Award for most incompetent Minister goes to . . .

07/04/2022

Who is the government’s most incompetent Minister? There’s plenty to choose from.

Transport Minister Michael Woods is a contender for the $50 million spent on the Auckland bike bridge to nowhere and for continuing to work on the far too expensive light rail project:

While New Zealanders are in a cost of living crisis with record inflation, it is unjustifiable and irresponsible for the Government to steam ahead with their plans to build their light rail vanity project, National’s Transport spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“Documents released by Treasury today show Michael Wood’s commitment to light rail could explode to an eye watering $29.2 billion – nearly double the cost of what was announced in January, which was already a staggering amount of money at almost $15 billion.

“Treasury’s advice was scathing of the project, saying the Government should not pick a preferred option for light rail until further analysis could be undertaken – advice the Government has clearly ignored.

“Labour’s commitment to this vanity project will cost taxpayers a whopping $100 million before the next election, with no guarantee of spades being in the ground.

“The cost for this project is entirely unjustifiable and the Government needs to accept that this project is simply not worth it. Especially when New Zealanders are dealing with a cost of living crisis, which will only get worse if the Government doesn’t rein in its wasteful spending.

Kris Faafoi is a contender for the way Immigration treated families of essential workers stuck overseas and for failing to fast track residency for essential workers already here.

Immigration policies are also likely to lead to job losses in the tertiary sector:

The Government urgently needs to get international students into the country to prevent looming job losses in the tertiary sector, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Penny Simmonds says.

“Universities and polytechnics are currently considering staff redundancies as a way of coping with declining enrolments this year.

“Labour is allowing 5000 international students into the country next month – but universities and polytechnics can only access 2150 students, or 43 per cent, with the remainder of students heading to high schools, Private Training Establishments and English language schools.

“This will do little to ease the urgent staffing issues facing the sector.

“Given that student visas are currently taking Immigration New Zealand three months to process, students applying in April won’t be processed in time for semester two, putting further stress on our valuable tertiary teaching staff.

On top of that, international research now shows New Zealand is falling out of favour with international students, being ranked last among the major English-speaking education destinations in a survey of more than 10,000 people from 93 countries.

“And the effects are obvious – according to the Ministry of Education in 2019, New Zealand had about 22,000 fulltime international students paying total tuition fees of $562 million. The figures for 2021 and 2022 are estimated to be 70 per cent of that 2019 figure.

“The Government must explain what the rational is for limiting international student numbers, our fourth biggest export earner, when the border is reopening.

“It is appalling that this Government has allowed international education in this country to decline to this level. We must act urgently to prevent further deterioration in this sector and that means not restricting international student numbers coming here.” . .

He’s also fallen short as Justice Minister:

Victims of crime missed out on support they were entitled to because Justice Minister Kris Faafoi failed to sign off the criteria for a $3 million victim support fund for more than five months after the fund was announced, National’s Justice spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“Earlier this month it was revealed that zero victims were supported by the fund announced in Budget 2021, despite applications being open since July 2021.

“Labour was content to let Victim Support take the blame for this lack of delivery, but it turns out Minister Faafoi didn’t bother to sign off the eligibility criteria until November 2021 – more than five months after the fund was announced and four months after applications opened.

Rather than letting Victim Support take the rap, Minister Faafoi should have fessed up that his incompetence is the real reason why victims are missing out on support the Government promised them.

“Governments spend months finalising the Budget every year so he would have known well in advance that this fund would be open for applications from July. What is his excuse for doing nothing for over five months to ensure victims could access the support? 

“Even worse, the Police Minister has conceded agencies who are meant to advise victims of support they are entitled to were not provided information about the fund until February 2022. . .

That Police Minister Potu Williams is another contender for the silence when police were facing the protesters at parliament, silence over repeated examples of policing by consent that let gangs disregard lockdown rules and terrorise the law abiding while doing it; and her refusal to allow National police spokesman Mark Mitchell to meet the Commissioner or district commanders:

. . . He said: “I don’t think she’s [Williams is] very good at her job and I don’t think she’s across her portfolio, but for her now to use her political power and position in government to start blocking me from meetings – that’s Third World stuff … she may as well go and join the Cabinet in Somalia.” . . 

Trumping that is her denial of an increase in gang violence:

. . .Mitchell asked Williams in Parliament on Wednesday if gang violence had increased or decreased under her watch, to which she replied: “I reject the premise of that question.”  . . .

And this:

Then there’s waste in health with expired vaccines:

Thousands of meningococcal vaccines have been left to expire instead of being given to those most at risk, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“It has been revealed that 17,122 meningococcal vaccines have expired in the last two years, at a cost of $1.6 million, and who knows how many lives.

“The Ministry of Health has a strict eligibility criteria for the meningococcal vaccine, but these vaccines that were left unused could have been made available to those most at risk, to help protect them from this deathly disease.

“The lost opportunity to protect people is a tragedy and that $1.6 million that ended up being wasted could have been spent on other areas of health that desperately need it.

“Last week a meningitis petition was presented to Parliament, pleading to the Government to fund vaccines against the disease. This news will be a cold comfort to those petition supporters.

“This is becoming a concerning pattern of behaviour from Health Minister Andrew Little who has already wasted $8 million worth of measles vaccines in a botched catch-up campaign, and now he can add this one to the growing list.

“Minister Little needs to commit to making expiring meningococcal vaccines available to primary care for use inside and outside of the strict criteria to avoid a tragedy like this happening again.” . .

And the botched measles programme costing $1900 per person:

The botched $20 million measles vaccine catch-up programme is worse than it appears, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“The other week it was revealed that $8 million of measles vaccines were left unused and had expired.

“However, information shows that only 11,206 people of the targeted 300,000 received the vaccine – representing a cost of nearly $1900 per person and reaching only 3 per cent of the targeted population.

“It was also revealed that Labour spent $1.8 million on public relations to frame a campaign ‘with a particular focus on Māori and Pacific people’, yet only 1181 Māori received the vaccine – a PR cost of $1,500 per person.

“Worse still, to date the programme costs show that $2.2 million has been spent on public relations while only $1.61 million was spent on actually delivering the vaccine to Māori.

“Andrew Little seems more interested in PR and spin than actually delivering measles vaccinations to Māori.

“The list of health failures is mounting under Andrew Little’s watch. He failed to deliver any extra ICU beds during a global pandemic, has completely missed every health target set and now he can add a botched measles campaign to his growing list.”

The government put so much effort, and spent so much money, justifying locking us down and persuading us to get vaccinated so that the health system wasn’t over whelmed yet did little or nothing to retain existing staff and recruit more.

That’s left  hospitals understaffed and health professionals overworked :

Their employers have warned them not to speak out but nurses say they won’t be silenced. Overworked and understaffed, they’ve told Sunday that they’ve had enough of a health system under real pressure.

The Omicron surge hasn’t helped, but there was a serious nursing shortage long before Covid struck, and now burnout and resignations are high while the pandemic shut off the supply of overseas nurses.

Nurses still on the job worry patient safety may suffer because they are so short-staffed.

Is the government listening?

No it’s not. Instead it’s going ahead with the complete restructure of the health system that will do nothing to improve pay and conditions for health professionals and nothing to improve services, and outcomes, for patients.

That would be bad enough at the best of times. In the middle of a pandemic it’s a complete waste of scarce funds and people’s focus.

While on health and the pandemic lets not forget the shortage of PPE, the delay in securing vaccines which left the rollout starting late and the RATs debacle.

Then there’s paying more and getting less in several areas.

Carmel Sepuloni has overseen an increase in MSD staff and deterioration in performance:

Our welfare system is less responsive than ever as phone wait times for the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) surge, National’s Social Development and Employment spokesperson Louise Upston says.

“Whether it’s superannuitants, students, people out of work, or a family who needs help to cope with soaring living costs, New Zealander’s deserve timely answers from the department responsible of administering the welfare system.

“Since 2017, the number of MSD staff answering calls has increased from 650 to 1220 people, yet the average wait time has also increased from 4 to 18 minutes, even reaching close to 40 minutes some weeks this year.

“That’s an 88 per cent increase in staff numbers, a large deterioration in performance and no better outcomes for Kiwis.  

“Appallingly, some people have waited longer than three hours while others have reported it took weeks to receive a call back.

“The cost of living crisis has increased demand for hardship grants and there is almost an extra 50,000 people on the unemployment benefit, which means preparations should have been made to cope with more inquiries.

“New Zealander’s deserve a better service given the substantial taxpayer dollars poured into MSD. Simply increasing staff numbers is not going to cut it.

“Minister Sepuloni needs to hold MSD accountable for their plummeting performance and ensures it fulfils its core responsibility to answer New Zealander’s questions and help people access their entitlements.”

Corrections is spending more money on prisoners with worse outcomes:

Taxpayers are spending more money on prisoners, yet violent crime continues to go up, National’s Corrections spokesperson Simon O’Connor says.

“New Zealand taxpayers are now spending $151,000 per prisoner, per year – an increase of over $30,000 per prisoner from 2018/19.

“Overall, there has been an increase of $139 million poured into the Corrections system over the period between 2018/19 and 2020/21, despite fewer prisoners.

“At the same time, there has been a steep decline in the number of prisoners accessing rehabilitation services. Prisoners accessing alcohol and drug programmes alone has dropped from 6311 in 2015/16 to 1065 in 2019/20 – a decrease greater than the drop in prisoner numbers.

“More money is being spent, but we’re getting worse outcomes.

“Rehabilitation is a key way for prisoners to turn their lives around, but in 2019/20 the number of prisoners taking part in rehabilitation programmes plummeted to 2399, from 5845 in 2015/16.

“It can hardly be a surprise then that violent crime is up 21 per cent since 2017, as reported by the Salvation Army, and that we have one of the highest recidivism rates in the OECD.

“This is typical for a Government who are experts at spending taxpayer money with no expectation of results.

“On top of this, Labour is taking soft-on-crime approach which is clearly not working.

“Without effective rehabilitation, re-imprisonment rates and violence will only keep climbing.”

And more is being spent on mental health for no positive results:

The mental health monitoring report out today shows that the Government’s $1.9 billion investment in mental health has delivered no benefit to Kiwis, National’s Mental Health spokesperson Matt Doocey says.

“This is emblematic of a Government that is all spin and no delivery. Labour’s only measure of success is how much it spends on things. But it needs to be about the outcomes that we achieve for New Zealanders.

“The report released today by the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission reinforces what many mental health groups and services have been telling me for some time – that they’re not seeing any of the money promised for mental health and can’t point to where it’s gone.

“They have been raising these concerns with the Government for months about staff shortages and growing waiting lists, but have not received a response.

“The findings in the report also show that our specialist services are facing increased demand since the beginning of the pandemic, especially from younger people seeking mental health support.

“The Government says it has invested in the sector, yet services are harder to access. They must explain where the money has gone and why it hasn’t made a difference to improving people’s mental health.

“Making announcements with good intentions isn’t going to solve the growing mental health problems that New Zealand is facing, but strong leadership and a well-managed plan to execute change will. We need targeted spending that delivers outcomes for Kiwis.”

Then there are virtue signalling environmental policies that are nothing more than taxes that increase costs but do nothing at all for the environment:

The Government’s car tax comes into force today, piling on yet another cost for Kiwis facing a cost of living crisis, National’s Transport spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“Hardworking Kiwis will be hoping that this is just an April Fool’s joke, but sadly they will still have to live with Labour’s new car tax after today.        

“The so-called ‘Clean Car Discount’ gives a rebate for expensive electric vehicles while imposing fees of thousands of dollars on many other vehicles. For example, buyers of a Toyota Hilux* will face a $5175 tax when they first register the vehicle.  

“This will have a negative impact on our farmers and tradies who need utes to do their jobs and contribute to our economic recovery.   

“The Government is penalising farmers and tradies for their choice of vehicle despite there being no viable electric ute available. Even Toyota had to correct the Prime Minister last year that it has no plans to bring an electric ute to New Zealand within the next two years.

“LDV will have an electric alternative, the EV-T60, coming from China later this year. But it is two-wheel drive and can only haul a max of 1,000 kgs for 162km. This is not enough to meet farmers’ needs, who need strength and reliability.

“While the Government gives with one hand, by temporarily reducing fuel taxes, it takes with the other by imposing the Auckland regional fuel tax, a car tax, and is now proposing a biofuels mandate which will further increase the cost of fuel. 

“All of these policies drive up the cost of living for motorists struggling to get by under rapidly rising inflation and fuel prices.

An environmental and transport failure is the train from Hamilton to Auckland:

The Te Huia train today marks its first birthday with news that it has spent more time off the tracks than on them, National’s Transport spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“There is not a lot to celebrate about this service which has failed from day one.

“Not only has the train spent more time off the tracks than on them over the past 12 months, taxpayers have poured $98 million into a service which very few people use and which takes much longer than driving between Hamilton and Auckland.

“Furthermore, research produced by the Waikato Chamber of Commerce shows that based on current passenger numbers the train actually emits more carbon emissions than someone who drives their petrol or diesel vehicle between these two cities.

“Patronage is significantly lower than what it was when the service started despite repeated calls to ‘build it and people will come’.

“This painfully slow train is simply not fit for purpose. It doesn’t achieve the outcomes that the Government claimed it would one year ago.

“The Transport Minister is so completely focussed on his legacy projects, he is prepared to waste almost $100 million of taxpayer dollars on a train that isn’t fit for purpose and hardly anyone wants to use.

“Quite frankly this is an irresponsible use of taxpayers’ money which would be better spent on extending the Waikato Expressway from Cambridge to Piarere.”  

If all this isn’t bad enough, there’s the incompetence with funding the Strategic Tourism Asset Protection Programme (STAPP) 

The Auditor General’s Report on the Strategic Tourism Asset Protection Programme (STAPP) confirmed what many businesses have been saying – that this Labour Government has been biased and unfair, National’s Tourism spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“Every tourism business in New Zealand has done it tough over the last two years and this report has shown that this Labour Government favoured some and left others to suffer.

“In May 2020 the Government and former Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis opened a $290M fund for struggling tourism businesses. When applications opened, some businesses were accepted without any evidence that they were in financial difficulty, and didn’t have to go through the same process as other businesses.

“The Government seems to believe that only Queenstown exists when it comes to tourism in New Zealand, when in reality there are tourism operators up and down the country who are suffering just as much.

“In typical Labour fashion, they simply threw money at a problem without having a well-managed plan. Current Tourism Minister Stuart Nash has blamed the uncertainty of Covid-19 for these mistakes, but the reality is they failed to think things through at a time when tourism businesses needed them most.

“New Zealanders deserve to have a Government who are responsible with their spending, but this Labour Government has proven time and time again that they cannot be trusted to make wise or fair spending decisions.

“I am calling on Minister Nash to find those funds that were given out incorrectly, take them back and redistribute them to all Kiwi tourism operators so that they can open up quickly for international tourists.”

Bryce Edwards says the report raises questions of integrity:

Was political favouritism involved in the dishing out of millions of dollars by government ministers to tourism businesses? We can’t know, because the Government didn’t keep sufficient records or have proper processes for the handouts. That’s the obvious question arising from a scathing report released by the Auditor General on Thursday, which has received far too little attention.

The Auditor General’s report investigates a scheme set up by the Government early in the Covid crisis (May 2020), called the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme. The report is one of many that have criticised government procedures during Covid for their lack of integrity. . . 

Harman draws attention to the fact that there have been a number of other reports from the Auditor General’s office that have pinged the Government for poor processes in regard to government departments dealing with private vested interests during Covid – especially the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Development.

Of course, one of the most problematic has been the multi-billion-dollar Wage Subsidy Scheme, which was seen to be poorly designed and administered.

There’s a theme building up from these reports – that of crony corporate welfare getting out of hand in recent years. This is one of the blind spots in New Zealand politics and society. Recent governments are prone to giving generous subsidies to business interests, often without any great systems of integrity or best practice. And unfortunately, the public never seems to mind much when it becomes apparent.

It could well be that New Zealand is just too eager to believe the annual Transparency International Corruption Perception Index results that show this country to be the least corrupt nation on earth. In ignoring reports such as this latest from the Auditor General, the Government is undermining that status.

On the subject of Ministerial oversight of money wasted, there’s plenty to choose from :

So much incompetence, it’s hard to choose which is worse but there’s one person who is supposed to be on top of all the portfolios and those presiding over them. That’s Jacinda Ardern.

Would any other recent Prime Minister have tolerated this litany of laxness from Ministers? Bill English, John Key, Helen Clark? No.

There’s a lot more to leadership than announcing announcements and serving word salads no matter how caring they sound.

Ensuring Ministers are up to the jobs they’re supposed to be doing and holding them to account if  and when they fall short is a very important one by which measure of competence this PM falls short.


Priorities

01/03/2022

Another Labour election promise is yet to be delivered:

A ground-breaking drug treatment programme led to a 34 per cent drop in criminal offending by people who took part, a study found, prompting calls for the Government to urgently extend the initiative nationwide.

Te Ara Oranga, or the Pathway to Wellbeing, is a partnership between the police and the Northland DHB which helps steer meth addicts towards treatment in the health system and employment, rather than the revolving door of criminal charges in the courtroom.

One of the key findings in the recent study of Te Ara Oranga was a return of at least $3 for every $1 invested, possibly up to $7, according to the evaluation report published on the Ministry of Health website in late December.

The Labour Party made an election promise in October 2020 to expand the treatment project from Northland to another 4000 families in the Bay of Plenty and the East Coast, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying “the old ways have failed us over decades”.

Struggling towns in those three regions are the worst affected by the country’s methamphetamine crisis, where the weekly per capita consumption rate of the drug can be more than double the national average, according to Herald analysis of two years of wastewater test results.

Nearly half-way through the electoral term since Labour was re-elected with an overwhelming majority, no progress had been made on the number one law and order priority, Te Ara Oranga.

Attempts to confirm a timeframe for future plans were met largely with silence from the agencies and Cabinet Ministers involved. . .

Is there anything the government could do that would have such a good return in health, social and financial terms, especially for Maori who are over represented in statistics on meth users and victims of meth users?

Manifesto Commitments are for a three-year term. We are still committed to the roll-out of Te Ara Oranga by the end of the term,” said Police Minister Poto Williams in a statement to the Herald last year.

She did not respond to further questions last week, but a spokeswoman for Health Minister Andrew Little said there was no further update.

This ought to be a far higher priority for attention and funding than restructuring the health system.

But a recent study of the effectiveness of Te Ara Oranga has led traditional opponents who clashed in debate over drug law reform being united in calling for the Government to make faster progress on the promised expansion.

“Te Ara Oranga is a no-brainer,” said Sarah Helm, the executive director of the New Zealand Drug Foundation.

“This evaluation shows we shouldn’t be holding back from sharing this programme in other regions impacted by methamphetamine. This is urgent and important.” . .

While the cost-benefit analysis was complicated by whether someone was a casual, moderate or heavy user of methamphetamine, the calculation suggests a return of between $3 and $7 for each dollar invested into the programme.

“In a nutshell, this report concludes that Te Ara Oranga works,” Professor Ian Lambie wrote in the foreword. Lambie is the chief science adviser on justice issues for the Prime Minister. . . .

The pilot programme in Northland was established under the previous National government.

Dr Shane Reti, the party’s health spokesman who also lives in Northland, said the recent evaluation was further confirmation of Te Ara Oranga’s successful track record.

“It’s the best meth programme in the country. It’s because of the true partnership between police and health, they’ve both got skin in the game,” said Reti.

“The real magic though, is the pou whenua. These are the people working and living in the community, with lived experience, who have now retrained in health or social work. They know how to support people going through the programme because they’ve walked down that path themselves.”

Reti said a future National government would expand Te Ara Oranga across the country, but also increase funding so the programme could provide more intensive outpatient support.

“It’s not even much money, in the scheme of things.”

Alongside National and Labour, Te Ara Oranga has also been supported by the Green Party when the pilot programme received a $4m funding injection in 2019.

Such cross-party political support for drug policy is rare, said former Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark in an opinion piece published in the Herald today.

“We have a programme here that can make a huge difference and is uniquely homegrown. The Government has some important choices to make about how to take it forward.” . .

The choices aren’t just important, they’re urgent so why the delay?

It is rare, probably unprecedented, to have support for an initiative from National, the Green Party, a former Labour Prime Minister, the police, a DHB and the Drug Foundation.

Not only do they agree on this, their support is backed up by hard data which clearly shows the need for and the benefits of the programme.

A spokesperson said the Ministry of Health was pleased with the pilot results of Te Ara Oranga and “expanding the programme is under active consideration”.

“However significant funding will need to be secured for a full roll-out of the programme,” said the spokesperson, who later clarified $38m was needed. . .

Where else could the government spend what is for it a relatively small amount of money and get a $3 to $7 return?

It is setting up a separate health authority for Maori at considerably more expense. That will benefit the well-paid people who get employed by it but no-one has been able to explain how it will lead to an improvement in services, especially to those most in need.

What does it say about government priorities that it is wasting time and money on restructuring but hasn’t got around to expanding Te Ara Oranga?


It’s us she’s not talking to

09/03/2021

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who communicates best of all?

I’m so good I pick and choose, to whom I grant my interviews.

Last week was hard, oh dearie me, someone wanted an apology.

I really need much more respect, so quick find a child so I can deflect.

There’s one in Ireland I believe, or let me tell you about mothering Neve.

I can nod and smile so sweetly to hide the fact hard questions beat me.

But I much prefer the softer asks, and wait for praise in which to bask.

The women’s mags give adoration and often global adulation.

That’s not what I get when I speak to Mike, that’s why I told him to take a hike.

 

We keep being told what a good communicator Jacinda Ardern is. That shouldn’t be a surprise when she has a degree in it.

But communication isn’t just about reading speeches and projecting warmth. It’s about being able to answer tough questions, to give firm and concrete replies not just waffle, and to deliver the message people need to hear and not just the one she wants to give.

She may have been lulled into a false sense of security by remarkable poll ratings and generally friendly, sometimes even sycophantic, reporting.

But it looks like she’s going to find out that if she bites the media, the media bites back.

Yesterday Mike Hosking told us she was no longer going to do a regular slot with him:

The Prime Minister has not been on the programme this morning, and there is a reason for that.

She is running for the hills.

She no longer wants to be on this programme each week. The somewhat tragic conclusion that is drawn is the questions she gets, the demand for a level of accountability, is a little bit tough.

Officially, her office will tell you they are re-arranging the media schedule this year and are maintaining the same number of interviews. This appears not to be true. . .Without being too unkind to some of the other players in this market, the reality is the Prime Minister enjoys a more cordial and compliant relationship. The questions are more softball. She favours a more benign pitch, where the delivery can be dispatched to the boundary more readily without the chance of an appeal. . . 

To be honest, I’m pleased. The management here, not quite as much. They argue accountability is important, and they’re right. But what I argue is the Prime Minister is a lightweight at answering tough questions. The number of times she’s fronted on this programme with no knowledge around the questions I’m asking is frightening. . . 

Those occasions are too many to be comfortable.

And then, your reaction. The two most often used lines post interview are “what was the point of that?” And “I don’t know why you bother.”

The reality is, too often it’s just noise. It’s waffle. It’s stalling. It’s filling. It’s obfuscation.

It’s a tricky scenario, she should be up for it. Any Prime Minister should be up for it. As a publicly elected official you are asked to be held to account. So, it stands to reason you, at least, put yourself up, even if you don’t enjoy it or at times struggle with the complexity or detail of the question line.

It speaks to a lack of backbone that she would want to bail and run. It also speaks to an increasingly apparent trait; they don’t handle pressure well. Last week was a very good display of that.

They say she’s willing to front on an issue-by-issue basis, so she isn’t gone forever.

As for the weekly bit, I lose no sleep. I’m just a bit disappointed she isn’t a more robust operator, or keener to defend her corner.

After all, it’s our country she’s running.

It is our country she’s running and while it’s the interviewers who are speaking to her, she’s not just speaking to them, she’s speaking to us.

They might ask questions she doesn’t want, or sometimes can’t, answer but they are asking the questions for us.

It’s called the fourth estate for a reason, it’s part of the democratic infrastructure and it’s got a job to  hold the powerful to account for us.

Heather du Plessis-Allan points out Ardern is turning her back on New Zealanders:

. . . Take out the characters involved. Take out Jacinda Ardern, take out Mike Hosking.   

This slot goes back 34 years.  Holmes, Lange, Palmer, Moore, Bolger, Shipley, Clarke, Key, English.  Those are a lot Prime Ministers prepared to front up and be held accountable.  It’s a long line of democratic history Jacinda Ardern has ended. 

I know that that it got combative between Hosking and Ardern but that’s how the big boys roll.  It’s tough at the top.  If you run the country, you should be able to take a few tough questions. 

I’ve been told a number of times that the prime minister finds the weekly round of interviews very stressful and she has herself admitted that she takes media criticism very hard.   

But it’s actually not Hosking that the PM is no longer speaking to weekly.  It’s voters: the biggest single catchment of voters listening to commercial radio in the morning.  It’s not the same to switch out NewstalkZB for a music radio station.  One is a news radio station – holding a democratic role – and the other is entertainment. 

But while I’m disappointed, I’m not surprised.  Ardern has shown a tendency to duck from tough interviews.  Recently, we’ve seen ample evidence that she’s happy to front the good stuff and make the big announcements, but when there are questions – like whether she started the pile on aimed at the KFC worker – she disappears and sends in her lieutenants. . . 

She has in the past cancelled media. I recall taking over ZB’s morning show in Wellignton.  John Key used to appear four times a year and take calls from voters.  Ardern cancelled that and appeared once in about 18 months, and refused to talk directly to voters.  

In 2018, she cancelled at the last minute her appearances on Newshub Nation and Q+A. But, she still made time to sit down with the New York Times for a soft interview in which the writer Maureen Dowd talked about her ‘fuzzy leopard slippers’.   . .  

People like to see the person behind the politician and a lot of will relate to her taking criticism hard, but she’s the Prime Minister and if she can’t take the hard questions and inevitable criticism she’s simply not up to the job.

Barry Soper calls her the accidental Prime Minister:

This rookie leader, plucked from obscurity in the lead-up to the 2017 election, was appointed by Winston Peters simply because she gave him much more than what Bill English was prepared to wear.

But she’s been confirmed by Covid, as the last election would attest to. Without Peters or Covid chances are she’d be leading the Opposition, although even that’s doubtful.

Having worked with the past 10 Prime Ministers, Jacinda Ardern would be the most removed from the media than any of them. This woman who has a Bachelor of Communications doesn’t communicate in the way any of her predecessors have.

She’s the master of soft, flattering interviews and television chat shows, blanching at tough questions.  She’s commanded the Covid pulpit to such an extent that the virus has become her security blanket; without it, she’d be forced to face the reality that her Government has been moribund.  

The Prime Minister’s press conferences usually begin with a sermon – it took eight minutes for her to get to the fact that she was moving the country down an alert level last Friday.  When it comes to question time her forearm stiffens and her hand flicks to those, she’ll take a question from.  Some of us are left barking from the side lines.

Ardern doesn’t relate to the messenger, the team of journalists who make up the parliamentary Press Gallery – they don’t know her.  

All of her predecessors got to know the parliamentary media by inviting them to their ninth floor Beehive office, at least a couple of times a year.  It puts a human face on the public performer.

Ardern has done it once, a few months after becoming the Prime Minister.     . . 

She’s a celebrity leader and she’s determined to keep it that way, which is why she’s turned her back on the Mike Hosking Breakfast Show. 

The questions were too direct, they got under her thin skin, but, more importantly, she didn’t know the answer to many of them. She was exposed on a weekly basis and it simply all became too much for her.    

In doing so she’s turned her back on the highest rating breakfast commercial radio show in the country by far and she has also turned her back of the many listeners who at the last Covid election (her description) switched their vote to her.

Leaders have in the past become exasperated with the media, and at times with good reason, but few, if any, have shied away from the tough questions.  The regular Newstalk ZB slot for Prime Ministers has been jealously guarded by them for the past 35 years.  This is the only regular slot she’s bowing out on. . .

Media 1 – Ardern 0.

Ardern’s fans will probably not be worried by this. Those who dislike her will be delighted that some of the shine has been taken off her glossy image.

It’s certainly not the end of her popularity but once you’ve got to the top there’s only one way to go, though not necessarily quickly.  When her time as Prime Minister has ended, historians and political analysts will look back at last week’s slip of the kindness mask and this serious media misstep as the time the downward slide began.


Leadership failure fosters fear

07/08/2020

Why have we become a nation of scaredy cats?

Most Kiwis want New Zealand’s borders to stay shut to non-residents, despite high-powered calls to soften restrictions to ease economic pain.

That’s according to the NZ Herald-Kantar Vote 2020 poll, suggesting 68 per cent of people think our border policy should be kept as is.

About 29 per cent thought the ban could be relaxed to allow in non-New Zealand residents and citizens, so long as they quarantined for two weeks and paid for it. . . 

People weren’t  asked if they favoured laxer border controls or imposing more costs on the taxpayer for non- New Zealand citizens and residents.

They were asked if foreigners could come in if they underwent two weeks quarantine and paid for it and more than two thirds said no.

Had the poll asked if people wanted less stringent border controls and more costs for the taxpayer I’d have been surprised if anyone said yes.

But what’s the problem with letting in people who aren’t citizens or residents providing they are quarantined at their own cost?

Why would so many people be frightened of that?

Kate Hawkesby has the answer:

. . . Labour has seen what Covid has done for them, and they’re running with it.

Forget policy, forget issues, forget future plans, as long as they can keep reminding us to wash our hands, it keeps us in a state of fear. It keeps people on the back foot and it yields a sense of gratitude. It makes an inexperienced disorganised government look like saviours. We focus less on what they haven’t done, and how many ill conceived bills they’re rushing through, and more on the fact the international press said Ardern is eloquent. Are we really that shallow?  

And is anyone questioning why new Covid advertising is coming out now? After months of Level 1, we need to start some more advertising on how to wash your hands, now? Aside from what that must be costing us the taxpayer in advertising, isn’t it essentially politically motivated? What worked well for us – Covid. What should we do in the lead up to the election? Policy messaging? Nope, more Covid. . . 

Labour wants us in a state of fear and is stoking it in what must be the most cynical election strategy it could come up with.

Even former Prime Minister Helen Clark says there’s no reason not to open to border door a little more providing it’s done safely:

The current border arrangements would need to change, soon, to help the city and country’s economic fortunes.

“Even with a two week quarantine, there is so much more we can do. It will need major private sector partnerships to gear up the quarantine system.

“There’s no reason in principle why the [international] students could not come back with effective quarantine. There’s no reason in principle why tourists who are prepared to pay for two weeks’ quarantine can’t come back, there’s no reason in principle why you can’t have Covid-free travel channels with others, or that working holiday makers couldn’t come back if they are prepared to pay for quarantine … certainly the skilled workers, the global visa people who could drive the economy.

“If, post-election, the thinking can go to how to try to remove this chokepoint which is existing quarantine, that would help even within the existing two week quarantine setting. We need a national conversation and buy-in to this… from let’s get this done to how do we get the next stage done.” . . 

The current Labour leader Jacinda Ardern could use her popularity to reassure the public that more people could come in safely.

That wouldn’t mean doing anything to encourage reckless behaviour, but it would mean stopping the political manipulation of Covid-19 strategy and fostering fear.

That she isn’t is a failure of leadership and it’s showing anything but the kindness she preaches we all should be practising.


Not so popular

03/12/2019

There is little doubt that Jacinda Ardern’s leadership enabled Labour to gain enough votes in the 2017 election to cobble together a coalition government.

Her fans among the commentariat would have us believe her popularity is unquestioned.

But over at Kiwiblog David Farrar has the numbers that tell a different story:

    • Governing Party – Clark Labour 45%, Key National 55%, Ardern Labour 39%
    • Opposition Party – English National 39%, Goff Labour 33%, Bridges National 46%
    • NZ First – 2001 2.7%, 2010 3.1%, 2019 4.0%
    • Greens – 2001 6%, 2010 4.5%, 2019 7.0%

And how is the PM as Preferred PM

    • Clark 2001 41%, Key 2010 56%, Ardern 2019 36%

Popular yes, but not as popular as her predecessors.


Who knows best?

04/09/2019

Former PM Helen Clark is telling us to vote yes to legalising marijuana:

. . . The recommendation comes off the back of a report released by her foundation, The Case for Yes.

“If you go back to 1994, in a speech that I gave at the time on cannabis, I took a position then that was based on what the Department of Health had been telling me, which was this shouldn’t be criminalised,” she told The Spinoff. “And so I took a stand on partial decriminalisation or partial prohibition. But my thinking has changed.”

Today, more than 80% of New Zealanders will try cannabis before the age of 25, said Clark, and irregular policing and systemic racism means it’s Māori who disproportionately suffer the most at the hands of the law. Therefore, legalisation is preferable to decriminalisation as it avoids the racial pitfalls of a system based on discretion.

The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act that was passed in August goes some way in doing this, but Clark said it still has two issues.

“One, it leaves supply criminalised, and there’s often quite a fine line between possession and supply – there are plenty of people who end up in jail for supply who were actually just in possession. 

“And secondly, there’s discretion, and as our paper points out, we have a huge social justice inequity issue on discretion because we see with cannabis – as with everywhere else in the criminal justice supply chain – Māori disproportionately are arrested, prosecuted, convicted and receive custodial sentences.”  . . 

There’s a third issue – it’s decriminalisation by stealth.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. A. where several states have legalised the drug the Surgeon General Jerome Adams warns of the dangers of using it:

. . . “While the perceived harm of marijuana is decreasing, the scary truth is that the actual potential for harm is increasing,” Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Thursday during a press conference to announce the new advisory.

Surveys show that an increasing number of adolescents and pregnant women use the drug, which can be eaten, smoked or vaped.

But the surgeon general told NPR in an interview that many people are not aware of just how potent the drug can be.

“This ain’t your mother’s marijuana,” he said. The THC concentration in marijuana plants has increased threefold between 1995 and 2014, according to the report, and concentrated products can contain up to 75% THC.

“The higher the THC delivery, the higher the risk,” Adams said.

Young people who regularly use marijuana are “more likely to show a decline in IQ and school performance [and] are more apt to miss classes,” Adams said. And frequent use of the drug can also impair a child’s attention, memory and decision-making.

In addition, it can be habit-forming.

“Nearly 1 in 5 people who begin marijuana use during adolescence become addicted,” Adams said. “That’s scary to me as the dad of a 15-, a 13- and a 9-year-old.”

Symptoms of marijuana dependency include “irritability, mood and sleep difficulties, decreased appetite, cravings, restlessness, and/or various forms of physical discomfort that peak within the first week after quitting and last up to 2 weeks,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. And marijuana becomes addictive “when the person cannot stop using the drug even though it interferes with many aspects of his or her life,” according to NIDA. . . 

Who knows best?

A former PM who’s arguing about the theory or a Surgeon General who has evidence about the use in practice?

 

 


Stardust dulls in sunlight

07/08/2019

A Prime Minister who is well regarded overseas is good for a small country.

But being well regarded overseas isn’t good enough. A Prime Minister has to earn, and keep, approval at home and the stardust that settled on Jacinda Ardern early in her leadership is dulling under the sunlight of scrutiny.

There is no doubt she is a good communicator, compassionate and likable. As Matthew Hooton told Sky New Australia, she would be a good princess or president without power, but she is a hopeless Prime Minister.

But, but, but what about the way she handled the aftermath of the mosque shootings?

There is no question she did that well but that’s the New Zealand way. Other recent Prime Ministers, Bill English, John Key (who did at least as well after the Canterbury earthquakes) and Helen Clark would have reacted with similar compassion.

But those Prime Ministers also delivered, and this one is failing to. Matthew Hooton, again, on the year of delivery:

. . . For those still committed to reality-based politics, Ardern’s “year of delivery” is as credible as her earlier promise to be “transformational”.

KiwiBuild, the Billion Trees programme and the Provincial Growth Fund handing out only 3 per cent of the money Shane Jones has paraded are the most risible. . .

He goes on to list more failures and there are plenty of them.

He isn’t alone in his criticisms and that’s not surprising for people on the right of the political spectrum but even the very left blog The Standard is saying it’s time to ditch the default Jacindamania:

Despite the babies and the engagements, maybe it’s time to ditch the default Jacindamania.

Let’s not bother with the criminal waste of tax on hundreds of working groups, existing to successfully suppressing oppositional opinion through co-option.

Oranga Tamariki has got three investigations underway for removing children, and is being kicked all over the park by the media. Cue another year of paralysis by analysis. . . 

. . .  it’s a very partial leadership. It’s not ‘transformational’, it’s not the year of delivery. What is this government?

This is the weakest leadership on policy of any government since the last term of Holyoake, 60 years ago. That’s on Ardern.

It’s time, since we are now getting emails to volunteer and donate money on their behalf for the next election, to expect more from Jacinda Ardern.

Coming from the left that’s damning.

But wait there’s more. Her interview this morning with Mike Hosking was a train wreck which Steve Braunias dissects:

O the joys and woes of being Prime Minister! One minute you’re swaying your hips for the cameras in the lovely warmth of Tokelau while the world gazes with adoration at your picture on the cover of Vogue, as chosen and commissioned by Her Royal Highness Meghan Markle the Princess of Trans-Atlantica; the next minute you’re back in New Zealand, there’s a serious sex scandal rocking the Labour Party, the cops have gone feral at Ihumātao, the weather’s gone all to hell – and worst of all, you’re stuck on the phone for your regular Tuesday morning convo with Mike Hosking.

It’s paramount that the Prime Minister keeps her cool and shows every sign of being at ease and in control when she makes media appearances. There is but one emoji to maintain: the one with a smiley face, round and yellow and all good, expressing the optimum vibe of inane happiness. . . 

But good cheer and happiness was entirely absent during Ardern’s 10-minute interview with The Hosker on Newstalk ZB this morning. Her appearance was an emoji trainwreck, and it crashed every time that the Prime Minister called the ZB talkback host by his first name.

She said it 11 times. . .

He goes on to give an emojiological analysis of those 11 times.

It’s behind the paywall and it’s worth paying for, here’s a taste:

The interview which prompted this is here.

There was no stardust dazzling and personality sparkling there and even had there been it is no longer enough.

Stardust is no use without substance and personality doesn’t pay the bills.


Ag part of the tech boom

05/07/2019

Politik discusses Knowledge Wave Mark Two which seeks to boost the tech sector and quotes Helen Clark from the original Knowledge Wave conference:

Our export profile resembles that of developing countries, not that of a developed one.

Our export profile is unique among developed countries for the volume and value of primary produce and the large part that plays in our economy.

But the quote, and some policies from this government, send the message that there’s something wrong with that.

They ignore the fact that primary production does so well in New Zealand not just because of our natural advantages – the climate and soils – but because of the investment in, and application of, research and technology.

There is some comfort in David Parker’s statement:

“The agritech sector has been chosen as a key focus because it brings together two of New Zealand’s key competitive advantages – our expertise in agriculture and horticulture with our well-educated workforce,” he said.

This focus is already being undermined by government policy which incentivises forestry over food production.

Economic growth,  a broader based export economy and technological innovation are all worthy goals but none should be achieved by dragging down or devaluing primary production.

Our export profile does resemble that of a third world country, but primary production in New Zealand is very much a first-world business and already part of the tech boom.

When climate change could threaten food security, our ability to produce highly nutritious food in a very efficient manner is of even more importance.

 

 


February 26 in history

26/02/2019

747 BC Epoch of Ptolemy‘s Nabonassar Era.

364 Valentinian I was proclaimed Roman Emperor.

1266 Battle of Benevento: An army led by Charles, Count of Anjou, defeated a combined German and Sicilian force led by King Manfred of Sicily who was killed.

1361 Wenceslaus, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Bohemia, was born (d. 1419).

1564 Christopher Marlowe, English dramatist, was born (d. 1593).

1658 Treaty of Roskilde: After a devastating defeat in the Northern Wars(1655-1661), King Frederick III of Denmark-Norway was forced to give up nearly half his territory to Sweden to save the rest.

1794 Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen burnt down.

1802 Victor Hugo, French writer, was born (d. 1885).

1815 Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from Elba.

1829 – Levi Strauss, German-born clothing designer, was born  (d. 1902).

1844 Two Wellington lawyers, William Brewer and H. Ross, undertook a duel as the result of a quarrel that had arisen from a case in the Wellington County Court. When the two men faced off in Sydney Street, Brewer fired into the air but ‘received Mr. Ross’ ball in the groin’. He died a few days later.

'Pistols at dawn': deadly duel in Wellington

1846 William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, American frontiersman, was born  (d. 1917).

1848 The second French Republic was proclaimed.

1852 John Harvey Kellogg, American surgeon, advocate of dietary reform, was born  (d. 1943).

1861  Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya, Russian revolutionary, Lenin’s wife, was born (d. 1939).

1863 U.S. President Abraham Lincoln signed the National Currency Actinto law.

1866 Herbert Henry Dow, American chemical industrialist, was born (d. 1930).

1870 In New York City, a demonstration of the first pneumatic subwayopened to the public.

1885 The Berlin Act, which resulted from the Berlin Conference regulating European colonization and trade in Africa, was signed.

1887 – At the Sydney Cricket Ground, George Lohmann became the first bowler to take eight wickets in a Test innings.

1909  Fanny Cradock, English food writer and broadcaster, was born (d. 1994).

1914 Robert Alda, American actor, was born (d. 1986).

1914 HMHS Britannic, sister to the RMS Titanic, was launched at Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast.

1916  Jackie Gleason, American actor, writer, composer, and comedian, was born (d. 1987).

1917 The Original Dixieland Jazz Band recorded the first ever jazz record for the Victor Talking Machine Company in New York.

1919 An act of the U.S. Congress established most of the Grand Canyon as the Grand Canyon National Park.

1928 Fats Domino, American musician, was born.

1928 Ariel Sharon, Israeli Prime Minister, was born (d. 2014).

1929 The Grand Teton National Park was created.

1932 Johnny Cash, American singer, was born (d. 2003).

1935 The Luftwaffe was re-formed.

1935 The Daventry Experiment, Robert Watson-Watt carried out a demonstration near Daventry which led directly to the development of RADAR in the United Kingdom.

1936 Adolf Hitler opened the 1st Volkswagen plant in East Germany.

1936 – In the February 26 Incident, young Japanese military officers attempted to stage a coup against the government.

1947 – Sandie Shaw, English singer, was born.

1949 Elizabeth George, American novelist, was born.

1950 Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, was born.

1952 British Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced that his nation had an atomic bomb.

1954 Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Turkey, was born.

1954 Ernst August, Prince of Hanover, heir to the deposed Kingdom of Hanover and a husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco., was born.

1955 Andreas Maislinger, founder of Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service, was born.

1958 Susan J. Helms, Astronaut, was born.

1966 Apollo Programme: Launch of AS-201, the first flight of the Saturn IB rocket.

1968  Tim Commerford, American bass player (Rage Against the Machine), was born.

1971  U.N. Secretary General U Thant signed the United Nations’ proclamation of the vernal equinox as Earth Day.

1972 The Buffalo Creek Flood caused by a burst dam killed 125 in West Virginia.

1987 Iran-Contra affair: The Tower Commission rebuked President Ronald Reagan for not controlling his national security staff.

1990 The Sandinistas were defeated in Nicaraguan elections.

1991  Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein announced the withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait.

1993 World Trade Centre bombing: A truck bomb parked below the North Tower of the World Trade Center exploded, killing 6 and injuring more than a thousand.

1995 The United Kingdom’s oldest investment banking institute, Barings Bank, collapsed after a securities broker, Nick Leeson, lost $1.4 billion by speculating on the Singapore International Monetary Exchange using futures contracts.

2000 Mount Hekla in Iceland erupted.

2001 The Taliban destroyed two giant statues of Buddha in Bamyan, Afghanistan.

2003 War in Darfur started.

2004 – F.Y.R.O.M. President Boris Trajkovski was killed in a plane crash near Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

2005 Hosni Mubarak the president of Egypt ordered the constitution changed to allow multi-candidate presidential elections before September 2005 by asking Egyptian parliament to amend Article 76.

2012 – A train derailed in Burlington, Ontario, Canada killing at least three people and injuring 45.

2013 – A hot air balloon crashed near Luxor, Egypt, killing 19 people.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


Drip, drip, drip

30/11/2018

Leader of the Opposition is reputed to be the worst job in politics.

It’s certainly not an easy one, especially early in the term of a new government when few outside the politically tragic are interested in what you do and say.

The media doesn’t help by fixating on poll results and interviewing their own keyboards to write opinion pieces forecasting the end of the leader’s tenure.

They carry on, drip, drip, drip like water on a stone in the expectation they will eventually be proved right.

They did it to Phil Goff, David Shearer, David Cunliffe and Andrew Little and it worked because the Labour caucus was too fixated on itself and its divisions and the party panicked.

They did it to Helen Clark but it didn’t work. Even when all she could muster in the preferred Prime Minister poll was only 5% she stared her would-be coup leaders down.

They didn’t do it to John Key because he polled well from the start and he became leader towards the end of the Labour-led government’s third term when it was looking tired and stale.

They didn’t do it to Jacinda Ardern but she took over the leadership at the very end of the National-led government’s third term and so close to the election she got far more attention than a new opposition leader normally would.

The drip, drip, drip is happening to Simon Bridges but none of the pundits give their gloomy analysis context. He became leader only a few months after the election when it’s almost impossible for an opposition leader to shine.

Jami-Lee Ross’s sabotage  didn’t help but at least for now, it makes Bridges’ leadership stronger. The National caucus has learned from Labour’s bad example that disunity is electoral poison.

It is the caucus who decides who’s leader. None of them will want Ross to claim the leader’s scalp and anyone with the political nous to be leader would know that this early in the government’s term, it would be almost impossible to make headway in the preferred PM polls and no matter who took over, he or she too would be subject to the drip, drip, drip of negative columns.

What the columnists don’t see, or at least don’t write about, is what I saw yesterday – Simon Bridges speaking confidently and showing his intelligence, sincerity and warmth.

This is not the dead man walking about whom they opine.

He has, to borrow a line from former Invercargill MP Eric Roy, had a very bad lambing.

I don’t know how much tough stuff he’d faced before, but yesterday convinced me that like good farmers after bad lambings, Bridges has got up and is getting on, in spite of the drip,drip, drip that’s trying to take him down.


Rural round-up

04/08/2018

Property rights are being forgotten – Gerry Eckhoff:

William Pitt the elder (1708-78) got it right with a famous speech in which he said – in part – ”The poorest man in his cottage may bid defiance to the Crown. It may be frail. The roof may shake, the wind may enter, the rain and storm may enter but the king of England may not – nor all his forces dare cross the threshold of that ruined tenement”.

While Hunter Valley Station hardly qualifies as a ”ruined tenement”, the principle of security of tenure and the right to exclude the Crown and by association, the public, holds as true today as it did in the 18th century

And so the debate begins, yet again, 240-odd years later. There are those who seek access to every corner of this fair country but who choose to ignore the common courtesy of seeking permission of the owner. During the last tenure of the previous Labour government, Helen Clark sought to pass legislation to force a right of entry to all rural land which included freehold, Maori, and leasehold land, but especially pastoral lease land. . .

Kiwifruit Industry ‘New Zealand labour just not there’ – Kate Gutsell:

The kiwifruit industry is facing a shortfall of 7000 workers as it predicts it will double in value in the next ten years.

The industry body, Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated, has released a report which estimates the $2.1 billion industry will generate $4b of revenue by 2027.

Kiwifruit is already New Zealand’s largest horticulture export and the report is forecasting production will jump by 54 percent, from 123 million trays to 190 million by 2027. . .

Westland Milk to review ownership as it strives to boost returns – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Westland Milk Products, whose payments to its cooperative shareholders have lagged behind rivals, may change its ownership structure as it looks at ways to improve returns.

Hokitika-based Westland said today it has appointed Macquarie Capital and DG Advisory to consider potential capital and ownership options that will create a more sustainable capital structure and support a higher potential payout. All options will be explored in the process expected to run for several months, it said. . .

Economic outlook the sour note in farm confidence survey:

Pessimism about the economic outlook is a sour note among the otherwise generally positive indicators in the Federated Farmers July Farm Confidence Survey.

This is the 19th time the twice-yearly survey has been conducted and for the first time farmer optimism has increased in all areas except their continuing negative perceptions of the economy, Feds Vice-President Andrew Hoggard says. . .

Farmers worried as Government increases costs:

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor confirmed in Parliament’s Question Time today that farmers will face ‘additional costs’ under his Government, National’s Agriculture Spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“Mr O’Connor has previously signalled a climate tax for farmers, slashed the Primary Growth Partnership fund and won’t fund any new water storage projects,” Mr Guy says. . .

The European Union rejected genome edited crops – Matt Ridley:

The European Court of Justice has just delivered a scientifically absurd ruling, in defiance of advice from its advocate general, but egged on by Jean-Claude Juncker’s allies. It will ensure that more pesticides are used in Britain, our farmers will be less competitive and researchers will leave for North America. Thanks a bunch, your honours. 

By saying that genome-edited crops must be treated to expensive and uncertain regulation, it has pandered to the views of a handful of misguided extremists, who no longer have popular support in this country. . . 

Tell your story by entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Farmers and growers are being encouraged to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards for 2018/19. The awards are organised by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, a charity set up to promote sustainable farming and growing.

The Chair of the Trust is Joannne van Polanen, who farms in Mid-Canterbury. Joanne says “There’s a lot of discussion about the need for the primary sector to tell our stories. The awards provide an opportunity for farmers and growers to share the positive actions they are involved in with their local community and a wider audience.” . . 

Pact Group launch first rPET bottles for NZ milk producer:

Pact Group subsidiary Alto Packaging has announced the launch of the new 750ml and 1.5litre milk bottles made from 100% recycled plastic polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) for Lewis Road.

Malcolm Bundey Managing Director and CEO of Pact Group says “Pact is proud to have designed and manufactured these bottles. We are excited to be in partnership with Lewis Road and part of their journey to become New Zealand’s first milk producer to switch to using entirely recycled materials for these two products.” . . 


15 years fomenting happy mischief

27/07/2018

Kiwiblog marks 15 years of David Farrar’s fomenting happy mischief * today.

To maintain both the quantity and quality of posts every day for so long is no small achievement.

David has a readership that would be the envy of many professional pundits and media outlets.

His blog is one of relatively few that is consistently well reasoned and reasonable.

He is partisan but will give credit and criticism where it’s due regardless of political hue.

His was the first blog I ever read, it’s one I read every day and I look forward to the next 15 years and beyond of essential reading.

* Fomenting happy mischief was adopted by David as a slogan after a letter to the NZ Herald by Peter Davis, husband of then-PM Helen Clark, accused the paper of doing that.

 


February 26 in history

26/02/2018

747 BC Epoch of Ptolemy‘s Nabonassar Era.

364 Valentinian I was proclaimed Roman Emperor.

1266 Battle of Benevento: An army led by Charles, Count of Anjou, defeated a combined German and Sicilian force led by King Manfred of Sicily who was killed.

1361 Wenceslaus, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Bohemia, was born (d. 1419).

1564 Christopher Marlowe, English dramatist, was born (d. 1593).

1658 Treaty of Roskilde: After a devastating defeat in the Northern Wars(1655-1661), King Frederick III of Denmark-Norway was forced to give up nearly half his territory to Sweden to save the rest.

1794 Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen burnt down.

1802 Victor Hugo, French writer, was born (d. 1885).

1815 Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from Elba.

1829 – Levi Strauss, German-born clothing designer, was born  (d. 1902).

1844 Two Wellington lawyers, William Brewer and H. Ross, undertook a duel as the result of a quarrel that had arisen from a case in the Wellington County Court. When the two men faced off in Sydney Street, Brewer fired into the air but ‘received Mr. Ross’ ball in the groin’. He died a few days later.

'Pistols at dawn': deadly duel in Wellington

1846 William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, American frontiersman, was born  (d. 1917).

1848 The second French Republic was proclaimed.

1852 John Harvey Kellogg, American surgeon, advocate of dietary reform, was born  (d. 1943).

1861  Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya, Russian revolutionary, Lenin’s wife, was born (d. 1939).

1863 U.S. President Abraham Lincoln signed the National Currency Actinto law.

1866 Herbert Henry Dow, American chemical industrialist, was born (d. 1930).

1870 In New York City, a demonstration of the first pneumatic subwayopened to the public.

1885 The Berlin Act, which resulted from the Berlin Conference regulating European colonization and trade in Africa, was signed.

1887 – At the Sydney Cricket Ground, George Lohmann became the first bowler to take eight wickets in a Test innings.

1909  Fanny Cradock, English food writer and broadcaster, was born (d. 1994).

1914 Robert Alda, American actor, was born (d. 1986).

1914 HMHS Britannic, sister to the RMS Titanic, was launched at Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast.

1916  Jackie Gleason, American actor, writer, composer, and comedian, was born (d. 1987).

1917 The Original Dixieland Jazz Band recorded the first ever jazz record for the Victor Talking Machine Company in New York.

1919 An act of the U.S. Congress established most of the Grand Canyon as the Grand Canyon National Park.

1928 Fats Domino, American musician, was born.

1928 Ariel Sharon, Israeli Prime Minister, was born.

1929 The Grand Teton National Park was created.

1932 Johnny Cash, American singer, was born (d. 2003).

1935 The Luftwaffe was re-formed.

1935 The Daventry Experiment, Robert Watson-Watt carried out a demonstration near Daventry which led directly to the development of RADAR in the United Kingdom.

1936 Adolf Hitler opened the 1st Volkswagen plant in East Germany.

1936 – In the February 26 Incident, young Japanese military officers attempted to stage a coup against the government.

1947 – Sandie Shaw, English singer, was born.

1949 Elizabeth George, American novelist, was born.

1950 Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, was born.

1952 British Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced that his nation had an atomic bomb.

1954 Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Turkey, was born.

1954 Ernst August, Prince of Hanover, heir to the deposed Kingdom of Hanover and a husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco., was born.

1955 Andreas Maislinger, founder of Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service, was born.

1958 Susan J. Helms, Astronaut, was born.

1966 Apollo Programme: Launch of AS-201, the first flight of the Saturn IBrocket.

1968  Tim Commerford, American bass player (Rage Against the Machine), was born.

1971  U.N. Secretary Generlal U Thant signed the United Nations’ proclamation of the vernal equinox as Earth Day.

1972 The Buffalo Creek Flood caused by a burst dam killed 125 in West Virginia.

1987 Iran-Contra affair: The Tower Commission rebuked President Ronald Reagan for not controlling his national security staff.

1990 The Sandinistas were defeated in Nicaraguan elections.

1991  Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein announced the withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait.

1993 World Trade Centre bombing: A truck bomb parked below the North Tower of the World Trade Center exploded, killing 6 and injuring more than a thousand.

1995 The United Kingdom’s oldest investment banking institute, Barings Bank, collapsed after a securities broker, Nick Leeson, lost $1.4 billion by speculating on the Singapore International Monetary Exchange using futures contracts.

2000 Mount Hekla in Iceland erupted.

2001 The Taliban destroyed two giant statues of Buddha in Bamyan, Afghanistan.

2003 War in Darfur started.

2004 – F.Y.R.O.M. President Boris Trajkovski was killed in a plane crash near Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

2005 Hosni Mubarak the president of Egypt ordered the constitutionchanged to allow multi-candidate presidential elections before September 2005 by asking Egyptian parliament to amend Article 76.

2012 – A train derailed in Burlington, Ontario, Canada killing at least three people and injuring 45.

2013 – A hot air balloon crashed near Luxor, Egypt, killing 19 people.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


Is pregnant PM a world first?

19/01/2018

Is this another world first for New Zealand?:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner, Clarke Gayford, have today announced that they are expecting their first child in June.

“We’re both really happy. We wanted a family but weren’t sure it would happen for us, which has made this news unexpected but exciting.

“Yesterday I met with Deputy Prime Minister, Winston Peters, to share the news and to ask him to take on the role of Acting Prime Minister for a period of 6 weeks after our baby is born.

“As is the case when I am overseas, Mr Peters will act as Prime Minister, working with my office while staying in touch with me. I fully intend to be contactable and available throughout the six week period when needed.

“Mr Peters and I have a great relationship, and I know that together we’ll make this period work. I will make arrangements for appropriate Ministers to act in my other portfolios over the six weeks I am away from Parliament.

“At the end of my leave I will resume all Prime Ministerial duties.

“Clarke and I are privileged to be in the position where Clarke can stay home to be our primary caregiver. Knowing that so many parents juggle the care of their new babies, we consider ourselves to be very lucky. . . 

Several women have become mothers while they’re MPs but this is the first New Zealand Prime Minister to be pregnant in office.

Jenny Shipley’s children were in their teens when she became PM and Helen Clark didn’t have children.

Someone with a better knowledge of New Zealand political history than mine might correct me, but I can’t name a New Zealand Prime Minister who became a father while in office. *

My knowledge of international political history is even more scanty. I can name several women Prime Ministers with children but none who gave birth while holding the office.

My generation was probably the last to be brought up thinking we’d marry and have babies, in that order, and that at least while the children were young would put mothering before paid work.

Younger women have been brought up being told girls can do anything which is often interpreted to mean not just everything but everything at once.

That is of course impossible. But younger men have also been brought up with the expectation they will play a much more active role in parenting than the men of earlier generations did.

Providing the pregnancy, birth and childhood go smoothly, it is possible for a woman to grow and deliver a baby, take some leave, then return to work and for the baby’s father to take on the role of stay-at-home parent.

As Liam Hehir says the country should keep running while she’s on leave.

. . . This is good news. Children are a blessing. But apart from happiness for Ardern and her partner, there is another reason to be glad. This is an opportunity for New Zealand to demonstrate its bona fides as a mature and stable liberal democracy.

The good governance of this country should not depend on the constant availability of any one person. If a system breaks down over the temporary absence of a single individual, then that system is not fit for purpose. The prime ministership is not, and should never be, be a single point of failure for the country as a whole. . . 

Mark Richardson was roundly criticised for asking Ardern about her plans to have a family.

The criticism wasn’t entirely fair. The couple’s family plans are their own business but a question on the impact that might have on the country is legitimate.

At the time I thought the critics were underestimating the demands of both roles – that of Prime Minister and parenting. But others can deputise for the PM.

Women have been raising families while their children’s fathers were in demanding jobs for aeons. That is still more common but men are increasingly taking on parenting to enable their children’s mothers to pursue their careers.

Before he was an MP, Bill English was a stay at home parent while his wife Mary worked as a GP.

New Zealand’s systems should be robust enough to ensure there is no cause for concern about the running of the country while motherhood takes priority for Ardern and the running of their home and family is not our business.

I wish them well and I hope that everything goes as planned.

Whether or not it does, I hope that the baby will come before the country.

There are plenty of other people who are able to put New Zealand first. All babies deserve parents who will put them first.

* Update: The Herald says: Benazir Bhutto, then President of Pakistan,  gave birth to her daughter Bakhtawar on January, 25 1990,  while in office.

 

 

 

 


Still backing Bill

20/10/2017

No sooner had Winston Peters finished anointing Labour last night than commentators were beginning to talk about a successor to National leader Bill English.

That might make good copy but leadership speculation is not in National’s best interests.

Bill led the party to a historic level of 44.4% support – that’s nearly 8% higher than Labour got in this election and higher than Helen Clark ever got.

The ODT nails it:

National’s share of the vote was lower than in 2014, but English secured about 20,000 more votes than Key did in 2014. He held National up against a stronger onslaught from Labour than Key ever faced, and ensured that fourth term was at least well within its reach.

His fate was delivered by the whim of Peters – not the voters.

He’s earned the leadership and it will be better for the party if he keeps it, at least until the new government’s honeymoon is over. After that the choice of staying on as leader or not should be his, for his sake and the party’s.

Someone whose grasp of history is better than mine might contradict me, but I don’t think New Zealand has ever had an opposition this strong in numbers. The MPs also have a formidable breadth and depth of experience and skills.

National was strong, united and loyal to the leader in government, the caucus and wider party need to remain strong,  united and loyal to the leader in opposition.

That’s an important part of the way back to government in the shortest possible time.

 


February 26 in history

26/02/2017

747 BC Epoch of Ptolemy‘s Nabonassar Era.

364 Valentinian I was proclaimed Roman Emperor.

1266 Battle of Benevento: An army led by Charles, Count of Anjou, defeated a combined German and Sicilian force led by King Manfred of Sicily who was killed.

1361 Wenceslaus, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Bohemia, was born (d. 1419).

1564 Christopher Marlowe, English dramatist, was born (d. 1593).

1658 Treaty of Roskilde: After a devastating defeat in the Northern Wars(1655-1661), King Frederick III of Denmark-Norway was forced to give up nearly half his territory to Sweden to save the rest.

1794 Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen burnt down.

1802 Victor Hugo, French writer, was born (d. 1885).

1815 Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from Elba.

1829 – Levi Strauss, German-born clothing designer, was born  (d. 1902).

1844 Two Wellington lawyers, William Brewer and H. Ross, undertook a duel as the result of a quarrel that had arisen from a case in the Wellington County Court. When the two men faced off in Sydney Street, Brewer fired into the air but ‘received Mr. Ross’ ball in the groin’. He died a few days later.

'Pistols at dawn': deadly duel in Wellington

1846 William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, American frontiersman, was born  (d. 1917).

1848 The second French Republic was proclaimed.

1852 John Harvey Kellogg, American surgeon, advocate of dietary reform, was born  (d. 1943).

1861  Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya, Russian revolutionary, Lenin’s wife, was born (d. 1939).

1863 U.S. President Abraham Lincoln signed the National Currency Act into law.

1866 Herbert Henry Dow, American chemical industrialist, was born (d. 1930).

1870 In New York City, a demonstration of the first pneumatic subwayopened to the public.

1885 The Berlin Act, which resulted from the Berlin Conference regulating European colonization and trade in Africa, was signed.

1887 – At the Sydney Cricket Ground, George Lohmann became the first bowler to take eight wickets in a Test innings.

1909  Fanny Cradock, English food writer and broadcaster, was born (d. 1994).

1914 Robert Alda, American actor, was born (d. 1986).

1914 HMHS Britannic, sister to the RMS Titanic, was launched at Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast.

1916  Jackie Gleason, American actor, writer, composer, and comedian, was born (d. 1987).

1917 The Original Dixieland Jazz Band recorded the first ever jazz record for the Victor Talking Machine Company in New York.

1919 An act of the U.S. Congress established most of the Grand Canyon as the Grand Canyon National Park.

1928 Fats Domino, American musician, was born.

1928 Ariel Sharon, Israeli Prime Minister, was born.

1929 The Grand Teton National Park was created.

1932 Johnny Cash, American singer, was born (d. 2003).

1935 The Luftwaffe was re-formed.

1935 The Daventry Experiment, Robert Watson-Watt carried out a demonstration near Daventry which led directly to the development of RADAR in the United Kingdom.

1936 Adolf Hitler opened the 1st Volkswagen plant in East Germany.

1936 – In the February 26 Incident, young Japanese military officers attempted to stage a coup against the government.

1947 – Sandie Shaw, English singer, was born.

1949 Elizabeth George, American novelist, was born.

1950 Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, was born.

1952 British Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced that his nation had an atomic bomb.

1954 Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Turkey, was born.

1954 Ernst August, Prince of Hanover, heir to the deposed Kingdom of Hanover and a husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco., was born.

1955 Andreas Maislinger, founder of Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service, was born.

1958 Susan J. Helms, Astronaut, was born.

1966 Apollo Programme: Launch of AS-201, the first flight of the Saturn IBrocket.

1968  Tim Commerford, American bass player (Rage Against the Machine), was born.

1971  U.N. Secretary Generlal U Thant signed the United Nations’ proclamation of the vernal equinox as Earth Day.

1972 The Buffalo Creek Flood caused by a burst dam killed 125 in West Virginia.

1987 Iran-Contra affair: The Tower Commission rebuked President Ronald Reagan for not controlling his national security staff.

1990 The Sandinistas were defeated in Nicaraguan elections.

1991  Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein announced the withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait.

1993 World Trade Centre bombing: A truck bomb parked below the North Tower of the World Trade Center exploded, killing 6 and injuring more than a thousand.

1995 The United Kingdom’s oldest investment banking institute, Barings Bank, collapsed after a securities broker, Nick Leeson, lost $1.4 billion by speculating on the Singapore International Monetary Exchange using futures contracts.

2000 Mount Hekla in Iceland erupted.

2001 The Taliban destroyed two giant statues of Buddha in Bamyan, Afghanistan.

2003 War in Darfur started.

2004 – F.Y.R.O.M. President Boris Trajkovski was killed in a plane crash near Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

2005 Hosni Mubarak the president of Egypt ordered the constitutionchanged to allow multi-candidate presidential elections before September 2005 by asking Egyptian parliament to amend Article 76.

2012 – A train derailed in Burlington, Ontario, Canada killing at least three people and injuring 45.

2013 – A hot air balloon crashed near Luxor, Egypt, killing 19 people.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


If women ruled the world

14/07/2016

Angela Merkel has been chancellor of Germany since 2005.

Hillary Clinton is likely, though not certain, to be the next president of the USA, if only because many people see her as the lesser of two evils when compared with the Republican candidate Donald Trump.

Half the candidates vying to become the next Secretary General of the United Nations are women, including former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Theresa May has been sworn in as UK Prime Minister. (The BBC profiles her here.) and 14 other countries already have women as heads of government or elected heads of state .

The countries, women leaders and year they took office are:

* BANGLADESH: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (2009)

* CHILE: President Michelle Bachelet (2014)

* CROATIA: President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic (2015)

* GERMANY: Chancellor Angela Merkel (2005)

* LIBERIA: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (2006)

* LITHUANIA: President Dalia Grybauskaite (2009)

* MALTA: President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca (2014)

* MARSHALL ISLANDS: President Hilda Heine (2016)

* MAURITIUS: President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim (2015)

* NAMIBIA: Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila (2015)

* NEPAL: President Bidhya Devi Bhandari (2015)

* NORWAY: Prime Minister Erna Solberg (2013)

* POLAND: Prime Minister Beata Szydlo (2015)

* SOUTH KOREA: President Park Geun-hye (2013)

* TAIWAN: President Tsai Ing-wen (2016)    

Does being female make a difference to what they do and how they do it?

My answer to that is probably, everyone brings a different perspective to a role and gender would have some influence on the difference.

If women ruled the world some things would change but a female perspective in itself wouldn’t mean better or worse.

The world has and has had good and bad leaders and it will continue to have them regardless of whether they’re men or women.

But I think the world would be a better place if people were regarded as people, accepted and respected for what we have in common and differences like gender and race were immaterial.

 


Setting aside personal and political

05/04/2016

Prime Minister John Key has announced that the government is nominating Helen Clark for the top bureaucratic job in the world – United Nations secretary-general:

Prime Minister John Key has today announced the New Zealand Government is nominating Helen Clark for the position of the United Nations Secretary-General.

“Having served as the Prime Minister of New Zealand for nine years and held one of the top jobs in the United Nations for the past seven, Helen Clark has the right mix of skills and experience for the job,” says Mr Key.

“There are major global challenges facing the world today and the United Nations needs a proven leader who can be pragmatic and effective.

“Coming from New Zealand, Helen Clark is well placed to bridge divisions and get results. She is the best person for the job.”

Helen Clark was the Prime Minister of New Zealand for three consecutive terms from 1999 to 2008 and has worked as the Administrator of the UN Development Programme for the past seven years.

“Helen Clark has a vast amount of experience in international affairs which will be hard for other candidates to match. She’s a great listener and communicator, and I know she will make a difference if elected.” . . .

There was no love lost between the former and current PM when they were political rivals.

But since she first announced her intention to seek a job in the UN he has backed her and both have put any political and personal differences aside.

The UN is good in theory but often fails to live up to its promise in practice.

The Development Programme (UNDP)’s official report, which Clark led, said much of its annual US$5.7 billion (NZ$6.8 billion) budget is only remotely connected to ending global poverty.

Whether or not the criticism is fair, it highlights the size of the challenge facing the UN and its agencies.

It and they are far from perfect.

But in spite of its failings and inadequacies, there are benefits in having the 193 member states together attempting to find solutions to many, often long-standing, problems.

And there could be benefits for New Zealand to have a New Zealander heading it.

That’s why personal and political differences should be set aside to help the former PM get the post.

I disagree with a lot of her political views but I think she is well qualified for the position of Secretary-General.

 


Quote of the day

26/02/2016

Well, we don’t think for a moment that either the U.S. or Australia are out to damage the New Zealand economy, but if there were a sustained period in which they had a free-trade agreement and New Zealand didn’t have that same arrangement with the States, that could be both trade- and investment-distorting. – Helen Clark who celebrates her 66th birthday today.


February 26 in history

26/02/2016

747 BC Epoch of Ptolemy‘s Nabonassar Era.

364 Valentinian I was proclaimed Roman Emperor.

1266 Battle of Benevento: An army led by Charles, Count of Anjou, defeated a combined German and Sicilian force led by King Manfred of Sicily who was killed.

1361 Wenceslaus, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Bohemia, was born (d. 1419).

1564 Christopher Marlowe, English dramatist, was born (d. 1593).

1658 Treaty of Roskilde: After a devastating defeat in the Northern Wars(1655-1661), King Frederick III of Denmark-Norway was forced to give up nearly half his territory to Sweden to save the rest.

1794 Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen burnt down.

1802 Victor Hugo, French writer, was born (d. 1885).

1815 Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from Elba.

1829 – Levi Strauss, German-born clothing designer, was born  (d. 1902).

1844 Two Wellington lawyers, William Brewer and H. Ross, undertook a duel as the result of a quarrel that had arisen from a case in the Wellington County Court. When the two men faced off in Sydney Street, Brewer fired into the air but ‘received Mr. Ross’ ball in the groin’. He died a few days later.

'Pistols at dawn': deadly duel in Wellington

1846 William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, American frontiersman, was born  (d. 1917).

1848 The second French Republic was proclaimed.

1852 John Harvey Kellogg, American surgeon, advocate of dietary reform, was born  (d. 1943).

1861  Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya, Russian revolutionary, Lenin’s wife, was born (d. 1939).

1863 U.S. President Abraham Lincoln signed the National Currency Act into law.

1866 Herbert Henry Dow, American chemical industrialist, was born (d. 1930).

1870 In New York City, a demonstration of the first pneumatic subwayopened to the public.

1885 The Berlin Act, which resulted from the Berlin Conference regulating European colonization and trade in Africa, was signed.

1887 – At the Sydney Cricket Ground, George Lohmann became the first bowler to take eight wickets in a Test innings.

1909  Fanny Cradock, English food writer and broadcaster, was born (d. 1994).

1914 Robert Alda, American actor, was born (d. 1986).

1914 HMHS Britannic, sister to the RMS Titanic, was launched at Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast.

1916  Jackie Gleason, American actor, writer, composer, and comedian, was born (d. 1987).

1917 The Original Dixieland Jazz Band recorded the first ever jazz record for the Victor Talking Machine Company in New York.

1919 An act of the U.S. Congress established most of the Grand Canyon as the Grand Canyon National Park.

1928 Fats Domino, American musician, was born.

1928 Ariel Sharon, Israeli Prime Minister, was born.

1929 The Grand Teton National Park was created.

1932 Johnny Cash, American singer, was born (d. 2003).

1935 The Luftwaffe was re-formed.

1935 The Daventry Experiment, Robert Watson-Watt carried out a demonstration near Daventry which led directly to the development ofRADAR in the United Kingdom.

1936 Adolf Hitler opened the 1st Volkswagen plant in East Germany.

1936 – In the February 26 Incident, young Japanese military officers attempted to stage a coup against the government.

1947 Sandie Shaw, English singer, was born.

1949 Elizabeth George, American novelist, was born.

1950 Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, was born.

1952 British Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced that his nation had an atomic bomb.

1954 Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Turkey, was born.

1954 Ernst August, Prince of Hanover, heir to the deposed Kingdom of Hanover and a husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco., was born.

1955 Andreas Maislinger, founder of Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service, was born.

1958 Susan J. Helms, Astronaut, was born.

1966 Apollo Programme: Launch of AS-201, the first flight of the Saturn IBrocket.

1968  Tim Commerford, American bass player (Rage Against the Machine), was born.

1971  U.N. Secretary Generlal U Thant signed the United Nations’ proclamation of the vernal equinox as Earth Day.

1972 The Buffalo Creek Flood caused by a burst dam killed 125 in West Virginia.

1987 Iran-Contra affair: The Tower Commission rebuked President Ronald Reagan for not controlling his national security staff.

1990 The Sandinistas were defeated in Nicaraguan elections.

1991  Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein announced the withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait.

1993 World Trade Centre bombing: A truck bomb parked below the North Tower of the World Trade Center exploded, killing 6 and injuring more than a thousand.

1995 The United Kingdom’s oldest investment banking institute, Barings Bank, collapsed after a securities broker, Nick Leeson, lost $1.4 billion by speculating on the Singapore International Monetary Exchange using futures contracts.

2000 Mount Hekla in Iceland erupted.

2001 The Taliban destroyed two giant statues of Buddha in Bamyan, Afghanistan.

2003 War in Darfur started.

2004 – F.Y.R.O.M. President Boris Trajkovski was killed in a plane crash near Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

2005 Hosni Mubarak the president of Egypt ordered the constitutionchanged to allow multi-candidate presidential elections before September 2005 by asking Egyptian parliament to amend Article 76.

2012 – A train derailed in Burlington, Ontario, Canada killing at least three people and injuring 45.

2013 – A hot air balloon crashed near Luxor, Egypt, killing 19 people.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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