Te Pāti Māori: Kingmaker or Labour’s albatross?


Graham Adam’s is at The Common Room and asks : Te Pāti Māori: Kingmaker or Labour’s albatross? :

Hipkins will not welcome renewed debate on democracy and co-governance in the election run-up.

Chris Hipkins must be fast realising that with friends like these he really doesn’t need enemies. In fact, the strong possibility Labour will require its support to form a government is looking like a real threat to its chances of re-election in October.

When Chris Luxon last week ruled out coming to an arrangement with Te Pāti Māori in post-election negotiations it lost its crown as “kingmaker” — although some journalists persist in calling it that. Mostly it will now be seen as tied to the Labour-Greens bloc on the left.

After Luxon had drawn a line in the sand — and dubbed a union of Labour, the Greens and Te Pāti Māori a “coalition of chaos” — Hipkins felt moved to assert his own authority by warning Te Pāti Māori not to get too far ahead of itself in issuing “bottom lines” as conditions for its co-operation. Its demands so far have included some sort of wealth tax, the removal of GST from food, and withdrawing from the Five Eyes intelligence alliance.

In an effort to reassure voters that the tail wouldn’t be allowed to wag the dog too vigorously, Hipkins said Labour would release its own “bottom lines” before October “because, ultimately, the larger parties do need to be able to implement the commitments that they campaign on”. He reiterated the point at this week’s post-Cabinet press conference: “It may well be, as we get closer to the election, that there are some areas where we don’t agree with [Te Pāti Māori], where there are things that we take off the table.”

Te Pāti Māori’s co-leader Rawiri Waititi, predictably, didn’t take kindly to being told his party should “be careful” with its non-negotiable policies. He described it as “oppression”, and warned the Prime Minister: “You don’t tell indigenous peoples what our bottom lines are.”

Hipkins’ instructions to Te Pāti Māori to play nice were bound to backfire. It’s simply not in its DNA as a revolutionary party to kowtow to anyone. In fact, its electoral purposes may be best served by continuing to show just how contemptuous it is of the conventional political hierarchy. Chances are that snaffling a government minister to its ranks in the form of Meka Whaitiri was just an opening move. Who knows what other disruptive tactics it has up its sleeve?

One area in which it may create serious problems for Labour is co-governance. The point of Hipkins rejigging Three Waters in April to expand the number of regional water entities from four to 10 was to neutralise the issue as an election topic by making it look as if the government had responded to the public’s objections — even while leaving the co-governance provisions intact and arguing the term had been misapplied.

The tactic seems to have worked so far. National and Act have gone quiet on Three Waters, as have the media. However, Te Pāti Māori is unlikely to allow the issue to be buried for long. Last week, its president, John Tamihere, said he wanted to have a proper discussion over co-governance, particularly regarding Three Waters. Reviving such a discussion would give National and Act a welcome opening to pitch in.

Discussion of co-governance leads quickly, of course, to its implications for democracy — and in particular how sacred the principle of “one person, one vote of equal value” is to New Zealanders. Equal suffrage has been one of the nation’s most cherished achievements since women were given the vote in 1893 but Te Pāti Māori doesn’t share that enthusiasm.

In April last year, Waititi made it clear that the sort of co-governance he favoured was embodied in the Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill, which would have allowed 21,700 voters on the Māori roll to elect three ward councillors while 55,600 voters on the general roll would also elect three ward councillors. Waititi said: “Rotorua’s electoral bill is brave and progressive. This is an exciting opportunity for our country to learn from Te Arawa [iwi]. This is the sort of equality of governance that our tipuna signed up for when they gave consent to Pākehā coming here.”

This despite the fact that the far greater weight of a vote available to someone on the Māori roll than that of a vote on the general roll would have been inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act. As Attorney-General David Parker said in belatedly quashing this attempt to “tweak” democracy: “I have concluded the bill appears to limit the right to be free from discrimination” and “cannot be justified”.

Last May, Waititi and his fellow co-leader, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, made their disdain for equal suffrage explicit. Speaking with Jack Tame on TVNZ’s Q&A, Waititi declared that democracy in the sense of one person, one vote of equal value was a colonial construct that “belongs to a Westernised system. The system that does belong to us is mana motuhake and tino rangatiratanga.”

“[Democracy] is the tyranny of the majority,” he said. “Minority groups like Māori, like rainbow groups, disabled communities, have all felt the wrath of democracy — the tyranny of the majority. It works against what mana motuhake and tino rangatiratanga is and what Te Tiriti actually promised.”

When Tame asked: “So less than 20 per cent of all the people in Aotearoa will have enshrined in law representation of 50 per cent?” both co-leaders thought that was perfectly reasonable and just. In fact, Ngarewa-Packer seemed slightly bemused that he would even ask. As she put it: “It’s already enshrined in Te Tiriti, Jack. It already exists… Mana motuhake is that 50:50 [split].”

The problem for Labour is that its own position is hard to distinguish in important respects from that of Te Pāti Māori. Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson has similarly argued that, “Democracy has changed… we’re in a consensus-type democracy now. This is a democracy now where you take into account the needs of people, the diverse needs, the minority needs… It’s not the tyranny of the majority anymore… that’s what co-management and co-governance is about.”

Nevertheless, Labour understands how explosive these issues are in an election year, and won’t welcome them featuring prominently in campaign debates. That may, of course, make them all the more irresistible for Waititi and Ngarewa-Packer to raise.

Last week, Luxon explained that the reason National wouldn’t work with Te Pāti Māori was because their basic values were incompatible. “We believe in very different things. They believe in a separate Parliament, they believe in the co-governance of public services and they have a much more separatist agenda, and that is just something… we’re not aligned with. National believes New Zealand is one country with one standard of citizenship — meaning one person, one vote.”

Waititi dismissed Luxon’s statement as race-baiting and argued that New Zealand’s democracy doesn’t operate on a one-vote, one-person basis anyway: “It’s dog-whistling because it’s not one person, one vote. It’s one person, two votes — so you get a vote for a candidate and you get a vote for a party. Maybe somebody should give civics education to Chris Luxon and his mates.”

In fact, Waititi appears to be the one in need of better civics education. Under MMP, everyone has one vote to decide who becomes their electorate representative and another vote that decides in what proportions political parties make up Parliament. Each category maintains the principle of “one person, one vote of equal value”.

Perhaps signalling just how keen Labour is to not be drawn into a debate about democracy, Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni echoed Waititi’s opinion of Luxon’s views: ”Oh yeah, that is totally dog-whistling.”

Hipkins is in favour of Māori having disproportionate representation himself, although — like his predecessor Jacinda Ardern — he’s loath to admit that it undermines democracy. Quizzed in March about iwi being represented in disproportionate numbers on the Regional Representative Groups in Three Waters that will oversee strategy, Hipkins, against reason, said, “Do I think the Three Waters model is democratic? Yes, I do think it is democratic.”

On Q&A earlier this month, in an effort to distinguish Labour from Te Pāti Māori, Willie Jackson painted his party as reformers and Te Pāti Māori as radicals. He argued Labour was willing to help Maori increase their influence via “incremental change” but that Te Pāti Māori would chafe at that pace if they were part of a government. Labour, Jackson said, knew how to work within the system, and he implied Te Pāti Māori were hotheads, while Labour was a safe and steady pair of hands. However, he had no objection to them wanting to have a separate Māori Parliament or to own water. In fact, he applauded their vaulting ambition “to own everything” and not being willing to stop at co-governance.

The ownership of water is possibly the most explosive topic of all — and one that Hipkins will fervently hope doesn’t become part of the election campaign debate either. However, he may be entirely out of luck on that count too. Last Friday in an interview, John Tamihere posed questions in relation to Three Waters and co-governance: “How did the Pākehā get in the room? How did they get 50 per cent of an asset we own 100 per cent of?”

He explained the point of his questions by saying he wanted a proper conversation about water rights, “as opposed to people thinking it is a bad thing to have co-governance”.

In a cosy chat on Waatea News last month in his role as a talkback host, Tamihere spoke to Tuku Morgan — a former president of Te Pāti Māori and the chairman of the Waikato-based Tainui iwi — about the future of freshwater. Tamihere once again stated his position clearly: “We own the water.”

Morgan agreed: “Clearly, that’s the next issue to be addressed… The ownership of water is probably the most important issue of our time… As we settle Three Waters and work with the Crown to manage waterways and get certainty and confidence going forward, then we’ll push on with the most important issue to face Maoridom — the ownership of water.”

For Tamihere and Morgan, Three Waters is just a way station towards full ownership of water — which Tamihere suggested should soon include charging electricity generators a levy for using it. If anything will provoke voter alarm, it will be the prospect of skyrocketing electricity bills.

Morgan’s comments about Three Waters and working “with the Crown to manage waterways” are revealing. Hipkins has insisted that the concept of co-governance in Three Waters was always a chimera because the co-governed Regional Representative Groups had no actual governance function. He claimed they were simply advisory boards that select a board to govern the water services entities. Morgan — who chairs the northern Three Waters iwi body across Northland and Auckland — sees it differently. To him, Three Waters means co-governance not only at the level of strategic oversight but also as part of water management at the operational level.

He also made it clear his objection to people continuing to hide behind “this tyranny of the majority, this Pākehā democracy nonsense” and minimising “the significance of the Treaty”.

A fiery debate around democracy, Three Waters and co-governance before the election would be exceedingly difficult for Labour and one it would much prefer to avoid. But it’s hard to see Te Pāti Māori keeping quiet to please Hipkins or his colleagues and for Labour not to be drawn into it. As Waititi told Newshub Nation: “We will continue to be the Māori Party that everyone expects. We are challenging the status quo… We will continue to push for constitutional transformation. That’s our goal.”

A persistent problem for Hipkins this election season will be trust. Labour never openly campaigned in 2020 on implementing its extensive co-governance programme — in areas ranging from health and education to the conservation estate and local government. How then will it convince voters it won’t adopt Te Pāti Māori policies after the election as the price of its support — including making Treaty settlements no longer “full and final” and Waitangi Tribunal recommendations binding on the Crown?

Five months before the election, a clear choice is opening up between a left-of-centre group of Labour, Greens and Te Pāti Māori and a right-of-centre group of National and Act.

Anyone who believes firmly that equal suffrage is an essential part of a multi-ethnic, liberal democracy will find it difficult to vote for the coalition shaping up on the left while those who think democracy based on one person, one vote is no longer viable as a political system and would prefer a state in which ancestry confers special political and civil rights will vote accordingly.

The stakes for New Zealand’s future are high.

Graham Adams is a freelance editor,  journalist and columnist. He lives on Auckland’s North Shore.

What a legacy!


The health system is broken.

The education system is broken.

Roads are broken.

Racial division is worse.

The imported indignation which fuels culture wars is worse.

The social poison of identity politics is worse.

The economic outlook is gloomy .

Her successor has dumped, or at least postponed, some of her policies . . .

None of this will feature in Jacinda Ardern’s valedictory statement today but her response to the Mosque attacks probably will.

She gets credit for that but it’s a response any of our recent Prime Ministers, any decent person, would have made.

And so much in New Zealand is far worse than when she took over.

What a legacy!

Crocodile smile


A regular visitor from England commented he was noticing far more division in New Zealand than he’d ever seen before.

That is one of the previous leader’s worst legacies. Is the new one any better?

A friend sent me this poem which questions if he is:

Dear Jacinda

You may have run away

From your five years in the sun

But I will not forgive you

For the damage you have done


Our beautiful New Zealand 

Can it ever be the same?

Now ravaged by division

And you alone to blame


You’ve left us with so much to fix

You’ve made things so much worse

Your reckless overspending

Has drained the public purse


Children still in poverty

Criminals running rife

Race based legislation

Set to ruin Kiwi life


You grasped your socialist dagger

And you plunged it in our heart

Creating vile apartheid

Which will tear us all apart


So I’m glad you’re gone, Jacinda,

But does Hipkins wear your smile?

I fear the face of innocence

Just masks the crocodile.

The new PM is the old Minister who oversaw continuing lockdowns and the MIQueue of misery in response to Covid; escalating crime rates while Minister of Police; deteriorating education achievement as Minister of Education; and the bloating of the public service bureaucracy as Minister for State Services.

He was known as Mr Fixit but what did he actually fix?

If performance was so poor in the ministries he headed, how can we trust him to do better now he heads the whole country, have we got a new leader who will continue with the old failures?

Déjà vu all over again


Remember when Covid struck health professionals said they didn’t have enough PPE?

The answer from the then Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was that there was plenty.

Who did you believe?

There’s a similar disagreement between people on the ground and ministers over whether or not there’s a problem with crime in Hawkes Bay.

Some residents in Hawke’s Bay are furious at the attitude of Prime Minister Chris Hipkins in an interview on RNZ’s Morning Report today in which he said an incident involving firearms was unsubstantiated and insinuated the report was without basis.

In an extensive recorded interview with Newsroom on Sunday, Ryan Lawson, whose company East Coast Traffic is contracted to set up the necessary traffic management in the region, provided a detailed account of an incident on Pakowhai Road between Napier and Hastings in which firearms were used to threaten his staff.

“Two of my staff members were encountered with firearms being directly pointed at them while they were sending out temporary traffic management. Honestly for us it was a very, very scary moment and that crew just had to up and leave.”

Like many people here, Lawson and his staff don’t want the attention and are just getting on with the job. Lawson didn’t want to comment further, but plenty of other locals were angry and upset at the comments Hipkins made downplaying the extent of the issues they’re facing. . . 

Dealing with the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle, threats and thefts is bad enough. Not having their worries taken seriously makes it worse.

But locals in Hawkes Bay spoken to by Newsroom felt the PM was out of touch and didn’t understand what it’s like on the ground.

“Not everyone reports everything because the police are busy, and so is Civil Defence. It shows the force isn’t actually coping with the amount of crime that’s happening in the Bay,” said one Awatoto resident who lost everything in the flooding.

“There’s been people everywhere you go, making the most of the situation, stealing stuff.”

Checkpoints have been put up by locals at multiple spots, including tractors at Whirinaki up the coast and tree stumps blocking the entry to Waiohiki, which lost the bridge that connects it to Taradale.

In rural Puketapu, which resembles an apocalyptic war zone, residents are putting trucks across the road to keep looters and other opportunists out.

“Seventeen cars turned around about two or three hundred metres away and sped off on the first night we set up the roadblock,” said one couple, who had their fridge and washing machine – both of which they were hoping to salvage – taken early on. A neighbour had to board up their garage when they went off to work for the day, so thieves couldn’t see what they had inside.

One man who lives in Puketapu had a message for the PM: “Come and spend a night out here.” . . 

People shouldn’t have to be protecting their property from the lawless.

Newsroom spoke to a group of locals who have banded together to set up a night roadblock with people working in shifts. They are livid they have to spend all day trying to clean up their properties, work, look after their families and then spend their nights keeping their area safe.

“We’re pissed off. If you’ve got a flooded house, you’re vulnerable. You can’t live in them, there’s no power so we’ve got houses susceptible to people coming in and helping themselves,” says Carl.

Ali is in charge of a team of 30 RSE workers from Samoa who have volunteered to help at the roadblock. “This is their home, but they’ve got a job to do during the day, too.”

“The RSE workers have been fricken awesome,” adds Kylie. “But none of us should have to do this.” . . 

They shouldn’t have to do this and they should be believed when they say there is a major problem.

Then there’s this:

Who do you believe?

The ministers and Police Commissioner or the people quoted above?

I believe the people on the ground whose homes, businesses and property are under threat from looters and thieves.

There’s another reason to distrust politicians and that’s the prospect of them reversing the commitment to no new or increased taxes:

The Government is open to raising taxes at the Budget in May to cover the cost of the Cyclone Gabrielle clean-up, potentially reversing a position taken earlier this month to stick to former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s revenue policy.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Finance Minister Grant Robertson have both said they will look at both expenditure and revenue options at the Budget, likely to be delivered in May, which is being rewritten in light of the impact of the cyclone.

When asked about a one-off “cyclone levy” of the kind used following the Queensland Floods, Hipkins told RNZ’s Morning Report, “the issue of how we pay for all of this in the medium term will certainly be front of mind in the budget. It is certainly not something we will make immediate decisions on”.

When directly asked whether it could be ruled in or out, Hipkins said “at this point I am not ruling things in or out”.

This is a change from how Hipkins answered question about changing tax settings soon after he became prime minister.

In January, when asked about tax changes, he said he would be honouring the Labour 2020 election manifesto, which promised to make no tax changes beyond those Labour campaigned on like introducing a new top tax bracket.

“We’ll honour the commitments we made around tax at the last election; I absolutely stand by those commitments,” Hipkins said in January, adding that any tax changes would be part of Labour’s 2023 manifesto that has yet to be written. . . 

They will make the excuse that the cyclone changes everything but what the government doesn’t seem willing to change is its wasteful spending:

The Taxpayers’ Union is calling on the Government to rule out raising taxes to fund the cost of the Cyclone Gabrielle clean up after earlier today Chris Hipkins refused to rule out a ‘cyclone levy’ similar to that used after the Queensland floods.

Instead, the Government should use this as an opportunity to cut back on wasteful spending and prioritise clean up costs and investment in necessary infrastructure going forward.

Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Callum Purves, said:

“While rebuilding after the devastation of the past week will undoubtedly come with a cost, the last thing Kiwis need now is a tax hike during a cost of living crisis.

“The Government can’t just refocus its policies, it needs to refocus its spending too. The over $1 billion spent on consultants each year, the significant increase in managers in the public service, and the expected nearly $9 billion central government contribution to Auckland light rail would be good places to start.” 

Those would be very good places to start and there will be lots of other places where waste can be cut before there is any need for new or higher taxes.

This is déjà vu all over again with the people in the know not being believed by people who think they know better and the government addicted to spending taking the easy option of taxing more before it cuts its own waste.

There’s a new leader but it’s the same old government. far better at talk than effective, and cost efficient, action.

A preferred PM leads no party


Sunday night’s two political polls showing a jump for Labour wasn’t surprising.

A new leader almost always improves a party’s favourability.

What was surprising was that among the preferred Prime Ministers in the Newshub-Reid Research poll was Leighton Baker on 3.9% even though he doesn’t lead a party.

He was leader of the New Conservative Party a couple of years ago.

More recently he was an anti-mandate protestor who was charged with trespass after last year’s protest at parliament. The charges were later withdrawn.

What can be read in to that level of support for someone who doesn’t lead a party, keeping in mind that people polled are not prompted with names?

It shows there is a sizeable number of people who are still very angry about the mandates.

They are likely to be still very angry when they vote and 3.9% added to someone who does lead a party could get past the 5% threshold.

Apropos of this, RNZ reported on the poll and gave the support for preferred PM as:

  • Chris Hipkins: 19.6 percent
  • Christopher Luxon: 18.8 percent
  • David Seymour 3.9 percent
  • Jacinda Ardern: 12.4 percent
  • Winston Peters: 2.9 percent

There’s no mention of Leighton Baker and the Newshub poll it’s reporting on gave David Seymour 8%.

It’s most likely an unintended error, although conspiracy theorists among whose numbers might be counted some of Baker’s supporters, could read something sinister into it.

Abusive is abusive


Spot the double standard:

They’re shooting a salt gun at a Trump doll.

This week the media has been full of discussion about the abuse directed at politicians and how it is unacceptable it is.

If abuse is unacceptable for someone they like it’s no less acceptable for someone they don’t.

It doesn’t matter that it’s not the sort of gun that could kill someone and it’s aimed at a doll not a real person.

If it wouldn’t be acceptable to shoot at a doll representing someone regarded positively it’s not acceptable to shoot at a doll regarded negatively. It’s not acceptable to shoot at a doll representing any real person full stop.

Remember the justifiable horror at the calls to hang Jacinda Ardern? Can shooting at a doll representing another politician, no matter how good or bad a person he is, be any more acceptable?

Had this been media in another country shooting at a doll representing Ardern there would have been an uproar and accusations of abuse and misogyny.

That Breakfast did it in a week when abuse against public figures is being highlighted and condemned makes it worse.

It’s both hypocritical and a gross error of judgement.

Misogyny not only in politics


Retiring Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the misogyny to which she was subjected had nothing to do with her retirement.

That hasn’t stopped several journalists and commentators looking for evidence that it did.

They won’t have to search far to find misogynous abuse, but that doesn’t change Ardern’s statement that it wasn’t a factor in her resignation.

Were they to look beyond the retiring PM, those seeking misogyny would find plenty, not least in the attempts to redefine biology to ignore biological sex, to say men born male can be women and in campaigns to allow biological men entry to female spaces and compete unfairly with them in sport.

Quotes of the week


Fast forward to 2023 and what do Smith’s awards shows that are ‘reflective of the society we live in’ look like? A testosterone fest. People with penises as far as the eye can see. The Brits took the knee to the cult of nonbinary and its awards have never been less reflective of society. It’s almost as if the trans ideology is anti-women. – Brendan O’Neill

There are some important points to make here. First, Sam Smith was not ‘excluded’ from the Brits. That’s just nonsense. It is demeaning to those who have suffered real oppression to describe a bloke’s infantile, hammy refusal to accept a gong with the word ‘male’ on it as oppression. A man saying ‘Ooh, I can’t accept that award because its wording will offend my outlandish identity as a “they”’ is about as far from Rosa Parks as you can get. Smith excluded himself from the Brits by being in denial about his maleness. He, and Corrin and D’Arcy and the other fashionably post-gender celebs, opted out of sex, and by extension out of sexed awards. It’s on them. Why should awards change to accommodate the faddish beliefs of a nonbinary clique?

That’s the other point – the staggering narcissism of the nonbinary ideology. These people really do believe that the entire world should mould itself around their ideology. Male and female awards must be scrapped. Female toilets, changing rooms and other private spaces must be thrown open to men who feel like women. Even language itself must be twisted and bent to these people’s identity feels. So we’re all expected to use ‘preferred pronouns’ and even to mangle grammar by using ‘they’ to refer to one person. My use of the he pronoun for Smith and the she pronoun for Corrin and D’Arcy will be judged by some a heinous act of bigotry. But I am not willing to sacrifice the sense and universalism of the language I use to appease the fever dreams of a minority movement.Brendan O’Neill

So it is with the trans movement. It expects every realm of society – every awards ceremony, every woman’s space, every linguistic tradition – to bow and scrape before its post-truth, ahistorical belief that people are whatever sex they say they are. The truly oppressive force was not the Brits having male and female categories but the pressure put on the Brits to scrap those categories in order to flatter the narcissistic delusions of a few nonbinaries. This is the opposite of a civil-rights movement. Progressive movements in the past were concerned with changing the world to make it better for all. The regressive, navel-gazing cult of gender play is obsessed with altering the world so that its own adherents never have to encounter an idea or a space that dents their fragile egos. The irony of their misuse of the word ‘they’ is that they are myopically focused on me, me, me.- Brendan O’Neill

Many, I see, are predicting Winston Peters’ return – really? Haven’t we had enough of this showman and the games he plays with your vote?

Are we really going back there again? What is it we all think can be achieved that he hasn’t floated in the last 40 years in public life? I get concerned our memories are short.

At seven percent of the vote, he had 100 percent of the power to choose who governed. Your vote no longer counted. And in going for the untested Jacinda Ardern, knowing the economy was running into trouble, Peters put himself before his country. He ignored the man with the moral mandate and economic smarts and sent him into political retirement and he put in place an accidental Prime Minister, an experimental and vastly inexperienced Government that had made outlandish promises, so much so it wasn’t sure what it could deliver.

So it embarked on two years of working groups and did very little but fumble its way through until COVID hit.  – Duncan Garner

And if Peters is back, he’ll likely lick his wounds on the irrelevant cross benches or personally opt out of heading to Wellington. But the last thing the country needs is Peters on the cross-benches with National, a minority Government, running to Peters for daily support on issues. If that doesn’t speed up the brain drain or even brain fade, then nothing will.

For further insight on Peters, go back up this column and see my earlier comments about him – if he hasn’t achieved his political goals over the past 40 years, will he manage to in the next 40 years? – Duncan Garner

If we look at New Zealand today, we just fought a kind of war: that was the war against Covid. For this war, we gave the state extraordinary powers: to lock us up, to close our borders, to support the economy. But now that we are leaving Covid behind us, we need to return to our liberal traditions. We cannot let the state plan our lives. We cannot let it run large parts of the economy. We need a free market, a free economy and free Kiwis to generate prosperity for us all. And to deliver opportunities for all New Zealanders.

That is what I have learnt from history.Dr Oliver Hartiwch

A civilisation in which the law may be broken with impunity will not remain a civilisation very long. – Chris Trotter

Now, law enforcement may object that those engaged in such behaviour were later summonsed for their infringements. All well and good, but the public expects – and has every right to expect – that clear breaches of the law, not to mention “the peace”, are confronted as and when they happen. Because, if law enforcement extends no further than issuing summonses after crimes have been committed, and refuses (out of fear or lack of resources) to intervene as crimes are taking place, then the public’s faith in the Police will be shaken to the core.

Law enforcement’s inaction is dangerous for another reason. When the motorcycle gangs take over the streets and the highways, and the Police response is not to require them to observe the rules of the road, but to request that alarmed members of the public exercise patience and forbearance – what is the message being sent?

It is a message of weakness and fear. It is a message which reassures organised criminals that they possess more coercive power than the Police. It is a message that says: if there is nothing to stop gangsters taking over the streets and the highways, then there is nothing to stop gangsters taking over a hospital’s emergency department.

What’s next? If hospitals are no longer off limits to criminals, if medical staff can be intimidated and frail patients frightened out of their wits with impunity, then why not apply the same methods to witnesses, lawyers and judges? If the Police will not intervene to protect our hospitals, then what reason do we have to suppose that they will intervene to protect our courts?

Are those in command of the New Zealand state even willing to ask these questions? Or, are our politicians and public servants committed, instead, to a policy of appeasement? Certainly, there appears to be a general reluctance on the part of the state’s coercive instruments to exert their powers against individuals and groups who depict themselves as the victims of colonisation and white supremacy. Māori and Pasifika have learned that charges of historical and institutional racism have the effect of Kryptonite on the superpowers of the white settler state.Chris Trotter

To aggressively assert the powers of the State in the manner of Rob Muldoon in 1976, or even of Helen Clark in 2004, is no longer seen by public officials as a clear-cut issue of protecting the equal rights of all citizens by the equal application of all the laws. As currently interpreted by state actors, te Tiriti o Waitangi interposes all manner of caveats against moving decisively against the sort of behaviour on display by the Mongrel Mob at Christchurch Hospital.

Were any New Zealand government – Labour or National – to embark on a rapid build-up of the state’s coercive forces, sufficient to suppress the anti-social behaviour of criminal elements, there would be an outcry. Such a policy would be denounced as irredeemably racist. Its critics would demand to know against whom our beefed-up Police, Corrections, SIS and NZ Defence Forces were intended to be deployed. Would these overwhelmingly white bodies of men and women be unleashed against Pakeha? Or, would they, instead, be held in readiness against the nation’s most exploited, marginalised and institutionally oppressed citizens – Māori and Pasifika? – Chris Trotter

 Tax, tax, tax. That’s how Oxfam believes you will address skyrocketing inequality all over the world. It wants governments to introduce a one-off wealth tax and a windfall tax to end profiteering. It wants a permanent increase in tax for the richest 1 percent of the world’s population – taking at least 60 percent of their income, and an even greater percentage for multi-millionaires and billionaires. Rachel Smalley

Ultimately, Oxfam says it wants to significantly reduce the number of wealthy people, and the wealth of those people, and redistribute those resources.

Here’s the issue I have with this, though. These huge taxes, almost $3 trillion if Oxfam’s plan became a reality, would be given to governments to redistribute. And that’s why I think this strategy is flawed.

Our governments and politicians have gotten us into this mess. It is their decisions, and their historic leadership, that led us down this path. And if you look at where the most entrenched hardship and poverty is, it’s also where you will find the most corrupt governments. – Rachel Smalley

Why would you take money from the world’s most wealthy people, and place it in the hands of the corrupt monsters who’ve overseen the devastation of their populations or, at best, have just failed to understand or strategise how to counter challenges like famine or drought?

There is a generalised view among some humanitarians and charities that anyone who is in possession of extreme wealth has acquired it through the oppression or exploitation of others. Sure. Historically, in some cases, that is true. Rachel Smalley

But others with extreme wealth have revolutionised the way we live.

Love him or hate him, Elon Musk changed the way the world moved. Bill Gates changed the way we communicate – he connected the world. So did Larry Page with Google. So did Mark Zuckerberg. Jeff Bezos made it easy to buy goods from anywhere in the world. Bernard Arnault made billions out of luxury goods. Gina Reinhart cashed in on Australia’s mining resources. And so it goes on. I’m not suggesting any of these people are great characters, but they’re disrupters and they’re leaders.

So are you going to take money from these squillionaires, are you going to tax them, and give those funds to the governments of Peru, or Ethiopia, or South Africa, or Bangladesh, or Yemen? Or worse, the bureaucrats at the UN? Or do you work with some of these super-brains, these entrepreneurs to try and solve some of the world’s problems? – Rachel Smalley

I’m over-simplifying the issue of course, but you get my drift. Let’s use the brain power of the likes of Musk and Bezos and Gates because they are mega-rich for a reason. They’re super sharp. They’re strategic thinkers. They’re disrupters. They’ve already changed the world in some way, so why not bring them to the table to fix some of the major issues born from historical exploitation, climate change, natural or man-made disasters, or globalisation? Gates is already trying to find a way to combat malaria.

Charities need to get smarter too. They are foolish to sneer and gripe at success. Charities rely heavily on so-called mum and dad donators. But if they’re going to fix some of the major, structural challenges the world faces today, charities need scale and strategy. And it’s the corporate world and entrepreneurs who provide this.

However, whatever we do, we should not heavily tax the most wealthy people in the world and hand over that cash to governments. Politicians have failed to foresee and address some of the greatest issues we now see in housing, education, inequality, health, child poverty, food insecurity and climate change. We’re in a mess because of them. Tax is not the answer. Tapping into the minds of the people changing the world, is.  Rachel Smalley

One of the biggest problem our country faces is the continuous supply of false prophets who have the ear of government.

They come with ideas that sound workable but in practise turn out to be well less so. Their greatest ability is to ignore the realities which contradict the theory.

This is never more the case than when the politics of the environment (see rural NZ) are dissected. Our Government overrides and/or ignores the overwhelming success of the primary sector’s capacity to produce at a level which supplies significant capital for our health, education and welfare sectors to meet much of the needs of our wider society.

This is a result of the constant rational application to change which now seems to have been set aside in favour of a more “natural” process without the use of science. – Gerrard Eckhoff

The folk who are the new experts live in the cities. They have never actually grown or made anything from a strawberry to a sausage.

All the right people with experience and knowledge are now the wrong people to listen to, or so growers are told. Something to do with other people’s values. The rise and rise of the environmental puritan increasingly influences those in authority.

In the past, synthetic fertiliser has provided nutrient aplenty to help the young plant to produce. We are now told such fertiliser is bad.

The natural way of growing things is best and more in keeping with nature — or so we are told by those who promote that the natural way of growing things is the right way.

Most people die from natural causes which is why we should steer clear of naturally grown foods as one wit once observed — and with more than a grain of truth. (See E coli O157 found in compost.)Gerrard Eckhoff

It is correct that the Government’s preferred regenerative agriculture works but only if we are prepared to accept a 50% reduction in our productive capacity over the ensuing years.

Meanwhile, traditional pastoral farming continues to add organic matter (carbon) to the soil — only to be taxed for doing so. A 5000-stock unit property will be required to pay $8,500 at a time when lamb and mutton has fallen by 50%.

The use of any chemical sprays as bad for the environment is the common mantra of the environmental lobby group. This, despite killing off viruses that are even worse. – Gerrard Eckhoff

Transgenic is still a word spoken of in hushed tones in NZ society due to political allegiances wrongly insisting that the science behind GM is yet to be proven. The climate science is (apparently) proven but GM is not, so the fear of being ridiculed keeps most of us silent, but not all. (GM science has been contracted out by NZ to Australia and has been for years.) Gerrard Eckhoff

Hydro electrical generation is totally important and at a reasonable price. Our Government owns around 50% of a lot of hydro electricity generators who naturally enough need lots of water in their rivers. The Government receives healthy dividends from the generators. Such matters were once called a conflict of interest, but what used to be called a principled approach to decision making doesn’t seem to apply anymore.

Should Government continue down this pathway to artificially created food shortages (eggs) — the parable of the little red hen comes to mind but then school children will likely have no idea of what a parable is, even those who bother to attend school. That is another story for another day.

Most understand well that monopolies are bad for a country’s economy, yet governments are absolute natural monopolies with no constraints on their authority, even over our fragile democracy. Ah well we get what we vote for. – Gerrard Eckhoff

I would like to recap some of the more notable, what I term “unnecessary cock ups”.

Why, in the middle of a pandemic would you push ahead with the reform of our hospital system in favour of two new overarching organisations: Health NZ and the Maori Health Authority. Who was behind this and just what was the perceived benefit?

The greenhouse gas reduction plan aims to reduce sheep and beef farming in New Zealand by 20% and dairy farming by 5%. This equates to approximately the value of the entire wine industry and half of the seafood being wiped out.

Jacinda Ardern’s Government have allowed pine plantations to be planted on any class of land: thus prompting investors to buy up productive sheep and beef farms just to plant pines, pocket the carbon credits and then walk away! These sorts of decisions are absolutely mind-boggling!John Porter

A lack of acumen and competency is exhibited by too many government ministers. Impossible to change, I know, but those ministers who do possess a modicum of skill, need to step up and ensure government decisions are not based on an ethnic bias and that decisions are made only after exhaustive analysis of potential negative consequences.

How is this for ideology eclipsing the need for consequence analysis? The Government has paid out over $30m in clean car rebates to Tesla owners; now it’s recalibrating the scheme because it’s dished out too many discounts. The clean car discount was supposed to be a revenue-neutral policy; subsidies are meant to be paid for by a tax on heavy-emitting vehicles like utes.

I want a government that acknowledges the need for and practices fiscal responsibility. This Government has played a significant part in causing our record inflation, fuelling it with out-of-control spending. Consultancy costs are a classic example. Approximately $30m has been squandered on consultants’ fees for the 3-Waters merger alone! $300m is budgeted to be spent on the TVNZ/RNZ merger. A merger no one wants!

I want a government that ceases using fabricated, extreme climate modelling scenarios to construct doom-laden predictions that allow MPs and government lackeys to scare the public, all to justify outlandish and unnecessary government spending.

I want a government that is actually truthful, open and transparent. – John Porter

I want a government that does not bribe mainstream media to promote its fabricated “Treaty Partnership” agenda. MSM scrutiny no longer exists in New Zealand. They have surrendered their integrity, objectivity and neutrality. These standards have been massively compromised as a condition of access to the Ardern Government’s $55 million Public Interest Journalism Fund.

I want a government that does not promote Te Ao Maori worldview; a decolonisation narrative, and the equating of matauranga Maori with modern science as absolute truths.

We need an education system that prepares our young to be global citizens, literate, numerate and grounded in science in a way that places myth and legend in an appropriate perspective. Our education system needs to teach truthfully presented histories, enabling students to acknowledge and understand both the positive and negative aspects of our history. We cannot afford for those who will inherit our country to have a culturally distorted and intolerant perspective.

I want a government that does not believe a desire for social justice and equality for Maori is justification for completely overriding the principles of democracy. –

I want a government that commands police to crack down hard on any criminal activity.

We need a Police Commissioner who does not buy into the philosophy that a return to “baseline level” of criminal activity is acceptable policing.

I want a government that will cease its separatist agenda and govern equally for all. We need to become a country respectful of not just Maori, but all cultures. – 

New Zealand is entering a crucial, and quite possibly dangerous period of our history.

We are encumbered by an authoritarian government that is aggressively crushing our democracy. Plans are afoot, and government-cultivated and -abetted activists are determined to radically change our society.

For the New Zealand that we know and love to survive, New Zealanders need to start asserting that this government must go, and the foundation of democracy, one person, one vote must be the fundamental aspiration of a new government.John Porter

Taylor also explains that, although perception is not reality, perception can become a person’s reality (there is a difference) because perception has a major influence on how we look at reality.

In this light, the statement that “fruit and vegetables at the supermarket are so expensive now, processed and junk food actually works out cheaper” deserves examination. – Jacqueline Rowarth 

But fruit and vegetables are not the same types of food as “processed and junk foods”.

Fruit and vegetables are valuable sources of energy, vitamins, minerals and fibre. There is also increasing evidence of additional benefits from the range of phytonutrients they contain.

In contrast, processed and junk food (henceforth termed PJF) tend to be high in fats, sugar and salt.

This makes a cost comparison difficult because the basis of the comparison is unclear – choosing vitamins or fats would result in a different answer.Jacqueline Rowarth 

But fruit and vegetables are not the same types of food as “processed and junk foods”.

Fruit and vegetables are valuable sources of energy, vitamins, minerals and fibre. There is also increasing evidence of additional benefits from the range of phytonutrients they contain.

In contrast, processed and junk food (henceforth termed PJF) tend to be high in fats, sugar and salt.

This makes a cost comparison difficult because the basis of the comparison is unclear – choosing vitamins or fats would result in a different answer. – Jacqueline Rowarth 

The CSIRO (Australia’s equivalent to New Zealand’s Crown Research Institutes) has examined the typical Australian diet and come to similar conclusions about the cost of PJF but on the environment rather than the wallet.

Researchers estimated that discretionary foods (anything that isn’t an essential or necessary part of a healthy dietary pattern) were responsible for almost 30 per cent of the greenhouse gases (GHG) of an average Australian diet.

Of the core food groups, the two smallest contributors to total dietary GHG were fruit (3.5 per cent) and vegetables (6.5 per cent).

The CSIRO researchers suggested that reducing discretionary food intake would allow for small increases in emissions from core foods, particularly vegetables (from 2.5 to 5.5 servings a day), dairy (from 1.5 to 2.5 servings), and grains (from 4.6 to 6 servings). The nutritional benefit would be achieved at a 3.6 per cent increase in GHG, which the authors described as “small”. – Jacqueline Rowarth 

Two interesting facts in these charts. The first is that retail thefts have gone from around 2,000 to 6,000 which is a tripling since 2018 (and was steady before that).

The second is that less than 8% of retail thefts have resulted in court action. This probably explains why retail is out of control – no consequences for the criminals involved. – David Farrar 

  • The Health Authority is a separatist institution designed to serve the interests of one ethnic group.
  • Three Waters was opposed by the vast majority of Councils and was the subject of a massive petition against it. It gives 50% of the administrative control of drinking water, waste water and storm water to iwi. The latter represent 16.5% of the population.
  • The seats for Maori on councils is undemocratic. No other ethnic group is guaranteed representation in local government.Roger Childs

If Peters cared what the voters want then in 1996 he would have gone with Helen Clark and in 2017 with Bill English. Winston will do whatever is good for Winston.

Peters could not go in coalition with either Clark or English because they are both very principled. Helen Clark would not have the Greens in her ministry, too extreme. Bill English would never have agreed to the pork barrel politics of New Zealand First’s Provincial Growth Fund.

Christopher Luxon may not know it but he could never work with Winston Peters. Luxon sacked his agriculture spokesperson because she made personal representations to the Minister of Agriculture. MPs have always been able to see ministers regarding their personal situation. The Minister himself said there was no apparent conflict of interest.

How would Luxon react if he found his Minister of Racing’s party was receiving substantial undeclared donations from wealthy businessmen with connections to the racing industry?

Any coalition between the non-drinking, early to bed, Luxon and the most famous late night customer of the Green Parrot would not last. – Richard Prebble 

A coalition of the losers could steal the election. Will it work?

If the National caucus remains disciplined and has some sensible policy the party’s support will break 40%.

If Act continues to offer practical positive solutions Labour’s attempts to demonize Act will fail.

Political machinations have a marginal effect on elections compared to the economy. It is the cost of living, crime, failing health services and 7% plus mortgages that will sweep Labour away.

The two by-elections indicate there is a mood for change. Voters who want a change of government will not risk another coalition of the losers by voting for the man who crowned Jacinda Ardern Prime Minister.Richard Prebble 

The Road to Zero: The ambitious aim of reducing road deaths to zero.

It’s an admirable aspiration, but delusional – and even the government’s spin doctors know it. That’s why the “zero” goal is in fact a 40 per cent reduction in death and serious injuries by 2030,

Even that is wishful thinking.

Slogans are not solutions but slogans epitomise the Ardern administration: “The team of 5 million”; “The Road to Zero”.

It’s mindless rubbish, but it’s also insulting. Clearly, those who are actually paid to dream up this “creative” nonsense, think we believe it. Sadly, they may be right enough to get away with it.  – Frank Newman

But should we expect anything more substantial than slogans and puff from an undergraduate with a Communication Studies degree in politics and public relations, and work experience incubated within left-wing politics? Of course not. Clearly, in the make-believe world of Jacinda Ardern, words speak louder than actions.

The Ardern government has been little more than slogans and Orwellian contradictions tailored to a gullible audience: The team of five million – defined by race. A Public Interest Journalism Fund – that prioritises government policy before public interest. 

And so it is with the Road to Zero.  In December 2019 the Government published the strategy for 2020–2030 and an initial 3-year action plan that expired on 1 January.  Frank Newman

 Maybe 151 fewer people will die on our roads each year by 2030 and just maybe no one will die on our roads by some unknown year in the future. Or maybe it will just be more huff and puff like Kiwibuild which promised 100,000 homes and has delivered 1,366 to date. Maybe the Road to Zero is just more political hot air.

Here’s what the Road to Zero has achieved. It has produced a strategy document.

The problem is words and pictures don’t save lives – they don’t even fill potholes! – Frank Newman

Minimising deaths on the road is a very commendable goal and would be very achievable, if no one were to actually use the roads.  

The real world is always about minimisation and trade-offs, and in that regard one can have more faith in the very smart car makers coming up with solutions aimed at eliminating human error. 

What can be expected from our politicians is that they provide roads that are safe, but then, these are the same people that are challenged by potholes, so expecting safe roads may be a bit ambitious and their Road to Zero is a road to nowhere. Frank Newman

You cannot and should not do the job unless you have a full tank, plus a bit in reserve for those unplanned and unexpected challenges that inevitably come along.

Having reflected over summer I know I no longer have that bit extra in the tank to do the job justice. It’s that simple. – Jacinda Ardern

Politicians are human. We give all that we can, for as long as we can, and then it’s time.

And for me, it’s time. – Jacinda Ardern

She never appeared to grasp that announcing policy is not the same as implementing it. Press releases do not build houses. Speeches do not end poverty. In the end, it was Jacinda’s constant failure to deliver that made it impossible for her to go on.

If you say “Let’s do this!”, then, Dear God, you have to do it! – Chris Trotter 

So credit to the PM for realising that despite having more time left than most world leaders, she was not going to realise her cherished goals for New Zealand.

What might send a shiver down the spine of some older and more time-limited world leaders (as well as her own successor) is that her problems – even if rhetorically more polished – are quite similar to their own.

And seem equally intractable.

Just run through a list of potential policy-reality clashes: ending relative poverty when statistically poor people show little desire to model your own sensible behaviour; reducing carbon consumption without confronting the truly enormous welfare costs; paying for more health and social welfare without robust long-term market-led productivity growth; building affordable houses without substantial environmental modification and painful disruption to ossified local practice; increasing opportunity and outcomes for indigenous people without creating privilege and double standards.Point of Order

Barring an economic miracle, it will be hard for the government to slip out from under the burden of Ardern’s policy indecision.  It looks more likely to slide softly out of office on the back of disappointed supporters and disillusioned middle-of-the-roaders.

Meanwhile, the world’s leaders will be asking themselves if Jacinda has made a wise move in beating them to an early shower.

Some will envy her opportunity to reinvent herself and leave behind problems she and her supporters thought she was particularly well-equipped to solve.

Others may take it as a sign that perhaps she wasn’t quite such a world leader – let alone a defining one – after all. – Point of Order

Jacinda Ardern was a dreadful prime minister of New Zealand who failed in substance but succeeded wildly in image.

All her economic instincts were bad, all her strategic instincts were bad. She had a great desire to undo productive economic reform and remove or shut down the engines of economic growth for what should be a nation of limitless opportunity.

Nonetheless, for a time, she was very successful politically.

She had one genuine achievement. She reacted with dignity and moral seriousness to the appalling Christchurch terrorist massacre.Greg Sheridan

Nonetheless, as a leader you can’t fake it, you have to do it. She certainly did it and she deserves credit for that.

After that, well, the achievement cupboard is pretty bare. Ardern did keep Covid at bay for a significant amount of time. That’s because New Zealand is an isolated island. We got much the same outcome for much the same reason. So did the leaders of Fiji, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. – Greg Sheridan

Of course Ardern, from the left of her party, instituted one of the most draconian lockdowns outside China itself. Sometimes she made Dan Andrews look like a Milton Friedman/Ayn Rand libertarian.Greg Sheridan

In substance, Ardern was a flop. She didn’t do the things she promised to do when first elected in 2017. She promised the government would build 100,000 homes, it built barely 1000.

She was a big cheese on climate change, but New Zealand’s emissions, before Covid, went up.

Public service emphasis was meant to focus on the regions of the country. Instead, all power, and many more public servants, went to Wellington.

Ardern talked a good game on human rights in the abstract, but under her leadership New Zealand was a tiny, frightened mouse when it came to Beijing. – Greg Sheridan

But her failure in substance did not much dim Ardern’s international star, for we live in an age of political cryptocurrency, paid out in celebrity bitcoin. Ardern was a perfect princess of woke.

She was young, unmarried, had a child in office and her partner was a stay-at-home dad, and she spoke the woke dialect with a native fluency. Naturally, Manhattan swooned. Greg Sheridan

But actually doing real stuff in the real world butters no parsnips in the virtual reality of celebrity land. In that strange universe, Queen Jacinda for a time reigned without challenge. – Greg Sheridan

History will record this government as by far the worst in the post-war era. They’ve been disastrously incompetent, financially reckless and brought terrible damage to the social fabric and our democracy with their nonsensical co-government outrage based on sheer lies.Sir Bob Jones

This is one of the under-appreciated things about cancel culture: its broader chilling effect. The way it shaves the edges off public life, the way it stymies creativity, the way it incentivises everyone to carry on like a career politician, terrified of saying anything interesting. – Tom Slater

So, he has done everything that the cancellers have demanded of him. Retraction? Tick. Grovelling apology? Tick. Promise to ‘do better’? Tick. And yet of course it won’t be enough for them, ever – because, whatever the chattering classes say, cancel culture isn’t about accountability, it’s about vengeance.Tom Slater

I wish he hadn’t apologised. Apologies only gin up the cancellers and feed the whole infernal dynamic. Ultimately, I don’t think Jeremy Clarkson had much to apologise for, beyond being Jeremy Clarkson and making the sort of outrageous, not particularly funny joke Jeremy Clarkson tends to make. But at the same time, what a sad state of affairs it is that even genuinely contrite individuals might as well not bother now. Cancel culture not only stifles free speech and creativity, it renders genuine apologies pointless. It makes admitting fault a mug’s game. Our culture is so much worse for it. – Tom Slater

Our duty as adults is to safeguard our children. There is a reason we have legislation in place to prohibit children from doing certain things that may cause them harm. Unfortunately, there are organisations and individuals, including those in positions of power, who seek to dilute these safeguards when it comes to matters of sex and gender. This should worry us all.James Esses

Jacinda Ardern has made the right decision. If she doesn’t have enough in the tank, and if she doesn’t feel that she can lead the country, she is 100 percent right to stand down. I felt sorry for her yesterday. She had just returned from a summer break and she looked stressed, emotionally exhausted, and vulnerable.

Ardern’s biggest critics will no doubt feel a sense of relief but in the coming days and weeks, that will likely turn to anger. There can be no doubt Ardern has gifted National the election, but in her wake, she has left a hotch-potch of huge, expensive and impactful policies that can only be described as half-baked, or half-finished. And every one of these policies looms large on the horizon.

Three Waters, He Waka Eke Noa, the TVNZ-RNZ merger and the restructuring of our health system are all multi-million-dollar behemoths. They form the backbone of an enormous and controversial body of work, and Labour has just lost its most effective political weapon. If Ardern isn’t there to push these through, who will? And what becomes of the billions of dollars we have invested in these policies so far when they all collapse in an ugly heap?  – Rachel Smalley

Labour will come under enormous public pressure to bring forward the election. It is unthinkable that we can sit in a rudderless void with Chris Hipkins or Michael Wood at the helm of the Government, lurching our way through a recession, and waiting for an election in October. Neither of those people, neither Hipkins nor Wood will make any decisions, we’ll just sit and tread water. Now the country, this is the reality, it needs a war-time leader and Labour does not have one waiting in the wings.

If that happens, it will be 2024 before National and ACT can begin to right the ship, and what an even bigger economic mess this country will be in by then. Rachel Smalley

New Zealand is precariously balanced economically. The country is facing huge headwinds in a year when no one in Labour is truly qualified to make economic decisions, and I don’t believe Labour can stand up and say ‘we have a public mandate to continue to lead.’ Legally they do, morally they don’t.

In 2020 we didn’t elect Labour, we elected Jacinda Ardern, make no mistake about that. We gave her a single-party majority leadership government. There is no doubt we elected her, not Labour.

Our new Prime Minister, whoever that is, whoever Labour chooses, will have no option but to channel all of their energy into retaining power. The economy will have to wait. – Rachel Smalley

The party cannot appoint a new Prime Minister on Sunday and expect the country to accept its decision.

The only solution is to bring the election forward. Labour must seek a new mandate from the public.

Neither Chris Hipkins nor Michael Wood is students of the economy. And that’s what we need. Someone who can lead the country’s economic response.

Labour, as I said, should not choose our Prime Minister this weekend, we should. Our democracy depends on it, our economical survival does as well.Rachel Smalley

But while her exit is understandable on a human level, it is confounding on a political one. Labour MPs and supporters have every right to be furious. – Henry Cooke

She leaves the party in far worse shape to fight this election than it would have been under her leadership. Worse, her decision appears to have genuinely surprised the party, meaning succession-planning has not been thought through. Henry Cooke

Her legacy will be for historians to figure out. Some will see her as Labour’s greatest postwar leader – a strong leader through massive crises who also gave the party its largest win in decades. Others will compare her unfavourably with someone like Helen Clark – a soldier for the party who stuck around through two losing election campaigns and three winning ones, remaking New Zealand significantly in her nine-year term of power. Ardern has lost the chance to really embed her vision of social democracy into the country with another win. – Henry Cooke

Even if the party was doomed to defeat either way, there is a difference between a close loss and a big one, a difference you can measure in fresh new faces to revitalise your party, and the parliamentary funding desperately needed for research staff.

Ardern’s exit will come as a shock to many international fans, who saw her as a beacon of progressive hope during the Trump years. But it proves a lesson this same movement should have taken from Barack Obama, or indeed Bernie Sanders: investing an actual person with this much political importance is always dangerous. If your plan to win an election hinges so strongly on an individual, you always run the risk of them leaving the field. – Henry Cooke

It was meant to be the most transformational government ever. Now, Jacinda Ardern’s Labour government has ended. There was no transformation. – Josie Pagani

I hosted a group of political strategists who came here to learn lessons about how she won in 2017. No one really found an explanation other than her personality and ability to communicate our values.

For everything accomplished, we must weigh what wasn’t. – Josie Pagani

She leaves a divided country.

Sixty-four percent of Kiwis, across all ages, believe New Zealanders are more divided than ever. Particularly problematic for the Prime Minister, women feel this more than men.

The priorities of traditional Labour supporters, working people on low incomes, were put lower on the agenda than Three Waters and merging TVNZ and RNZ.

Jacinda Ardern was willing to spend $678 million to subsidise businesses to decarbonise, but says free dental care is an unaffordable dream. The 2020 estimated cost of free dental care was $648 million.

We are a more unequal country than when she was elected. – Josie Pagani

When challenged on her government’s priority list, the PM ‘’refuted’’, and ‘’rejected’’. The irritability was getting worse. It jarred with kindness.

Labour will be at much longer odds to be re-elected now.

The new leader will need to turn the narrative around and reset the agenda. Re-focus and sort out the underperforming public sector, jettison the identity politics, and deliver a greater share of the economy to wage earners. – Josie Pagani

There’s an old saying that all political careers end in failure. Both John Key and Jacinda Ardern have looked ahead and bowed out on their own terms.

It’s healthy to walk away. 

This could be the chance that Labour didn’t take in opposition to do the work of thinking about what they are there for. Only then will they deserve another go. – Josie Pagani

Ardern stopped short of endorsing a successor – Key made that mistake with English. But denied a real contest, the ambitious and desperate in caucus will white-ant where the new leader falters.

Her popularity, so inextricably linked to the fortunes of the party, leaves a vacuum which her successor will struggle to fill, and in which chaos and restless egos will thrive.

Although her heart wasn’t in it, she was still Labour’s best hope against National. – Andrea Vance 

It’s going to get worse, it’s going to get more painful and they need a government that’s going to get things done for them so they can get ahead. – Christopher Luxon

We can have robust debate and discussion; we maintain civility for each other; we disagree strongly; we don’t have to be disagreeable with each other personally.

And that’s a choice we all get to make here in New Zealand about how we want to carry ourselves and model that out to each other and our teams. – Christopher Luxon

She wasn’t just Prime Minister of New Zealand – and a popular one at her peak – she was a global pin-up for progressive values. She was the beacon of hope among those on the Left who had been destabilised by Donald Trump, Brexit and Boris Johnson. For many, she was seen as a breed apart among global leaders: one who was untouched by the fatal brew of ego, arrogance and self-interest which they saw as inbred into many male politicians.

Ardern’s undoing was in that she appeared to believe that herself. I don’t claim to be able to read her mind, but I would guess that her real reason for resigning ahead of New Zealand’s general election later this year was not primarily that she wanted to collect her daughter from playgroup every day, as she has intimated, but that she could no longer cope with her halo having slipped. When you have been built up into a living saint it must come as a shock to find yourself under attack for failing to address the same old problems which afflict less-progressive national leaders. Inflation, a stuttering economy and rising crime are hardly unique to New Zealand, but they showed that there was nothing magical about Ardern’s politics – the only difference is that in her case she lacked the toughness to weather serious adversity.  – Ross Clark 

The danger now is that in resigning before what was beginning to look like an inevitable defeat at the polls, she will come to be seen by progressives as a political martyr, reinforcing their belief in her greatness, as a female leader who willingly gave up power to be with her family. The reality is that she failed in much that she tried to achieve, and the hero-worship which she enjoyed around the world made things worse by adding to her hubris.  Ross Clark 

There was once a time when climate change was about science. No longer.

It is now about money and politics. Not just some of it. All of it. –  Barry Brill 

Like COP meetings, the Davos meeting is the very epitome of hypocrisy. – Barry Brill 

Private jet flights are by far the most emissions-intensive mode of transport per passenger-kilometre yet invented. Every Davos flight averaged CO2 emissions equivalent to those produced by about 350,000 average cars for a week. – Barry Brill 

There will now be a week of fine dining: air-flown filet, frenched cutlets, truffle ice cream, the very best cheeses. Despite this, Davos Man will continue to staunchly advocate veganism – and eating proteins from insects – to “save the planet”.Barry Brill 

The only rational conclusion to be drawn from from all this cognitive dissonance is that these wealthy people do not really believe a word of what they constantly preach about climate change.

They demand pain and sacrifice rules “for thee but not for me”. They say one thing and do another. As the old cliche has it: their actions speak louder than words.

So, they must have some other underlying objective. But what is it? – Barry Brill 

The favourite fantasy of the Western upper class is that the end of the world is imminent and can only be averted if we fundamentally change the way we live. But “we” does not include the seriously wealthy. No. Their heroic role is to make all this change happen. To be leaders. History will record that it was their vision and grit that ensured the future of the human race.

Prof Schoellhammer says it doesn’t matter to them that every alarmist prediction has proven to be wrong – because facts can be trumped by “morality”. Extreme predictions pander to an ersatz-religion that allows the super-rich to simultaneously enjoy their wealth and lecture the rest of the world from a position of moral superiority.

Inter-generational guilt also plays a role. The Newsweek article reveals that the unspeakable “Just Stop Oil” group, who throw ketchup over priceless paintings, are on the payroll of Aileen Getty, the granddaughter of legendary oil-tycoon Jean Paul Getty. Who knew?Barry Brill 

John Kerry is quite open about financing the political campaigns of candidates who support draconian climate policies. No left-wing candidate anywhere in the developed world could get elected in 2023 without first prostrating themselves before the shrine of climate change alarm.

But buying politicians is not enough unless they can get re-elected.

Public opinion has to be bought as well, and that is a long hard grind : the press, the electronic media, government officials, celebrities, pollsters, academics, trade unions, bloggers, social media gatekeepers, teachers, influencers, the entertainment industry, etc – in every region and district in the English-speaking world. It all adds up to serious money. – Barry Brill 

The numbers of NGO employees funded by wealthy individuals and charitable foundations worldwide runs into the millions[2]. @SDGaction, an NGO, boasts that its members accumulated 100 million ‘transformative actions’ and stunts in 2021 alone, and thereby changed the world.

These activists work all day, every day, on lobbying everybody, everywhere, to demand more extreme and extensive climate policies. The planned outcome is to overwhelm and control the public debate – or to ensure that there is no public debate – and to spread cultures and politics of chronic self-deception in respect of all issues that are related to climate change. They have been remarkably successful. –

You might think that this barely-imaginable cataract of cash could buy almost anything in this money-conscious world. Can it buy scientific research grants? Access to scientific journals? Resolutions at conferences of public-sector scientists? The sympathetic ear of UN officials? Consensus at Davos?

What would happen if all this billionaire philanthropy was to be withdrawn from politicians, bureaucrats, environmental organisations, newspapers, broadcasters, etc?

Would there be anything left of the climate change emergency? Or would it quietly fade away? – Barry Brill 

Man might be defined not as the rational animal, but as the meaning-seeking animal. We invest events with meaning because we prefer to think that there is some purpose behind them rather than that there is none. This is the reason why conspiracy theories are so popular. A malign purpose is better than no purpose at all, for it not only encourages a belief in the possibility of human control over events, and that if only the malign conspirators could be eliminated (the contemplation of the destruction of fellow beings being always delightful to a certain kind of person), the world could be much improved, but it also flatters and inflates the importance and powers of mankind in general.Theodore Dalrymple

Since World War II, every Prime Minister who has taken office in between elections has gone on to lose.

Holyoake from Holland, Marshall from Holyoake, Rowling from Kirk, Palmer then Moore from Lange, Shipley from Bolger, English from Key. They have all lost. Some, Holyoake and English, put up a fight. Most were swept away in big landslide defeats.

Yesterday, Jacinda Ardern forming a coalition of the losers after the election, despite Winston Peters’ denials, was a real possibility.

Now, nothing can save Labour. – Richard Prebble

If you cannot face meeting the voters you cannot lead an election campaign.

It is nonsense to blame social media and claim things are different today. I went as a student during the Vietnam war to a campaign meeting in the Town Hall that Holyoake addressed. It was a riot. I came away impressed with his courage.

I attended some of Muldoon’s meetings. To say they were hostile is to fail to convey the atmosphere. Muldoon gave what he got back with vigour.

I have had to walk through picket lines of seamen and wharfies to reach public meetings that were stacked with hostile voters.

Yes, I received many threats including death threats. The police insisted on prosecuting two, one who physically attacked me outside a public meeting and another who sent a white powder through the post claiming it was anthrax. – Richard Prebble

In a democracy you have to accept not everyone will love you. Some will hate you. In the country, there are some people who are certifiable. I am sure they all rang me. – Richard Prebble

We all love the Titanic examples. Jacinda Ardern, as captain of the Titanic after it has hit the ice, has said she does not have it in her to try and save the passengers, crew or ship and has taken the first lifeboat.

Regardless of what they are saying publicly, the Labour caucus will be very angry. – Richard Prebble

Theft in supermarkets is common.  It has increased dramatically since someone decided that criminals would not be stopped if they had got passed the checkout and that police would not be notified.  Staff are not allowed to interfere at all.  Security can only intervene if culprits can be caught prior to checkout.  We are not talking about women with large coats nicking a few items in their inside pockets – it is loaded trolleys pushed out the door in full view.

It is one reason for higher grocery prices – we are subsidising petty crooks.  Retail theft amounted to $1.2 Billion last year.  That’s the recorded only. Double it at least. Its over $800 a household and maybe well over a $1,000 if unrecorded crime is added in.   – Owen Jennings

Gang numbers increased 50% between October 2017 and June 2021 to well over 8,000.  The tough end of gang land operates in hard drugs monopolising the trade and pulling serious profits.  The newbies run the car thefts, ram raids, shop thefts and nick from supermarkets.

Police are now caught up in more and more welfare work, dealing with mental issues, court time and endless paperwork.   is quick to point out extra police on the beat but the workload is up over 60% and the numbers barely 10%.  More and more of the ‘low level’ crime is simply ignored because of a lack of resource.Owen Jennings

Those who say jail is not the answer and that more needs to be done to rehabilitate miscreants are losing both ways.  No jail and no rehab.  And so are we.  The anti-jail lobby is working well with lots of help from the bench.  Community service is a very sick joke with limited supervision, no penalties for “no shows” and guys just sleeping it off in the corner.  Ankle bracelets and home detention means more porno movies and Maccas delivered by courier.

The answer?  Education and heavy intervention taking control through mentoring and tough love.  That is another story for another time and, sadly, avoided like a plague. – Owen Jennings

I don’t think women are in a unique position here.

What I think is different for Prime Minister Ardern is that social media is a much bigger factor than it was for Prime Minister Clark or myself.

What happens is if an abuser then has a voice, others amplify that voice. – Dame Jenny Shipley

Democratic government is about our parties and our nation and our best prospects. – Dame Jenny Shipley

This is not new.

To some extent, you have to accept that. It doesn’t make it right. “It’s not good for New Zealand, it’s certainly not good for leaders, and I don’t think it’s a reflection of who we are.

We can debate policy and disagree, but we do need to respect the people who step up and take the leadership responsibilities.

Stick to the issue, not the person. You demean yourselves as you try and demean others. If you can’t win the argument, shut your mouth and get off social media.

We should watch what’s good for New Zealand, rather than putting personal pressure on the individual leaders, whether they are women or men. Dame Jenny Shipley

Sad to say, Chris Hipkins has been a key figure in an incompetent government that has pushed up almost every bad social statistic. And I haven’t mentioned this government’s very destructive racial policies that might well do more than any of the failures listed above to finish off his time as Prime Minister on 14 October. A few hardy souls think he could pull Labour up, but after a probable momentary blip in the polls, I suspect that six years of a mostly dead-loss administrative record will sink the Hipkins Ministry. It’s a pity. With more able, less dogmatic colleagues, he might have had better prospects. – Michael Bassett

We are facing Chris Hipkins as PM, who is firmly identified with Ardern’s failed policies.

More importantly, we are living in a broken society. Our health system is overwhelmed. Excess all-cause mortality is at record highs. Our school system is in crisis. Social cohesion is at a low ebb. Crime is rising. The cost of living has skyrocketed. More of the same policies are not going to solve these crises. If nothing is changed, the coming year will bring a harvest of bankruptcies and mortgagee failures.Guy Hatchard

Principles, policies, personality


Prime Minister-elect Chris Hipkins has made a plea that the privacy of his wife and children be respected.

 Incoming Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has revealed his recent marriage separation in a plea to New Zealanders to respect the privacy of his wife and children. . . 

It is impossible to always separate the personal from the public, but the families of public figures have a right to their privacy and this plea ought to be respected.

Democracy would be better if there was a lot more separation of the personal and personality from the political, not just of politicians’ families but of the politicians themselves.

Politicians aren’t blameless. They can use their personal lives for political reasons and that’s all well and good when the personal is positive. However, it can far too easily be negative.

There’s been a lot of chatter about whether personal abuse and misogyny played a part in Jacinda Ardern’s resignation. She says it didn’t and former PM Dame Jenny Shipley says there’s nothing new in such abuse:

Former Prime Minister Jenny Shipley, the first woman in the role, told 1News on Friday part of the problem was the focus on personality, rather than policy, in politics.

She thought people could “trivialise” women in politics, but said all leaders copped abuse.

“I don’t think women are in a unique position here.

“What I think is different for Prime Minister Ardern is that social media is a much bigger factor than it was for Prime Minister Clark or myself.

“What happens is if an abuser then has a voice, others amplify that voice.”

Mainstream media has far more vigilant gatekeepers than social media does.

The latter enables people who would otherwise not have a voice to be heard and have what they say amplified, but it’s not only social media at fault.

She said the news media also had to be careful not to amplify “personal controversy, as well as personal popularity”.

As Margaret Thatcher said:

If the media put a politician on a pedestal, it opens up the opportunity for others to point out and criticise feet of clay.

They ought to be able to do that without getting nasty but it’s better not to put politicians on pedestals in the first place.

“Democratic government is about our parties and our nation and our best prospects.”

Parties’ policies should be of far more importance and command far more attention than personalities.

Shipley said threats she’d faced included death threats and personal abuse.

“This is not new.

“To some extent, you have to accept that. It doesn’t make it right.

“It’s not good for New Zealand, it’s certainly not good for leaders, and I don’t think it’s a reflection of who we are.

“We can debate policy and disagree, but we do need to respect the people who step up and take the leadership responsibilities.

“Stick to the issue, not the person. You demean yourselves as you try and demean others. If you can’t win the argument, shut your mouth and get off social media.

“We should watch what’s good for New Zealand, rather than putting personal pressure on the individual leaders, whether they are women or men.” . . 

We need able, capable and skilled people as politicians but voters, and the media,  need to look beyond personality.

We should start with our own principles and find a party whose principles best match ours.

Parties should formulate policies that are in keeping with their principles and it would help if more of us joined parties and participated in policy formation.

It would also help if all of us – the  public, media and politicians paid far more attention to policies than personalities and debated policy rather than denigrating people.

Personal abuse shows a lack of intellect and ability to debate issues.

Margaret Thatcher again:

No political capital left


One theory about Jacinda Ardern’s early retirement is that she couldn’t get the Maori caucus to moderate their demands, realised she couldn’t win the election if she gave in to them so gave up.

Or was it this:


The new leader needs support of  2/3 of the whole caucus or the leadership will go out to the wider party.

Whether or not Ardern lost the battle with the Maori caucus, its members will have a big say in the vote for the party’s next leader and Prime Minister.

What policy promises will they extract as a price for their support and what will that do for the political capital of the new leader and the party as a whole?

Ardern not seeking re-election


Jacinda Ardern has just announced she won’t be seeking re-election and will be standing down no later than February 7th.

She also announced Election Day will be Saturday October 14th.

Rural round-up


Labour floundering on farming emissions :

Farmers are likely to be even more confused at Labour’s floundering approach to farming emissions following today’s announcement, National’s acting Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“Labour is all over the show. Just a few months ago Labour were proposing to decimate sheep and beef farming by 20 per cent – now they are saying they want to work with the farming sector on how the pricing scheme will work and they will consider carbon sequestration.

“Labour’s process shows a complete disregard for farming realities, and the fact they have made this announcement four days before Christmas is cynical politics.

“Farmers have lost trust in Labour. This is too little, too late and doesn’t go far enough. . . 

Groundswell ‘disturbed’ by govt blinkers – Neal Wallace :

Leaders of the Groundswell ginger group say they are surprised at how little senior government ministers know about the impact of their policies on rural communities.

“Some of what we told them was new, which was disturbing,” the group’s co-founder, Bryce McKenzie, said after a top-level meeting this week.

McKenzie and fellow Groundswell founder Laurie Paterson met with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, associate Agriculture Minister Meka Whaitiri, Climate Change Minister James Shaw and associate Local Government Minister Kieran McAnulty to explain the concerns of their members.

He said they enjoyed the experience, with the scheduled 30-minute meeting lasting 70 minutes. . . 

Methane inhibitor bolus could reduce emissions by 70% :

A project to develop a sustained release methane inhibitor technology for grass-fed animals has received a funding boost from the Government.

Ruminant BioTech’s CALM (Cut Agricultural Livestock Methane) programme has secured nearly $8 million from the state. Ruminant BioTech investors will match the Crown’s cash injection.

The company aims to develop a commercially viable bolus by 2025 that delivers at least a 70% reduction in ruminant animals’ methane emissions over six months.

Ruminant BioTech chief executive George Reeves says the bolus has the potential to provide every dairy, sheep, and beef farmer in New Zealand with an effective, easy, “set and forget” methane reduction solution that is both highly effective and practical for grass-fed animal farming operations. . . 

Fonterra expects biotech products to drive future growth :

Fonterra’s global focus has shifted since the pandemic began, anticipating much of its future growth will stem from investment in high value growth in biotech products.

In response to the changing global market, the dairy co-operative has recently established a global markets business, headed up by long serving executive Judith Swales.

Her brief covers global consumer products, ingredients and food services businesses everywhere but China.

Swales said global dairy production was levelling off, given land constraints, climate change considerations and plateauing consumer demand for dairy products, such as milk, butter, cheese and yogurt. . . 

Why organic farming is not the way forward – Holger Kirchmann:

The aim of this article is to provide information about crop production data based on large-scale organic farming and to point toward major consequences. National statistics show lower organic yields than compiled in meta-analyses from farm- and plot-scale. Yields of organically cropped legumes were 20% and nonlegumes 40% lower than those of conventionally grown crops. Area estimates showed that almost two of three crops were legumes or legume mixtures in organic farming, whereas one of three crops was a legume in conventional cropping. Doubling land use for legumes in organic farming affected the type of food produced, being dominated by milk products and red meat. Over all crops, the organic yield gap was 35%. Since yields are lower under organic than conventional practices, more land is required to produce the same amount of agricultural crops. A 35% yield gap means that 50% more arable land is required. A demand for 50% more farmland imposes huge land use changes and makes one realize the wide-ranging environmental consequences that follow when converting to organic farming. In a relevant comparison between organic and conventional cropping systems, environmental consequences caused by land use change such as lost products (timber, fiber, energy, etc.) and lost ecosystem services (sequestered carbon in soil, wildlife, biodiversity, etc.) must be included. The concept of organic farming was founded on philosophical views about nature, not biological science. Natural means and methods were assumed to be superior. Verification of the reasoning and statements of the founders on why to abandon mineral fertilizers cannot be corroborated by science and is incorrect. Scientific evidence for the concept to abandon synthetic mineral fertilizers as nutrients for crops is lacking. The scientific community is obliged to follow rigorous scientific criteria—not biased views, prejudices, or beliefs. . . 

Wool and cotton outlook – Angus Jones :

International markets for wool and cotton have seen much volatility through the course of 2022 – with the lingering impacts of COVID and escalated geopolitical and economic uncertainty affecting the trade – and the year ahead could be equally turbulent, agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank says in a new industry podcast.

Speaking on the podcast, Turbulent 2022 for Cotton and Wool Prices, Rabobank associate analyst Edward McGeoch said local and global extreme weather events have significantly impacted cotton production while Australian wool production is on the rise.

Year in review – Cotton

There has been a lot of fluctuation with cotton prices through 2022, Mr McGeoch said.

“Cotton prices opened well off the back of strong performances in 2021 – kicking off the year with a local price of roughly $740 per bale. And we saw the price trend up significantly to an 11-year high, with rises of 29 per cent to achieve just under $1000 per bale. . . 

Strong finish


The trend in the polls and Tama Potaka’s winning the Hamilton West by-election are grounds for cautious optimism in National.

However, optimism should not be confused with complacency. There is no room for that.

The party must develop good policies to put to the electorate next year, continue to show unity and look like a government in waiting.

That was helped by leader, Christopher Luxon’s speech in in reply to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy yesterday, about which Thomas Manch wrote the statesman emerged :

The war in Ukraine entered New Zealand Parliament’s debating chamber on Wednesday in the most direct manner yet: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy beaming in to share a message from Kyiv.

It was a moment that called for a meaningful response. But the leader that rose to the occasion wasn’t Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who was ready to offer a further $3 million in humanitarian support for energy-stricken Ukraine as it heads into winter. And it wasn’t ACT’s David Seymour and his unashamed politicking.

It was the Opposition leader, Christopher Luxon.

“This conflict is described as a war between Ukraine and Russia but it is far bigger than that. It is a moral as well as a physical battle. It is, frankly, an existential threat to Ukraine, a war that Ukraine cannot and will not lose,” Luxon said, in a speech in response to Zelenskyy.

Luxon, who described Zelenskyy as “our generation’s Winston Churchill”, did not himself offer Churchill-style oratory. But he did speak to the war with moral clarity, calling it a conflict between “brutality or diplomacy, autocracy or democracy” and a terrible loss of life.

And he provided some insight into his view of the world in light of the war, advocating for muscular militaries and criticising a “weak” United Nations.

“None of us, especially a small country like New Zealand, wants to believe that might is right … But this war has proved that when you have to fight for what you believe in, you need an army, weapons, ammunition, and friends to help defend your interests.

“This war has again highlighted the shortcomings of the United Nations, whose purpose is noble but whose impact is weak. This international group could not prevent one authoritarian power launching a war on its neighbour.”

For the first time, Luxon the statesman emerged. He has so far avoided taking strong positions on foreign policy matters – it is a hard field to play as an opposition politician and there are few votes to be gained – so before now it had been difficult to understand how he might cast himself on the world stage.

Of course, one speech does not make a leader or articulate a reasoned policy position. Ardern, by contrast, has an unparalleled reputation on the world stage for a New Zealand leader and a track record that includes rallying foreign leaders to support the Christchurch Call.

But her response to Zelenskyy lacked the force of previous Government statements on the war in Ukraine. . .

The full speech is recorded in Hansard:

CHRISTOPHER LUXON (Leader of the Opposition): President Zelenskyy, thank you for taking time to talk with us this morning. It is a great honour and a tremendous privilege for all of us to have you address our New Zealand Parliament today. While there is a vast distance between our countries in geography and circumstances, I, like so many New Zealanders, have followed with horror and disbelief the war in Ukraine, and we all appreciate the opportunity to be able to say to you kia kaha, which in our indigenous Māori language means stay strong.

When, 10 months ago, the world learnt that Russian tanks had rolled into Ukraine, there was disbelief and immediate condemnation of Russia’s audacity in the face of international outrage. All countries were at that point forced to choose sides. It was a moment for all nations to stand up and to be counted, but for those nations that value democracy, respect national sovereignty and borders, and uphold the international rule of law, the choice was simple. New Zealand is one of those countries. Confronted with brutality or diplomacy, autocracy or democracy, darkness or light, there was nothing to discuss except how to individually and collectively support Ukraine.

This conflict is described as a war between Ukraine and Russia, but it is far bigger than that. It is a moral as well as a physical battle. It is, frankly, an existential threat to Ukraine, a war that Ukraine cannot and will not lose.

President Zelenskyy, your courageous leadership and moral certitude has been inspiring to us all. You have been our generation’s Winston Churchill, and since those Russian tanks crossed Ukraine’s border, you have been unwavering in your determination that Ukraine will win this war that it did not want and that it did not start. Of all the miscalculations Vladimir Putin has made, and there are many, underestimating your resolve and the impact of the strength of your leadership and the words—your words—would have in rallying Ukraine and the world has perhaps been the biggest.

You said that Ukrainians would fight for Ukraine. You said that they would be willing to die for their country, and in laying down their lives for what they believed in and on behalf of their fellow Ukrainians, they have proved you right. In fighting for Ukraine, they have fought for the democratic values and national sovereignty that so many countries and people all around the world share and believe in, but the burden of that fight has fallen primarily on Ukraine.

Ten months ago, Ukrainian men and women who were accountants and cooks and teachers and mechanics became, almost overnight, soldiers. Their courage, their commitment, and their resilience has amazed and humbled the world. Their sacrifice compels other countries to help. We cannot stand back; we must stand up.

None of us, especially a small country like New Zealand, wants to believe that might is right. We want to believe that moral courage is just as important. But this war has proved that when you have to fight for what you believe in, you need an army, weapons, ammunition, and friends to help defend your interests. This war has again highlighted the shortcomings of the United Nations, whose purpose is noble, but whose impact is weak. This international group could not prevent one authoritarian power launching a war on its neighbour.

Every country, I think, has learnt that it is a mistake to think that they themselves or their friends can do without firepower. We might wish it to be different, but to support a collective response, we all must be able to contribute.

When the history of this war is written, the greatest condemnation will be for Vladimir Putin. The greatest admiration will be for you, President Zelenskyy, and your courageous leadership. The greatest gratitude will be for the people of Ukraine. Daily, we see images of indiscriminate attacks on civilians that leave broken and burning villages, cities, homes, and schools, and the death of every single Ukrainian is a tragedy.

The greatest regret of this war will be the terrible loss of life that has left tens of thousands of Ukrainian families bereft. But one day, peace will come again to Ukraine. We can’t see how or when, but it will come, and at that point the international community will need to rally to support a reconstruction programme, because while the loss of life is the most terrible toll, the loss of homes and communities and critical infrastructure is also incalculable. I feel confident, even from the Opposition, in saying that New Zealand will be part of that rebuilding effort. I cannot imagine circumstances where we would not be.

But for now, in the most bitter winter for Ukraine, and on behalf of the New Zealand National Party, I send to you our deepest condolences, our tremendous respect, and great admiration. This war is cruel, it is immoral, and it is wrong, but for as long as Russia continues to fight, Ukraine must continue to fight, and we and the rest of the world must continue to back you.

We in New Zealand hope and pray that this war ends soon, and until it does, my pledge is that the New Zealand National Party, like the rest of New Zealand, will stand with you. Kia kaha.

A strong finish to the political year is a good foundation on which to build for the run-up to next year’s election.

The downside of Dianification


There’s nothing new about idolising mortals. Deifying people has been going on for thousands of years.

The most notable one from last century was Princess Diana who won widespread adulation, the strength of which I never really understood.

Yes, she transformed from a pretty teenager to a beautiful woman. But most of us could have done that had we had the grooming assistance and wardrobe allowance available to her.

Don’t believe me? Look at early photos of Queen Camilla and compare them with more recent ones.

Yes, Diana did good work for a range of charities, some of them previously unpopular or not well known. But she didn’t do a fraction of the charitable work her sister-in-law Princess Anne did and continues to do, although she doesn’t look as beautiful, nor get the fawning media attention, as she does it.

Yes, her early death, and the way it happened, was tragic, especially for her sons and wider family. But none of that makes her a goddess or a saint.

More recently, and closer to home, our Prime Minister has been dianafied with Jacindamania affecting people here and overseas.

But if we look beyond the headlines, is at least some of the attention sexist, because she happens to be a younger woman, and what has she done to justify it?

She handled the mosque massacre well. But isn’t that the Kiwi way and wouldn’t any of our recent PMs have strived for unity, modelled calmness and compassion and been just as sympathetic – Bill English, John Key, Helen Clark . . .?

Then came Covid.

Several people with international connections and experience were begging for a lockdown before it was mandated. However, there was no rule book which could excuse the later than optimal start.

The daily sermons from the pulpit of truth drew many admirers, but others tired of them quickly, especially when the assurances about PPE and other supplies were being contradicted by the health workforce facing shortages; and other obvious failings were udderly rejected.

Then there was the failure to learn from mistakes, the delay in starting vaccines, repeated lockdowns due to that, the economic and social consequences of them, and the misery of MIQueue.

Let’s not forget that until Covid struck National was a little ahead or just behind Labour in the polls even though the PM’s personal rating was far higher than Simon Bridges’.

That was because Ardern and her government were from the start far, far better at promising than delivering.

She is praised for her communication skills but too often all she gives is a word salad, high on emotion and low on substance or a blanket rejection of the premise of a question with nothing behind the refutation.

Add to that her government’s profligate spending – millions of dollars extra each week; the stupidity of wasting money and energy on restructuring the health system in the middle of a pandemic; the expensive failure of the polytechnic centralisation, soon to be followed by the equally wasteful merger of RNZ and TVNZ; galloping inflation; crises in education, health and housing, escalating crime; a plethora of impractical requirements for farmers; Five Waters, the fostering of racial division . . .

PMs aren’t responsible for the quality of MPs in their caucus but they are responsible for their performance, especially that of  Ministers and Ardern has been slow to hold them accountable.

The most recent failure is with Nanaia Mahuta.

Yesterday evening on NewsTalkZB  Barry Soper played a clip of Ardern  swearing black was white and that Mahuta hadn’t breached the Cabinet manual over the entrenchment clause in the Five Waters legislation when it is clear she had (2:54).

He also spoke about Ardern calling David Seymour an arrogant prick, faithfully recorded in Hansard:

. [Prime Minister resumes seat] He’s such an arrogant prick.

It’s not a hanging offence and she apologised afterwards, but it was a very clear slipping of the kindness mask.

And therein is the downside of dianification. It makes politics personal which is very nice when it’s positive but can be nasty when it’s negative.

Stardust loses its shine in the harsh light of day when flaws are exposed and it’s clear that aspiration without action is a mirage.

In March this year Verity Johnson, a self-confessed red-green voter, wrote Why I am thinking of ditching Labour?

Recent polls, including yesterday’s  Taxpayers’ Union – Curia one, show that a lot of others are equally disenchanted, not only turning form Labour but seeing that its leader has feet of clay.

Why hasn’t she been sacked?


Three Five Waters has been badly handled from the very start. Why hasn’t the Minister responsible for the entrenchment debacle been sacked?

Nanaia Mahuta’s open defiance of Cabinet rules shows Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has lost control of her Cabinet, Leader of the Opposition Christopher Luxon says.

“Cabinet agreed on May 30 ‘that the [Water Services Entities] Bill should not entrench the privatisation provisions in the Bill’. Despite ruling out entrenchment of any form or threshold, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta openly defied the Prime Minister and forcefully backed the entrenchment clause in the House two weeks ago.

“In that speech, Ms Mahuta led the charge for the Government, claiming a ‘moral obligation’ of those opposed to privatisation to support entrenchment of the provision. Labour then unanimously voted for it.

“But Cabinet opposed any form or threshold of entrenchment, not just one requiring 75 per cent support. Therefore, the Minister’s claim that her efforts to entrench aspects of the Bill with a 60 per cent threshold is somehow different, is nonsense.

Jacinda Ardern called it novel. That too is nonsense.

“The Cabinet Manual is clear. It says, “once Cabinet makes a decision, Ministers must support it, regardless of their personal views”. Yet despite breaching the Cabinet Manual and openly defying her colleagues and the Prime Minister, Ms Mahuta remains a Minister.

“Three Waters is a debacle. Not only is the Government confiscating assets from community ownership, but in an effort to rush it through urgency, the responsible Minister tried to sneak in unconstitutional and undemocratic entrenchment provisions against Cabinet guidelines.

“For a Minister to openly defy a Cabinet decision, shows that the Prime Minister has lost control of her Cabinet.

“It’s time for Jacinda Ardern to show some leadership, hold Ms Mahuta accountable, and sack her.”

If this has happened under any recent Prime Minister – Bill English, John Key, Helen Clark, Jenny Shipley –  the Minister would no longer be a Minister so why hasn’t she been sacked?

That Mahuta still has her job makes it look like either she has a hold over Ardern, or Ardern is too weak to sack her.

Neither is acceptable and neither would have been the case for any other recent PM.

There’s another question


It took a week from the first accusations of constitutional outrage, but the government finally did the right thing yesterday :

The entrenchment clause in the Three Waters legislation that sparked outcry has been labelled a mistake by Leader of the House Chris Hipkins and will be removed.

Hipkins announced the backdown today after lawyers labelled the provision undemocratic last week. . . 

“It was a mistake to put the entrenchment clause in and the Government will fix the issue as soon as the House resumes on Tuesday. . .

The mistake is being rectified but there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the whole saga, one of which is who knew what about the entrenchment clause in the Five Waters legislation? :

Labour’s top brass somehow missed the memo at their caucus meeting last week that the Three Waters amendment they were backing was a constitutional bear trap.

The prime minister, the attorney-general and other senior ministers were present when Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta put forward the Greens’ controversial 60 percent entrenchment provision.

The question remains whether they were inattentive, or the proposal put forward was either undersold, or simply unclear. . . 

There is another question – were they attentive and supported it anyway?

There was a storm of criticism after Labour and the Greens passed an amendment during the committee stages of the Water Services Entity Bill under urgency, entrenching an anti-privatisation clause at 60 percent; this means any future government would have to muster at least that level of support to repeal it.

The problem is that goes against legal advice the Three Waters legislation did not meet the constitutional bar for using entrenchment, which is reserved for matters of electoral law. The amendment could create a precedent, paving the way for this government, or those in the future, to entrench laws they felt strongly about.

There are still questions around whether or not Ardern and other senior ministers specifically knew Labour’s vote would be cast in support of the Green MP Eugenie Sage’s proposal for an achievable 60 percent entrenchment clause, given the fact the red flags had already been raised – including at Cabinet.

Leader of the House Chris Hipkins, in charge of running the parliamentary agenda and business of the House, said he “was not aware until after the fact”.

When asked on Monday if she knew an amendment with a 60 percent threshold was going to the House, Ardern did not directly answer the question.

“I know there was discussion around 75 percent, the level of awareness, I could not tell you around the lower threshold.”

When pressed further, Ardern said “the principle of entrenchment has generally attracted a 75 percent threshold… everyone in Labour was very aware of that”.

“What would have been happening in real time is you had both an entrenchment position but a different threshold.” . . 

That avoids the question about real time at the caucus meeting where the entrenchment position with a different threshold was discussed.

One possibility is, despite Mahuta raising it in caucus, the detail offered was not enough to alert MPs and senior ministers present the proposal was for 60 percent and therefore able to pass, as opposed to the original 75 percent.

It’s a Minister’s responsibility to give enough detail to ensure colleagues understand what is being proposed.

If she didn’t, it’s a sackable offence. If she did then the caucus, including The Attorney General, Leader of the House and Prime Minister knew exactly what was being proposed.

Ardern was asked about this again on Thursday in Hamilton. She confirmed she was at the caucus meeting, but added she had “already discussed and pointed out that entrenchment is generally understood to be a threshold of 75 percent”.

When asked about the caucus’s view on the proposal and whether there was any dissent, Ardern said “conversations in caucus are kept in caucus” but reiterated Labour’s position of wanting to ensure a “public asset like water is absolutely protected from privatisation”.

“Entrenchment is commonly understood to be a super majority, 75 percent, what came before Parliament was a more novel approach,” she said. 

That doesn’t answer the question and leaves open the possibility that she knew what was being proposed and supported it.

If she really didn’t know, or understand, Tracy Watkins says the saga goes against the no surprises policy:

There is no possible right explanation for how a contentious entrenchment clause came to be slipped into Labour’s controversial Three Waters legislation under the cover of urgency, and with so little debate even the Opposition didn’t notice.

Either the Government knew what was happening – which is bad – or they didn’t, which is even worse.

If Three Waters was already emblematic of much that many voters don’t like about the government, the entrenchment debacle – the clause has been panned as undemocratic, and unconstitutional – has only likely solidified opinions. . . 

Add openness and transparency to the long list of not-achieved by them.

The official line appears to be that the clause was cooked up by a Green MP and the Local Government Minister and inserted without the knowledge of just about everyone, including the prime minister, Cabinet, caucus and an army of Government advisers.

This beggars belief from a government that has taken the “no surprises” rule to such extreme lengths that even the most inconsequential Official Information Act requests are required to be sent to ministers’ desks as a deliberate stalling tactic.

But if true – if it really is believable for an MP and a minister to fly solo on what legal experts are calling a “dangerous constitutional precedent” – what on earth does that tell us about the state of decision-making in the Beehive?

Is anyone even in charge any more?

What also beggars belief is Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s explanation that “it’s not something I would necessarily be aware of”.

If a hotly contentious clause in a deeply unpopular piece of legislation isn’t exactly what the no surprises rule is supposed to cover, what is?

If it was a surprise when it was on the agenda of a caucus meeting that Ardern chaired, she should sack the responsible Minister and also question her own behaviour and control of her caucus.

If it wasn’t a surprise she’s lying.

Either way it raises questions of why this happened.

Astute Left wing commentator Josie Pagani perfectly summed up Labour’s current state of mind: “People with different ideas are wrong. The Government is righteous, opponents are bad.”

So rather than admit it might be out of step with public opinion on Three Waters, or gangs, or crime, or the parlous state of the health system, or the cost of living, the Government plays political games, and does things like plant mini hand grenades for its opponents, should they happen to get into office.

There’s a name for that – third-termitis, which is when ministers get too arrogant, when there are too many political sideshows and the Government starts blaming the messenger rather than the message for its slide in the polls.

Is this a sign it’s come early?

Labour has belatedly admitted its mistake over this clause but is still pushing ahead with the legislation and Fran O’Sullivan points out it’s concerning that it has taken this debacle to get major legal attention on the Bill:

. . . This is a consequential piece of work. Not only does it entrench what many councils see as the legislative “theft” of water infrastructure assets built over many years through ratepayer levies, but — and this is another egregious aspect — it hands considerable power to Māori iwi regulators to make what are essentially proprietorial calls over the use of that water.

None of this has been appropriately debated, let alone discussed through a national conversation which probes the real extent of co-governance and indeed the engineering which exposes those four new regional water entities to financial risk.

The Government has simply resorted to its legislative might to push these reforms through — buying off council resistance with a $2 billion support package called Better Off funding which is a sweetener for the effective loss of their assets. . . 

Franks Ogilvie gave a legal opinion contradicting the government’s assertion that councils will still own their assets.

The Water Users’ Group is seeking a judicial review of Three Five Waters.

. . . We want stop the Government proceeding with Three Waters. In particular, the parts of the scheme that would see water infrastructure removed from Councils, and therefore ratepayer control, and the co-governance model that is proposed for the four new entities.

We need to know if our Courts think that Minister Mahuta’s references to pan-Maori treaty interests are justified in law. We need to know if our Courts think such interests can require or justify taking rate-payer funded infrastructure and turning it into a source of patronage for a tribal elite.

We want the Court to go back to first principles and make sure the Treaty is interpreted consistently with the rules of law. We want the Court to say there is no legitimate legal basis for the proposed co-governance model or any part of the Three Waters scheme that purports to carve out a greater role for Māori than the general public. . . 

They are waiting for a date for the court appearance, Given the government’s move to pass the legislation this year, it might be too late, even if it isn’t they might lose so what then?

If the Court concludes that Treaty interests do justify putting water infrastructure paid for by ratepayers into bizarre new corporations under the effective control of Māori nominees outside democratic dismissal, New Zealanders will know that the remedy can’t come from Court cases. We’ll know unambiguously that it is idle to look to lawyers and the Courts for protection our inherited rule of law traditions. The remedy will have to come from elections to our sovereign Parliament.

Polls show the majority of people oppose the policy. If the government continues to bulldoze it through the only way to undo the damage is to vote for a National-led government next year.

National and Act have both pledged to repeal the legislation and work with councils to develop policy to replace it.

Lies or incompetence?


Was she lying?

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attended a Labour Party caucus meeting where last-minute entrenchment clause in the Government’s controversial Three Waters legislation was discussed, despite her saying on Monday it was “not necessarily something I would be aware of”.  . . .

Hmm,  not necessarily something I would be aware of does not mean she wasn’t aware of it but the inference was very clear that she didn’t know about it until the storm broke.

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta confirmed, through a spokesperson, the change to the bill was discussed with the Labour caucus – a meeting of all its MPs – in advance of the House sitting.

“We knew it was novel and may not pass the constitutional threshold, but it was still worthy of consideration,” Mahuta said, in an emailed response to questions. . .

Emailed response? A Minister responsible for a debacle like this ought to be fronting interviews, not corresponding by emails.

But on Thursday, Ardern confirmed she was at the caucus meeting where the change to the bill was discussed.

“I’ve also discussed and pointed out that entrenchment is generally understood to be a threshold of 75%.

“Conversations in caucus are kept in caucus … We took a view on the principle of ensuring that a public asset like water is absolutely protected from privatisation.

“What came before Parliament was a more novel approach.” . . 

She has discussed and pointed that out and what became before Parliament could be described as a more novel approach.

It could also be described as a constitutional outrage.

But this is a word salad that evades the point – did she or did she not know that there was going to be a Supplementary Order Paper to entrench the clause on privatisation?

If she did know she’s been lying by evasion and omission, if not, was she paying attention and understanding what was being discussed and agreed?

Is it lies or simply incompetence?

Who’s in charge?


Jacinda Ardern and Chris Hipkins both say they knew nothing about entrenching a clause in the Three Five Waters legislation until after it was done:

. . . Remarks from Ardern and Leader of the House Chris Hipkins on Monday made it clear that there were mixed levels of knowledge of the amendment among Labour’s leadership, despite Labour voting in support of the amendment.

“The last I had heard was for a 75 per cent entrenchment which would have failed with only Labour and the Greens supporting it,” Ardern said.

“I wasn’t aware until after the fact that that had been lowered to 60 per cent – I wasn’t in the House when it happened,” Hipkins said. . . 

That begs the question who did know?:

. . . Nanaia Mahuta as the responsible minister, however, knew exactly what was going on.

“We know that while this particular SOP [supplementary order paper] may not pass the constitutional threshold, there is a moral obligation of people who believe that privatisation should not occur to support that particular SOP,” she told the House at the time. . . 

That begs another question: why, when it was such a controversial move, that conflicted with official advice and set a very dangerous precedent, didn’t she tell her leader?

Given that she didn’t, why not and what are the repercussions?

Can you imagine what former Prime Ministers Bill English, John Key, Helen Clark, Jenny Shipley, Jim Bolger  . . . would have said and done had a Minister slipped a sly and anti-democratic move into any  Bill, let alone legislation that is so unpopular?

The current PM has said and done nothing publicly to indicate that she’s doing anything at all to haul Mahuta back and she’s dissembling over the debacle:

The Prime Minister is deliberately dissembling over the Three Waters entrenchment debacle and should simply admit Labour’s mistake and fix it, Shadow Leader of the House Chris Bishop says.

“After constitutional law experts publicly admonished Labour for its use of an unconstitutional entrenchment provision in the Three Waters legislation, the Prime Minister should have admitted the mistake and said Labour would fix it.

“Instead, Jacinda Ardern not only attempted to confuse the issue, but she also attempted to make it one for Parliament’s Business Committee.

“The Business Committee has nothing to do with this. It is Labour and the Greens’ mistake, and they need to fix it.

“Entrenchment should only be used for constitutional matters, and only after careful thought and debate, not during a rushed process like this was.

“The Prime Minister needs to stop the dissembling. She is misleading the public, and protecting Labour Ministers and Members who created this problem.

“Labour should refer the Water Services Entities Bill back to Parliament to remove the offensive entrenchment provision.

“The fact that Ms Ardern and Mr Hipkins claim they were not aware of the provisions is a further sign that the Three Waters legislation has been a rushed, sloppy process. Not only are they not across the legislation, but they are also clearly not in control of their caucus, which voted for the Green Party’s proposal in the first place.

“Labour could resolve the issue quickly. Instead, it seems determined to deny it has made a mistake in the legislation which would set a dangerous precedent and undermine New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements.”

The lack of any action against the Minister and the dissembling over the debacle begs another question: who’s in charge?

It looks more and more that it is Mahuta and her Maori caucus colleagues and that they hold disproportionate power in government.

Rural round-up


‘Greenie by default’ farmer speaks out against Govt restrictions – Sally Rae :

The Black family have been farming at Ermedale, about 10km north of Riverton, since 1924.

Third-generation Leon Black is currently at the helm of the property, with wife Wendy — the couple have four children — and he would like to see the family there for another century.

‘‘With the current settings, I would say I’m wasting my bloody time,’’ he said succinctly.

Years ago, Mr Black became interested in breeding animals that produced less methane but with higher production. . . 

More time needed – Peter Burke :

Democracy by stealth – that’s how a highly-respected dairy industry leader Ben Allomes is describing the present Government’s consultation with farmers over agricultural emissions and other issues.

“It is overwhelming and unrealistic for us to be able to give honest democratic feedback on every piece of legislation that they are working on the moment,” he told Rural News.

Allomes, a former DairyNZ director, is calling on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to take the pressure off farmers and give them more time to properly understand and digest the huge raft of changes that the Government is trying to push through before next year’s election.

He reckons the Government has got a massive number of things they want to achieve before the next election and says most of these seem to be aimed at the primary sector. He says these include greenhouse gas emissions, water quality, animal welfare and labour. Allomes says this is on top of farmers trying to deal with the uncertainties around Covid, such as disrupted supply chains and increasing costs, all of which are creating an uncertain business environment. . . 

Kiwi entity working to change how overseas customers view wool :

A new entity established to promote the strong wool sector is working to change how overseas customers view the product.

Strong wool prices have been subdued in recent years, with the price often not enough to cover the cost of shearing the sheep.

With support from the government, Wool Impact NZ was launched in July with the aim of working with brands to get strong wool products into markets quickly and speed up returns to farmers.

Chief executive Andy Caughey said their work was being helped by the fact that consumers were moving away from fast fashion and synthetic fibres. . . 

Italian label toasts NZ Merino partnership – Sally Rae:

Turn the clock back 25 years and merino growers were told longer wools were a problem and were being heavily discounted by European buyers.

At the same time, the New Zealand Merino Company was formed to specifically champion merino fibre. Chief executive John Brakenridge and Andy Caughey — now chief executive of Wool Impact — approached Italian company Loro Piana and laid down the challenge of finding a way to use those longer wools in a premium product.

As NZM general manager commercial Keith Ovens recalls, it took much investment, trial and error at the Loro Piana processing plant but, in 1997, Pier Luigi Loro Piana issued the first three-year contract for longer wools (90mm-105mm at 18.8 micron), and at a $2 premium to the spinners market of the day.

The Zealander fabric was subsequently launched to Loro Piana’s prestigious client base around the world. It was one of the first fabrics made from 100% New Zealand wool, at a time when growers had been told by the trade that New Zealand wool was only good enough to be used as a blend with wool from other countries, Mr Ovens said. . . 

It’s not the cows, it’s the fossil fuels – Meg Chatham :

A new report shows that greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas facilities worldwide are about three times higher than their producers claim.

Last week, Climate TRACE, a non-profit coalition of researchers, data analysts, and NGOs who use satellite coverage, artificial intelligence, and remote sensing to independently track human-caused emissions, published a new report showing that half of the 50 largest sources of global greenhouse gas emissions are oil and gas production facilities.

From the report:

In no sector is the power of Climate TRACE’s emissions monitoring approach more apparent than in oil and gas. Last year’s Climate TRACE inventory found that emissions from oil and gas production, transport, and refining had been significantly underestimated — owing, in part, to limited reporting requirements and consistent underestimates of methane emissions from both intentional flaring as well as leaks. . . 

Yealands turns green grapes into gree apples with global sustainability awards :

New Zealand premium wine producer, Yealands Wine Group, has won two golds at the 2022 International Green Apple Awards for its ground-breaking Biodiversity Plan, officially launched today.

Yealands attended a special awards ceremony at London’s Houses of Parliament on November 21 to acknowledge the company’s pioneering work to create a more biodiverse environment.

Yealands topped the Regeneration and Carbon Reduction categories at the awards, run by global non-profit The Green Organisation to recognise environmental best practice around the world. Judges were impressed by the company’s 30-year Biodiversity Plan, which will see around 270 ha at its vineyard in Marlborough’s Awatere Valley planted with more than 1,000,000 native trees to improve water quality and protect and enhance sensitive natural areas.

As the first wine producer in the world to be Toitū carboNZero Certified from day one, Yealands has always measured, reduced and offset all emissions. The Biodiversity Plan goes even further to make a positive difference to the environment and community. . . 


Highest priority for $211m a year


Jacinda Ardern was asked what she’d do if money was not a factor.

Her answer, to make all pre-school education free was, as Lindsay Mitchell points out addressing a symptom, not a cause:

Why pose such a redundant proposition when governments are scrambling to spend less? Well, most governments.

But then I thought the answer might shed light on just how naive and ineffective the PM is.

Her big idea? Free early childhood education. 

“I’d make it completely free. Completely free. And when I say completely free, I’d also give choice to families about at what point and stage their child accesses it. Because for some we know it provides stability to kids that they might not have in their home life.”

Hang on. Back up. Isn’t this putting the cart before the horse?

Perhaps you need to address why ‘some’ kids don’t have stability in their home life.

You’ve already thrown a whole lot more money at the problem due to the first wrong diagnosis and now there are thousands more children in unemployed homes. Dare I say it, unstable homes. 

But let’s look at the evidence the PM might be inclined to take heed of. Evidence produced under her own administration.

Whether or not early childhood education improves outcomes for children is at best controversial. . . 

No-one can fault the goal of improving outcomes for children but free ECE wouldn’t be the best way to do it, even if money wasn’t a factor.

No doubt the PM was thinking about the announcement she made later on about increasing childcare subsidies.

The package included increasing thresholds for the subsidies and adjusting Working For Families for inflation.

That does beg the question of why increasing those thresholds and adjusting those payments for inflation is good when, they say,  increasing thresholds for tax brackets and adjusting them for inflation is not.

It also raises questions about priorities for Labour and its leader when money has to be a factor.

One of its priorities appears to be merging RNZ and TVNZ, the rational for which has yet to be properly explained, the cost of doing which is higher than the combined value of the two entities, and now we learn TVNZ will lose $100 million in advertising a year.

The Government’s new public media entity will witness the loss of a third of TVNZ’s existing commercial revenue, equating to about $100 million a year, within five years, according to advice from officials.

This lost revenue will need to be supplemented by taxpayer funding from the Crown, which is forecast to contribute $211m a year to the entity over 30 years, roughly half of which will be used to plug the shortfall in advertising.

The commercial details were revealed in a late draft of a business case for the Government’s RNZ-TVNZ merger, obtained by the National Party.

The party’s broadcasting spokeswoman Melissa Lee said the documents showed the Government was wilfully destroying TVNZ’s commercial model and forcing the taxpayer to pick up the tab. . . 

It’s difficult to believe anyone in the government can think this is a good use of so much money and it would be hard to find anyone in the general public who would think it is, even if it wasn’t going to be borrowed money.

It would be very easy to think of much higher priorities for $211m a year over 30 years – helping people on benefits who could work into work, which would help improve outcomes for children,  and increasing health spending to address the many factors contributing to the crisis in that sector would two of them.

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