Better health beats another holiday

September 8, 2020

The country is still stuttering along at lockdown 2 (or 2.5 in Auckland).

The government is borrowing every cent it’s spending.

The country, and the world is facing the worst economic crisis in decades and yesterday we got a contrast in priorities from National and Labour.

National launched a policy taking a health approach to the meth pandemic:

National has outlined an integrated and comprehensive plan to tackle the issues caused by methamphetamine use. Our Plan will deliver a response work programme, unifying resources from Justice, Health, Police and Customs.

National’s plan tackles the harm of methamphetamine use, restoring hope to people trapped in cycles of drug dependence and challenging those who peddle misery in our communities.

The use of this drug tears families apart, fuels violence, enriches criminals and destroys lives. We cannot tolerate the continued misery this drug causes, which leads to rising levels of violence and poverty, and widespread social harm.

Methamphetamine is the most commonly detected illicit drug nationwide. Social agencies identify it as a significant factor in domestic and family violence.

There is no single solution to what has become a scourge on our society. A National government will tackle this problem from all angles, addressing both demand and supply.

National Plan to tackle demand will:

  • Deploy the Matrix Methamphetamine Treatment Pilot Programme across District Health Boards to provide direct support to those recovering from methamphetamine use.
  • Add 13 detox bed for methamphetamine across New Zealand, ensuring every District Health Board has at least one.
  • Ensure at least one methamphetamine specialist per District Health Board is available to assist with in-patient detoxing from methamphetamine.
  • Establish a contestable fund of $50 million to pilot new or scaled-up whole-community harm reduction programmes.
  • Establish best practices for frontline police to refer meth users to DHBs, Ministry of Social Development, education resources and community-based support.

National will reduce demand by improving the health response and providing treatment options that are not available today.

There must also be a strong response from our law and order agencies to disrupt those trying to bring meth into the country.

We will build capacity to interdict the international crime cartels that are bringing this problem to our shores. Good intelligence and international co-operation will be a priority under National.

There can be no tolerance for the dealing and supply of methamphetamine. Those who peddle this drug are responsible for the misery and social harm it causes.

National’s Plan to tackle supply will:

  • Increase funding for drug intelligence to enable Customs, Police and health authorities to identify drugs coming into the country.
  • Increase funding for Police and Health to identify new drugs and bad batches sooner.
  • Introduce more drug dogs at airports and ports.
  • Identify a new supply disruption strategy to reduce methamphetamine use in Corrections facilities.
  • Target domestic organised crime networks with extra focus and resourcing from Police.

National has a strong track-record of fighting the meth scourge. The Methamphetamine Action Plan we introduced saw increased seizures of methamphetamine and a 59 per cent reduction in use as a proportion of the population, between 2009 and 2015.

Labour rescinded National’s refreshed Action Plan in 2018 in favour of an ad-hoc, piecemeal approach to drug harm.

We will re-establish the social investment approach across the justice system, making sure the impacts of crime are addressed, as well as the causes of it.

New Zealand needs a co-ordinated and effective response to the methamphetamine problem.

With this Plan, National will deliver one.

You can read National’s Tackling Methamphetamine Policy Factsheet here.

This is a positive policy that takes a health approach to addicts and a cross agency approach to the people who peddle the drug.

And what’s Labour’s priority?

Another public holiday:

New Zealand is in the biggest economic crisis in a generation and Labour’s answer to this is another public holiday, National’s Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“At a time when the economy is shrinking and we are losing jobs, it’s tone deaf for Labour’s second policy announcement to be an additional public holiday.

“More and more New Zealanders want to celebrate Matariki, but if it is to take the form of a public holiday it should replace an existing one.

I like the idea of a holiday to celebrate Matariki. Mid winter is a much better time for fireworks than GUy Fawkes (which isn’t a holiday) or New Year. But my support is for it to replace an existing one not as an extra one.

“Businesses up and down the country are under colossal pressure right now, they’re the ones who will have to pay for another public holiday.

“It’s a pity that Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern has shown zero empathy for the tens of thousands of New Zealanders who are struggling right now to keep their businesses afloat and employ Kiwis.

“A new public holiday won’t mean much to the tens of thousands of families who are now on the unemployment benefit.

“The absolute focus should be on saving jobs and creating new ones, but we’re not seeing that from Labour.”

The Taxpayers’ Union describes it as another tax on employers:

An additional public holiday is a blatant tax on employers, who will be forced to pay workers for a day off. It will also reduce overall productivity, which means a smaller economy and fewer jobs. An economic recession is the worst time to introduce this kind of regulatory tax.”

“If the intention is to acknowledge the cultural significance of Matariki, there’s an opportunity for a middle road: introduce the new holiday, but scrap Labour Day, an obsolete hangover from international Marxism that most New Zealanders just consider to be a day off.”

The concept of an International Workers’ Day (also known as Labour Day) began its spread after a resolution by the Marxist International Socialist Congress in Paris, 1889.

The EMA is unimpressed:

The EMA says the Government’s announcement today of an extra public holiday for Matariki from 2022 is unlikely to find favour with its business members.

Chief Executive Brett O’Riley says it will be seen as another cost to business and is unlikely to support increased tourism, which was the original argument for an extra public holiday during COVID-19 Alert Levels 1 and 2.

Some tourism businesses already close on public holidays because any increase in customers doesn’t cover the extra cost of wages and time off in lieu for staff who work on those days.

Mr O’Riley says the Government priority should be focused on fixing the dysfunctional Holidays Act.

“We need to see a simplified and streamlined process for calculating entitlements and creating efficiencies for business.”

“We understand the cultural argument about Matariki being considered important enough for a public holiday, but it could have been exchanged with one of the other public holidays,” he says. 

Heather du Plessis-Allan likes the idea but not the timing:

. . . Labour seem completely tone-deaf on this.

At a time when government should be reducing as many burdens on business as possible… they’re doing the opposite.

In this term alone they’ve increased maternity leave to 26 weeks, domestic abuse leave to two weeks, upped the minimum wage by 20 per cent, scrapped 90-day trials, regulated when employees must take breaks, are apparently considering doubling sick leave to two weeks and now this.

All in all that is a huge amount of regulation and cost added to businesses who are fighting for their survival right now.

It makes it slightly better than the policy is deferred to mid-2022. But, in truth, businesses will still be struggling then. ASB today projected it won’t enter recovery mode until 2023.

You have to wonder also at the priorities here. If this is the policy to kick off the campaign property you have to wonder whether Labour either doesn’t appreciate what’s headed our way or just knows it can get away with it while voters live in a fantasy land of sugar money propping up the economy.

This is a great idea, but it’s a great idea for another time. Right now, we have bigger problems than the need for another public holiday. 

We already have four weeks’ annual leave and 11 statutory holidays.

If ever we could afford another day off it isn’t now.

The contrast between the two policies couldn’t be starker – National’s will tackle a very real problem, Labour ignores the problems we’re facing.


Quotes of the month

September 2, 2020

If we can beat this virus, then we can beat most respiratory ones. The ridiculous way in which we tolerate cold-spreaders, mocking them for taking a day off and praising them for trudging into work while feeling miserable, has to stop. It should be socially unacceptable to go to a party with a cold, let alone kiss the host on the cheek when you get there. – Matt Ridley

In order that today’s middle-class and middle-aged are not required to pay the price of maintaining their current lifestyles we are stripping our children of the opportunities that we claim we want for them. – Damien Grant

The fact the economy is in tatters must not be focused on because as we have heard and you will continue to hear, .we are in the middle of a pandemic. The health freak out worked for them. The economic misery, not so much.  But here’s the truth the truth of today, not March, we are not in the middle of anything other than a recession the likes of which we have never seen. This country is not in a pandemic, we haven’t been for months. And even in its worst moments, of the 1000 beds we set aide for the tidal wave of death and ventilators, we hardly filled any.They’ve had their health curtain call, we’ve applauded. But they’re now milking the standing ovations for naked political advantage.   –  Mike Hosking

It’s very important that people are in jobs wherever possible and I have a huge commitment to people being in work. I have been in work pretty much all my adult life and my view has always been that work is not only good for the economy, it’s good for people, but it’s very good for people’s mental health and their sense of well-being. –Judith Collins

It is a useful reminder that strong emotion is not, of itself, a reason for doing something, let alone a useful guide to policy. The heart has its reasons that the head knows not of, Pascal said; but it is just as true that the head has its reasons that the heart knows not of. Reason and feeling must be in some kind of balance. At the moment, feeling in the ascendant, at least in the West, with disastrous results.  – Theodore Dalrymple

They picked the wrong person if they want an acquiescent member of caucus who doesn’t have the capacity to think. – Louisa Wall

Just because you can print the dollars that pay for lunch doesn’t make it free. – Pattrick Smellie

What most astonished me was the swiftness and completeness of the transformation of life, and the passivity with which it was accepted. Was this an instance of laudable social discipline, or a confirmation of Tocqueville’s characterization of the future citizens of democracy as a herd of sheep, which, accustomed to regulation in the smallest detail by a supposedly benevolent authority, has become incapable of independent thought and action? Theodore Dalrymple

When you smile, you just feel happy, and if you feel happy you can make other people happy. – Judith Collins

It’s really simply saying if you’ve got people who come from dysfunctional and difficult families, you’re going to end up spending more money on them, so put that effort in early on to try and keep them out of trouble later on, and also end up with better health and social outcomes. – Judith Collins

If you’re going to borrow, you need to do it now while the interest rates are low, and you’ve got things to do it with, but you can’t be so crazy that you end up leaving your children and grandchildren with debt to deal with, you’ve got to be able to pay it back. – Judith Collins

So when I finally leave this place, in another decade or so, it will be knowing that I’ve done my utter best for the country, and for the party I think and know should be leading the government. – Judith Collins

. . . the fact of progress is much less useful to political entrepreneurs than is the narrative of history as nothing but a nightmare that continues to the present day and, as Marx put it, weighs upon the brain of the living. Only by keeping the memory of the nightmare ever-present in the minds of their sheep, thereby stoking resentment, may the political shepherds herd, and then fleece, the flock. – Theodore Dalrymple

Because resentment has certain sour satisfactions, it is one of the few emotions that can persist unabated for years: indeed, it tends to increase, because it exists in a mental echo-chamber. One such sour satisfaction is that it allows the one who feels it to think himself morally superior to the world as it is at present constituted, even if he has done nothing to improve it, or done something to make it a little worse. And where resentment leads to action rather than to passivity, it is almost always action that is destructive rather than constructive. It leads also to a considerable quantity of humbug, insofar as it primes people to look for new justifications for their dissatisfactions, and to claim that they cannot be happy until there is no more unhappiness caused by injustice in the world.Theodore Dalrymple

I live in what is perhaps the most successful country in dealing with Covid – barring Taiwan. And yet what I see around me is a total, total mess. – Eric Crampton

The over-arching communications policy from the Beehive and top officials seems to have been: if we get up on the yellow stripey podium and repeat statements that are not yet true enough times, by the umpteenth time we say them, hopefully they will be true. . . .While it’s obvious the authorities who address us daily have at times been kept in butt-protecting ignorance by their underlings, their suspiciously careful language suggests they’ve had a fair idea this was happening. Jane Clifton

The kind one is so very unkind when she relishes people hanging on to hear what is going to happen to their lives, their families, jobs and businesses, but blathers on endlessly. It’s so disrespectful, so self-centered and self-serving. – Lindsay Mitchell

“I’ve seen health systems manage medical emergencies worse than this but it takes some doing. It’s like we’re living in a parallel universe. Des Gorman

There is plenty of evidence in the bizarrely vague testing regime applied to New Zealanders working at the border that Pike River levels of incompetence and dysfunction lurk in the public health system and could yet be fatally exposed.Pattrick Smellie

A campaign before an election is as critical as election day itself. As things are, there is nothing free or fair about the politicians’ ability to do that. . . It borders on being almost undemocratic to hold an election in the near future. – Claire Trevett

Uncertainty is like cancer to free enterprise and it can spread rapidly. Firms stop investing, stop hiring, stop planning and start acting with caution to preserve their arteries. – Ryan Bridge

Commentators dismiss such concerns as placing the economy ahead of lives but they fail to understand that the ‘economy’ is a word we use describe the aggregation of all our lives. It is the means by which we feed, clothe and educate ourselves. It is how we find fulfilment, enjoyment and entertainment.

The real problem of these intermittent lockdowns isn’t the temporary shock but the uncertainty they build into our commercial life. Businesses need to forecast revenue, especially if they are expanding or investing. This becomes impossible in the ferment of uncertainty created by our obsession with this coronavirusDamien Grant

When did we all get so binary and, in some cases, bats*** crazy? Those who worship at the Church of St Jacinda and the Holy Bloomfield are blind to any wrongs or failings of their demigods.

You simply cannot have a free and frank exchange of views with some people – it’s like the Springbok tour all over again. If you dare to suggest the Government has made mistakes, the acolytes cast you into the camp of the conspiracy theorists who are alive and well and fomenting their madness all across social media. They – the acolytes and the tinfoil hat-wearers – are blind to reason and rationale. – Kerrie McIvor

Liberals virtue-signalling their praise for a leader who ‘puts people before money’ are like those who praise Venezuela or Cuba – they don’t have to deal with the misery caused by their idols. It seems they care far more about platitudes than people. – Matt Drake

Sure, if you’re after smiles and warm fuzzies, the PM’s a good communicator. But good communication must also contain facts, trust, and honesty. –  Kate Hawkesby

It shows the danger of policy by press release, that actually there needs to be follow-through. – Gerard Hehir

It’s an enormous red flag if Cabinet and the ministry have completely different ideas about what is meant to be happening.Derek Cheng

This is a hard problem, and, sometimes, in situations like this, with huge complexity and many balls in the air, one of them gets dropped. When that happens, this Opposition will help pick up that ball and put it back in its correct place. There will be a time to understand how the ball was dropped, but first we will help put it back, and then we’ll figure out how not to drop it again. – Shane Reti

There is more at stake here than election year politicking. A serious communication breakdown between officials on the ground and ministers in the war room is unacceptable, but a failure to account for how it happened is worse. This is the second time assurances about testing at the border have turned out to be simply untrue, and the second time ministers have been caught by surprise. A government agency that can’t or won’t execute policy is an embarrassment in normal times, and a serious risk to public safety during a pandemic. Management of those bureaucrats is very squarely the responsibility of politicians. – Ben Thomas

I take issue with the Prime Minister’s constant mantra of “we went hard and fast”. If we’d gone fast – as in closing the border more quickly – we wouldn’t have had to go as hard in terms of lockdowns, businesses forced to shut their doors and Government borrowing an unprecedented amount to prop up the economy. – Heather Roy

It’s hard to imagine a much easier scenario for contact tracers than this. One cluster, one family, their contacts, caught early, as the Prime Minister says. So, if our health authorities can’t handle something this simple without locking down a city of 1.7 million, what hope is there that this is our last lockdown?

Lockdowns should not be the go-to option. They should be the last resort. They are too expensive. They cost people’s livelihoods, their jobs and their businesses.

This is not an objection to the attempts to prevent Covid’s spread. It is an objection to health authorities having no option but nuclear, because they weren’t ready for something they knew would happen. It is an objection to the failure of those authorities and the ministers in charge of them to prepare the safeguards to prevent another lockdown. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

The discovery of community transmission in Auckland not only rocked the smug complacency coming from the top down and affecting all of us, but also raised blunt, difficult questions that drew uncomfortable answers about how well the “team of five million” had actually been doing. It turns out the border control programme was not watertight after all, with personnel associated with the new arrivals not being tested at all, even though they were being potentially exposed on a daily basis to the virus. And the level of community testing was nothing like the government had led us to believe. Peter Dunne

They’ve often hidden behind the fact that there’s no rule book for coping with a pandemic, but there are books with rules and they are called the statutes containing the laws of the land – and if the lawmakers don’t understand them, what hope is there for the rule of law in this country? – Barry Soper

We all have imperfections but it doesn’t doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be loved or shouldn’t love yourself. . . No matter where you’re from you can change people’s lives forever for the better. –  Dustin Luther

Child poverty was a national crisis before Covid-19 and without urgent action, it risks turning into a catastrophe. – Anita Baker

What happened, happened. You cannot “unhappen” history. – Henry Armstrong

Sometimes an issue is so serious or the failure so obvious that you have to drop the buzz phrases, quit the dissembling and level with the public. They may even thank you for it, and they’ll be more inclined to believe what you say in the future.

As it is, we are approaching a risky point where the public may stop believing the Government and its spin — which is tricky when you are dealing with a pandemic. – Steven Joyce

From the experience of those who served in Clark’s administration, A Visit From Heather was a phenomenon which, could it be distilled, would make a world-beating laxative and emetic combined.  – Jane Clifton

In this outbreak emergency, the daily briefings convey vital public health information. It is important we can trust in their veracity. But as long as they are led by ministers, the backdrop will always be politics. And, to paraphrase George Orwell, political language is often designed to make lies sound truthful. – Andrea Vance

One year I asked the administrator whether I could sit not five subjects but six subjects, like all my friends were. I remember the reply: ‘No, Shane. You’re a Māori boy. You’ll do five.’  My internal response was a call to arms: ‘Right. I will show you.’

My external response was to win the English prize that year. No, not for me six subjects. I was still allowed to sit only five. But many years later, when I was promoted to assistant professor at Harvard, I think I made my point. I won, but many Maori do not. The educational aspirations of Maori must never ever be bound by the preconceptions of others. – Shane Reti

It’s been a wee while coming, but I’ve finally had enough of the platitudes, and sentimental psycho-babble. – Polly Gillespie

The lack of accountability is staggering. The Prime Minister refuses to blame anyone, now she’s blaming the trickiness of a virus. No one has talked to me like that since I was at Horohoro kindy. David Seymour

There is a hierarchy of news and I don’t put analysis at the top of it. I rank opinion even further down the scale. – Gavin Ellis

I decided to forgive you Mr Tarrant because I don’t have hate, I don’t have revenge. The damage is done, Hussein will never be here. I have only one choice but to forgive you. Janna Ezat

 Strong, stable families with intact work ethics. Those characteristics nurture and protect children to a much greater extent than cash hand-outs.  – Lindsay Mitchell

“Science is a mechanism,” refers to the idea that science is about applying experimentation and observation to those things about which we are uncertain. Its job is to lay the foundation for the development of theories, not facts. And, when we toss an existing theory into the bin because it isn’t supported by emerging data, that is a victory for science. Thus, true science requires us to keep an open mind… on an ongoing basis. – Lisa Taylor

As a parent, no matter how old your children are they will always be your babies forever. – Rashid Omar

I urge you to take a look around this courtroom and ask yourself, who exactly is the other here right now? Is it us, or is it you?Sara Qasem 

If all humans have one characteristic in common it would be the ability to overcome and forget the past. Something we clearly can do, but something you clearly cannot do – for two reasons. The first reason is that you don’t have a future, so you don’t live anywhere but the past alone and lonely. The second reason is that you are not actually a human, not even an animal since animals are beneficial to the world. You are classified as someone who’s dumb enough not to realise beyond the skin all humans are the same. – Mustafa Boztas

Cant matters for a number of reasons that the authors enumerate. It destroys moderation. It is cruel and intolerant towards those who think differently. It divides people into the saved and the damned. Because it is one-sided and does not recognise the complexity of life, let alone the tragic dimension of life, it encourages bad policy in the name of some supposedly immaculate principle. People who cant are often willing to decimate a countryside because actual results as experienced by others do not interest them. What they are interested in is how they appear morally to others, and that only as a means to advancement. Cant is careerist. – Theodore Dalrymple

The leader of the Green Party, which purports publicly to be the party of the downtrodden and dispossessed, has inadvertently revealed itself for what many think it actually is – a party that mostly serves well-heeled Kiwis in secure and well-paid employment that care about the environment, climate change and want to go cycling and tramping on the weekend. – Luke Malpass

The self-employed are the equivalent of the small private lots of land that communist societies would allow farmers to tend for their own benefit. From these small plots of dirt was produced a vastly disproportionate amount of produce while the vast collective farms produced little. – Damien Grant


Need trust for unity

August 27, 2020

At the start of the first lockdown there was a high degree of trust in what the government was doing.

We didn’t all buy into the rhetoric of hard and early, and some argued that safety rather than essential should be the criteria determining what businesses could operate.

But by and large most of us accepted the need to stay home, stay safe and save lives.

Research of social media by consultancy Rutherford shows feelings over this second lockdown are different:

People are feeling more anxious and angry during the second Covid-19 lockdown than any other time since the pandemic started, according to new social media analysis.

The sense of community New Zealand felt during the first lockdown in March appears to have somewhat dissolved amid growing frustration and despair, suggests the new research by business consultancy Rutherford.

The number of people encouraging others to comply with lockdown rules, by sharing messages such as #stayhomesavelives, has dived by more than 50 per cent, the research shows. . . 

Rutherford analysed about 435,318 social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Instagram from the past two weeks to get a snapshot of how New Zealanders were feeling about Covid-19. . . 

Rutherford chief executive Graham Ritchie said not only had the volume of social media conversation around Covid-19 increased, but negative sentiment was up 10 per cent. It was also more heightened and toxic as people vented their frustration at further restrictions. . . 

At least some of that frustration is due to the growing list of failures from the government and health officials.

There was always the risk that human error would let Covid-19 through the border but shortcomings in testing and tracing were the result of more than human error, they were the result of systems and process failures.

It doesn’t help that we were repeatedly assured that the government and Ministry of Health, bolstered by the military, had everything under control when it is now obvious they did not.

Unity depends on trust and Heather du Plessis-Allan is not alone in losing trust in the government’s ability to keep Covid-19 at the border:

. . . Do we want to go through the list of things this government has told were happening but weren’t?  Because it’s long 

It starts with the time we were promised the police were checking on all retuning kiwis isolating when at home, and they weren’t checking. It included us being told everyone coming out of managed isolation was being tested first when they weren’t. And it goes up to us being told all border workers were besting tested when they weren’t. 

You know, our plan to keep Covid out of the country looks good on paper, but unless it’s actually being done, it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. Covid will slip through if you don’t do what you say you’re going to do. 

Goodness only knows what the Prime Minister plans to announce to reassure us over this one.  She’s already used the 500 defence force card, the Heather Simpson and Brian Roche card, and the ‘I promise we’ll do it this time’ card. 

Are there any other cards left? 

In fact, you know what?  She shouldn’t even bother, because it doesn’t really matter what she announces to try to fix this, again. I don’t believe a word of what she and her government now say about their Covid response. 

I now do not trust them to keep Covid out of this country any more. 

Grant Robertson won’t extend the wage subsidy for the extra four days of level 3 lockdown because he says we are borrowing every single dollar we are paying out.

Yes, and how much extra are we borrowing because somehow or other the virus is back in the community and we’re now paying the Simpson-Roche committee to check that the people who are supposed to be keeping the border tight are actually doing it?

We’re no long united because we no longer trust the government and health officials to keep us safe.

But unfortunately we can trust them to keep spending more borrowed money to fix problems that wouldn’t have needed solutions if our trust in them to do what they say they’re doing hadn’t been misplaced.


Better border policy

August 21, 2020

National has announced a much better border policy:

A National Government will inject some steel into our first line of defence against COVID-19 by delivering robust border systems that will keep the virus at bay and allow our economy to thrive, National Party Leader Judith Collins says.

You can read National’s Border Policy Document here

“The threat of COVID-19 will be with us for years to come and National is committed to safeguarding the health of all New Zealanders, as well as the wider economy.”

National’s border security plan includes:

    • Establishing ‘Te Korowai Whakamaru/NZ Border Protection Agency’ to provide comprehensive oversight and management of COVID-19 at the border, as well as other public health threats.

This is sensible and had it been done months ago would have avoided the shemozzle of what at best has been miscommunication between the government, the Ministry of Health and workers at the border.

    • Requiring international travellers to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test before arriving in New Zealand.

This doesn’t mean people who test negative can’t come home at all, it means they must get over the illness and test positive.

It won’t keep everyone with the disease out, some who are incubating it could test negative before they fly, some could become infected in transit. But it would reduce the number of people with Covid-19 who get here, keeping other travellers, airline staff and border workers safer.

    • Compulsory contact tracing technologies to be used by agency employees, border facility workers, and District Health Board staff who treat or test patients.
    • Rapid deployment of Bluetooth applications to enhance contact tracing while also exploring alternative technologies, such as a Covid Card.
    • Striving towards a test-on-demand system with a waiting time target of no longer than 60 minutes for a COVID-19 test.
    • Widening the availability of COVID-19 testing nationwide.
    • Regular testing of aged-care workers and increasing opportunities for testing within aged-care facilities.
    • Preparing a more effective response to future outbreaks, should they occur, allowing lockdowns to be more targeted and shorter in duration.

The government has learned little from mistakes made in the initial lockdown, in particular its  insistence on the arbitrary essential rather than safe in dictating which businesses can operate.

“The current ad-hoc system of managing COVID-19 at our border – putting various agencies in charge of different facets – has led to a disorderly and confused response, putting the health and livelihoods of five million New Zealanders at risk,” Ms Collins says.

“More than 1.6 million Aucklanders are locked down right now because the Government dropped the ball on testing, tracing and managing people in isolation. It’s not good enough.”

Reducing the need for lockdowns could not be more crucial. The first lockdown saw 212,000 Kiwis end up on unemployment benefits with another 450,000 jobs kept alive by wage subsidies. The current lockdown is estimated to be costing Auckland 250 jobs and up to $75 million a day in economic activity. . . 

Heather du Plessis-Allen says this is the most important policy of the election:

The policy National released today is the most important policy we will see this election campaign.  

For both health and the economy, nothing else matters as much as the border right now, because it is the most important protection we have for both.

 Parties can announce as much as they like for future health spending, but if that border leaks, people will die. 

They can announce as much money as they like for future wage subsidies but if that border fails and we’re in lockdown, businesses will fall over. 

They can announce all the infrastructure spending they like but unless that border lets key workers through, the projects won’t get finishes. So everything hinges on the success of that border.  

And that is why National’s policy is the most important announcement this campaign. . . 

The Labour leader said this would be a Covid election. It is. This is why this policy is so important, and it has already made an impact in making Labour improve its performance:

Because it can’t be acceptable to us that they promise testing and then don’t deliver, that they can’t find where cases come from, that they lock down an entire city as a default. 

Potentially we’ve just seen the first example of Labour being forced to lift its game: National promised that Bluetooth contact tracing like the Covid Card in an embargoed press release at 10:04am. 

27 minutes later, Labour announced it would pilot using the blue tooth in isolation facilities too.  Labour have had the Covid Card proposal on their desk since since mid-April and took more than four months just to get to a pilot. 

Hopefully this is the policy alternative that reminds Labour – and us voters – that we can and should do better at the border.

We have been badly let down by mismanagement at the border.

The impact of that is having not just health consequences but social and economic ones.

We’ve all made sacrifices to eliminate Covid-19 and we’ve all been let down by laxness at the border.

We need much better border protection and National’s policy would deliver it.

 


Feeding on fear no substitute for policy

July 16, 2020

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called a press conference yesterday morning.

A quick look at main New Zealand news websites had several, by and large positive, stories about Judith Collins the new leader of the Opposition but I had to look hard to find anything about the PM’s speech.

That was a good thing because if you go to the Beehive website and read the speech you’ll find it was a cynical attempt to feed fear about Covid-19.

It speaks about the risk of the disease spreading in the community and what will be done should that happen.

That didn’t tell us anything new.

Anyone who follows international news doesn’t have to look far to understand that in spite of more than 70 days with no cases of community spread, it could still happen when New Zealanders who are infected are coming home and what the response would have to be.

So why make that speech and why yesterday?

It was a cynical and deliberately timed attempt to take media attention away from new National leader Judith Collins, feed the fear many still have of an outbreak of Covid-19 and distract from Labour’s lack of policy.

Then Ardern had the gall to pretend she wasn’t politicking:

After a speech setting out how New Zealand would respond if another Covid-19 outbreak was to occur, the Prime Minister was asked about the front-page news of the day: Judith Collins.

Jacinda Ardern demurred, offering neither congratulations nor commiserations for the National Party and its new leader.

“I’m spending more time about New Zealand’s response and economic recovery from Covid-19,” Ardern said.

“I accept there will be politicking this year. I accept we have an election. But if I’m being brutally honest, my mind hasn’t been focused on that to date.”

Honest? That is anything but.

“I absolutely accept that there is an election this year – and there is no avoiding that – but at the moment it’s taking up a bare minimum of my attention.”

Is this an admission that she can deal with only one thing at a time?

It’s also quite an odd way of putting it. Ardern doesn’t have the choice to “accept” whether there is an election this year. Elections are the means by which the Government has legitimacy and power; not minor inconveniences on the path to Covid-19 recovery.

This kind of language plays into a wider strategy that is emerging from Ardern and Labour to basically pretend there isn’t an election. With the global pandemic continuing to dominate the news cycle it makes total sense to stick to governing, or at least look like you are. “Politicking” is something other parties who are in trouble do, what with their leadership changes and leaking drama, you just get to govern. After all, people like Prime Minister Ardern much more than Labour leader Ardern, and the best campaign is a well-governed country. . . 

The response to the pandemic, particularly the claim about going hard and early, can be debated but the result that allows most of us to live life as normal, bar international travel, can not. However, government’s success in many other areas, in particular Labour flagship policies such as KiwiBuild and reducing child poverty, are open to attack.

That’s why Ardern wants to keep the attention on Covid-19 and away from other issues which she and her largely lacklustre team are ill-equipped to handle.

Thus far Labour has released a single election policy, which deals with afforestation of farmland and seems mostly engineered to give Kieran McAnulty a good shot in Wairarapa. When you ask about other policy areas, MPs either say “maybe soon” or point to wider government policy on an issue. But the Government is not the Labour Party, it is a set of compromises between Labour and two parties with wildly different views. Kiwis can’t vote for “the Government” – much like they can’t vote for Ardern herself. They can vote for a party, and they deserve a coherent set of values and promises to make that decision on. . .

A coherent set of values and promises to make a decision on would only remind voters that three years ago Labour campaigned on let’s do this and has been much better at speeches and media releases than actually doing anything.

Collins promised to not underestimate Ardern as a foe. Ardern is unlikely to be underestimating Collins in return. But she can only float above the partisan fray for so long. At some point she will need to dig in and fight a real ideological battle with the National Party – especially as its leader is now making promises to “take our country back”. That’s what elections are for.

They are, and National’s chances of winning have been greatly enhanced by the leadership change. Heather du Plessis-Allan says Collins nailed her first day as leader:

You can see the strategy. Collins is going to try to show Ardern how the job should be done.

And if she pulls it off, it could well look like the grownups have finally arrived.

That would be grown ups who understand there’s a lot more to governing than good communication, it takes a lot more than three or four people to run a country and feeding fear of a pandemic is no substitute for robust policy and the ability to deliver it.


How many more out there?

June 17, 2020

Very soon after the Christchurch mosque massacres, people started asking how Brenton Tarrant had been able to obtain a gun licence. More than a year later, it’s found he shouldn’t have:

The March 15 terrorist was wrongly granted a firearms licence due to a string of police failures, sources have told Stuff.

The terrorist, who pleaded guilty to New Zealand’s worst mass shooting in March, was not properly inspected by police vetting staff when he applied for a firearms licence in 2017.

Stuff has been told that, among other errors, police failed to interview a family member as required, instead relying on two men who met the terrorist through an internet chatroom. 

More than a year on from the March 15 terror attack, police insiders say the error was the product of a long neglected police firearms system that did not have the resources to properly handle applications. 

“This was avoidable. If police had addressed some of the issues with administering firearms years ago, this could have been avoided,” a source said. . .

The Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO) highlighted shortcomings in the system in a submission to the Royal Commission into the killings last year:

COLFO chair Michael Dowling said it was clear that the alleged perpetrator should never have been deemed a ‘fit and proper’ person to own the guns and large capacity magazines used in the attack.

“He was able to slip through gaps created by a system chronically stretched by poor resourcing and funding, as well as a lack of expertise and knowledge.” . . 

“We don’t know the background checks into Tarrant, but we do know he had travelled to unusual locations internationally, was not a New Zealand resident for long and was not involved with firearms as a hobby.

“Despite this, Tarrant applied for, and received, his firearms licence in 2017.

“This raises serious concerns for vetting procedures and whether the 2010 police vetting guide was adhered to during Tarrant’s licencing process. We understand that his referees had never met him in person, nor did they include a family member.” . . 

Not having the resources to handle applications properly might be an excuse for delays, it’s not an excuse for failing to follow the correct procedure and for granting a licence to someone who so obviously didn’t meet the required criteria.

This appalling systems failure led to the death of 51 people and injuries to several more.

It also led to the contentious and expensive gun buy-back scheme that may have done no more than take firearms from innocent people and left more with criminals.

Yesterday we learned that another systems failure led to two people with Covid-19 being grant compassionate leave from managed isolation after arriving from the UK:

Two Kiwi women – one in her 30s and one in her 40s – arrived on June 7 on an Air New Zealand flight from Brisbane, before staying at the Novotel Auckland Ellerslie hotel in managed isolation.

The pair was given special dispensation to leave isolation on June 13 to support grieving family after a parent’s death in Wellington. Officials were adamant the pair travelled in a private car and did not use public facilities during their journey.

Bloomfield confirmed the pair was not tested for Covid-19 before being allowed to leave the Novotel in Auckland, but had complied with the terms of their special dispensation and underwent testing in Wellington. 

The women are now in self-isolation in the Hutt Valley.

“The relative died quite quickly, the exemption was granted and the plan was approved,” Bloomfield said.

“Again, I just want to support the efforts that these women have gone to abide by the agreed plan,” Bloomfield said. 

But the emergence of the two cases has sparked an immediate change in policy, with the Government temporarily suspending all compassionate exemptions at the border.

It would only be reinstated once the Government had confidence in the system. . .

Yesterday we also learned that two teenagers ran away from authorities after being allowed special dispensation from Covid-19 related quarantine to attend a funeral in Hamilton.

They have since been located and one is in managed isolation while the other is in an agreed community arrangement, director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed this afternoon.

He did not know how many days their whereabouts were unknown. . . 

Speaking to Heather Du-Plessis Allan on Newstalk ZB Tuesday evening, Health Minister David Clark did not seem to know about the runaway pair.

“I’m not aware of the details of that case…I have not had a briefing on that, I will seek a briefing on that.”

Clark said he was disappointed to see that the measures he thought were put in place to prevent another outbreak didn’t appear to be.

“If it is as you described it, then it underscores my request to suspend compassionate exemptions until we ensure that the system is working as intended.” . . 

Working as intended?

How hard is it to test people when they arrive and again before they are permitted to leave isolation or quarantine?

No wonder National’s health spokesman Michael Woodhouse is questioning whether the Ministry of Health is following its own protocols:

. . . Both cases recently arrived from the United Kingdom and left managed isolation on compassionate grounds after six days with no Covid-19 test. However compassionate leave to exit managed isolation can only be given after seven days and a negative test according to guidance from the Ministry dated 9 June.

“Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield claimed in the press conference that going forward they will now test on exit in case of compassionate grounds, but the Ministry of Health website said this was already the case and the ministry simply failed to fulfil its own procedures.

“It’s fair to expect there will still be the occasional case of Covid-19 pop up as we recover from the past few months, but we need to be positive that the Government has the appropriate protocols in place to identify and trace these cases so they don’t become a bigger cluster.

“New Zealanders have done the hard yards over recent months in flattening the curve of Covid-19, the Government can’t let this hard work go to waste due to sloppy lapses in procedure.” 

Covid-19 spread through New Zealand because our borders weren’t closed soon enough and people who came in were trusted to self-isolate themselves.

When the disease is still rife in so many other countries it is not surprising that people coming in to New Zealand have brought it with them.

But it is sheer incompetence that allowed people to have compassionate leave without being tested and let a couple of teens to run away after a funeral.

Tackling Covid-19 has come at a huge cost. Opening the border is necessary to help with the recovery and for compassionate reasons but it must be done in a way that doesn’t risk the spread of disease here.

The answer isn’t denying compassionate leave to other innocent people, it’s following the necessary protocols to test people, and get the result of the tests, before allowing that leave.

Police and health are two of the basic public services we should all be able to trust and that requires systems we can all have confidence in.

But the serious failures in these cases undermines confidence and raise another very big question: how many other people have been given gun licenses who shouldn’t have and how many others have come through the border and been let out of isolation or quarantine without testing for Covid-19?


Anger isn’t kind

June 10, 2020

Does Jacinda Ardern not take her own advice on being kind?

Retail NZ is calling for the Prime Minister to be kind, after reports that she is ‘angry’ that the Warehouse Group is undertaking a change process that could result in a substantial number of job losses.

“Retail NZ has been advising Government for months that larger retail chains are not immune from the impacts of the COVID-19 and we have been forecasting substantial numbers of job losses across the sector, and the Prime Minister should not be angry that businesses are acting to reduce costs and create sustainable futures,” Greg Harford, Retail NZ Chief Executive, said today.

“Retailers greatly appreciate the support that the Government has provided to the retail sector in recent months – but the margins in retail are wafer-thin. New Zealand businesses, both large and small are doing their best to manage the consequences of the lockdowns, and they are needing to make very tough decisions. Recently, a number of small and high-profile retailers have found themselves in a position where they need to close stores and reduce headcount in order to remain viable into the future. Retail NZ research suggests that more change and more job losses are expected in the coming period, across both small and large businesses.

“There is a misconception that larger businesses are able to incur big losses – but the fundamentals of operating a business are the same whether your business is large or small. Nobody in retail wants to make people redundant or close stores, but no matter the size of a business, it needs to make operational decisions to drive efficiency and productivity in order to survive. Failing to do so will ultimately lead to the demise of those businesses, and much greater numbers of job losses. . .

There is rarely a single factor behind business difficulty.

Those shedding staff, closing branches and folding altogether may well have been facing problems before the Covid-19 lockdown.

But not being able to operate for weeks while still incurring fixed costs, even with the wage subsidy, pushed them over and it didn’t have to be that tough for most of them.

When the lockdown was first announced, the Warehouse declared it was an essential business and would be operating at alert level 4. Ardern declared it wasn’t and wouldn’t be.

I had joined the chorus of people saying that the Warehouse wasn’t an essential business and agreed its stores shouldn’t be open at level 4. But why couldn’t it and any other retailer that could have done mail order not been able to do so?

Had the government allowed what was safe rather than dictating what was essential, the Warehouse and many other retailers would not have faced the total loss of business for all those weeks at level 4.

If it was safe to order Easter eggs online from a confectionary factory and a children’s or text book from a book shop, it would have been safe for the Warehouse to offer an online mail order service.

Perhaps the Prime Minister has forgotten her part in the forced closures, and has she also forgotten all the Warehouse founder did to help?

Warehouse founder Sir Stephen Tindall, Trade Me creator Sam Morgan and former Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe joined forces to help ready the country to fight Covid-19.

Together they ordered 50 intensive care ventilators, seven planeloads of PPE protective clothing and equipment, and met with the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern the Sunday before lockdown was announced to urge the Government not to delay shutting the country down to try to limit deaths and eradicate Covid-19. . .

“Some of us, Sam Morgan and I in particular, realised there was a lot of stuff not getting done. We basically took the bull by the horns along with the guys from Zuru, and used our own money and ordered up a whole heap of PPE gear. There’s actually seven planeloads coming. Two have arrived already.”

They also worried New Zealand didn’t have enough ventilators, and moved to source some to give as many severely ill people the chance of beating infection.

“Of course every ventilator manufacturer in the world was chocka,” he said.

A little Kiwi ingenuity followed, and the group has backed niche New Zealand manufacturers around the country to begin manufacture once key parts can be sourced, though efforts to buy ventilators from overseas continued.

Tindall underwrote the purchase of 50 New Zealand-made ventilators at $60,000 each.

“I said to the agent, place the order, and you have got my word I will pay for them, if the Government doesn’t,” Tindall said. . . 

Tindall and Morgan became convinced lockdown was inevitable about two weeks before the meeting with the politicians. . . 

The government keeps telling us they went early and hard, but these business people saw the danger earlier and didn’t just talk, they acted.

The government didn’t go early enough, didn’t go hard enough at the border soon enough, then went too hard at level 4 and now Ardern has the audacity to vent her anger at the business founded by one of the men who saw the danger and acted earlier to help.

Heather du Plessis-Allan says the anger attack is a bad call politically:

. . . Already, the PM has a long list of calling out business: The Warehouse, Burger Fuel and Air New Zealand. And that’s all just within this Covid crisis.

Yes, this might play favourably with voters at the moment because of the rally-around-the-flag sentimentalism and because plenty of voters don’t understand business and seem to think the wage subsidy was intended for The Warehouse itself rather than the workers

But the PM should know better than that.

What she’s done here is betray her own fundamental let’s-all-work-four-days-a-week lack of understanding of what drives business. She’s complained that The Warehouse should prioritise staff higher and focus less on the shareholder.

Well that’s not how business works. Businesses are not charities.

The business sense behind that is deeply flawed. Sometimes it’s better to cut 100 jobs and save 900 for example, than to keep all 1000 on, risk the business itself – and then lose them all eventually anyway.

Through this public rebuke Ardern’s also essentially warned other big businesses to be careful about redundancies lest they also earn one too.

I tell you what, what I’m hearing from those involved in big business in this country is a deep frustration with this Government, their lack of understanding and their tin ear to pleas.

And what just happened will not make that better.

We’re going into an economic downturn and we are going to look to and lean on big business to help us out of this.

It’d be in the Government’s interests to keep them as friends, not make enemies out of them. . . 

Paul Goldsmith said the PM has the wrong focus:

National’s finance spokesman Paul Goldsmith says Prime Minister should “stick to her knitting” after expressing her fury at The Warehouse Group’s mass job cuts.

“I don’t think it’s helpful for the Prime Minister to be criticising struggling businesses, she should stick to her knitting,” Goldsmith said.

Rather than getting angry, Ardern should be “better focused” on the Government’s plan to grow the economy, he said. . . 

Meanwhile, Independent economist Cameron Bagrie said Ardern “overstepped the mark” when she said she was angry with the Warehouse over the job losses.

“Businesses are dealing with tough economic times,” he said.

“If that means they [businesses] need to cut costs to recalibrate for a different economic environment then so be it.”

He said there is a big structural shift going on in the economy at the moment – “I don’t think consumers are going to be out there spending like they were pre-Covid-19”. . .

No employers make these decisions lightly but sometimes cutting parts is necessary to save the whole.

A politician who preaches kindness shouldn’t be criticising those who are forced to act to ensure their business, and the remaining jobs, are sustainable.


Quotes of the month

June 1, 2020

Our primary industries are the ones that have propped it [the economy] up. We can’t keep borrowing money. Money doesn’t come from out of thin air and if there are jobs there, let us work.

“Don’t give us job centres for queues of people lining up for jobs that aren’t there. We have these jobs sitting under our noses. – Tania Gibson

We need you to accept that there is a problem, see what the problem is, and fix the problem and make sure that the problem never happens again. – Dr Jan White

Vaccine shortages have dogged previous flu and measles campaigns, and doctors have called this year’s flu campaign a “complete debacle”.

It has become abundantly clear that despite the Government’s rejection of such an assertion, a debacle is exactly what it is.  Michael Morrah

The stakes are higher than any election since 1984 because a second-term Ardern Government will have a mandate and an appetite for the largest expansion of the state since Robert Muldoon’s Think Big schemes and endless tinkering beggared the country.  – Damien Grant

The public is putting an immense amount of trust in the Government as it circumvents the usual checks and balances to get us through this crisis. But trust is earned. It’s also key to maintaining social cohesion. – Jenée Tibshraeny

The calamitous way in which Parliament turned Inland Revenue into a small business lender , without a single MP realising they were doing so, is a sign that the time is well past for greater scrutiny to return.

The Government’s refusal to release the advice it used as the basis of its decision to place New Zealand into a highly restrictive lockdown is coming close to an abuse of the extraordinary trust the public has granted it.Hamish Rutherford

No policy decision is costless. Advocates of a longer extension expound the benefits of the approach they advocate; they often are less forthcoming on the costs. The costs of our lockdown could well be slower coming through than the corona virus itself, they are costs that we as the citizens will sooner or later have to bear. – Wyatt Creech

He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit. His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum. Nate White

One of the worst effects of a lack of understanding of risk management is the precautionary principle. This is the belief that unless you have complete knowledge about the likelihood and impact of the risk, either you shouldn’t take any action at all (e.g. not allowing the trial of a new drug) or you should go all-out to prevent the risk eventuating (e.g. locking down the population in a pandemic). – Kiwiwit

We’ve elected politicians without enough prior life tests and career leadership experience  to exercise democratic control. Without authoritative experienced oversight, some official cultures will inevitably become immune to their own convenient cruelty. “Be kind” means nothing without the leadership diligence that makes it practical, everyday, and integrated among all the other demands of hard decision-making.  Stephen Franks

People talk a big game about moving away from eating meat, and no doubt tell researchers they are vegetarian when asked – but when they get home they are tucking into a big porterhouse. – Trent Thorne

We are very good at managing weeds and pests. Had the Department of Conservation taken it over I don’t know that the same standard of management would have been there to look after it. They don’t have the budget.

“And it would be devastating to watch it fill up with wildings and be overrun by rabbits again.

“They’re very complex places to run and if all of the high country farmers stopped farming it would be a huge burden on the taxpayer to actually manage that land.Andrew Simpson

A lot of farmers, particularly our young farmers, have found themselves in a very lonely place in the last five years.

“I like to think the understanding might shift as people get to understand where their food comes from.

“And it’s our interests to tell our story so that people do understand. We still grow food, and we love the land. The two can coexist. – Andrew Simpson

A human life, it will be said, is of incalculable value, and in some metaphysical sense this is so. Usually we do not value people’s lives in dollars and cents, and we would regard anyone who did so with horror or disgust. But at the same time, we know that in practice we do place a value on people’s lives. We would think it right to spend more on saving a child’s life at the age of 3 than to spend it on prolonging the life of a 95-year-old by five minutes. The relative values of human lives may not be calculable in any precise sense, but where choices have to be made and resources are scarce (as they always are), we make them.

Sacrificing life to maintain normal life may not therefore be a monstrous policy, though the question of how much life can be sacrificed for how much normality is very difficult to answer, because neither the quantity of life sacrificed nor the amount of normality preserved can be known, certainly not in advance, and perhaps not even in retrospect, for there are so many variables that might account for differences. Besides, the two—life lost and economic collapse—are incommensurable. – Theodore Dalrymple

The shackles should be discarded and ministers should be open to scrutiny. If they can’t be trusted to answer questions about their portfolios, they shouldn’t be ministers. – Derek Cheng

Fundamentally, this is a story of two governments and their differing response to the crisis. The Australian Government has committed to preserving jobs by keeping the economy going, no doubt aware that creating a job is so much harder than preserving one. On the other hand, the New Zealand Government chose instead to shut down the economy. As a result, I believe thousands of businesses will close or drastically shrink, and unemployment will grow significantly.

The initial focus by Governments in both countries was quite rightly the health and well-being of the citizens. Australia and New Zealand have achieved admirable results compared to many other countries, particularly the comparatively low number and rate of deaths from COVID-19. The number of deaths per 100,000 population in both countries is much the same. However, the big difference is that Australia will emerge with their economy virtually intact, while we have done serious damage to ours. There is significant business failure happening now in New Zealand that could have been avoided, and still can be in my opinion. –  Lee Short

I see a stark difference between the wealth creators and those untouched and shielded from the impact on the business world. They are not having their pay slashed and are not suffering unemployment or the threat of it. Business owners and employees provide the wealth that funds those in the public service. They take risks, many borrowing substantial sums, some making sacrifices for years. The result is companies that pay tax and employ staff who pay tax. These taxes keep those in public service in employment.Lee Short

Those of us whose adult lives have largely played out over the last four decades should be grateful that we have lived through the best of times, but we owe it to our children and grandchildren to give them at least the same opportunities that we have had to enjoy happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. How we handle the recovery from Covid-19 will determine whether we do so.Kiwiwit

There is not one person in the Government that has a plan or can articulate a plan.  A plan has a start, a process and a goal….not one Minister can articulate what that plan is. Instead, it’s panic and continue to employ as many people as possible. That is not a plan’s arsehole. – Paul Henry

No opinion is worth expressing that is not also worth contradicting (except, perhaps, this one); nevertheless, clichés have their attraction. They are the teddy-bears of the mind, or, to change the metaphor slightly, the mental lifebuoys we cling to in times of stormy intellectual or political weather. They are the sovereign remedy for thought, which is always a rather painful activity. –  Theodore Dalrymple

 Is mastery of this kind of meaningless verbalisation, eloquently empty and passionately delivered, the key to political success? And if so what does it say of us, the citizens of democracies? – Theodore Dalrymple

As is quite often the case, hiding in the great mound of high-sounding bilge are quite nasty sentiments that would, if taken seriously (which thankfully they will not be), lead straight to a totalitarian society. . . It has long been my opinion that inside every sentimentalist there is a despot trying to get out. – Theodore Dalrymple

Except that people will remember the sectors that helped them get through – agriculture and horticulture. They might also remember that the air became cleaner during the pandemic, and that the rivers ran clear. The environmental impact of reduction in transport has been noticed globally. The clarity of waterways has featured on RNZ with commentators noting bird song and clear water… because building and roadworks had stopped. No mention was made of the fact that agriculture and horticulture continued, nor that there had been no reduction in animals. – Jacqueline Rowarth

I would go so far as to compare the Prime Minister to Rob Muldoon. She is Rob Muldoon with slogans and kindness. Michael Woodhouse

How have we got to a stage where we think this is fine. Where we accept rules that say only 10 people are allowed at funerals but 100 people can go to a pub? Where families can’t get out of quarantine to say goodbye to dying family members and people in hospitals die without any loved ones holding their hands? – Heather du Plessis-Allan

You can’t spend your way back to surplus. You can’t tax your back to surplus (without decreasing economic growth). You need to grow your way back to surplus. So most important of all we need policies that will not just get us through the recession but lead to a strong growing economy for the decade that follows. – David Farrar

The budget was heavy in numbers. A few hundred million here, a few billion here – there were big spending initiatives for everything.

But it was light on demonstrating how these programmes will help repair the country. As KiwiBuild showed, good intentions plus government money do not automatically equate to success. But that lesson appears to have been forgotten and Budget 2020 is just KiwiBuild on steroids. – Oliver Hartwich

It’s easy to get lost in all of the big numbers today. The four-year projections of spending, the extra of billions in debt, the debt-to-GDP ratio.

We forget that each of those numbers, all of the numbers in fact, represents a bigger challenge. The burden we place on New Zealanders and the responsibility we have to them.

We forget that a decade of deficits and debt means fewer choices for our kids down the road.

The obligation we as Parliamentarians have to make sure the next generation is better off than we were. That they have more choices, more opportunities, and more ability to succeed in the world because we back them, not burden them with debt.Simon Bridges

Next time, with substantial administrative improvement and a whole lot more political honesty (surely an oxymoron if ever there was one!), there may be some justification in claiming the government’s responses and directives as a  “masterclass of communication” – but definitely not this time. – Henry Armstrong

Whether the virus is quelled or not, in four months’ time the wreckage of New Zealand’s economy will be visible from space. Last week, leaked documents showed the Ministry of Social Development is preparing for an extra 300,000 benefit applications in response to mass unemployment generated by the pandemic.

You don’t have to be a seer to guess that material concerns and a desire for economic and logistical competence will likely trump all other considerations — including abstract notions of “wellbeing” and admonitions to “be kind” — in choosing the next government.Graham Adams

You have had the five million locked up in Cindy’s Kindy with a daily political party broadcast with an incredibly compliant media who have been in her bubble. – Michelle Boag

Our Prime Minister is daily lauded for her leadership in times of crisis.  In the immediate glare of publicity, kindness and empathy are endearing qualities.  The cold reality is that those qualities will not pay the bills.  Gestures of 20% pay cuts are welcomed but 20% of a heck of a lot is no real sacrifice.  Real leadership involves more than optics and safeguarding political gains. It requires tough and hurtful decisions.Owen Jennings

If ‘helicopter’ cash and ‘shovel ready’ projects are the best you can come up with, think again.  If dressing up green initiatives and sneaking through climate change penalties are on the menu, forget it.  If asking us to pay new taxes is in the budget, pull it out again.  Our burden is already too heavy.  Focus on what might hold back private sector initiatives, frustrate investors, limit progress and delay the recovery.  Prune such fearlessly.  Waiting seven years for a consent to increase a water take when your city is running dry isn’t helping anything – the environment, the economy, thirsty businesses or my vegetable garden. –  Owen Jennings

I would like to change the way we treated our farmers and our primary industries for the last while. ‘They are the heroes of our economy and I think they are being treated as though they were the villains.  It is really important to show how valuable the agriculture and primary industries are to New Zealand. They are the basis of our economy, and valuing that is really important to me.  – Penny Simmonds 

I’m afraid it’s too late to put Ardern’s debt genie back in the bottle. I apologise on behalf of my generation and older that you and your kids will carry this debt for all of us. My advice to you is to do what this government should have done. Cut costs and minimise your liabilities. Spend only on the essentials and invest in assets that will produce a safe dividend. Perhaps most important of all, stay engaged in our democracy and encourage your friends to do the same. If COVID-19 has taught the world anything it is this: politicians need to be closely scrutinised at all times but especially in crises like these. – Heather Roy

Australia is currently co-optimising the wellbeing of the Covid outbreak and the wellbeing consequences of the economy better than New Zealand.  If we don’t martial the best possible team for both recovery and reform, we will exacerbate the slide against our greatest comparator and lose even more of our most precious asset, our people.That risks a younger generation not only inheriting greater debt, but also makes Aotearoa a less desirable place to live with substantially less wellbeing. Fraser Whineray

I trust the prime minister a lot more than her critics do. But I also believe that a lot of her cabinet ministers are incompetent, and others are highly unscrupulous, and that this government makes operational and policy blunders on a scale we haven’t seen in our last few decades of technocratic centrism (as I was writing this the news broke that the entire lockdown may have been illegal). And they’re currently making huge decisions based on incomplete information because there is no expert consensus or reliable data available. – Danyl Mclauchlan

So I think there’s value to disrespectful questions and politicised critiques, and even some of the contrarianism, even if a lot of it is misguided or in bad faith, or simply wrong. And I think we need a space for those critiques in our mainstream politics and media instead of shouting it down and leaving it to circulate on the shadowy fringes of the internet. Because the experts are not always right and the government is not always trustworthy. If contrarians warn about the danger to our freedom in this moment, and it makes us more vigilant and we remain free, does it mean the contrarians were wrong? – Danyl Mclauchlan

What drives me is community – the people who help their elderly neighbours with the lawns on the weekend; The Dad who does the food stall at the annual school fair; The Mum who coaches a touch rugby team; This election will be about the economy, but not the economy the bureaucracy talks about. It’ll be about the economy that you live in – the economy in your community – your job, your main street, your marae, your tourism business, your local rugby league club, your local butcher, your kura, your netball courts, your farms, your shops and your families.  This is the economy National MPs are grounded in, and the one that matters most to New Zealand. Todd Muller

The problem with this government is they’ve two or three strong performers and 17 empty seats in CabinetTodd Muller

Poker machines are a de facto tax on the brain-dead. As a taxpayer I resent having to support no-hopers when in the case of these addictions, their problems are self-inflicted. – Bob Jones

A modern democracy, we should not forget, is a people of the government, by the government, and for the government.Theodore Dalrymple

What the “employed and unemployed workers” of 1935 would be scandalised by is being forced to support other people’s children whose father’s pay nothing. They would be outraged that someone who has committed a crime can come out of a prison and get immediate recourse to welfare – repeatedly! They would be angry that  entire isolated rural communities could turn their local economies on welfare. – Lindsay Mitchell

The world doesn’t need more examples of the progressive social direction of NZ so we can learn from their utter failure sad as it is. She’s all hat and no cattle, just a charismatic executioner of her country’s future prospects. Alfred

New Zealand’s economy is in strife. Without major change, our constitutional cousin is in decline. Its public finances are in tatters, its biggest export, tourism, has been obliterated — Air New Zealand announced 4000 job losses this week — and New Zealand police now can enter people’s homes without a warrant.Adam Creighton

In one year, New Zealand has blown 30 years of hard-fought ­fiscal rectitude. Its public debt will explode from the equivalent of 19 per cent of gross domestic product last year to 54 per cent by 2022, on the government’s own figures. – Adam Creighton

The Prime Minister and Finance Minister, who have not worked in the private sector, spruik the totems of modern left governments — renewable energy, trees, higher tax, equality — but without much to show for it. Plans for a billion trees and 100,000 houses have come close to almost naught, and a capital-gains tax was dumped. Labour made a song and dance about reducing child poverty too, but on six out of nine measures tracked by Statistics New Zealand it is unchanged or worse since 2017, including the share of children living in “material hardship”, which has risen to 13.4 per cent. – Adam Creighton

The real problem with the Ardern government is they have no idea whatsoever apart from how to throw money at things, – Roger Douglas

In any case, it wasn’t outsized compassion that drove the lockdown sledgehammer but the ­brutal reality of an underfunded health system. With about 140 intensive care unit beds and few ventilators — far fewer than Australia per capita — it was woefully underprepared. Ardern is more popular than ever, and by all accounts is a good person and a great communicator. But if a COVID-19 vaccine remains elusive, New Zealanders may come to question her wisdom as they fall further down the global pecking order. Without economic growth, there won’t be money for more ICU beds. – Adam Creighton

The world doesn’t need more examples of the progressive social direction of NZ so we can learn from their utter failure sad as it is. She’s all hat and no cattle, just a charismatic executioner of her country’s future prospects.  – Alfred

They’ll make excuses for her, that’s what left supporters and the media do to prop up failed politicians. It’s not about results, it’s about virtuous ideas and statements. The voters least affected – the latte sipping urbanites will keep supporting her, while the poorer people, whom she has vowed are the ones she’s trying to help, will suffer.Melanie

If you, as small business owners, give just one of your newly unemployed neighbours a job before Christmas, you will be the heroes of the economic crisis, the way that our nurses and doctors and all five million of us who stayed at home and washed our hands were the heroes of the health crisis, –  Todd Muller

National does not start by saying everything should be closed unless the Government says it can be open. Instead, our guiding principle is that everything should be open unless there is good reason for it to be closed.Todd Muller

Ethnic communities don’t want tokenism or special treatment; we simply want to be treated as equals and live in an inclusive society. We don’t wish to question or demonise anybody’s “whiteness”. We should all be able to celebrate who we are without fear or favour. – Gregory Fortuin

Muller is still an unknown quantity and has taken over National at the worst possible time for a prime ministerial aspirant. His best hope is that by the election on September 19, unemployment has rocketed, the cult of Winston has shattered, the economy has tanked and voters are starting to worry about how the country will ever pay the billions back.

Then voters might start to think empathy is all very well, but we need a leader capable of some hard- headed decisions that look beyond the lens of political correctness.Martin van Beynen

Don’t be fooled, Winston Peters declarations are not about principle. His game is political expediency. . . Will Winston Peters last the distance or are we seeing the tactic that’s been so successful in the past being reeled out for a third time? Peters shows yet again he will call the shots and for a party polling well below the 5 percent threshold he has nothing to lose. – Heather Roy

Months of monotony, with nothing to look forward to and nothing to distinguish one day from another, is an experience which fundamentally conflicts with most of the ways societies throughout history have found to give structure to the passage of time. Most religions recognise the importance of marking time: celebrating rites of passage, appointing seasons for feasting and fasting, getting together at set times to celebrate, pray, or mourn. As religious holidays die away, secular society invents its own alternatives.

Over the past few months, we’ve been stripped of all that. Those keeping Easter, Passover, Ramadan or other commemorations have had to do so at home and online, for many a very imperfect substitute, and non-believers have lost their rituals too: no birthday parties, no graduations, not even the weekly trip to a favourite coffee shop. We’ve been deprived of almost every conceivable form of public, shared experience — perhaps most painfully of all, with restrictions on funerals, the rituals of grieving. These are anchors, and without them we drift.Eleanor Parker

We’re all hypocrites. Outrage is selective. Personally I’m much more concerned with the fact we’re staring down mass unemployment and a generation-defining economic crisis than the fact Todd Muller has a Trump hat. – Jack Tame

In the face of soaring unemployment and plummeting house prices, middle voters may pause for thought. People who care passionately about inequality, over-tourism and climate change in the good times, tend to be less progressive when their personal economic circumstances are shaken.Andrea Vance


So much for rights and freedoms

May 14, 2020

The government gave in to public pressure and raised the number of people permitted at a funeral from 10 to 50.

However only 10 are permitted to attend a wedding, go to church or gather in a private home yet 100 are permitted in a restaurant, bar, casino or strip club.

Making it worse are the new powers the police have to ensure we all adhere to this.

The government has had nearly two months to work out legislation to cover Level 2 alert level and had it gone about it the right way the Opposition would have worked with it and supported it.

Instead they’ve rushed through legislation about which the Human Rights Commission is deeply concerned.

“For weeks the Government has known that we would be moving to alert level 2. It has not allowed enough time for careful public democratic consideration of this level 2 legislation. There has been no input from ordinary New Zealanders which is deeply regrettable,” said Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt. 

“This is a great failure of our democratic process. The new legislation, if passed in its current state, will result in sweeping police powers unseen in this country for many years.” . . .

“In times of national emergency sweeping powers are granted. There is a risk of overreach. Mistakes are made and later regretted. This is precisely when our national and international human rights, and Te Tiriti, commitments must be taken into account.” 

“Human rights can help to ensure all measures are effective, balanced, fair, reasonable, non-discriminatory, proportionate and subject to independent review. If the Government wishes to retain the public’s trust and confidence, it must honour human rights and Te Tiriti.”  

“A process of regular review by Parliament is needed. If passed in its current form, the Bill should be reviewed by select committee at regular terms and the Government should be open to any recommended changes.”   . . 

The rushed legislation is even worse when it gives police more powers at Level 2 than they had at Levels 4 and 3.

Heather du Plessis-Allan reckons the government has lost perspective:

Look at the powers the Government is giving police today and tell me they haven’t lost perspective over Covid-19.

Because it looks a lot like they have.

From today on – once this legislation passes – police will be able to come into your house without a warrant if they think there is a party going on inside. A party. Of more than 10 people. Not a murder scene, not drug-cooking, a gathering of more than 10 people.

That’s a family of two parents, four children and one grandchild.

Is that proportionate under level 2?

You could perhaps make excuses for the East German police approach under levels 3 or 4 when health authorities were worried about silent community transmission, but under level 2 this is overkill.

We have 74 people with Covid-19 in this country and yet the Government believes it’s fine to allow police unfettered access into the homes of 5 million people.

Because that’s what this means: warrantless entry means no one checks that the officers are doing the right thing … it is entirely up to them. . . 

Under normal circumstances a warrant from the court or a JP would be required and police would have to have reasonable grounds for requesting one.

How have we got to a stage where we think this is fine. Where we accept rules that say only 10 people are allowed at funerals but 100 people can go to a pub? Where families can’t get out of quarantine to say goodbye to dying family members and people in hospitals die without any loved ones holding their hands?

This all feels like a blinkered, mono-focused, perfectionist approach to get zero zero zero and to hell with the sadness and loss of human rights.

Politically the law passing today is not a good for the Government but especially bad for the Attorney General, David Parker. This is the same guy responsible for the stuff-up over whether the lockdown was legal or not. He has high regard for his own abilities and yet created far too many legal headaches for the Government thus far.

Perspective has been lost here.

So have rights and freedoms.

An observation by Theodore Dalrymple is apropos here:

It has long been my opinion that inside every sentimentalist there is a despot trying to get out. 

This government is becoming more despotic by the day and Labour’s coalition partners New Zealand First and the Green Party should be ashamed of their silent acquiescence to these new draconian powers which have been seized under urgency.


Where’s kindness and empathy when it’s needed?

May 6, 2020

Heather du Plessis-Allan writes of a woman stuck in quarantine as her mother dies :

. . . She thought they were about to say yes today because she heard the PM yesterday say 18 people had been given permission. She thought that meant she was probably going to get a yes too.

Our producer had to tell her the PM was wrong, no one’s been given permission. She started crying on the phone.

Let’s be honest: she might not ever see her mum alive again.

The Ministry of Health is reviewing all 24 requests that they’ve declined, but that review will take most of the week. By then, this woman’s quarantine will probably be finished as she’s allowed out this weekend. But her mum might not make it to the weekend.

And the review doesn’t bode well for anyone else in quarantine hoping to say goodbye to loved ones.  The review’s being by the ministry’s legal team. Does that feel like the very people you’d send in to try to find a way to avoid having to change the decisions?

I don’t know how we’ve ended up with a health ministry so heartless and a Director-General of Health who isn’t sorry that this is happening.

He says his team are empathetic, but they’re not.  They’ve declined all the requests for exemptions. 

I read the judgement last night in the case of Oliver Christiansen and it’s obvious the Ministry of Health doesn’t want to say yes. Either that or we’ve found a collection of the stupidest public servants in the country.

Every time Oliver asked for an exemption on the grounds of ‘exceptional circumstances’, they told him that he didn’t qualify for a medical transfer.

Of course he didn’t qualify for a medical transfer. He wasn’t sick. He wasn’t even asking for that, but they made it sound like that was the only grounds for an exemption, and it wasn’t.

So they’re either stupid or deliberately frustrating people who want to say goodbye to their parents. . .

How heartbreaking it must be to be so near yet so far away from a dying family member; to be stuck in limbo between home and the loved one’s death bed; to be prevented from spending those precious last days or even hours together.

The government has gone from being too slow to close the border and quarantine new arrivals to overseeing a Ministry which is being pig-headed in its refusal to let a few people through on compassionate grounds.

Covid-19 came from overseas and we can’t afford to have the good done by the lockdown undone by slackness at the border again.

But it must be possible to follow protocols to reduce the risk, such as those the court ordered Oliver Christiansen to follow in overturning the MOH’s refusal to allow him to visit his dying father:

. . .The judge said, in her assessment, overall justice “demands an effective and swift response”.

“I have in mind here particularly the imminence of Mr Christiansen’s father’s passing and the very material factor that visitation is only at a private home and not in a public space.”

She ordered the ministry to permit Christiansen to leave managed isolation to visit his father.

But he could only do so if he traveled unaccompanied by car to his dad’s home and remained there until his father died.

Christiansen was also told to maintain physical separation from other family members at the home and to return on his own within 24-hours of his father’s passing in the same car to the isolation facility for the remainder of the 14-day period. . .

If necessary family members could be required to self-isolate for 14 days from the time they had any contact with the traveller as a precaution to further reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19.

The border with Australia will be closed for weeks to months and visitors from other countries will be required to stay in quarantine for a fortnight for much longer. There will be many more people coming to New Zealand to be with dying family members in that time. Protocols must be worked out to allow them to do so safely.

And it’s not just the people in quarantine. Back to Heather:

This has been happening for seven weeks. For the entire duration of Level 4 Lockdown, people were forced to die alone in their hospital beds without any family or friends with them.

The Ministry of Health has lost perspective. In the battle against a disease, it has condemned families to a sorrow that will sit with them for the rest of their lives.

I am not proud of them. I want them to show compassion. I want them to take a dose of their own medicine.

Remember what their boss Ashley Bloomfield and the PM keep telling us? Be kind. They should try a bit of kindness themselves.

Keeping people apart at the end of life is inhumane.

The way the dying and their families have been, and are continuing to be, treated shows a complete lack of  the kindness and empathy we are all being enjoined to demonstrate.

Both must be applied in designing a way to allow families to be together when one of them is dying without risking the spread of Covid-19.


Simon said

April 22, 2020

Simon Bridges posted his view on the government’s decision to extend the lockdown at level 4 that has unleashed a lot of criticism.

A union and doctors are saying similar things but they’re not getting the same media pile-on.

Could it be, as Heather du Plessis-Allan said yesterday, it’s not what he said but that Simon said it?

Here’s what he said:

The decision for New Zealand to stay locked down in Level 4 shows the Government hasn’t done the groundwork required to have us ready.

The public has done a great job of self-isolating and social distancing. The entire country has made huge sacrifices to ensure the four week lockdown was effective.

Unfortunately the Government hasn’t done enough and isn’t ready by its own standards and rhetoric.

New Zealand is being held back because the Government has not used this time to ensure best practice of testing and tracing and the availability of PPE hasn’t been at the standard it should have been.

The PSA is still saying that PPE distributions for health workers has been unreliable and uneven.

. . . “We have repeatedly been promised PPE. Our members have repeatedly been told the DHBs and the Ministry of Health will keep them safe. These promises have repeatedly been broken,” says Melissa Woolley, Assistant National Secretary of the PSA.

“At least 128 health workers have been infected with Covid-19 so far, and we know for a fact that thousands of our members are working without reliable access to PPE. These tend to be workers in predominantly female industries, undervalued and underpaid for decades, and they have once again been forgotten about when it counts.” . .

Back to what Simon said:

The rate of testing for the first half of lockdown was low, work has only just begun on surveillance testing to confirm whether community transmission is occurring. Tracing is the biggest challenge and experts have identified major shortcomings in the methods being used by the Government.

All of that is factual.

This is a real shame as businesses will suffer further damage and that will lead to poor health outcomes as a result of the huge stress this will cause for a lot of people.

Rapid and easily accessible testing for workers with symptoms will be essential to give small businesses the confidence needed to get back to work.

I’m sure many Kiwis feel frustration that we still can’t do many things Australians have done through the entire lockdown period, at great cost in terms of jobs and livelihoods, with similar health outcomes.

The decision to be guided by the arbitrary notion of essential rather than safety has meant far fewer businesses were able to operate, far more are in danger of folding and far more jobs will be lost.

It’s no less safe to buy a novel online, for someone with their own tools to do an elderly person’s garden, for a sole operator to carry out his or her trade this week than it will be next week, but the level 4 rules prevent that and level 3 will allow it.

I now worry that the harm of staying in lockdown will be greater than if we were to come out. We will no doubt see a rise in mental health problems and stress related illnesses.

I also have real concerns about the delay in healthcare for some people, like cancer treatment, screening and thousands of operations across the country.

Poorer physical and mental health as a result of rising unemployment is also a fact.

Several doctors have raised concerns about the risks, and costs, of delayed diagnosis and treatment.

New Zealanders can be proud of the sacrifices they have made during this difficult time. The Government must now move as fast as it can to sort out the issues with tracing, testing and PPE so we can get our country moving again.

Simon is not alone in saying tracing needs improvement.

Dr Ayesha Verrall, who audited the national contact tracing system said the contact tracing system was only a third as good as it needed to be.

Dr Verrall told Nine to Noon the numbers were promising, but more still needed to be done to improve the system as case numbers dropped.

That so few people have died of Covid-19 and the number of cases is low and declining needs to be acknowledged but that doesn’t mean that no questions can be asked and no criticisms made on how that’s been achieved.

As an electorate MP, Simon will have had lots of constituents coming to him with problems caused by the lockdown. His MPs will have passed on issues raised by their constituents. He owes it to them, and all the others whose lives have been, and will continue to be, blighted by the government’s actions to criticise its policies and performance.

As Leader of the Opposition, Simon has not only the right, but the duty to question the government and point out shortcomings in its actions.

People have the right to argue about what he said, but it is wrong to criticise him for saying it.

This is New Zealand, not North Korea where no criticism of their dear leader is permitted.


Rural round-up

March 20, 2020

Government needs to help farmers – Heather du Plessis-Allan:

Here’s a challenge to this government: help farmers.

If this government is serious about doing everything to get us through this economic crisis in the best shape possible, it has to push pause on all the extra rules it is planning for farming.  Farmers are the ones who are going to get us through this

Look at Fonterra today. It’s holding its forecast farm-gate milk price of between $7 and $7.60. That is good economic news, and we’re getting precious little of that at the moment.

The world can and will stop buying thing – cruises, steel, logs, computers, any number of things – but it can’t stop eating. . .

Dairy industry profits are a bright spot in an economy heading for recession – Point of Order:

NZ’s  dairy  industry, under constant  fire from critics for its methane emissions,  pollution of  waterways  and  intensive farming practices in recent years, almost  overnight  is shaping up   to be one of the  country’s  saviours  as the economy dives into  recession.

While  other   key export sectors — tourism, forestry, education — are jack-knifed by the  coronavirus  pandemic,  the dairy industry’s earnings  more than ever before are proving it to be  what the  critics  have scorned:  “ the backbone of the economy”. . . 

Coronavirus: all shearing competitions cancelled :

The New Zealand Shearing Sports season is over with the cancellation of nine competitions which were scheduled for the next three weeks.

The cancellations include six A and P shows, with confirmation on Wednesday that the Oxford and Mackenzie shows in the South Island weren’t going ahead, following the earlier cancellations of the Methven, Flaxbourne, Warkworth and Auckland Royal Easter shows, the Waimarino and Waitomo shearing competitions, and the New Zealand Shears national shearing and woolhandling championships. . .

Bay company only Kiwi in Top 50 – Richard Rennie:

A Bay of Plenty robotics company is now ranked in the top 50 leading global agri-tech companies. 

Robotics Plus, the only Kiwi company on the list, has made the cut in an annual ranking of companies judged by global agri-tech innovation company Thrive, based in Silicon Valley. 

The Thrive platform is responsible for investing and accelerating start-up agri-tech companies globally. . .

Electronic forms are more efficient – Annette Scott:

Livestock movements will become more accurate and efficient with the introduction of electronic animal status declaration (eASD) forms.

The forms have been tested and farmers moving stock are now being encouraged to go electronic to record their animal movements.

Use of the forms is voluntarily now. . .

New Zealand grown stock feed available for drought-hit farmers:

Latest forecasts suggest New Zealand’s arable farmers have to date been less affected than other primary industry sectors by COVID-19 and the drought.

“It’s clear there are still locally-grown quality stock feed solutions available to farmers in regions hit by drought,” Federated Farmers Arable Chairperson Karen Williams says.

MPI’s just-released Situation Outlook Primary Industries (SOPI) report forecasts that arable production and export for the year ended June 2020 should see revenue increase by 10 percent to $260 million. . . 

 

 


Plane hypocrisy

March 10, 2020

Guess which back bench MPs spent the most of flights:

The Parliamentary expense disclosure released today shows that, on average, Green Party list MPs are outspending list MPs in all other parties on air travel. On average, the list MPs from the Greens are spending more than a third more than Labour’s equivalent.

Reacting to the figures, Taxpayers’ Union spokesperson Jordan Williams said:
 
“The Greens constantly say that we need to reduce air travel if we are to save the planet. They need to practice what they preach.”
 
Average air travel spending for non-ministerial list MPs by party:
Greens – $9,816
NZ First – $8,059
National – $7,332
Labour – $6,499

These MPs don’t have the excuse of servicing electorates at either end of the country like Sarah Dowie, Hamish Walker or Matt King do.

The Greens are all list MPs.

They argue that because there are fewer of them, each has to travel more.

But that doesn’t wash when are the ones that preach to the rest of us about cutting down on all but essential travel and the necessity of reducing our use of fossil fuels.

As Heather du Plessis-Allan writes:

. . . This is a plane (deliberate) and simple case of the Greens being a bunch of outstanding hypocrites. This is the party asking Parliament to declare a national climate emergency. It’s the party trying to penalise people who buy petrol cars, asking stretched farmers to pay for their emissions, trying (and thankfully failing) to put a halt to the building of new roads and begging ACC to divest from fossil fuel stocks. Essentially, it’s the party trying to force everyone else to sacrifice a little something for the climate, while they carry on working towards another year of Elite Gold Koru Club status. . .

The Greens hope it’s all okay because they offset their flight carbon by paying for someone to plant trees. Again, nice try. Even the UN says that’s no get-out-of-jail-free card. Trees planted today, to quote the UN, can’t grow fast enough to avoid what the UN calls “catastrophic planetary changes”. Offsetting emissions is like setting a house on fire, giving it a good five minutes to get started, then putting it out and painting over all the damage.  . .

Hypocrisy is never a good look, it’s even worse in this case because it is so much a case of do as we say, not as we do.

The Greens are forever preaching about what the rest of us should be doing, but when it comes to practice, they find that in the absence of alternative time and convenience come before climate concerns.


Quotes of the Year

December 31, 2019

You can volunteer to take life seriously but it is gonna get you, they are going to win over you, it is harsh, but you can either break down and complain about how miserable your life is or have a go at it and survive. I think that is the basis of it all. – Billy Connolly

Working for Families is a policy that satisfies few on the Left or the Right. Compromises rarely do. They are imperfect by their nature. They are necessary, however, because people are imperfect and always will be. If things were otherwise, we wouldn’t need government at all. – Liam Hehir

The greatest threats to our native wildlife – and our rural economy – may yet be science denial and conspiracy belief. – Dave Hansford

Those elected to positions of authority need to understand that the human condition rarely engages in deceit and halftruths as much as when rehearsing or inventing the science behind their personal environmental concerns.Gerrard Eckhoff

When our total emissions account for 0.17 per cent of total global emissions, leadership isn’t being first, fast and famous. Leadership is taking what we already do well, food production, and doing it even better over time by investing in innovation and technology.  Todd Muller

People have a choice with how they respond to adversity in their life. Creating a positive attitude gives you more control over your circumstances. By staying positive, it means you can make the most out of your life no matter what gets thrown in your direction. – Emma Barker

Being part of a baying mob, for that is what much of our modern commentary has been reduced to, isn’t brave and nor is it radical.

Standing up to them is. – Damien Grant

It is stupid and dangerous. But, we are on private property and we’re just having a bit of fun.

No-one has got too hurt yet … we are not stupid about it. – Patrick Ens

The first challenge is that urban New Zealand does not understand the extent to which our national wealth depends on the two pillars of dairy and tourism.  Yes, there are other important industries such as kiwifruit and wine, and yes, forestry, lamb and beef are also very important. But rightly or wrongly, our population has been growing rapidly, and the export economy also has to keep growing. There is a need for some big pillars.

Somehow, we have to create the exports to pay for all of the machinery, the computers, the electronics, the planes, the cars, the fuel and the pharmaceuticals on which we all depend. . . Keith Woodford

Believe passionately enough in something and you’ll be shouting at the younger generation well into your eighties. – AnnaJones

We realise that Pharmac has a budget, but there seems to be a never ending open budget for welfare. New Zealand surely isn’t so broke that we have to pick and choose who we let live and who we let die. But that is currently where we find ourselves.Allyson Lock

The problem with numbers is that they don’t fudge.They’re definite. Exact. Numbers don’t lie. But people lie.People fudge. People lie about numbers. People fudge numbers. But numbers are the truth.  . .

I think there’s a political lesson here for this government. Watch the numbers or your number’s up. – Andrew Dickens

My take away from all this is that referendums do have a place, even binding ones. But it is best to call on these when the issues are clear and easily understood by everyone in the community. Brexit or not might have seemed clear at the time, driven as it was mainly by fears of uncontrollable immigration across the Channel. But it was not of this genre. As Oscar Wilde remarks: ‘The truth is rarely pure and never simple’. In such cases, perhaps best leave it to parliaments. That way we’ll know who to blame it if all goes wrong.Professor Roger Bowden

All kinds of wild ideas that are untested and are demonstrably bad for them and demonstrably wrong – these ideas can spread like wildfire so long as they are emotionally appealing. Social media and other innovations have cut the lines that previously would have tethered the balloon to Earth, and the balloon has taken off. – Jonathon Haidt

Pettiness is on the increase, too, in the constant calling-out of sometimes-casual language that was never intended to offend or harass, and even may have been written or uttered with well-meaning intent. – Joanne Black

Why then did I leave Greenpeace after 15 years in the leadership? When Greenpeace began we had a strong humanitarian orientation, to save civilization from destruction by all-out nuclear war. Over the years the “peace” in Greenpeace was gradually lost and my organization, along with much of the environmental movement, drifted into a belief that humans are the enemies of the earth. I believe in a humanitarian environmentalism because we are part of nature, not separate from it. The first principle of ecology is that we are all part of the same ecosystem, as Barbara Ward put it, “One human family on spaceship Earth”, and to preach otherwise teaches that the world would be better off without us. Patrick Moore

There were rituals, prayer every night, communal eating, some adults staying at home looking after children while others went to work.

Looking back, it was one of the sweetest memories for me. It was a very secure, loving home with lots of uncles and aunts, and no shortage of cousins to play with. There wasn’t a lot of money, but an abundance of aspiration. – Agnes Loheni

We need to be 90 per cent women. Not 46 per cent women. – Jill Emberson  (speaking on the inequity of funding research for ovarian cancer)

These messages of envy and hopelessness—messages that lead to an insidious victim mentality and that are perpetuated by those who say they care more and are genuinely concerned for the communities I grew up in—lead to an outcome that is infinitely worse than any hard bigot or racist could ever hope to achieve. To take hopes and dreams away from a child through good intentions conflicts with the messages of aspiration, resilience, and compassion that I and my Pasefika community were exposed to as we grew up. That soft bigotry of low expectation is the road to hell laid brick by brick with good intentions.

Hope, resilience, compassion—these are the only messages that have any chance of succeeding and changing our course toward a better New Zealand. These values are not exclusive to my migrant parents; they are New Zealand’s values. They fit hand-in-glove with our Kiwi belief in hard work, enterprise, and personal responsibility. Agnes Loheni

Politics is an odd kind of game that sometimes requires a ruthless self-interest and at others altruistic self-sacrifice. It’s a patchwork of ideals and deals, virtue and vice, gamble and calculation. – Tim  Watkin

Small business would pay the costs, large business would spend thousands avoiding the costs and tax advisors and valuers would have a field day. AndrewHoggard

 There are limits, even to the immodesty of the self-proclaimed First Citizen of the Provinces, the wandering bard with the bag of pūtea, bestowing largesse on the forgotten hamlets of Aotearoa. – Guyon Espiner

Once we recover from our grief, do we slide back into being passively a “good” country? To simply “not be racist” when what is required of us is to be outspoken “anti-racists”? I don’t want thoughts and prayers. What I want to see is bold leadership, standing up and uniting in this message: that hate will not be allowed to take root and triumph here. And to then act on that message. I need us all to be courageous and really look inwards at the fears, judgment and complacence we may have allowed into our hearts, and look outward to demand a change in the conversation. And to be that change. Saziah Bashir

Words matter because when we isolate groups of people who don’t make up the majority of those we see, we turn them into “others”. And when we turn them into others we dehumanise them and make it easier to commit harm against them. – David Cormack

Being right wing to me means believing in free market ideals, open immigration where skills are needed, free trade and access to international markets, as little government intervention as possible and having the best people in your country to help your country become better. It means more opportunity for hard working immigrants. Quite often we ARE those bloody immigrants!

It’s not about closed borders. It’s not about denying people opportunity to build their businesses if they’re hard working and wish to contribute to a country. It’s not about wounding and killing people in places of prayer or on the streets. – Cactus Kate

New Zealand can never succeed, on any measure, by cowering behind a wall. Not just our economic destiny but our national identity depends on us maintaining the sense of adventure that brought us all here and extending manaakitanga to those who want to join us, visit us, do business with us, or take a holiday or study here.

Those of us who believe in these things should no longer reject the term neo-liberal, so often used as abuse, but reclaim it. What is the alternative: to be old conservatives? The political right needs to get back on track. – Matthew Hooton

We are broken-hearted, but we are not broken. We are alive, we are together, we are determined to not let anyone divide us.

To the families of the victims your loved ones did not die in vain, their blood has watered the seeds of hope. – Gamal Fouda

We like to tell our food story and we have terms like market research and consumer behaviour that help us as we pick what to produce and how. Put simply, what we’re really doing is asking what does that person want and how can we make them happy? We’re seeking understanding. We’re listening to people we don’t know as much about. We could use more of that in our everyday lives right now. – Bryan Gibson

Wise politicians pick no unnecessary fights that focus people on differences instead of on values they share.StephenFranks

The way I’ve looked at married life is this – You make your bed, you lay in it.

“You get married and you think everything is a long tar-sealed road that is beautiful.

“And after a few years, you get a few potholes. And if you don’t fix the potholes, they get bigger.

“You have to keep fixing them. – Jack van Zanten

NZ First feels like the stumbling, drunk boyfriend that the cool girl brought to the party. She’s too good for him, and everyone can suddenly see it.  – Heather du Plessis-Allan:

 It was never clear to me whether anyone was doing anything useful or just pretending to do stuff to feel better about ourselves. How do you actually make the world a better place? – Danyl Mclauchlan

Social media and the changed nature of other media have obscured the capacity and need for real conversation. Ideas are not contested civilly, rather people are attacked, falsehoods multiply. Our evolution as social animals required mechanisms for group consensus and group rules. Democracy is a manifestation of that social dynamic and works best when publics are informed not manipulated,and can have a civil contest of worldviews, values and ideas informed by robust evidence. –  Sir Peter Gluckman

I worry there is a drive to sanitise life. When the end gets difficult, we are saying, right, that’s enough, let’s cut it short. There are alternatives. There are other choices to ameliorate suffering of all types. Assisted death is not necessary.

How we die says a lot about our society. Having held a few hands of the dying, I know that those moments are sacred. I didn’t swear the oath of first doing no harm, to then participate in an activity with multiple harmful effects to both the living and the dying.  – Hinemoa Elder

Reasoned communication is the way across the divide of difference. It requires leaving the past and its animosities behind. But this is very difficult. The past gives us a sense of security and belonging. The institutions of modern society which unite us don’t have the same pulling power as the rallying cries of the isms. No wonder ethnic nationalisms, nativisms, and populisms with their ‘us not you’ and ‘our culture not yours’ are winning out. Unexamined belief is more satisfying than reason – and its easier.  – Elizabeth Rata 

People’s wellbeing, even their lives, are at risk while well-meaning people make statements based on inappropriate and flawed research. – Jacqueline Rowarth

Only around 20 per cent of the population lives in the countryside, and decisions are being made about them and for them by predominantly urban people, many of whom have little understanding or empathy for their rural neighbours. – Dr Margaret Brown

Such is the far left’s belief in their own moral superiority that, while they point the finger of blame at others with alacrity, they appear to lack the self-awareness and self-reflection that would lead them to at least wonder whether they themselves are complicit in contributing to a divisive and hateful society. – Juliet Moses

I want to turn to our Māori people, because I believe it is time to switch your political allegiance back to yourself, to your own tino rakatirataka. The political tribalism of saying we only vote for the party is not doing us any favours. You must demand on every politician that walks across your marae ātea that they show you the proof of their commitment to working hard for you before you give them your vote, because talk is cheap, whānau. Actions, ringa raupā—the callused hands—those are what spoke loudly to our conservative tīpuna, and it is time to demand politicians show you their calloused hands, their ringa raupā, as evidence of what they have achieved for you. – Nuk Korako

However, the real danger to meddling in our sound and proven speech laws is that institutions, agencies and interest groups with their own social and political agendas will likely have a disproportionate influence that is not in the national interest. There will be some whose sole intent is to undermine the free speech we already enjoy. – Joss Miller 

It’s easy to take it for granted that we are mostly led by politicians who are motivated to do their best by us; one look around the world today shows us how easily it could be different.

Politics in New Zealand has undoubtedly become more tribal since I started but beneath the rhetoric the differences are really not so great.

I leave here firmly believing there are no good guys or bad guys; the various parties may have different solutions to the same problems but fundamentally there is the same will to solve the problems. – Tracy Watkins

I realised two things that day. I would never, ever, let anyone I cared for enter a life of politics – and that politicians bleed, just like the rest of us. In the years since, I’ve tried to remember the power of words to hurt. – Tracy Watkins

My clear thrust in politics has been around … actually what we’ve just seen in Australia, what ScoMo called the ‘quiet Australians’, they’re here in New Zealand too. All they really want from a government is a strong economy, good public services and for us to get out of the way, and let them get on with their families, and that’s what drives me – Simon Bridges

I don’t think we do anyone any favours by pretending it’s easy, because it isn’t. I don’t think you can have everything all at once. – Linda Clark

It is the private sector that will do the heavy lifting. Nothing will happen unless and until the owners of companies take the decision to invest more, hire more people, and take a risk on economic opportunitySteven Joyce

The more you pay people, the fewer people you can afford to pay. Unless of course you sell more, and you only sell more if people feel good about buying. – Mike Hosking

I am living the way my forefathers lived, who left the footprint for me. It was good enough for my people, for my parents, my grandparents, who bought the house in 1887 – it is a tribute to them. – Margaret Gallagher

If I won the lottery, I would still live here. I am a rural rooted spinster. – Margaret Gallagher

Preachers of tolerance and inclusion must no longer seek to silence and condemn those with opinions that make them uncomfortable but are nevertheless opinions based on another person’s own beliefs and values systems. While we need to stay vigilant and investigate people who post offensive material online, we need to be equally concerned about any move in this House to restrict freedom of speech, a move which has all too often been used by those in power to silence those with differing opinions or ideas. This doctrine, peddled by those who pretend to be progressive, asserts that the mere expression of ideas itself is a limitation on the rights of others. This is preposterous. We must always run the risk of being offended in the effort to afford each citizen their freedom of expression, their freedom to be wrong, and, yes, unfortunately, even nasty. We must let the punishment of those with hateful messages be their own undoing.  Paulo Garcia

 It’s a blunt instrument that doesn’t always work, but parents love and understand their children. They are uniquely placed to make them see sense and not rush off with some jezebel or fall pregnant to some ageing lothario.

Welfare is a merino-covered sledge hammer that smashes these traditional bonds. Teenagers are freed from the financial constraints of their family and can turn to a new parent, the state, who will not judge, lecture, or express disappointment in their life decisions. . .

When you design a system that disenfranchises parents and undermines families you are rewarded with a cohort of lost children and will, in a few short years, find yourself taking babies off teenagers who are unfit to be parents. Damien Grant

Pasture-based New Zealand dairy production is the most carbon efficient dairy farming system in the world. In fact, you can ship a glass of New Zealand milk to the next most efficient country (Ireland) and drink it there and it still has a lower carbon footprint than an equivalent Irish glass of milk. – Nathan Penny

Kids are kids. PARENTING has changed. SOCIETY has changed. The kids are just the innocent victims of that. Parents are working crazy hours, consumed by their devices, leaving kids in unstable parenting/co-parenting situations, terrible media influences … and we are going to give the excuse that the KIDS have changed? What did we expect them to do? Kids behave in undesirable ways in the environment they feel safest.

They test the water in the environment that they know their mistakes and behaviours will be treated with kindness and compassion. For those “well-behaved” kids – they’re throwing normal kid tantrums at home because it’s safe. The kids flipping tables at school? They don’t have a safe place at home. Our classrooms are the first place they’ve ever heard ‘no’, been given boundaries, shown love through respect. – Jessica Gentry

In a nation like ours, immigration is a kind of oxygen, each fresh wave reenergizing the body as a whole. As a society, when we offer immigrants the gift of opportunity, we receive in return vital fuel for our shared future. – L. Rafael Reif

We should be very wary of underplaying the progress and successes we’ve already made as food producers and custodians of the land.  If we pay too much attention to the critics, it saps motivation and puts more stress on the shoulders of farmers and their families. – Katie Milne

The opportunities in the agri-food sector are endless, even if you live in the city. You just have to be passionate – James Robertson

The choice really is clear. Do we want to be remembered in the future for being the generation that overreacted and spent a fortune feeling good about ourselves but doing very little, subsidising inefficient solar panels and promising slight carbon cuts — or do we want to be remembered for fundamentally helping to fix both climate and all the other challenges facing the world? – Bjorn Lomborg

My starting point for this with public health is very simple, I do not plan to be the moral police, and will not tell people how to live their lives, but I intend to help people get information that forms the basis for making choices. – Sylvi Listhaug

Pastoral agriculture is a pretty simple and slick system. We turn a natural resource that we can’t eat (grass) into something we can eat (meat and milk) with grazing animals. The land we (the world) use to do this is, by and large, not suitable for the production of sugar or the other 40 ingredients needed for cultured meat. Or, for the ingredients required in the less-terrifying, but no-less-processed plant-based “meats”.

Some people can’t stand the thought of an animal being killed for their food. So be it. Let them eat cake… or felafel. But, when it comes to meat, there is no substitute for the simplicity and safety of the real deal. – Nicola Dennis

But at times like this the public more than ever look to the media for impartial coverage. Is it too much to expect that journalists set aside their personal views and concentrate instead on giving people the information they need to properly weigh the conflicting arguments and form their own conclusions? –Karl du Fresne

Governments who are put in place by voters to help those that have been missing out enact policies that ensure those people keep missing out.

And those same Governments store up economic imbalances that bring real risks for our collective future security. All for the sake of short-term policies that appear popular in the here and now. – Steven Joyce

The whole idea of tearing the heart out of a nation’s economy to reduce methane emissions from livestock is an unbelievable display of scientific, technological and economic ignorance. It goes far beyond simply not knowing or being mistaken.  It is profound ignorance compounded by understanding so little it is not even possible to recognise one’s own ignorance which is then made malignant by thinking it must be imposed on everyone else for their own good. – Walter Starck

Everyone that’s being fired and publicly embarrassed about a misdemeanor and being called a Nazi — there are real Nazis who are getting away with it. This must be amazing for real racists to be out there, and going, “It’s all right, everyone’s a racist now, this is a great smokescreen, we’ve got people out there calling people who aren’t Nazis, Nazis. . . . They don’t know the real Nazis from people who said the  wrong thing once!” . . . It plays into the hands of the genuinely bad people. – Ricky Gervais

I get the equality movement – it’s valid and important. But I also know the dangers, firsthand, that mindset can play if we encourage everyone to see themselves as the same, instead of embrace the differences God intentionally created us with.

I have been more successful as a professional, a wife and a friend once I learned to embrace myself as different, not equal.  – Kate Lambert

The creation of wealth should not be confused with the creation of money and the amount of money in circulation at any given point. – Henry Armstrong

For me, it was South Island farmer Sean Portegys who articulated best what so many farmers are feeling – he told me that in a drought, you don’t despair because it’s always going to rain. In a snowstorm, the sun will come out eventually. When prices are bad, and he said they’d just gone through a rough patch a few years ago, it’s always going to come right eventually. The problem is now, he said, the situation that farmers are facing is a lack of hope. He says he just doesn’t see a future in what he’s doing. And if farmers don’t see a future, then the future of New Zealand Inc looks bleak. –  Kerre McIvor

The problem is, if you propose a set of rules that are unachievable you don’t get community buy-in and if you don’t get community buy-in, you don’t actually make any progress,- David Clark

There are no perfect human societies or human systems or human beings.  But that shouldn’t stop us celebrating our past, our heritage, our culture –  the things that, by opening to the world, made this country, for all its faults and failings and relative economic decline in recent decades, one of the more prosperous and safe countries on earth. – Michael Reddell

The productivity commission says – in a much nicer way than this – that most councillors are a bunch of useless numpties with no understanding of governance of finance, and so really aren’t capable of handling the big stuff. – Tina Nixon

If you cannot even state an opponent’s position in order to illustrate the benefit of arguing with that opponent, then free speech is over. Because no dialogue then is possible. Professor Jim Flynn

Freedom of speech is important because it is a contest of ideas.

When you forbid certain ideas, the only way you can be effective is by being more powerful. So it becomes a contest of strength. If you shut ’em up, not only does that make it a matter of `might makes right’, you haven’t proved that your views are more defensible, you’ve just proved that you are stronger. Further, that must be the worst formula for finding truth that’s ever been invented. It’s either a contest of ideas or a contest of strength. Professor Jim Flynn

 A free society cannot allow social media giants to silence the voices of the people. And a free people must never, ever be enlisted in the cause of silencing, coercing, cancelling or blacklisting their own neighbours. Professor Jim Flynn

People have to grow up. Being educated is getting used to hearing ideas that upset you. – Professor Jim Flynn

I see precautionary investment against climate change as equivalent in political decision-making, to expenditure on defence. Both require spending for highly uncertain benefit. No one can know whether we genuinely have an enemy who will attack. No one can know if our precautions will be effective. Hopefully the investment will be untested. We can’t know until afterwards whether it is wasted. Yet it is rational to try, because the catastrophe could be so overwhelming if the risk matures without resilience or mitigation precautions.

But such investment remains foolish if it is unlikely reduce CO2 levels materially, or to improve New Zealand’s ability to cope if change happens nevertheless. Given NZ’s inability to affect the first, an insurance investment should focus primarily on resilience. The Zero Carbon Bill does neither. So my government is wasting the elite political consensus that ‘something must be done”. Instead they’re conspicuously trumpeting their “belief” in climate change, and their intentions to act. If the law is enforced it will likely increase emissions overseas, and not influence foreign governments to mitigate the risk, who can affect the outcome. – Stephen Franks

The brute facts of New Zealand history suggest that if it’s blame Maori and Pakeha are looking for, then there’s plenty to go around. Rather than apportion guilt, would it not be wiser to accept that the Pakeha of 2019 are not – and never will be – “Europeans”? Just as contemporary Maori are not – and can never be again – the Maori who inhabited these islands before Cook’s arrival. Would it not, therefore, be wiser to accept, finally, that both peoples are victims of historical forces too vast for blame, too permanent for guilt?Chris Trotter

As I have gone through my horrible journey, I have realised why ovarian cancer support doesn’t gain the kind of traction that breast cancer does. It is because we are small in number, and we die really quickly, so we don’t have the capacity to build up an army of advocates. With breast cancer, there is a lot more women who get it, therefore they can build and build their army of advocates and they are able to raise more money, get more research, and get better outcomes, so they live longer. We need the support of breast cancer survivors. We need them to link arms with us to grow our army for ovarian cancer, which will then help us get more funding fairness. Funding leads to research, and research leads to longer lives. – Jill  Emberson

This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re politically woke, and all that stuff — you should get over that quickly. The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws. People who you are fighting with may love their kids and share certain things with you. – Barack Obama

I can’t make people not afraid of black people. But maybe if I show up every day as a human, a good human, maybe that work will pick away at the scabs of your discrimination. –Michelle Obama

In South Africa, pressure is not having a job or if one of your close relatives is murdered. In South Africa there are a lot of problems, which is pressure. – Rassie Erasmus

We shouldn’t subsidise the smelter.  Rather we should stop forcing Southlanders to subsidise Aucklanders.  We should also revert to a more gradual water plan that gives farmers time to adapt, and we should let Southland retain control of SIT.  Then we should get out of the way and let the sensible practical Southlanders get on with making a success of their province. – Steven Joyce

All of us face trials and tribulations. No-one always wins, in the end we all lose. We lose friends, marriages, money, get anxious, our bodies break down, our minds go, and then we die. Isn’t life great?

But actually, isn’t living also a lot of highs? Births, marriages, beaches, trips abroad, friends, sporting victories, pets, pay increases, leaves sprouting in spring, fish and chips on a sunny day. – Kevin Norquay

You’ve got to come up with some kind of middle ground where you do reasonable things to mitigate the risk and try at the same time to lift people out of poverty and make them more resilient. We shouldn’t be forced to choose between lifting people out of poverty and doing something for the climate. Kerry Emanuel

Knowledge in long-term memory is not a nice-to-have. Rather, it is an integral part of mental processing without which our working memories (which can hold only about four items at a time) become quickly overloaded. – Briar Lipson

None of it convinces me from my position that there is no “I” in meat but if you look closely you will find the words me and eat.  That should be good enough to convince tree huggers and hippies that they should be switching back to natural. – Cactus Kate

It [managerialism] undermines the ability of state services to help citizens, but empowers it to infantilise us.

We’re discouraged from acting on our own, and forced to bow to experts. Yet systems and fancy talk prevent experts taking substantive action for fear of career, safety, or arbitrary consequences for taking the “wrong” action. In these environments, there are no career prospects for heroes.  Mark Blackham

It used to be that people joined the Labour Party to make their lives better off. Now they join to make someone else’s life better off. – Josie Pagani

If all the new Tory voters wanted was more from the state and more lecturing on how to live their lives, they would have voted for Labour. These voters want a hand up, not a handout. If you give people things and make them reliant upon the state then next time they will vote for those who will give them more things. – Matthew Lesh

. . .It matters because the still-cherished principles of secular humanism, which continue to inspire the multitude of moral arbiters who police social media, come with provenance papers tracing them all the way back to a peculiar collection of Jews and Gentiles living and writing in the Roman Empire of 2,000 years ago. Ordinary human-beings who gathered to hear and repeat the words of a carpenter’s son: the Galilean rabbi, Yeshua Ben-Joseph. Words that still constitute the core of the what remains the world’s largest religious faith –  Christianity.

It matters, also, because, to paraphrase Robert Harris, writing in his latest, terrifying, novel The Second Sleep: when morality loses its power, power loses its morality. Chris Trotter

Whatever the reasons, it saddens me that the spiritual dimension of Christmas has withered as it has. Because the nativity story literally marks the beginning of a faith which, whatever the woke folk may say, is a core piece of our heritage and the foundation of our morals, manners and laws. For that reason alone, it has a place on Christmas DayJim Hopkins


It’s about trust

September 11, 2019

Who do you believe?

Heather du Plessis-Allan says we must question the PM’s honesty:

. . .She told media yesterday: ”I was informed in the very beginning that the allegations made were not sexual.”

She told RNZ this morning that she found out yesterday.

“The first I’ve seen the complaints of that nature was when I read then.” Asked when that was, she said “When I saw them in the Spinoff.”

That is very hard to believe. This has been reported in the media for the last five weeks.

If you believe that yesterday was the first the Prime Minister heard of this, then you must believe that the Prime Minister of this country does not watch, read or listen to the news reported in this country.

That she for the last five weeks has missed every bulletin, newspaper and programme that mentioned the fact this guy is alleged to have committed a sexual crime. . .

And also believe she doesn’t have staff who monitor the media and make sure she knows what she needs to know.

 . . . You have to also believe that the Prime Minister didn’t ask what allegation was so serious that a staffer in her office stopped coming to work five weeks ago.

You also have to square it with this comment she made yesterday in her press conference”:

“A month ago I visited New Zealand [Labour Party] Council. Very seriously shared my view that they were not the appropriate place to undertake inquiries around concerning behaviour of members of the Labour Party. But particularly they are not the appropriate place to ever undertake an investigation into a sexual assault. And that would be their view too.”  

Why would she say to the Labour Party council that they were not the right people to investigate an alleged sex crime, if she didn’t know the allegations were of a sex crime?

Because she did. She did know.

On the 6th of August, one day after the story broke in the media, Mike Hosking raised it with her right here on this station.

He asked her: “How many people have quit your party as a result of this investigation into this bloke who may or may not have sexual assaulted someone?”

Her response was: “I’m going to be very careful answering that question Mike because this is an inquiry and work is still underway and it is still a party matter.”

Exactly when the Prime Minister knew is important for a bunch of reasons.

Did she fail in her duty of care to staffers and volunteers?  Was this supposed to be covered up? But mostly it’s important because this is now about her integrity

It’s becoming increasingly hard to believe her version of events, and possibly this is the first time that we’ve had reason to question Jacinda Ardern’s honesty.

It’s not just about her integrity, It’s about trust.

It’s about the trust the people making serious allegations, and they are still allegations, put in the Labour Party to deal with them properly, and that their trust was abused.

It’s about the trust we ought to be able to have that when questioned about serious matters the PM would tell the truth.

And because, if she genuinely believes she didn’t know, it’s about trust in her and her office’s competence.

Because if neither she nor her staff keep up with the media reports on serious matters, what else aren’t they doing?

In which case it’s also about the trust that we all should have in our Prime Minister, whether we like her or not, whether we voted for her or not, whether we support her or not, to do her job and to deal with serious issues properly.


Rural round-up

July 19, 2019

Warnings China won’t need logs forever :

There are warnings China won’t need New Zealand’s logs forever.

The profitability of the government’s billion trees programme is being called into question as the price of “A” grade logs falls from about 140 US dollars a tonne to 110.

CEO of forestry investor Red Stag Group Marty Verry told Heather du Plessis Allan if we’re only selling to China, eventually it won’t be worth it to chop down the trees.

“We are not the only country with a billion trees policy, and they are all targeting China. Its unrealistic to expect the demand will be there in 25 to 30 years time.” . . 

Burnout on road to success – Anne Lee:

Southland sharemilker Michael Prankerd had days when he was paralysed by fear and found himself suffering from burnout. He shared his story at SIDE and Anne Lee talked to him about how endurance running and widening the number of metrics he measures success by has helped turn that around. Photos: Megan Graham

On the outside sharemilker Michael Prankerd has always been a high achieving gogetter, ticking off progression milestones in a successful business.

But on the inside it was a different story – three years ago there was a whole different
monologue going on in his head. Michael was slowly sliding into a state where he couldn’t see joy in life and was becoming paralysed by fear and anxiety.

He was burning out. . .

Working smarter not harder :

When Jana Hocken first moved to a New Zealand dairy farm, she couldn’t believe the inefficiencies she saw.

Jana’s a business consultant who has spent her career stream-lining processes in manufacturing, defence, healthcare, rail, IT, mining and finance.

She worked for Toyota which developed what is known internationally as ‘lean manufacturing’ – systems to cut waste, cut costs and improve efficiency. . . 

MPI gives calf days go ahead – Riley Kennedy:

School calf days can go ahead this year, but with strict guidelines, the Primary Industries Ministry has decided.

“Calf club is part and parcel of rural life and I know people are looking forward to parading their pet animals from the farm,” Mycoplasma bovis eradication director Geoff Gwyn said in a letter to teachers and students.

“But because M bovis is now in New Zealand we’re asking everyone to be extra careful when our calves get close to other calves.” . .

No new coal boilers for Fonterra:

Fonterra is shaving eleven years off its coal target, as it announces a new commitment to reduce its reliance on coal.

This commitment is the latest in a series of targets the Co-operative has set as it looks to embed sustainability at the heart of everything it does.

These targets include: . .

How no deal Brexitwill devastate farming in UK – NFU president Minette Batter

HAVING spent the last two days at the Great Yorkshire Show and speaking to farmers from across the county, it’s impossible not to be impressed by their passion for their work – in an area renowned for its rolling countryside, superb food and plain speaking.

We’ve talked about everything from climate change to food waste, but of course Brexit has been a constant theme and it is abundantly clear that Britain’s rural areas are at a crossroads.

  • We know the farming industry will be most affected by Brexit, and we now face an array of possible outcomes that could result in either a thriving food and farming sector post-Brexit, or the decimation of Britain’s ability to feed itself. .

Would you like a hat with your tea?

English-born Jo Watson was so homesick for a a tea room she opened one in the middle of her home in rural Taranaki. There you’ll find crocheted blankets for knees, knitting needles to pick up, eight types of scones and crazy hats to wear.

Before Jo Watson opened her tearoom in the small Taranaki village of Urenui, she did plenty of market research – devouring as many cream teas as she could on a trip home to the UK.

Urenui is a half-hour drive north of New Plymouth and has a mix of baches and permanent homes and a strong farming base. . .


Greens go redder

April 9, 2018

If political parties had to adhere to the Trade Descriptions Act the Green Party would be called the Reds and they’ve just voted to go redder:

South Auckland-based MP Marama Davidson will join James Shaw in the role of Green Party Co-leader, after the result of the leadership contest was announced this morning in Auckland.

Ms Davidson secured 110 delegate votes. Julie Anne Genter, the Minister for Women and Associate Minister of Transport and Health, also contested the Co-leadership role and won 34 votes. . . 

The party is split between members with a radical left social and financial agenda and those whose focus is the environment.

Davidson represents the radical left side. She has a lot in common with the woman she replaced, Meteria Turei, and is more likely to reopen the wounds Turei and her departure created than heal them.

Her radical left agenda could also cause more headaches to the government her party supports.

It is also more likely to prove true Heather du Plessis-Allan’s prophesy that the party will disappear in a decade:

 

. . . If you assumed the co-leadership contest between Julie Anne Genter and Marama Davidson was simply about two women interviewing for a job, you’d be wrong. It was so much more than that.

These women are the yin and yang of the Greens. . . 

This leadership battle was really a death match over which is more important to the Greens: the environment or beneficiaries. . . 

This is why the Greens won’t last 10 years unless they make big changes. The split personality can’t go on living together. Not only is the animosity in the party too great, but not all voters who care about the environment also want to give hand outs to beneficiaries. . .

Oddly enough the biggest threat is coming from the party the Greens are mostly likely to hiss at: National.

There’s a long tradition of Blue-Greenness within the Nats and things are really starting to ramp up. In his first interviews in the job, new leader Simon Bridges couldn’t have made it clearer he plans to go greener.

Once all the other parties go green, the Greens will lose their big point of difference. And what are they when that’s gone? . . .

They’re a radical left party as shown by the small group of Young Greens who threatened to resign if Genter defeated Davidson.

Passing quickly over their disdain for democracy, there is an element of karma in that for Genter.

She called for old white men to get of boards . She is white and old (in comparison to the youth wing). But she is 38 and lost to the older (44) brown woman.


We’re not sure

August 20, 2017

Not sure exactly what Labour’s water tax is all about?

Heather du Plessis-Allan nails it:

. . .Here’s a simple summary of Labour’s water policy: we’ll charge a royalty on water use, but we’re not sure how much, we’ll give some of the money to Maori but we’re not sure how much, and we’re not sure how it’ll work but we’ll figure that out in the first 100 days of government.

There is no excuse for announcing a plan that isn’t a plan. Bottled water exports have been an issue since at least October last year, more than enough time to come up with a decent solution.

Instead, Maori have reason to worry, farmers have reason to worry and cabbage-lovers have reason to worry. . .

One thing you can be sure of – it’s bad policy, it is a threat to accepted common law that no-one owns water and it won’t improve water quality.


Quotes of the Year

December 31, 2015

“It’s part of the foundation of everything we do. It forms the frame of our existence, both in business and our values in life. It’s very powerful. For us, it’s also about being part of a small community. We’re part of the Waitaki district but at the forefront of it all is our little Papakaio community. We all grew up and went to primary school here. I met my wife in primer one. A part of the responsibility of living in a small village is that you contribute to the village. We’ve all been involved in supporting the creation of the community centre, the tennis courts, the swimming pool, all those sorts of things.Ian Hurst.

“I’m getting the opportunity to indulge in stuff I really like for this and I do really like New Zealand’s native birds, and this project means I get to draw a whole lot of them, on a cow.

“At the moment I’m drawing one of our native birds that still exist [fantail], and then I will be drawing the ones that don’t.” – Joshua Drummond

It’s not that we don’t want Kiwis to achieve success, it’s that we don’t want them to change once they’ve achieved it. Or, as my colleague put it, they can be winners, but they shouldn’t be dicks. Heather du Plessis-Allan

  “I chose a nice tight turd and threw it as far as I could.” Adam Stevens  –  on his win in the cow pat throwing competition at the inaugural Hilux NZ Rural Games.

“This is obviously not a zero-hour contract. It could perhaps be better described as a zero-payment contract — . . “ Steven Joyce

” But I can no longer be bothered getting emotionally het up about people who take a different perpsective to mine. Unless, of course, they are socialists.” – Lindsay Mitchell

“I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure. “- Oliver Sacks, professor of neurology at the New York University School of Medicine and author, on learning he has terminal cancer.

This is a Government that believes that what works for the community is what works for the Government’s books. So every time we keep a teenager on track to stay at school long enough to get a qualification or have one more person pulled off the track of long-term welfare dependency, we get an immediate saving, of course, and an immediate benefit for those individuals and for the community, and a long-term saving in taxpayers’ money – Bill English

“The nature of by-elections is it’s a very short period of time. We devoted a couple or three weeks, as the party does, to select the candidate Bit simpler for Winston; he just looks in the nearest mirror and selects himself.” Steven Joyce.

. . .  I’ve never disliked religion. I think it has some purpose in our evolution. I don’t have much truck with the ‘religion is the cause of most of our wars’ school of thought, because in fact that’s manifestly done by mad, manipulative and power hungry men who cloak their ambition in God. – Terry Pratchett

The most important steps the Government takes are those steps that support the confidence of businesses to invest and put more capital into their business, and to therefore, in the long run, be able to pay higher wages. The Government does not influence that directly. However, we can contribute by, for instance, showing fiscal restraint and persisting with  economic reform. This enables interest rates to stay lower for longer but enables businesses to improve their competitiveness and therefore their ability to pay higher wages. – Bill English

“Schools are not there merely to teach in the old words of reading, writing and arithmetic, but they’re there to transition young people, especially at high school, into the real world,” . . . – Canterbury University dean of law Dr Chris Gallivan

“I have built a confirmation bias so strongly into my own fabric that it’s hard to imagine a fact that could wonk me,” . . . . “At some level, the news has become a vast apparatus for continually proving me right in my pre-existing prejudices about the world.” – Jesse Armstrong

 ”You can’t leave a big pig in the middle of the road – it’s a bit dangerous.” An unnamed Dunedin woman whose close encounter with a pig she tried to rescue left her nursing bruises.

“Politics is not entertainment,” he says. “That’s a mistake of people who are acute followers of politics as commentators or people from within the Westminster village.

“For the voters it’s not entertainment, it’s a serious issue, it’s a serious thing that means a great deal to their lives. It is their future.” – Lynton Crosby.

. . . outside politicised bubbles, most do not think in terms of “left” and “right”. Outside the political world, most think in terms of issues to be addressed in a way that is convincing, coherent, and communicated in a language that people understand. Statistics and facts won’t win the support of millions; we’re human beings, we think in terms of empathy. Stories are more persuasive, because they speak to us emotionally. . . – Owen Jones

In the animal world there’s a miracle every day, it’s the same with humans if you just give them a chance.Dot Smith.

I sometimes feel that ‘my’ is a word that blocks love… if we thought of our children, our dog, our world, our dying oceans, our disappearing elephants, perhaps we would be able to change our mind set and work with each other to save lives, share happiness, and even save our world from the sixth great extinction which scientists fear is imminent. – Valerie Davies

I believe in smaller government.

I also believe the best way to achieve smaller government is to deliver better government. – Bill English

. . . My problem with such people is twofold. First, they believe that the perfect society is attainable only through the intervention of the state, and that this justifies laws that impinge heavily on individual choice. And second (which is closely related), they have no trust in the wisdom of ordinary people. They seem incapable of accepting that most of us are capable of behaving sensibly and in our own best interests without coercion or interference by governments and bureaucrats.  – Karl du Fresne

. . . this Government has always given credit for the stronger economy to New Zealand households and businesses, which, in the face of a recession and an earthquake, rearranged the way they operated, became more efficient and leaner, and got themselves through a very difficult period. We have always attributed the strength of the economy to the people who are the economy. – Bill English

The real test is not whether people have an opinion, it is whether they are willing to put the money up. –  Bill English

Tree and sea-changers may love the rolling hills and open spaces, but they can’t then object to the dust, smell and noise that are part of everyday life in the farming zone. – Victorian Farmers Federation president Peter Tuohey

If a trade deal threatened to wipe out a million dollar regulatory asset you owned, you’d fight it too. Just like the mafia didn’t want the end of prohibition.Eric Crampton

. . . And when we say ugly, we mean ugly from each perspective – it doesn’t mean ‘I’ve got to swallow a dead rat and you’re swallowing foie gras.’ It means both of us are swallowing dead rats on three or four issues to get this deal across the line. Tim Groser

I’ve always said worry is a wasted emotion. You have to plan for some of these things. We knew we could possibly have someone in the bin at some stage, so it’s just a matter of making sure you have everyone knowing what they have to do – Steve Hansen

“I want to enjoy this success: how could you get enough of this? We will worry about that afterwards. I just want to have a good time with a great bunch of men having played in a wonderful World Cup final. I am really proud of this team and being able to wear the jersey. If you get moments like this, why would you ever call it a day?Richie McCaw

“To think that Darren Weir has given me a go and it’s such a chauvinistic sport, I know some of the owners were keen to kick me off, and John Richards and Darren stuck strongly with me, and I put in all the effort I could and galloped him all I could because I thought he had what it takes to win the Melbourne Cup and I can’t say how grateful I am to them,” Payne told Channel Seven after the race. “I want to say to everyone else, get stuffed, because women can do anything and we can beat the world.

“This is everybody’s dream as a jockey in Australia and now probably the world. And I dreamt about it from when I was five years old and there is an interview from my school friends, they were teasing me about, when I was about seven, and I said, “I’m going to win the Melbourne Cup” and they always give me a bit of grief about it and I can’t believe we’ve done it.  . . .Michelle Payne

“We have just come 11,000 miles to congratulate the best rugby team in the world. But ladies and gentlemen, what the hell am I going to say to the Aussies next week?” Prince Charles

Here’s the thing — none of us get out of life alive. So be gallant, be great, be gracious, and be grateful for the opportunities that you have. Jake Bailey

nzherald.co.nz's photo.

 


Tweeting panel

August 8, 2015

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

It was an interesting exercise.

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

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

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

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

You can see the tweets here.


%d bloggers like this: