Leadership failure fosters fear

August 7, 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

December 3, 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?

September 4, 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

August 7, 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

July 5, 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

February 26, 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

November 30, 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

August 4, 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

July 27, 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

February 26, 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?

January 19, 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

October 20, 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

February 26, 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

July 14, 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

April 5, 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

February 26, 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

February 26, 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.


TPPA true & false

February 4, 2016

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

Don’t believe that?

Chapman Tripp says:

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

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

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

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

and concludes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those last two paragraphs nail it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charles Finny says the TPPA deserves praise from Maori:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He also posts on Facebook:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

And Prime Minister John Key says:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Three Labour leaders for TPP

January 28, 2016

Two of Labour’s former leaders, Phil Goff and David Shearer, who are still senior members of its caucus are quite clear that they support the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

A third former leader, Helen Clark, also supports the agreement.

Mr Goff, a former leader and former Trade Minister and now an Auckland mayoral candidate, and David Shearer, also a former Labour leader, last night told the Herald they both still supported the TPP.

Mr Goff said the deal should be signed.

Former Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark also backed the TPP among 12 countries and it was begun under her leadership. Mr Goff was Trade Minister.

Labour has decided to oppose the TPP on the grounds that it undermines New Zealand’s sovereignty.

Mr Goff did not blatantly criticise Labour’s position. But he effectively dismissed that view and the suggestion that Labour would not be able to prevent foreign investors buying New Zealand residential property.

“Every time you sign any international agreement you give away a degree of your sovereignty.” He cited the China free trade deal negotiated when he was Trade Minister.

“We gave up the sovereign right to impose tariffs against China when we signed up to the China free trade agreement. But it came with quid pro quos. China gave up its right to impose huge tariffs on us.

“That’s what an international agreement is; it’s an agreement to follow a particular course of action and a limitation on your ability to take action against the other country.

“You have the ultimate right of sovereignty that you can back out of an agreement – with all the cost that that incurs.”

The costs of not being part of such a wide trade agreement would be significant.

The TPP obliges member Governments to treat investors from member countries as though they were domestic unless exceptions are written into the agreement. Labour wanted an exception written in for investors in residential housing but National did not seek it.

Mr Goff is critical of National for choosing not to do that.

“But there is more than one way to skin that particular cat,” he said. “We retained the right to make it financially undesirable or unattractive to buy up residential property in New Zealand.

“You can still impose, as Singapore and Hong Kong do, stamp duty on foreign investors.” . . 

Labour’s biggest achievement last year was the appearance of caucus unity.

This breaking of ranks shows that the veneer of unity was thin.

That some in Labour disagree with the caucus position might entertain political tragics.

But the bigger significance is that for the first time in decades it’s walking away from the consensus it’s had with National on free trade.

Caucus disunity might hamper its chances of returning to government. But it will get there sooner or later and any failure to foster free trade progress as successive governments have, won’t be in the country’s best interests.


Quote of the day

October 2, 2015

What always haunts a Prime Minister is ‘will there be a series of trade blocs develop that you are not part of?’ Because that is unthinkable for New Zealand as an export-oriented, small trading nation.

So of course New Zealand has to be in on the action with the TPP and go for the very best deal it can as the agreement expands beyond the original four economies to a wider regional agreement.  Helen Clark


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