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 crime 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. @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 stuff 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 stuff from supermarkets.
Police are now caught up in more and more welfare work, dealing with mental healthissues, court time and endless paperwork. Labour 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