trevor Mallard’s efforts can only have served to antagonise the protesters. And every bit of scorn and hate hurled upon them only reinforces their self-image. The team of five million? Ha. This rabble, confused, misled, and deluded as they may be, felt well and truly left out of the team of five million. They joined together to protest precisely because they felt like outsiders. They felt ostracised. Very little from the past 10 days will have changed their minds. – Jack Tame

Yes, there were terrible, hateful, threatening messages. As far as I’m concerned, anyone making death threats should have been arrested immediately. But in this morass of different grievances and complaints are some very reasonable and articulate concerns around extraordinary state mandates. Personally, I don’t know why any right-thinking person who was only protesting the mandates would choose to stay and be associated
with someone making death threats. But the mandate issue is worthy of protest. I don’t agree with the protesters, but they do have a right to be heard. – Jack Tame

Hindsight is a very effective strategist, but there is one moment police may look back upon as the lost opportunity to nip the anti-mandate protests at Parliament in the bud.

That was on the afternoon of the first day the protesters arrived – Tuesday nearly two weeks ago. Claire Trevett

The poor old police in particular have been made to look like laughing stocks. They appear to have severely underestimated the size and intent of the protest group, despite the social media that prefaced it.

There have been moments that have begged to be lampooned. High among them was Police Commissioner Andrew Coster’s so-called towing crackdown.

Coster did not front publicly until Tuesday – a week after the protesters arrived. He said the protest was now “untenable” and put protesters on notice that if they did not move their cars, the towing would begin the next day. He also admitted they could not find towies to do the job, and the Army didn’t have the right equipment.

The next day the only car that was actually towed was a police car, which had a flat tyre. – Claire Trevett

The protesters have not made serious attempts to storm Parliament, beyond a brief flurry at the very start. Coster’s “de-escalation” strategy appears to be police-speak for hoping like hell the protesters stay that way. Claire Trevett

But the protest has long gone past the point at which police could simply wade into it and break it up. Coster has set out why: moving in with force at this point would be very ugly indeed.

Consent – the consent of the protesters rather than the wider public – is pretty much the only option left. – Claire Trevett

There is a danger the inhabitants of the parliamentary precinct have spent the week missing the wood for the trees. In focusing on the protesters directly in front of them, they seem oblivious to a much bigger mood shift that’s going on around the country.

What if what they are seeing is just the tip of the iceberg?Steven Joyce

There is, however, a large and growing group of New Zealanders who have had their lives severely disrupted by the Government’s actions “for the greater good”, who are sick of having their plight ignored.

And there is a big bunch more who have had a gutsful of the ever-changing rules and restrictions in the face of what they see as a very mild strain of Covid-19. It is these larger groups the Government should be most worried about.

The evidence of discontent and disagreement is growing all around us. – Steven Joyce

 The Covid response has created many losers. We’ve rightly talked a lot about the people caught on the wrong side of the border. But they are not the only ones.

Anyone who owns or works in a hospitality business or a small retail shop is another. People working in tourism or international education have been in a world of woe. Young people have had their education disrupted and their sporting dreams curtailed.

There are people living in pain because their elective surgery or cancer treatment has been postponed to the never-never. They have all been stopped from doing things which were previously part of normal life. Covid has whipped the rug out from under them.

It is perhaps not surprising when so many have had their lives turned upside down through no fault of their own, that a few will turn to conspiracy theories and the like.Steven Joyce

The Government certainly didn’t create the pandemic, but some of their actions have made it much worse than it needed to be. The vaccination delays, the inexplicable obstinacy against new forms of testing, the failure to increase hospital capacity, the layers upon layers of levels, traffic lights and stages which make people’s heads spin. – Steven Joyce

Then there are all the other tone-deaf announcements that heap insult on injury. What planet would you have to be on to think that whacking small businesses with a 6 per cent minimum wage increase and a new social insurance tax, plus the spectre of centralised wage negotiations, were good ideas now?

Why would you think that announcing a $15 billion light rail project for a privileged few in Auckland makes any sense when you are racking up debt all over the place that the next generation is going to be lumbered with? And at the same time as there is a real question mark over the future of commuting as we knew it?

And why would you be consulting on tighter immigration, visitor and student controls when your biggest problem after some pretty shoddy treatment amid two years of closed borders will be persuading enough people to come here?Steven Joyce

The Government’s dogmatic determination to continue with a policy programme made instantly out of date by the pandemic indicates the same lack of flexible thinking apparent in their Covid response. They expect everyone else to adjust and cope but they intend to sail on, determined to do things they thought of six or seven years ago irrespective of current circumstances.

And their blind loyalty to the Ministry of Health and its Director-General is a sight to behold. Dr Bloomfield has been politically dissembling at best about his organisation’s confiscation of RAT test orders. In any other Government he would have been carpeted and there would be talk of resignation. – Steven Joyce

The country’s mood is darkening, and in dismissing the protesters and their motivations, the Prime Minister and her MPs are giving the appearance that they are dismissing all the concerns people are raising, or even just quietly thinking about.

I can’t tell the Government how to get the protesters to go home, although firing Trevor Mallard would probably help. I suspect in the meantime the numbers will only grow.

Ministers need to lift their sights and focus on the wider discontent among the public outside Wellington and outside the Bowen triangle.

If ministers showed a willingness to genuinely listen, adjust their policy response, and convince Kiwis they both care about and will mitigate the disruption in people’s lives, then they can right the ship. At that point the protest will also probably peter out. If they don’t, then a few hundred assorted protesters and conspiracy theorists camped on the lawn at Parliament will be the least of their problems.Steven Joyce

I would say there’s probably a three-tier mandate. So the hairy shirt level is employment and losing your job, the next level down is the irritation level of not being able to do stuff you want to do, and then the third level down, which I think to be perfectly honest probably shouldn’t have been there in the first place, is a kind of mandate creep where we’ve been trying to really encourage secondary school students in that 12 to 17 year old age group to step up and get their doses which they have,” McIntyre said.

But schools have overinterpreted that and are imposing all these unnecessary restrictions on kids in that age group, not being able to play sport, not being able to go and participate in school activities, and it’s all because of their parents’ decisions which they are being punished for,” he said.

And let’s face it, you know, even if they are vaccinated, they are mixing with a whole group of other kids who are very low risk and they’re incredibly low risk now they’ve had their two doses, so I think particularly that third group, the kind of mandate that should never have been there in the first place, so I think that’s really an important one to tackle first. – Peter McIntyre

Why has a school been denied tests whilst it seeks to protect the health & safety of its own students & parents? Why has the government interfered with the contract? Our politicians and public officials would tell you that it has to do with things like MedSafe Approval – that health & safety red-tape is necessary when importing medical-related products.

However, that’s just one half of the truth. The other half is that our government has a very strong ideological problem with private sector involvement in the health-care sector.Robert MacCulloch

Yes, the government doesn’t want buyers & sellers which it doesn’t control coming together to do deals together in the health-sector. Although they say its about public health, it’s equally as much about ideology. Labour has an anti-privatization philosophy. At present, in the context of virus-testing, that philosophy has just become a health hazard. – Robert MacCulloch

Largely Covid-free, New Zealand has been viewed as a paradise for much of the last two years. Jacinda Ardern, already considered by many the Mother Teresa of the Antipodes, excelled in the early stages, acting decisively and with compassion. Appealing to the population to act as one, her “Team of Five Million” approach did wonders for national unity at a time when most other leaders were floundering and failing. No wonder I voted for her – twice.

But times have changed. Once saintly, Jacinda now appears merely silly, having led New Zealand to a place that looks more like a smug cul-de-sac than a nation wholly reliant on overseas tourism and trade. Then again, long-term strategic thinking was never a feature of her government’s Covid response, with “elimination” taking precedence over vaccination for much of 2021.   – Joanna Grochowicz

Not that anyone in New Zealand is really focusing on what she got wrong. Ardern’s $55 million (£27m) sweetener in the form of the Public Interest Journalism Fund has enabled her government to exert tremendous influence over private sector media outlets, as well as tightly control-messaging through state media channels. So much so that any coverage critical of Ardern now originates from pundits in Australia or Britain. Most recently, opposition leader David Seymour had to turn to the Daily Mail to get an opinion piece printed. This is when silly starts looking sinister.

If democracy is built on the ability to question those in power and hold them to account, then the Kiwi media are wholly complicit in Ardern’s swing from immaculate heart to autocrat. The major opposition party National have only made their job easier by offering nothing more headline-grabbing than leadership squabbles. Then again, the opposition’s perceived infighting might just be the PM’s grand media bribe in action. Gosh, she’s good!  – Joanna Grochowicz

Nobody can see the silent assassin at work next door; nor the mental health crisis her government’s Covid response has unleashed on New Zealand, where youth suicide rates are already the highest in the developed world. It certainly doesn’t fit the image of the leader I voted for – the young woman breastfeeding her new born at the UN General Assembly, the compassionate leader who offered succour to survivors of 2019’s Christchurch massacre. Here was a rare thing! A leader who understood both grand gestures and nuance.

Of course, there is nothing nuanced about Ardern’s shameless Covid scare tactics. They’ve worked a treat, keeping the public vehemently opposed to opening the country’s borders, and compliant in the face of tyrannical restrictions even as the rest of the world is emerging from crisis. Especially when combined with the bread of endlessly extended wage subsidies; and circuses in the form of a parade of overseas DJs, sports teams and stage shows that have breezed in without needing to enter the dreaded MIQ lottery.Joanna Grochowicz

Her latest diversion has worked. Terrifying the Team of Five Million, and focusing their fear and loathing on outsiders importing pestilence into paradise, is a highly effective strategy – if a little lacking in originality. Despots for thousands of years have deployed such methods to distract their subjects from something infinitely more damaging to long-term wellbeing – an unchallenged leader.

Ardern’s lack of transparency runs deep. One example, the He Puapua report currently before her Cabinet, was hidden from former coalition partner, New Zealand First. Finally outed as a result of an Official Information Act request, the report recommends a raft of co-governance structures along racial lines. – Joanna Grochowicz

Already, we are witnessing the corrosive impact of these policies and plans on national unity; and yet these issues and many others are being decided behind closed doors, with no regard for democratic process. Governments do this all the time, right? At least, oppressive regimes do.

What’s particularly galling for me is the mind control Ardern has exerted over the population. Coming back here, I’m shocked at how few have lost their faith, and baffled by the self-congratulatory mood that pervades the country. After two years of sermonising from Ardern and nowhere to drink other than from the government fountainhead, New Zealanders have turned into a nation of self-congratulatory, cavorting maenads.

Mea culpa. In voting for Mother Teresa, I unwittingly ushered Caligula into office. The parallels are there: noble and moderate for a period, admired all over the world “from the rising to the setting sun”. Our esteemed leader has become self-absorbed, cruel and dangerous. Where’s it all leading? I’d love to know, but getting to the truth in New Zealand is a tricky business nowadays. I prefer my chances at the London bacchanal – there at least I can be assured in vino veritas!Joanna Grochowicz

There are, of course, complaints and complaints. Some are purely individual or egotistical, but some point to general problems that affect many other people or the whole of society itself. A complaint is then emblematic of something beyond itself and may even become socially useful or necessary. Complaint that is merely about oneself is often akin to whining, and often serves to justify descent into the psychological swamp of resentful self-pity. – Theodore Dalrymple

There is thus an asymmetry between complaint and gratitude: one complains when things don’t work as they should, but one feels no gratitude when they do. There is a similar asymmetry where human rights are concerned: you complain when they are violated but are not grateful for receiving your due.

Perhaps this explains why people seem so angry all the time despite the unprecedented physical ease of their lives. As we grow ever more technically sophisticated as a society, but individually dependent upon mechanisms of whose workings we have not the faintest idea, we come to expect life to proceed like a hot knife proceeds through butter. When things go wrong – the computer crashes, the train is late, the car won’t start, the gutter is blocked, the bank’s website has a temporary problem, the promised delivery doesn’t arrive – we feel a quite disproportionate despair because of our expectations, though the inconvenience we suffer as a result is trivial by comparison with the kind of problems and deprivations that our forebears had to endure even within living memory, and did so with more equanimity than we can muster.Theodore Dalrymple

It is now almost impossible to remain out of range of those with whom we would rather have no contact. Future generations will never know the joys of being incommunicado. The world is too much with us, wrote Wordsworth getting and spending – and that was in 1802! It is not too much with us now; it is with us perpetually, all the time. – Theodore Dalrymple

On the other hand, recognition of what is and is not within our control is an important manifestation of maturity. How far that control extends was the most important intellectual quarrel of the twentieth century, with extremists arguing either that nothing in a man’s life, or alternatively that everything, was under his control. The extreme positions obviate the need for judgment of individual cases, which Hippocrates told us (in the medical context) is difficult. However, that something is difficult does not go to show that it can or ought to be dispensed with. Life is not the passage of a hot knife through butter. – Theodore Dalrymple

Those MPs who are refusing to even meet with the protesters, seem to have forgotten that they were elected to listen to the concerns of constituents and represent their views in Parliament.

Not only have our political elite shown themselves to be tone deaf about the protest, they also appear to be equally uninformed about Omicron, which is now sweeping through the country at a great rate of knots. – Muriel Newman

The political elite in Wellington have misjudged the situation by maligning and dismissing the protesters. Their misrepresentation of those who are standing up for what they believe, will simply harden their resolve, and result in more good Kiwis like Sir Russell Coutts going to Wellington to support a movement that is aimed at ending forced vaccinations and restoring human rights, dignity, and the freedom of choice for New Zealanders. Muriel Newman

We live in a community. Obligations to one another flow from that. At the same time, obligations must be checked by individual freedoms because it is almost impossible for an individual to opt out. The law follows you to the boundaries of the State. Civilised societies try to find the right balance between communal obligations and individual freedoms. People tend to gravitate to societies which are relatively skewed towards individual freedoms. Migration flows speak to that. Empirically, such societies are also the most prosperous. Individual freedoms and prosperity move in sync. – Peter Smith

There is no opposition among the major political parties on combatting the virus, as there isn’t any more on combatting so-called “climate change.” In such circumstances despotism flourishes.

Media today verses yesterday: For sure, much more leftness, greenness, feminisation and callowness; but, dwarfing all of these pernicious trends is a precipitous fall in questioning curiosity, objectivity and common sense. Shows no signs of reversing. – Peter Smith

There’s something symbiotic about the protestors outside Parliament Buildings and the ministers inside who won’t talk to them. Both are motley, arrogant and short-sighted; they radiate confusion and specialize in messaging that is hard to understand. Virtually everything ministers have promised over the last four and a half years has crumpled in their hands, from building 100,000 new houses, abolishing homelessness, lifting people out of poverty, improving education, fixing the country’s creaking infrastructure, and enhancing race relations that have never been in a worse state. – Michael Bassett

The protestors are similarly confused on everything from a clear purpose through to whether they even want to talk to those who don’t want to talk to them. Most in this diverse assemblage of New Zealand’s modern underclass are engaged in a rumble with an “up you” message to the rest of us. As well, there’s a thin layer of brighter ideologues who are worried about the creeping shroud of authoritarianism that Jacinda Ardern is encasing us in. But, for the most part the IQ level on both sides is about equal. Some protestors would have happily joined Trump’s January 2021 Capitol riot; others are drawing welfare rather than having any work obligations. Both sides are mostly on the public payroll. The current ministers have similarly impoverished educational backgrounds and narrow life experience. Both sides seem ill-equipped to talk to produce a constructive dialogue, even if anyone wanted to.Michael Bassett

The Prime Ministerial complaint appears to be that anti-mandate protests are acceptable, but anti-vaccine protesters were beyond some imaginary red line and thus were not to be tolerated.

But – and I realise this will come to as a shock to a few in the Beehive and those who pander to them – our political elites do not get to define the boundaries of legitimate dissent. –  Damien Grant

What the prime minister meant, I suspect, is it isn’t how she and her cohort of performance revolutionaries choose to conduct themselves, where the object was to get the Instagram photo and move on somewhere comfortable for a soy latte and vegan muffin. Getting mud on your designer clothing was to be avoided and being arrested was definitely not on the cards. Thank you very much.Damien Grant

There is a qualitative difference between the theatre of protest and the real thing. Those who marched in Auckland in support of Black Lives Matter or against Donald Trump in the Women’s March after his election, were engaging in performative protest.

Their lives were not impacted, they had no expectation of effecting change, and the wrong being committed was happening in another country. This isn’t to diminish the significance of the issues or the genuine feelings of those who turned out, but we should not confuse these marchers with those who stood in the field at Rugby Park in Hamilton wearing helmets. – Damien Grant

Yet we understand that florid language is the last recourse of the powerless, a final act of impotent defiance against the relentless power of the state. To point at the weakest member of our community, whose pitiful status is the result of your policies, and feign outrage as he scribbles pathetically in chalk is a weak moral position.

It makes sense that Trevor Mallard put on the sprinklers and played bad music at the crowd, because such a strategy would have deterred him and his parliamentary colleagues. Demonstrations were to be done only in fine weather and during gentlemen’s hours.Damien Grant

Those who refuse the vaccines do so for a variety of complex reasons, but if you are willing to lose your career rather than take the jab, then we need to acknowledge that this belief is genuine, if mistaken. But then, many believe all sorts of things are bad for them, from religion to a liking for craft beer.

If you believe that mRNA is going to rewire your genetics, you are not going to take the vaccine no matter how drastic the consequences, despite the fact that you, like me, have no idea what mRNA is.

The solution for most of us, when faced with the mandates, is to submit, whether we want it or not; but not everyone is built this way. Throughout history, we see examples of people taking strange ideological positions and being willing to suffer great hardship rather than compromise. – Damien Grant

But within the makeup of humanity, there is a small percentage willing to die for their beliefs and a larger cohort willing to stand in solidarity in the rain and muck of the parliamentary grounds to defy these mandates.

The prime minister is stuck. She cannot negotiate. She cannot back down. She needs to look upon those on the lawn and despair – for those rabble are the captains now. For as long as they can remain in place, they are the story.Damien Grant

Rather than hailing the achievements of the Labour-led government’s management of the covid crisis, this left should have been decrying the government’s lack of an economic programme for those hurting due to the exacerbation of poverty and inequality. – John A.Z. Moore

What I’ve seen at Ministry of Health level borders on incompetent, and no one is taking advice that in any way shifts their thinking.Ian Taylor

The emergency legislation in response to Covid-19 giving our Government the right to control our freedom of movement is no longer demonstrably justified in removing the fundamental rights to which New Zealanders are entitled.  –  Lady Deborah Chambers

However, section 5 in operation appears to be interpreted as broad enough to drive several trucks through. Our Government has removed our fundamental freedom of movement in a way that no other previous government has done. If the Government’s actions are justified under section 5, then that section needs to be narrowed and strengthened. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

The incessant and futile attempts to impose Covid-19 zero strategies will continue to fall away against the inevitable path towards endemic Covid-19. The never-ending onslaught of emergency powers and inane rules should be replaced now with sensible precautions, encouraged but not legislated by the Government, with an ongoing concentration of treatments, vaccinations, and health resourcing.

Instead, our Government has continued – against international trends – to impose even more draconian measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

It is not justified to restrict the fundamental rights of other New Zealanders when we know that it is only a particular group in our community who are vulnerable to a low risk of death from this disease. The better approach in terms of human rights is that citizens who are vulnerable be more cautious and aware. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

The average age of Covid deaths is still higher than the average life expectancy. We do not need a government to talk to us like we are 5-year-olds over these risk factors. New Zealanders know them. New Zealanders know whether they are part of a vulnerable group and should be trusted to act accordingly and take that into account in the decisions they make about their lives without having the Government use that as an excuse to become authoritarian. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

Thirdly, the emergency regulations taking away our freedom of movement fail to properly balance social, educational, economic, and even other medical damage in favour of an obsessive focus on Covid-19 to the exclusion of all else. This is why health bureaucrats and epidemiologists should only ever have been a key source of advice, not dictators of Government policy.

I do not doubt that the Government genuinely thinks it is taking these extreme measures for all the right reasons, but the Government’s rulemaking is no longer proportionate to the risk and does not meet the requirements of the section 5 exemption. The “nanny knows best routine” is no longer justified.

Fourthly, to those who say that our Government’s refrain that they are entitled to claim credit for “keeping people safe” and go even further and demand a continuation of this protection pretense, I say this: It is not the Government’s role to attempt to prevent all death at any cost. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

Part of the reason large elements of the public are entranced by the unachievable goal of permanent insulation from Covid-19 is that our politicians have raised expectations that our Government cannot meet by using paranoia and political one-upmanship.

Some New Zealanders will not be happy until they ruin another school year or chalk up another $60 billion in debt and ruin the early careers of so many young people weighing them down with taxation for decades to come. Those views are not a justification for overriding the fundamental rights of other New Zealanders.

If you are very risk-averse, then the answer is simple: you choose to take the steps you wish to take to avoid infection. The answer is not that our Government removes fundamental freedoms by emergency regulations when we are now in a very different position from when we first faced Covid-19 without vaccines, little knowledge, and a much stronger variant.

Our leaders assure us we are no longer in elimination mode. They urged us to get vaccinated so we could dispense with the restrictions on our fundamental freedoms, but still, we are overwhelmed with onerous and illogical rules and restrictions. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

Most media are addicted to Covid-19 catastrophism, down-playing or ignoring the social and economic costs. Fear is even better than sex at selling newspapers. Oppositions have been too timid to call it out, preferring to profit from outrage and trepidation, preferring to complain about a bungled vaccination rollout when we have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world and one of the lowest fatality rates.

It is time we elevated civil rights as a key component to decision-making. So far, the influence of the Bill of Rights has been zip.  – Lady Deborah Chambers

The pandemic has provided a stress test for the freedom of movement guaranteed to us and the results are not pretty.

The most common way people give up their rights is by thinking that they do not have any. New Zealanders should be justifiably proud and be prepared to defend the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. It is time we did.

Nothing strengthens authoritarianism so much as silence. – Lady Deborah Chambers

The rule of law needs to be respected and upheld. Should people reach the view they are not bound by it and the right to protest is unlimited, chaos would eventually descend upon us. It is a slippery slope. . . 

While the Bill of Rights reinforces the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of association and freedom of movement, none of these rights is absolute.Sir Geoffrey Palmer

When Labour governments run out of ideas they have usually resorted to centralisation and more controls. In its final term, Peter Fraser’s ministry that had been one of the most creative in New Zealand’s history, centralised as tired ministers hoped their trusted bureaucrats would keep Labour’s faltering show on the road. The ministries of Walter Nash, Norman Kirk and Bill Rowling followed similar paths. Jacinda Ardern’s government, you’ll recall, had very little policy to start with. So little in fact that when it came to office in 2017 it had to set up more than two hundred committees and inquiries to tell it what to think and do. The results were pitiful. Almost no Kiwibuild houses were constructed, homeless numbers increased, poverty figures rose rather than declined, educational achievement standards kept slipping against other countries, and major infrastructure construction fell well behind schedule. Whenever criticised, rookie ministers blamed the previous government, and then Covid. Message? Centralising everything can’t compensate for the absence of carefully-thought-through policy. – Michael Bassett

Despite their lack of specific policies, they had ever-so-itchy fingers. They engaged across a wide front tinkering with everything in sight, thinking some ancient Labour dogma overlaid with a big dose of special privilege for Maori would fix things. The public hospital structure had been set in place by Helen Clark’s ministry. It is only twenty years old, but it is now being turned on its head for no good reason except that a more centralized system makes it easier to favour Maori. Health Department officials who have been under huge stress coping with Covid are also having to restructure a hospital system that wasn’t broken. Nor is there anything so wrong with water and drainage services nationally that they require Nanaia Mahuta’s Three Waters in the form set out in her current proposals. Her centralizing scheme seems to have only one over-arching purpose: control by Maori. Meanwhile, the school history curriculum is being restructured with one special purpose in mind: teaching a bogus version of New Zealand history to school kids about the Treaty of Waitangi. Making Labour’s centralisation work certainly keeps officials busy. Wellington has become a gigantic Lego-fest.Michael Bassett

Over the years, the best ideas behind successful government schemes have always taken time to germinate. If they are specific to places or regions there has to be buy-in from locals who will benefit. And the best way to test the extent of that buy-in is to expect the same locals to own the project and pay the lion’s share. Centralizing everything always means bureaucracy and waste. But then, Jacinda’s ministry is so other worldly that they don’t know these stark realities. Her government is too expensive to indulge any further. – Michael Bassett 

Compulsory wokeness, for example, has had limited success in healing division; while classifying people by what they say, rather than what they do, has not promoted much virtue.

State management of the economy to reduce instability and help the weak now threatens long-run productivity growth.  Meanwhile, support for decarbonisation evaporates as life-changing costs become transparent.   

And the taking by the state of ever-wider powers to regulate our lives to make us better people increasingly creates more problems than it solves. Oblivious of how it looks, we find the most ardent defenders of civil liberties yearning for extraordinary powers.Point of Order

There’s an unmistakeable note of panic in the posturing of the woke Left. They suddenly realise they no longer control the public debate and are wildly lashing out at the scruffy mob that usurped their right to make a nuisance of themselves. How dare they! – Karl du Fresne

The level of condescension and intellectual snobbery on display from people who think of themselves as liberal has been breathtaking. The tone has alternated between sneering at this supposedly feral underclass and alarm at their sudden, forceful presence on the national stage – a stage the wokeists are accustomed to hogging for themselves.Karl du Fresne

Oddly enough, we never hear experts on Morning Report expressing alarm about people being radicalised by the extreme Left, although it’s been happening for decades at the taxpayers’ expense and has succeeded in transforming New Zealand into a country that some of us barely recognise.

Similarly, we should conclude that ideological manipulation is a problem if it’s practised on an ignorant lumpenproletariat, but not when it happens to gullible middle-class students in university lecture theatres, where it flourishes unchallenged. – Karl du Fresne

What we can infer from this barrage of anti-Camp Freedom propaganda is that the woke Left is terrified of losing the initiative in the culture wars. It’s desperate to reclaim its sole right to lecture the rest of us and wants to do so without the distraction of an unruly mob that has the effrontery to adopt the Left’s own tactics.

The irony here is that having spent most of their lives kicking against the establishment, the wokeists are the establishment. They have won the big ideological wars and are on the same side as all the institutions of power and influence: the government, the bureaucracy, the media, academia, the arts and even the craven business sector.

The dissenters, disrupters and challengers of the status quo – in other words the people protesting outside Parliament – are the new radicals. This requires the moralisers of the Left to recalibrate their political thinking, and I get the impression it’s more than some of them can cope with.Karl du Fresne

An unprovoked attack on a peaceful, democratic neighbour has not happened in Europe since World War II. It is a barbaric act that could take us into a dark age. It shakes the foundations of the international order and the world economy.

With the fall of Communism, there was hope for a new, liberal world order. Globalisation was spreading, as was democracy. There was a peace dividend in the form of reduced military spending and less need for autarky, especially in energy. It was the supposed ‘end of history’. – Oliver Hartwich

If the West needed a final wake-up call, this is it. If those who believe in liberal democracy, civil liberties, free markets and the rule of law still care about their values, this is the time to defend them.

Talk of solidarity with Ukraine is good, but it can only be hollow. There is no way to come to Ukraine’s military defence without provoking an even bigger war.

What the free and democratic world must do urgently is to reconnect with its own fundamental values. That requires a reality check. – Oliver Hartwich

We must rediscover the cultural and political foundations of our civilisation. It is the Enlightenment values of freedom and peace that we must defend against illiberalism, both at home and abroad.

It is a historic moment. But it is our choice how to respond to it.Oliver Hartwich

They say having a baby changes what you value and it’s true. I want more for our country now. Nine months ago, a politician could’ve convinced me with a tax break. But now, I want to know that politician has a plan to keep New Zealand as wonderful as it was for us to grow up in. I want to know that our schools are world-class, that our jobs pay well and that our cities are good places to live. I want this boy to want to live here, in the same country as his mum and dad, and never leave for a better lifestyle in Sydney and London and New York. I want things that benefit all Kiwis, because what is good for all Kiwis is good for him. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

A commonality of skin color and associated facial features is as nothing compared to the fact that human beings of all races share the faculty of reason. The former may allow for an interesting group photo once in a while.

The latter is what underlies the accumulation and application of knowledge and gives to the members of all races the ability to produce the goods and services that the members of all races need and desire. – George Reisman


Quotes of the year

01/01/2022

How do we prevent child abuse? First, we have to stop racism. That message has lately invaded the child-welfare system. The triumph of today’s fashionable ideological nonsense in this particular field carries exceptionally high costs — and abused kids will pay them. – Naomi Schaefer Riley

Kindness is as kindness does. And the one thing kindness cannot do is force people to be kind. – Chris Trotter

Of course, to assume that her missive would be engaged with in the spirit in which it was intended, is to make the mistake of imagining that the identitarian left is broadly committed to secular, rational discourse. It is not. Its activist component has transmogrified into a religious movement, which brooks no opposition and no discussion. You must agree with every tenet or else you’re a racist, sexist, transphobic bigot, etc. Because its followers are fanatics, Rowling is being subjected to an extraordinary level of abuse. – Petra Bueskens

The norms of civil discourse are being eroded, as we increasingly inhabit individualised media ecosystems, designed to addict, distract, absorb, outrage, manipulate and incite us. These internecine culture wars damage us all. – Petra Bueskens

If you deal primarily in subjective experience and impulse-driven reaction, under the assumption that you occupy the undisputed moral high ground, and you’ve been incited by fake news and want to signal your allegiances to your social media friends, then you can’t engage in rational discussion with your opponent. Your stock in trade will be unsubstantiated accusations and social shaming. – Petra Bueskens

Trans women are women is not an engaged reply. It is a mere arrangement of words, which presupposes a faith that cannot be questioned. To question it, we are told, causes harm—an assertion that transforms discussion into a thought crime. If questioning this orthodoxy is tantamount to abuse, then feminists and other dissenters have been gaslit out of the discussion before they can even enter it. This is especially pernicious because feminists in the west have been fighting patriarchy for several hundred years and we do not intend our cause to be derailed at the eleventh hour by an infinitesimal number of natal males, who have decided that they are women. Now, we are told, trans women are women, but natal females are menstruators. I can’t imagine what the suffragists would have made of this patently absurd turn of events. – Petra Bueskens

COVID has shown us that voters will excuse an astronomical level of incompetence, excused by collective amnesia, and the subsequent human toll as long as they believe they’re being kept safe. Fear really is the opiate of the masses. – Gemma Tognini 

We want a simplistic story sometimes – big naughty chicken companies are ripping us off – but it’s more complicated than that. It’s biosecurity, it’s iconic birds, it’s minimum wage and animal rights, which are all things the public support – Tim Morris

It should not be controversial to centre victims in discussions about crime and justice. In fact, it isn’t. The real world doesn’t play out like a Twitter timeline. For most New Zealanders the abolition of prisons is utterly insane and our government would be wise to remember that. – Ani O’Brien

 In the desire for an easy prey, hunters and journalists are the same.Theodore Dalrymple

Ideology is what all this ‘ethics’ crap is about – it has nothing to do with ethics as I understand the term. ‘Ethics’ has become a smokescreen for ideological vetting of research proposals and keeping findings that may not square with PC doctrine out of the academic literature. – Barend Vlaardingerbroek

So far I have lived—stayed safe, if you like—through predicted global cooling, global warming, mass famine, nuclear winter, asteroidal collision, and viral and prion-disease epidemics. . . Just because no catastrophe has yet touched me, then, it does not mean that none in the future will ever do so. That is why anxiety springs eternal in the human breast.Theodore Dalrypmple

And far too few of those who make the laws and regulations governing our lives will get anywhere near a farm, let alone develop a deep understanding of how agriculture works. If they did understand, there’d be much less chance they’d make laws that didn’t account for something as fundamental and unalterable as the changing of seasons. – Stephen Barnard

But “mother” is a fundamental biological, emotional, familial reality. It captures the irreplaceable bond between a baby and the woman who bore her in her womb. That others can be excellent guardians — a fact no one disputes — can’t justify extirpating Mom from our vocabulary. (For that matter, the political erasure of “dad” is also dehumanizing, because it ­entails the loss of our capacity to describe relationships that define what it means to be fully human.) – Abigail Shrier

By all means, call people what they prefer. But language in the law, by definition, ushers words into action. Words grant rights or take them away. Words can enhance or diminish status, placing people and concepts beyond the bounds of legal protection. . . That’s where we’re headed, isn’t it? Erasing “mothers,” and “women,” because the concepts are insufficiently inclusive to gender ideologues. The rights women struggled to win become undone, paradoxically, in the name of ­inclusion. – Abigail Shrier

The problem we have online is that an algorithm decides what we want to see, which ends up creating a simplistic, binary view of society. It becomes a case of either you’re with us or against us. And if you’re against us, you deserve to be ‘cancelled’.

It’s important that we’re exposed to a wide spectrum of opinion, but what we have now is the digital equivalent of the medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn. So it is scary for anyone who’s a victim of that mob and it fills me with fear about the future.Rowan Atkinson

Tarrases, on the other hand, are rare and getting rarer. Tarras with its tiny store and its tinier school. Tarras with its searing summers and its biting winters. Tarras with its bleached grasses, its merinos, its huge stations, its distilled New Zealandness. Leave it alone, you greedsters. Do you hear me? Leave it bloody well alone. – Joe Bennett

We all sense something is wrong. Our money is worth nothing to the banks. There is a rush to convert cash into assets. Houses selling as soon as they list. Those who cannot buy assets are just spending their cash. Every credit-fuelled recovery has ended in a recession. Richard Prebble

We are not allowing people to come into Scotland now without an essential purpose, which would apply to him, just as it applies to everybody else. Coming to play golf is not what I would consider an essential purpose. – Nicola Sturgeon

Rock-bottom mortgage rates, comparatively low unemployment, and our freedoms from Covid restrictions are there to be relished this summer, but perhaps not taken for granted. – Tom Pullar-Strecker

Of course, any tax is popular with the people who won’t have to pay it and who think the proceeds will be spent on, or at least trickle down to, them; but given human nature, the main attraction of the tax is probably more that of the certainty of inflicting pain on others than of the hope of benefiting oneself. – Theodore Dalrymple

The purpose of the wealth tax is only tangentially to raise money at a particularly difficult time . . . The purpose behind it is thus social reform, not the meeting of an economic necessity. The crisis is an opportunity: to advance the centralization of power and the permanent boosting of government powers vis-à-vis the population.

There is, however, one small potential fly in the ointment of my argument, namely that I haven’t fully worked out an alternative. But whatever the problem, incipient totalitarianism isn’t the solution. Theodore Dalrymple

Until a few months ago, American elections were the model for the world: fair, transparent and the results implemented. That reputation was undermined tonight, when armed protestors targeted elected representatives and tried to stop the ‘sacred ritual’, as it was described by President-elect Joe Biden, of confirming the election result.

That we are witnessing such scenes speaks to the extent that President Trump has degraded his office – and our politics. And I write this as a lifelong Republican. His behaviour since the election has not been for the benefit of the American people, but for the ego of a man who cannot bear to lose. His narcissism and obsession with winning cost the GOP two Senate seats in Georgia last night, handing full control of Congress to the Democrats. Today, it cost all of us our deepest privilege of being citizens of a country where ballots cast do not result in bullets shot. – Kate Andrews

This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic — not our democratic republic. I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election. – President George W. Bush

Note that I say the politics of race rather than race relations, because relationships between people of different ethnicities in New Zealand – including Maori and Pakeha – remain overwhelmingly respectful and harmonious. But how long this will continue, when ideologically driven agitators are doing their best to create grievance and division, is a moot point. – Karl du Fresne

There are environmental impacts associated with the production of food, period. The dairy industry does have an environmental impact, but if you look at it in the context of the entire U.S. enterprise, it’s fairly minimal. Associated with that minimal impact is a very substantial provision of high quality, digestible, and well-balanced nutrients for human consumption. Robin White

I always advocate for higher wages but there is a Catch-22, when the minimum wage is increased we see workers’ hours cut, or they lose their jobs. – Chloe Ann-King

Whether you are individualistic or collectivist, liberal or conservative, politics is not a culture war, it is about electing governments to act on our behalf to better people’s lives. It’s not just about one person’s outsized ego, it is about voters and their aspirations. That is democracy’s strength — and why it will endure. – Steven Joyce

So not insubstantial sums from Pharmac’s budget are already being spent for training when they should be used for medines. For Maori and anybody else who needs them. – Lindsay Mitchell 

And while, despite my best sewing efforts, little bits of shame still peek through sometimes, I can comfortably say that that’s not my, or other disabled people’s shame to carry.

There is nothing wrong with having a body that looks or works differently.

Our bodies are beautiful, just as they are.

We are worthy of love, just as we are.Erin Gough

Thus literal-mindedness is the enemy of freedom of expression, and represents also a disturbing loss of mental sophistication. But in any case, attachment to freedom of expression as an ideal seems to have lost much of its salience in the western world, having been replaced as a desideratum by that of virtue, moreover virtue of a peculiar but easily achievable kind, not that of acting well, but that of thinking and expressing the right thoughts. The certifiably right thoughts, which can change in an instant, are those that are in conformity with the moral enthusiasms of the moment. –Theodore Dalrymple

Antipathy, dislike, ridicule, and insult are, of course, normal phenomena of human expression, and furthermore are often justified. Without them expressions of more favourable attitudes would probably not be possible either, for they would mean nothing without the possibility of expression of their opposites. Even to contemplate outlawing such normal human reactions displays an alarmingly totalitarian mindset, all the more so in combination with the Scottish government’s desire that people should report so-called hate crime to the police. Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia seem to be its models. –  Theodore Dalrymple

Trying to eliminate antipathy, dislike, ridicule, and insult from the human heart and mind is a task to make that of Sisyphus seem like an afternoon stroll: precisely the type of task that authoritarian governments love, for it gives them the locus standi to interfere ever more intimately with the lives of their subjects. Hatred is hydra-headed, the task is never done, it grows with its very elimination, or rather the attempts by government at its elimination. Failure is the greatest success, since it requires ever more of the same, namely control over society. – Theodore Dalrymple

Nations rely on institutions: political institutions, the public service, universities, companies, churches, families. These all have different roles and duties that serve the societies that encompass them. And part of their purpose is to mould the individuals that pass through them, imbuing them with values that ensure they serve their institution and community instead of just themselves. Simon Bridges

The people who occupy our institutions increasingly understand those institutions not as moulds that ought to shape their behavior and character but as platforms that allow them greater individual exposure and enable them to hone their personal brands. – Yuval Levin

I emerged from what could have been an ordeal, with the knowledge instead, that goodness, kindness, courage, and laughter are as much part of our world as all the misery we read of in the media. I had been reminded that these are the things that keep the world turning, not politics and mayhem. Happy memories and gratitude and the knowledge of the goodness of life, are the lasting after- effects of another profound experience with which life has gifted me. In that alternative universe where goodness triumphs, all is well  and all manner of things are well, as Mother Julian reminded us.Valerie Davies

Coarse speech is as old as language. What has changed is that the decline in manners and the decline of religious observance – two phenomena that are probably connected – has obliterated the distinction between the vulgar and the polite. Language once considered unacceptable in public is now the norm, especially if it’s about sex or religion. Television has blazed a trail here. ‘Your’ ABC, for instance, never tires of having its ‘comedians’ or characters in its tedious attempts at drama refer to God or Christ in some expletive-tainted phrase. The ABC is scrupulous, when anything supposedly offensive to Aborigines is coming up, in interpolating an unctuously-voiced ‘warning,’, but never feels obliged to warn Christians when a torrent of blasphemy is on the way. – Christopher Akehurst

Statistics and everyday observation show that the future of Christianity in Australia is far from rosy. Christians are more liable to be mocked than respected. Semi-pagan beliefs about Gaia are filling the vacuum of faith. We can already see that, along with our belief in our religion, we have lost our belief and our pride in the uniqueness and, yes, superiority of our culture. That way lies extinction. Thanks for 2021? Not specially.Christopher Akehurst

What this all means is that bleeding heart versions of our history (Australia’s John Howard called it “black armband history”) need to be treated with great caution. Those who push the line that everything was lovely in Aotearoa until the colonists arrived, and that they were responsible for depriving Maori of their ancestral lands, are telling selected and often misleading bits of our story.  In reality, Maori society was in a parlous state when colonists arrived in significant numbers in the 1840s and 1850s. Yes, governors, politicians and settlers wanted access to Maori land. Some cut corners acquiring it. But even the most scrupulous land purchasers found many parts of Maori society a minefield of ancient hostilities and were worn down by conflicting assertions about historical ownership. It needs to be remembered that while the wars of the 1860s did terrible damage to what remained of the Maori economy, much damage had already been done to it by other Maori before the colonists arrived. –   Michael Bassett

Teaching a fair and accurate version of New Zealand history won’t be easy unless the Ministry of Education seizes control of the process and ensures that it doesn’t become the preserve of single-minded fanatics claiming to be historians but with axes to grind. They have the potential to stir unwarranted racial animosity in a country which, for much of its existence, tried to be fair to all people according to the norms of the day. – Michael Bassett

 Believers in conspiracy, however, would rather be the victims of a plot than of chance because plots make the world seem pliable to human will, whereas chance by definition escapes human control. A world pliable to human will, even where malign, is more understandable, and therefore less ontologically frightening, than one in which things happen that no human ever intended to happen. – Theodore Dalrymple

ns, none of them pleasant. And we do not live in times of social resignation or passivity. We have already gone through the revolution of rising expectations and reached that of rising, or risen, entitlements. When something to which one believes oneself entitled is not forthcoming, one is more aggrieved than by living at a far lower level without such entitlements. –Theodore Dalrymple

In summary we may say that unfunded government and personal expenditure, which creates the illusion of wealth and social security, necessitates low interest rates, low interest rates favour asset inflation, asset inflation favours the already possessing classes, which in turn leads to social rigidity and frustration down below in the lower reaches of society. Social classes rigidify into castes, and many people become fatalistic without contentment. But fatalism without contentment can undergo a sudden change, the emotional equivalent of a gestalt-switch, and become insensate rage. – Theodore Dalrymple

Taking full advantage of free education, being ambitious to enjoy a full life, making sacrifices for the long term pay-off; all obvious actions totally lacking in the no-hoper sector in our varyingly soft western societies. Thus, at the cost to the majority, governments insist on doing for these failures what they make no effort to do for themselves.Sir Bob Jones

Why did one have to switch energy providers and set a mobile phone alert for bin day, only to find out you can not set an alert because your phone storage is full, so you decide to pay for more storage (until you die), only to find you don’t know your password. By the time you retrieve your password you are sixty-five and howling into the abyss. – Susie Steiner

This cannot end well.  With the New Zealand economy shut in its bubble, Covid-19 ravaging all our international trading partners, local business suffering and unemployment rising, the market is propped up solely by the historically low interest rates upon which all profit projections are based.  But even a small change to those interest rates could prove devastating to many of my new clients.  There may be no greater fools left.  Because in 2021 all the shoe shine boys have become property developers … – Guest Poster at Kiwiblog

Simply put, the opening of the border does not depend on anything that happens in New Zealand but on the virus being brought under control globally. Like every other multilateral issue from climate change to free trade, that has little to do with what happens in Wellington and everything to do with decisions and operational competence in the likes of Washington, Beijing, Brussels, Brasilia and New Delhi. On the border, we are ultimately a policy taker, not a policy maker. – Matthew Hooton

But under the Ardern government, old-fashioned notions about property rights, due process and the rule of law are susceptible to being overturned when protesters can wave the Treaty of Waitangi and toss words like “colonialism” and “stolen” into their rhetoric. – Bob Edlin

I don’t think people realise the intergenerational commitment they’re making, in terms of totally removing choice over the land in the future, unless some other magic [CO2 sequestration] technology springs up. – Dave Frame

From the New Zealand perspective, there is not enough land to plant forests that would be equivalent to the amount of emissions that we’re emitting. – David Hall

History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity. We can see each other, not as adversaries, but as neighbours. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos. This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward. – Joe Biden

Let’s begin to listen to one another again. Hear one another. See one another. Show respect to one another. Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated, and even manufactured. – Joe Biden

But the answer is not to turn inward, to retreat into competing factions, distrusting those who don’t look like — look like you or worship the way you do or don’t get their news from the same source as you do. We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus — rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.

If we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we are willing to stand in the other person’s shoes — as my mom would say — just for a moment, stand in their shoes. Because here’s the thing about life: there’s no accounting for what fate will deal you. Some days, when you need a hand. There are other days when we’re called to lend a hand. That’s how it has to be. That’s what we do for one another. – Joe Biden

I used to think the PM so loved her position and the cheers of the adoring crowd that she would not do anything that risked losing or lessening her position at the pinnacle of admiration. I have now moved away from that to the much less charitable view that she doesn’t know what to do. She has no real vision of what she wants New Zealand to be like, beyond the usual clichés. – John Bishop

She is the Eva Peron of New Zealand politics: warm, compassionate, caring, kind, smiling, seemingly ever good-humoured, but her Government is piecemeal, fragmented, without an overall direction and seemingly without coherent analysis of issues and a strong strategy. – John Bishop

Her champions in the media, and there are many of them, are sycophants, excuse makers, processors of handouts evidencing uncritical laziness – and that’s without going into those who are openly biased in the left’s favour. John Bishop

What has happened to us? Why do we find noise a necessity? Why do we create soundtracks for our every move? Why does a lady walk past my house at 10.30pm every other night with her phone on speaker, tuned into the radio? Why, twice a week, does a guy wander past around midnight, shouting into his phone, his voice ringing out through the dark as he does circuits of the streets around my home? Why can’t we just be with the world, and listen to the music being made around us every day by the natural inhabitants of the earth? –  Michelle Langstone

The paradox, of course, is that to achieve “equity” you have to first take away equality for individuals who were born in the wrong identity group. Equity means treating individuals unequally so that groups are equal. – Andrew Sullivan

Take the trans question. Most decent people support laws that protect transgender people from discrimination — which, after the Bostock decision, is already the law of the land. But this is not enough for Biden. He takes the view that the law should go further and insist that trans women are absolutely indistinguishable from biological women — which erases any means of enforcing laws that defend biological women as a class. If your sex is merely what you say it is, without any reference to biological reality, then it is no longer sex at all. It’s gender, period. It’s socially constructed all the way down. – Andrew Sullivan

You don’t get to unite the country by dividing it along these deep and inflammatory issues of identity. And you don’t achieve equality of opportunity by enforcing its antithesis. – Andrew Sullivan

Even the very rich now feel a psychological or social pressure to do something for money, even without any economic imperative. I leave it to others to decide whether the disappearance of a leisure class is a good or a bad thing, though viscerally I feel that, overall, it is bad, inasmuch as a leisure class is able in theory to devote itself to the higher activities of a civilization. When the rich (of whom there are more than ever) involve themselves nowadays in conspicuous consumption, it is usually in bad taste. Good taste requires discipline and knowledge, which few are either able or prepared to exercise or acquire. – Theodore Dalrymple

 …the more that activities, particularly managerial, are professionalized, the more amateurs—that is to say, people who do things for their own sake, for the sheer enjoyment of them, or for the public good—are decried and, even more, feared. People whose career depends on doing nothing useful for high pay have much to fear from those who do something useful for nothing. – Theodore Dalrymple

Is this obstructionism a manifestation of stupidity or malice (of course, the two are not strictly incompatible, malice often lending a certain cunning to stupidity)? I have every respect for the stupidity of British—as of other—bureaucrats, but I think stupidity alone does not quite cover the case. The fact is that, at some level of consciousness, the bureaucracy realizes that a vast national campaign using volunteers is an existential threat to their careers. If much can be achieved for nothing, why is so little so often achieved for so much? Who knows where things might end if voluntarism were allowed to achieve something? Social solidarity might increase without the intermediary of the state to inhibit it, and that would be a terrible disaster that has at all costs to be headed off. – Theodore Dalrymple

Be that as it may, the fact is that even if an intelligent person in authority were to try to do something to put an end to the idiocy, he would soon be defeated by the unintelligent, for in any large bureaucracy it is unintelligence, at least in the absence of an end other than the very institutional survival that protects careers and guarantees pensions, that emerges triumphant. Stupidity multiplies unnecessary procedure, intelligence decreases it; therefore stupidity is the more functional from the bureaucratic point of view. One way of defeating intelligence and benevolent intention was long ago discovered and summarized by the Spanish colonial administrator who received his orders from Madrid: Obedezco, pero no cumplo. I obey, but I do not fulfill.Theodore Dalrymple

If you happened to be lucky enough to have a house 20 years ago, you’re living in clover. You didn’t? You’re screwed – absolutely screwed. The Government doesn’t even want to fix it. The biggest single issue facing the country is we’ve got an underclass [with] not a dog’s chance of moving into their own home, they cannot live comfortably on the current [average] income… it’s a serious problem. – Don Brash

In brutal terms, there are votes to be won in a broken housing market. And this week is the first week of the 2023 election campaign. – Jonathan Milne

It’s easy to laugh about the latest fads of the woke, and to cheer as smug Guardianistas disappear up their own purity spirals, but the assault on reality from transgender extremists is serious. The public have a right to know the truth about crime, and accurate sentencing and reporting is necessary for a cohesive and functioning democracy. One has to question why the feelings of trans offenders matter more than the rights of their victims. – Jo Bartosch

We can still have social media, just as we still have railways and energy companies. However, they must be equitable, accountable, competitive and pay their dues (be they taxes or fees to reuse material others have paid to create). In other words they must be safe vehicles we are happy to have on our roads.Gavin Ellis

This in turn brings us to the value that we place on human life. We live in an age, after all, in which we hope to wage war without losing a single soldier. In a sense, this must represent a moral advance over a time when generals could send thousands, even tens of thousands, of young men to their deaths for the sake of a military advance of not more than ten yards of muddy ground. And the fact the lives saved by strict sanitary measures that are destructive of everyday life will be mostly those of over eighty will not be allowed to enter into the public debate because to allow it to do so would be to devalue the lives of the old: even if, in our hearts and our daily life, we do not really value them. – Theodore Dalrymple

Too often, National has talked about its economic priorities as if these are the end goals in and of themselves – bigger economy, fewer regulations, smaller government, stronger businesses.  On their own, these things aren’t what is really important. They are only important because they are what ultimately drives prosperity, creates jobs and lifts incomes. Judith Collins

A strong economy means more opportunities for New Zealanders. A strong economy is what will ultimately help lift children out of poverty. A strong economy means more money to invest in our health system. A strong economy will help our kids into their first job and give them the chance to do things and be things we’ve never even dreamed of.  That’s what matters – the things that a strong economy allows us to do. That is why a strong economy matters. –Judith Collins

The old media had needed happy customers. The goal of post-journalism, according to Mir, is to “produce angry citizens.” – Martin Gurri

The intent of post-journalism was never to represent reality or inform the public but to arouse enough political fervor in readers that they wished to enter the paywall in support of the cause. This was ideology by the numbers—and the numbers were striking. – Martin Gurri

The history-reframing mission is now in the hands of a deeply self-righteous group that has trouble discerning the many human stopping places between true and false, good and evil, objective and subjective. Martin Gurri

To be sure, producing and burning coal and oil have significant environmental impacts. But what goes unmentioned are the extensive benefits of affordable, reliable energy provided by coal and oil to make cheap electricity, power cars and underpin a modern economy.

The ironic kicker is that economic wealth allows a nation to regulate and clean up the environment: its air, soil, water and emissions. Coal and oil are not green, but the wealth they create cleans up the environment. And, only wealthy nations such as the U.S., U.K. and Germany have been able to afford to begin to transition beyond coal for power generation.  –  Scott Tinker

So why not just switch from dirty coal and oil to clean and renewable solar and wind? Two reasons: They are not renewable and they are not clean. Sure, during non-cloudy days and windy times, the wind and the sun can be captured and turned into electricity. But because the amount of energy is not “dense,” it takes scads of land and collectors — solar panels and wind turbines — to capture it.  

It also takes oodles of batteries to back up intermittent solar and wind so that everything keeps running uninterrupted. There is also replacement. The panels, turbines and batteries wear out after 10 to 20 years, and the metals, chemicals and toxic materials required to make them must be constantly mined, manufactured and disposed of in landfills. Coupled with some carbon dioxide emissions associated with those processes, solar and wind are neither renewable nor clean.  – Scott Tinker

All Maori children have mixed ethnicity. But before they are Maori/Pakeha/Pacific/Asian/other they are tiny human beings. Tiny human beings whose best interest the grown-ups should be able to agree upon free from political agendas. – Lindsay Mitchell

But “racial equity” is emphatically not the same as treating every person as of equal value regardless of their ethnicity. It does not mean, in the words of Martin Luther King (who must surely be turning in his grave, not least by being given a shout-out in that Biden speech) judging someone by the content of their character rather than by the colour of their skin. It is the precise opposite. It is a doctrine which holds that white people are intrinsically racist; that the west is therefore intrinsically racist; and that therefore black people in the west should be privileged over white.Melanie Phillips

There is more than a modicum of truth in the old joke that the definition of a ‘racist’ is anyone who is winning an argument with a leftist.  When a woke leftist’s evidence and logic don’t stack up, a bit of name-calling (‘racist’, ‘bigot’, ‘deplorable’, etc.) will enable them to seize the presumed moral high ground and thereby claim victory, at least to their own satisfaction.  Moral one-upmanship is the woke leftist’s go-to position: ‘I’m good, you’re bad, so just shut-up’. If you’re of the Left, it’s the all-purpose, not-so-sotto-voce debate clincher.  – Phil Shannon

For those of us in the media, there’s a real challenge to confront: a wave of censorship that seeks to silence conversation, to stifle debate, to ultimately stop individuals and societies from realizing their potential. This rigidly enforced conformity, aided and abetted by so-called social media, is a straitjacket on sensibility. Too many people have fought too hard in too many places for freedom of speech to be suppressed by this awful woke orthodoxy. – Rupert Murdoch

I firmly believe that government needs to be as responsible with your funds as you are, and it seems to me that Covid has been used as a cover for a plethora of other projects and spending initiatives that we are not able to cover through tax revenue. – Michael Woodhouse

The events of this week should lead to permanent improvements in MIQ and if nothing else, wipe away the smugness for a while. – Audrey Young

My child’s right to see the Wiggles doesn’t trump anyone’s right to say a final goodbye to a loved one. – Vera Alves

But nonetheless it is interesting to see how quickly the local NZ narrative might be shifting from congratulation at a job well done towards fear of being left behind. New Zealand’s political decision makers are surely aware that this is a race, with no prizes for mediocre performance. – Point of Order

Those people who won’t gave a vaccine or don’t believe Covid is real they so are dumb right?  Some of them will die because of their beliefs, some of them will infect others because of them. Science, ‘big pharma’, ‘jews,’ the government is lying to them. These people with little understanding of virology or epidemiology know better than those who have devoted their lives to studying these subjects..

But should any of us be surprised that when Covid is happening before our eyes, some people choose to close theirs ? Other kinds of anti-science arguments are now part of our culture and are now considered not only acceptable but “radical”. – Suzanne Moore

So if biological reality does not exist (biological essentialism), or indeed science which sees us as mammals (we are mammals not slugs or fish or is this now controversial to say so ?) then  we are to understand that sex is not binary and that we are not a sexually dimorphic species.  If women don’t exist really what is feminism for?  Apparently it’s for everyone . Except obviously woman like me.Suzanne Moore

 I’d be worried about the humanity of an individual who didn’t consider the ethics involved; so let me share my perspective. For a start, sanctions do not work. No tyrant has moderated his behaviour once they were imposed. Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and dozens of African kleptocrats provide a mountain of evidence for the thesis that tyrants are impervious to external economic forces. Governments that are subject to political and economic pressures at home can be bullied into behaving better domestically. South Africa is the most obvious example but there are others. Such niceties are utterly ineffective against true dictatorships such as Cuba, North Korea and China. – Damien Grant

If sanctions worked imposing a short-term economic harm on ourselves to help free an oppressed people would be the right thing to do. But they don’t. They impoverish the civilian population, sometimes resulting in their death, for no material advantage. – Damien Grant

Today, the super-power of human rights abuses is China and the outgoing American Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, declared that China was committing a genocide against the Uyghur. Surely if we are ever to draw the line, it must be at genocide?  To understand why the answer is no, consider that we do not trade with a nation. We trade with firms, individuals, collectives or whatever enterprise has been established to undertake commerce.  To refuse to trade with the factories, farms and supermarkets in China because of the crimes committed by those running the Communist Party is to engage in collective responsibility and punishment. We are harming one person for the crimes of another and doing nothing to assist the victims while the perpetrators live in undiminished luxury. – Damien Grant

While threats of economic pain for their citizens do not deter dictatorships, those running these regimes have demonstrated a desire for respectability. China in particular appears highly sensitive to criticism. We may be economically impotent but our voice carries a heavy moral weight. We should use it.

If Beijing elects to retaliate that is beyond our control; but while I believe we should trade with China, we should not become a vassal state in the process.Damien Grant

In 2021 numbers in the underclass continue to accelerate. And they will keep on doing so do until parents are held to account for raising the children they bring into the world. But of course this solution doesn’t have a good political ring to it in 2021 any more than it did in 2008. Those children, however, are usually the ones who never get a good education, whose health is more often neglected, and who are more likely to end up at the bottom of the heap, and consequently unlikely to enjoy equal opportunities, let alone have any chance of an equal outcome from life. – Michael Bassett

Myths are welcome comforters, but have never been a sure guide for the future. The second Ardern government passed its 100 days this week. It seems to be propagating a new myth: that kindness is enough. But if you are a child at the bottom of the heap, kindness can be rare indeed. – Michael Bassett

In olden times, journalists were like children – seen but not heard. Now if the public had three wishes it would probably be for us to please shut up, shut up, shut up about ourselves. – Jane Bowron

Climate policy is incredibly complex. Yes, science sits at its core – but there are also economic, social and political implications to be considered,”  – Tim Mackle

Any new outbreak will have major health, economic and social costs. But there will also be another significant casualty. Until now, politicians and public health officials have been able to draw on their social capital, the trust they have earned. But that trust is conditional. If leaders are seen as failing to act and letting foreseeable failures happen, that has the potential to seriously weaken the collective support and compliance that is absolutely pivotal for current public health measures.The ConversationBernard Walker

It is not necessary for anyone actually to have been offended for an utterance to be considered offensive; on the other hand, if someone has taken offence at it, this too proves that it was offensive. That the person who took offence was a paranoiac whose  outrage was completely unreasonable, or expressed in the hope of compensation or some other advantage, is no defence, for one of the criteria of offensiveness is simply that someone says that he has taken offence, the other criterion being somewhat more Platonic, namely that someone might take offence. Theodore Dalrymple

But playing our part to best effect, doing the most good that New Zealand can do, means finding the most cost-effective ways of abating greenhouse gas emissions – regardless of where they are. It turned out that the best way of getting cars wasn’t by building them in Petone, but by growing them in other parts of the country. It could easily turn out that the best way for New Zealand to sequester carbon is not to plant trees here, but to fund replanting efforts elsewhere.

If we could achieve twice as much or more by helping to fund mitigation efforts abroad, the climate would not thank us for pursuing less effective measures here at home instead – Eric Crampton

Western civilisation is built on the sovereignty of the individual, sovereignty derived in large part from the Christian concept of man being created in the image of God and being equal in His sight, be we king or commoner, free or slave, white or black.  . . As sovereign individuals we have agency, but with agency comes personal responsibility.  By adopting a group approach, personal responsibility can be avoided and politically correct faux virtue-signalling used to cover the real aim – the pursuit of power. Thus when the principles of government are based on classifications or groups rather than individuals, the results are almost invariably bad.  Examples include Communism, Fascism, Nazism, apartheid, the Indian cast system and, more recently, gender identity and ‘woke’ prescriptions generally. In short, the currently fashionable emphasis on group rights rather than individual rights must be rejected. – Anthony Carr

Progress requires bad practices to be replaced by good, not justified as part of a culture frozen in aspic. – Anthony Carr

Our society’s success depends on people making themselves useful, taking education seriously, working hard and conducting themselves properly with respect to their families and society as a whole. If taking personal responsibility for one’s life is avoided, no amount of aid or intervention from any source will ever succeed. We are sovereign individuals and avoiding responsibility only ensures that one is neither granted nor actually deserves any genuine respect. Anthony Carr

The backlash against wokeism will be made much more aggressive by the difficulties its opponents encounter in making their voices heard. The mainstream news media – and especially the state-owned media – have become increasingly intolerant of ideas and opinions which directly, or indirectly, challenge the wokeists’ view of the world. Stuff, the largest newspaper publisher in the country has embraced wokeism wholeheartedly and set its face resolutely against the errors of “racist” New Zealanders. Even more significantly, citizens determined to spread “unacceptable” ideas can no longer rely upon the major social media platforms for their dissemination. Increasingly, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are “de-platforming” individuals and groups (including a former President of the United States!) whose beliefs have been anathematised by the woke. – Chris Trotter

Imagine you are an idealistic young Labour MP. Let’s call you, say, Grant, or Chris, or Jacinda. You realise you’ve just overseen the greatest transfer of wealth from those who work to those who own in the history of our country. David Seymour

We have a country that’s practically uninhabited, but somehow it has a shortage of land you’re allowed to build on. Only governments can manufacture famine from plenty … they’re like a reverse Jesus – David Seymour

It goes without saying that the justice with which the iconoclasts and vandals are obsessed is always of a very peculiar sort (it continues to surprise me how little protest there is against the very expression racial justice, than which few expressions could be more racist); but at any rate they are always judging the past, as they judge the present, against an impossible standard of perfection—perfection, that is, according to their own conception of that the world ought to be.Theodore Dalrymple

The gap between people’s impression of Ardern and her actual performance as a leader has widened to a gulf. So long as enough modern Tacituses write gushing Ardern portraits, her superstar status will not change. – Oliver Hartwich

So, let’s make Waitangi not just about airing grievances. There is much to celebrate in the advances Māori have made. Surely it is time to drop the victimhood and inspire younger generations to build? –  Fran O’Sullivan

It’s quite a skill, really, making announcements about a policy without any sort of plan to achieve it, and then have the country believe that what you’ve just said is significant, transformative or, as we heard this week, foundational. National was criticised for this all the time and often quite fairly. Under this government, however, such expediency has almost become a form of art.  – Monique Poirier

The good thing about debt is it can mask a lot of stuff and buy you time. But it never stops being debt and it never stops needing to be paid back. And $100 billion and counting is a lot to pay back.Mike Hosking

Every culture must treat women as equal to men, and afford them the same rights in every aspect as they afford men. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

The middle path needs to be actively promoted and defended. We need to shrug off the image of being spineless fence-sitters who get bullied into sell-out compromises by those at the extremes. Being a middle-pathster does not mean having no firm principles. We have our bottom lines too which we will not surrender to either the extreme left or the extreme right. The political spectrum is best represented not as a straight line but as a circle in which extreme left and extreme right meet. The middle path is diametrically opposed to both – and for much the same reason: their erosion of liberty. It is liberty that defines our bottom line. – Barend Vlaardingerbroek

If the New Zealand news media persists in the folly of “cancelling” all those listeners, viewers and readers who fail to pass ideological muster, then we will see the emergence of our own version of Fox News – with all that entails for the health of our country and its democratic institutions. Who would lead it? Do we have a Hannity, or a Tucker Carlson, waiting out there in the wings? Where to start looking for a talented right-wing contrarian, boasting years of professional broadcasting experience, who is currently between jobs? – Chris Trotter

It’s just the same broken system with a new letterhead. Karen Chhour

I had people that helped me to believe in myself just enough that I could see my way out. – Karen Chhour

. . .ethnicity and culture should not be how we decide what is in the best interests of children. Oranga Tamariki should be colour-blind and open to whatever will ensure a child’s wellbeing and safety. – Karen Chhour

As someone who has experienced three elements of placement – non family who wanted me, family who didn’t and extended family who did – I can tell you, as a young person you’ll take love, compassion and stability wherever you can find it. – Karen Chhour

I think we spend far too much time on the (isms) in this country, racism, sexism, and classism. I firmly believe these can be used as a weapon to distract us from the important issues instead of focusing on what needs to be done in these areas. – Karen Chhour

The consequence of constantly putting labels on things seems to be that we have created an environment where expectations are lowered and personal responsibility is no longer a requirement. I want to focus on people being the best that they can be and celebrate their successes in these areas, instead of constantly focusing on the negatives that give these people the platform they desire. – Karen Chhour

We’re in urgency today on a local democracy bill making fundamental change. Am I the only one who sees the ridiculous irony of that? There’s an anti-democratic local democracy bill. That’s literally what we’ve got here, because the other side is putting this through—it’s ramming it through—in urgency.Simon Bridges

In relation to the wards themselves, personally, I find it hard when we come to special separate representation for Māori. As a Māori man, it says I’m not good enough, because of my whakapapa, because of the colour of my skin. . . This bill, to me, says that I’m not good enough to win a vote of a non-Māori. Well, I am good enough. I am good enough. – Simon Bridges

Central planning fails not just because we cannot predict the future but because the Climate Commission can never know enough to make better decisions about you, your family or your business than you can. The commission says its decisions will be based not just on science but “equity”. What the commission thinks is fair. As an example the commission says the rules for Māori should be different. “Māori collectives” should get “free allocation.” 

Politics will decide what is fair. It will be a lobbyist paradise. Some firms will get privileged allocations and get their competitors’ products banned. It will be like the days when some firms got import licenses and grew rich while others were refused. Bureaucrats will decide which businesses to reward and which to ruin. A central plan cannot even guarantee the result will be net zero emissions. – Richard Prebble

Attacks on freedom of expression are coming from multiple directions: from a government that proposes to place new limits (conveniently vague at this stage, so as not to cause too much alarm) around what people may say on subjects such as race and religion; from woke vigilantes in mainstream and social media who campaign for the defenestration of non-woke broadcasters; and from cowed media bosses and corporate advertisers who show no commitment or loyalty to the values of the free, capitalist society in which they operate, and for whom defence of democratic values is less important than winning brownie points on left-leaning social media platforms.   – Karl du Fresne

Companies operating in the field of news and current affairs have a responsibility not shared by purveyors of other commodities. As shapers of public opinion and providers of information of vital public interest, the news media perform a role central to the functioning of democracy.  This imposes obligations of fairness, accuracy and balance; but as long as we profess to be a free and open society, it also requires them to reflect the full spectrum of public opinion. Karl du Fresne

The people we have most to fear from are not shoot-from-the-lip provocateurs like Banks, but the authoritarian zealots who insist that they be silenced. The threat these censorious prigs pose to a democratic society is potentially far greater and more far-reaching than anything a bigoted talkback host might say to his limited band of followers. As the British columnist Bernard Levin once put it: “Any legally permissible view, however repugnant, is less dangerous promulgated than banned.” Karl du Fresne

Trust; that’s a crucial factor here. The Left has always had a problem with trust. Leftist apparatchiks fret that people who are left to make up their own minds will make the wrong choices, so seek to lead them by limiting the range of ideas and opinions they are exposed to – which is why freedom of expression is such a crucial battleground in the so-called culture wars. Karl du Fresne

Here’s another canard: the reason voters have rejected Maori wards whenever the issue has been put to a referendum is that voters are racist. But I don’t believe for a moment that people vote against Maori wards because they don’t want Maori councillors. They do it because they intuitively understand that democracy is supposed to be colour-blind, and that candidates should get elected on the basis of merit rather skin colour. Voters get that, even if the Year Zero cultists in the government don’t. Karl du Fresne

It’s unclear whether, following this flip-flop, Speaker Mallard will now acquire the nickname of ‘The Jandal’. – James Elliott

While an MP bridles against neckties, voters who oppose Maori wards are being told to get knotted – Point of Order

I made a great choice when I got married. You’re very lucky if you get that one right. –Sir Eion Edgar

We spent a lot of time bringing up our children, and they’ve turned out well because we put the time and effort into them. – Sir Eion Edgar

Plunket was hectoring, abrasive, shallow, belligerent and generally obnoxious. In other words exactly what you want in a populist talkback jock pandering to a certain market segment. He is a cultural warrior on the side of the deplorables.

Talkback is not a counselling session where every caller is taught to be reasonable and sensitive. It is not a barber shop or a hairdressing salon where the attendant listens politely and asks a few friendly questions. I imagine that most callers are ill-informed cranks who a talkback host must tolerate and perhaps egg on in the hope the next caller has a coherent view, but clearly a lot of people do enjoy it. –  Martin van Beynen

Like a lot of people, I’m struggling with the rapid change in the new moral and political climate. The silencing of Plunket suggests mainstream broadcasters are so concerned about toeing the politically correct line that someone who echoes a sceptical and possibly prejudiced public cannot be tolerated. This appears to be on the basis that if we get rid of everyone who disagrees with current trends, the audience will just go away and reform. – Martin van Beynen

Sometimes media organisations just have to tell advertisers to get lost in the interests of higher principles like the value of the fourth estate and free speech. – Martin van Beynen

We need to remember we are not a powder keg nation. An off remark will not set off riots in the streets and see shops burnt down. We can take it and should not expect all debate to be sensitive, respectful and totally reasonable. Surely we are not so fragile that a controversial talkback host who challenges the new orthodoxy, even if he is a reactionary, cannot be tolerated. – Martin van Beynen

 The beautiful thing about Valentine’s Day is that unlike a lot of other more prescriptive annual celebrations, it’s incredibly flexible. While films and advertisers might have told us otherwise, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a day for dramatic grand gestures featuring diamond bracelets and white tablecloth dinners. It’s a lot more enjoyable if you instead set it aside as a day for sweetness and tenderness. It’s about “e iti noa ana nā te aroha” – a small thing given with love.Charlotte Muru-Lanning

It certainly has its faults, but amid the routine of everyday life, Valentine’s Day is a much-needed reminder to celebrate the sweet things that make your heart flutter. Just like any relationship, it’s worth loving, in spite of its faults. – Charlotte Muru-Lanning

 It is entirely reasonable to aspire for personal responsibility while acknowledging that compassion will always be required – and that sometimes this has to take the form of government intervention.Monique Poirier

If we aspire to live in a society where reliance on the state is all but non-existent, we have to break the cycle of poverty. If parents are unable or unwilling to do this, it cannot be left up to the children to do it themselves. – Monique Poirier

The government is quite happy to throw $55m at the media, rush constitutional law changes through urgency, debate supplements, and snipe at the opposition. But child poverty? All we hear is some statistics on supposed measures improving, while conveniently forgetting to mention that the very one that matters – material deprivation – is not. – Monique Poirier

What is the answer? I don’t know. What I do know, however, is this shouldn’t be a partisan monopoly for the left. It is nothing short of reprehensible that New Zealand still has so many children living in poverty, and our politicians and leaders should be ashamed.  – Monique Poirier

Every serious moral philosophy, every decent legal system and every ethical organization cares deeply about intention.  It is the difference between murder and manslaughter. It is an aggravating or extenuating factor in judicial settings. It is a cardinal consideration in pardons (or at least it was until Donald Trump got in on the act). It’s an elementary aspect of parenting, friendship, courtship and marriage. A hallmark of injustice is indifference to intention. Most of what is cruel, intolerant, stupid and misjudged in life stems from that indifference.Bret Stephens

Should intent be the only thing that counts in judgment? Obviously not. Can people do painful, harmful, stupid or objectionable things regardless of intent? Obviously.  Do any of us want to live in a world, or work in a field, where intent is categorically ruled out as a mitigating factor? I hope not.

That ought to go in journalism as much as, if not more than, in any other profession. What is it that journalists do, except try to perceive intent, examine motive, furnish context, explore nuance, explain varying shades of meaning, forgive fallibility, make allowances for irony and humor, slow the rush to judgment (and therefore outrage), and preserve vital intellectual distinctions?

Journalism as a humanistic enterprise — as opposed to hack work or propaganda — does these things in order to teach both its practitioners and consumers to be thoughtful. There is an elementary difference between citing a word for the purpose of knowledge and understanding and using the same word for the purpose of insult and harm. Lose this distinction, and you also lose the ability to understand the things you are supposed to be educated to oppose. – Bret Stephens

A journalism that turns words into totems — and totems into fears — is an impediment to clear thinking and proper understanding. So too is a journalism that attempts to proscribe entire fields of expression. “Racist language” is not just about a single infamous word. It’s a broad, changing, contestable category.Bret Stephens

We are living in a period of competing moral certitudes, of people who are awfully sure they’re right and fully prepared to be awful about it. Hence the culture of cancellations, firings, public humiliations and increasingly unforgiving judgments. The role of good journalism should be to lead us out of this dark defile. Last week, we went deeper into it.Bret Stephens

Climate change is a real, manmade problem. But its impacts are much lower than breathless climate reporting would suggest. The UN Climate Panel finds that if we do nothing, the total impact of climate in the 2070s will be equivalent to reducing incomes by 0.2-2 percent. Given that by then, each person is expected to be 363 percent as rich as today, climate change means we will “only” be 356 percent as rich. Not the end of the world.

Climate policies could end up hurting much more by dramatically cutting growth. For rich countries, lower growth means higher risks of protests and political breakdown. This isn’t surprising. If you live in a burgeoning economy, you know that you and your children will be much better off in the coming years. Hence, you are more forgiving of the present. If growth is almost absent, the world turns to a zero-sum experience. Better conditions for others likely mean worse conditions for you, resulting in a loss of social cohesion and trust in a worthwhile future. – Bjorn Lomborg

 If all the rich countries in the world were to cut their carbon emissions to zero tomorrow and for the rest of the century, the effort would make an almost unnoticeable reduction in temperatures by 2100. – Bjorn Lomborg

The last 30 years of climate policy have delivered high costs and rising emissions. The only reliable ways to cut emissions have been recessions and the COVID-19 lockdowns, both of which are unpalatable. Expecting nations to stop using cheap energy won’t succeed. We need innovation. – Bjorn Lomborg

We should spend tens of billions to innovate the price of green energy below fossil fuels. Spending trillions on enormous and premature emissions cuts is an unsustainable and ineffective First World approach. Bjorn Lomborg

Here, though, is the detail that haunts me. For every patient who dies from Covid-19 in hospital, from the moment they encounter that first masked paramedic, they will never see a human face again. Not one smile, nor pair of cheeks, nor lips, nor chin. Not a single human being without barricades of plastic. Sometimes, my stomach twists at the thought that to the patients whose faces I can never unsee – contorting and buckling with the effort of breathing – I am no more than a pair of eyes, a thin strip of flesh between mask and visor, a muffled voice that strains and cracks behind plastic.

Of all Covid’s cruelties, surely the greatest is this? That it cleaves us from each other at precisely those times when we need human contact the most. That it spreads through speech and touch – the very means through which we share our love, tenderness and basic humanity. That it transforms us unwittingly into vectors of fatality. And that those we love most – and with whom we are most intimate – are the ones we endanger above all others. –  Dr Rachel Clarke

 For however bleak the times, however grim our prospects seem, human kindness finds a shape and form: it will not be locked down. –  Dr Rachel Clarke

Any straight person who uses a pronoun is definitely tattooing themselves as one thing – a bit of a wanker. Any gay person using the same, yeah still. – Cactus Kate

Pigeon holing people into the LGBTQIA community for quirks in their behaviour or preferences that are not stereotypical to society, is something social engineers have been trying to do to swell the numbers in those minority communities.  Not only is it an insult to people who genuinely belong to those communities, it is in itself creating the sort of division and anxiety the engineers are claiming to now use six figure government department jobs to remove. Do not be a wanker. Refuse to become a pronoun.  – Cactus Kate

My working hypothesis has been that MoH is just a wall of “Computer Says No” because the whole system’s held together with bailer wire and they know they can’t trust themselves to try to adjust anything. But some moves reduce the riskiness of the whole shambles. Daily testing in MIQ makes the whole thing less risky. – Eric Crampton

We do not have to inhabit a fantastical dystopian universe to imagine that one day, not so far away, Amazon will be pressured by customers or staff to eradicate Rowling’s spawn for the greater good. We can only hope that these platforms eschew the snivelling self-abasement that we have seen recently and uphold individual autonomy, but an oxymoronic Union of Individualists may have to join forces with brave small independent distributors to defeat the moronic mob. – Juliet Moses

The whole point of our parliamentary democracy is that the actions of Government and the policies of government and the statements of government are scrutinised, and the reason they’re scrutinised is because without scrutiny, governments can do what they like. Chris Bishop

The UK is not New Zealand. So everybody says ‘ah, New Zealand, New Zealand, it’s all terrific’, but as I’ve pointed out before on the media, they’ve got quite a lot of sheep in New Zealand, and they are a million miles from anywhere and it’s a lot easier if you want to put up border controls for New Zealand than it is here. – Professor Sir John Bell 

Publishers must realise they rely on readership and advertising. Treat these two groups with respect by giving them news and a platform for their views and they will succeed.Nick Smith

However, given that Tauwhiro means to tend or care for as a verb in Māori, or social worker if it’s a noun, putting the fear of God into gangstas is probably not what this police initiative is about. Bloody hell. Give me a Strike Force Raptor any day over an Operation Tend and Nurture when it comes to the gangs. . . The Government will proclaim it a huge success and the Police Commissioner will praise his task force. And during that six months, the gangs will have survived and thrived and laughed all the way to the bank. You want to try being kind with the new breed of gang members? Let’s just see how that works out, shall we? – Kerre McIvor

More generally, RNZ’s “product” reflects the network’s reckless abandonment of the middle way. The sensible notion that, as a public broadcaster, RNZ should do its best to reflect the public, has been set aside, and in its place a regime of extreme cultural didacticism has arisen. National Radio is no longer a station where the broadest possible range of New Zealanders’ ideas and opinions is broadcast for their fellow citizens to hear and judge. The views of those who remain unconvinced by the new orthodoxies of identity politics have been rigorously filtered out, and those espousing them “de-platformed” with extreme prejudice.- Chris Trotter

Breathlessly inoffensive, punctiliously politically correct, “The Panel” has made the penitential journey from seditious to soporific – and kept on going. – Chris Trotter

Not every New Zealander born between 1966 and 1986 subscribes to the extreme “wokeism” that is currently masquerading as the default ideology of RNZ’s listeners. Most of them would, however, be glad to hear its contentious propositions debated.Chris Trotter

An RNZ which refuses to acknowledge the full diversity of belief and aspiration in New Zealand runs a terrible risk. When the mood of the nation inevitably shifts, the worst possible position in which the public broadcaster could find itself is so far out on an ideological limb that its enemies feel completely safe in sawing off the branch altogether. An RNZ so bereft of friends and allies that no effective defence is any longer possible. There is a very good reason why the public broadcaster should do everything within its power to be the citizens’ friend and comforter. It’s so those same citizens will always have a reason to be the friends and comforters of public broadcasting – when its enemies come a-calling. – Chris Trotter

The utterly disgraceful reality is that local governments have conspired to drive up housing costs to absurd levels – among the highest in the English-speaking world relative to incomes – by tightly constraining the availability of land (in a country among the least populated in the world) and by imposing long and expensive delays on the construction of houses.  – Damien Grant

Nobody should take Jacinda seriously when she says she is concerned about child poverty. Until she is willing to face the reality that child poverty is going to continue to get worse as long as house prices continue to rise faster than incomes, she’s crying crocodile tears. – Damien Grant

The costs of confusing public health messaging are suffered more by some groups than by others, but this can all too easily be forgotten by progressive elites in the rush to signal inclusiveness. . . The elaborate dance involved in avoiding using words such as “mother” and “breast” offers those at the cutting edge of political discourse the opportunity to demonstrate their status at no cost to themselves. That does not, however, mean there is no cost to be borne by anyone else. – Louise Perry

The public’s best interest lies in full transparency and two extra weeks to digest the commission’s work and make thoughtful submissions. The hurdles are only manufactured deadlines on the road to an objective some 30 years hence. – Kate MacNamara

The most offensive use of urgency is when it is done for political convenience.Nick Smith

How could anyone of his intelligence fail to realise that, though as ever there was much wrong with the world, attempts to put everything right at once by the implementation of petty intellectual schemes are fraught with danger, and have a history of mass slaughter behind them?- Theodore Dalrymple

No transgression of sensitivities is so trivial that it will not invite a moralizing rebuke on social media. No cultural tradition is so innocuous that it needn’t be protected from the slightest criticism, at least if the critic has the wrong ethnic pedigree. – Bret Stephens

But in the humorless world of Woke, the satire is never funny, the statute of limitations never expires. . . In the game of Woke, the goal posts can be moved at any moment, the penalties will apply retroactively and claims of fairness will always lose out to the perpetual right to claim offense. Bret Stephens

Since the 1990s, there is now about 36% less land farmed for sheep and beef. Yet the sector is in a very strong position and remains one of the fundamental engines that drive our economy. – Rob Davison

Whoever controls the dissemination of information controls the culture. And whoever controls culture controls thought. This was true in Nazi Germany, it was true during my childhood in Catholic-nationalist Ireland, it was true in communist-controlled eastern Europe, and it’s true now in the public sphere dominated by the left-wing woke ideologues of Big Tech. The problem will get worse before it gets better. – Declan Mansfield

We live in a postmodern world where truth is conditional on holding the right opinions, which are, conveniently, the beliefs of the most educated generation in history – at least in relation to computers and social media – and the most uneducated in, literally, everything else. They know nothing except what they are feeling, and they’ve been told what to feel, which is that someone evil or something intangible is responsible for the ills of the world – or, in a new iteration of an old rhetorical fallacy, that their anxiety or the ache in their toe is the reason why free speech should be curtailed. It’s solipsism, narcissism and anti-reason manifesting on a global scale. And it’s all done with smiley emojis, conspicuous compassion, virtue signalling and socially sanctioned empathy.

The name of this intellectual disease is wokeness, or identity politics, and it is an assault on logic, common sense, kindness and decency. It’s also, most importantly, a philosophy with no notion of forgiveness. Once you have sinned against its ever-changing tenets, you will be cast out of society. Ritual displays of contrition, repentance and obsequiousness will have no effect on your humiliation. Redemption is absent from the woke catechism. And, after destroying someone’s life, the modern-day Jacobins who champion this ideology congratulate each other, paradoxically, on their morality.Declan Mansfield

Every local authority is the servant of the people. The powers given to Local Government are to increase the local authority’s ability to serve all the people and to increase its capacity for such service. It is not, nor should it ever be about named selective service. – Gerry Eckhoff

Here in New Zealand some 57 years later our Government legislates that people are indeed to be judged but only by the colour of their skin. Sometimes we really do need to protect our country from our Government. – Gerry Eckhoff

You do not defend free speech by demanding it for yourself but by demanding it for others, especially when you reprehend the use to which they put it or what they say. Freedom to agree with yourself is no freedom at all and inevitably ends in tyranny.

But increasingly a tyranny of self-proclaimed virtue seems to be the aim of university-trained intellectuals who, in the name of their own beneficence, seek to silence those whose opinions they find objectionable. It is the very class that one might have supposed had most to fear from censorship, both legal and extra-legal, that most strongly advocates it. – Theodore Dalrymple

What seems to me clear is that central governments and the managers of lesser or subordinate institutions, such as the police and universities, increasingly think of themselves in the way that Stalin thought, or said that he thought, of writers: namely as the engineers of souls.

This they deem to be necessary because, left to themselves, people are inclined to think the wrong thoughts, and wrong thoughts are very dangerous, especially to those who invariably have the right thoughts.

Indeed, so dangerous are wrong ideas that their expression should either be criminalized or those who express them socially marginalized, preferably ostracized; but since prevention is better than cure, children, adolescents and young adults should be immunised against them by indoctrination. – Theodore Dalrymple

The simple act of self-compassion can lift a whole lot of stress and pressure off your shoulders. And it makes it easier to find compassion for others: to recognise they stuff up, get it wrong or aren’t as helpful as they should be. – Dougal Sutherland

In a high-trust, low-enforcement environment, which we’ve been working under, people must comply or we have to change the way we do things. The “Be Kind” mantra needs to become a “Be Responsible or You’ll Suffer the Consequences” edict. – Kerre McIvor

An organisation confident in its recommendations should not fear transparency about its modelling. – Oliver Hartwich

While the gas BBQ is becoming a distant memory, I for one, miss them. It is still BBQ weather after all, probably because the rest of the world hasn’t bothered to cut its emissions. – Steen Videbeck

The roughly $1080 paid to a full-time worker in South Auckland forced to stay home for 14 days leaves barely $100 in the bank after rent. – Jo Moir

Getting the country to play ball for the next six days and once again nip Covid in the bud is the biggest test the country’s faced in quite some time. – Jo Moir

I can see we’re slowly moving into the post-kindness phase, where instead of being a team of five million, we are hearing that people just need to be compliant, But the danger I see is that if we are forcing people to be compliant, then what does that look like when the vaccine rollout happens and half the community refuse, because it’s being forced on them. So we’ve got to be careful how we communicate things. – Fa’anana Efeso Collins

These new language codes and norms are mandating us to adopt doublespeak. Why do I need to describe myself as a ‘cis woman’? I am a woman; that is it — enough. I am not a uterus holder, nor a person with a vagina nor a chestfeeder. These are linguistic abominations, but they are not harmless. Ultimately, these body part descriptions demean women and are a linguistic assault on the notion that biological sex exists at all. – Baroness Claire Fox

Something very different has taken hold within a few short years when it comes to thinking about what it means to be a woman. We have stopped thinking. The trans movement has decreed that ­biology is no determinant of womanhood. Many within this ­social justice movement assert that there is no room for debate, and that if we dare to try to discuss it, or challenge their diktats, we should expect the same vitriol, abuse and public shaming heaped on JK Rowling last year.

What is unfolding is the antithesis of inclusivity and tolerance. Worse, it marks a disturbing detour from progress. Surely, our ­desire to support trans men and women need not be done by eliminating the reality of women’s biological identities? – Janet Albrechtsen

If men advocated for the erasure of female biology from laws, policies and other official forms of language to suit them, most women would be screaming to high heaven about the misogyny of that project. But when a small group of trans activists call for the elimination of ­female biology from language, laws and sport, there is cowering silence.

Do we understand what is at stake? The move to eliminate the biological woman from the English language is worse than book burning. It is more damaging than toppling statues, censoring art, cleansing words from The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn and removing dialogue from our TV screens’ clips of Fawlty Towers.

It is altogether different from adding “Ms” to the list of titles for women or swapping “chairman” with “chairperson”. Language has always adapted to new times. We have moved on from the language of Beowulf and Chaucer.  – Janet Albrechtsen

Expunging female biology from our language is the state-sanctioned humiliation of women. When carried over into laws, it makes it harder for women to be safe in public toilets and prisons, and impossible for women to compete fairly in sport.

We women talk among ourselves about being mentally “undressed” by men. Now we face something worse being done, not to a single woman, but en masse: all biological females, tiny tots included, are being told by parliaments and bureaucracies that our female biology is to be stripped away from us, treated as a matter of inconsequence in the eyes of ­bureaucracies and the law. Stamping out our intrinsic biological identity is an abomination akin to stripping the sexual identity from gays or the religious identity from Christians or Muslims or Sikhs. – Janet Albrechtsen

But what if it is not a fleeting moment of nonsense? What if the project to decouple women from their biology is more long-term? When we agree to demands to ­dehumanise half the population by stripping away their biology, we dehumanise the whole of society.

It will make it easier to strip other groups from the essence of their beings. Isn’t that the lesson of slavery, of apartheid, and of ­ongoing racism? – Janet Albrechtsen

If we, as women, cannot defend our biological being, what will become of women? If we, as adults, cannot talk openly about the ­explosion of gender dysphoria among children, how can we know we are doing the right thing by children? We at risk of conducting a giant social experiment without enough careful analysis of what is happening.

The darkest side to the project to kill off a woman’s biological self is not what has happened to date. The most dangerous part put about by many within the trans movement is that there is no space for women to defend their biology, and no room for debate when it comes to gender dysphoria.

It signals a form of ideological tyranny that, in light of recent history, those living in the 21st century ought to be well equipped to recognise and resist. – Janet Albrechtsen

If farmers are to face a price for their agricultural emissions, it’s only fair they get credit for their action already taken to date on greenhouse gas emissions, such as reductions and sequestration. Sam McIvor

Two months in, third breach. Second lockdown in February. We don’t have this, it’s not eliminated. Our response isn’t good, the attitude is all wrong. This is a lazy, complacent government, whose major energy expenditure involves defending their ineptitude and trying to explain why things keep going wrong. Mike Hosking

Actually, if we are to assign blame, I blame the ineptitude of the Ministry of Health. The handling of this latest cluster has been a shambles. It’s been bungle after bungle. Slack contact tracing, ineffective communication, this ‘high trust’ model they keep running has been shown up for what it is – a disaster. High trust, low enforcement- which seems this governments mantra for everything these days, has proven detrimental and extremely costly to every New Zealander. We are in lockdown because of someone ignoring the rules, yes, but it’s the Ministry who’ve dropped the ball here. And they know it.Kate Hawkesby

We didn’t hustle hard enough to get to the front of the vaccine line, we are not vaccinating fast enough, our contact tracing is not gold standard – emailing people who don’t respond and waiting for them to spread the virus further before acting is not a proficient way to handle anything. We have fiddled while Rome burns. All we are left with when leaderships sit on their hands is knee jerk reactions, waiting until the horse bolts before trying to fix anything. It’s an incompetent way to run things, and now each and every one of us is paying the price for that. Kate Hawkesby

Being kind to someone who has a test, is told to stay home, has the symptoms and goes to the gym, I’m sorry but how is that being kind to everyone else. – Judith Collins

I’m sorry but by Jacinda Ardern’s own standards she has done ‘the worst thing’ for the economy. The government cannot take the glory when they get things right but deflect the blame others when they get things wrong. They got this wrong and this lockdown is a result of their own mistake. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

How then should the “Left” respond to the radical programme of social and cultural reforms about to be imposed upon the population from above by institutions of the New Zealand state? It is at least arguable that the changes planned by the Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Education are analogous to the economic reforms formulated by Treasury and Reserve Bank officials in the early-1980s. As with those measures, there is next to no evidence of ordinary voters clamouring for the changes proposed. In 2021, those calling for restrictions on free speech, or compulsory “Unmake Racism” courses for schoolchildren, are as few and far between as working-class voters calling on Labour to embrace Thatcherism in 1984. – Chris Trotter

Let’s stop being grateful for lockdowns. They’re not a sign of success. They’re a sign that things are getting too hard for the Government to handle. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

A population that hesitates not to cry in public is likely to be also a population of many frauds, of many actors and actresses, and of many liars. More dangerously, it will be a population without the capacity for real self-examination; many will no longer be able to distinguish between minor inconvenience and real tragedy, between slight loss and real grief, not only in others but in themselves. It will be a society in which tears will be not only an argument, but a conclusive one; and the more tears the more conclusive. – Theodore Dalrymple

People think empathy is that thing where you feel everything that someone else is feeling. It’s not. It’s when you take what somebody else is feeling, you hold space for it, and then you give it back to them. It just means you hold space for them, and that can look like holding your tongue, because you don’t know their life or their experience. Withholding judgement or opinion, making space for their life, because it’s different from yours. – Jackie Clark

Our rich Kiwi culture that once-upon-a-time encouraged personal responsibility, educational success, and financial independence, is being replaced with a culture of feel-good collectivism that has over the years resulted in social and economic decline.Muriel Newman

The problem is not the people. It’s the system. Blaming the people is a sly way to avoid responsibility. A well-designed system understands that people make mistakes. Understands why the rules get broken, then creates incentives to comply. – Josie Pagani

We’re hearing calls to punish the people that the system is failing. We should focus on the people who are making the system fail. – Josie Pagani

All Kiwis should accept there is still some negative flow on from the previous colonial era.  None of these challenges should be beyond the wit of governments.  However, they should stop naively entrenching iwi powers in statutes, because that will end badly one way or the other, and New Zealand will lose its credibility as a quality democracy, with the same rights for all.  It’s democracy or partnership – we cannot have both. – Barrie Saunders

The mills of political correctness grind exceeding fine, though unlike those of God or justice, they also grind rather fast. Nothing is too small or insignificant for them, nothing can hide from them for long. – Theodore Dalrymple

Pregnant people? What kind of people? Women, surely? But it seems than the word women, at least in certain contexts, has become some kind of insult, as strenuously to be avoided as another well-known insulting epithet. – Theodore Dalrymple

The lie is that there is no biological difference between men and women, a lie that has been adopted in the most cowardly possible fashion because of the activity of a very small but ruthless pressure group. In Britain, people (not only pregnant people) may change their sex on their birth certificates, a revision of history at which even Stalin might have balked. – Theodore Dalrymple

To abandon the locution ladies and gentlemen because there are no ladies and no gentlemen any more, in the sense that we have all become unmannerly brutes, is different from abandoning it because there might be a transexual in the building, or rather (since transsexuals want to be ladies or gentlemen), a person of the many indeterminate genders that have recently been discovered or acknowledged to exist. – Theodore Dalrymple

And thus, before long, we shall all call pregnant women people who are pregnant, and adopt whatever other absurd and sinister locution the pressure group du jour dreams up, until no one can tell the truth any more because the very concept of truth will be despised. – Theodore Dalrymple

Basically, they — like many — want the Prime Minister to get beyond the current flannel and sloganising and ensure in-depth detail is put in public so that business can make strategies and fall-back plans for keeping their firms moving forward during and after this pandemic. – Fran O’Sullivan

Underlying there is a suspicion — based on the revelations of bureaucratic incompetence exposed in the Simpson Roche report, that sensible strategies are not in place. – Fran O’Sullivan

Here’s the thing. Councils are elected to represent the interests of all citizens. They are required to follow processes laid down in law to ensure fair and equal treatment. Once they start going outside those processes to humour a privileged interest group – whether it’s one based on ethnicity or any other characteristic – then they invite public contempt and distrust. It’s not how democracy is supposed to work. – Karl du Fresne

The thing with the pantomime of politics is that your facts are only as strong as your ability to get the information across to the people. And there is a growing disconnect between the sentiment of the people and what the Government is trying to say. – Damien Venuto 

Any entertainer who has lost the audience will tell you that you need to tweak the script if you want to get their eyeballs back on you. Failing to do so just leads to a growing stream of people heading for the exit door – and most of them won’t bother to look back to offer a loving nod acknowledging how good the show once was. – Damien Venuto

It is a stain on New Zealand’s otherwise very good international reputation for the standards of our parliamentary democracy. – Nick Smith

This legislation is a solution in search of a problem. There is simply no problem with party defections in New Zealand. – Elizabeth McLeay

The Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Act 2018, is a convenience for some of the living. It betrays the dead, who put in place democratic safeguards for us, at some great cost in some cases. – John Anderson

But here’s the key fact: per capita income in New Zealand is a mere three-quarters of the level in Australia. And over a very long time, there has been no significant narrowing of this gap. – Judith Sloan

But let’s face it, four-fifths of two-thirds of nothing is nothing. And that’s the level of interest the world is generally taking in New Zealand’s self-destructive climate actions – Judith Sloan

Ignoring the value of natural fibre carpet is an example of not seeing the wool for the trees. – Jacqueline Rowarth

We should be very suspicious of the word “safety” when used in this type of context. It has become another cover for the Stalinist authoritarianism that infects public discourse and seeks to silence and marginalise dissenters. “Unsafe” used to apply to situations where one’s health or physical wellbeing was at risk. Generations of New Zealanders grew up being told that it wasn’t safe to play with matches or go too close to the water. Then we started hearing the phrase “cultural safety”, especially in the context of health care. An invention of neo-Marxism, it broadened the definition far beyond its traditional and accepted meaning.  – Karl du Fresne 

At the dawn of the Internet era, we were encouraged to think of social media platforms as anarchic and liberating. They were supposed to free us from the shackles of the “old” media, where editors (who were routinely caricatured as old, conservative white men) served as gatekeepers controlling the dissemination of news and comment. That promise now stands exposed as fraudulent; a giant con. Many social media platforms have turned out to be far more controlling and authoritarian than the despised “legacy” media they displaced, which were committed to principles of fairness, accuracy and balance. – Karl du Fresne

Don’t be fooled by seductive talk of the government wanting to subsidise “public interest” journalism. Any journalism that provides citizens with “the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies and their governments”* is, by definition, public interest journalism.  But when used by left-wing academics in journalism schools, the phrase has a much narrower and more ideological meaning. In that context, “public interest journalism” is code for journalism that attacks power structures – that “comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable”, to use a definition much favoured by those who see journalism principally as a form of activism, and who believe the only journalism worth supporting is that which has an ideological purpose. – Karl du Fresne

The media needs more balance in coverage and a wider range of viewpoints represented in every newsroom, at every level and in each position. – Kari Lake 

I don’t really want to dictate to my kids what they should be, but if there’s anything I could encourage in them it’s just to be a good, loving person.  Yeah, just love. That’s the most important thing to me. – Te Moananui-ā-Kiwa Goddard

There’s all this ‘real boys don’t cry’ bullshit, who can drink more beer at the pub, disrespect women, sleep with as many as you can. I tell them the strongest warrior is the one that loves his mum, because they will fight for her till the end. – Reweti Arapere

I’m not just there to pay the bills, to make sure my kids have what they need. I’m there to provide an example to them that they can take to their children, and the generations to come that I may not even meet. Lyall Te Ohu

I want my kids to know it doesn’t really matter where you go or what you do, as long as you’re conscious of people, and you treat them with respect. Have your mana intact. And when I say mana, I mean pride. I mean, resilience, I mean, always being who you are. – Te Moananui-ā-Kiwa Goddard

You know, in our diversity, we could probably see each other’s beauty, if we only just paid attention.  There’s beauty everywhere. As long as you’re looking. – Te Moananui-ā-Kiwa Goddard

The Prince of Sighs and the Duchess of Self Delusion have committed their ultimate act of folly. They should have remembered the saying “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”. And boy, has their house turned out to be glass of the least durable kind Petronella Wyatt

The woman believes herself to be a swan among swans, the physical, moral and intellectual peer of such great figures as Emmeline Pankhurst, Audrey Hepburn and Mother Teresa. Where self-knowledge should be is a hole so large it could be filled by a new galaxy – Petronella Wyatt

But when you’re on top of a mountain you’ve only done half the job, getting down is the other, so you have to remain focused on the job and don’t let yourself get too carried away with the situation. –Don French

There is some incredulity within Government circles about how much good publicity New Zealand’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout has generated. Behind the scenes, the feeling is, it is not warranted. In reality, it is a secretive, sluggish spin-fest. – Andrea Vance.

It seems another 1000 families have lost their livelihoods because health authorities weren’t able to show Case M pictures of cases A-L and ask, “Do you know any of this lot?”It seems another 1000 families have lost their livelihoods because health authorities weren’t able to show Case M pictures of cases A-L and ask, “Do you know any of this lot?”  Matthew Hooton

Revealed since has been a communications and perhaps operational shambles in South Auckland. The sick, the possibly sick and the general population have been given inconsistent or inaccurate information by government and health officials, using language and channels more suitable for multiply-degreed, upper-income, monocultural Wellington bureaucrats than the glorious ethnic, linguistic, educational and socio-economic diversity of South Auckland. – Matthew Hooton

It’s a tricky scenario, she should be up for it. Any Prime Minister should be up for it. As a publicly elected official you are asked to be held to account. So, it stands to reason you, at least, put yourself up, even if you don’t enjoy it or at times struggle with the complexity or detail of the question line. It speaks to a lack of backbone that she would want to bail and run. It also speaks to an increasingly apparent trait; they don’t handle pressure well.Mike Hosking

Being held to account is not something a politician can take or leave.  – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Think about it, Jacinda Ardern’s the accidental Prime Minister.  This rookie leader, plucked from obscurity in the lead-up to the 2017 election, was appointed by Winston Peters simply because she gave him much more than what Bill English was prepared to wear.  Barry Soper

She’s the master of soft, flattering interviews and television chat shows, blanching at tough questions.  She’s commanded the Covid pulpit to such an extent that the virus has become her security blanket; without it, she’d be forced to face the reality that her Government has been moribund. The Prime Minister’s press conferences usually begin with a sermon – it took eight minutes for her to get to the fact that she was moving the country down an alert level last Friday.  When it comes to question time her forearm stiffens and her hand flicks to those, she’ll take a question from.  Some of us are left barking from the side lines. –  Barry Soper

I feel like we’re witnessing a new normal these days when it comes to the media landscape and how people in positions of power are held to account. The new normal is to choose when to be held to account, and by who. – Kate Hawkesby

Forget the messenger, and whether you like them or not, politicians owe voters answers. They have to be heard across a wide spectrum of outlets, not just those who’ll favour their political view. – Kate Hawkesby

Hello? Anyone at home? You and I pay for this place. The government runs it and at no point the Prime Minister dictating terms to what I thought was still claiming to be an independent operator draws attention? Are the media literally asleep? Or just so compliant, and apologetic to Labour, that this is their dream scenario?Mike Hosking

Like her or don’t like her, like me or don’t like me. That’s not the point. The point is to be Prime Minister, you have to be up for it. You have to be willing to be up for it. You have to defend your corner. You have to argue your corner. You have to know your facts. You have to deal with people like me.Mike Hosking

But there’s something else going on, too, something that goes far beyond Harry falling out with his dad or Meghan vs Kate. More fundamentally we’re witnessing a culture clash. A conflict between the contemporary cults of victimhood and identity politics, as now keenly represented by Harry and Meghan, and the older ideals of duty, self-sacrifice, stoicism and keeping your shit together, as embodied by the queen, and as aspired to by most Brits in recent decades. Brendan O’Neill

That’s the great irony of Harry and Meghan juxtaposing themselves to the monarchy, and being witlessly cheered on by the left for doing so: these two behave in a far more old-world monarchical fashion than the queen does. Their punishment of the disobedient media; their conviction that they must instruct the rest of us on how to live, how to travel, how many kids to have; their eye-wateringly arrogant mission of ‘building compassion around the world’ – they make the actual British monarchy, politically neutered by centuries of political progress, seem positively meek in comparison. – Brendan O’Neill

Power today often comes wrapped in claims of suffering. Publicly professed weakness is a precursor to dictating to everyone else that they must open up, change their attitudes, become more ‘aware’. Victimhood is the soapbox from which the new elites, whether lip-trembling politicians or ‘suffering’ celebs, presume to instruct society at large about the right way to think, emote, feel, be. – Brendan O’Neill

Even a republican like me can see there is nothing progressive in the current rage against the palace. That there is nothing to celebrate in the shift from a world of self-control and stoicism to one of incessant self-revelation, and from a democratic era in which the power of monarchy had largely been curbed to a new, woke feudalism in which a select few wield extraordinary cultural influence over the rest of us. These developments harm the freedom of the mind and our sense of moral autonomy, by always cajoling us to bow down to the cult of emotionalism, and they shrink the space for open, democratic debate by investing so much power in the woke feudalists of Big Tech, NGOs, the Oprah set, and so on. Harry and Meghan aren’t fighting the establishment; they are the establishment now. Meet the new aristocrats, even worse than the old. – Brendan O’Neill

Individual autonomy should prevail. We should each person – each adult – look at the book and decide. – Juliet Moses

If we cannot sympathise or empathise with anyone who is not identical to ourselves, even in merely outward physical characteristics, then there is no hope of a country committed to any culture other than its own. Indeed, no country could tolerate difference within itself: it would be obliged to split itself into various Bantustans, to use an expression from the bygone age of apartheid. – Theodore Dalrymple

The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan. The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.Queen Elizabeth II

Reform should be about getting housing/land markets functional again, partly compensating some of the losers, and making housing once again something that young people don’t need to worry much about, all without messing up access to finance.  It is about fixing injustice now, and rooting out the systematic disadvantage, working against the young and the poor, that governments themselves created. – Michael Reddell

A wokester is someone who identifies with the wokeness of other woke folk and is likely involved in woketivism, principally through Woke Twitter. The wokest of the woke is a wokeflake who may take on the role of wokesperson for the purposes of wokescolding the woke-thirsty, who are those more interested in appearing woke than actually being woke. – James Elliott

Liberals don’t really know what to do because the most high profile complainant is Nicola Willis. As a National MP she is not, according to at least some libs, to be treated as a full member of the female gender in good standing. On the other hand, the sense of fear and unease she reports is ofte shared by women who are not National MPs (with whom it is okay to sympathise). Then there is the overlay of whether it is racially problematic for women to feel unsafe due to an increase presence of homelessness.The internal contradictions of modern liberalism make it impossible for libs to work through these issues and come to a coherent position. – Liam Hehir

Where politicians only speak to audiences close to them, there will be no tough questions, no hard talk and little to learn. And where journalists only interview politicians they like, they are in danger of becoming acolytes. – Oliver Hartwich

Fringe media promote fringe views. And fringe views create fringe politicians. Thus, the polarisation will jump from the media into politics. It does not have to happen this way. But to prevent this dystopian and polarised future, we must stop cancelling each other. As a nation, through and in our media, we should be talking to ourselves. – Oliver Hartwich

This Government can only hide behind Covid for so long before it must confront the real issues facing this country – the very issues it said it would resolve if it was elected.Kerre McIvor

One of the most important but least acknowledged psychological factors that affects a person’s way of being in the world is his conception of history. It can make one glad to be alive, or bitter and resentful against all that exists. These days, bitterness and resentment are usually taken as signs of enlightenment. – Theodore Dalrymple

Those who, for political reasons, keep past oppression or crime constantly before the mind of the descendants of the victims (that is to say, descendants of the victim group, not necessarily of the individual victims) help to foment and foster a deep mistrust or resentment that is no longer justified, but which can lead people in effect to cut off their noses to spite their faces.

This is to the great advantage of political entrepreneurs who surf resentment as surfers ride waves in Hawaii; and such resentment, the most damaging of all emotions, can easily become a self-reinforcing loop. It is not that past oppression or crime should be forgotten, much less denied, but that past achievements and change for the better must also be recognised, lest oppression and crime come to occupy minds entirely and distort decisions.

It is the same with injustice. It is important to oppose injustice, but just as important not to see it everywhere. To ascribe everything that you think undesirable to injustice may blind you to its real causes.  – Theodore Dalrymple

While the Government may – out of kindness – be handing over millions of dollars a day in emergency funding to families in need of accommodation assistance, it’s not doing anything that will materially affect the number of people who claim the payment. – Thomas Coughlan

Ardern herself is undoubtedly a kind person, but how hard has she tried to be kind in government? She’s gambled precious little of her popularity on measures that might make a meaningfully significant – not just statistically significant – difference to people’s lives. Holding on to that popularity isn’t just unkind, it’s selfish.Thomas Coughlan

I want us to reject ideology and blame in favour of a relentless focus on science and fact. I want us to choose constructive dialogue over condemnation. It’s my hope that one day, New Zealanders will once again appreciate and, in fact, be proud of our farmers and the contribution that we make to an innovative, thriving, sustainable economy and environment. That is my “why”. – Nicola Grigg

 Our economic growth must be export-led, and that includes the export of innovation. So let’s dare to build an export empire of intellectual property. Let’s sell to the world our clean-tech and our green-tech. The economic and social impact of the pandemic means we must dare to make some difficult decisions in the next decade. But first, let’s dare to stop deceiving ourselves that Governments can find solutions to every problem, or that throwing public money at a problem will make it go away. Nicola Grigg

The thing the public most wants from its Government is competence. When it does regulate, or when this House legislates, we should be drawing on the expertise already out there on the ground. If a Government truly wants to make it easier to earn a living, to address environmental problems, or to increase our exports, it needs to listen. – Nicola Grigg

 Innovation will require us to stop this close-minded mentality where we shut ourselves off from foreign investors and foreign capital. We must open our borders and open ourselves up to the world again. We need trade, we need investment, we need immigration, and we need the growth that these will bring. We need to go all out to attract the best and brightest from other countries to come here and make a contribution to New Zealand. This “fortress New Zealand” mentality will only continue to mire us in mediocrity, and it must stop. Mediocrity is the virus that we should be protecting our country against.Nicola Grigg

Health and education can’t be siloed from our country’s economic performance, our strategy for affordable housing, or the importance of providing a self-worth for our citizens. It’s all linked, and these challenges need action to sort out not only just the symptoms but the root cause of these issues. – Simon Watts

I was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic at the age of 21 months old. I’ve had a lifetime association with a system that is blessed with passionate professionals yet plagued by broken decision making. It is time to fix that. We must fix that. We have the people; we undoubtedly have the resources. We must put individuals, families, and communities at the heart of decision making, not existing government structures and ways of doing things.Simon Watts

The importance of decisive, informed decision making was hammered home to me then, and that experience is with me now. And that experience resonates with the economic challenges that I see in my electorate and as a country as a whole, as we seek a path beyond COVID. An economic rebound that leaves the most disadvantaged behind and that locks young people out of work and home ownership is a mirage. It might look good in the business pages, but if it fails where it counts, in our homes and in our communities, then it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. – Simon Watts

Sitting on these benches isn’t an opportunity to indulge in our particular and individual interests. Being in Government is about getting the important stuff done and not being distracted from that task. Many, many people throughout this country are capable of making their own decisions. What they want from us is action on the things they can’t influence. Limited government creates laws; it builds frameworks and structures of better governance to support our communities; it is focused on the incentives that will enable the private sector to thrive and generate jobs; and, it takes a leadership role on protecting our environment. 

A better Government will focus on a bold, long-term infrastructure plan, ensuring Government spending is not wasteful, spelling out the returns to a nation of that investment, creating an environment that encourages local and foreign investment and ensures incentives align with the outcomes we want as a country. Let’s take on these challenges with the vision and teamwork to drive positive change beyond the next election. Our lives are not governed by three-year intervals, so why is our decision making? New Zealanders expect more of this House than that. We need to put in place the ideas today that will guide this country to 2040 not 2024.Simon Watts

Today the faith is spread not by preachers, or even teachers, but through the institutions that wield the most power in the 21st century; corporations, and their Human Resources departments. For the practitioners of what is generally known as “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” are teaching nothing less than a modern form of political Calvinism, one that paints a pessimistic picture of humanity destined to be damned. And their strength is growing. – Ed West

There is also the difference between the totalitarian mind and the liberal mind; for the former, everything is about politics. What you do in your spare time has political implications, and so no area of life is free of political discussion. The traditional English cultural taboo about not discussing religion or politics in the pub reflected a deep-seated aversion to fanaticism; the idea that workplaces might be settings for political instruction would once have struck people here as positively demented. – Ed West

Universities are particularly vulnerable to this sort of activism, because by nature they are political. Many privately despair, including academics who aren’t especially right-wing; whatever your politics, conformism can become intolerable in a workplace. Talking about politics all the time is tedious. And activists can be disagreeable people. – Ed West

The companies hiring diversity consultants probably aren’t improving people’s lives, and they aren’t encouraging tolerance, let alone “diversity”; quite the opposite. They’re doing what people in positions of power have done since the first states were formed, ensuring that their gods and saints are the ones being revered by the subjects they rule. As for the individuals who do not believe in the new faith, they do what people in totalitarian societies have always done – they keep quiet and retreat to an inner world where the intolerance and conformity of the powers-that-be cannot reach them.Ed West

I started teaching in 1991. It is an incredibly frustrating system to be a part of – despite many, many good people being involved and some good intentions. The best analogy I can think of is that the system acts like a human with a pea sized brain, virtually no nervous system to communicate to the organs and limbs as well as being addicted to heroin and always looking for the next quick fix for political expediency. –Alwyn Poole

When the world moves quickly and dramatically, policy has to be nimble. The costs of policy being less than perfect were rather smaller than the costs of failing to act.  But too much of policy since then has continued on that same near-wartime footing. It is an approach that will not serve us well. – Eric Crampton

A government preferring to take advice from political advisers within the party – within their own echo chamber – over expert and objective official advice, is a warning sign that it’s not all beer and skittles in the current corridors of power. It appears that this is a policy informed by internal Labour politics, not sound economics. – Claire Robinson

Labour seems to think it can invent new euphemisms for breaking promises, and cross its fingers these will be swallowed whole by the public. Asked why he said in September that there would be no extension to the brightline test, Robertson claims he had been “too definitive” back then. How is anyone to believe anything he says from now on if he admits that sometimes he doesn’t tell the whole truth? This is dangerous territory for a finance minister, in whom the markets and credit agencies must have trust in if the entire economy is to be trusted. – Claire Robinson

I was a child in the 1980s, when the Labour Government embarked on a radical programme of restructuring the economy. Change was needed, but I can tell this House that change needs to be managed carefully. Those changes in the 1980s had a huge impact on many lives of people in the rural sector, with many farmers losing their farms or experiencing significant hardship. My stepfather worked on farms, but lost his job during that period and struggled to find more work. I recall my family going hungry during those times, and I remember days on end when we had no food to eat and going to the river to look for blackberries for food.

For a variety of reasons, my younger brother and I chose to leave home when I was 11 and he was nine. We’d planned to travel from Hawke’s Bay to the goldfields in Central Otago, live in old mining huts, and make a living panning for gold. We managed to get to Wellington, but we were stymied by Cook Strait, and ended up living for a bit over a week on the streets of Wellington, huddling together for warmth on cold, rainy nights in flax bushes, trying to figure out a way to get across that Cook Strait. Let me tell you that Wellington is a cold, hard place when you’re a child living on its streets. I remember this every day when I come to this House, and it serves to remind me that while I’m here, I need to do my best to ensure the policies that go through this House do not have unintended consequences that hurt our country’s children. – Joseph Mooney

 I strongly believe that the narrative of hard work and self-responsibility being the surest path to success is vital for the future of our country. We all need to do our bit to grow the pie, rather than trying to divide it into ever-smaller pieces. I know from my life experience that if parents don’t have jobs, kids go hungry. So it is one of the key responsibilities of Government to create a policy framework that empowers businesses, that empowers employers, and that empowers employees.Joseph Mooney

A strong and successful country depends on strong and successful communities, and those strong and successful communities in turn depend on strong and successful families, however those are constituted, which in turn depend on strong and successful individuals. The State is not an end in itself, but is a means of helping people achieve their own goals. – Joseph Mooney

 Let us be a nation that comes together and looks to its abundance of land and resources and enables our people to solve their own housing needs by building many more warm and healthy homes. Let us be one of the most productive and effective nations, and encourage and celebrate the people, the businesses, and the policies that can make that a reality. Let us be a people who rejoice in our great fortune to be fellow travellers under these southern skies, to celebrate our great collective heart and our practical, pragmatic minds, to treasure and celebrate the achievements of our people. For there’s more that binds us together than divides us in this land. Joseph Mooney

It seems it has become acceptable to stereotype those who have a Christian faith in public life as being extreme, so I will say a little about my Christian faith. It has anchored me, given my life purpose, and shaped my values, and it puts me in the context of something bigger than myself. My faith has a strong influence on who I am and how I relate to people. I see Jesus showing compassion, tolerance, and care for others. He doesn’t judge, discriminate, or reject people. He loves unconditionally.

Through history, we have seen Christians making a huge difference by entering public life. Christian abolitionists fought against slavery. Others educated the poor and challenged the rich to share their wealth and help others less fortunate. The world is a better place for Christians like William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King, and Kate Sheppard contributing to public life.

My faith is personal to me. It is not in itself a political agenda. I believe no religion should dictate to the State, and no politician should use the political platform they have to force their beliefs on others. As MPs, we serve the common cause of all New Zealanders—not one religion, not one group, not one interest. A person should not be elected because of their faith, nor should they be rejected because of it. Democracy thrives on diverse thinking and different world views. – Christopher Luxon

It’s not good enough saying you’re going to lower greenhouse gas emissions but not doing it. It’s not good enough saying you’re going to reduce child poverty but not actually doing it. Talking about it gets you a headline, but doing it makes a difference. I’ve entered politics because I want to make a difference, I want to solve problems, and I want to get things done.

New Zealand’s ability to become more prosperous and to enjoy a higher quality of life as a nation depends on the size and output of our economic engine. Just as growing Air New Zealand provided the opportunity for all staff to benefit, I believe that it’s growing New Zealand’s economy that will provide the opportunity for all New Zealanders to benefit. However, I believe that right now, New Zealand’s economic engine needs major modifications and serious upgrading.  – Christopher Luxon

I believe in tackling inequality and working hard to find that balance between encouraging hard work and innovation while always ensuring there is social mobility and a safety net. Every New Zealander who cares about other New Zealanders knows what that means. No matter your situation, I believe in a New Zealand that backs Kiwis to work hard, to convert opportunities, and to create prosperity for themselves, their families, their communities, and our country, because that is how we will make our country stronger. But I also believe that Governments must make powerful and targeted interventions on behalf of those with the most complex and challenged lives. With the right resources at the right time in the right place, the State can help people make positive and sustained changes that enable them to rise up and to realise their own potential.

Regardless of the different political that views we hold in this House, New Zealanders can all agree that we are incredibly fortunate to live in this place, and I believe, more than ever, if we make the right decisions, New Zealand has a great future ahead of us. We can do better and we can be more prosperous and more ambitious if we think strategically, solve problems, deliver results, and get things done. I don’t want to settle for mediocrity, and I don’t believe other New Zealanders want it either.  – Christopher Luxon

 I understand that the choices that every New Zealand family has at such times are constrained by their circumstances. I’ve come to politics because I want those choices to be better for New Zealand families. It’s by being more successful as a country that we can ensure that those kitchen table decisions include wider choices and better options for all New Zealanders.

The choices we all have are never made in isolation. The resilience and wealth of a student flat, a family home, a small business, a large corporate are all affected by how New Zealand is doing as a country. It’s my absolute belief that New Zealand can do better, and when it does, New Zealanders will do better, too.  We will all ultimately get the country—the economy, society, the environment—that we deserve, and I think we deserve the very, very best.Christopher Luxon

The one element that stood us apart from most of the community was our oldest sibling being intellectually handicapped as a result of decisions made during a difficult birth. This extended our world into the families, institutions, and bureaucracy of dealing with disabilities. This has continued for our family with the birth of our youngest daughter, Briony, who is Down’s syndrome.

Apart from that, my upbringing was pretty standard fare in a Southland rural community. We were neither wealthy nor poor. We understood the need to work hard but also to support those who needed it. We immersed ourselves in the community through school, sport, music, church and social activities. We learnt the value of family and community engagement and support. – Penny Simmonds

I also looked to our Southland rural sector. The economic bedrock of Invercargill and Southland’s wealth and prosperity, which survived the reforms of the 1980s and pulled itself back to a powerhouse, once more ensuring that Southland punches well above its weight, consistently contributing around 15 percent to New Zealand’s GDP, with less than 1.2 percent of New Zealand’s population. The South’s rural sector is justifiably proud of its long history of economic success. But our rural sector is facing significant threats that seem to ignore or not understand the unique climatic and geographic challenges to the southern farmer and that give no credit to the incredible progress already being made by farmers working together with scientists to improve environmental outcomes.

And I look to the threat of SIT—the organisation I had the privilege to lead—losing its autonomy and innovation, being swallowed up in the ideological mega-merger of institutes of technology and polytechnics.

While there may be better alternatives to the status quo in each of these industries, I know that the decisions must be driven by Southlanders to ensure the benefits stay in the South. The decisions must also be pragmatic and science, technology, and engineering – based; not reacting to emotive sound bites from people who don’t understand either economics or science.  – Penny Simmonds

I will be driven in this new role as the member of Parliament for Invercargill to continue my advocacy for the people, industries, and organisations of the Invercargill electorate. I come to the role with the experience of a farmer’s daughter and a farmer’s wife, a mother and a grandmother, an educationalist and a soldier for several years in the Territorials, a businesswoman, a community leader, and a sportsperson. But most of all, I come as a passionate Southlander who will not stand by and allow the place that I proudly call my home to be adversely impacted upon by poor political decisions. Our rural communities, farmers, SIT, our productive land, fresh water, and clean energy are worth standing up for. – Penny Simmonds

We all have the same goals with the environment, to look after our land and to be constantly improving. –  Kate Acland

No other new government in the last half century has been as ham-fisted as this one. Fancy initially announcing a policy that had been the subject of no research! Then spending to start that research, and then establishing a new unit to consult the public, look at options and produce costings. – Michael Basset

Light rail comes on top of Kiwibuild, ending child poverty, and housing the homeless. This government is nothing more than a collection of willful children blundering about clutching the taxpayers’ and ratepayers’ credit cards, shifting from one cow pat to another. – Michael Basset

One of the economic lessons we are determined not to learn is that government cannot regulate prosperity. Each generation must learn, from scratch, this lesson. Helpfully, we already know the script.

A successful economy is, over time, corroded by a growing layer of restrictions. Each set of regulations imposes an unintended and unanticipated cost or outcome. This necessitates further rules and government oversight. Eventually the entire system becomes so overwhelmed that it either grinds to a halt or there is a sudden and dramatic economic liberalisation – Damien Grant

The businesses, entrepreneurs, financiers and investors who are essential to maintaining our quality of life will all react to the new restrictive environment. Some changes will be large, some firms will fail. Other developments will be incremental: investments will not be made, staff not employed and opportunities lost.

Few of these will be notable, but the collective impact is that we will be a poorer nation as a result, our economy will underperform and, over time, we will slide further away from our potential until, at some point, we will begin to resemble a Polish shipyard.Damien Grant

The first rule for a government minister put in charge of a New Zealand industry should be: “don’t break it”. Even a small sector has thousands of actors, most of whom have been living and breathing their industry for years and will likely know much more than the minister. And as a small country with relatively thin markets, breaking a sector is easier than you might think.

The second rule is: when designing a policy, have a clear idea what the objective is, and then look for levers that will help you get there. Think through the effect each lever will have, or you might fall foul of the law of unintended consequences.

Unfortunately, quite a few ministers in the current Government seem to be unaware of these important rules of thumb. In industries as diverse as housing, energy, tourism, international education and broadcasting, ministers are being highly interventionist in ways which will depress investment and generally make a bigger mess. Messes that will thwart their objectives and which we will all end up paying for. – Steven Joyce

The Government’s stated objective in the energy sector is to reduce carbon emissions, which is a laudable public policy goal. However the levers it is pulling to achieve that outcome are both expensive and delivering results that counter its objective. – Steven Joyce

Simply put, Onslow is the wrong solution in the wrong place. It will chill other renewable electricity investments and either force up our already rapidly rising electricity prices or leave a massive bill for taxpayers. – Steven Joyce

Ministers need to more carefully think through the consequences of their actions. Right across the economy, poorly thought-through interventions risk damaging industries, discouraging investment and providing poor outcomes for kiwis. Its almost like Muldoonism and the command economy never went away. – Steven Joyce

But even in a crisis you have to lift your head above the parapet and start mapping out a path for the future, and the first step along that path must inevitably involve gradually reopening our borders. – Tracy Watkins

Vaccines work and they’re critically important, and when my turn comes, I’ll get mine with enthusiasm. – Dr Shane Reti

The Ardern Government has decided to avoid awkward questions about its pathetic record for per capita income growth by trying to focus attention instead on “well-being”, as if well-being can be improved in a sustainable way while per capita income growth is negligible. The new head of the Productivity Commisson’s definition – “Productivity = applying our taonga to deliver wellbeing” – says it all. – Don Brash

Road congestion is of course a very real problem, as tens of thousands of motorists understand only too well almost every day – the result of underinvestment in road networks over decades. But why not adopt a modern form of congestion pricing? Such systems work brilliantly in cities like Stockholm and Singapore and, according to surveys by the Automobile Association, are popular among motorists. To make them even more popular, the revenue from congestion pricing could be used to reduce the excise tax on fuel – cheaper fuel and less congestion – what is there not to like? – Don Brash

Investing huge sums of our limited capital in low-yielding vanity projects is what got us into this hole in the first place.  – Don Brash

Advised by impressively credentialled and highly experienced public servants, today’s Labour MPs feel obliged – by the meritocratic principles central to their personal identities – to do exactly what they’re told. And if they discover subsequently their advisers have lied to them, well, they must have had a very good reason for doing so. A reason they simply aren’t qualified to understand – or challenge. Not when the only alternative is allowing the people to decide. Because, seriously, what do they know? – Chris Trotter

The gods of political correctness are jealous gods: they will not have any other gods before them. Unfortunately for worshippers, however, there is a whole pantheon of them, and their demands may conflict. – Theodore Dalrymple

These days, professional politicians are so avid for office, and so much in the public eye, that all their activities must be interpreted politically, from their musical preferences to their diet to their visits to churches and other institutions.Theodore Dalrymple

“Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus” (false in one thing, false in all) used to be a legal dictum applied to witnesses in court who had once told a lie on oath; it is no longer applied in most jurisdictions, but now, in our intolerant age, we hold it true with regard to opinions. One bad opinion makes a man bad in all other respects, unfrequentable by the decent person in fact. – Theodore Dalrymple

The ultimate object of the monomaniacs is not only to make certain things unsayable, but—because they are never said—unthinkable. As the good totalitarians they are, they want everybody to think alike. – Theodore Dalrymple

The fact the government is now prepared to face the potential emotional backlash involved in turning citizens away from the country’s border suggests to me that matters may really be turning pretty dire, and so a temporary removal of the right to enter is justified. Or, at least, I hope and trust that is the case. Because if the government has gotten this one wrong, it’s a betrayal of everything that citizenship is meant to promise. – Andrew Geddis

The worst form of racism perpetrated against Maori is that “they all think the same way.”Lindsay Mitchell

New Zealand has tended to pride itself over many years about the incorruptibility of public life. Unfortunately, we have seen too many cases over the last few decades that suggest this is more folk myth than reality, although clearly there are many places worse than us. But “many places worse than us” is simply not an acceptable standard; rather it expresses a degree of complacency that allows standards to keep slipping a little more each time, with excuses being made (“not really that big a deal”), especially for those who happen to be in favour at the time. But those sorts of cases, those sorts of people, are precisely where a fuss should be made, where mistakes or rule breaches should not be treated lightly. Integrity – and perceived integrity and incorruptibility – really matter at the top, and if there is one set of accommodations for those at the top, and another (more demanding) standard for those at the bottom it simply feeds cynicism about the political system and about our society. – Michael Reddell

It’s partly an art – you’ve got to have good technique, you’ve got to persist, you’ve got to train hard. If you’re going to write anything, there’s only one way to do it – you do it.Brian Turner

How does a man cope with that? You get a grip, mate! You just get on with it! – Brian Turner 

 At the heart of their weaknesses is that they are a government of designers. They are effective at the stuff they can do with a “stroke of the pen”. – Bruce Cotterill

Increasing taxes, eliminating interest deductions and extending the brightline test (or capital gains tax) for property owners are a function of the same activity. Design. A stroke of the pen. A series of proposals that become rules that others will abide by. Design. A stroke of the pen.

And like much design, the outcome will not solve the problem it was invented for. The reality is that, if we have a housing crisis, it will be resolved by a simplified resource management process, more land becoming available and new houses getting built. In other words, engineering and execution. Instead, these new policies will see rents increase and property developers and owners spending their time restructuring their affairs to minimise their now heightened tax obligations and not much more. – Bruce Cotterill

When we look for engineering and execution, there seems to be an extensive array of failed promises. These breakdowns are in the initiatives that require more than a stroke of the pen. They require governments and their numerous personnel, having changed the rules, to actually do something. To make it happen.

There are now a number of major policy areas where outstanding public relations campaigns have trumpeted design, planning and vision while the delivery teams have completely failed with the engineering and execution. – Bruce Cotterill

There are times when good design alone, is enough. However, in most cases, good design of everything from grand visions to workable solutions needs to be accompanied by good engineering and ability to execute.

As we approach the three-quarter mark on this Government’s current six-year term, it would seem that the designer will ultimately fail due to its inability as an engineer.  – Bruce Cotterill

Paternalism is an ugly concept we’ve long decried, having witnessed the damage it did throughout the British Empire, when colonisers treated indigenous peoples like naive children who needed instructing.

But paternalism is what is unfolding here: one group imposing restrictions on another, against their will, stemming from an attitude of superiority. We think we know what’s best for them. We might not.

The Cook Island’s Prime Minister is an adult, elected by his country to run his country. He must weigh up the risk of Covid-19 against the risk to his economy. He must decide if the country is equipped to mop up any outbreaks. It’s not our place to question his capacity to make those calls. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Our healthcare system is gaslighting us. This arrogant culture contributes to misdiagnosis, long wait times, and lower survival rates for illnesses. And just as we’ve been brushing off women’s symptoms, we continue to ignore the gender imbalance at the doctor’s surgery. – Andrea Vance

Constantly blaming racism for the problems faced by Māori is wrong. We can’t move forward as a nation if that is our only response. Rather than using such divisive language, our Government should be uniting New Zealanders behind good ideas that lift everyone up.Karen Chhour

That leads into the second problem with Mythical Plan Chart B: It appears to be completely made up. When Bishop asked Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins for the data underlying the chart, so that the Opposition and media can better hold the Government’s rollout to account against its own aspirational targets, he said there were no numbers behind it. Instead, he said that Mythical Plan Chart B “is intended to be illustrative and approximate”. – Marc Daalder

A proper plan would be built around targets that are not merely achievable but aspirational. It should be epidemiologically informed, not based simply on Ministry of Health bean-counters adding up vaccine supply, expected demand and workforce availability.Marc Daalder

The Ministry of Health won’t give out daily vaccine data, ministers and officials can’t say what percentage of the frontline border workforce meant to be vaccinated by early March has actually been immunised and now an unvaccinated border worker has tested positive for Covid-19 and no one has any clue why. Making it up on the fly has failed us – it’s time for the Government to give us a plan. – Marc Daalder

How do we best manage our renewable water for environment and human use? Thinking will help turn luck into a valuable resource. It’s what Kiwis have done in the past and can do again – as long as regulations enable innovation. Jacqueline Rowarth

The cold, hard irrefutable fact is that in all human activities the private sector always outperforms the state. The state’s prime role is as a rule setter and it should only supply services which are necessary but unprofitable, such as our railways, police and so on. Bob Jones

My father has been my teacher, my supporter and my critic, but mostly it is his example of a life well lived and service freely given that I most wanted to emulate. His ability to treat every person as an individual in their own right with their own skills comes through all the organisations with which he was involved.Princess Anne

Economists like to talk about “optimal policy instruments” – essentially, policies that achieve their objectives more effectively or efficiently than the alternatives, and have minimal unintended consequences. Judged by those criteria, the New Zealand government’s recently announced package of housing policy instruments is a long way from optimal. You might even call it a shambles. – Norman Gemmell

Science is a method for inquiry—guided by intellectual humility, skepticism, careful observation, questioning, hypothesis formulation, prediction, and experimentation—that is open to everyone, that aims to advance knowledge and improve the lives of all. While indigenous epistemologies are certainly worthy of study, and valuable in their own right, such epistemologies should not be promoted as superior to, or as a replacement for, Enlightenment epistemologies. – Samantha Jones

I do know how important it is to have a husband—a partner—who is a source of strength and a rock in times of trouble. – Theresa May

 Of course, if we don’t celebrate physically blocking trade, we shouldn’t celebrate any other means of blocking it. Like the gambler’s fallacy, the fallacies of protectionism, can be exploded with just a bit of logical thinking.Tom Palmer

The desire to compensate people for the historical wrongs done to their ancestors isn’t an altogether dishonorable one (except that the desire is usually to be fulfilled at the expense of someone else). – Theodore Dalrymple

The doctrine that is indoctrinated doesn’t have to be true to have real psychological effects, only to have emotional resonance. Every totalitarian, or would-be totalitarian, knows this.Theodore Dalrymple

A child who has spent all or most of their life dependent on their parent’s benefit is very likely to migrate onto their own benefit as a young adult. In my experience as a volunteer it wasn’t uncommon to find the parent encouraging this event as it upped the household income. – Lindsay Mitchell

The people of New Zealand, businesses under dire strain and families desperate to reunite across the Tasman have every reason to feel angry and upset.

We have been let down again. Surprisingly, however, the public and much of the media seem relatively blase. It is as if we think we will again get away with the mistakes, the slackness, the false assurances. After all, we have mostly in the past.ODT

But we yet again have a Government, full of high-sounding words, that struggles to perform. All border workers should have been vaccinated with the first dose or removed from the front line before now.

We again have a director-general of health who reassures us all is well and under control. But we again find some of those reassurances are false. – ODT

After the stinging criticisms from the Simpson-Roche and Kitteridge reports (both kept from the public for many months), we must have doubts about both the wider vaccine roll-out and about the extent of Government obfuscation.ODT

So it seems fair to ask what would be the bigger lie: an individual signing a false declaration about testing. Or the New Zealand public being told that testing was already mandatory and occurring. – Duncan Grieve

 Increasingly it looks as if the Government wants safer borders in the same way that I want to lose weight every New Year’s Day. That is, we would both be delighted if it happened, somehow, but there’s no real link between our goals and our subsequent actions. – Ben Thomas

We’re not looking after babies until we look after their mothers, and the story reminded me I am just one of countless women who have a tale of trauma about our maternity system; a system firmly based on the belief that baby-care is an innate female skill. Virginia Fallon

WHEN GOVERNMENTS EXTEND the state’s power to monitor their citizens’ ideas and activities, we should all be on our guard. Even when such extensions are introduced in response to a terrorist atrocity, we need to ask ourselves: would these new powers have prevented it – Chris Trotter

The state can punish Lone Wolves, but it cannot stop them. In attempting to minimise the terrorist threat, however, the state can eliminate our freedoms.Chris Trotter

Because people aren’t dying, it is tempting to confer retrospective competence upon a bureaucracy which, in the months since the decisive battle against Covid in March and April of 2020, has demonstrated almost unbelievable ineptitude. The government’s response to these repeated failures has been insufficiently forceful to prevent their recurrence. What’s more, in the absence of bold measures to reconfigure and reinvigorate them, our public institutions’ disturbing propensity to fuck things up may finally overwhelm Godzone’s good luck. – Chris Trotter

It’s good to know the Government and Health Ministry can still surprise us, even as a growing number of us thought the levels of ineptitude couldn’t possibly get any worse. – Mike Hosking

This is just sheer dumb luck that you can mess it up, know as little as they do, refuse to improve the way they have, and still be moderately unscathed. It’s little short of a miracle.  – Mike Hosking

Surely in your quiet moments, you have to be wondering to yourself just how it is they can be this useless and still be in work.

They literally can’t deliver a thing. Not a house, not light rail, not a shovel-ready project, not a mental health programme, not a flu jab rollout, not a PPE rollout, not a Covid vaccine rollout, not a comprehensive secure border rollout. – Mike Hosking

This incompetence is absolutely outstanding. The stonewalling and obfuscating from the Government is appalling.

I think it is just there to prevent the world from seeing they haven’t got a bloody clue, and I maintain, looking at this record from the past year, that it is dumb pure luck. – Kerre McIvor

We need to be treading carefully when legislating against people’s thoughts. It shouldn’t be the Government’s role to dictate what people can and can’t say. – Simon Bridges

Including political belief in hate speech laws is a grave threat to free speech. There may be a case for laws against vilifying someone for immutable characteristics such as sex and age and disability but to extend that to religious and political belief is just staggering. – David Farrar

Much of the business community is keeping its head down and playing a wait and see game on new investments as they worry which sector is going to be the next to be negatively impacted by a government decision. Last week it was freedom campers and Air New Zealand. This week it’s livestock exporters. Next week? – Steven Joyce

A big part of this sense of drift is the growing realisation that the current Government, while good at stopping things, is having a real problem actually making anything happen. – Steven Joyce

Let’s be blunt. In the last nearly four years since the change of government, almost nothing of substance has been built. There have been announcements up the wazoo, some funding has been allocated, but there’s been precious little action. – Steven Joyce

Another part of the problem is that the obsessive anti-car lobby always carries outsize influence in Labour governments relative to their constituency. These are the people who believe a lane on the Harbour Bridge should be given over to cycling, or that all road-building induces more traffic. Which it sort of does, along with economic growth and jobs and houses and useful stuff like that. – Steven Joyce

But as Australia and other places accelerate faster than us out of this pandemic we wouldn’t want the view to take hold again that New Zealand is a place you leave in order to succeed. Over the last decade or so our country has built a reputation as a more vibrant well-connected happening place. We don’t want to lose that.Steven Joyce

When the history of New Zealand’s management of Covid-19 comes to be written, it will record that almost every government action to protect the country happened too late, and then only after politicians and officials were forced into action because a sceptical journalist (there are still a handful, thank God) or alert opposition MP (not a lot of them either) exposed glaring deficiencies in their performance or flagrant porkies in what the country was being told. – Karl du Fresne

What matters, especially to a Government that seems to have lost its way and is treading water on more pressing issues, is that banning live exports will make a lot more people happy than it annoys, and the people who do get annoyed by the ban probably weren’t going to vote for them in the first place. – Craig Hickman

Activities that we farmers undertake without second thought may in fact be very large risks to our industry, and the live export of animals was one such risk. If enough people object to a farming practice, regardless of the facts of the situation, we slowly begin to lose our social license to operate. We lose public support, and it becomes increasingly more attractive for the Government of the day to take action. –  Craig Hickman

New Zealand figures other democracies can do the fighting. New Zealand can meanwhile sweet talk China and clean up businesswise. But it may be worse than that. I think woke culture is also to blame. “New Zealand’s foreign minister is dizzy with her new age earth worship and old nature gods. For her, China is an ally in the fight against global warming, which seems to her far more important than the danger of war. China would be laughing.Andrew Bolt

In general, the lifestyle leftist values autonomy and self-realisation more than tradition and community. He finds traditional values such as performance, diligence and effort uncool. This is especially true of the younger generation, who were so gently guided into life by caring, mostly well-off helicopter parents that they never got to know existential social anxieties and the pressures that arise from them. Dad’s small fortune and mum’s relationships at least provide so much security that even longer unpaid internships or professional failures can be bridged.

Since the lifestyle left has hardly come into personal contact with social issues, they are usually only marginally interested in them. So, they do want a fair and discrimination-free society, but the path to it no longer leads via the stodgy old topics from social economics, i.e. wages, pensions, taxes or unemployment insurance, but above all via symbolism and language. – Sahra Wagenknecht

A society in which people must affirm political doctrines in order to maintain employment and respectability is no better than one in which atheists must pretend to accept religion to get by.Spencer Case

When a particular expression is expected from everyone, refusing to go along is automatically a countermessage. There’s no possibility of opting out of significant political communication altogether. We’re in danger of ending up in a society like this. – Spencer Case

Politics has its place, but that place shouldn’t be everywhere, all the time. When politics is pervasive, it is worse. There must be space for political neutrality, and this means that we must be able to remain silent on political matters in most contexts without (too many) adverse social consequences.Spencer Case

Sadly, as society increasingly politicizes, political silence becomes harder to maintain. And there’s reason to worry that what we say can and will be used against us in a different sort of court. – Spencer Case

Even if it were possible to measure the strength of a man’s beliefs or fears on a valid and reproducible scale, the fact is that none of us either does or can spend his life examining the evidence for all that he believes or fears. At best, we can do so only intermittently and in bursts. We are obliged to take much on trust or according to our prejudices.Theodore Dalrymple

The fear of immunization against Covid-19 seems to me exaggerated and irrational. The fact that none of us can be fully rational does not obviate the need for us to try to be as rational as possible. – Theodore Dalrymple

If we were to take notice of a 1 in 936,364 chance of dying from something, all human activity whatsoever would cease. Even if half the cases were missed, the figure would still be 1 in 468,182. To adapt Dr. Johnson slightly, nothing will ever be attempted, if all possible dangers must first be avoided – – Theodore Dalrymple

Child poverty stats are a joke. If grown-ups get collectively poorer, children get richer (relatively).  – Lindsay Mitchell

There is so much documented evidence, here and internationally, that shows benefit dependence – especially long-term – is detrimental to children’s outcomes.  Benefits erode family cohesion and they discourage work. – Lindsay Mitchell

Societies have always comprised collectives of minority groups and ALL members of ANY society can claim to be in a minority-be it age, ethnicity, religious affiliation, gender (yes, males are now a minority in New Zealand), sexual orientation, socio-economic status, the list is endless. We can all claim to be a member of a minority-which is actually and factually, at the base of governmental problems. – Henry Armstrong

Yet, the Ardern government has deliberately opted for diversity over merit (skills, experience, competencies, and management ability), so is it any wonder they are floundering around achieving almost nothing-except of course, keeping Ardern in front of the cameras, giving her trademark, almost daily, theatrical performances?  Representational politics based on minority interest groups, can only result in ignoring the needs of the majority, ie everyone else-but then majoritarian democracy is long dead in New Zealand under MMP. So, is this government acting in the best interests of ALL New Zealanders? – Henry Armstrong

On any of the well-accepted criteria of good governance, the Ardern government has to be described as an abject failure. Attempts to portray our shared history as being based on oppression, is ostensibly untrue. Attempts to portray “old white men” as being responsible for all of the issues which beset New Zealand society, are not only insulting, they are deeply offensive and divisive. The treaty offered us all an opportunity to progress which, by and large, as citizens of New Zealand, of every ethnicity and creed, we have achieved. This government seems to be, through its total incompetence, determined to divide us.Henry Armstrong

However, we also need to talk about them because our language is falling victim to the ‘righteous’ indignation of those who confuse offence with harm and take it upon themselves to be offended on behalf of others. – Gavin Ellis

I believe it was the result of our language becoming sterilised, as more and more develop what I might call idiomatic mysophobia or a pathological fear of the use of certain contaminating words in case someone might have their feelings hurt.

Saying ‘man’ or ‘woman’ does not amount to a harmful failure to acknowledge those who nominate another gender identity. Frankly there are far more serious forms of discrimination against those groups and individuals that should concern us.Gavin Ellis

You’re either startlingly arrogant or thick or quite possibly in this case both, that you can stitch up something as shonky as this, not ask a single legal mind a single question, slip it out at Christmas, and then assume nothing is going to come back to bite you.  Add it to the list of stuff they’ve cocked up and we’ve paid for. If National and ACT are taking notes, they’re going to have an astonishing list set to go by 2023. – Mike Hosking

Instead of a system that refuses to tolerate their destructiveness, we get a system which rewards them with no-strings-attached cash and plenty of excuses for their defection from the rest of society. Nobody has explained to them that the social security system was born out of shared values, shared compassion for genuine need, and shared commitment to fund it. – Lindsay Mitchell

Someone needs to get – and someone needs to give – the correct message: you can’t keep biting the hand that feeds you. Don’t hold your breath for that someone to be the person in charge though. – Lindsay Mitchell

I don’t want any racist tirades about this issue, I want some reasoned discussion. And for me, it comes back to this. I believe in the concept that all people are equal, that in this country everybody’s vote is as important as everybody else’s. We are all New Zealanders. – Peter Williams

At the heart of our Judeo-Christian heritage are two words. Human dignity. Everything else flows from this. Seeing the inherent dignity of all human beings is the foundation of morality. It makes us more capable of love and compassion, of selflessness and forgiveness.

Because if you see the dignity and worth of another person, another human being, the beating heart in front of you, you’re less likely to disrespect them, insult or show contempt or hatred for them, or seek to cancel them, as is becoming the fashion these days. You’re less likely to be indifferent to their lives, and callous towards their feelings. – Scott Morrison

Appreciating human dignity also fosters our sense of shared humanity.This means that because we are conscious of our own failings and vulnerabilities, we can be more accepting and understanding of the failings and vulnerabilities of others.

True faith and religion is about confronting your own frailties. It’s about understanding your own and our humanity. The result of that is a humble heart, not a pious or judgemental one. – Scott Morrison

Human dignity is foundational to our freedom. It restrains government, it restrains our own actions and our own behaviour because we act for others and not ourselves, as you indeed do here this evening. That is the essence of morality. – Scott Morrison

Liberty is not borne of the state but rests with the individual, for whom morality must be a personal responsibility. – Scott Morrison

Freedom therefore rests on us taking personal responsibility for how we treat each other, based on our respect for, and appreciation of, human dignity. This is not about state power. This is not about market power. This is about morality and personal responsibility.

Now, morality is also then the foundation of true community. The place where we are valued; where we are unique; where we respect one another and contribute to and share one another’s lives. Where we pledge faithfulness to do together what we cannot achieve alone. – Scott Morrison

The determination to step up and play a role and to contribute as you are indeed doing this evening as part of this amazing organisation. Not leaving it to someone else, to another. That is the moral responsibility and covenant, I would argue, of citizenship. Not to think we can leave it to someone else. 

But there are warnings. Where we once understood our rights in terms of our protections from the state, now it seems these rights are increasingly defined by what we expect from the state. As citizens, we cannot allow what we think we are entitled to, to become more important than what we are responsible for as citizens. – Scott Morrison

Now together and individually we are each responsible for building and sustaining community, and we each have something unique to bring. Because community begins with the individual, not the state, not the marketplace. It begins with an appreciation of the unique dignity of each human being. It recognises that each individual has something to offer and that failure to appreciate and realise this, as a community, means our community is poorer and it is weaker.

In short, to realise true community we must first appreciate each individual human being matters. You matter. You, individually.

And in this context I would also argue we must protect against those forces that would undermine that in community, and I don’t just mean, as I’ve recently remarked, the social and moral corrosion caused by the misuse of social media, and the abuse that occurs there. But I would say it also includes the growing tendency to commodify human beings through identity politics.

We must never surrender the truth that the experience and value of every human being is unique and personal. You are more, we are more, individually, more than the things others try to identify us by, you by, in this age of identity politics. You are more than your gender, you are more than your race, you are more than your sexuality, you are more than your ethnicity, you are more than your religion, your language group, your age.

All of these of course contribute to who we may be and the incredible diversity of our society, particularly in this country, and our place in the world. But of themselves they are not the essence of our humanity.

When we reduce ourselves to a collection of attributes, or divide ourselves, even worse, on this basis, we can lose sight of who we actually are as individual human beings – in all our complexity, in all our wholeness and in all our wonder.

We then define each other if we go down that other path by the boxes we tick or don’t tick, rather than our qualities, skills and character. And we fail to see the value that other people hold as individuals, with real agency and responsibility. – Scott Morrison

So my message is simple: you matter, you make the difference, you make community. And together with family and marriage and the associations of clubs and community groups, faith networks, indeed the organisations we’re here celebrating tonight, and so much more, they are the further building blocks of community on that individual, providing the stability and the sinews of society that bind us one to another.

And upon that moral foundation of community we build our institutions of state. Within that moral context we operate our market place. – Scott Morrison

You matter. Community matters. In a democracy, it matters especially. It’s a tremendous source of strength and it’s why foreign actors seek to sow discord online, in many other ways, inflaming angers and hatreds and spreading lies and disinformation.

Of course, the right to disagree peacefully is at the heart of democracy, I’m not referring to that. But democracy is a shared endeavour, and the civility, trust and generosity, they are the currency that mediates our differences. – Scott Morrison 

Farmers need the best tools and technological solutions to grow enough crops – using fewer natural resources to produce sufficient high-quality food, respect the environment, safeguard consumers and support themselves.  Allowing them to use the right tools at the right time for the right crops will assist them do this.  Helping farmers build a stronger and more resilient agricultural economy, requires an open and transparent dialogue and collaboration between scientists, academia, innovators, politicians, regulators, NGOs and all along the food value chain from farmers to consumers.Mark Ross

If policy is developed by ministerial staff and implemented by DPMC, what do all of Robertson’s ministerial colleagues and their thousands of highly paid advisers do all day? Because the description of the Implementation Unit sounds an awful lot like the current role of a ministerial office. – Danyl Mclauchlan

Are we, as mere minions of this Labour government, just voters not to be trusted with a report that suggests a fundamental change to New Zealand society? Peter Williams

Frankly, we have to have a major talk in this country about two things – what is self-determination, and what is indigenous? And until we have those defined we really can’t go any further can we? – Peter Williams

This government has no moral authority to tell private sector employers that they have to quote ‘improve wages,’ when they themselves are not going to do it for the next three years.  Something’s going to have to give; either this government abandons the wage freeze or abandons the fair pay agreements.

But they cannot tell businesses around this country to do something they are not prepared to do. The hypocrisy is blinding.Heather du Plessis-Allan

As it stands, I don’t trust the media and I’m in it, but I trust bits and in that is the key.

Trust requires work. The media as a whole in this country is in a parlous and decaying state. Journalism sadly is frequented by too many inexperienced people, naïve people, thick people, and people on band wagons. – Mike Hosking

Unions have good reason to celebrate. Their power will soon outstrip what would be justified by their membership. It will take much longer for better conditions to be felt by large numbers of workers.

Given the sheer number of public sector workers likely to be hit by the pay freeze, this week appears to have been much more about improving the strength of unions than it was about helping workers.Hamish Rutherford

This Labour Government is growing more interventionist by the day. It has not met a problem it doesn’t think can be solved through more centralisation, regulation, bureaucracy, and more power in the hands of the Government. – Scott Simpson

It seems odd and increasingly criminal we can be recognised for a solid Covid response but because of our own fear and lack of planning cut ourselves out of the joining the rest of the world. – Mike Hosking

You know how the whole cancel thing works, right? It’s pretty simple. First you do a bit of due diligence on a scheduled speaker or soon-to-be-published author. Find something ropey they once said (easy in my case, but I’m only an email away if anyone needs direction). Then head for the open sewer running through the Dickensian lunatic asylum that is Twitter. Declare yourself upset beyond belief. Don’t worry about grammar or humour or context or any of that boring stuff. Repetition is what counts. Consider hammering the point home with an amazingly colourful word that rhymes with “bunt”. And don’t forget to use a nifty hashtag. – David Cohen

Cancel culture goes after writers by harnessing something old (the desire of the mob to scalp dissenters) with something relatively new (the ubiquity of social media) and something else that sounds rather borrowed (crypto-religious demands for demonstrations of public piety). And as the former Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon pointed out the other day, while the language the ringleaders use to rally the troops is often collectivist, the tone is all Me Me Me. Every second sentence seems to start with a, “Speaking as a …” – David Cohen

But is opinion what it’s about anyway? More and more, it seems to me, what’s happening doesn’t seem to be in the interests of fostering the vigorous exchange of views or even correcting people who may have got something significantly wrong. At heart, I think, cancel culture is part of a wider linguistic turf war currently being fought on many fronts over who gets to control the language.  David Cohen

I’m not a Labour Party Māori or an on-the-marae Māori. I can be pretty frank about that, there’s reasons for that, I just wasn’t brought up that way. These are things we all have to reconcile in our heads but what is true is it doesn’t make me less Māori. We don’t think you’re only Scottish if you wear a kilt.  It’s a free world, my whakapapa is what it is, and I’m proud of it. – Simon Bridges

There is also always a place for punishing those who traumatise others, who destroy the lives of other people, who kill, murder, rape.Those things must be treated with the force of the law, and I won’t apologise for that. – Nicola Willis

I have to say, to blow the health system up when you’re trying to vaccinate 4 million people, that’s not particularly clever timing, is it? . . . This lack of planning, I mean, this is an iterative problem. We’ve got to take it away from politicians and away from doctors like me – may I add – and put it in the hands of professional governors and managers.Des Gorman

Yes there is an argument that vaccination has most application in countries with rampant disease, but there’s an equally strong argument we’re like a shag on a rock, and we’ll be a shag on a rock until we’re vaccinated, and our economy suffers. The next GFC, the next earthquake in Christchurch, we can’t buffer it. – Des Gorman

For the most open honest transparent government, things haven’t been looking too transparent of late. The pulpit of ‘truth’ is proving a stretch, are they being ‘too definitive?’ – Kate Hawkesby

This is why everyone should fight against cancel culture. Everyone has led lives of imperfection. I want a society that doesn’t judge people by the worst thing they have ever done, but by their overall contribution. – David Farrar

This, of course, is the great weakness of unionism. Most pay rises are not productivity based; they are threat based. Pay us or we are out. – Mike Hosking

So just who is it they’re appealing to? Do you have the same trouble British Labour now has? There isn’t a working-class Kiwi who would touch them. It’s the party of socialist ideologues who hang out at universities, NGOs, and pressure groups.

This smacks of whack-a-mole government. No vision, no big picture, no strategy, just a trail of bewildered, disowned, and disenfranchised supporters who no longer know who they’re dealing with. – Mike Hosking

The window of opportunity for New Zealand to attract talent is evaporating rather rapidly as the developed world becomes vaccinated.- Peter Gluckman

Also if you can print me a steak, you can also print me up a takahe drumstick or a slab of whale. I could munch on endangered animals with impunity. There is a small, but creepy, seam of wannabe cannibals on the internet who are also excited about this avenue. – Nicola Dennis

And there you have the three reasons people help others: they’re bullied, they’re paid, or they love. – Rodney Hide

Why they matter is because these stats drive taxation/redistribution policies. They influence how much is taken from Paul to give to Peter. Doesn’t matter how hard Paul worked, what sacrifices he made, how careful he was not to have more children than he could personally afford to raise. If he is defined as ‘rich’ and Peter is ‘poor’ you know the outcome. – Lindsay Mitchell

What has suddenly changed is the slavish, craven and witless embrace of identity politics that has swept through government, academia, the media, the arts, the corporate sector and even sport. – Karl du Fresne

The advertising business likes to celebrate itself as edgy, idiosyncratic and anarchic, but it strikes me as deeply conformist, risk-averse and prone to groupthink. Its suspiciously abrupt, across-the-board conversion to the virtues of diversity suggests much the same level of fearlessly independent thought as you’d find in a mob of romney ewes. – Karl du Fresne

And I’m sorry, but as long as Labour ministers like Chris Hipkins just don’t care whether our money is wasted in uneaten school lunches, as long as that happens, Labour will be perceived to be the party that just throws cash away. Pay freeze the nurses all you like, that perception will stick, because it’s warranted.Heather du Plessis Allan

A state broadcaster rigorously excluding any and all voices dissenting from the official line, is something most New Zealanders would expect to encounter in Moscow or Beijing – not in Wellington. – Chris Trotter

Vegans and vegetarians are the gullible foot soldiers for the processed food industry and religious ideology. – Dr Gary Fettke

History has us at our healthiest from a metabolic aspect when our diets were predominantly animal based. – Dr Gary Fettke

Generally, plant-based diets require supplementation for at least vitamin B12 and iron. It’s almost not fair to compare beef and rice. To get the protein in 200 grams of beef you need to eat nearly a kilogram of rice, and still you would be missing the micronutrients. – Dr Gary Fettke

We often get people in this country whom we consider – and I hate the word – but we often call them ‘low value’ but they work hard and they have incredible work ethics and that goes through to their children – Erica Stanford

They are starting a new life. There is always that sword of Damocles hanging over them. They have got to keep working hard to stay here to get their residence and they do – they know this is a new chance, a new life and they do work very, very hard.

These people were quite vulnerable. They didn’t have any rights. They didn’t know the system. Sometimes they couldn’t speak English very well and they would often make mistakes or get themselves in trouble and just being able to help them and change their lives was so rewarding. – Erica Stanford

Right now the top priority for New Zealand is to make this country the most desirable place for migrants to want to come to because if we want the best migrants, which we do, the most skilled, the ones that have a lot to offer our economy and our society, we need to be their best option and right now, we are far from that.  – Erica Stanford

 I am quite close to this but I can’t turn away. I cannot turn away. How can you turn away from their grief and their anxiety and their stress? A lot of them have terrible mental health problems and are beside themselves because they haven’t seen their partners and their children.

“I can’t turn away turn away from that. I can’t walk away. I can’t not scream from every rooftop, every chance I get to give these guys a road map to reunification so they can see their families again.Erica Stanford

The world isn’t rejecting left-leaning progressive thinking for no reason, they’re rejecting it because it doesn’t work. – Mike Hosking

We’ve got to make sure we’re taking an approach to it that doesn’t lead to some particularly grim financial outcomes, which a lot of what we’ve seen in recent times certainly do. 

We need to make sure people have an appreciation of what those things mean. Some people are happy to accept the cost being worn by someone else, rather than contributing themselves, and we’re hearing a lot of that in the zero carbon space. – Jared Ross

The government is not only doing too much, it is doing too much of that too much too badly – Eric Crampton

With New Zealand’s democracy now white-anted by racist policies, we will also deservedly become a laughing stock if our politicians and bureaucrats continue to pay obeisance to primitivism.  – Amy Brooke

The kind of values needed to raise children with their wellbeing absolutely utmost cannot be learned from a government. They cannot be replaced by unearned income. – Lindsay Mitchell

Give a family another $20 or $50 a week and, hey presto – just like that – 33,000 children are lifted out of poverty. In itself that is heartless isn’t it? That poverty is only measured by money. But is the life of those 33,000 kids going to be noticeably better in 12 months time? I would doubt it unless the attitude and approach to life of their parents or caregiver had shifted significantly. Will that person have made moves to get a job? To make the children’s lunch? To ensure they go to school at least 90 percent of the time?  – Peter Williams

If it takes “true grit” to be Opposition leader, then Judith Collins has it in spades. – Fran O’Sullivan

It is not racist to suggest that proposals such as those contained in the He Puapua report should be openly debated rather than sitting in some drawer in a Cabinet Minister’s office.Fran O’Sullivan

It was hard to give the Budget much credence after reading the Auditor-General’s report on the Covid-19 vaccination programme this week. The gulf between word and deed in Government has probably never been greater.

From the moment the Cabinet gave the vaccination programme entirely to the Ministry of Health you just knew it wouldn’t turn out well. Ministries these days do what the Auditor-General calls “high-level” planning. He doesn’t mean high quality, he means the plans made on high that do not get down to the harder work of deciding exactly who will do what, when, where and how. – John Roughan

“High-level” planning isn’t just disconnected from practice on the ground, it thinks up needless things that get in the way of practical work. But mostly it just wastes time and high salaries thinking of the bleeding obvious.  – John Roughan

Being in Parliament sometimes feels a bit like a kindergarten. There are squabbles, the occasional tantrum, and many questions that can seem quite repetitive to the public, and irritating to the Government too. The ability to question is vital for democracy. As politicians, it’s our job to question the policies and intentions of the Government in order to make sense of where we’re heading as a country. What laws will the Government pass? What problem are they trying to solve? How will the change impact the life of a child just starting school, the pocket of a solo mum, the small business owner struggling to find staff and pay taxes? How will we know if the policy’s been a success or failure? – Brooke van Velden

It is not racist to question policy that creates two systems for New Zealanders. Brooke van Velden

I want to live in a country where we can acknowledge our differences and seek better outcomes for all children regardless of race. It’s time to focus on our common humanity rather than constantly looking for division. We need better ideas, and to have honest conversations. Accusing others of racism when they challenge your idea is simply lazy. It stifles debate and breeds resentment.

It speaks to a growing sentiment I’m hearing across New Zealand. People are more and more cautious to express their opinions because others choose to take offence at ideas they don’t support. We should all be respectful in the way we deal with each other, whether we agree or disagree. We should show leadership by standing up for the ability to freely think and ask questions in our Parliament. How can we teach our children the importance of critical thinking, if we don’t expect it from our leaders? – Brooke van Velden

The issue should not be about race, as some would like to make it out to be. It is about which vision is more likely to give every child born in New Zealand the best chance to succeed. I don’t really care if our country is called New Zealand or Aotearoa. How about we focus on the outcomes for kids?Brooke van Velden

Can I give Craig, your good selves and, for that matter, the current Speaker, Trevor Mallard, a last piece of media advice? Do not endlessly and obsessively relitigate a losing argument. Take it on the chin. Move on. The public have short memories and it is sometimes possible to rebuild your reputation. Keep arguing a lost cause and you will not. – Bill Ralston

If, as looks increasingly likely, the vaccination programme turns out to be another KiwiBuild rather than another Covid elimination effort, all bets are off. Ardern had better hope Robertson’s announcement of the $1.4b for the vaccination programme turns out to be one of those old-fashioned Budget initiatives that turn out to be at least somewhat correlated with reality.- Matthew Hooton

The people who feed this misinformation online have no idea what it is like to live through a deadly virus.  We could have died, and we would have been a loving memory for our whānau, but we lived, and we lived with side effects. Death is a clean option.

Surviving is the hard and dangerous part. Those keyboard warriors don’t know what survival means – that fight is forever. And we see that with Covid-19 survivors most have recovered from the immediate effects but [some] have ongoing side effects that are far more damaging than anything else.

So when they say [on social media] Covid won’t kill you, they don’t realise that death is the clean way out and surviving is the scary part. John Forbes

Getting vaccinated isn’t about just you, it’s about protecting the ones you love. It’s an act of aroha. –  Maea Marshall

Getting doctors and nurses into poorly-serviced regions will improve Māori health. Economic growth that lifts New Zealanders out of poverty will improve Māori health. Better education will. Vaccinations will. Actually, building decent housing will. Shifting all health decisions to Wellington will not. – Judith Collins

National’s view is that every dollar spent must be spent on growing New Zealand’s economy. This is the key difference between National and Labour.Labour spends money on initiatives designed to keep people dependent on government. National spends on money on initiatives that empower New Zealanders by creating opportunities for every individual, every family, and every whānau to be in the driver’s seat of their own lives.Judith Collins

For the record, disparities are a statistical observation: they don’t think or act. They can’t themselves be racist. They are a fact. They can no more be racist than a rock or the sun.  – Rodney Hide

Everything measured differs on average from group to group. It would be odd if it didn’t. But the difference now is racism. It doesn’t require anyone past or present to have done anything racist. It requires averages only to differ. It’s difficult to know what to do about racist numbers. Would racism be reduced if I took up smoking? Or got fatter?Rodney Hide

But we should take comfort in another racist disparity: Maori women are more likely to be married or partnered to a non-Maori than a Maori. The same is true for Maori men. We are not just brothers and sisters but husbands and wives raising children together, living together, working together.

The government and the media are running a separatist agenda. It appears they are making a good play as they make up the daily news. But they are not. That’s because the rest of us are just getting on with our lives. Together.  – Rodney Hide

Labour and compliance issues aside, water in all its components, quality and quantity, is one of the major issues currently facing the rural sector, and for that matter, most of the urban centres throughout the countryBrian Peacocke

 The draft has the air of a 21st century revival of the 18th century Enlightenment concept of the ‘noble savage’, children of nature in an undisturbed state. – Philip Temple

The impact and lasting influence of the Musket Wars on New Zealand history, right up to the present day, need to be understood. If we are to teach our country’s history honestly, usefully and in a balanced way then the accounts and lessons from scholarship such as Ron Crosby’s Forgotten Wars must be included along with what one media outlet describes as ‘Our Story’ of the crimes and misdemeanours of British colonisers. We need a warts’n all history about the whole of ‘Our Story’, Pākehā  and Māori. For our children, we do not need a curriculum that tiptoes through myths of goodies and baddies with the omission of whole tranches of history. They – indeed everybody – need a set of interwoven truths we can all understand, relate to and accept. Philip Temple

It has become the norm for people of part-Maori descent to recite iwi connections, but without any reference to their European lineage. That inconvenient part of their ancestry is routinely erased.

I say “inconvenient” because I suspect it suits many part-Maori activists not to acknowledge their bicultural heritage, the reason being that their bloodlines demonstrate that New Zealand is a highly integrated society. This conflicts with their aim of portraying us as intrinsically and irreparably divided, with one side exerting dominance over the other. – Karl du Fresne

The reason I am so concerned about our cyber education is simple; the Internet is our new border and we are at a growing risk of malicious damage to our nation through online actors then we are now through our airports, particularly during COVID times. Millions upon millions is lost out of our economy due to the damage that one email with a virus can contain and we must do more. The State has to take far more responsibility as our democracy, our health and ultimately, our lives are now at risk. It is not hyperbole to say that when clinics and hospitals across the Central North Island are facing one of the greatest crisis our nation has seen. – Melissa Lee

Ultimately, this situation goes beyond the Labour Government not doing their job. It is seeing individual New Zealanders being harmed at their most vulnerable being forced to travel the length of the country for medical treatment and with growing anxiety about what unknown hackers know about their personal lives. – Melissa Lee

If gangs are trying to get me sacked, I must be doing something right – Simeon Brown

 My dad was a meter reader. There wasn’t a lot of money to buy books, but we were a reading family. Library books were piled by each bed, beside the bath and on the dining table where we propped them against the teapot and read, rather than risk the conversations that would turn inevitably to argument. Library books were our salvation, our way out, our way up.  – Fiona Farrell

Libraries are many things to many people, but for me as a writer, they have been primarily a resource, like Mitre 10 for a builder or a patch of bush for an eager botanist. Their contents have formed the foundation for everything I have written over 30 years. The internet has its uses, but the things I read online always feel curated, universally available, ordinary. I encounter everything in an identical format, on the same screen, with the same levels of light and intensity. A library shelf lined with books, however, is eccentric. A book is such a perfect geometry, narrow and rectangular, to contain fact or fancy, word or image. A library shelf presents the possibility of random juxtapositions, discovery, surprise. I value that. Fiona Farrell

Freedom of speech in a democracy means having to tolerate the expression of diverse views. It works in both ways, people are entitled to voice their views and others are entitled to criticise those views, but they should be able to speak nonetheless. – Judith Collins

Health and safety should not be allowed to be used as an excuse to ‘deplatform’ speakers unless there are threats to physical safety. . . The small vocal group of self-appointed opinionators who complained about this need to mind their own business and let adult citizens in a free society mind theirs. David Seymour

For if despite everything, immigrants or people of immigrant descent, especially those of different races, are prospering and integrating well into society, there is no need of a providential class of academics, journalists, bureaucrats, and others to rescue them from the slough of despond supposedly brought about by prejudice and discrimination. Many a career opportunity would be lost if there were no systemic injustices of this sort to untangle. –  Theodore Dalrymple

The aggregation of all ethnic minorities into a single category (when there are sufficient numbers of each for meaningful disaggregation to be undertaken) is designed to disguise or hide the real differences between the minorities, precisely because if such differences were admitted, they would not only threaten, but actually refute the whole worldview of the providential class, namely that the society is so riddled with prejudice and discrimination that something akin to a revolution is required, rather than, say, dealing with problems on a case-by-case basis as they arise. – Theodore Dalrymple

For the providential class, nothing succeeds like the failure of others: it therefore needs there to be perpetual grounds for grievance by minorities, creating a constituency that looks for salvation by political means. – Theodore Dalrymple

There is a huge issue of fairness and independence with this local Government process alone.  The consultative process of local government is usually along the lines of – “Tell us whether you agree with what we have decided” and therein lies the problem. Genuine consultation has to occur at the formative stages which simply doesn’t happen or is rare to say the least. – Gerry Eckhoff

I have a term for it: Righteous prohibition.

I define that as the willing – or enforced – suppression of information because people believe it may have negative effects. It ranges from preventing a man from whipping up a lynch mob to neutralising a language because specifics may make a small number of people feel excluded. – Gavin Ellis

Paraphrased, that means legislators are hard-pressed to draught laws that define hate speech in such a way that society is protected while its rights and freedoms are held intact.

Unfortunately, hate speech is what we want it to be. The devil is in the definition.Gavin Ellis

I believe it was the result of our language becoming sterilised, as more and more develop what I might call idiomatic mysophobia or a pathological fear of the use of certain contaminating words in case someone might have their feelings hurt. – Gavin Ellis

People can lose their jobs or find themselves cancelled when labelled as racist (whether or not they are), or prejudiced against different sexes, or religions. Yet as a Christian in a Christian country you may not wear a cross on a chain, though you may wear a hijab or a turban. –  Valerie Davies

These are strange and apocalyptic times. There is no stopping the human tide of peoples who want a piece of the peace and plenty and prosperity of Europe. But perhaps they have to make some compromises in order to preserve that way of life. It is ironic that so called liberals have castigated and condemned the past, decrying the evils of colonialism, while ignoring the hospitals and schools, railways and roads, law and order that colonialism brought to so many corners of the globe; while at the same time too, so many people in deprived places around the world, want to be part of the very culture and society that western protesters of all kinds and colours and beliefs sneer at. Yet until much maligned colonialism arrived, tribes in Africa, for example, faced the same poverty and oppression, murder and mayhem from their own people, that so many refugees are fleeing now. –  Valerie Davies

But we can create our own world of goodness and human connection. The human connection is what in the end sustains us, and always will, whatever lies ahead. As we all take this unavoidable evolutionary leap into the void of the future, we have each other. Valerie Davies

It would be nice to think that opinions in this forum and others are the result of expertise, scrupulous consideration of all the facts, relevant experience and an understanding of all factual material and different perspectives.

I suspect, however, that most opinions are more the result of feeling than thinking. That is not to say there is always a right opinion but rather that temperament and emotion play a much bigger role in opinion than we would like to think. It’s said that character is your fate. It might also be said that character is your opinion. Facts used to support a view are often chosen to support a stance, after the stance has formed. – Martin van Beynen

As an opinion writer, it’s easier to identify what you oppose rather than what you support. I don’t like being told I’m to blame. I don’t like zealots and young know-nothings telling me what to do. I don’t like wokeness or virtue signalling or cancelling people for some trivial perceived infringement of current sensibilities. I don’t like being told I’m privileged or that I had it too good because of being pale and male. I don’t like tailoring my views to suit a new zeitgeist. I don’t like the implication that everything done to improve people’s lives prior to the latest orthodoxy has been a disastrous failure and that some new system will bring in a utopia.Martin van Beynen

Rapid change, particularly the sort of changes New Zealand is experiencing at the moment, implies we should feel guilty, ignorant, outdated and prejudiced if we want to take a more sceptical and contrary line.

And yet I realise that society moves on and a new generation taking over will always seem naive and dogmatic to old-timers like me. – Martin van Beynen

I remain very much in favour of free speech with the usual riders. I think the media is too much dominated by a polite conversation with strict self-imposed boundaries on what can be said or tolerated. What we need are some thunderous voices from the silent majority. Declaring some views beyond the pale doesn’t mean they go away. They fester in the dark and grow more potent. No-one has a monopoly on truth and morality.Martin van Beynen

Having failed to teach NZ history properly in the last 50 years, it is important that the curriculum presents the most relevant facts and context, in order that our children can reach a balanced and informed view.   It appears however those involved in drafting the curriculum, have decided to skip that stage and go straight to themes.  This is a terrible mistake. – Barrie Saunders

Third, there is a strong sense running through the document that a primary purpose of studying history is to judge the past (and those in it) rather than to understand it.   Particularly when such young children are the focus, and when the curriculum is designed for use in schools across the country (attended by people of all manner of races, religions, political and ideological views), that focus is misplaced.    Understanding needs to precede attempts at judgement/evaluation, but there is no sign – in this document, or elsewhere in the curriculum – of children being equipped with the tools that, as they move into mature adulthood, will allow them to make thoughtful judgements or (indeed, and often) simply to take the past as it was, and understand how it may influence the country we inhabit today.    There is little or no sense, for example, that one reasonably be ambivalent about some aspects of the past or that some people might, quite reasonably, evaluate the same facts differently. Michael Reddell

If a New Zealand history curriculum is to be anything more than an effort of indoctrination by a group who temporarily hold the commanding heights in the system, this draft should simply be scrapped and the whole process begun again with a clean sheet of paper.  – Michael Reddell

Fourth, not only does the document seem to operate in a mode more focused on evaluation and judgement than on understanding, it seems to champion a particular set of judgements, and a particular frame for looking at the history of these islands (evident, as just a small example, in its repeated use of the term “Aotearoa New Zealand”, a name with neither historical nor legal standing, even if championed at present by certain parts of the New Zealand public sector).     This includes what themes the authors choose to ignore – religion, for example, is not mentioned at all, whether in a Maori context or that of later arrivals, even though religions always (at least) encapsulate key aspects of any culture’s understanding of itself, and of its taboos).   Economic history hardly gets a mention, even though the exposure to trade, technology, and the economic institutions of leading economies helped dramatically lift average material living standards here, for all groups of inhabitants.   Instead, what is presented in one specific story heavily focused on one particular (arguably ahistorical) interpretation and significance of the Treaty of Waitangi.  These are contested political issues, on which reasonable people differ, and yet the curriculum document has about it something very much of a single truth.Michael Reddell

We should be deeply suspicious of the phrase “public interest journalism”. It sounds harmless – indeed, positively wholesome – but it comes laden with ideology.

Like “social justice”, it’s a conveniently woolly term with no settled definition. It sounds like something we should have more of. Who couldn’t be in favour of it? But those who promote “public interest journalism” generally have a very clear idea of what they mean, and it’s not necessarily how ordinary people might interpret it.- Karl du Fresne

Public interest sounds noble. I mean, who could object to something being done for the public good? The crucial question, though, is who decides where the public interest lies. That’s the trap with so-called public interest journalism, because it usually reflects a narrow, fixed, elitist and ideologically slanted view of what’s best for the public. Whether or not the public actually wants it is often immaterial. They’re left out of the equation.

To put it another way, public interest journalism is a coded term that disguises an ideological project. Far from viewing the role of journalists as being to convey information in a non-partisan way, advocates of “public interest” journalism regard journalism as a tool for the pursuit of particular goals. – Karl du Fresne

 It’s true that journalism can lead to systemic change, and often does, but that shouldn’t be its purpose. To put it another way, journalism provides the information that often serves as a catalyst for change; but to actively work toward that end leads to the arrogant assumption that idealistic young reporters know what’s best for society and should be free to angle their stories accordingly, emphasising whatever supports their case but excluding evidence or opinions they disagree with. Karl du Fresne

Objectivity in journalism is fashionably denounced as a myth, thereby giving reporters licence to decide what their readers should know and what should be kept from them. The worthy idea that journalists could hold strong personal opinions about political and economic issues but show no trace of them in their work, which used to be fundamental, has been jettisoned.   Karl du Fresne

The PIJF should be seen not as evidence of a principled, altruistic commitment to the survival of journalism, which is how it’s been framed, but as an opportunistic and cynical play by a left-wing government – financed by the taxpayer to the tune of $55 million – for control over the news media at a time when the industry is floundering and vulnerable. Karl du Fresne

Ask yourself which is preferable: a hollowed-out news media, unable to properly fulfil its functions (which, to all intents and purposes, is what we have now), or a more powerful one whose priorities are determined by apparatchiks of the state? I’m sure I know which presents the greater hazard. Karl du Fresne

Equally mysterious to me is the attention given to the opinions of celebrities on subjects such as global warming or the situation in Burma. Of course, like everyone else they are entitled to an opinion of their own, but not to anyone’s attention to it. That attention is in fact given to it is dispiriting. What they say consists mainly of cliché, but when, as happens rarely, they step out of line with the party line, the party being that of the reigning orthodox liberals, they are turned upon with a ferocity reminiscent of that of lynchers. This prospect alone is enough to make most celebrities cleave closely to the preordained orthodoxy. Many of them know that their celebrity is founded on shifting sands.

The cult of celebrity, as a quality in itself irrespective of the value of what it attaches to, is likewise mysterious to me. Many are those who seek celebrity detached from anything else of discernible worth. Fame for its own sake is sufficient for them. But what does it mean that people can be famous for being famous? – Theodore Dalrymple

The celebrity must be such that, fundamentally, he is one of us, the great mass of mediocrities. In fact, a celebrity could have been me if things had been only a little different. Modern celebrity is thus the screen on which mass daydreams are projected. Theodore Dalrymple

Where celebrity is both more desired and more prevalent, it will attach to people of less and less accomplishment. To be completely unknown becomes a wound, a humiliation, a sign of failure; celebrity is the sole guarantor of personal worth. To be known for nothing of any importance is infinitely better than not being known at all. – Theodore Dalrymple

There should be term limits of about 15 years and then you should have a compulsory sabbatical. If you want to come back, it’s over to you, but you’d be pretty stupid to. – Chris FInlayson

 Patel evokes such insensate fury in her opponents not because of her actual practical politics, which could be opposed or disagreed with in a normal way, but because she represents a threat to a worldview. She is the child of refugees, and she experienced racial insult and abuse as a child; therefore, it was her duty to play the professional victim for the rest of her life. Instead, she says that her heroine was Margaret Thatcher, who inspired her to go into politics. By not claiming to be a victim, and by climbing up the greasy pole through sheer determination, she has proved herself a traitor to her class and her race.

Worse still, Patel is a threat to all those who aspire to climb that same greasy pole by denouncing elitism, privilege, and racism as the principal sources of all evil. And there is a growing danger that a substantial proportion of various ethnic minorities will come to think like her. – Theodore Dalrymple

Labour’s record is going to be blowing 30 years of fiscal prudence and creating $100,000 of debt per household. Plus closing down the country and avoiding a mass outbreak of Covid, but how hard was that?Richard Prebble

What if making people dependent is a cause of poverty? What if Labour’s benefit increase traps more people in dependency? Bill English’s Better Public Services programme that provided wrap around services to assist beneficiaries off dependency achieved better results. – Richard Prebble

Spending $486 million restructuring health to a centralised system won’t provide a single extra operation. Andrew Little achieved nothing in three years in justice except expensive hui. He has yet to learn about project optimism. It is the rule that says projects cost twice as much and take four times longer than estimated. The unexpected always happens. – Richard Prebble

The evidence of the last thirty years is that, given the choice, workers prefer not to be represented in their wage negotiations by unions. Unsurprisingly, they choose to have a direct relationship with their employer. This may be bad news for unions, but it is not a systemic weakness in the labour market.

And that is the real reason why the claims in Minister Wood’s Cabinet paper don’t stack up. New Zealand’s labour markets are working well for both firms and workers. But they have not been working well for unions. That is the only “entrenched weakness” of the current framework. And it is only a weakness if you are a union official. For anyone else, the case for FPAs does not compute. – Roger Partridge

Of the services classed as essential during the Covid lockdowns last year, it is important to remember that the only ones supporting income for the country were those to do with food and fibre. The other essential services were … essential, but most, including the public servants now on a wage “pause”, were supported by the Government. 

Farmers and growers working through were not.

Just as the primary sector was vital to maintain the economy during Covid, it is now vital to contribute to debt repayment. It therefore makes little sense to shut down any part of it without considering the full implications and alternatives. – Jacqueline Rowarth

Organic, regenerative production systems do not and cannot yield as well as conventional systems. Globally, depending on crop and season, about 60 per cent of conventional is average.

Occasionally the yields are similar, but generally only on individual harvests – not on a five- or 10-year calculation. And most of the calculations overlook the need to bring in animal manure as nutrient replacement. Green-laundering refers to the fact that this manure has often been created by animals being given conventionally grown food. – Jacqueline Rowarth

The National Science Challenge Our Land and Water has funded research on organic versus conventional yields and people’s willingness to pay. The report indicated that a premium of 38 per cent would be required to offset yield decrease. People were apparently willing to pay an extra 36 per cent, though reality suggests that most people don’t.

It is also important to remember that a premium is paid for something that is not the norm. If everybody is organic or regenerative or whatever, there will be no premium. – Jacqueline Rowarth

Regulation cannot create excellence in anything but compliance, and compliance with regulations set in urban environments, where context is not understood, cannot assist with debt reduction for the country. – – Jacqueline Rowarth

In the four minutes it took to read this column, the national debt increased by $353,333.

Who will pay off this debt if the farmers and growers are out of business? – – Jacqueline Rowarth

Putting New Zealanders first when it comes to local employment is all very well. But it has to be based on more than wishful thinking. It needs to be properly evidence-based that the goal can be achieved. Despite the government’s optimistic rhetoric, there is no substantive evidence of a large number of New Zealanders showing any interest in doing the necessary work that migrants currently carry out. – Peter Dunne

The faster we get that jab into arms up and down this country, the faster we’ll be reconnecting with the world. Heather du Plessis-Allan

 So, her visit was disappointing. Confirming that dogma dictates decisions, while reason runs for cover. Grass doesn’t need water. Tractors don’t need drivers. Regenerative farming makes Lincoln redundant. Maori wards will make gangs evaporate. Pine forests make air travel harmless. Nevertheless, we pray that rain and sanity may one day return to us here in drought land. – Tim Gilbertson

Labour’s problem with the Bill is that it offers choice, when they believe there should only be one choice for the second language – te reo.

“One minute Labour MPs are celebrating Samoan language week in Parliament, next minute they are killing a piece of legislation that would better equip schools to teach Samoan – or Hindi, or Mandarin, or Tongan, or Punjabi or any number of languages widely spoken in communities around New Zealand.Paul Goldsmith

 Confirmed, yet again, is the unhealthily large number of “suck-up, kick-down” personalities currently at large in New Zealand’s Fourth Estate.

So many contemporary journalists appear to be in the job for trophies. Not the sort of trophies one displays on the mantelpiece (although they like them too) but the sort of trophies big-game hunters hang on their walls. The current Press Gallery’s definition of a good political journalist would appear to be based on how many politician’s they have “bagged”. As if stuffing someone’s career is something to be proud of. – Chris Trotter

There is already enough ego and ambition in Parliament to go around – we certainly don’t need to be stoking either in a person before they have even been selected or elected. Monique Poirier 

The victim is the modern hero and also the highest moral authority: for who would dare to question, let alone oppose, the opinion of a victim on the subject of whatever has made him or her a victim? Thus, we listen to victims with a kind of awed and uncritical, but also terrified, reverence even when they speak of abstractions. If they say something which we suspect or even know to be untrue, we fear to let on to others our derogation from the holy word. To disagree publicly with a victim, to question the undiluted veracity of their story, is to increase the harm they have suffered, and in effect to victimise them a second time. – Theodore Dalrymple

 It is small wonder, then, that in a cultural climate such as this, some people are willing and able to claim the status of victim even when what they suffered is only one of the inevitable inconveniences of having been born human. It is as if were prayed not for the Lord to make us strong but to make us fragile. Psychological fragility, of course, is romantic in a way in which strength of mind is not: it is the moral equivalent of the blood that romantic poets coughed up prior to dying early. Apart from anything else, psychological fragility gives one the standing from which to discourse at length upon one’s favourite subject, the subject on which one is a world authority, namely oneself. – Theodore Dalrymple

If you’re ugly, old or badly-dressed, don’t expect crying to work; if you’re male, it’s a gamble; and if you’re not in the in-group, you can forget it. But if your face fits (and you don’t ugly-cry) then you can do what you like. And as long as you sob in public now and then, you’ll be considered a paragon of compassion. – Mary Harrington

In my 20-year plus time as a journalist, this Government is one of the most thin-skinned and secretive I have experienced. Many of my colleagues say the same. Even squeezing basic facts out of an agency is a frustrating, torturous and often futile exercise.Andrea Vance

It’s now very difficult for journalists to get to the heart and the truth of a story. We are up against an army of well-paid spin doctors. – Andrea Vance

But it is the New Zealand Transport Agency that take the cake: employing a staggering 72 staff to keep its message, if not its road-building, on track – up from 26 over five years. At every level, the Government manipulates the flow of information. – Andrea Vance

Perhaps the trials and tribulations of the nation’s journalists do not concern you. Why should you care? Because the public’s impression of this government is the very opposite.

They see a prime minister that has captivated the world with her ‘authentic’ communication style, intimate social media postings, daily Covid briefings and proactive releases of Cabinet papers. It is an artfully-crafted mirage, because the reality is very different. This is a Government that is only generous with the information that it chooses to share. Andrea Vance

Our current monetary regulatory regime works to protect the vested interests of those with capital at the exclusion of those seeking to acquire it. This applies to people wishing to purchase a house, obtain capital for a business or in some cases even open a bank account. This harms the poor and entrenches the wealthy. For historical reasons Māori are over-represented in our lower economic demographics. The Reserve Bank is not doing anything to improve their lot, and in many ways is making their lives harder. – Damien Grant

We’re losing a lot of the satire and the greater comment about what is going on, because people are afraid of what the reaction is going to be. – Matt Elliott 

It’s quite hard to navigate comedy, particularly if you want to do social satire, in these conditions… you really have to twist yourself in knots to not offend. – Ginette McDonald

Some people still continue to have the sense that comedy is the ability to say whatever you want, and that that has always been the case. That’s never always been the case. There’s always been lines and the audience will tell you where that line is, by reacting against it – Te Radar

The only reason we get away with that irreverence and edgy stuff is because on the flipside is heart. – Oscar Knightley

I don’t have rules but ‘stay in your storytelling lane’ is one anyone can trust. Everything (especially the painful stuff) should have an autobiographical pebble in it, because then it resonates. In my experience that’s how marginalised audiences feel seen, which is why I got into comedy writing in the first place. – Jessicoco Hansell 

But comedy’s not like ice skating. You don’t get points for degree of difficulty.” Sometimes, crossing the line can be thought-provoking. Laughter is a physical reaction. It’s honest and instant, and it’s interesting for the audience to laugh and sometimes wonder if it was OK to laugh.

The list of forbidden topics is always changing, and comedy evolves, like society, and it’s the job of the comic to feel where the line is. Sometimes you only find out by tripping over it. I’m sure if you’re the guest speaker at a KKK rally, the line is in a different place than for my audience. – Raybon Kan

The only rule in stand-up comedy from my perspective is tell jokes that you want to tell. Don’t tiptoe around other people because they might get offended. As a comedian, you have to stay true to your craft. – Dave Batten

There are some things that you can try and do something about. And if you want to be able to look at yourself in the mirror, then you’d damn well better do something about them. – Arif Ahmed

My best guess is that if, somehow, these islands had not been settled by outsiders but had simply been governed from outside for 100 years or so – as with most of these other Pacific states – real GDP per capita here might be similar to that in Samoa. They have computers, they have phones, they have credit. But they do not have an advanced economy offering high material living standards for their people (many of whom prefer to migrate to New Zealand). There might be reasons to debate this view, but even if these islands somehow generated per capita incomes twice those of Samoa they’d still be very low by advanced country (or modern New Zealand/Australia) standards.

Material living standards aren’t everything by any means. But they do seem to count for quite a lot.Michael Reddell

The conversations around the sustainability of red meat – which is often dominated by issues and matters prevalent in the northern hemisphere – means it is important to contribute a New Zealand-centric explanation of how we produce our meat.

The fact is, our system is the ‘EV car model’ of farming. Very efficient at raising animals on pasture and converting inedible grass into high quality, nutrient-dense food.Derek Moot

Kiwis must realise there’s no us and them – farmers are part of New Zealand; an integral part of our country’s welfare. A cursory glance at the rest of the world and we’d recognise how lucky we are here in Aotearoa.

New Zealand is the only OECD country with its economy based on agricultural production. It’s something that we do really, really, well. New Zealand farmers are good at agriculture and Kiwis can be proud of it. – Derek Moot

I’m reminded of the old Soviet Union, where word would spread like wildfire when a fresh delivery of bread or potatoes arrived at the supermarket and people would run to join the queue. Perhaps the government has chosen the same the mode of delivery for the Pfizer rollout. – Karl du Fresne

I don’t know who’s making these calls but I have to say, if you’ve got middle level bureaucrats sitting at their desk in Wellington, they do need to remember that their decisions will affect real people. – Dr Tim Mackle

New Zealanders, on the whole, are a tolerant, decent people, of many cultural and ethnic backgrounds. who abhor racism and inequality and indeed any other “ism” which purports to establish some sort of domination or superiority. “Jack is as good as his master” is a colloquialism long espoused in New Zealand to describe our egalitarian approach to life. There is no doubt whatsoever that any person in New Zealand today, if they have the ability, can aspire to and achieve whatever they want. The opportunity is undoubtedly there. In recent times, the highest offices of the land have been held by distinguished New Zealanders of multiple ethnicities – Maori, Fijian Indian, and yes, those of European or Asian descent. Ethnicity, gender or religion, amongst other political identities, has been no barrier to New Zealanders achieving their goals and dreams. We, all of us – Maori, Pakeha, Pasifika, Asian, African – attended school together, have worked together, played sport together, served and died for our country New Zealand together, and have intermarried to the extent that virtually every person of Maori descent today has a European or Asian ancestor. Few other countries around the world can claim such egalitarian, inter-cultural and relatively peaceful outcomes. – Henry Armstrong

This is not to say we should not be indifferent to the cultural identification, beliefs, needs and practices of cultural minorities, including our Pasifika, Asian and Maori communities – we should of course acknowledge and respect those cultural differences where appropriate. But equally, the same attributes pertaining to the current ethnic majority also need to be acknowledged. Terms like “white privilege” and “white supremacy” are racist insults which have NO PLACE in New Zealand. – Henry Armstrong

Racism goes both ways and is equally hurtful, no matter what a person’s ethnic or cultural identity. My Irish and Polish ancestors, as well as our Pasifika and Chinese brothers and sisters, have all experienced racism in New Zealand. Let’s unite and stamp this out-wherever it comes from, including from Maori! . . .

There is no excuse for justifying and supporting insulting accusations of racism of any type in New Zealand, be it by Pakeha or by Maori, or indeed by anybody else who uses ethnicity as a point of difference. Let us condemn ALL racism, overt, covert or inverse. – Henry Armstrong

If it’s true that a new form of overt racial antagonism is emerging in New Zealand, then its origins are almost certainly domestic. I’d go further and say that the primary provocation is coming not from shadowy white supremacists, as the Dominion Post story speculates, but from the opposite direction – from proponents of critical race theory, the Marxist view that societies such as New Zealand are built on oppressive, systemic racism.

To put it another way, the divisive, polarising race rhetoric that we are bombarded with daily is coming overwhelmingly from one side, and it’s not from Pakeha. If we really to want to identify what’s destabilising race relations in New Zealand, we should point the finger at those who relentlessly promote an ideology of apartness – conveniently denying, as I’ve pointed out in this blog, that even the most strident activists carry the supposed curse of European blood. – Karl du Fresne

The problem for these part-Maori agitators (should we call them Maokeha?) is that if they acknowledged their European descent, the ideological narrative that we are two races, immutably divided into exploiters and exploited, would be deprived of much of its force. But as long as they continue to identify exclusively with their Maori heritage, they lay themselves open to the accusation that they do it because it enables them to exercise power and influence that would otherwise not be available to them.

These are the people who are dialling up the heat in the race debate, and no one should be surprised if a redneck backlash develops. Nothing is more likely to give oxygen to the small minority of true racists in New Zealand – people like the woman Tukaki encountered – than the perception that New Zealand is being reshaped along race-based lines that would advantage those of part-Maori descent. The danger is that the vast majority of New Zealanders who are liberally minded and racially tolerant are likely to get caught in the middle of an unlovely clash between extremes. Karl du Fresne

In reality, the world seems every more filled with what the French call “langue de bois,” that wooden language in which apparatchiks of various apparats, governmental, academic, and commercial, put words to their lack of thoughts. – Theodore Dalrymple

Sentences, which are no more meaningful in the negative than in the affirmative, and whose negative indeed confers nothing to the mind different from the affirmative, are uttered with a gravity intended to suggest that something important is being said.

But it would be a mistake to suppose that, just because the words and sentences uttered have no clear meaning, that they have no purpose. On the contrary, they have a very important purpose. The mastery of this kind of language is the managerial equivalent of freemasons’ ceremonies: it distinguishes the managers from the managed.Theodore Dalrymple

Again, if I may be allowed a paradox, meaninglessness is not without meaning. To talk in verbiage is to commit yourself to nothing, to promise nothing, and therefore to prevent yourself from being held to anything. It therefore excludes nothing.

It facilitates, or is a disguise or smokescreen, for complete ruthlessness: for having uttered something without meaning, without any tether to concrete reality, you may do anything you like without breaking your word.

Where such language is used, there can be no trust, only suspicion, for no one utters anything to which he can be held. All that is left is a struggle for power, the achievement of which has come, ever since Nietzsche and his death of God, to seem the highest, even the only, good. – Theodore Dalrymple

In an age where we are surrounded with everybody’s best version of themselves presented on social media, confidence is king. On reality TV, all shyness and self-consciousness is discarded for 15 minutes of fame. Contestants readily make fools of themselves to gain some notoriety. These incredible levels of confidence shouldn’t be our norm, nor considered healthy.

Before diagnosing yourself with imposter syndrome and chanting affirmations in the mornings, consider that being a little bit self-aware and self-critical is not, in fact, a problem, and perhaps a society which values confidence over self-reflection is.Rachel Peters

The mantra of ‘They Are Us’ repeated over and over like a prayer soon began to lose its meaning. After March 15, many of us felt more isolated than ever before. We looked over our shoulders when we walked through a crowd. We felt our chests tightening while walking into a mosque. Some of us stopped taking our children to Friday prayers.

Others questioned whether or not to abandon wearing the hijab in search of safety. We were all waiting for more attacks to come, and we did not know where they would come from, or when. – Mohamed Hassan

All of us were grateful for the beauty we witnessed in the days that followed, the empathy and warmth and shared grief we were able to experience as a country. It was a moment that shaped us, gave us a path forward through the darkness. But that process has not ended. We are not healed. We are not ready to move on, and the road is long and difficult. –

There were times when ‘They Are Us’ felt hollow. A promise made but not kept. A pat on the back for a job not yet done. – Mohamed Hassan

In its essence, it is a story about an act of white supremacy that is centered around white voices, white feelings and white heroism. The irony is nauseating. The lack of self-awareness is profound. – Mohamed Hassan

But this is not an inspiring story. It is a tragedy, one that must always be centered around the Muslim victims and their families. No one else.

And when they are ready to speak again, the rest of us must sit down and listen. – Mohamed Hassan

At every such juncture, we’ve been admonished to “believe the science.” But this is not science; it’s politics. Science demands a reflexive posture of skepticism toward received wisdom, tempered by trust in empirical evidence. Bowing habitually to expert authority on the strength of titles and credentials is the antithesis of the scientific mindset. Leighton Akira Woodhouse

The scientific establishment, like the political establishment, is a human institution. It’s not an impartial supercomputer, or a transcendent consciousness. It’s a bunch of people subject to the same incentives and disincentives the rest of us are subject to: economic self-interest, careerism, pride and vanity, the thirst for power, fame and influence, embarrassment at admitting mistakes, intellectual laziness, inertia, and ad-hoc ethical rationalization, as well as altruism, moral purpose, and heroic inspiration. Scientific experts deserve the respect due to them by dint of their education and experience, and they deserve the skepticism due to them by dint of their existence as imperfect actors functioning in complicated and deeply flawed human networks and organizations. If you “believe in science,” you don’t bow to their authority. You don’t transform them into living legends and teach your children to follow the example of their lives. You don’t light votive candles to them and castigate anyone who dares doubt their infinite wisdom.

Instead, you demand the best proof they can offer. You consider their motivations, their ideological biases and their conflicts of interest. You interrogate their advice, and weigh it against that of their critics. You exercise diligence. You ask questions. You trust in evidence, not in people. You think for yourself. – Leighton Akira Woodhouse

Never forget that if it was easy to be in business then everybody would be in business. –  Pita Alexander

Honestly, that whole ‘They Are Us’ phrase really bothers me. I know many disagree with me and I’m not gonna’ fight the fight again, but if we really meant ‘They Are Us,’ the Crusaders would have changed their name. If we really meant ‘They Are Us,’ then we might not have planned massacre anniversary commemorations, knowing that most Muslims don’t mark anniversaries.

If they were us then we wouldn’t us the word ‘They’ at all.    – Jack Tame

How is it acceptable that the cycleway is a velvety smooth carpet of asphalt, while the general roadway remains a rutted, dishevelled patchwork quilt of rough and ready repairs? Motorists feel like they’re being contemptuously treated by a rabidly anti-car council.Mike Yardley

 Up to now, this new “age of enlightenment”, as woke followers would call it, is largely constrained to traditional wealthy democracies found in Europe, North America and Australasia. In other words, most of the world, by population, is yet to feel the woke wave or has decided it’s just not for them. Poor ignorant souls, still able to give their misplaced opinions on issues which have been ruled on by our woke leaders as unfit for public debate. – Derek Mackie

 It’s hard to tell how many people are secretly unwoke but I suspect it is a very large number indeed. Why don’t they speak out? If there’s one thing the woke brigade does well, it’s bully and intimidate. This is an age-old human tactic for getting your own way but what makes it particularly hypocritical in this case is the endless woke calls for fairness, kindness and freedom of expression. Like most movements born out of an urge for radical change and revolution, these laudable aims only apply to their own supporters. Anyone who dares to disagree or argue an alternative viewpoint is shouted down, vilified and verbally beaten into submission. –  Derek Mackie

In the last 70 – 100 years the great unwashed, that’s you and me by the way, have gained enormous freedoms and opportunities, not least regular baths and showers, which were denied to our ancestors. I don’t believe we will give these rights up easily. Like all radical movements, Woke will degenerate to more extreme and intolerant ideas, continuing to divide us by race, colour, gender and sexual orientation. These policies will become irreconcilable with preaching the same facade of understanding and fairness.

I hope that, despite the indoctrination planned for future schoolchildren, many will rebel and challenge the woke elite. However, this is likely another generation away, at least. In the meantime, the Great Unwoke need to band together, as best they can, and speak out at every opportunity to encourage others to follow suit. To stay silent and live a quiet life is no longer an option. Let’s bring on a new great age where we can discuss all issues in public life without fear of being branded something repugnant. –  Derek Mackie

I hope the greenies are still enjoying their gas ban and the fact we don’t mine much coal nowadays.

Because both of things mean we’re hurting the planet more than we otherwise would’ve done. Heather du Plessis Allan

That the CCC and the Government have got this far without encountering very much in the way of pushback from the public (farmers don’t count as the public) is because New Zealanders have no idea how much their day-to-day lives will be affected if Carr’s masterplan becomes Government policy. Everybody pays lip service to fighting global warming, but beyond occasionally catching a bus, or walking – instead of driving – to the chippie, it’s business as usual. Hardly anyone is prepared for the radical change of lifestyle which Carr’s recommendations would require. So, when the climate change penny finally drops, all hell is going to break loose. – Chris Trotter

Carr’s plans are typically elitist in their lofty disregard for the lives of ordinary New Zealanders. Indeed, the burden of this plan of his will fall most heavily upon those Kiwis least able to bear it. Is the cleaner living in South Auckland, who travels miles each day by car to reach her workplace, seriously being asked to buy an electric vehicle? And even if the government finances her into one, how is she supposed to power it up?Chris Trotter

The fact that Labour is surprised at our outrage tells me they don’t understand Middle New Zealand voters.

They badly misjudged how much we would object to this spend and how much we would hate the pay freeze just a few weeks ago. They don’t know what we prioritise.

After years of living in a Wellington politics bubble or a university bubble or a union bubble they’ve stopped bumping into normal people. They are relying on focus groups to try to understand us, but focus groups have limits. Focus groups measure people through a series of questions. People are more complicated than that.

To Labour, Middle New Zealanders are a curiosity they occasionally venture out to study like a zoologist heading out to watch a pack of passing giraffes. –  Heather du Plessis-Allan

The crime committed around the harbour crossing is now two-fold. The ruinous waste of money for a whole new structure, the only positive aspect being it most likely will never happen. The government, by the way, might want to reflect on that widespread type of reaction.

Why are so many people sceptical? Because their delivery record is abysmal, and it’s now haunting them. Governments should make announcements like this and have support, what they get through their own ineptitude is scepticism. – Mike Hosking

In a country crying out for infrastructural reform, not to mention no money and a shortage of skills and materials, the best they can do is a massive cross water cycle lane.

If you don’t see that as the sheer insanity that it is, you’re either employed at a university, in the Green Party, or you’ve lost your marbles. Roads build economies, cycles don’t. – Mike Hosking

Sometimes you get so bogged down with the day-to-day graft that it is hard to see where small improvements can make a big difference. If we stop seeing health and safety as compliance and look at it as productive farming with thriving staff, we might see an improvement in our pretty miserable track record of injuries and deaths on farm.Jake Jarman

Pandemics require two things: The efficient administering of effective vaccines, and truth.

I need reassurance that the country is receiving both. – Gavin Ellis

An army of spin doctors in the ministry and an elite force of them in the Beehive may be responsible for narratives which, if not conflicting, are not perfectly aligned. Either way, information is being manipulated and we would be näive to think otherwise. It’s the way politics and government works.

Nonetheless, it has no place in a pandemic.

When “Can I believe it?” passes the public’s lips in these hazardous times, it’s a signal to reset the strategy. – Gavin Ellis

The truth has a wonderful habit of revealing itself but, with a deadly virus waiting for an opportunity to thrive, we can’t wait a year to hear it. – Gavin Ellis

We need to hear leaders condemn all support for terrorism and all terrorism equally whatever the source, target, and circumstances, and even when it is not politically expedient to do so. – Juliet Moses

The Commission concedes that it is not possible to model the future but then bases its report on modelling.

A Shaman examining the entrails of a goat could make a forecast of GDP in 30 years’ time that would be just as valid. – Richard Prebble

The Commission is using climate change to advance an agenda for a transition to a “fair, inclusive and equitable” society, the eternal justification for socialism.

The report’s recommendations will make reaching zero emissions more costly while making New Zealand less fair, more divided and poorer. – Richard Prebble

If the term “the Establishment” means those who hold power in society and whose ideas dominate the public conversation, then what we thought of as the conservative Establishment in the latter part of the 20th century has long been extinct. We’ve done a 180-degree flip, to the point where what was then considered radical has become mainstream. But just like the old Establishment, the new one is oppressively conformist, authoritarian and intolerant of different ideas and different ways of doing things. That’s the nature of Establishments. – Karl du Fresne

When a major event occurs or a policy proposal announced, your first thought in today’s news feed culture is not your own original idea but almost inevitably a headline or commenter appealing to your worse biases.

Playing to the rawest elements of human nature, today’s social media-driven outrage machine has done great damage to intellectual life, destroying our ability to think independently, and discuss productively across lines of difference.   – Matthew Nisbet

When TV news does report on climate change, portrayals tend to exaggerate the threats, without providing information about what audiences might be able to do to protect against them, a style of fear mongering that can result in feelings of powerlessness or forms of denial. – Matthew Nisbet

In the quest for climate progress, the goal is not to broker cross-alliances between the center-right, center-left, and left wing, drawing on the best ideas that those factions can offer, but rather to build progressive power.

In doing so, the vast complexity of climate politics is reduced to a Manichean storyline that features a battle between the forces of “good and light” and “evil and darkness.” 

Progressives not only see climate change as an epic battle to stave off catastrophe, but also an opportunity to transform the world into their vision of an ideal society. – Matthew Nisbet

Absent the ability to read deeply, reason analytically, or argue effectively, generations of college students are at of risk of missing out on the most essential skills needed to sustain a liberal democracy. – Matthew Nisbet

I applaud and congratulate people who question the official line on any matter, even if sometimes they are in error. There is a freedom to err, a right to be wrong. – John Bishop

Those who say on any matter that the debate is over are propagating their ideology and advertising their power to squelch opposition. They are the enemies of free speech, freedom and democracy, even if they cloak themselves as being on the right side of history. – John Bishop

Today, if left unchallenged, cancel culture, de-platforming speakers, or decrying anyone who strays from the “correct” ideological line will lead inevitably to a denial of free speech rights. People will become afraid to exercise those rights. How can that ever be good?John Bishop

The Government’s announcement on Sunday of subsidies for electric vehicles did not make any case that the benefits to the public would plausibly exceed the costs. To fail to demonstrate positive net benefits is to fail to make a public wellbeing case for the measure.

The puzzle is why a Government that prides itself on having a wellbeing focus seems to have so little regard for it in this and other cases. – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

The Government’s press release covered the absence of a wellbeing benefit case with specious spin. For a start, its claimed environmental benefits are spurious. The ETS caps net emissions. If there are fewer emissions in transport, there will be more emissions elsewhere unless the cap is reduced. The same is true for other “chest-beating” policies such as decarbonising public transport and ‘revitalising rail’. Reducing the cap without subsidising electric vehicles could achieve more while costing less. – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

On the Climate Change Commission’s analysis, the ETS could come close to achieving the government’s net zero goal at a cost of only $50 a tonne of CO2. Why then did the Commission propose a raft of choice-reducing measures that would cost up to and possibly beyond $250 a tonne?

The Commission’s answer in essence is that we, the public, would cut net emissions in the wrong ways. We would not inflict enough pain on ourselves. We would plant too many pine trees. We would also fail to walk and cycle enough. We would drive cars too much. Government needs to change our behaviour in specific ways.

In so doing, the Commission explicitly abandons achieving net zero carbon by 2050 at least cost, as perceived by those incurring the costs. It seeks to force on New Zealanders an unchanged net emissions result at a higher cost. That harms the public’s wellbeing, as perceived by those affected. It does so for no environmental gain. – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

The branch of economics that has studied how best to assess whether a policy might improve people’s experienced wellbeing is welfare economics. People’s own assessment of their wellbeing is at the heart of that analysis. That makes it inherently non-elitist.

The contrast is with paternalistic policies that treat people’s preferences as the problem rather than something to be respected. People who have choices will make the “wrong” choices. Instinctively, paternalists wish to reduce the public’s scope for choice. They may want to prohibit what is not mandated. The Commission comes close to both on petrol versus electric cars. The Government may have the same instincts. – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

The Government’s press release on Sunday is a masterclass in the use of a false comparison. None of the claimed benefits are benefits relative to the ETS.

To cap it all, a tweet a few days ago by a former senior Labour adviser decried heavy imports of SUVs. With supreme elitism it ended: “It’s surprising we allow this at all.” Well, whose country is it? – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

But if the goal of the rollout was to safely vaccinate New Zealanders in the fastest possible time, the government and our health ministry have surely failed. We can’t look back at the initial response to Covid-19 and toot our horns, comparing ourselves favourably with almost every other country on Earth, whilst conveniently ignoring the fact that we are making the amongst the slowest progress with vaccinations in the developed World. – Jack Tame

It seems to me we’re in a funny middle ground. We haven’t done the noble thing. And for whatever reason, we haven’t done the fast thing, either. – Jack Tame

The whole thing has at times felt a bit ramshackle and inconsistent.
I’ve heard politicians say it’s not where we start but where we finish. It’s true that we won’t be entirely safe until our full population is vaccinated. Even then, we face a risk. But the speed of the rollout does matter. Every day someone in our community isn’t vaccinated, we face an increased risk of a community outbreak. The more people are unvaccinated at any one time, the greater the risk. – Jack Tame

The hypocrisy from the political left to conveniently ignore facts which do not suit their political agenda appears to have no shame.

Politicians constantly advertise what they claim are the sparkling clean, green credentials of EVs. I believe these politically driven, so called “noble” assertions are badly misleading and dangerous for the New Zealand public to blindly accept without debating the environmental credibility of EVs and fully understanding the downstream costs to taxpayers. – Troy Bowker

The point being missed, ignored, or not properly debated, is the total cost on the environment from the manufacture, use, and disposal of EVs versus petrol or diesel cars.

There is plenty of research to suggest EVs are actually worse for the environment overall than fossil fuel cars, just as there is research they are better.

None of that research properly deals with the CO2 emissions from the disposal and recycling of batteries. The EV industry lobby groups all tell us to not to be concerned and to “hope” that technology catches up so that the production and disposal of EV batteries will at some stage have a much lower carbon footprint. Surely this is putting the cart before the horse . Why can’t they address the elephant in the room regarding disposing of millions of EV batteries in a climate friendly manner and provide hard facts to support this? They can’t and they won’t because they simply don’t know. – Troy Bowker

A $6000 subsidy on a $60,000 EV is hardly relevant when all of your disposable income is paid in rent, food and heating your home.

I believe that when these issues are fully understood by the public, and the inconclusive message of how clean and green EVs are is replaced with reliable facts and sensible debate, Labour’s car tax will be seen for what is, political left ideology and hypocrisy at its worst. – Troy Bowker

To allow EVs to drive up to 500km in a single charge, these batteries weigh over 350kg and are made out of lithium, cobalt, copper, graphite, and nickel – mined in some of the world’s poorest countries.

The manufacture of these batteries does not come without an environmental cost. Once CO2 emissions from the production of batteries are taken into account, Germany’s Institute of Economic Research argued EVs do more harm to the environment than a modern Diesel engine. – Troy Bowker

Manufacturing is only the start of the problem. After an EV battery loses its ability to hold its charge, the metals and chemicals inside them contain toxic substances that are currently very difficult and expensive to dispose of cleanly. Technology hasn’t developed enough globally to come up with a way to either dispose of them safely, or recycle them in the volumes required.

If Labour wants all of New Zealand’s approximately four million vehicles to be EVs, then before they tax us even more can they please outline the plan to dispose of millions of toxic used EV batteries generally driven by the urban elite? This is not an unreasonable request. – Troy Bowker

Huge areas of land would need to be converted to graveyards for toxic used EV batteries. Suddenly the clean, green future with EVs that Labour advocates looks extremely dirty.

Used EV batteries are prone to spontaneous combustion, emitting poisonous gases into our air. The gases from the fires would travel large distances and be a huge risk to animals and humans. – Troy Bowker

Compared with normal fires, EV fires will be very difficult to put out. Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) national manager Paul Turner recently warned of the risk to human life from EV battery fires.

He reports EV battery fires trigger an irreversible chain reaction called “thermal runaway”, with fires burning at 1000C. FENZ is currently warning of the risks with the influx of a few thousand more EVs, let alone the four million that Labour want to bring into New Zealand. – Troy Bowker

Even more horrifying are the human rights violations in the production of EV batteries in the Congo, where over 50 per cent of the world’s cobalt is mined. A CNN investigation tracked the cobalt used for the production of luxury EVs to mass Congolese child-labour camps, involving children as young as 7. Adult supervisors were filmed assaulting children for not following instructions. – Troy Bowker

Proponents of identity politics and critical race theory, its ideological stablemate, hold that all people of Pasifika or Maori descent have experienced subjugation and have needs and interests that are at odds with those of the white oppressors. The aim is to secure political advantage to atone for their mistreatment, but unfortunately this can only come at the expense of social cohesion that benefits us all. – Karl du Fresne

Denial of one’s European heritage is a necessary starting point, because otherwise those claiming to be descendants of the oppressed must confront the fact that they are also descendants of the oppressors. The proponents of identity politics don’t seem to have yet worked out a way to reconcile this dichotomy without weakening their claims, so they ignore it.

Do they, at the same time as they cry out for justice on behalf of their dark-skinned forebears, also experience paroxysms of self-reproach for the behaviour of their pale ones? Karl du Fresne

It’s a sad reflection of the times we live in that there is an industry of fact-checkers. These usually come in the form of online services that you can access to check the facts surrounding something you’ve seen or heard.

In a world where documentaries, the current affairs reading material we choose, and even the words of our elected officials, don’t always present an accurate view of the facts, fact-checking has become a necessary service. – Bruce Cotterill

We live in a environment where anyone with a mobile phone and an ability to write can be a publisher. And there are many mechanisms to distribute one’s opinions, most of which rely on some form of social media.

As a result there is more information out there than ever before, none of which has been subject to the normal safeguards around checking what is true and what is false. And unlike the news-gatherers of old, there is no obligation on the new age publisher to be accurate. Or honest. 

In my opinion, this puts an even greater onus on the traditional media to call out the inaccuracies. Now, more than ever before, they should be our unchallengeable source of the truth.

In fact, while the old media companies are busy trying to find ways to remain relevant, I suggest that there is an obvious path for them: honest, accurate journalism that can be relied on by readers, viewers and listeners. – Bruce Cotterill

For most of us, when we make promises we should at least have an understanding of how we are going to deliver on them. For our current crop of political leaders, that doesn’t appear to be a consideration. In fact, they appear to see the ill-informed landscape not as a chance to put things right, but an opportunity to further confuse and mislead.

That’s a great shame. I don’t want much from our politicians. But I do want them to be people who tell us the truth, who give us the best information they can give us, and who make good decisions on behalf of the electorate, without hidden agendas, dishonesty or bias.

The problem with misleading people is this: the more you get away with it, the more likely it is to continue. At its worst, we must prepare for a Government that deliberately and frequently lies to us in order to hold on to power. Such behaviour, left unchecked, would put us into irreversible decline. – Bruce Cotterill

Can you credibly believe any policy that says plant your food productive land in exotic trees so you don’t have to change your behaviour? 50 Shades of Green

In normal times, fiscal profligacy is, at base, an act of selfishness at the expense of future generations. It is the same attitude that has seen us pollute our rivers, overfish our seas, use up non-renewable resources, plunder our forests and generally behave in a fashion without thought for our own grandchildren and their grandchildren…My fiscal policies were, as far as possible, about looking to the long term, not spending up to the hilt in the good times. Rainy days do come, and are more likely in New Zealand than in many other countries. – Sir Michael Cullen

Whanau is at the core of humanity. Let’s stop pretending we are ‘kind’. It’s a buzz word that no longer applies to the way we handle those suffering the most for the rest of us. –