Quotes of the month

01/12/2021

The gross mismanagement of Covid will mark this government as the most incompetent in our post-war history.  Sadly, authoritarian governments are now the norm world-wide as the evidence is clear that a sizeable timorous section of populations like being told what to do. That’s certainly true of New Zealand.

Conversely there’s also a sizeable section who prefer to stand on their own feet and not be bossed about. They’re the doers and shakers critical to a society’s success and right now they’re seething with rage. – Bob Jones

Frankly, I fear for New Zealand as the disastrous economic and social legacy of this government will take a decade to repair. – Bob Jones

If the Prime Minister frustrates the aspirations of her Maori caucus, she will risk losing the Maori seats Labour holds and possibly wider support in Maoridom as well.

If she continues to indulge them, she will open a clear path to a National-Act government in 2023, given that both parties, smelling blood, have pledged to return the assets to councils.

Three Waters has all the signs of becoming Ardern’s Waterloo. – Graham Adams

From PPE gear, to testing kits, to vaccine roll outs, to MIQ, to decisions that weren’t made, borders that got breached, to the current shambles we find ourselves in.   

It’s been a trail of haphazard unprofessionalism and needless economic and social damage. – Mike Hosking

The real Royal Commission will be in September of 2023.

We call it an election.

The only hope this Government has, of course, is memory fade. If Covid is in the rear-view mirror by the end of next year all may be forgiven.

But as we sit here today if a government can be voted in, in record numbers, based on Covid and the fear that surrounded it a year ago, surely their ensuing handling of the following two years will be a judgement that if executed today, they would be deeply fearful of.  – Mike Hosking

To get real traction on anything, anywhere, politicians actually have to do more than just talk. They have to be authentic and they have to have their actions match their words. Staying awake also helps.   Kate Hawkesby

In other words, women who would like to be men but still have their ovaries and wombs can become pregnant by sexual intercourse with fertile men, the latter now being known as “penis-containing” persons. (The venerable but increasingly lunatic medical journal The Lancet recently decided to call women “bodies with vaginas.” How long can it be before we no longer address meetings or assemblies as Ladies and Gentlemen but as Penis-containers and Vagina-bearers, or perhaps P and V for short?)

At the same time as we are enjoined to think of biological sex as unimportant to the point of nonexistence, and to believe that men who can have babies by penis-containers are men in precisely the same sense that Tarzan was a man, we are also told to distinguish human beings solely by one or other of their genitive features. This makes the doublethink of Nineteen Eighty-Four seem straightforward or even lucid by comparison. – Theodore Dalrymple

It is possible that I am mistaken, of course, and that thorough research would prove me wrong, but I do not think that anyone would have used the expression penis-containing partner ten, maybe not even five, years ago. It seems that civilizations go bankrupt like people, first slowly, then quickly.Theodore Dalrymple

The first cultural trend is an increasing reluctance to accept any limitation whatsoever to the satisfaction of one’s desires that are placed by circumstances beyond one’s control, that is to say an exaggerated or exacerbated Prometheanism: You can be anything you want, without limitation, and therefore you do not have to accept anything you were born with as ineluctable. In such a culture, death itself becomes unacceptable, an insult to our desired omnipotence; it is not any particular kind of death that we reject or fight against, often with success, but death itself. – Theodore Dalrymple

The second trend is to magical thinking, despite the supposed rationality of our age and its vaunted defeat of superstition. We believe that we can change reality by means of mere verbal incantations. If we alter our language enough, reality itself will change. –Theodore Dalrymple

The third trend is the worship of power. The object of deliberate language change is not to improve the state of the world, or even anyone’s state of mind, but the exertion and consolidation of power for its own sake. – Theodore Dalrymple

The fourth trend is centralization of the marginal; that is to say, a marginal phenomenon such as transsexualism comes to occupy the center of intellectual attention. To employ a different metaphor, the tail wags the dog. Theodore Dalrymple

The fifth trend is to the increasing spinelessness or cowardice of much of the intelligentsia, who in this case have proved themselves astonishingly easy to intimidate, a pack of intellectual Neville Chamberlains (but Chamberlain had more excuse, for he had lived through the horror of the First World War, which he did not want to repeat). Nothing has proved too absurd for this intelligentsia to swallow; indeed, the swallowing of absurdity is easier for the intelligentsia than others, for rationalization is their métier. There is no point in being an intellectual if you think only what everyone else thinks. – Theodore Dalrymple

Postmodernist councilors have white-anted the scientific integrity of our Royal Society, and brought political, racial, cultural, and religious bias into its workings. In embracing the Treaty, they are imposing political, racial and cultural obligations, expectations, and limitations on scientists – the equivalent of imposing the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, the Hindu Vedas, or the Book of Mormon on them. Bob Brockie

World science and matauranga cannot be reconciled. Science operates in the natural world but Maori thought is rooted in the supernatural.

Matauranga is often defined as traditional knowledge, passed from generation to generation. A prominent Maori maintains that indigenous knowledge belongs to iwi and that they should control it. How different is science! All science is provisional, and open to criticism and challenges. But challenge matauranga and you will be branded a racist. – Bob Brockie

Our Royal Society was once a bastion of science but has now abandoned truth, reason, and science, to become a mouthpiece for faddish woke politics. The supernatural world of matauranga would be better taught in religious studies instead of science. Bob Brockie

This year, I have made more complaints to the Ombudsman than in any previous year. So far, every one has been upheld. – Andrea Vance

In my 20-year plus time as a journalist, this Government is one of the most thin-skinned and secretive I have experienced. Many of my colleagues say the same.

Even squeezing basic facts out of an agency is a frustrating, torturous and often futile exercise. – Andrea Vance

It’s now very difficult for journalists to get to the heart and the truth of a story. We are up against an army of well-paid spin doctors. – Andrea Vance

Since the current Government took office, the number of communications specialists has ballooned. Each minister has at least two press secretaries. (Ardern has four).

In the year Labour took office, the Ministry for the Environment had 10 PR staff. It now has 18. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade more than doubled its staff – up to 25.

MBIE blew out from 48 staff to 64. None of those five dozen specialists could give me those figures for many weeks – and again I was forced to ask the Ombudsman to intervene. – Andrea Vance

The super ministry – and its colleagues uptown at the Health Ministry – are notorious for stymieing even the simplest requests. Health’s information gatekeepers are so allergic to journalists they refuse to take phone calls, responding only (and sporadically) to emails. 

But it is the New Zealand Transport Agency that take the cake: employing a staggering 72 staff to keep its message, if not its road-building, on track – up from 26 over five years.

At every level, the Government manipulates the flow of information. Andrea Vance

It also keeps journalists distracted and over-burdened with a rolling maul of press conferences and announcements, which are often meaningless or repetitive and prevent sustained or detailed questioning.

In this age of live-streaming and blogging, organisations often feel obliged to cover every stage-managed utterance for fear of missing out. – Andrea Vance

Perhaps the trials and tribulations of the nation’s journalists do not concern you. Why should you care?

Because the public’s impression of this government is the very opposite.

They see a prime minister that has captivated the world with her ‘authentic’ communication style, intimate social media postings, daily Covid briefings and proactive releases of Cabinet papers.

It is an artfully-crafted mirage, because the reality is very different. This is a Government that is only generous with the information that it chooses to share. Andrea Vance

I doubt that the thought of collapsing economies and massive social dislocation keeps Thunberg awake at night, assuming that it even occurs to her. But these are factors politicians must weigh in deciding how far to go in countering climate change. Thunberg, on the other hand, just wants action, regardless of the human cost.

For all their glib talk and showboating, the politicians she disparages have to live with the consequences of whatever they decide. In that vital respect they are the moral superiors of Thunberg and her moronic followers. It’s a shame the fawning media coverage doesn’t reflect that. – Karl du Fresne

Imagine that you still want to believe the experts and the commentators, but now that requires you to believe your country is racist, that men are bad, and that gender is a social construct, which is an idea you still don’t really understand. – Konstantin Kisin

Imagine your confusion as the same people who spent three months telling you not only that masks don’t work, but that there are several reasons you shouldn’t wear or purchase them, suddenly introduce mask mandates. We’re “following the science,” they tell you. This seems to make little sense, but a pandemic is no time for questions. And who knows, maybe our understanding of the science evolved?

As you cautiously go to the supermarket, you notice that masks have made people less likely to socially distance. You remember reading somewhere that bicycle helmets work similarly: They give the wearer more confidence, and the result is often more accidents and injuries, not fewer. “Silly people,” you say to yourself. “If only they would follow the experts.” Konstantin Kisin

Now that a bigot is no longer president of the United States, closing national borders to visitors from other countries is no longer considered xenophobic. In fact, it is widely advocated in the media. Likewise, it is no longer considered racist to detain people at the border, to put them in holding cells, to deport them, or to simply turn them away.

The supposedly racist conspiracy theory that the virus came from a lab in Wuhan is now also open for discussion. It even looks like the most credible explanation of the origins of the virus.  Konstantin Kisin

The same people who told you Brexit would never happen, that Trump would never win, that when he did win it was because of Russian collusion but also because of racism, that you must follow lockdowns while they don’t, that masks don’t work, that masks do work, that social justice protests during pandemic lockdowns are a form of “health intervention,” that ransacking African American communities in the name of fighting racism is a “mostly peaceful” form of protest, that poor and underserved children locked out of shuttered schools are “still learning,” that Jussie Smollett was a victim of a hate crime, that men are toxic, that there is an infinite number of genders, that COVID couldn’t have come from a lab until maybe it did, that closing borders is racist until maybe it isn’t, that you shouldn’t take Trump’s vaccine, that you must take the vaccine developed during the Trump administration, that Andrew Cuomo is a great leader, that Andrew Cuomo is a granny killer, that the number of COVID deaths is one thing and then another … are the same people telling you now that the vaccine is safe, that you must take it, and that if you don’t, you will be a second-class citizen.

Understand vaccine hesitancy now? – Konstantin Kisin

What is clear from the polling trend is support for Labour is sliding away as a groundswell of discontent builds against the government’s reform agenda.

No doubt Labour’s MPs sitting in marginal electorates or in the lower echelons of the party list will be wondering if Labour has gone too hard, too fast, and too extreme. They must be thinking that it is they who will pay the price. Frank Newman

We’re a little country at the bottom of the world, we’ve always paid a higher price and risk premium for the debt that we borrow. The higher those debt-to-GDP levels, the more exposed you become, and in a GFC they’re shown up to be even more. – John Key

If you take New Zealand and you look at inflation, and look at that globally, and you make the case, as now [Reserve Bank governor] Adrian Orr is, that interest rates will have to go up, it doesn’t take too much to realise how much pressure that is going to put on households already.John Key

The co-existence of a major recession in 2020 with record-high sharemarket indices, record gains in US household net worth, and falling bankruptcies is bizarre and unnerving. – Bryce Wilkinson and Leonard Hong

If you want proof that Jacinda Ardern’s is the most racist government in New Zealand’s history, just take a look at the proposed legislation for the new health structure. The Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill introduced last week that was sent to a select committee concerns itself almost exclusively with Maori health. Maori are mentioned in most clauses of the legislation. The health of 17% of the population seems to be the only concern of this government. Pacific Islanders get a look-in briefly, the Minister being required to produce a specific strategy for their health. But all the rest of us who make up 70% of the people are never mentioned, and are dismissed at one point as “the other populations”. By the time Maori health providers have been accommodated in the new health structure which is amazingly top-heavy and bureaucratic, there won’t be any room for Pakeha or Asian input on anything. The Bill is a further indicator that Jacinda Ardern regards Pakeha as interlopers of whom her government is contemptuous. Like so much else, it too has Nanaia Mahuta’s malign influence stamped all over it. She has become Rasputin to the Tsarina, intent on running a faltering ministry. – Michael Bassett

Achieving “equitable outcomes” in health or indeed in any area of life, is an impossibility. Always has been, and always will be. First, we aren’t all born with equal intelligence; we don’t all have parents who care about us; and up to 40% of Maori children are truant on any normal school day. But if all children got their ante-natal jabs, were cared for, got to school, made an effort, and passed their exams, they still wouldn’t have equitable outcomes in life, either amongst themselves, or with other racial groups. DNA and sheer luck play big parts in peoples’ lives. So, if the government persists with Section 7 (1) (a) (iii) of the Bill and gives achieving equitable health outcomes priority then the whole expenditure of $24 billion on Health is in jeopardy. Not even the resourcing of “Kaupapa Maori”, or “culturally safe services” reflecting an undefined “Matauranga Maori” in the delivery of services will produce equitable outcomes for them, let alone for all Kiwis. – Michael Bassett

You can only pull the wool over voters’ eyes for so long. You can only rely on goodwill for so long. You can only bank on your support, in such a smug fashion, for so long. What voters want is transparency (which this Government promised and has failed to deliver on), authenticity, also now out the window, surety that there’s a plan, a way forward, some leadership. That’s all missing and has been for a while. It goes to show the huge highs this party enjoyed were a post Covid love-in where people were emotive.  

This time around, there’s still plenty of emotion – but in the opposite direction.  

People are angry, disillusioned, divided, locked out of their home country, in the case of many Kiwis overseas, and being driven to despair. Instead of being honest and admitting when they’ve got it wrong, this Government continues to put its head in the sand and tell us ‘nothing to see here’.  

They govern on the hoof, are reactive not proactive, lack experience and political nous, and continue to railroad through policy they won’t even bother consulting on.  – Kate Hawkesby

No, the truly depressing part of this week has been the crisis of faith now keeping the general, red-voting masses up until 2am eating toast in the kitchen.

Because the worry is, if they’re not good at beating Covid, what are they good at? – Verity Johnson

Recent protests have been dominated by a hotchpotch of weirdos whose comparisons of Ardern with the worst mass murderers are as offensive as they as stupid. Ardern is not a Hitler, Stalin or Mao. But she is increasingly governing like a second-term Robert Muldoon or Helen Clark, which is surely bad enough — especially given what followed in their third terms, with moves like the Clutha Development (Clyde Dam) Empowering Act and the Electoral Finance Act.

A stench of bewilderment, detachment from reality, confusion and lack of candour has joined the old odour of incompetence that has surrounded Ardern’s Government since it first became obvious in early 2018 that it had no idea how to go about delivering its signature promise to build 100,000 KiwiBuild homes. – Matthew Hooton

With a handful of exceptions like David Parker, the criticism that this is a government of student politicians rings true. It is not just that they don’t know how business produces goods and services to generate revenue to pay wages and returns on investment, but that most have never even thought about how the paper and toner gets in the photocopier in the university library, or how the campus gets cleaned at night.

In the face of Covid, they could shut everything down easily enough but have made a hash of anything operational and of opening up. – Matthew Hooton

Equal pay is now determined by gender identity, not sex; statistical data is likewise collected by gender identity instead of sex. Prison accommodation too is determined by self-identification, meaning that people with fully intact male bodies can be placed with the country’s most vulnerable women.  – Jan Rivers & Jill Abigail

If a new religion was created that encouraged gays and lesbians to be sterilised, would this be acceptable? Yet in teaching our children that it is possible to “change sex”, gender identity activists are doing just that. Transgender medicine uses drugs that suspend puberty and thus the development of sexuality. Almost all children treated with these drugs progress to cross-sex hormones, and many have surgery too.

It is not love and acceptance to encourage children to believe they were “born in the wrong body”. Children can have no concept of the downstream impacts on their later lives of infertility and the inability to respond sexually. They cannot anticipate what these losses entail, let alone the other effects of ongoing medicalisation. – Jan Rivers & Jill Abigail

Instead of immediate affirmation, a ‘watchful waiting’ approach for a child expressing gender dysphoria allows them time to explore their feelings without making decisions that are irreversible. Studies have shown that gender questioning is resolved by puberty in more than 80 per cent of affected children. A high proportion grow up to be gay or lesbian adults. – Jan Rivers & Jill Abigail

It is far too easy to slap labels of bigotry and hate speech on people raising concerns. What we really need is a careful, well-informed discussion about how to secure women’s rights, and develop a rights framework for transgender people, without damaging children. – Jan Rivers & Jill Abigail

This is lazy legislation without thought to the damage it will do to New Zealand’s reputation or investment in additional testing capacity. Replace the words “testing laboratories” with any other term and this is a template for state seizure, through requisition, at the whim of public officials. As such, all Parliamentarians should be concerned.

Enacting this legislation will restrain new investment in COVID testing technology by innovators. Those that do, would be at risk of seizure under this law. New Zealand will miss out on future advances in COVID testing technology. These provisions also lower the standards of testing to the lowest common standard. By overriding normal health standards public confidence in the existing standard will be undermined. – Leon Grice

The Ministry has never considered why its COVID-19 testing regime does not scale and consistently fails to deliver the reach required. The Ministry has repeatedly failed to adequately plan, contract and provide testing infrastructure over the period of the pandemic. This is demonstrated by their inability to deliver widespread saliva testing, some ten months after it was first available in New Zealand. And thirteen months after being directed to in the Simpson-Roche report. – Leon Grice

Giving the Director General of Health draconian powers over laboratories will not fix the ongoing, consistent and fundamental failures in New Zealand’s testing infrastructure. – Leon Grice

We are dealing with a regime so consumed with the righteousness of their cause they are willing to discard traditions and customs won by the barons 800 years ago. Most business leaders have shown themselves to be craven, compliant and cowardly. – Damien Grant

The government, too, is struggling to change its economic playbook in response to events. We can see the same lack of agility here as we have seen with the health response to the pandemic, where ongoing lockdowns and quarantine for Kiwis at the border continue to restrict freedoms and damage livelihoods, despite our now very high levels of vaccination.

Today’s economic problem is not too little stimulation, but too much. Money has been sprayed all over the place, the public service has been super-sized, and the spending keeps on coming. Just in the last couple of weeks we have had announcements about expensive light rail projects and further increases in social welfare payments.Steven Joyce

Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson need to acknowledge that the world has changed. For the first time in 20 years, debt-fuelled government spending is inflationary. And inflation is effectively a tax which hits lower-income people hardest and increases poverty. It also increases the interest bill on our growing mountain of public debt and that restricts society’s choices.

They should be minimising their spending outside of what they need for the actual pandemic response and what they morally need to provide to those people forced to curtail their livelihoods. They should be trying to take the inflationary pressure off household budgets, not talking at every opportunity about spending more. – Steven Joyce

Making it clear the government is responsible for employment would give the public more confidence that the bank will do what it takes to keep inflation under control. It would in turn give the government more pause before implementing its long list of employment-damaging labour market ideas.

The minister could also tell the governor to back off out of issues like climate change, which have very little to do with the bank. A clearer delineation between the government’s role and what the bank is responsible for would be very useful right now. That’s if we want to stop persistent inflation being the next big risk to the prosperity of New Zealanders. – Steven Joyce

It’s predicated on the concept that all Maori, we all think alike. This idea of self-determination must rely on the fact that all Maori identify with the same views, the same political outlooks, the same needs,” she said.

What we’ve actually created is a Maori elite, that their careers, their livelihoods, their relevance, relies on a Maori victimhood and we’ve lost sight of outcomes. – Casey Costello

Is her obvious lack of enthusiasm in backing Three Waters because it is so disastrously unpopular that her strategists are keen for her to distance herself from it?

Or have the reforms been forced on her by her Māori caucus and they won’t let her back down — which would be her usual swift response to any policy that looked like it might cost her the 2023 election?

In short, is the Prime Minister trapped between electoral disaster and the relentless ambitions of her Māori caucus? – Graham Adams

In years to come, when the history of this Government is written, the month of October 2021 will likely be viewed as the time when its honeymoon with the New Zealand public ended. Not only will it be seen as the time when the previous tolerance of restrictions, at whatever level, in the interest of the greater good that the Government had relied on so successfully since March 2020, dissipated, but it was also the time when public patience ran out.

The cumulative effect of prolonged lockdowns, an inept and uncaring MIQ system, and inconsistent rules have finally taken their toll. Unfortunately for the Government, all that has coincided as its own ideas and the luck which has largely sustained it since the outbreak of the virus was also running out. – Peter Dunne

But health cannot possibly be a human right, since death is inevitable and is not generally a sign of health. I have been severely ill several times in my life, but it never occurred to me that my rights were being thereby infringed.Theodore Dalrymple

Sadly, I have come to the conclusion that this is a government that has become increasingly comfortable taking our freedoms away. You see, the more you do something, the more comfortable you become doing it. After a while, it becomes automatic. Even if what you are doing is wrong, it becomes acceptable in your own mind.

Here’s the problem. Apparently it takes just 21 days to learn a new habit. And our political leaders have fallen into the habit of taking our freedoms without giving it a second thought. – Bruce Cotterill

You see, while those making the decisions that affect our lives are collecting their pay cheques every month, there are many New Zealanders who are not. Their businesses are on hold indefinitely. Their busiest time of the year is about to pass them by. And even if they can go back to work one day, their debt and stress levels are unthinkable. It’s no wonder these people are at breaking point.

While our government ministers, together with their respective officials, pop off on their forthcoming European jaunts, there are businesspeople going to court to get permission to travel overseas to enable their businesses to keep going.

And while Aucklanders are locked down, the hardship expands to the rest of the country. – Bruce Cotterill

And I have no doubt that one of the greatest tragedies in all of this mess lies in the group of New Zealanders who want to come home, but can’t. We’re not hearing enough of their stories.

Apparently, we have to make room in our MIQ system for criminals who are deported from other countries, and the entourages accompanying our government ministers on their overseas jaunts.

But the average, law-abiding Kiwi who just wants to come home? We put them into a poorly organised raffle every week. There are 30,000 such people. Kiwis. Our people.  – Bruce Cotterill

But sadly, as one party asserts control, another loses freedom.

Curbing freedoms is becoming more and more a feature of this government. It started with the daily updates. “Tune in at 1 o’clock and hear from the single source of the truth,” they said. Lockdowns. Confiscating water assets. Centralising healthcare. Centralising education.

It’s not hard to see that the arrogance that comes with such behaviour leads to a stifled democracy. While the locked-down people are tired and frustrated, our politicians place unelected representatives onto councils and boards, take control of newly centralised education and healthcare and rewrite school history curriculums. All such roads leading to further curbs on the freedoms of the people.Bruce Cotterill

Here’s the problem. There’s an awful lot of take, take, take going on. The people need some give, give, give. The give should include a government that can run competent border policy, pandemic preparedness such as hospital capacity and ICU enhancement, and a vaccination programme that is informed, well managed and timely.

Our government has failed on each of these measures. Their only solution is to confiscate our freedoms. The failures have been theirs. However, in order for their freedoms to be maintained they are happy to change the rules.- Bruce Cotterill

Many years ago I observed that an incompetent manager will often limit the opportunity for their team or their organisation by slowing things down to a pace that he or she can cope with. In other words, to control the pace to a level that suits their agenda. We are all learning now that an incompetent government can do the same.

When one party asserts control, another loses freedom. – Bruce Cotterill

There is obviously a kind of person who believes that when you pull an economic lever from on high, the result is precisely what you expect and want. Such people must live in a world without unintended consequences, in which human beings are vectors of forces whose trajectories can be calculated in advance and then shifted in precisely the direction desired. Such people suffer from what might be called the technocratic delusion.    – Theodore Dalrymple

The whole saga however highlights a very important truth, after 20 years in existence Fonterra is still bound by legislation that tilts the playing field heavily towards its competitors. The fact that a company could take a democratic shareholder vote and the decision whether to enact the outcome is left to the Government is ludicrous.Craig Hickman

The Prime Minister’s cause du jour, reducing child poverty, is a cover for communistic cravings. Left-wing governments always want to tax the rich to give to the poor in the name of greater equality. Do this under the pretext of alleviating child poverty and sympathetic voters will support you. If redistribution was advocated for the reduction of drug-addicted poverty it might find less appeal. That some children in poverty have parents burning money on their addictions remains a fact … but never mind.

There is no excuse for taking money off productive people to encourage bad decision-making. – Lindsay Mitchell

While RNZ has, historically, leaned slightly to the liberal end of the political spectrum, it has largely remained committed to the traditional journalistic belief of giving truth to power without political favour. 

But RNZ National has, almost imperceptibly and without any debate, been transformed from providing a platform for a diversity of views, the traditional role of a public broadcaster, to being a platform that now amplifies the perspectives of the liberal elite that occupy the upper echelons of New Zealand society. It has become home to a  journalism that has became fixated with culture issues, race and gender. In the process its tone has become so smug and exclusive that it is obviously alienating a large number of listeners who have departed elsewhere.  – Against the Current

The weekend’s #Groundswell protests, and the #Groundswell movement itself, were intended to highlight the plight of the New Zealand farmer under an unsympathetic regime. Instead, however, the organisers have allowed it to become easily gaslighted as something it’s not. As racist, or anti-vax.

And the important message has been lost: that it’s NZ farmers who allow us to live in first-world comfort — that it’s their exported produce that allows us to buy, at not unreasonable prices, all the technology of the world.  – Peter Cresswell

It’s those dairy exports that pay our way in the world; that, more than anything else, allow the average New Zealander to, at a reasonable price, directly acquire technology that allows them to see, hear, read and interact with the whole world’s movies, music, artworks, books, and communications technology  — to each acquire the sort of library that past royalty would have envied — and to indirectly live the sort of lifestyles that people around other parts of the world envy still. It’s those dairy exports that, more than anything else we do here, make it all possible.

Perhaps some gratitude to the farmers, rather than gaslighting them, should be the response they deserve. Peter Cresswell

These are extraordinary times which demand extraordinary measures in emergency time frames.

But in New Zealand, our bureaucracy bumbles it’s way like a plodding sloth to unfortunate outcomes.  – Andrew Dickens

One GP said even though there is high demand for the pulse oximeters, they have not been all that easy to get.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said not every single Covid-19 positive household gets one, but the Ministry of Health said they do – while Minister of Health Andrew Little said they don’t necessarily, and Grant Robertson said everyone does.Jordan Bond

It’s called media control but asking questions is called democracy and accountability. – Barry Soper

Who knew an eminent scientist expressing an honestly held opinion — that mātauranga Māori, while valuable as a form of knowledge, is not science — would end up dealing with an Inquisition in 21st century New Zealand? Graham Adams

There is no greater aspiration than one that thinks more of our legacy to future generations than the immediate difficulties experienced in the process of establishment.

We should return to the days when we all believed in those guidelines. But time is of the essence. It may soon be too late. – Clive Bibby

One of the growing images of this government is that they are on the side of the hopeless and some times worse than that, the just plain ugly. – Mike Hosking

Giving people a hand up has always been the New Zealand way. But like so many of the houses and circumstances themselves, the theory has been, and is being, abused.

It’s not a hand up, it’s a lifestyle. And the government who have sided with those who abuse it all dig an ever-deeper hole for themselves while we foot the bill. – Mike Hosking

We are dealing with monsters here, and [Kāinga Ora] have got this no evictions policy which is outrageous because the deterrence in the system has gone. – Adina Thorn

We don’t want to evict anybody. But sometimes there has to be an endpoint to this when things are completely out of control… it’s a privilege, not a right, to live in a state house. If you’re going to exploit that, something needs to give. – Adina Thorn

It’s not uncommon for Ardern to deliberately evade simple questions and give answers that bear no resemblance to the actual question.

In this case all it does is emphasise there is no increased risk if the changes were implemented ahead of Christmas, and rather than admitting that, Ardern is hoping word soup answers will be a distraction.Jo Moir

We are all going to get Covid antibodies either by vaccination or infection. The traffic lights just delay, increase social division, economic cost and the total lives lost.

The traffic lights are not based on science but on polling. We have gone from being a team of 5 million to scapegoating an unpopular minority. Not the Kiwi way.

A poll-driven government is mob rule. – Richard Prebble

War, after all, is not an equal opportunity employer, or at any rate not for long. The aged, the seriously infirm, the mad, the grossly obese must surely be excluded. A totally inclusive navy would probably sink even before it engaged in action. It would never even put to sea.Theodore Dalrymple

The enunciation of high-sounding but impossible principles disguises from us something that we would rather not know, though in fact we do know it and cannot but know it: namely that the world and life are often intractable and unfair. Not everything can be bent to our wishes, a fact which we find an assault on our self-regard. Better to hide the truth, in the process making ourselves sound liberal and generous. – Theodore Dalrymple

Remember, this is a bill that authorises the government to set constraints on who can and cannot take part in large parts of social life for the foreseeable future, that specifically permits it to require people in certain occupations to be vaccinated, and that is going to authorise other workplaces to decide if their employees have to be vaccinated or else lose their jobs. It’s getting pretty close to effectively mandating that people accept a vaccination, even if it isn’t imposing direct penalties on them for not doing so.

That may well be fine to do. I’m double-vaxxed, my kids are/will be when the age limits shift, and the science is the science. But, still, legislation that allows the state to say “put this in your body or else largely forgo social interactions” is a big step. And it’s one that ought to be taken with due respect; given time for proper scrutiny and debate, with input from an informed public. – Andrew Geddis

 First, the government apparently didn’t realise this request had been made, and so failed to respond to it in the time the OIA allows. Then, it refused to release the information because it will be made public “soon” … in late January, two months after the legislation authorising the use of vaccination certificates has been enacted into force. 

This is, to put it mildly, simply not good enough. Indeed, if you were trying to construct a lawmaking process to set off the conspiracy minded and undermine the social licence needed for success, it would look something like this. Hide the information that’s informed your legislation, introduce it at the very last moment, whip it through the House overnight, and present it as a fait accompli the next day.

Not, I hasten to add, that I subscribe to any conspiracy reasoning here. Rather, the reasons for the government’s behaviour are far more depressingly mundane. It has a parliamentary majority that allows it to act as it pleases.Andrew Geddis

But here’s the thing. When you’re the government, you’ve got to do better than “just enough”. Putting rules in place to allow society to function in the new Covid normal matters. But how you put those rules in place also matters. And in that respect, the government has failed us with this latest bill. – Andrew Geddis

You need a principled, talented opposition to provide an alternative vision, so let’s not worry about individual careers or egos, it’s the country that matters. Chris Finlayson

For me [the announcement] is absolutely useless and I find the ongoing restrictions completely over the top. New Zealand will be 90% vaccinated, so is Australia. It’s time to move on and stop destroying the economy and keeping families apart, and denying New Zealand citizens their rights to return and leave their country. –  Vanessa Freeman

Simply put, our nation locked us out and the populace stayed quiet on that, which alludes to there being a tacit agreement between the two. Teamed with a lack of empathy or compassion for what those of us locked out went through, I have forever been changed by all this.Sharelle Govignon-Sweet 

HOW LONG before Labour’s senior ministers realise how much damage Kāinga Ora is doing to their Government? Because it is difficult to overstate just how bad the optics of the Crown entity’s “unruly tenants” have become. As story after shocking story is picked up by the news media, public disbelief and disgust is growing exponentially. What’s preventing Labour from cauterising this self-inflicted political wound?
The answer would seem to involve the peculiar moral blindness that afflicts so much of the state bureaucracy. Partly, the result of an unrelenting focus on the “challenges” faced by criminal and dysfunctional individuals – challenges that are permitted to obscure, almost entirely, the consequences of their criminality and dysfunction. Partly, the result of the impulse to offer protection to those deemed “beyond the pale” by the rest of society. And, partly, the result of an ingrained bureaucratic reluctance to have any state agency’s shortcomings exposed to public and political scrutiny. Bring all these together, and the chances of the responsible bureaucrats seeing either the bigger picture, or the even bigger problem, are slim. – Chris Trotter

To the rest of the world, of course, the idea of allowing young children to remain in the custody of individuals who abuse and threaten their neighbours, is unthinkable. With that sort of parental example, they would argue, what chance do these kids have of growing into anything other than another generation of violent and uncaring thugs? “Get them out of there! Now!” Would be the immediate response of the average New Zealander. “And then evict their parents!”

In the eyes of the bureaucrats, however, this is exactly what must be avoided. Years of experience have taught them that breaking-up the family unit is only likely to make things worse. They insist that all these allegedly “common sense” solutions end up creating are more unruly citizens. Far from reducing the number of problematic individuals in state houses, you end up multiplying them. (Overlooked, or downplayed, is the fact that equally dire outcomes tend to flow from families in which unpunished violence, intimidation and harassment are part of everyday existence.) – Chris Trotter

So fixated have the bureaucrats become with “managing” the perpetrators of what in many cases are criminal offences, that the harassed and terrified people on the receiving end of those offences are simply forgotten.

This is the moral blindness that drives the victims of such behaviour, and all who read about it, to utter distraction. They begin to feel like lab rats in some dark behavioural science experiment. Their terrible experiences are simply incidental to the pathology of the experimental subjects. The quality of the victims’ lives is not the point of the exercise. The agency’s only concern is how successful their interventions are at rendering unruly tenants less unruly. – Chris Trotter

If law-abiding citizens’ faith in the state’s willingness to protect its citizens from violence, intimidation and harassment is not rewarded with swift and decisive action, then people will look elsewhere, and to others, for protection

Official inertia and vigilantism are not unrelated.Chris Trotter

The greatest failings of government arise when a growing bureaucracy and political ambition replace the principals of service. – Mark Rais

The IOC decision released last week ignores the wealth of scientific evidence, and common sense, that males have a competitive advantage against females in almost all sports,” said the organisation’s spokesperson Ro Edge.

“It has effectively eliminated the female category in sports by now allowing any male to compete in the female category on the basis only of “self-identification” as a woman.Ro Edge

In order to restrict a male from competing as a female, an individual sporting body will have to provide its own “robust and peer-reviewed research” to prove that women will be unfairly disadvantaged.

“This is indefensible….it’s clear the IOC hasn’t been able to figure out how to allow the inclusion of transwomen in the female category without it impacting fairness and safety for female athletes – and that’s because it is an impossible task. – Alison Roe

It [the IOC Transgender Framework] states that “everyone, regardless of gender identity, should be able to participate in sport safely and without prejudice”.

“While no one should disagree with that, the real question is, should a person have the right to participate in any category they choose?Ro Edge

On the contrary, it seems as if the end of communism and apartheid (closely related, for the apartheid regime in South Africa would never have dissolved itself while communists of the African National Congress could hope for an alliance with the Soviet Union, after the downfall of which they swiftly converted to crony capitalism) has liberated the inner totalitarian of the leftist intelligentsia to turn its attention on its own society, and use race, climate, and inequality to further its drive for power.

Far from wishing to ease racial tensions, it wishes to provoke, maintain, and exacerbate them so that they become a pretext for endless political and bureaucratic interference in everyone’s life. As Lenin put it, the worse the better. – Theodore Dalrymple

We’re all familiar with the phrase “the worst of all possible worlds”. Well, I think we now know what that world looks like.

We have an all-powerful, increasingly authoritarian government that combines ideological zealotry with ineptitude, profligacy, laziness and contempt for democratic process – surely the most lethal confluence of malignant political forces in living memory.Karl du Fresne

Speaking of the media, we have a new breed of political journalists whom no one can trust, who regard themselves as players rather than observers, and who treat politics as some sort of entertaining blood sport – one in which all participants risk being maimed with the exception of … the media, who are accountable to no one and are in the uniquely privileged position of ensuring they always come out as winners. I’m reminded of a British journalist’s memorable line about newspaper editorial writers: “They watch from the hills as the fighting rages, then come down and bayonet the wounded.”

That pretty much describes some of today’s Press Gallery journalists, such as Newshub’s political editor Tova O’Brien and her understudy Jenna Lynch, who have no skin in the game and can walk away unscathed from the carnage they helped to orchestrate. Newshub played a key role in National’s leadership crisis, constantly contriving opportunities to undermine the floundering opposition leader while leaving the prime minister – the person actually running the country – untouched within her media-enabled force field. Dirty politics? You have it right there – but don’t expect another book from Nicky Hager.  – Karl du Fresne

No, if you want to trace New Zealand’s parlous situation back to its origin, the trail leads inexorably to Winston Raymond Peters. Remember the 2017 election? With just 7 percent of the vote, Peters held the balance of power and exercised it by anointing Ardern as prime minister when, morally, National had earned the right to govern with 44 per cent of the vote to Labour’s 38 per cent.

Had the New Zealand First leader done the honourable thing in 2017, Bill English would have remained prime minister and might have turned out to be a good one. Not only had he done much of the heavy lifting behind the scenes in the Key government, but he had a social conscience that marked him as a politician in the mould of National Party liberals from the Holyoake era – National’s golden age, when it won four consecutive terms.Karl du Fresne

The media have been complicit in this process, for months on end treating the pandemic as if it was the only story of any consequence and ignoring, or at the very least playing down, elements of the government’s agenda that might cause public disquiet. Covid-19 has forced almost everything else off the news pages and the evening bulletins, allowing Labour’s activists to get on with their project virtually unhindered.

Peters, ironically, found himself ousted from Parliament, the voters finally having had enough of his decades of chicanery, so perhaps there’s some justice after all. But with the NZ First leader again hovering balefully around the periphery of politics, no one should forget his ignoble role in all this. – Karl du Fresne

There is no authority in numbers. There is no weight, in the realm of science, to a consensus if a single fact can disprove the proposition. Damien Grant

The Royal Society is one of the pillars of our civil society. It is funded by the state. It has over three and a half centuries of commitment to open and free inquiry. Membership confers status and recognition.

They should step back from the track they are treading and return to the traditions which has made it one of the great institutions of our time. – Damien Grant

Silencing or punishing someone for an opinion runs counter to reason. … No one is infallible; no one is omniscient. The only way our species has been able to do anything worthwhile is by voicing opinions and allowing them to be criticised…

If you’ve got a regime where merely voicing an opinion gets you silenced or punished then we’ve turned off the only mechanism we have of discovering knowledge. It is a way of locking ourselves into error…

If we have a regime that can subject someone to an investigation based on an opinion, we know from history that’s the way totalitarian autocracies work and oppressive theocracies work.

We know that the countries that have done well — the liberal democracies — have had freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry.Steven Pinker

It is to Chris Luxon’s credit that he is one of the few MPs to have taken a pay cut – in his case of over $4,000,000 a year – to enter Parliament, having left the top position at Air NZ. He is a person who is clearly motivated by public service rather than raiding the taxpayer’s wallet. – Jordan Williams

Journalists had fun mocking the recent Covid vaccine protesters. I did it myself. But, talk to anyone across the land, and I do frequently, who deal with the public, such as gym owners, shop-keepers, GPs and so on and all report a seething anger at the government’s oppressively dictatorial behaviour. The past 15 months inability of Kiwi’s to come home from abroad despite being vaccinated and happy to do a week at home, the absurdity of the South Island semi-lockdown, the PM’s hogging of television until the tide turned, then hiding out for three months under the radar in Wellington, and much, much more.

But over-riding everything is the racial divide the government has brought about by its relentless promotion of Maori favouritism. Bob Jones

Much has been made of my relative newness to Parliament but to be honest, I see it as an advantage. I bring a fresh set of eyes, and what I see is that this place and this country needs a shake-up.  Nicola and I are fresh new faces for a revitalised National Party. We are the reset.

Today we are drawing a line under the events of the last four years, and we are putting them behind us. If you are one of the 413,000 voters who moved away from us, my message to you is: from today, National is back. – Chris Luxon

I have built a career out of reversing the fortunes of under-performing companies and I’ll bring that real-world experience to this role.

Under my leadership, National will use our breadth of talent and real-world experience every day to deliver for each and every New Zealander. Chris Luxon

: New Zealand is at a critical cross-roads as we grapple with, and emerge from, a global pandemic.

We have a choice: a choice between our current road to mediocrity, or a pathway to a more confident, aspirational and prosperous future.

New Zealand needs an alternative now more than ever to take us in the right direction – because frankly, the country is heading the wrong way. – Chris Luxon

I know that there is a massive difference between announcements and achievement.

Talking about something gets you a headline. Actually getting things done is what improves the lives of everyday New Zealanders.

For four years, New Zealand has had a government great at delivering good PR but woeful at delivering much else.

Nice ideas and good intentions don’t pay the rent or the mortgage, educate our children, keep us healthy, keep us safe from crime and gangs, improve our mental health, lower our emissions or keep us united.Chris Luxon

I’ve seen the incredible things that people can accomplish when they are freed up and given the tools and the choices to seize opportunities.

I believe in a New Zealand that rewards hard work; a New Zealand that empowers Kiwis to take a punt and create prosperity for themselves and their families.

Most of all I believe in a New Zealand that while small in size is large in ambition. Let’s rediscover that!

Growing our economy and raising productivity are the single biggest things we can do to improve the lives of all New Zealanders. –  Chris Luxon

I’m proud to lead a government-in-waiting that will work every day to represent all New Zealanders – a “national National Party” that earns back their trust and confidence, and actually delivers for them.

And the National Government I will lead will be a government of action.

We will bring the tide back in and lift all boats.

We need to seize the tremendous opportunities we have, rather than squander them.

As I often say, we’re all going to get the country we deserve – and I firmly believe that together we – each and every one of us – can achieve the very best.Chris Luxon


Quotes of the month

01/11/2021

As evidenced by my seven years in Parliament, I’m not here to create a brand or profile. That stuff doesn’t interest me – I just want to do the work and that’s what I get the most reward from, – Matt Doocey

Sometimes I realise success is the things around you, rather than what you’re striving to next.Matt Doocey

If you set a centralized bureaucracy a target—and the British educational system was and is very centralized and bureaucratic—it will meet it by hook or by crook. It will change the meanings of words and alter the way by which outcomes are measured. – Theodore Dalrymple

Ardern’s new incoherence includes saying on some days that vaccination rates are considered in decisions about ongoing restrictions, and others days saying they aren’t. Some days she implies liberalisation requires vaccination of 90 per cent of everyone aged 12 or over, and in every regional, socioeconomic, age and ethnic group. Other days Beehive strategists deny any target and imply liberties could be restored below 90 per cent coverage.

Insofar as “the science” ever drove political decisions on Covid, it clearly doesn’t now.Matthew Hooton

Playing the person not the ball was Ardern’s only option since she will inevitably pick up the Opposition’s ideas very soon, as she has done ever since Covid emerged in Wuhan. – Matthew Hooton

If Ardern looks like a possum in the headlights, that’s because the vaccination bus is about to run over her. Matthew Hooton

The police can’t arrest all 3.4 million, meaning Ardern will have lockdowns removed from her toolbox whether she plans it or not.

This is a major healthcare, social, economic and ethical problem but Ardern apparently isn’t even thinking about it.

It demands the type of urgency beyond her and Ashley Bloomfield and requires tension to be put into the vaccination effort.  – Matthew Hooton

For as long as freeloaders believe Ardern won’t liberalise until well over 90 per cent of every demographic has been vaccinated — a target not achieved anywhere in the world except Gibraltar and Pitcairn Island, and utterly improbable in New Zealand — then they have nothing to worry about.

Yet they would hold captive the 80 per cent of us who have done the right thing.Matthew Hooton

Unvaccinated freeloaders have a right to take their chances with Covid, hospitalisation, ICU or worse.

But property owners, leaseholders and renters must also have the right to decide who enters their premises, and employers the right to make vaccination compulsory for their workforces, including public sector employers.

These rights need to be clarified in law.

Taking control of the situation and setting a date would be a much better strategy for Ardern than standing by, borrowing $100,000 a minute, and watching social cohesion erode and fatalities rise as the 80 per cent who do the right thing refuse to have their liberties curtailed by those who won’t.  – Matthew Hooton

It perfectly suits politicians to outsource the perception of responsibility to the public service. The flipside of increasingly prominent officials is the deterioration of the concept of ministerial responsibility.

That’s why more and more government failures are dismissed by ministers as “operational matters” that are none of their business.

The downside for the public is a landscape where accountability keeps being shifted around until it has been made to almost vanish.  Ben Thomas

But political risk can never disappear, it can only be moved. The risk for officials is they can be left carrying the can for political decisions.  – Ben Thomas

More than a whiff of misogyny is in the air. It is striking that there is no comparably zealous campaign to abandon the word “men” in favour of “prostate-havers”, “ejaculators” or “bodies with testicles”. It is almost always women who are being ordered to dispense with a useful word they have used all their lives. The Economist

Most broadly of all, the point of language is to communicate. Insisting on unfamiliar or alien-sounding terms will make it harder to discuss issues that affect only or disproportionately girls and women, such as female genital mutilation, domestic violence, child marriage or the persistence of pay gaps. – The Economist

Cowed by the insults and viciousness such discussions provoke, many people are fearful of taking part. If harshly policed, baffling and alien-sounding language is added to the price of joining the debate, even fewer will be willing to elevate their cephalic protuberance above the parapet. The Economist

 It just makes me laugh. Should anything happen again after this … the world’s going to look to New Zealand and say, ‘Nah, not coming’. – Noel Ballantyne

Never have I seen such a circus of an immigration system. – Noel Ballantyne

They came here because New Zealand wanted them to help with the economy, and now they’re sitting here years later not knowing what their futures hold. – Connie Nicholson-Port

Gender ideology might not be a religion in the traditional sense but it is certainly a belief system. Gender identity — its principal dogma — is unprovable and unfalsifiable, yet we are expected to believe in it or keep quiet. It has its catechisms — Transwomen are women, transmen are men and non-binary people are valid — and its priestly class. They would be transgender people like me, supposedly with esoteric knowledge about what it means to be trans. – Debbie Hayton

Words matter, because if we change the words we use we change the way we think. In many contexts, sex has been replaced with gender and — equally troubling to me — transsexual has been replaced with transgender. In both cases, people are separated from their reproductive biology. That doesn’t help anyone live their life in the real world where sex does matter. – Debbie Hayton

The Government is not proposing to force banks to offer concessions on loans, councils to reduce rates or insurance companies to reduce premiums. Forcing rent relief is choosing one of a number of problems and forcing that problem on to someone else

But worst of all is not the policy itself, but the message this sends. The Government is happy to make complex policy decisions in secret and act without outside help or advice. – Hamish Rutherford

Time and again political observers have warned that Labour is prone to close ranks when it faces complex problems, make decisions based only on input from those within the Beehive then be forced to try to push through bad policy because it has already announced the decision.

It does further damage to New Zealand’s reputation as a stable operating environment because investors perceive that the rules may change with little notice or research. – Hamish Rutherford

My tax bill is projected to increase by $50,000 under the new rules, so does this mean I can bypass that if I don’t renew the agreements of the students who live in the properties and hand the keys over to Link People instead? . . . The social implications of that are off the charts. Hundreds of thousands of people currently rent but aren’t on a social housing list. The financial incentive to not rent to them is now thousands of dollars a year.Nick Gentle

Alert fatigue is a risk. It does not stem from a lack of motivation to adhere to rules, but confusion about rules and direction that are frequently changing.

It’s time to cut through confusion with a clear and detailed plan to provide hope that life will become a bit more normal. – Andrea Vance

However, only in New Zealand, with its single House of Parliament, did we effectively return to our old system of “elected dictatorship”.

On election night, the Prime Minister trotted out the tired old trope about “governing for all New Zealanders”. Since then her Government has become increasingly high-handed.Steven Joyce

Rather than the Government compensating companies who can’t afford to pay their rent because of government-induced lockdowns, it decided to legally require people who own the properties to do so instead.

This is an eye-watering precedent with far-reaching consequences to the sanctity of commercial contracts. – Steven Joyce

A year after being handed an old-style first past the post result, and having possibly developed a taste for bossing people around during the Covid response, the current Government is regularly behaving like its Muldoon-style predecessors. – Steven Joyce

I do not expect any time soon that the inquisitors of hate speech will call for class warriors to be banned from expressing themselves in the social media or anywhere else. Some hatreds, then, are deemed respectable, even praiseworthy, and expression of them, even to the point of incitement, a manifestation of a good or pure heart. – Theodore Dalrymple

Contrary to the hydrostatic view of emotions such as hatred, they tend with venting to increase rather than to decrease. The view that if an emotion is not expressed openly it will do incalculable damage to a person is one of the “gifts” of psychoanalysis to the world. Theodore Dalrymple

Freedom of speech is freedom of speech, not gentility or decency or even intelligence. – Theodore Dalrymple

But it is he or she who draws attention to an evident truth, rather than someone whose words seethe with insult and crude insensate loathing, who is held to be guilty of hate-speech—because hatred in the name of equality is regarded as generous, despite its record of mass murder rivalled only by racism. – Theodore Dalrymple

But two things need to be pointed out. First, if by equality is meant identity or even similarity of outcome, rather than equality before the law, then there could be no greater injustice than equality, at least if justice is the distribution of reward according to desert.

Naturally, desert is a complex and difficult concept, but real egalitarians wish to eliminate it completely in their desire that all should have prizes, and the same prizes at that. However, if reward is disconnected entirely from desert, much, most or all meaning in life is eviscerated, for the reward will be the same whatever you do. Why, then, even try? – Theodore Dalrymple

Second, however, is the fact that while justice is desirable, it is not the only thing that is desirable, and sometimes must yield place to considerations such as charity, kindness and humanity. 

An utter wastrel may well deserve to starve, considered in the abstract, because of his constant and repeated feckless behaviour, but we should not let him starve because our humanity will not allow it. – Theodore Dalrymple

A society is certainly conceivable in which only a tiny proportion of the population deserved by their efforts to enjoy the better things in life, but we should not care to live in such a society, however just it was. But the problem with modern redistributionism is that it is founded much more upon hatred of the rich or fortunate than it is upon love of the poor or unfortunate. – Theodore Dalrymple

Hatred is an incomparably stronger political emotion than love. In the worldview of redistributionists such as Angela Rayner, it is more blessed to take than to give, which is why taxation is for them an end in itself, irrespective of its effect upon the economy and society as a whole.

It also has the great advantage, from their point of view, of conferring great power on those who levy it, namely themselves. All power corrupts, but the desire for power corrupts even before it is ever achieved.Theodore Dalrymple

The truly frightening thing about life in a hermit kingdom is that you get used to it.- John Roughan

I’m past anger, worry, fear or even boredom. The days go by surprisingly fast considering you hardly see anyone, go nowhere and nothing different happens. You get used to it, and oddly contented. This must be what it’s like to become an institutionalised prisoner.John Roughan

Most people are not in business, do not export or import or notice how much their living standard depends on people who do these things. Most people do not have a need to travel or a desire to do so now that the virus is endemic just about everywhere else. – John Roughan

Like North Koreans, Kiwis have been pounded with a message that the world is a dangerous place, dominated by a force that’s out to kill them.John Roughan

Like North Koreans, Kiwis have been pounded with a message that the world is a dangerous place, dominated by a force that’s out to kill them.John Roughan

If you’ve got people with skin in the game involved, it’s far better having someone like that than someone in central government dictate how you’re going to do things. They can set the direction, we set the detail. – Peter Mitchell

There’s a lot of challenges out there so there’s going to be a lot of opportunities. That’s a good way of looking at life. It’s about looking at those opportunities and having a go at doing something about it.Peter Mitchell

Ardern’s perpetual struggle is transforming her care and compassion into public policy. Thus, the contradiction where she thrives in a crisis yet falters in its aftermath. The prime minister rightly won praise for her deeply human response to the Christchurch terror attacks in 2019. But in the two years after the attack, as the victims and their families suffer mental anguish, Ardern has repeatedly refused to intervene and grant those sufferers support under the government’s accident compensation scheme. It’s a baffling failure, given the commitments she made to the Muslim community, yet it demonstrates in micro what we could witness in macro: that the prime minister’s personal care and compassion do not always align with her public policy decisions. – Morgan Godfery

I totally agree with you that it is your right not to get jabbed. But with that right comes consequences. –  Heather du Plessis Allan

So, while I support your right to refuse to get the jab legally, I want to warn you that none of the rest of us wants to hear your complaining about the consequences because we are already wearing the consequences on your behalf.

What’s been announced in the last few days is just the start of it. Get ready. –  Heather du Plessis Allan

We have, lately, seen the Ardern Government, unshackled by the annoyance of having to count votes, act in the way that first led New Zealanders to eschew First Past the Post voting system, and, instead, opt for MMP. No excuses, now. It’s on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her crew. Judith Collins

Fair Pay Agreements that sound soft and kind, until we realise that they are nothing but a return to compulsory unionism and the nationwide awards system that stifled New Zealand’s innovation, drive, and success before 1991. The only place they seemed not to operate was in the owner-occupied businesses known as family farms. No wonder farming led innovation and the adoption of new technology. – Judith Collins

Three Waters; which is accompanied by what should be declared false advertising – $4 million of taxpayers money spent on advertisements seemingly trying to convince Kiwis that our drinking water isn’t safe. For the record, it’s a crock. And $710 million spent by Government from the Covid-19 Recovery Fund, essentially bribing local councils to fall into line.

Of course, infrastructure needs maintaining and sometimes renewing, but the $183 billion this Government says will be needed, is almost twice the current Government debt and is four times the debt Labour inherited.

Putting that aside, what is really behind Three Waters is a wish to take the assets of local government, and put the governance into four groups half appointed by councils and half by iwi.

It has little to do with water quality and a lot to do with control. – Judith Collins

You might ask, “what of He Puapua?” Well, that’s the roadmap that the Ardern Government seems to be sticking to. Clearly, it is the only plan that they seem to have. KiwiBuild, the plan to build 100,000 houses in 10 years, was a $2 billion flop.

The Covid elimination strategy has failed. It worked when we all accepted lockdowns as there was no vaccine. Then there was a vaccine, just not enough of it in New Zealanders’ arms. This latest lockdown will spell the end of some businesses. – Judith Collins

I realise the Government has little thought for small businesses. Those businesses are really people. They’re families and they’re mums and dads and they’re kids watching their home being sold to pay the debts. That’s what happens when governments fail to understand that actions have consequences, and debts have to be repaid. Judith Collins

That means, embracing success. That means ridding ourselves of the notion that turning up is enough. That means deciding to be the best we can. Every, single one of us. That must be us.

That’s what we can do. That’s what this country needs.

And, in the meantime, can the Government please stop telling everyone to “be kind”, until it decides to be competent.  – Judith Collins 

It is the Ardern-led Government’s unwillingness to follow the Ciceronian legal principle of “sulus populi suprema lex esto” – the safety of the people shall be the highest law – that lies at the heart of New Zealand’s rapidly deepening Covid-19 crisis. The generation now in power is, quite simply, politically allergic to adopting the hard-line policies required to rescue both themselves – and the New Zealand people – from disaster. Even when Ms Carrot’s “kindness” is so obviously failing, this Labour Government refuses to reach for Mr Stick. – Chris Trotter

For weeks, government officials have been trying to protect the reputations of the sophisticated international crime syndicates that brand themselves domestically with monikers like Mongrel Mob, Black Power and Head Hunters.

Other countries use words like mafia, triad or yakuza to describe these groups. Here, the Wellington and Grey Lynn liberal elites have convinced themselves that the local franchises are primarily support groups for the dispossessed, with a bit of crime on the side. – Matthew Hooton

The number of Covid cases over the next 14 days and the 20-34-year-old vaccination rate by the end of the month will thus depend materially on the gangs doing their thing.

It is a revolting form of extortion, but your job, your business and whether you get a summer holiday now depend on the gangs’ efforts to persuade their stakeholders to obey the rules and get double-jabbed. – Matthew Hooton

I expected the elimination strategy to end one day. Maybe during this outbreak, but with a bang and not a whimper, by throwing everything we had at it. Once we had a heavily vaccinated population, not quitting before the finish line. This is a cowardly decision that attempts to please everyone, and that means the elimination strategy has ended on Covid’s terms and not ours. – Blog Boy Nick

Because the cost of taking companies’ property is not the administrative overhead, as officials suggest in the RIS.

The cost is all the investment in innovation that will not happen in the future.

Those costs are large, big enough to be measured in percentages of GDP. So it is laughable that officials could list administrative costs as the only real downside of their proposal. – Matt Burgess 

Do officials at the Ministry of Health understand how investment in specific assets works? Do they understand that investment in intellectual property, and in all sunk assets, depends on the credibility of the government’s promise not to take the property once it is created? Do officials recognise that even threatening such opportunism in one sector could have wider ramifications about security of property elsewhere? That prospective investors in wind turbines or EV charging infrastructure won’t notice the government putting in place machinery to take the property of medical companies?Matt Burgess

You don’t need to like Collins, or even to be National supporter (I’m certainly not) to regard O’Brien’s constant attacks on her as grotesque, vicious and weirdly obsessive. What journalistic purpose is served by mauling a lame and politically impotent Opposition leader while the politician wielding real power gets away scot-free – in fact avoids situations where she might be asked awkward questions about the government’s multiple failings? (I note that this week Ardern was out in the boondocks smiling for the cameras – anything to avoid having to explain the government’s about-face on its Covid-19 elimination strategy.) – Karl du Fresne

Having topped the Nobel 2021 class, Messrs Julius and Patapoutian should be encouraged to switch their efforts to advancing our understanding of Jacindaprehension, the process by which the pronouncements of the Prime Minister are recognised by our sensory cells and converted into signals that can then be interpreted by the brain as perceptions of the Government’s Covid strategy. – James Elliott 

I could see that the PM was speaking because her lips were moving. And the words that she was saying were travelling in sound waves from the TV to my ear drums which then vibrated causing fluid inside my cochlea to ripple across the basilar membrane activating the stereocilia to send electrical signals via the auditory nerve to my brain. It was that point that the process broke down. My brain was not able to process those electrical signals into a coherent perception of what the Government’s Covid strategy now is. – James Elliott 

Monday’s announcement was like watching the head prefect explaining the catering arrangements for the school ball in excruciating detail without telling us the basics like when the ball is, what the alcohol policy is, and whether there will be a DJ or a band. My summary understanding is that since midnight on Tuesday I’ve been able to have a picnic with another bubble provided our picnic rugs are socially distanced. That’s provided for under alert Level 3, Step 1. Under Alert Level 3, Step 1, Category A if I’m picnicking with another bubble and they are unvaxxed then they must be both socially distanced and downwind. And under alert Level 3, Step 1, Category A, Rule (iv), after I have picnicked upwind from an unvaxxed bubble I am required to send my picnic rug to Jet Park for 14 days followed by a deep clean. James Elliott 

The news cycle is so dominated by Covid that the media have been able to develop a type of shorthand, ditching superfluous words. The media no longer report alert levels, now they’re just levels. They’re no longer Covid or Delta cases, now they’re just cases. And they’re no longer the percentage of the population yet to receive a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, now they’re just the unjabbed. Deaths are still being reported as deaths until such time as a yet-to-be-convened government-appointed think tank approves the use of “PPPs”, previous pandemic participants.

The next phase in news reportage will see the ditching of words altogether. Alert levels, tests, cases, deaths and vaccination rates will all just be reported as a single sequence of numbers. It will be like a Lotto draw that nobody wins.  –  James Elliott

David Bernstein, Nicole Levitt and Daniel Newman

Critical Social Justice presents as the antidote to bigotry. But in the increasingly radical form now taking root on campuses, it has become the proverbial cure that’s worse than the disease. And so while we applaud those progressives who call out the specifically antisemitic—and more generally anti-liberal—elements of CSJ, it has now become clear that it is the ideology as a whole that must be rejected. David Bernstein, Nicole Levitt and Daniel Newman

Jacinda Ardern may be as superficial, intellectually shallow and verbally glib as some of her detractors claim, but her advisers and spin doctors are none of those things. Rather they are clever, cynical and even manipulative in the lines they give her – and she certainly delivers them well. – John Bishop

The detail is absent. Community leaders and interest groups have criticised the lack of clarity and the absence of target dates.

This feeds the developing narrative that the Government in general, and Ardern in particular, have lost control of the situation and don’t know what to do any more. – John Bishop

The other spin tactic used on Monday was the smother technique. It takes two forms. One is to be imprecise, even vague, about what is changing. . . The second part of the “smother” technique is to announce other important things at the same time. – John Bishop

Again, details are to be fleshed out by officials in working groups for a rollout next month. Good luck with meeting that target. It looks like a policy announced before the real policy work is completed, to assist with the smother strategy. John Bishop

Abandoning elimination may be the right move, but politically it is a huge shift, a massive gamble that the public will forget and forgive the sacrifices they have had to make, seemingly only now to have the Government change direction. – John Bishop

They are huge sums and that’s a problem in its own right. They’ve really just given themselves a blank cheque and said ‘trust us’, well I think we need more transparency and scrutiny on the amount of spending they’re doing Michael Woodhouse

My view is that the government should be doing everything to stop businesses falling over as a result of a government-imposed lockdown, and that means providing cash to those businesses because they live and die on cash … if we let businesses fall over, we’re gonna see more people on the jobs heap and that’s a really bad outcome. – Andrew Bayley

If you want something to work, you have to do the work. It’s not going to just happen magically because you want it to.Becky Dennison

 It’s quite magical when someone puts something on, you see it on their face, they feel better.

It’s not just a dress, often it takes trying something on to realise that. I’m selling confidence I think … and a sense of feeling special. – Becky Dennison

The way I look at it, refusing a vaccine is a bit like smoking. As far as I’m concerned, you can choose to smoke a cigarette. The health impacts are well-documented, but that’s on you. However, the moment your choice impacts upon my health, the moment I’m sucking in second-hand smoke, we have a problem.

Your freedom to smoke a cigarette in a restaurant impacts my freedom not to get lung cancer.

The primary reason someone should get vaccinated is because the science is clear – vaccinations protect our health.

But a person’s choice not to get vaccinated impacts us all. If someone’s not prepared to contribute to the greater good of society, why should they benefit from a society’s collective rewards?Jack Tame

In the War on Covid, this week has been marked by indecision, obfuscation, and missteps, which has led to an edgy mood change.

This has been a perilous week for this second-term Labour Government, and especially for the prime minister, who at times has looked and sounded panicked and unsure. – Janet Wilson

The biggest issue, and where the Government has clearly dropped the ball, is ICU capacity. After the first lockdown last year, it should have moved quickly to create a special visa class to get ICU specialists into the country. It did not.

This is an astonishing failure, given that the clear capacity constraint in the system – testing, contact tracing, isolation, hospital care – was always going to lie in providing and staffing ICU facilities.Luke Malpass

Pressure will also begin to mount on the Government over another aspect of lockdowns: they are very expensive. There has now been more money spent on the wage subsidy and other support for this lockdown (over $4 billion and counting) than the Government’s entire operating allowance for next year. That’s the amount of new money the Government will spend on ongoing operations.

There’s going to be a massive amount of tax that needs paying back, by future generations. – Luke Malpass

Yet in politics it’s often the lines that are made up on the spot, or in response to a particular issue on a particular day, that can come back to haunt their creators – think “year of delivery”. Covid for Christmas could just be one of them. – Luke Malpass

Making everything worse, is the extraordinary tangle into which the Government has gotten itself. Gone are the days of simple, but inspired, messaging: “Go hard. Go early.” “Stay home. Stay safe.” “Stamp out the virus.” In “To pee or not to pee: A full timeline of the confusing level three bathroom rule”, The Spinoff’s Madeleine Chapman makes excruciating fun of the Government’s messaging disasters. – Chris Trotter

People hating a government is one thing. What some people hate, other people are almost certain to love. But people laughing derisively at a government, that is something else entirely. Politically, it’s very hard to come back from derisive laughter.

But what other option, apart from derisive laughter, is left for New Zealanders? Except, perhaps, angry tears? And how did it get to this point? From OECD poster-child, to international laughing stock? What was it that caused this Government’s stunning reversal-of-fortune?Chris Trotter

Also inadequate, was the administrative rigidity of New Zealand’s state apparatus. This country’s people are famous for their “No. 8 Wire”, can-do improvisation, and for their willingness to give anything a decent try – and to hell with the hierarchies! Indeed, we are told it is precisely this attitude that makes Kiwis so highly-prized by foreign employers. But, if such attitudes were ever acceptable to New Zealand’s public servants, they are pure Kryptonite to the current generation of bureaucratic mandarins. – Chris Trotter

Nowhere was this more evident than in the tortuous roll-out of the official vaccination effort. Cumbersome, time-consuming, inefficient and ineffective, the official process generated enormous public frustration. If the People themselves had not taken the task in hand, New Zealand’s vaccination rates would be even worse than they are. Only when anxious communities swung into action alongside their GPs and other local health providers did the numbers getting the jab rise to something approaching an acceptable level.Chris Trotter

Ruling out alert level 4 will effectively also rule out alert level 1, leaving Aucklanders in the worst of both worlds with a large number of restrictions and a large (and growing) number of cases, hospitalisations, and deaths. That situation is no good for businesses either. We’ve seen this pattern play out again and again in multiple countries.

This is the most urgent and most important national conversation we can be having right now. At this critical point in our pandemic journey, failing to act decisively will have severe consequences for population health and wellbeing. – Dr Amanda Kvalsvig

The lockdown system fought Delta, and Delta has won.Luke Malpass

If Ardern is a rock star, I’m afraid she has reached second album syndrome. What looked so clever to many people a year ago no longer looks quite so smart.

The world can finally see that zero Covid was a dead end which delayed but did not eliminate Covid, while drawing out the economic damage from repeated lockdowns as far as the eye can see. – Ross Clark

This country’s populace is an overwhelming mix of people from all ethnic backgrounds, who simply want to get on with a life that enables access to equal opportunity in exchange for the recognition of our individual responsibilities to those who are in need of our help and care.Clive Bibby

Those who have reluctantly immunised themselves to stay employed (and for other reasons) may feel deep resentment against those who have refused and want to be financially supported as a consequence. – Lindsay Mitchell

By the way yesterday, in the middle of this dithering, it was the anniversary of the landslide election of Labour a year ago. An election where they were rewarded for their decisiveness. How things have changed.

A year ago they were caviar on toast. Now they’re just toast. –  Andrew Dickens

Among the unvaccinated, the virus travels unhindered on a highway with multiple off-ramps and refueling stations. In the vaccinated, it gets lost in a maze of dead-end streets and cul-de-sacs. Every so often, it pieces together an escape route, but in most scenarios, it finds itself cut off, and its journey ends. It can go no further. – Craig Spencer

It feels like the South Island does not exist in the minds of our senior politicians. Drop the levels to one, place restrictions on inter-island travel and continue the drive to boost vaccine numbers. Be pragmatic and adapt when it’s required to ever-changing degrees of risk and keep away from one size fits all.Bruce Smith

This country’s populace is an overwhelming mix of people from all ethnic backgrounds, who simply want to get on with a life that enables access to equal opportunity in exchange for the recognition of our individual responsibilities to those who are in need of our help and care. – Clive Bibby 

With its Emissions Reduction Plan released last week, the government is promising unprecedented control over every aspect of your life.

How you move. What you eat. Where you live. How you heat your home.

It is little short of a revolution. Between its emissions plan and next year’s Budget, which will also be about climate change, future governments of this country will have more to say about everything. – Matt Burgess

New Zealand should get more credit for its progress on emissions. On a per-capita basis, greenhouse gases have been falling since 2006. They are down 22% overall, and down 34% if agriculture is excluded.

Net emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases – relevant for the net zero target – are down 25% per person.

And it is not pine trees that are doing all the work. More than 100% of the fall in net emissions is due to lower gross emissions. – Matt Burgess

The government is not thinking about climate change this way. In fact, it does not seem to be thinking about emissions at all. It has published an Emissions Reduction Plan which will bring down emissions by about the same amount as existing policies to achieve the same emissions targets. Matt Burgess

What, then, is the point of an Emissions Reduction Plan if it does not reduce emissions?

Judging from its effects, the point is control. The plan will have two clear effects. Ministers will decide how and where emissions come down, not you. Second, you will pay more – ten times more, on the government’s own analysis – for the benefit of their judgment.

What a terrible deal. For the environment. And for your back pocket.

And all based on the twin lies that reducing emissions requires central control, and that the government’s Emissions Reduction Plan reduces emissions. – Matt Burgess

We used to aim for zero cases for better or worse. We knew a string of zeros meant we’d be allowed some freedom back. Now no one from the Prime Minister down seems capable of articulating what we need to achieve to get out of lockdown. So we stay in limbo. 

For a Government whose main and sometimes only strength is having the gift of the gab, the communication has been running rough. The hurried announcement a week ago of level 3 plus picnics and “transitioning away” from elimination pleased no one. The elimination crowd were fearful, everyone else was confused.

Even the Government’s most loyal cheerleaders lamented the lack of a plan. We spent two days sniggering at the mixed messages about using the neighbour’s toilet when you went for a picnic in their garden.  –  Steven Joyce

The Government is tying itself in knots to avoid setting a clear vaccination target. The most oft-mentioned number when ministers are pressed is 90 per cent, but then the caveats arise. It can’t just be 90 per cent overall, it needs to be 90 per cent in every community, and every ethnicity. And anyway we aren’t setting a target, and so it goes.

The whole thing would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. Every week of lockdown means more retail, hospitality and hairdressing businesses going broke. Kids are missing a lot of school and their friends even more. We are trading their futures for the dithering now. It was a tough day in households with teenagers when the news broke that term four in Auckland would start as term three finished, at home and on a screen. – Steven Joyce

The country’s debt keeps growing. The Finance Minister makes much of it being a bit better than expected, but already we have borrowed more than for the GFC and Canterbury earthquakes combined – and that’s before the latest lockdown. The monetary medicine is driving a bigger wedge between the haves and have-nots as asset prices, including houses, continue to be juiced by artificially free money.

People of all ages are struggling mentally. It is said we had a mental health crisis back in 2017 – I worry to think what it is like now. – Steven Joyce

But whatever the internal tussles going on, change is coming.

It’s all possible because of the wonders that are these vaccines. They are true marvels of modern medicine and the brightest stars to have come out of this pandemic. The evidence from here and overseas is that while fully vaccinated people can still catch the virus, their symptoms are very mild and they mostly stay out of hospital and stay out of danger. That is fantastic. And it is clear now there are no significant side-effects.

The path is clear. Those that aren’t yet vaccinated need to stop stuffing about and get it done. Let’s take some control and set our own target for the country so we can get the borders down between Auckland and everywhere else, and see our friends and families again. – Steven Joyce

The truth is that the grass is greenest where it’s watered – and nurtured – and cared for, and if green grass is important to you when crossing fences you should carry water with you, along with fertilizer, and a manual for lawn care.
Or learn to be still . . . and wait . . . .
 – Robert Fulghum

Patience has never been my virtue – but patience is required now.
Carpe Diem – seize the day – has always been my working mantra. That’s been replaced with Carpe Manana – hold on for tomorrow.
Mutability is the operative concept.
That’s the quality of being liable to undergo inevitable change. – Robert Fulghum

Nature does not care about fences – the green will come where and when it will, driven by the invincible force of Life.
No need to look for better grass on the other side of a fence.
The grass has come to me.
The fuse of the future is lit – the life force will prevail and explode.
Onward!
  – Robert Fulghum

All the arguments about the right to travel freely, the right to associate, the right not to be tracked and traced … they all come out of the argument for individual rights, which is based on individual rights being a contextual absolute, i.e., an absolute in the context in which they are promulgated. Which is peacetime, essentially. Or plague-free times.

Which is to say that virtually all the arguments whinging I’m hearing about quarantine, all the protests against marks and vaccines, all the reasoning about being able to open up on December 1st come what may, should all have appended to them the simple two words “…but plague

Because in case you hadn’t noticed, there is a different context out there at the moment. The context of “…but plague.” And in times of plague, a proper context-sensitive application of rights (which are intended to protect me from you and you from me) includes things like quarantine. And might involve things like masks and vaccination.

Why? Because plague. – Peter Cresswell

If forced to define the groupthink that binds the members of this cabal, I would suggest it’s an adherence to the ideology of identity politics – the idea that disadvantaged minority groups (more of which seem to emerge with every passing month) have needs, grievances and interests that, when push comes to shove, supersede those of the majority.

Identity politics involves a relentless focus not on what unites us – in other words, the interests and values that all New Zealanders have in common (such as freedom, prosperity, peace and respect for the rule of law) – but on grievance and division. Proponents of identity politics see society as an aggregation of disadvantaged groups that must compete for power and influence against a privileged and hostile majority that’s indifferent to their needs. It’s a world view that arises largely out of Marxist theory but which, oddly enough, is not endorsed by all Marxists. Karl du Fresne

These aggrieved minorities may define themselves by their ethnicity, their gender, their religion, their disabilities or their sexual identity. The desire to protect these groups and promote their interests, even if it means over-riding the wishes of the majority, has become an all-consuming objective for the cabal that now dominates New Zealand politics.

We see this reflected in many of the political initiatives pursued by the Labour government since it was freed from the restraining influence of New Zealand First. Obvious examples include proposed hate speech laws (still conveniently vague), Maori co-governance proposals, taxpayer-funded government capture of the media, centralisation of power via radical new arrangements in health and local government (e.g. the Three Waters), indoctrination of school pupils through a distorted history curriculum, and the imposition of Maori place names and Maori terminology unfamiliar to most New Zealanders without any mandate. – Karl du Fresne

But what sets the 2021-style cabal apart is the sheer scale of its influence. A homogeneity of thinking extends across virtually all the public institutions that influence New Zealand life. What debate there is mainly takes place on the margins – for example, on talkback radio (which the media elite regards with contempt), in social media and on blogs like this one, where dissenting opinion can be quarantined as if it were a contagious disease.

The dangers hardly need spelling out. A country where government policies largely go unchallenged by the institutions that normally hold politicians to account is a country that risks acquiescing in the face of an authoritarian state. – Karl du Fresne

Some political journalists appear to compete for the prime minister’s favour, like school children begging for the teacher to notice their upraised arms. The penalty for asking awkward questions at Ardern’s “Pulpit of Truth” sessions is that the questioner is likely to be snubbed in future. It’s a more subtle form of control than that exercised by Robert Muldoon, who banned journalists he didn’t like, but just as effective. Small wonder that Barry Soper, the most experienced member of the press gallery, has exposed Ardern’s promise of transparency as a sham.

We even see media outlets actively suppressing content for no better reason than that it’s ideologically unacceptable; witness the New Zealand Herald’s shameful refusal to publish an inoffensive advertisement for the feminist group Speak Up for Women, which has struggled to have its voice heard against a barrage of  rhetoric from the fiercely aggressive transgender lobby.

Once the guardians of free speech, the press has become complicit in the suppression of opinions that run counter to the tenets of identity politics. That media outlets like the Herald now align themselves with radical fringe groups such as transgender activists, who only a few years ago would have been regarded as deranged, demonstrates how out of touch they have become with the public they purport to serve. – Karl du Fresne

Distortion is just one of the weapons in the armoury of the cabal that controls the public conversation. Ridicule and scorn are others, as evidenced by Newshub’s report about Slater. The purpose is to intimidate dissenters into silence. And we’re paying for it, because the media elements of the cabal are heavily subsidised by the taxpayer through the Pravda Project, aka the Public Interest Journalism Fund. That’s the cabal’s master stroke. – Karl du Fresne

The exact tailoring of the number of hospital beds to the supposed demand, as if all future demand were precisely foreseeable, was hubristic. The assumption was that nothing unforeseen could emerge to upset the calculations. When Covid came, it was found that practically all intensive care beds were already occupied by patients with other conditions. The suddenly increased demand was met by reducing all normal activities, with consequences that have yet to be fully evaluated. Running hospitals on a factory, just-in-time basis turned out not to be very adaptable. – Theodore Dalrymple

The problem with strategic considerations is that they are not easily calculable, though the costs of taking them into account may be. The costs of not taking them into account are unknown, at least in advance. To maintain spare capacity is costly, but whether it was a cost worth bearing only future experience could tell. There might not be a severe winter, for example, in which case there will be no energy crisis, and those who denied the necessity for a reserve, or a Plan B, might consider themselves vindicated, or at least not blameworthy. – Theodore Dalrymple

How far strategic considerations should affect economic policy is a matter of judgment, and judgment by definition is fallible. If they are given too much weight, they can lead to the featherbedding of industries that are then under no pressure to improve or become more efficient. But if they are not given enough weight, they may take their revenge by causing a crisis or even a catastrophe. This is especially true in geographically vulnerable countries such as Britain.  – Theodore Dalrymple

We have had a rude awakening to the fact that the world is more complex than simple principles or calculations allow, and that the exercise of judgment—always fallible, always likely to be proved wrong, never fully definable—is as necessary as calculation. The world will always surprise us. Theodore Dalrymple

If the Government, particularly Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta, had ever imagined that the Three Waters reforms would sail through without too much opposition, this week’s poll should have shattered any such illusions.

The poll shows a majority of New Zealand oppose the reforms, 56 per cent to 19 per cent. And that is across every political party, age group and region. ACT and National voters are most opposed but Labour voters are against it 39 per cent to 28 per cent, and Greens are too – 37 per cent to 31 per cent. – John Bishop

What chance has any ordinary person of influencing policy? This is simply a massive shift of power and control away from the elected representatives of our people to an unelected elite.

If you are more conspiracy minded – and plenty are on this issue – you’ll see the new entities, which will have strong iwi representation, as a cover for transferring ownership, or control, or cashflow to Māori. A sharing of resources with a Treaty partner, but without any mandate from the people to do so and without the consent of the ratepayers and water users who have built up the assets. – John Bishop

For my part I just cannot accept that this is the Government’s agenda. No minister could possibly imagine that they could, by some sleight of administrative hand, remove billions of dollars of assets from councils and put them in the hand of an unelected elite remote from the people.

The audacity of such a scheme boggles the mind. Ordinary people would quickly rise in indignation and cry ‘‘asset grab’’, ‘’hands off our water’’, ‘’leave our pipes alone’’, and similar.

It would be irresponsible and politically foolish for any government even to contemplate that and to risk the backlash that would follow when people worked out what was happening. – John Bishop

The LGNZ supposedly represents councils to government. Instead, it is being paid to represent the government to councils, precisely the reverse of what is supposed to happen.

It’s a perversion of the normal representation process and coloured by money to boot. It’s a disgraceful lapse of judgment and anti-democratic as well. John Bishop

Nanaia Mahuta is quite correct to state that the three water reforms are not about shifting ownership of council assets to Government control. Ownership of assets is not needed as the Government seems to regard ownership as a very fleeting thing. The three waters reforms are obviously about the redistribution and control of those vital assets to a new entity made up entirely of Ministerial appointments.

Ownership, even by councils is now far from essential if a government can legislate to subjugate ownership of land and water use rights to political control for political advantage. By applying this understanding, the once murky three waters rationale becomes crystal clear. – Gerry Eckhoff

While Maori claims to water is based on the three treaty clauses, it must be remembered that the all-important purpose of the Treaty of Waitangi was to enable British settlers and Maori to live together under a common set of laws. Non Maori were not to be given preferential treatment over the indigenous people. Real concerns for the well-being of Maori at that time is exemplified by two House of Lords select committee inquiries in the late 1830s which delt with how Maori were being treated. The inquiry promoted genuine concerns from humanitarian groups that exposure to disease and maltreatment was threatening the very survival of the race. Today Maori make up a healthy 16% of the population.

The Government is literally testing the waters to see what reaction occurs to this three waters proposal, and to see what level of acceptance by the wider population is allowed before loss of political power occurs. – Gerry Eckhoff

If a cursory glance is cast at Government schemes to improve the wellbeing of us all, we need look no further than the failure to build the promised 100,000 new homes. The reduction of carbon in the atmosphere is mocked by importing 1million tons of coal this year alone. The mental health issue is not well managed by Government – and so it goes on. – Gerry Eckhoff

Perhaps the most ironic part of this proposal is the contention that administration of water is simply recognising this as a right of Maori under the Treaty of Waitangi. It seems rather incongruous that the treaty bestowed upon Maori one of the greatest gifts of all but unrecognized at the time in 1840. That of citizenship and equal status with British citizens. Today people from all over the world clamour to enter Britain and indeed New Zealand due to our laws and judicial system that treats all with equanimity – for the time being. – Gerry Eckhoff

It is claimed that water is a taonga to Maori which is indisputable. So too is water a taonga to non Maori, especially to those rural folk who rely on water, store water, to benefit families, friends and communities of all races colour and creed. – Gerry Eckhoff

We are set to be disenfranchised. As with most government ideas and schemes, the theory and the practise are simply incompatible. Author Danielle di Martino Booth quotes a sign found in a remote island off Norway which pretty much sums up the Three Waters proposal. (Paraphrased)

“Theory is when bureaucrats and Ministers understand everything, but nothing works. Practise is when everything works but nobody understands why. In Wellington, theory and practise are united, so nothing works as it should and nobody understands why.”  

Welcome to the world of three waters. Gerry Eckhoff

My reckon on the application of the traffic light Covid system to Auckland is that it must have been devised exclusively by Wellingtonians, a well-meaning and sensibly-dressed group who have no clue whatsoever as to how Aucklanders actually behave at traffic lights. In Auckland, a red light is a reminder that you’re entitled; part of that entitlement being that you are entitled not to stop for red lights. An orange light is actually the prompt to cross the intersection because a green light is the reminder that you’re an influencer and you need to stay stopped while updating your multiple social media accounts as to the number of red lights you ignored on the way to the North Shore influencer party at the weekend. – James Elliott

Providing equity of access for assisted dying without equity of access to palliative care is to completely undermine the goals of the End of Life Choice Act. The choice is distorted towards aid in dying and away from palliative care. – Dr Ben Gray

 

In years to come when a full inquiry is done into the Government’s Covid response, the executive summary will observe the obvious – the drive to get Māori vaccinated was too little too late.

If the urgency seen in the last three weeks had been in place in March, when kuia and kaumatua were diligently doing their bit and getting vaccinated, the statistics would look quite different.

If iwi and Māori providers had been tooled up, mobilised, and given the freedom to vaccinate anyone they wanted, anywhere they wanted, at any time and any cost, the picture would be far less bleak. – Jo Moir

They’re saying “enough – enough of this confusion, enough of playing mind games with people, enough of the Government not delivering on their promises and enough of expecting other New Zealanders to carry that can for them.Judith Collins

When I talk to a hairdresser in tears because her savings are all gone and she can’t pay her mortgage, my heart isn’t breaking for the bricks and mortar of her salon. It is her loss that I feel. She is losing something she has worked hard for and saved for over decades. Countless weekends, late nights and early mornings. She is losing her home, her retirement, her life’s work. . .

She feels powerless to do anything but watch her life’s work go down the drain. And now she’s been told she might have to wait months more to get any real income. She says she feels like giving up. – Judith Collins

It seems trite to appeal to the Prime Minister’s kindness when it has become such a government buzzword in recent years, but I will do just that nonetheless. What the Jacinda Ardern Government is putting Kiwis through is nothing short of cruel.Judith Collins

For a single major project – say like a moon short, a major war or a pandemic response – the state can do a good enough job, particularly if money is no object.  But looking at something like the Christchurch earthquake aftermath, it is clear that doing it cost effectively can be another matter.  Examining the standout projects during the Covid pandemic – the rapid genome sequencing and the vaccine development – you would conclude that they owed their success to their independence from close state control.

So grit your teeth now and let private businesses reshape the markets to reflect new realities. If we are not better off, we will at least have avoided a worse outcome. – Point of Order

Identity politics is at the root of all these fights. The key question is whether your value as a human being is related to some immutable characteristics such as your ancestry, sex or gender and sexuality, or whether it is related to factors that you have some control over, such as your moral character, your behaviour and your achievements. More than three thousand years of Western civilisation led to a social system that put the greatest value on the latter factors – it was the gradual recognition of the dignity and sovereignty of the individual that paved the road to modern, liberal society. This philosophical thread can be traced through Judaism, Athenian democracy, the Roman republic, Christianity, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the American Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the abolition of slavery and the establishment of universal suffrage. There was much backsliding along the way, but the direction was overwhelmingly towards judging people as equal in rights regardless of their inherited characteristics.Kiwiwit

Those who value equity above all else believe that the means justify the end. If you believe that the purpose of the individual is to serve the good of the collective, there is no limit to what can and should be done to individuals to achieve this. If you believe people are good or bad because of their immutable characteristics, there is no possibility of redemption for their original sins (viz. “white guilt”). And if you believe that the way to achieve equality is to bring those who are “privileged” down to size, sooner or later you are going to start chopping off feet. – Kiwiwit

Covid-19 has provided governments with the justification for repressing the rights-based freedoms we have taken for granted for decades – freedom of association, freedom of movement, freedom of speech, and freedom to operate a business or to go about your work. But governments have been selective in their application of these restrictions – certain businesses considered essential by some arbitrary criteria were allowed to remain open during lockdowns (e.g. in New Zealand supermarkets were open but not butchers), and protests and even violence by groups such as Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion have been condoned, while small, peaceful gatherings of people that the authorities disapprove of have been treated as insurrections. In other words, Covid-19 has established the principle that rights are the property of the government to bestow on those they see fit, and a privilege to be denied to those who do not have the government’s favour.  – Kiwiwit

Equity is a threat to real rights precisely because it is so insidious. It sounds like it is about fairness and dignity, and the motives of many promoting it are essentially noble. But few who promote it think through the implications of trying to enforce equality of outcomes on a diverse population with different needs and aspirations, and creating an all-powerful state apparatus to allocate resources according to inherent characteristics such as race and sex. Solzhenitsyn, in The Gulag Archipelago, described how the relentless pursuit of equality of outcome inevitably leads to gulags and genocide. Let’s hope the West wakes up to the implications of equity before we get there. – Kiwiwit

It’s astonishing New Zealand doesn’t have a fully-functional vaccine passport system already developed and tested. Almost every developed country has a system in place. Israel launched its vaccine passport system in February. New York introduced vaccine passports in March. As National’s Chris Bishop pointed out yesterday, Cuba has a vaccine passport system. Burkina Faso has a vaccine passport system!  – Jack Tame

Naivety or hubris? Why wouldn’t New Zealand need vaccine passports when everyone else did? What makes us so special?

At the very least, the delay points to complacency. The development of a domestic vaccine passport system should have been a priority from the moment we placed our order with Pfizer, even if it later proved New Zealand never needed to use it.

That vaccine certificates aren’t already functional tells us officials did not sufficiently prepare for a scenario in which New Zealand couldn’t eliminate the virus.

We’ve been caught flat-footed with vaccine certificates because we thought we were different to everyone else. We thought we were better.

We were wrong.  – Jack Tame

Here’s one more brutal thought that I think the Government has considered but can’t say out loud.

At this point the only thing that can really accelerate vaccination rates may be the spread of the virus itself – fear. – Liam Dann

Like Political Correctness before it, Wokeness started as an admirable aim and ended up as a despicable smugness, inhabited by people who need never tackle their own shortcomings while there are demonised others to unload upon. – Julie Burchill

Wokeness is the roar of the entitled mediocre, desperate to hold centre stage and terrified by any challenge to their flimsy sense of self – a temper tantrum with a socially concerned alibi.

The word ‘Woke’ means anything other than the opposite of being asleep. But there is something creepy and smug about the word – indicating that one person is inherently better than others, without actually having to do anything to prove it. – Julie Burchill

Universities have now been refurbished as pity-party play-pens where feelings trump facts, as they do for infants.

The Woke would be less objectionable if they lived up to their own pristine standards, but they fall woefully short.

In an inversion of the psychiatrist Carl Jung’s great saying ‘You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do’, once you have identified as Woke you can get away with anything. – – Julie Burchill

In this age of safe spaces for all, the spaces where women are most vulnerable – toilets, jails, women’s refuges – were suddenly flung open to any rapacious trucker who had decided that he felt like a woman. Julie Burchill

Shortly after hearing that Meghan planned to semi-retire from Royal duties in order to spend more time with her merchandising, I coined the phrase the ‘Grabdication’ (grabbing the limelight, grabbing the status, grabbing the cash) and my rehabilitation was complete. – Julie Burchill

The Grabdication was another Woke event, along with the Gender Recognition Act and the Remoaner refusal to accept Brexit, which while appearing to be liberal was actually the opposite.

The Grabdication told peasants that princes may do as they wish with no regard to public opinion; the Gender Recognition Act that men may do as they wish with no regard for the opinion of women; and a proposed second vote on Brexit that the ruling class may do as they wish and ignore the voice of the people.Julie Burchill

In short, Green – like Wokeness itself – is the first socio-political movement in which every mover and shaker ranges from well-off to filthy rich.

Hearing the over-privileged halfwits of Extinction Rebellion talk about economic growth as if it were child abuse, you can sense real contempt towards people who believe that working at a job in order to make money and pay the taxes which keep society civil is a desirable thing to do. – Julie Burchill

Ecology is politics for people who don’t like people and are miffed that the masses are now free to travel cheaply, rather than being hooked up to a plough or doing laundry in a creek. Julie Burchill

And then the Grabdication went bust, and was revealed as being as morally bankrupt as the celebrity and the Wokeness which had spawned it, with a whole nasty level of its own because the three belief systems had never been seen in the same place before. –Julie Burchill

According to a recent survey, more than half of child and adolescent psychiatrists in Britain report having been consulted by young patients distressed about climate change and the state of the environment. The alleged effects of climate change (or more exactly, thoughts about climate change) upon these children and adolescents include PTSD, phobias, sleep disorders, cognitive deficits, and feelings such as helplessness, hopelessness, grief, and anger.

PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)? I can only assume that it develops after watching too many video clips of little Greta Thunberg spoiled-bratting about her ruined childhood. A single photograph of her is certainly enough to trigger very unpleasant emotions in me: I think I need a safe space in which it is impossible for her to appear, otherwise I shall begin to suffer from post-Thunberg stress disorder.

In this context, however, PTSD should surely stand for “pre-traumatic stress disorder”; that is to say children are being trained up so that, when they really do suffer from something rather than merely imagine it at some time in the future, having hitherto lived privileged lives by the standards of all previously existing human beings, they will be nice and vulnerable, requiring an army of therapists, counselors, social and auxiliary support workers, etc., to get through the rest of their lives. This is necessary demand management for the professionally compassionate, who need a constant supply of the wretched upon whom to exercise their compassion. Resilience is their enemy. – Theodore Dalrymple

I can’t imagine that teaching children and young people self-righteousness will do very much intergenerational justice. Youth is already quite arrogant enough without indoctrination. It all sounds uncommonly like brainwashing to me, but placing the responsibility on little Jimmy or Arabella from Much Wenlock or Chipping Norton for limiting carbon emissions in China seems hardly the way to calm their anxieties. We all know that power without responsibility is a curse for humanity, but responsibility without power is a curse for humans, a powerful inducer of feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

I think it was Wesley (though I may be mistaken) who said, with regard to the physical chastisement of children, that it is never too soon to do God’s glorious work. Instead of chastising them with whips and scourges, however, we now chastise them with anxieties that the world might not last another ten, or even five, years, that they will live to see the apocalypse of heat, fire, rain, wind, dust, flood, tsunami, drought, famine, tropical disease (There will be locusts over/The white cliffs of Dover), that will end all human life, especially theirs.

And just as they must learn by the age of 6 to be nice to transsexuals (in the unlikely event of survival, of course), so they must learn by the same age to examine the accounts of giant banks to find out whether they have lent money to Woodside Petroleum of Australia, for example, or committed some such other crime against the environment.  – Theodore Dalrymple

So I am in favor of preserving and even improving the environment—just not as an excuse for totalitarianism. – Theodore Dalrymple

New Zealand politics contains its share of immortal lines. David Lange, debating the morality of nuclear weapons in 1985, told his opponent that he could “smell the uranium” on his breath. Michael Joseph Savage described his government’s social welfare policies as “applied Christianity”. Don Brash allegedly told US officials that New Zealand’s nuclear-free policy would be “gone by lunchtime” if he were elected. They illustrate a timeless truth—that politics has always been about persuasion, about style as well as policy substance. But now, and especially under this government, it seems that politics is more about the message and less about the results. We might even say that politics, and by extension the art and act of government, doesn’t just depend on good comms. These days, politics is comms. Alex Penk

Inspiring unity and compassion rather than division is a tremendous accomplishment. There’s also a place for the soundbite, the memorable turn of phrase that captures a moment and provokes a reaction—for the gleaming tip that caps off an iceberg of gravity, of serious thought and carefully designed policy machinery. The problem is when it’s all tip and no iceberg, when there’s little to no substance under the surface.  – Alex Penk

It turns out that rhetoric alone doesn’t change reality, that earnestly enjoining people to “be kind” in the face of the pandemic doesn’t make up for a year of self-congratulation and inaction. Skilful wordsmithery like “the team of five million”, and complacent assurances that the nation was taking “our rightful place in the delivery of vaccine”, ring hollow alongside a woefully sluggish vaccine rollout, a “reactive and conservative” testing strategy, an MIQ regime that resembles a lottery, and concernsthat the health system is underprepared for Delta and the end of the elimination strategy.  – Alex Penk

It’s not just that there’s a gap between lofty sermonising and actual outcomes—it’s that in many cases the outcome is the opposite of the intention. Mismanaging the response to COVID and leaving us vulnerable to an extended lockdown is not kind, as anyone watching their livelihood go down the drain or struggling with isolation and mental illness could tell you. – Alex Penk

If our media are our “social and intellectual environment”, then truth-telling in our day is simplistic, Instagrammable, tweetable. It rewards strong emotions like outrage with clicks, likes, retweets, blue check marks, fame and opportunity. It’s increasingly personalised and curated, so that you need not encounter opinions that trouble you. It’s tribal, as we splinter into identity groups and downplay our common humanity, seeing those who disagree with us not just as wrong but as evil. It’s brought to us by journalists who increasingly write opinion alongside, or within, their reporting. In this environment, creating and controlling the narrative, mastering the soundbite, and above all carefully curating the image of authenticity, are the qualities that win our debates—and that limit them.

The politicians do it because enough people are willing to believe impossibly lofty rhetoric about transparency and to vote for platitudinous exhortations about kindness. So they’re not the only ones to blame. Alex Penk

We, the public, need to educate ourselves to ask these questions and to cultivate some healthy scepticism about our politicians’ more grandiose claims. But it shouldn’t be too much to expect our public leaders to take some initiative and show some leadership, to remarry substance with style. Until they do, expect things to get worse, not better. Mere rhetoric will not bend reality. No matter how many times you urge people to “be kind”, the virus isn’t listening.   – Alex Penk

It used to be that history was considered to be a factual record of past events which could be verified from a number of sources. In 21st century New Zealand however, history can literally be anything a person, organisation, cultural group, even a government, wants it to be. History today is being used as a vehicle to support social, economic, political and cultural agendas. Historians now tell us there is no such thing as “one true history” of anything, but that there are as many histories as there are people who wish that to be the case. Historiography, or the writing of history, has supplanted the presentation of verifiable facts about past events. –  Henry Armstrong

 In many parts of the world, the promotion and teaching of a nation’s history is a time-honoured and professional undertaking which adds immeasurably to a nation’s identity and future. Can the same be said of New Zealand in the 21st Century? – Henry Armstrong

The service station down the road in Auckland has 91 priced over $2.65 per litre for the first time.  It was only a few months ago it was under $2.00. 

Prime Minister Ardern said we are being “fleeced”.  More like we are being “skinned”, wool and all.  It seems to slip her mind that half the “fleecing” is being done by her government.  They are grabbing $1.45 of that $2.65.  Having ratcheted up spending the government now needs all the revenue they can get their hands on. Having captured a moment’s limelight for making the claim she has moved on, yet again to another publicity podium, unable to deliver any outcome of substance.  –  Owen Jennings

Politicians know that all surveys of voters show that the population is in favour of climate change being taken seriously but then vows to not paying a dollar towards the wild and extravagant counter proposals to stop warming.  It’s the old syndrome of everyone wanting to go to heaven but no one wanting to die. –  Owen Jennings

Amidst this turmoil and pain a gaggle of globalists, elitists, politicians, crazed greenies and a few scientists will blithely jet into Glasgow, into an isolated bubble of fantasy, high priced hotel rooms, glitzy conference facilities, electric cars charged on diesel powered generators, totally remote from the chaos their policies are causing.  They might as well be on another planet. 

They will not be footing the enormous costs of their brazen extravagance.  We will – the taxpayers.  And pay we will again and again, more and more as their unnecessary, centralised controls drive energy prices higher and higher.Owen Jennings

I’m sick of it. You’re sick of it. The Government, the bureaucracy, businesses, the entire city of Auckland and the rest of the country are over it. I’m tired of writing about it and you’re probably exhausted reading and hearing about it. The problem is, our eyes and ears are drawn to any news story, opinion column or public statement about Covid-19. The worldwide pandemic has taken over our lives. All of which is probably better than having Covid-19 take our lives. – Bill Ralston

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her government have been exposed. The myth has been busted and only the truly deluded and card-carrying sycophants surely now think they’ve handled this pandemic well.

Just before half-time in the battle against Covid, Ardern left the field to take selfies and sign autographs, thinking the game was won.

The rest is called Delta. Can someone please pass this on to the luvvies who see her as a demi-god?  – Duncan Garner

Sadly, we were sitting alright – the government on its hands and we were all sitting ducks. Auckland was the biggest target of all, as Delta was always going to smack into that city first – the arrivals gate for our impending disaster.

Yet this Labour administration had more than a year without level 4, 470 days to be exact, to beef up the health system, target more staff, secure a vaccine, work out how to roll it out, put in place 24-hour clinics, and organise a better MIQ – which, to my utter shock, senior Labour Minister David Parker described to me in one interview as “damn near perfect”. – Duncan Garner

The humility was missing from Labour during the 470 days gifted to them when the hard work should have been on show.

It should have been preparing the country and making sure all systems, plans, and laws were passed and in place for the impending war against Delta. The public service is equally to blame, if ultimately less accountable, for where were all their learnings and lessons from past outbreaks? Who was monitoring the virus overseas and who got it right, who got it wrong and what did and didn’t work? – Duncan Garner

Don’t tell me the public service was too slow. It’s always too slow. Put your boots on and kick their arses. This is a pandemic. Get people around you that can make it happen. You are the government, you control the pace. Reach out to the private sector, identify people that can make it happen, and sideline those who can’t.- Duncan Garner

What a luxury, a luxury no other country had. But slowly we watched on as the trainwreck neared our station.

No saliva testing, no 24-hour clinics, hospitals understaffed and with not enough ICU beds for a mass outbreak, and either no vaccine or not enough of it.

This government’s inability to use the past 18 months to prepare and protect Auckland for the inevitable Delta arrival is not just utter incompetence it’s negligent and Auckland businesses and residents have every right to be angry and be banging on the government’s door for answers.  Duncan Garner

Ardern and sidekick Grant Robertson must pull rank. They must get competing advice on what their flimsy pathway to nowhere will cost Auckland and the country.

But there’s a reason they don’t. Because no-one in this government has ever asked for the economy to be elevated alongside Covid in this second year of suffering. It’s a glaring omission in this now-defunct and redundant strategy to eliminate Covid.

Only now can Ardern admit her strategy was doomed. Not that she’s using that language. No, she calls it ‘a transition’. That’s code for, ‘woops, it ain’t working, we got that wrong’. – Duncan Garner

This steps-to-freedom dribble reeks of something compiled at the last minute. It’s revealing too. It shows scant regard for business who require certainty. It’s amateur hour on steroids.

It shows a government that has not reached out to hear the ideas of those who battle each day with what I call risk.

Business rewards handsomely if you do it well but those who venture into it take massive risks.

They need to be at the table and the government needs to be open to hearing them. They deserve to be there. They have sucked up the lockdown pain and cost and this flaky back-of-an-envelope roadmap is an insult to them, Auckland, and all those businesses down country who just realised Aucklanders spend money in their region. – Duncan Garner

Auckland is in a state of confusion with weekly reviews that may confuse us further.

Far from leading the world, the PM and her team of missing in action minsters have dropped the ball.

We have been smug, complacent and, sadly, bloody lazy in the end, which won’t be agreed with by Ardern’s many followers who hear no evil, see no evil, and speak only in glowing terms.  – Duncan Garner

There is meant to be light at the end of the tunnel. Not in Ardern’s slapped-together afterthought. It’s a plan that says ‘shut your eyes and hope’. It’s unravelling folks.

I can’t imagine business will ever trust Labour again, if they ever did at all.

And to think so many Kiwis voted Ardern because of the way she handled Covid.

How is that looking now?  – Duncan Garner

There is no getting away from the draconian, illiberal implications of this policy. Ardern’s government has effectively created a two-tier society, a nation of first- and second-class citizens. What’s more, this divisive policy cleaves along ethnic lines. According to recent reports, only 57 per cent of Māori and only 73 per cent of Pacific peoples have had their first jab. That compares against 80 per cent for white New Zealanders. This lack of protection has meant that Māori and Pacific peoples make up 83 per cent of all recent Covid cases. And now it seems that the same ethnic groupings will also be deprived of their basic rights during any future Covid outbreaks. – Tim Black

How has it come to this? The answer lies, ironically, in the failure of the very policy for which Ardern was celebrated – namely, Zero Covid. It meant that, for too long, New Zealand pursued the unachievable goal of eliminating Covid, while neglecting the need for vaccination.

In the summer of 2020 Ardern was busily boasting of New Zealand’s success, while centrists the world over cheered. For a few days at least, New Zealand was even Covid free. We were told this was testament to the genius of Ardern’s go-early, go-hard elimination strategy – the one that many say should have been adopted in the UK and elsewhere. – Tim Black

Now, faced by continued Covid outbreaks, and pressure from those clinging to the false comfort of Zero Covid, Ardern has panicked. Having only belatedly realised that the only way out of the Covid nightmare is through vaccination rather than elimination through lockdown, the New Zealand government has opted for the most draconian solution available – a particularly harsh vaccine mandate – despite the dire implications this has for society.

Perhaps Saint Jacinda was never the saviour of the world she was made out to be. – Tim Black

For the mantra of today is that there is no truth, everything is relative, a product of the surrounding society.

So the bloke’s a product of the society that surrounded him. How can he be held to some set of eternal verities if eternal verities don’t exist? – Tim Worstall

The erosion of our freedom of choice, freedom of speech and the loss of precious time with family and friends and all the other negative aspects of a lockdown should be balanced against the health risk of Covid. Imagine if we had invested the 1 billion plus spent each week on lockdowns on improving our health system, education or roading (we had 8 road deaths in NZ last weekend).

It seems totally insane that double vaccinated people are terrified of meeting unvaccinated people. Is that how it’s going to be for the rest of our lives? What about the people that have health issues and can’t get vaccinated? Are they going to be banished from society? (for the record I’m double vaccinated)

Finally the fact that the NZ government has now said that even if Auckland achieves 90% double vaccination that it’s people may likely still be restricted from traveling at Christmas seems like a total nonsense. –  Russell Coutts

It’s also total nonsense and contradictory that double vaccinated people that have negative covid tests are being locked down for 14 days in MIQ whilst people with Covid are being allowed to self isolate in the community.

How New Zealand, a country where it’s people greatly valued freedom off choice…..how we even got to this stage of blindly accepting this sort of unilateral rule, power and dictatorship from our government is deeply troubling indeed. –  Russell Coutts

This government has just proven themselves to be a revolting pack of thieving liars. – James Gough

People nevertheless fear for their careers and even their livelihoods. Followers of movements like the Trans Movement have no hesitation in calling for the dismissal of people who attract their wrath by disagreeing publicly with them. So-called transphobia is not irrational fear of people who want to change their sex, but fear of retribution by the movement that makes such people their cause (who may not be the same people). – Theodore Dalrymple

There are several asymmetrical wars currently going on in the intellectual sphere. On the one side are guerrilla monomaniacs with a cause, for whom the subject of their monomania is all-important, and the promotion of which is the meaning of their lives; on the other, normal people for whom that particular subject is merely one thing among many others.

In this situation, the monomaniacs have the advantage of fanaticism. Like Batista’s army in Cuba, normal people melt away in the face of fanatical attack, because they do not care enough, or are not prescient enough, to defend their position—though they may later come to regret not having done so.

What is particularly alarming about the totalitarian temper that is developing in western society is that it does not originate from the government but is a genuine expression of the thirst for power of a portion of the population, that part of it—the intelligentsia—that seemingly would have most to lose if the drive to totalitarianism were successful.Theodore Dalrymple

Tolerance—a word that in the mouth of such radicals comes to mean the forced or coerced approval of what was formerly transgressive—is not natural to mankind. It is far more natural to want to suppress what one finds disgusting or does not want to hear. Our instinct is to turn away from views that are not our own, from evidence that might undermine our most cherished opinions, and even to dislike those who cite such evidence.

In other words, tolerance is an intellectual and moral achievement, an act of self-control rather than the expression of an instinct. No doubt some people by temperament find such self-control easier than others (I don’t find it easy myself), but there is a dictator lurking in many, perhaps most, of us, at least in those of us who take an interest in public affairs.

Suffice it to say that we are not living in a golden age of the kind of self-control necessary for a tolerant society in which diversity of opinion is taken in good spirit. And the so-called social media, which allow us to pour out our bile incontinently the moment we feel the inclination to do so, only compounds the problem. – Theodore Dalrymple

The conceit that we alone would beat Delta was just another manifestation of our naive national myth of Kiwi exceptionalism. Our Covid journey will ultimately follow roughly the same path as everywhere else. Mathew Hooton

Whether she admits it or not, Ardern’s failure to order vaccines in line with the rest of the developed world, and her decision to move to level 3 before near-universal vaccination, ensured hospital wards and MIQ facilities would be overwhelmed. – Mathew Hooton

It is time the World Health Organisation comes out with a universal standard of handling Covid; failure to do so is enabling many world leaders to front up press conferences with the line “our Covid response is world leading”, but the irony is no one really knows what defines “world leading”.

Is there some world leading university out there where these world leaders are going for their world leading Covid management diploma?

In the aftermath of Covid, will the total number of deaths be the only defining factor of who was a world leader in handling Covid? In the race to be a world leader New Zealand is forgetting something crucial – the carnage it is leaving behind disguised as Covid management. – Jilesh Desai

Human behaviour is such that if hope and aspiration is your tool as leader to play the population and expect them to abide by the rules, then you also deliver on that, but here’s the chronology of your continuous failure in delivery of hope you gave the population.

It all started with: follow all alert level restrictions and get your freedoms back. 

Then it was “get vaccinated and have your freedom”, then it was “all eligible population need to get vaccinated”, followed by “we all need to wait for 90 per cent single dose”, and later “we all have to wait for 90 per cent double dose”, and now “we all have to wait for the 90 per cent fully vaccinated DHBs”.

I bet Prime Minister, none of us will have a problem with the end goal, we are all behind you in achieving this mammoth of a task; my only concern is why did our kind Prime Minister, who also happens to be a symbol of transparency, not empower the population with the end goal from the start? – Jilesh Desai

Can you explain to the 70 per cent fully vaccinated people in the country why are they still locked up? If you claim that you are saving people’s lives, then do you guarantee at 90 per cent vaccination rate we won’t have any Covid-related deaths in the country?

I understand that realistically you can’t do that, just as you can’t save people’s lives, you are not a messiah, you are a prime minister of a country elected to run the country not on the scare of Covid, but by competence of the nation’s health care.

Your focus should not be saying things like “thousands of people will die”, but instead use that time in empowering our health care so that thousands of people don’t die. – Jilesh Desai

Divisions occur in society when there’s a perception that information is being withheld, inequities are emerging, and everyday freedoms are being denied without a strong rationale. It undermines what we have all taken for granted: our democratic society. Rachel Smalley

This time around, there’s less clarity in the government’s communication strategy, and the Prime Minister is less confident in the way she’s delivering it. Delta has bulldozed its way through Labour’s ever-changing and hastily pulled-together political strategy, and the government is responding on the fly, moving goalposts, and trying to manage an agitated public that is demanding answers neither the PM nor her Cabinet seem to have.

Ardern, lauded for the strength of her communication in the first lockdown and throughout the Christchurch Mosque shootings, has lost her confidence as a speaker and a communicator. That’s not an opinion. It’s there for all to see, evidenced frequently during the week, usually around 1pm. – Rachel Smalley

To be a successful political communicator, it’s as much about the theatrics as it is about the quality of the communications you’re delivering. Ardern’s daily updates are heavily scripted, and she reads them, word for word, with her head down. She’s relaying a lot of complex, important information and it’s unfair and politically dangerous to expect her to ad-lib her way through them, but it affects her credibility. It’s more newsreader than world leader.

If you’re trying to instill confidence and belief in the information you’re delivering, you need to hold the room. Look up. Stand tall. Your eyes, posture, and tonal delivery all help to influence the audience you’re trying to engage. By all means, script some of your speech, but in areas where you are confident to ad-lib, speak to bullet points instead. It proves you’re on top of what you’re communicating, and you’re speaking your truth.

You also need to check your body language. Ardern, increasingly, is gesturing with her hands, often waving them mid-sentence in a sort of subconscious reinforcement of her oratory. She nods frequently when she speaks, as if trying to reassure herself or her audience that what she is saying is, indeed, the right course of action. Her expression is overly earnest or concerned, which can be misconstrued as insincere. In every communication as our Prime Minister, she should be striving to emit authority and confidence. Rachel Smalley

In a pandemic that’s now inter-island, New Zealanders need a leader, not a friend.- Rachel Smalley

Unless you’re living down a rabbit hole in Wellington, which we certainly are not, you know that Auckland’s economy is under significant stress.John Billington

And that’s the danger. We are being governed from the rabbit’s hole. Hell, the Prime Minister hasn’t even set foot in the place for close to three months. – Mike Hosking

Add to these examples Radius Care, God bless them for being human. People in aged care need family. To be prevented in your final years from being with your loved ones sums this Government up. 

They’re cold, heartless, uncaring and robotic.Mike Hosking

It’s a sign this is coming to an end. It’s a sign the trust has been lost, the will power is gone, the patience is up and the frustration now heavily outweighs the logic.

The Government have blown it. They pushed too hard, too far, for too long

And combine it with the lack of common sense, of a plan of any real detail, of the endless announcements about announcements – and whatever good grace there was, has been abused to the point of no return.

You only govern with the good will of the people.

Good will is in shorter supply than magnesium.    – Mike Hosking

Do you really think it matters in the long run if you’re Left, Right, up, down, black, white or yellow with purple stripes?  Conservative or liberal?  Casually religious or militantly less so?  Hetro He-Man archetype or ‘flaming’ homosexual?  Rich or poor?  

‘Coz it doesn’t.  

We’re all still incredibly imperfect human beings – isn’t that enough?  Aren’t we a sufficiently wretched species already?  Do we really need all of this other rubbish as well?  The cyber-fortresses of absolute righteous certainty?  The razorwire-topped walls of pseudo-ideological division?  The endless streams of senseless rhetoric and brain-dead invective in the “Comments” section of [insert name of preferred propaganda outlet], borne of ignorance and hurt and stupidity and fear?   – Jeremy Callendar

Why is it so important that we each get our moral oar in?  Why is it so hard to accept and admit that we may all be as ill-informed and deceived as each other?  As biased as each other?  As bloody stupid as each other?  As lonely as each other?  As mortal and as scared as each other?

Why are we so determined to fight the possibility of smoke with the actuality of fire?  To crush any and all who dare to have a different point of view?  A view perhaps based on an experience of life that has been nothing like our own…

Is it fixing the problems?  Is it healing anyone’s pain?  Is it making us better people?

Are our little online echo chambers helping us to sleep better at night? – Jeremy Callendar

If your journey brings you into contact with people whose opinions differ from your own, consider treating them gently: hearing them out and trying to understand them.  I mean, at the very least, you’ll be following Sun Tzu’s (and Rage Against The Machine’s) advice to know your enemy.  And if there are people around you who are living their lives in ways that just don’t quite gel with your ideas of how things should be, consider asking yourself – or, God forbid, respectfully asking them – why it is that they do what they do the way they do it.  

Alternatively, you might just try quietly minding your own [insert adjective of choice] business. – Jeremy Callendar

I think I remember once hearing about this guy who suggested that we should try loving our neighbours as we love ourselves……yes, yes I’m fairly certain I read that somewhere.

But then again, what could a Jew have possibly known about suffering…? – Jeremy Callendar

A number of government announcements in the last week or so give the impression the wheels are starting to come off at the Beehive.

It’s not just that Covid decisions are increasingly erratic, though they are. Ministers have also lost the room, particularly in Auckland, and seem to have no ability to do the things that will win it back.Steven Joyce

The Government had to be dragged kicking and screaming for weeks to announce a vaccination target. When they finally did, they set an almost impossible one in a vain and quixotic attempt to recover the “world-leading” tag so important to the Prime Minister.

Aucklanders don’t want to be world-leading any more. They just want to be able to go to the shops and meet their mates without feeling they might be breaking the law.

In other jurisdictions, leaders announce target dates and scales of freedom that increase at waypoints, like 70, 80 and 90 per cent double-vaxxed, but not here. We stay hair-shirted and locked down because that is what Wellington thinks is good for us. – Steven Joyce

Taking the voters for fools is not a sustainable strategy.

It’s made worse when the reasons for the lockdown — a slow vaccination rollout, no urgent hospital upgrades, delayed vaccination certificates, no rapid antigen testing — are obvious to nearly everyone. – Steven Joyce

Education is one of the areas where policy contradictions are most obvious. Why is it that year 9 and 10 students aren’t allowed back at school when they are as vaccinated as years 11 to 13? Why does the vaccination mandate not apply to teachers until January, when it applies to other mandated employees earlier? Who knows?

Contradictions abound everywhere. The eventual MIQ announcement was a silly half measure that pleased no one. It is apparently okay for people living here who have Covid to isolate at home (some 280 at last count), while double-vaxxed Kiwis with no Covid who have had myriad tests still have to spend seven days in MIQ prison on their arrival into New Zealand. Retaining the MIQ bottleneck is nonsensical, inflexible and inhumane. – Steven Joyce

The internal borders are rapidly becoming an unsustainable artefact. Everybody knows they won’t be here by Christmas, so why not sooner? All they likely do is reduce the urgency in regional New Zealand to get vaccinated.

Meanwhile, individuals and families carry the pain. This week we heard about the heartless decision to prevent a grieving father’s sister from flying from Blenheim to Auckland to comfort him at the funeral for his 8-year-old son. He went to the media in desperation and the decision was finally turned around but it was too late. Asked what he would do on the day of the funeral, he simply said he would cry. Steven Joyce

 In non-Covid news, the Minister of Local Government, having failed to persuade people of the merits of her plan to reorganise the three waters, announced that she will unilaterally confiscate the water assets of ratepayers up and down the country despite the opposition of nearly every council. A sensible, politically adept government would have crafted a reasonable compromise. Not this one. – Steven Joyce

Announcing you will spend the equivalent of 6 per cent of our country’s whole economic output on one local transport project in the midst of a pandemic which is already blowing debt out towards 50 per cent of GDP is completely tone deaf. It beggars belief that Grant Robertson let this out the door.

The underlying thread to this week’s frenetic activity is random decision-making and no strategic leadership. Every announcement seems to add to the pile of problems and questions, rather than shrink it down. That’s bad for any government.

Ministers need to straighten up the ship and start focusing on what’s important to the public now, before it is too late. People in Auckland, Waikato and across the country need a clear path out of this. The Government does too. When the wheels start to come off, the people in the Beehive are often the last to realise it.Steven Joyce

There may still be those who want to argue that the Government has done a good job handling the pandemic measured by the number of those who have died of Covid-19. But of course that number in isolation is meaningless. If a low number of Covid-19 deaths has been bought at the cost of more suicides, more cancelled cancer operations, more domestic violence, more mental health distress, and more failed businesses – leading to the reduction in average life expectancy found by Dr Gibson – it’s not an achievement to be proud of at all. – Don Brash

I understand there is a balance to be to be struck, but the balance was just not struck in the right place. Someone in my position who was double vaccinated and who has had two negative Covid tests can’t be allowed a one or two hour visit with my dad who’s dying, then something about that is fundamentally wrong. – Sasha Holden

Labour maintains no assets will be taken, and councils will still “own” the assets and the new entities. There will be no shares and no management control – only what is simply being described as “collective ownership”.

I can’t help but be reminded of a farmer in communist Russia being told the state wasn’t confiscating their farm, they were simply moving it into “collective ownership”. – Judith Collins

What this all means for ratepayers is that if you don’t already pay for your water, you soon will. If your water is expensive, you won’t be able to vote anyone out. If the entity is bloated and underperforming, there is no democratic accountability. – Judith Collins

 


Quotes of the month

01/09/2021

I said, ‘I’m not an activist’. They said, ‘what are you?’ I thought, ‘what am I?’ Somebody that’s concerned about what’s happening to New Zealand, that’s all I am – Bryce McKenzie

This isn’t imagined. If you don’t know about it, we’d like you to try and find out. It’s general — people are hurting. – Bryce McKenzie

They are worried not about themselves as … [much as] what’s going to happen to their kids, their grandkids. The family farm, if we keep this up, is gone.

If New Zealand goes to corporate farming, does New Zealand really want family farms gone? They need to just have a good think about that. – Bryce McKenzie

We have never ever not offered a solution in everything we’ve stood for. We’re not against any of the stuff; we just think there’s a better way to treat everybody far better.

It all comes back to one thing: some of these regulations are unworkable – you cannot get around that. – Bryce McKenzie

There’s not enough hand sanitiser in the whole of Japan to clean that act up. That was just absolutely terrible. – Ruby Tui

What rain? Bring on the thunder, we’re at the Olympics, let’s be happy, let’s compete safely and peacefully, peace and love, love you guys.  – Ruby Tui

First off, I would like to stress that I fully support the transgender community, and that what I’m about to say doesn’t come from a place of rejection of this athlete’s identity.

I am aware that defining a legal frame for transgender participation in sports is very difficult since there is an infinite variety of situations, and that reaching an entirely satisfactory solution, from either side of the debate, is probably impossible.

However, anyone that has trained weightlifting at a high level knows this to be true in their bones: this particular situation is unfair to the sport and to the athletes.  – Anna Vanbellinghen

So why is it still a question whether two decades, from puberty to the age of 35, with the hormonal system of a man also would give an advantage [in competing against women]?

I understand that for sports authorities nothing is as simple as following your common sense, and that there are a lot of impracticalities when studying such a rare phenomenon, but for athletes the whole thing feels like a bad joke.

Life-changing opportunities are missed for some athletes – medals and Olympic qualifications – and we are powerless.

Of course, this debate is taking place in a broader context of discrimination against transgender people, and that is why the question is never free of ideology.

However, the extreme nature of this particular situation really demonstrates the need to set up a stricter legal framework for transgender inclusion in sports, and especially elite sports.

Because I do believe that everyone should have access to sports, but not at the expense of others.Anna Vanbellinghen

Pushing up wages without driving productivity just adds to inflation.

The cost of living becomes a race between prices and wages. History tells us that this is a race the poorest people always lose.

New Zealand faces a dangerous cycle of inflation in the next few years if we let this labour shortage roll on unaddressed.

It will push interest rates higher at a time when the mortgage debt burden is extreme for young homeowners.

Higher interest rates will also be a handbrake on business investment, putting another handbrake on hopes for boosting New Zealand’s productivity. – Liam Dann

We need a rare and difficult combination of bureaucratic competence combined with pragmatism and flexibility. Liam Dann

Criminalising things is not a good thing, it doesn’t get us anywhere. – Dame Sue Bagshaw

If anything, I’m even more determined we don’t lose our humanity through fear in this pandemic. We have at times. Our authorities have forced our elderly to go without company at the end of their lives. They’ve forced them to die without loved ones. They’ve forced their families to stand outside windows looking in, watching them die, unable to just hold their hands and say something like “mum it’s okay”. They’ve kept families from funerals. They’ve made rules that left a daughter to cry inside the MIQ fence as a mother’s hearse passes. A son resorted to going to court to force the Health Ministry to let him spend the last 36 hours of his dad’s life with him. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Somehow in this pandemic you and I and our families have been turned into numbers. Numbers in MIQ, numbers of Covid cases, numbers of deaths. My Ouma will be just another 1 added to South Africa’s Covid tally that then gets reported to the WHO.

But we are people, not numbers. We must balance risk with humanity. We can’t let the people who held our hands die without us holding their hands. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

New Zealanders returning after a few years abroad might wonder whether they’ve blundered into a parallel universe. A government that is pitifully thin on ministerial ability and experience is busy re-inventing the wheel, and doing it at such speed that the public has barely had time to catch its breath. To quote one seasoned political observer: ‘It seems like a hostile takeover of our country is underway and most people feel powerless to do anything about it’.

The most visible change might crudely be described as Maorification, much of it aggressively driven by activists of mixed Maori and European descent who appear to have disowned their problematic white colonial lineage. Self-identifying as Maori not only taps into a fashionable culture of grievance and victimism but enables them to exercise power and influence that would otherwise not be available to them.Karl du Fresne

 What has been framed as an idealistic commitment to the survival of journalism is, in other words, a cynical and opportunistic bid for control over the news media at a time when the industry is floundering. This is a government so shameless, or perhaps so convinced of its own untouchability, that it is brazenly buying the media’s compliance. – Karl du Fresne

The main reason centralisation fails is culture, “the way we do things around here”. A centralised organisation has to be command and control with rigid rules. It is a culture that crushes initiative and problem-solving. –  Richard Prebble

A university by its nature cannot have a prescribed view about the value of one idea or culture over another. Until recently, a university was an institution committed to free enquiry and rigorous debate. Indeed that was its raison d’etre when I was an undergraduate and graduate student. – Bruce Logan

Science by its very nature can never arrive at a consensus. Consensus is the language of politics, not science.

A university is not a church preaching revealed doctrine. It is an institution given to the support of scientific method; certainly in those faculties that have science in their name. If that is not the case, then the university should pack its bags and go home to the planet of the Wokerati.Bruce Logan

Precisely. Science is a universal tool because it rests on the universal truth that the world is an ordered place. Hypotheses can be imagined, experiments repeated and the findings
found to be true or false. – Bruce Logan

When the university fails to fulfil its traditional function it becomes an institution interested only in its own survival. Western culture loses its confidence. Truth and therefore justice is up for grabs and government policy becomes “the views of the university”. Māori and Pākehā share the common loss.Bruce Logan

But the reality is that countries far better prepared, and better equipped than us, have struggled to cope with the latest outbreaks.

So in the end, it will be down to us, and how we respond as individuals, that will make the difference – just as it did last time. – Tracy Watkins

This is a government that has been good at reacting to a crisis, but then useless at dealing with a strategic plan for the longer term. Mike Moore

Many advantages become ingrained. Subsequent hormone therapy may well take the edge off performance, but bones will always be stronger, muscle will not revert to the female level, nor will hearts and lungs shrink. It is hardly fair for someone who retains such advantages to compete against women. – Debbie Hayton

I largely think it’s because cookbooks are associated with the domestic sphere, and they’re associated with women,” she says. “Any books written specifically for a female audience are thought of as not very clever; written with lots of pictures and small words, so women with our small brains can understand them. It’s a bit like the genre formerly known as chick lit. You know, they’re pretty stories for ladies. Cookbooks are the same. – Lucy Corry

Whenever something is perceived to be for women, it very quickly gets perceived to be frivolous and something that you can make fun of and something of very low value. I’m just going to call that out as out-and-out classic, dirty old sexism.

You can’t on the one hand task 50 percent of society for centuries with feeding their families and make that part of their identity and then have a go at them when they buy books to help them do it and get some inspiration. – Claire Murdoch

I think cooking connects you to nature, because practically everything you might want to eat starts out as a seed or a spore, and it’s going to take weeks or months or sometimes years before it’s ready to harvest or be eaten. And it connects you to your own culture and other cultures; and it connects you to your family and friends. And it also connects you to your creativity. It’s a very nourishing thing.  Annabel Langbein

I think it is really difficult for lots of people to feel successful in their daily lives because of pressures and money and resources and all sorts of other things. But cooking is a very simple way to have a sense of ownership of your life; of sharing and connecting and feeling validated and useful. – Annabel Langbein

The answer as to why the government is moving so slowly on so many fronts, including the vaccine roll-out, is that it fundamentally doesn’t believe in incentives and the private sector’s ability to deliver. It has relied on bureaucrats and central planning, which isn’t working.  – Robert MacCulloch

Ministers should not be moaning about why things are not happening more quickly, and waiting for advice from officials. They should be making them happen. – Claire Trevett

I have never seen in my time, and I go back to Muldoon, a more lacklustre, aspiration-less, myopic, and isolationist government. –  Mike Hosking

Are we gonna have police in the church hall deciding whether people are saying the right things? That’s where this gets incredibly messy – David Seymour

We really do not want to go down the route of state intervention every time there are complex medical or wellbeing matters to be discussed in families.Simon Bridges

It is equally obvious that a cause can triumph without being good: it has only to inspire the belief that it is good and is worth fighting for. Indeed, a cause can be profoundly evil and triumph, at least in part through the strength of belief in it.

The lengths to which people go to promote a cause are often held up as some kind of evidence of the value of that cause, but they are nothing of the kind. People may go to great lengths to promote good causes, but those lengths are not in themselves evidence of goodness. After all, even Nazism had its martyrs whose deaths were exhibited as proof of righteousness. – Theodore Dalrymple

Everyone associated with the introduction of the RMA should be ashamed. Despite its worthy intentions, it was plainly naïve from the beginning about human nature and how people would respond to getting power to interfere in decisions on land use changes. A hostility to individual right to decide how one’s own property should best be used, without compensation from those who’d benefit from stopping change, was baked into the RMA. – Don Brash

There is no point in pretending to treat seriously a Bill that is little more than a series of conflicting aspirational claims, dressing up an intention to control future land uses by Ministerial and Planning Committee decree. – Don Brash

It has long been very obvious that environmental protection has been a spurious excuse for endless interference in routine land use decisions with little or no benefit for the natural environment. – Don Brash

The Bill is remarkable for omitting nearly everything that might end the damaging power of NIMBYs and planners, and the green idealists who have empowered them. The Bill contains more puffy slogans, lists of competing, unranked and contradictory purposes, goals and weasel words than the RMA. The lawyers, planners and other vested interest beneficiaries of the status quo rely on the powers they get from the naïve “principles” of the RMA. They will be even more confident of being able to exploit the regime foreshadowed by the Bill. – Don Brash

Ambiguity in law delivers power and profit to lawyers. lawyers notoriously resist normal cost disciplines. they believe that what they do is all about “justice” so that it is improper to demand that they trade off their rolls royce procedures for economy speed and certainty. they can be indifferent to the costs borne by the rest of the community. Don Brash

Are flip flops, false promises and knee jerk reactions good for us?

Well not if you want some stability and consistency from your leadership, some long term strategic management. I would’ve thought good leadership is about properly doing the work up front before you leap into announcements.

Costing and canvassing something to the hilt, before you throw out the press release and roll out the Minister. And then once you have your plan, sticking to it. – Kate Hawkesby

So what we’re seeing here, therefore, is less of a government governing, and more of a reactive popularity contest based on poll data.

Is that good solid leadership? Or is that just amateurs winging it?

Sadly I think it’s the latter. – Kate Hawkesby

What people hear from the government’s silence is: ‘We’re going to make some things that you say illegal but we’re not going to tell you which ones.’ And that’s the kind of uncertainty … that makes a lot of middle New Zealanders feel a little uncomfortable. – Ben Thomas

his government is full of people who don’t get it, who wouldn’t pass NCEA Economics Level 1, and most embarrassingly don’t seem to realise that saying this stuff out loud leads to 10 point drops in polls.Mike Hosking

So, what I’m saying is how can we possibly have pumped in billions of extra dollars, and it not appear to have made a difference? – Andrew Little

These organisations are not just “community support groups” or “surrogate families”. They aren’t “motorcycle clubs”. Or – as I like to say – they’re not “Rotary in Leather”. They are organised criminals.Judith Collins

My husband and I regularly talk to farmers and growers, young and old, involved in horticulture, cropping and livestock. Whether they are more traditional or progressive, the main frustration is not the “why” something should be done – everyone, bar a few stubborn ones, agree on our country’s environmental issues. It’s the “how” that they’re frustrated about.

The crux of it is that farmers feel they’re being made to be entirely responsible for reversing our environmental problems, in a comparatively very short space of time, with what they feel are unworkable solutions. – Nadia Lim

New Zealand is not a team of 5 million. New Zealand is a team of 6 million.

Rhetoric around a team of 5 million implies that the object of security is geographical New Zealand, as opposed to New Zealanders. It has created an ‘us and them’ mentality where Kiwis can simultaneously tut at nationalistic policies abroad while refusing to acknowledge the wall built around their own interests. The government’s responsibility is to its people – all its people.Guest at One Sock

We are all connected; kotahitanga, whakapapa, whanautanga and kaitiakitanga. The price of the situation at the border isn’t just economic, or even humanitarian – it’s our principles. We can choose to ‘be kind’ to some, but not all. We can choose to shut the gates to the village and leave our children and siblings outside. We can choose not to risk the many for the few. Most outside would understand this. But when but the government on our behalf chooses to make space for the rich, for profit-seekers, sportspeople and others to entertain us (Larry Page, 401 Dubai Expo attendees, Wallabies, the Wiggles, to name a few) we have declared what our priorities are, and what they are not.

Perhaps it is rash to presume the government is espousing compassion but pursuing profit with its management of the border. In that case, there is a fine line between caution and cowardice, just as there is between bravery and stupidity. But history teaches us that the outcomes of each are seldom a matter of deliberation, but principle.

One day the border will open and, like the rest of the world, we will have to learn to live with this virus. We will also have to live with the memory of how we treated each other. – Guest at One Sock

One of the most disappointing features of this era of late-stage capitalism is the moral cowardice of those running our civil institutions and their failure to uphold the values of a liberal capitalist democracy. –Damien Grant

Much good has come from this focus on the primacy of the shareholder. A firm succeeds by meeting the needs and desires of its customers and winning business over decades. A solvent, well-run business provides employment not only for its staff but those who toil for its suppliers, as well the positive externalities enjoyed by its customers and even a healthy bounty to the local tax authority. – Damien Grant

No longer are boards responsible for the dreary task of making an honest profit. Now they could be actors in the great game of state, using the capital and networks at their disposal to grandstand on the vital issues of the day.Damien Grant

Between the decision to rip up the rules on the gas market, to the difficulty consenting renewables projects, to the threat to build hydro storage at Lake Onslow, the market is simply responding to the signals that the Government is sending it. – Hamish Rutherford

The Government’s ban on new gas exploration and consequent destruction of the gas industry was a major contributor to the lack of gas. This will only get worse as fields rapidly run down. We should be enthusiastically drilling for gas, including shale gas in the North Island and the South Island.Bryan Leyland

The Maritime Union says its members are angry that they were put at risk by going on board a ship with Covid cases. Maybe I am the first to tell the union, the country is angry that its members have put everyone at risk by willfully refusing to be vaccinated.

The Maritime Union is affiliated to the Labour Party. Is this the reason ministers have not insisted port border workers be vaccinated? This is the fourth ship with Covid in a month.

Chris Hipkins, the Covid Response Minister, has been in politics all his life. He joined the Labour party as a schoolboy. You have to be highly political not to have acted on the Simpson/Roche report. Last weekend he was even denying the MIQ booking system is a failure. – Richard Prebble

The MIQ system is a shambles. The government’s Covid policy relies on luck. – Richard Prebble

The failure of education standards will prove to be a far greater catastrophe for New Zealand than Covid. Without the next generation of well-educated school leavers we are destined to be a failed state.

For Maori and Pacifica students, it is already a tragedy. The majority are leaving school after 16,000 hours of tuition unable to read or do math at a level required by the modern economy.- Richard Prebble

It is hard to learn if you are not at school. Paying state schools for their average daily attendance instead of the nominal roll would make attendance every school’s top priority.

The teachers’ unions would go nuts but educational achievement would improve immediately. – Richard Prebble

Will a future Labour government make a formal apology for the Ardern government’s failure to give today’s pupils a world class education? Hopefully there will not also need to an apology for leaving our ports wide open to Covid. – Richard Prebble

Governments work best when officials understand and are in sync with Ministers’ policy expectations. Ministers start to look shaky when they seem unable to impose their will on their respective departments, or when their public pronouncements begin to sound more and more like the bureaucratese officials can so quickly resort to, to cover inaction.Peter Dunne

Indeed, there are at least three other current examples where ministers seem to be struggling to get the response they want from public agencies for which they are responsible, or where they are starting to look no more than mouthpieces for their departments. – Peter Dunne

A less overworked and consequently more focused minister might well have questioned from the outset the wisdom of relying on the cumbersome and largely incompetent district health board structure, and the exclusion of other community resources, to deliver the vaccination programme with the rapidity and flexibility required, if New Zealand is to be in a position of safety where it can consider returning to somewhere near normality any time soon.

Similarly, Hipkins’ recent public frustration at the lack of response from officials to his request to look at new more patient-friendly Covid19 testing systems – like saliva based tests, for example – to replace the current intrusive nasal test is illustrative of a minister increasingly unable to get officials to implement his agenda, suggesting he is now working more at the officials’ behest than the Government’s intent.Peter Dunne

All this means New Zealand’s recovery from Covid-19 now rests more with the convenience of cautious bureaucrats than the insistence and any urgency of the Government. – Peter Dunne

Hipkins’ colleague, Immigration and Justice Minister Kris Faa’foi has, over recent weeks, almost destroyed any reputation for effectiveness he had built up during his first term as a minister. His weak handling of the hate speech and conversion therapy issues, and the extraordinary inconsistencies in the way migrant workers and their families are being treated during the pandemic have been astounding. Faa’foi, who is apparently keen to leave politics, looks increasingly uninterested, and out of touch with the major issues affecting his portfolios. His media performances on the hate speech and conversion therapy issues have given the impression of someone who neither understands the complexity of the issues involved, nor wants to get too heavily involved in clarifying some of the challenging issues being raised.Peter Dunne

Whatever the explanation, it is a sad day for New Zealand when free speech is considered to be politically risky. An institution that cannot deal with diversity of opinion is a priesthood; it has no right to call itself a university. – Martin Hanson

Claiming people are “hurt” as a rebuttal to another academic’s argument is surely at odds with what academics do — debate ideas logically in the hope of finding the truth. Why is it relevant that some people felt “hurt and dismay”? It is possible to be hurt and still wrong.Matt Heath

Instead of weaponising people’s hurt, we should encourage hurt people to concentrate on why they are hurt. Taking offence is a choice. Choosing not to be offended is a win-win. If your opposition’s claims aren’t valid, they will be easy and fun to refute. If the claims are correct, even better, you have been gifted truth. In which case, the honourable emotion is gratitude. Either way, you don’t need to feel “hurt and dismay”.

Anger, hurt and dismay are gut reactions. You have to act fast before negative emotions take control of your words and actions. An excellent place to start is empathy. – Matt Heath

If you ask me (no one did), academics who hide from uncomfortable discussions by claiming they or others are “hurt” are taking the easy way out. Argue the points, not the emotions. If you disagree with me, come at me. I won’t get hurt. I’d love to be proven wrong; it would be the gift of knowledge. – Matt Heath

We heard as we travelled around the countryside submitters from far and wide. Many of the leaseholders came to speak to the select committee during our hearings in Wellington, in Queenstown, and in Christchurch, and they were amongst some of the most heartfelt submissions that I’ve heard in my time in Parliament. These were representatives of families who had farmed sensibly, pragmatically, with conservation and environmental values at their heart for several generations, and they were distraught, they were hurt, they were confused and unconvinced by the need or the desire for why this Government would want to treat them so harshly, so poorly, and so insultingly. – Scott Simpson

This seems to be a bill that is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. High country farmers, the leaseholders, can feel rightly upset and angry with the moves that this Government is making, because at the heart of this piece of legislation, it undermines the generations of goodwill that have been established between the Crown and the leaseholders. It undermines the good work and the faith that they have invested, not only in terms of their emotion, their hard work, their blood, sweat, and toil but also millions, tens of millions, of dollars of improvement, enhancement, and careful, prudent management of the high country leases. I felt very, very sorry for those submitters who came and, in many cases, were emotional, understandably emotional, about the way that they were going to be treated under this piece of legislation, because at its core, it changes the relationship that they have entered into. – Scott Simpson

When the Prime Minister and the Health Minister go out of their way so obviously to avoid directly answering a question, it is a flashing sign they understand a truthful answer would be highly damaging. – Graham Adams

“Bi” is Latin for two. It therefore inevitably throws emphasis onto the differences, real and imagined, between Maori and Pakeha.

It’s this focus on separateness, rather than the things that draw us together, that has enabled a political culture to flourish in which people of Maori and Pakeha descent are increasingly at odds. – Karl du Fresne

On the contrary, silencing people will almost certainly magnify resentment due to the perception that only one side of the debate is allowed to be heard.

Besides, we should admit that underneath what appears to be crude anti-Maori rhetoric, there is a legitimate grievance: namely, a feeling that the political agenda is largely being driven by people who represent only 16.5 percent of the population, and that other voices are increasingly excluded from the public conversation – or at least that part of the conversation controlled by the media and the government. A situation in which a minority group is perceived as wielding disproportionate power and influence is plainly at odds with fundamental notions of democracy.Karl du Fresne

This doesn’t mean denying that many part-Maori people are disadvantaged in many respects, or prevent us from doing whatever we can to put them on the same footing as the Pakeha majority. As a Pakeha, I can’t see how it could possibly be in my interests for Maori to fail. On the contrary, we would all benefit if Maori health, education and imprisonment rates were improved.   But I don’t see how this can be achieved by setting up a potentially destructive contest between the two main population groups. – Karl du Fresne

The runners with Down Syndrome always bring tears to my eyes. I remember seeing a race in which the two leaders stopped to hug each other instead of crossing the finish line.

Heroic and magnanimous are the words that came to mind when I witnessed their elegant gesture of camaraderie.

Winners. Raising the bar of being wholly human. – Robert Fulghum

Calling someone a racist seems to be the first thing that comes to mind for certain parts of NZ when they don’t agree with something that is said. That’s actually the problem here. Hence my call for NZ to wake up to the danger of the insipid cancel culture that is doing a lot of damage to NZ. – Peter Williams

If a country wants to change its name officially it should do so in a democratic and measured way.  We all know very well why the political class don’t want such a democratic activity – they know what the result will most likely be. The majority will want to retain New Zealand. And there is a certain group of people in this country who are just not prepared to accept democratic outcomes anymore. And that is the most worrying aspect of this entire episode. Peter Williams

To adapt an old aphorism, everyone is an environmentalist until the lights go out. Then we discover a deeper and more immediate concern – a drop in our living standard. – John Roughan

Climate science does not have much luck. The latest dire report from the IPPC was scheduled for release on the same day we awoke to news of the previous night’s blackout in Hamilton and other places. The report duly came out on Tuesday. You might have heard people worrying about what it contained. I didn’t. I heard plenty of concern about the power cut.

The problem for governments that make it their overriding mission to tackle climate change is that most people will not lower their living standards. They will not and nor should they. Human ingenuity can do better. If a government gives climate change greater importance they will change the government. – John Roughan

I began to feel I was too Māori to be Pākehā and too Pākehā to be Māori. Not a proper one at least… If you can’t speak te reo you ain’t a real Māori. And real Māori are Labour. – Simon Bridges

Just as all Scots don’t wear kilts, we can’t put Māori over there as the ones with te reo, moko and marae. – Simon Bridges

I’ve been prone to look down on stay-at-home dads, because our conception of masculinity, whether we like it or not, is of breadwinners.

It’s some deep evolutionary thing. We’ve been hunting animals, and then we’re meant to be out working.

And as I say in the book, whilst I’m not the tough guy playing rugby, for me masculinity I have always associated with work. Long hours is what real men do.

But of course, in 2021, we need to be clear that a real man can be a guy who’s at home with his children while his partner is out as the breadwinner. And I’m glad I’ve woken up to that reality. – Simon Bridges

I’m not gonna suggest that there’s been no moments in my life where the gamesmanship has meant I’ve done something. But if that’s all it is, that’s a real problem,” he says.

“We’ve got this narrow political culture where Red and Blue are actually pretty similar. They’re all professionals.-  Simon Bridges

I could spend a long time trying to do something about it. But no, that would feel like a betrayal of who I am. And in a world where identity and authenticity are such big things, it just wouldn’t be any of that. – Simon Bridges

New Zealand should be very concerned about the possibility that a major event occurs and we simply can’t scramble our Defence Force quick enough; really highly professional people, well trained, have always responded well in the past.

But at the moment … there’s a real shortfall if something was to happen in the Pacific, or further afield that they need to respond to – Chris Penk

Rimmington has correctly analysed that Labour will happily waste $10 million on a train no one uses, but National would not regard $10 million for 30 commuters as sensible spending. – David Farrar

The Green Party stands for many things, a great many things indeed, some of them real, some of them quite fanciful and yet wonderfully appealing in their innocence, but one thing we won’t tolerate is a painting of someone who galvanised a nation in the fight against the Nazi regime and the threat it posed to democracy, freedom, and, you know, life. – Steve Braunias

So many things that probably could have got to me and should have got to me, didn’t get to me. That really got to me, the accent stuff. . . I do think that the book will, in that portion, stop it. I reckon media will read that and appreciate it’s a pretty narrow, parochial snobbism – that if they’re worried about gender and race and all the other things, which they should be, they should be about that as well.Simon Bridges

I realised, getting vaccinated was not actually exclusively about me. It’s actually about those in our community who’re vulnerable and immune compromised, and how would I feel if I passed it onto them? Also, it’s a collective effort to help our country get back into a connected functioning part of the world. We cannot remain an isolated hermit kingdom forever. – Kate Hawkesby

Now I understand being lean isn’t a priority, being strong is,” Donoghue says. “It doesn’t matter what I sit at on the scales. It’s opened us up to understand it’s not about a number but more about a good feeling, knowing we’re fuelling well. – Brooke Donoghue

So we changed the wording. Where we would usually say ‘If you don’t fuel enough, this is the result’, instead every communication became ‘If you fuel according to the work you’re doing, this is the result you’ll get’. It was an excellent approach to behaviour change.Christel Dunshea-Mooij 

Ideal race weights were really a proxy in the past for being healthy and in a good position. You heard stories that ‘leaner is better’. But we’ve got better insight now, so we don’t use those terms. – James Coote

It used to be you ate less to stay a lightweight. But to be able to see I could eat a lot more and then train harder – and stay at the same weight – was eye-opening. It made a huge difference to the way I trained, because I could work harder. – Jackie Kiddle

Being strong has often been seen as a masculine thing in sport. But in rowing, throughout our athletes and staff, the push to be stronger is a positive thing for women too.

As a female athlete, I want to be strong, so I’ve made some massive gains in the gym. I can see my strength performance getting better as well. Our physiologist helped us change the way we look at ourselves. Jackie Kiddle

I’d like to see this support expanded down to high school girls, to take away the stereotypes of strength being masculine, or not eating because you need to look a certain way.

We want to be good role models when it comes to female health. To show girls at high schools that you can row and be healthy – Jackie Kiddle

The surest way to a space in MIQ, for the past 16 months, has been political influence. Those with political influence get spaces. Those without it are forced into a broken room booking system. Getting a room through that broken system seems to be a full-time job all on its own: some would-be travellers have even hired people to sit at a computer and hit the refresh button, all day long, on their behalf.

But for those with political pull, things are a bit easier.- Eric Crampton

The rules ensure that those with political pull can find a way through. Longstanding insiders have political pull. More recent migrants who have not seen their families for a year-and-a-half do not.

The system seems corrupt – but not in any bribe-taking sense. Instead, it is corrupt in what seems a particularly Kiwi sense of the term. No money changes hands. No officials or ministers are bribed. None need to be. The corruption instead is baked into the rules of the system providing a fast-track for those with political pull.

Officials follow the rules of a game that was rigged from the outset.Eric Crampton

Political influence determines who gets fast-tracked entry through MIQ, who is denied any access to the MIQ system, and who is relegated to a broken booking system where the rooms are officially free but come at terrible cost.

The cost of a free room is the time spent trying to secure a space – which can be weeks of dedicated effort. It also includes the terrible uncertainty faced by everyone who fears a sudden turn of events could require them to travel, but that that travel would prove impossible. If you do not have pull, there are currently no rooms available through November.

For many people desperate to rejoin their families, the real price of entry is infinite: there is simply no way they can enter, because they do not have the required political pull. – Eric Crampton

It has been considered unfair for prices to have any role in allocating scarce MIQ spaces. But allocating spaces by political influence and a broken booking system has been worse. If MIQ will be required, for at least some travellers, even after the vaccine roll-out, the Government needs to stop allocating scarce spaces through the aristocracy of pull.Eric Crampton

Some words, in their modern usages, either invite lies or are in themselves implicit lies. One such word, of course, is diversity. Another is inclusion. Just as the Ministry of Love in Nineteen Eighty-Four was responsible for repression and torture, so the word diversity promotes the imposition of uniformity and inclusion promotes exclusion.  – Theodore Dalrymple

No doubt sheer cowardice had much to do with it, for cowardice is often the midwife of lies. Theodore Dalrymple

We are about to witness one of the worst tragedies for women and girls in modern history. From now on, once more, young girls, pre-teens, will be married off too much older men, often enough with multiple wives. Young girls won’t be allowed to go to school, they won’t be allowed to learn to read and write, let alone sing, they won’t be allowed to practice most careers, they won’t be allowed to go the bazaar without the permission, and generally the presence, of their controlling male relative. – Greg Sheridan 

Te Huia is doomed to be yet another spectacular fail from this government, but they have too much political capital at risk to admit it. – Frank Newman

In recent years with the public renaissance of Māori culture, most public events will have a religious dimension in a Māori prayer or karakia. I love this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it brings some life and culture to our otherwise arid secularism. Secondly, I believe our tangata whenua are spiritually set apart and important to our country.

There is an exquisite irony in what’s happened here. Our public servants and civic leaders, who’d spit on the ground during a Pākehā’s Christian prayer, beam like Cheshire Cats when the same is done in te reo. I love this. God works in mysterious ways and he clearly has a sense of humour. – Simon Bridges 

None of this means I hold any Messiah complex. There have been long periods of my life where I have sought answers through prayer but the phone to the Big Guy has seemed off the hook. Despite my stories, I don’t believe in dial-a-God. It’s simply that I believe God is there wanting a personal relationship with everyone. I am not special. – Simon Bridges

The Government’s vaccine purchase of late last year is a microcosm of what’s wrong with its priorities, and a worrying indication that ‘getting the message right’ trumps real world achievement. – Kate MacNamara

There’s no reason to question the spending on contract negotiation, it’s specialised and its consequences were staggeringly large.

And given that New Zealand’s first receipt of the Pfizer vaccine was months behind other countries, and very low for months more, there’s a strong argument to be made that more money should have been spent on advice.

There’s no such rationale for coughing up large sums out of that kitty for communications advice, however: the services MBIE bought with the second largest chunk of that $700,000 were for PR.Kate MacNamara

To give a sense of the priority, that spending trumped the $38,000 that went on the Science and Technical Advisory Group, the $49,000 that went to a research advisor, the $12,000 paid to Horizon Research to study potential Covid-19 vaccine acceptance and uptake, and the $5,500 spent went on translation services.

The breakdown is instructive because it points to how the government, and by extension, its political masters, weighs messaging. – Kate MacNamara

As Auckland University economist Robert MacCullock has estimated, it’s likely New Zealand could have paid an extra $40m (in the order of $4 more per dose) to receive early vaccine delivery.

If it had done so (combined with a competent rollout) we would now be in the position of having already offered inoculation to everyone in our small population, or close to it. – Kate MacNamara

When asked by the Herald last month why the Government didn’t pay more to get Pfizer vaccines early, Hipkins claimed such a move would have been “unethical”.

It was a fatuous remark that sidestepped the Minister’s primary responsibility, which is to the New Zealand public. All the more so now that the public is again housebound in a level 4 lockdown, and footing what Finance Minister, Grant Robertson, has advised is a weekly bill of some $1.5 billion, a tally that notably excludes a host of costs, not the least of which is lost education to school children.

Minister Hipkins needs a new moral compass, if he ditched the spin doctors he could no doubt afford one.- Kate MacNamara

We want to be able to care for our patients – we want to care for them in a safe environment, and it’s so unsafe because of a lack of staffing. Di

Nurses are the ones who move forward and say, ‘I’m happy to do this. We’re here to help, and we’re doing it differently. We’re working outside our normal areas, and normal hours – we’re doing it again.- Geraldine

I understand lockdown had to be done fast, but it’s significantly harder for people whose pay is not consistent. I was lucky enough to get paid the night we went into lockdown and worked 45 hours last week so had enough money to buy groceries but that’s not the case for everyone.

I know people who get paid Wednesday/Thursday and they won’t get paid for their hours this week. They’ll have to go without the essentials because they didn’t have enough money to go to the doctors for their prescriptions renewed. – Ellsie Coles

“We had all these customers desperate to get back to their local cafes and bars, but the way [customers] treated us was appalling. Before lockdown, customers were dismissive, abusive and rude but it was almost like they had completely forgotten their manners. It was also how drunk they were getting. – Ann King

Xenophobia is, regrettably, not a new strain in the national psyche, more an endemic seasonal virus that has circulated since time immemorial. However, the prevailing attitude, expressed through policy and the rhetoric of our leaders, to New Zealanders outside the border – ranging from frosty indifference to outright hostility – is very much a new development. Ben Thomas 

However, since Covid, New Zealanders’ circle of empathy seems to have been pulled tight, like a knot, around the territorial boundaries of the country.

New Zealanders caught outside, or the families of foreign visa holders here doing often essential work including nursing and teaching, feel very much like they are looking in. In some respects, the pandemic has made the country smaller. Our families, our co-workers’ families, our friends, now show up in the public discourse mainly as risks to be managed or, more likely, excluded.

While government surrogates criticise “lifestyle” travellers and those who “chose” to live overseas, stories mount of partners who have not seen newborns. – Ben Thomas 

The New Zealand state’s efficiency and wraparound service, seen in the dispensation of wage subsidies and (ironically) passport processing speed, is experienced by offshore New Zealanders, setting regular alarms to stay online and wait to click hopelessly for hours to book non-existent spots in MIQ, as uncaring and capricious.

In order for values to count as character, they have to endure in good times and bad. Is the New Zealand national identity we treasure a reflection of who we really are, or of the benign times we have lived through until now? With the imminent effects of climate change and the movement of mass refugees from the hell of Afghanistan under the Taliban, these are questions we may be answering soon. – Ben Thomas 

Education is more than just a pathway to a job. It’s about growing young people who are filled with aspiration, with capabilities, with vision for themselves and the world around them.

The focus of education has definitely shifted … there’s been a focus on what can be measured, and evaluated.

The arts play an important part in developing creativity, engagement with the world around them … it’s more than a skillset  – Esther Hansen

Like any mother, it doesn’t matter how old your children are, you want to be with them. I’m sure there’ll be lots of other families around the area who identify with how we’re feeling at the moment.Anne Tolley

I think it’s time that these modern day politicians showed the great man a bit of respect. He was not perfect, but then again, who is? He was a man of his age and his opinions and actions reflected that. Indeed, attempting to impose today’s opinions on historical figures, as many on the left do, is just childish.

What is not up for debate, however, is that the world, including New Zealand, owes Churchill a great debt. And he will be revered long after this obsession with wokeness has passed and politicians like Ardern have thankfully left the stage. – Paul A. Nuttall

No other country has achieved lockdowns as tough as New Zealand’s, and thereby executed an elimination strategy. Especially with the Delta strain, almost everyone else has accepted that Covid is here to stay. Instead of being preoccupied with national self-congratulation, they have focused aggressively on early vaccination. Matthew Hooton

Even once we reach the undefined level of vaccination Ardern says would lead to the borders reopening, Covid will keep arriving, spreading, making people sick, putting some of us in ICU and even killing a few.

If Ardern’s definition of elimination means lockdown every time, then her strategy will have run its course not long after we emerge from this one.

Meanwhile, her Government’s shameful performance in preparing the public and the health system for that imminent reality should be a national scandal.

More than a year since Ardern was forced to switch from flattening the curve to elimination, the Ministry of Health reports no material improvement in ICU capability. – Matthew Hooton

There were 334 ventilators and 358 ICU beds at the end of the first lockdown. The Ministry of Health says there are just 284 fully staffed ICU beds across public hospitals. While there are 629 ICU-capable ventilators, including 133 in reserve, the number of nurses trained to work with them improved by just 1 per cent. The problem that forced Ardern to opt for her ultra-tough strategy is as bad as ever.

Little new can be said about the vaccination fiasco. We have the slowest rollout in the developed world, not all frontline border and MIQ workers are yet vaccinated and there was no chance of reaching population immunity until mid-December, even without this week’s pause.Matthew Hooton

Yet Ardern and her Beehive should not be let off so easily. For months, ministers and strategists have privately pointed the finger at the bureaucrats for every failure while claiming success for Ardern’s rhetorical achievements.

But those bureaucrats report to ministers. If their performance is as poor as claimed, then the buck stops at the top and the time for whispers is past. If the Beehive does not believe senior bureaucrats are capable of preparing the health system for a post-elimination strategy, it should say so publicly and get in people who are. – Matthew Hooton

While we continue to have low deaths and infections, we have a woefully low rate of vaccination, which currently languishes among Romania, Albania, and Bolivia. If other parts of our public infrastructure were ranked so poorly, you’d expect ministerial resignations. Thomas Coughlan

The idea that most DHBs could be “hitting” their targets, while the population eligible for the vaccines is still roughly 60 per cent unvaccinated shows the targets for the sham they are – the emperor has no vaccine.

The Government has some serious questions to answer to the people put at risk by the latest Covid outbreak, which appears to include a large number of under-30s. – Thomas Coughlan

No one’s kidding themselves about a return to what things were like before, but for our Northern Hemisphere friends, two doses of vaccine and a bit of mask-wearing seems to buy an alternative lifestyle that has significant benefits to our own.

This somewhat upends the politics of Covid in New Zealand. Should this outbreak worsen, and modelling suggests it might, it will no longer be clear that our approach is the right one.Thomas Coughlan

New Zealand’s Covid-19 response was idealised last year. The small island nation eliminated the virus – with short lockdowns, closed borders and effective contact tracing – and largely lived without restrictions. Economic growth has been high and mortality has been low. But what worked in 2020 is not the same as what makes sense in 2021.

We now have vaccines. The ingenious jabs substantially reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death from the virus. They do not mean zero risk or, for that matter, zero cases. But they change the calculation: elimination becomes a costly strategy with very limited benefit. What’s the point of lockdowns and maintaining closed borders for a virus that, with vaccines in the mix, no longer causes much harm to individual people?

New Zealand has not come to this realisation. It has fetishised “zero risk” for the past 17 months and show little interest in updating its strategy. – Matthew Lesh

New Zealand’s zero Covid strategy has had frightening consequences. A once-welcoming nation is turning into an isolated dystopia, where liberties are taken away in a heartbeat and outsiders are shunned. Living under the constant threat of disruptive and psychologically crushing lockdowns. Being closed off to the world, with citizens’ ability to travel curtailed and foreigners largely prevented from entering. So much for the open, welcoming liberal nation projected by Ms Ardern. Matthew Lesh

The implications of New Zealand’s strategy stretch well beyond Covid. “Zero risk” gives the state limitless justification to interfere with our lives in the most extreme of ways. Individual choice, bodily autonomy and basic privacy become subsumed to the goal of taking away anything that could do us even the smallest level of harm. Fear breeds tolerance for the most extreme actions. A liberal society becomes impossible to maintain.

This pandemic has changed our lives in so many ways. We have sacrificed so much in the name of public safety. But at some point, we have to declare “enough is enough”. Snap lockdowns over small numbers of cases and constant state interference in our lives is simply no way to live. – Matthew Lesh

The Government are in charge of this, they are the ones that are setting the rules. They are the ones that need to make sure it’s working properly. They can’t delegate responsibility to others.

“It’s them that I expect to make sure the that vaccination is working everywhere in the country when they say it is.Todd McClay

The conceit is in thinking that we can come up with a completely 100 per cent water-tight border. Short of letting no goods or people cross it at all, which would truly mean North Korea, there is always a risk. Fortification is effective but not failsafe. And so it proved.

Still, hopefully some good can come from this new reality. Perhaps we could collectively use the time to develop some greater clarity of thinking on our response to this pandemic, knowing what we know now. – Steven Joyce

The word elimination has become Orwellian and unhelpful. Covid is not eliminated when we keep it out of the country. It is simply shut out and we have barricaded ourselves in.

And all the evidence suggests the world won’t be eliminating it, at least not in the foreseeable future.

Kicking the term elimination to touch is important because its use by our politicians has bred smugness and complacency, particularly in them. They have acted as if Covid has been eliminated, and signalled the same to the public with their actions. – Steven Joyce

The vaccine rollout has been accurately described as a strollout.

There has been scandalous negligence in preparing our hospital facilities for another wave of the pandemic, as alluded to in the Skegg Report last week.

The Government has instead busied itself looking down its nose at the outbreaks in Australia, reorganising hospital administration (during a pandemic?), and paying for things like school lunches for kids whose parents don’t want them, or putting cameras on fishing boats, all out of the Covid emergency fund.

This is not the sort of stuff on the top of your to-do list when there is a war on.

And it is a war, with a tricky and persistent invader. – Steven Joyce

Fortifying our defences and using our moat to protect ourselves is a legitimate tactic and I support it.

Where we have fallen down is in not using the time those fortifications have given us to urgently vaccinate the population and prepare our hospital facilities to cope better with another outbreak.

When one occurs, there is no alternative to locking down.

Which brings us to the second thing we can take out of this lockdown. A new urgency for vaccination for everyone.- Steven Joyce

Vaccinations don’t prevent transmission, but they do suppress serious illness. It should by now be clear that vaccination is the only known way out of this pandemic. Frankly, it was apparent months ago, but at least with the clear and present danger we have now, the Government and all of us should have the impetus to rapidly get it done.

Temporarily halting vaccinations at the start of lockdown was not a good first step. You mean you hadn’t prepared vaccination centres for operating under Level 3 or 4? Steven Joyce

If ministers start admitting that people won’t need to be locked down once we are all vaccinated, it’s a short step from there to blaming them for the current lockdown, given that they have been supervising the world’s slowest rollout.

Alternatively, they really believe our hospital system won’t cope with even a small increase in Covid-related hospitalisations next year alongside our regular flu season. I wouldn’t like to be in their shoes if that proved to be the case, having by then had two years to prepare. – Steven Joyce

We did well in the early stages of Covid but this outbreak should remove any remaining temptation to rest on our laurels. Hopefully it teaches some humility to our politicians and senior public servants and a much-needed reassessment of our plan forward from here.

We only need to lock down now because we are not vaccinated.

Our businesses, our kids missing their schooling and friends, our families missing life events, elderly neighbours prevented from talking to each other, those who feel life and its opportunities are passing them by, can’t put up with much more of “lockdown is the only solution”. Steven Joyce

Certainty is really helpful for people – not only people in business and small businesses but also for people just trying to go about their lives. A lack of certainty, waiting for a one o’clock announcement every day, this actually adds to the anxiety – it doesn’t actually help people that much. – Judith Collins

We are in lockdown because the government did not act with urgency to protect New Zealanders. Their complacency and inability to ensure supply and delivery of the vaccine roll-out has left New Zealanders as sitting ducks; completely vulnerable to the Delta variant when it inevitably got into the community.

It is not enough for the prime minister to lock us in our homes and speak from the podium once a day. New Zealanders don’t need sermons, we need vaccines in arms right now. – Judith Collins

New Zealanders are right to be very frustrated. We understand we need to have a level 4 lockdown because of the seriousness of the situation … that is taken as a given.

But what is not acceptable, is the government has been absolutely warned about this situation for many months, then only now talking about bringing in, for instance, saliva testing and rapid antigen testing … it’s like they’ve been asleep at the wheel and complacent and sitting back and saying ‘aren’t we clever?’ when ultimately, we’re not. – Judith Collins

The plan should have been in place and able to be activated at literally a moment’s notice.

Indeed, it is unimaginable that any responsible government would not have a contingency plan well in place for such an emergency, suggesting that the real point of the contrived urgency was more about showing the government was bold, decisive and in control. If, as the Prime Minister has implied, they were awaiting further information before reaching a decision, then that suggests the government and the Ministry of Health were hopelessly ill-prepared for such eventualities, something the public should be extremely concerned about. It must be hoped that the Prime Minister’s hints were yet more spin, not an accurate reflection of the real state of play. – Peter Dunne

And when the announcement was eventually made, the sanctimony and arrogance were palpable. All New Zealanders wanted to know was when we would be going into lockdown and for how long. Even then, they were kept in suspense when it was announced that the Prime Minister was running ten minutes late – a deliberate ploy to attract attention if ever there was one. Worse, when she eventually deigned to appear it was to be a further twelve minutes of generalities and slogans before she eventually got to the point we had all been waiting to hear.

All the appeals to live in your bubble, remember you are part of the team of five million, and to be kind are so much humbug. All they do is raise the hairs on the back of the neck more rigidly. Peter Dunne

Delaying the announcement several hours until the 6:00 pm television news and then not even turning up on time to deliver it suggests the process was more about keeping the focus on the government, than meeting the public’s concerns.- Peter Dunne

I would prefer the government when dealing with complex but not unexpected situations like this week’s outbreak to keep its focus solely on the facts, without the extraneous, embellishing drama. People simply need to know what is happening, how it affects them, and what they need to do. They can work the rest out for themselves without the saccharine laced platitudes masquerading as announcements that have become so much a part of the process. – Peter Dunne

We will get through the current situation for no other reason than people’s focus on their own and their families’ wellbeing. It has nothing to do with being kind, staying in bubbles, or being part of some mythical team of five million. That is all just so much unctuous poppycock. People will respond because they appreciate it is in their best personal interests to do so. Anything else is just puffery. Therefore, we deserve to be respected as mature and responsible beings, capable of sound decision-making, not errant children to be given morality lectures at our leaders’ convenience. – Peter Dunne

The greatest absurdity of this week’s announcements, in response to a situation brought on almost entirely by our poor vaccination rates, was the abrupt decision to suspend vaccinations, only to be just as abruptly overturned less than 24 hours later. It suggested a complete lack of forethought, planning and organisation. Or, as the ever-curmudgeonly Eeyore of Winnie-the-Pooh fame would say, “They haven’t got Brains any of them, only grey fluff that’s blown into their heads by mistake, and they don’t Think.” – Peter Dunne

The rest of the world is embracing its post-pandemic future while New Zealand enters a March 2020 time warp.Andrea Vance

We were overconfident about the elimination strategy and our ability to keep the virus out. But whereas the virus got more sophisticated, more “tricky” to use Ardern’s own parlance, we did not.

While New Zealand was free of community transmission, the Government took a leisurely approach to vaccination.- Andrea Vance

If only Ardern had applied the ‘go hard and go early’ approach to her Government’s vaccination strategy. – Andrea Vance

These are failings that were foreseeable and are unforgivable. We are yet to learn how the variant penetrated New Zealand’s defences, but the most obvious pathway is a border incursion.

So for now, we will do our bit. Stay home, mask up, relinquish our freedoms and hope the consequences of a lockdown are not too severe.

The responsibility to stop the spread is once again on us – because the Government failed to play its part. – Andrea Vance

The truth is we can’t maintain zero-Covid forever. We all know that. We’re only delaying the inevitable by carrying on with it.

At some point we will have to open the borders again to the world. Pretending there is a choice not to do that is a fallacy. There simply is no other option. We must rejoin the world if we want to be part of it.Heather du Plessis-Allan

So at some point Covid will come into New Zealand. We will be jabbed, there will be outbreaks, some people will die, some won’t even know they’re crook, most people will get a touch of something then get better. That will happen. We don’t get to choose if it happens, we only get to choose when it happens.

So, knowing that every lockdown only delays the inevitable, ask yourself how many more level 4s you’re happy to do before you’ve had enough. Heather du Plessis-Allan

The truth is we can’t maintain zero-Covid forever. We all know that. We’re only delaying the inevitable by carrying on with it.

At some point we will have to open the borders again to the world. Pretending there is a choice not to do that is a fallacy. There simply is no other option. We must rejoin the world if we want to be part of it.Heather du Plessis-Allan

So at some point Covid will come into New Zealand. We will be jabbed, there will be outbreaks, some people will die, some won’t even know they’re crook, most people will get a touch of something then get better. That will happen. We don’t get to choose if it happens, we only get to choose when it happens.

So, knowing that every lockdown only delays the inevitable, ask yourself how many more level 4s you’re happy to do before you’ve had enough. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

The reason the Police weren’t jabbed properly was because they didn’t have the supply. At last, Ardern admits it. We asked that very question six hours earlier yesterday when talking to Ashley Bloomfield, but he wouldn’t admit it.

The Police, of course, who have this week talked of taking legal action, have every right to be angry. The supermarket workers have every right to be angry. By weeks end, we all have every right to be angry because we have been shockingly let down. Mike Hosking

Their plan, such as it ever was, is now officially a scandal, it’s a bust. As Scott Morrison and his smug lot across the Tasman had to admit and apologise for.

So too will this lot, who suffered the same smugness, who refused to listen, who refused to accept that it was a race, the borders don’t keep out the virus, and zero Covid is a joke.

It’s a hopelessly idealistic joke believed in by people who are not remotely connected to the real world. – Mike Hosking

So, to the supply, we have been conned.

We didn’t pay the premium for early delivery, we didn’t have any urgency, we were blinded by the dumb belief that a locked border was all we needed, and we could take all year no worries. What a farce.

We could have jabbed everyone if we started in February by June. And yet here we are in August 118th in the world locked down, everything shut, and yet again going nowhere.Mike Hosking

That’s where this Government’s plan, or lack of plan has landed us. Front-liners not protected because of lack of supply, 118th in the world, locked down like nowhere else apart from the other inept idiots across the Tasman.

The scam is up. The con is exposed. The Ardern Show was as shallow as ‘be kind’ and stick a teddy in the window.

You think they’re going to put this on the cover of Vogue or Time?  – Mike Hosking

So in a year and a half, we haven’t come very far at all, in terms of mitigating the damage the virus does and in terms of treating people when the worst does happen. All the time we were rocking on at Six60 concerts and cheering on the All Blacks, there were people whispering “it’s a marathon, not a sprint”. And they were right. –  Kerre McIvor

There is much that has been done well by New Zealanders and the Government in response to Covid-19. But lockdowns also remind us there is much that could be done better, particularly by the decision makers at the Ministry of Health. – Kerre McIvor

Despite her butter-wouldn’t-melt image of kindness and care and concern for others, Ardern is a ruthless politician who is cunning as a fox and quick to change tack in response to public criticism.

She is also shameless at stage-managing her public appearances for maximum effect — whether it is showcasing her government’s actions at her 1pm press conferences or being covered by a Polynesian ceremonial mat during an official apology for the Dawn Raids in a highly choreographed piece of political theatre.Graham Adams

Eventually her adherents — no matter how fervently they believe in their leader’s righteousness — will come to see that the fabled destination will always remain out of reach. They are steadily drifting away as it becomes more and more apparent her government is seriously incompetent in battling the scourges that afflict New Zealand — including overburdened infrastructure, crippling house prices and children living in poverty. – Graham Adams

Despite her butter-wouldn’t-melt image of kindness and care and concern for others, Ardern is a ruthless politician who is cunning as a fox and quick to change tack in response to public criticism.

She is also shameless at stage-managing her public appearances for maximum effect — whether it is showcasing her government’s actions at her 1pm press conferences or being covered by a Polynesian ceremonial mat during an official apology for the Dawn Raids in a highly choreographed piece of political theatre.Graham Adams

Eventually her adherents — no matter how fervently they believe in their leader’s righteousness — will come to see that the fabled destination will always remain out of reach. They are steadily drifting away as it becomes more and more apparent her government is seriously incompetent in battling the scourges that afflict New Zealand — including overburdened infrastructure, crippling house prices and children living in poverty. – Graham Adams

As is the case with so much in life, the wealthy in New Zealand and Australia have the resources to ensure their families come out of the current lockdown (and future lockdowns) relatively unscathed. The countries’ least privileged citizens aren’t so fortunate. They’re the ones that suffer the most from this strategy and the costs they’re being asked to bear will be with many of them for life. These lands down under are failing their most vulnerable with a policy of COVID-zero.Nicholas Kerr

Failing a knighthood, as a farmer there’s only one way I want the public to thank me: by happily paying a fair price for what I produce and not begrudging how I make a living. – Craig Hickman

The Prime Minister doesn’t need to hog all the media space. She already gets up to an hour a day any day she likes beaming straight into Kiwi’s lounge rooms. She already gets to pick and choose which media outlets she goes on in a bid to avoid hard questions.

When she stops meetings from taking place via zoom It goes beyond a health-based decision and becomes a political decision. She is playing politics here while she pretends to rise above that. It is impossible to respect this decision and her for making it. Heather du Plessis-Allan

Jacinda Ardern consistently calls for Kiwis to “be kind”. In today’s 4pm stand-up, the record hadn’t changed. How would she respond if asked what cruelty she had exercised in the pursuit of kindness? Because she has inflicted cruelty on New Zealanders through lock down. – Lindsay Mitchell

If she is asking people who barely tolerate each other in normal circumstances to transform under lock down, you know she lacks any understanding of the human condition under extreme stress.

She must. Or she wouldn’t be pig-headedly pursuing the same pathway she led us down in 2020.

“Be kind” is a hollow platitude. That’s all it has ever been.Lindsay Mitchell

Any confidence that we learned our lessons from last year’s lockdown regarding mass virus testing should be thrown out the window. Having been through this process before, one would assume the Ministry of Health and its various providers would have a clear and concise plan to efficiently deliver mass Covid-19 testing to as many people as possible.

Instead, close contacts and essential workers were made to wait more than 10 hours for a test – some were even turned away as demand trumped capacity. Queues of cars wreaked havoc with what little traffic was on the roads under alert level 4 restrictions, indicating a clear lack in appropriate facilities for such efforts. – Adam Pearse

The question remains; how did we let this happen again?Adam Pearse

The frustrating aspect is that we’ve been through this before. We know what happens when calls for mass testing are sounded and yet nothing seems to have changed in the 17 months we’ve had to prepare. – Adam Pearse

What is most disappointing is that it’s our nurses who are bailing us out again. They have no choice but to rise to the occasion. They know their communities need them, rain or shine, swabbing every nose possible. The hope is – likely a naive one – that their sacrifices will not be forgotten by those who hold the keys to better pay and improved working conditions. – Adam Pearse

But if the past week has signalled anything, it’s that we will never be able to successfully operate mass testing without addressing the historical issues in our health workforce.

If you head to a well-resourced medical centre, you will see how mass events should be run and what they all have in common is sufficient staffing. Without the necessary numbers, people’s anxieties will continue to defeat efforts to prioritise testing for those who need it. – Adam Pearse

Until the world is willing to admit the obvious truth—that radical Islamism sanctions atrocities against women—these atrocities will continue to happen. – Yasmine Mohammed

The New Zealand Government can take a lot of lessons from its Covid leadership.

Firstly, and most importantly, leadership should always get in the weeds and into the detail on the mission critical matters. The best business leaders in the world are always on the dance floor, not on the balcony.

Less time on PR. More time on solving problems and practical decision making. More time being proactive not reactive. – Nick Mowbray

Helicopter management simply does not work. It’s a “hit and hope” approach.

Leaders need to first understand at a macro level what needs to be prioritised and then move swiftly into action, getting into the detail, solving problems and building actionable frameworks. Unfortunately this government’s record reads poorly in this regard.Nick Mowbray

Unfortunately I fear a lack of understanding at a macro level. A good example was the wage freeze on nurses for three years in complete disregard to mass inflation (consumer/houses/assets) – so basically a wage reduction.

No one is more mission-critical than nurses. We need every single one. Our health system is already vastly understaffed regardless of Covid. We should be prioritising our health professionals now more than ever. – Nick Mowbray

Complacency kills companies. It’s also what got New Zealand into this spot. Like in business if you don’t keep moving, evolving, improving and being proactive every single day you get left behind and eventually you lose.

NZ’s Covid response flat-lined a long time ago.

I hope our Government is learning from this and evolves so we can move quickly join the world again. – Nick Mowbray

These people, who ask questions, challenge the government’s response, probe and probe again after detecting inconsistencies, play a vital role in improving the Covid-19 response.

Because being part of the team doesn’t mean mindlessly accepting information at face value. And being kind doesn’t mean sitting down and shutting up.Laura Walters

Questions and challenges should be rooted in fact, with the express aim of improving public understanding and access to information, as we all work towards the same goal: keeping New Zealanders safe. But there is plenty of space between whipping up hysteria and essentially becoming part of the government communications machine. It is not the job of the New Zealand media or the opposition to make the government look good.

Unfortunately, many of those who do play the vital role of questioning the government’s handling of some aspects of its pandemic response are vilified. – Laura Walters

Watching the sausage being made can be surprising, confusing and sometimes off-putting. Repeated questioning on the same topic might seem unnecessary or even a form of badgering, but it’s also how a subtle inconsistency in a comment from the country’s leadership can reveal a wider issue. Laura Walters

So, when we talk about the team of five million, it’s important to remember there are many roles within the team, and they often look quite different.

Good science has been at the core of New Zealand’s successful Covid-19 strategy. Good science is not born out of acceptance or complacency; it’s reliant on the constant challenging and questioning of ideas and approaches, in order to get the best possible outcome. The same is true for public health policy and political responses. – Laura Walters

This is a very shonky and incompetent government. Make no mistake.Lindsay Mitchell

Isn’t it interesting how much lower the bar is for bureaucrats than the private sector?  Even our sports teams get more scrutiny. Imagine if Ashley Bloomfield was an All Black coach.

Bear in mind, this guy is our number one, head and shoulders above the next best suitable candidate. That’s the worryingly low benchmark we’re setting and accepting across the state service for where performance expectations sit. –  Kate Hawkesby

If this were the private sector, we’d score KPI’s, canvas high and lowlights, and grade performance. The only conclusion we could draw would result in a small chat with HR in which Bloomfield be invited to bring a support person, followed by a press release about spending more time with his family, and, if he’s lucky, a small pay-out.   

But this isn’t happening with Teflon Bloomfield, NZ’s highest profile bureaucrat. Kate Hawkesby

On numerous occasions he’s at best withheld or obfuscated material information – and at worst has bare face lied to Cabinet, a Select Committee and the public. On testing, on flu vaccines, on PPE, on the critical vaccine procurement and rollout, on saline injections, on text messages to Foreign Affairs.

He continues to defend the indefensible.  – Kate Hawkesby

We’ve been caught short – and he’s not fronting that with a mea culpa, or even highlighting areas where things could’ve been better, nor is he being put under scrutiny or held to account by his employer. 

He has not demonstrated the light-footed dynamism of thought that’s required in managing the risks of an ever-evolving pandemic. In the private sector he’d be toast, and yet, we have deified him.Kate Hawkesby

If these really are isolated incidents, then the only conclusion one can make is that Labour volunteers are pathologically stupid. – David Farrar

Meanwhile, my mother and I still cry a storm of tears on twice-weekly video calls and our daughter gets further and further from the place of her birth. For those Australians who say expats had all the time they needed to come home, I hope you never have to watch a loved one’s funeral on a video call or lose a job without a way to find another. I hope you never have to take out a mortgage to hug your mother. The financial cost has been enormous, but it’s the emotional toll that hurts the most. That and the realisation that what you thought was “home” was just an illusion.Gaynor Reid

The role of Opposition in our Westminster parliamentary system is vital to a properly functioning democracy. Our system is adversarial not simply because the Opposition want to win the next election, but because of the serious part we must play in scrutinising the Government and having them justify their actions to the New Zealand public.- Judith Collins

They like us to give them eight days’ notice if we’re increasing our capacity, but as I said to them, Jacinda didn’t give us eight days’ notice for the lockdown.Annabel Turley

You just completely blow up with Delta if you have got an unvaccinated population. So this [outbreak] is a consequence of being too slow on the vaccine and not buying up aggressively at the start of the year, and there’s actually not a lot of excuse for that. We have to put ourselves first, and we didn’t. – Rodney Jones

The system appears to be bursting at the seams and the Government’s only response so far has been to shrug off criticism because this outbreak is bigger than what they had prepared for.

But that ignores four stark warnings that the Government has received over the past 18 months about the state of the contact tracing system. Each of these critical reviews found that the system would struggle to handle a medium-sized outbreak. Now such an outbreak has arrived and it has been spurred on further by the fact that it involves the highly transmissible Delta variant. – Mark Daalder

It’s the struggle that Ardern has been waging for 18 months – not wanting to politicise the pandemic but having to grapple with the fact that these decisions are by necessity political. We shouldn’t kid ourselves that the government makes its decisions solely on the health advice. – Marc Daalder

It’s bad enough that Delta arrived on these shores at a time when our vaccination rates were among the lowest in the developed world. It’s appalling that our frontline workers in hospitals, ports, supermarkets and police were largely unvaccinated. – Bruce Cotterill

Training testers and contact tracers now is like training your army after the enemy has invaded. – Bruce Cotterill

In the meantime we have 2000 supermarket workers in isolation and six supermarkets closed in Auckland alone as a result of a lack of staff. If you think lockdowns are frustrating people, just wait until they can’t get to the supermarket.

It gets worse. Life-saving surgeries, including a kidney transplant, have been cancelled because of a shortage of nurses. Where are the nurses? Isolating of course. – Bruce Cotterill

This crisis is far from over and we desperately need to change the way we are going about it. We need a sense of urgency. We need to put people in places with the ability to get things done and authority to make decisions.

Government departments and their servants provide adequate resource when life is normal. But in a crisis you need different skills and different strategies. You need rapid response, something government departments are not typically known for. You need people who can put teams together quickly and get things done. Political affiliations don’t matter. It’s all hands on deck. Just like the wartime that most of us are too young to remember.

And we need to be thinking ahead. Someone needs to be asking what the worst-case scenarios are and how we should prepare in case they happen. – Bruce Cotterill

The starting point in solving any problem is to admit that that you have a problem.

Instead of making excuses, let’s admit that our vaccination programme has been too slow and make a plan to get ahead of the game. Order booster vaccines now (we haven’t done this yet!).

How do we speed up testing? And how do we speed up getting test results? It’s six days in some places. Too long. We need next-day results. – Bruce Cotterill

We need a plan to vaccinate as many people as we can, as quickly as we can. We then need to plan our re-opening. We need to share those plans with the people and businesses so they can make their own plans. – Bruce Cotterill

Meeting surge capacity isn’t just some gold standard target to make the Government and health officials feel a sense of achievement, it’s pivotal to ensuring lockdown is actually working and Delta is being stamped out.

Based on the woefully low current capacity of contact tracers, not to mention the fact 600 contact tracers are being sought in the middle of an outbreak, it’s difficult to see what stress-testing was carried out ahead of Delta arriving. – Jo Moir

Either the Ministry of Health did little to no scenario-planning or wildly overestimated its own abilities.Jo Moir

Knowledge is power and contacts of positive cases not getting tested immediately makes it difficult to gauge how big the outbreak is and, in some cases, results in more people getting infected.

In addition to that there’s now issues of people who have tested positive not being moved into quarantine. – Jo Moir

It’s becoming increasingly unclear what exactly about this outbreak was planned for. – Jo Moir

So, then, reasonable decisions about the lockdowns are being made with the information available at this moment. But it would be remiss not to point out that we find ourselves in at this moment because of decisions made by the same people and their officials earlier in the pandemic.

For whatever reasons – and I think there are like many, some of which were out of officials’ control and some of which weren’t – we have found ourselves woefully behind in the vaccination programme. Ministers are incredibly defensive whenever they are challenged on this. But you can’t take credit for one part of the response and shirk all responsibility for another. – Jack Tame

Even once everyone had the opportunity to be vaccinated, the government will not remove all Covid restrictions. The government will build its own MIQ facilities. It will take at least a year to complete. The ability to travel wherever we wanted and return whenever we wanted will be a treasured memory for many years to come.

We will be unable to take international holidays. We will not be able to visit our friends and family overseas. Doing business worldwide will remain difficult.

Meanwhile, life in New Zealand will change. We will always be bound by rules. Covid outbreaks will be a constant concern, shutting down parts of the country without warning. Any plan will always be subject to change. There will be no certainty.

The power balance in our country will have shifted in favour of the state. We will live in a world where the state is in charge of our well-being and security. A state that, by the way, consistently fails at basic tasks. No matter how grateful we are to be alive, who would want to live in such a dystopian society?

For Covid’s sake, how much freedom will New Zealanders sacrifice? The answer to that question will determine the future of our country. – Oliver Hartiwch

We are short of nurses, not just in aged care facilities but all across the country. Yet I saw the Prime Minister saying that we were prepared for Covid-19 – but that Delta had a head start on us.

Nonsense – we had a head start on Delta but the government didn’t prepare for it by bringing in the thousands more nurses needed throughout the health system. We have had only 20 per cent of the population vaccinated and there are only enough vaccines in the country right now for another 375,000 (750,000 vaccines in all, two doses per person).

That’s not ‘prepared’; that is the slowest vaccination rate in the whole OECD. It’s a joke for Jacinda Ardern to say Delta had a head start.Brien Cree

So now we have overworked nurses working for six and seven days a week. They are asking for more pay and fair enough – but this isn’t a pay issue, it’s a supply issue. Instead of allowing nurses in from overseas, they have decided to burn out the nurses we have here.

There are over 2000 nursing vacancies in DHB hospitals and over 1000 in residential care. Then there’s natural attrition as people leave for all sorts of reasons – now including exhaustion. So who knows what the real number is? – Brien Cree

Why do we have 11-hour queues for vaccines? Not enough nurses. Why are we the lowest-vaccinated country in the OECD? A shortage of nurses.

We have been asking and asking for overseas nurses to be let in here – refused at every turn. We should have been building capacity in our health system, planning for when the virus came back. We all knew it was coming and the government kept telling us it would – yet they did nothing.

The government is making it sound like they have prepared for the crisis – but the real crisis is yet to occur. That will happen when the severely stretched health system can’t cope with the lack of specialist services not bringing in overseas nurses has caused.

They should have realised we were in the eye of the storm and brought in thousands of nurses in the past year, settled them in and got them working so the system could stay robust. They didn’t, although sports teams and entertainers got in, and now they have made us vulnerable. – Brien Cree

The government short-sightedness in keeping essential workers out is mystifying. They had an opportunity and they blew it.
The health system is in crisis now and the real crisis hasn’t even arrived yet.

Let’s learn from our mistakes – when this lockdown is over, let’s get much needed nurses into the country and build some capacity back into our health system. – Brien Cree

Empty streets, shuttered businesses, and people physically avoiding each other are bleak reminders that our ‘normal’ way of living is now fragile.

That, and the ‘us vs them’ group think mentality.

Us being the ‘team of five million’ and ‘them’ anyone who dares criticise the Government’s approach. – Andrea Vance

We are complying with restrictions on movement, gatherings, and even trading.

But that does not mean we gave up on freedom of expression.Andrea Vance

Government supporters aggressively insist critics should shut up and trust the experts. That anyone questioning the prevailing approach is recklessly anti-science, undermining the response or indifferent to a higher death toll.

This is too crude. It is perfectly logical to accept the need for current restrictions, while criticising the Government for how we got here and the failings that led to it, not least in the vaccination roll-out.

Delta got in – there should be hard questions about why so that the gaps are plugged. People are being denied the right to come home – it’s only fair they get to question the managed isolation procedures keeping them out. – Andrea Vance

It is right that the decisions coming from the Beehive are informed by complex scientific evidence.

But that does not mean that only those with expertise have the right to an opinion.

No political decisions are based solely on pure science.Andrea Vance

Political decisions always involve trade-offs, moral values and priorities. – Andrea Vance

It’s not defeatism, just debate. We can reject that which does not work or apply.Andrea Vance

Expert knowledge reflects the assumptions and blind spots of the giver. Scientists disagree, evidence shifts (last year masks were ineffective, this year they are essential. Mandatory scanning couldn’t be implemented at a meaningful level, now it can. All advice is, and should be, challengeable).

Obviously, there are caveats. Misinformation, especially when it is harmful, should be vigorously challenged.

The need for debate is vital.The normal checks and balances of our democracy are suspended at a time when they are most needed.

The 1pm briefings skew the discourse in favour of the Government, at the expense of Opposition voices, which are already weakened. – Andrea Vance

Sweeping decisions on fundamental rights are being made on a daily basis without any kind of scrutiny. They might be right and justified, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be examined and debated.

Of course, she must exude confidence in the strategy and maintain consistent and clear messaging. But it’s troubling when she says she doesn’t want a debate.

And that makes it even more crucial to have robust scrutiny from outside her inner circle.

Because if they are the right decisions, then they remain the right decisions. Questions and alternative viewpoints won’t change that, and we can be more confident we’re on the right course.

We shouldn’t run from transparent and open debate – scrutiny can only improve the decision-making. – Andrea Vance

This lockdown feels much harder than the first big one last year.

The mood has changed. People – especially Aucklanders who are on their fourth stay-at-home order – are grumpier. Commentators and columnists are scratchier.Heather du Plessis-Allan

Most of it, though, is driven by an enormous sense of disappointment. We thought New Zealand was exceptional. The world raved about our world-leading Covid response. But now, the world is ridiculing us at worst, shocked at best.

Our national pride is at stake, says economist Robert MacCulloch. This outbreak threatens to break our spirits and he worries that if we fall into despondency at the thought of being left behind by the world it could lead to an economic slump.

It’s likely dawning on a lot of people how unprepared our leaders were for this outbreak. Little in our Covid response has changed between March 2020 and today. That’ll come as a shock and disappointment to many who put so much faith in Jacinda and Ashley. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

The pair have been touted globally as remarkable leaders, but it may be starting to feel like our remarkable leaders only have one trick and that’s locking down. They haven’t been successful at much else in this pandemic response.

They haven’t got enough contact tracers: they’re now doubling that number from 600 to 1200, showing how underprepared they were. They haven’t prepared a good testing system: people were lining up from 4am some days. They are so far behind on the vaccine rollout we are still the last in the developed world. We now face the prospect of running out next month unless we slow down the rollout.Heather du Plessis-Allan

Our tolerance for the usual explanation has dropped. Back in March 2020, Jacinda and Ashley were able to – reasonably fairly – frame themselves as the victims of events beyond their control. This is a textbook crisis management technique. And we accepted the explanation because none of us expected Covid. How could they? We accepted they were building the plane as they flew it. We gave them latitude.

They tried to roll out that narrative again this outbreak. It won’t work nearly as well this time. We’re too clued up on Covid now to buy that.

For the past eight months, we’ve watched the news as the Delta variant spread, from India to the UK to NSW. We watched it evade the legendary NSW contact tracers. We watched it leak over Australian borders throwing state after state into lockdown. We knew it was coming here and we knew it would take a stepped-up response to tackle it.

So, we expected our world leading PM and world leading Health Ministry to also have watched Delta and been ready for its arrival. They clearly aren’t. Which means we’re not buying the same old explanation run out from the 1 o’clock press conferences.

That makes us more grumpy. It shakes our faith in them and their ability to handle future outbreaks.- Heather du Plessis-Allan

That criticism stunned Professor Sir David Skegg. He said he was surprised how this level 4 lockdown has shaken the faith of some commentators in the elimination strategy. But he’s mistaken about what’s shaken our faith. It’s not just the lockdown. It’s really also our leaders. We expected them to be more prepared.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow accepting this might be the only tool they know how to use. Lockdowns are proving harder and harder to live through. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

In no small measure, the Government has successfully used fear as a big motivating factor for people over the past 18 months. Now fear could work against it. As with a lot of things in this world, the Government can’t “fix” Covid, and will essentially have to level with the public about this fact. – Luke Malpass

But this all turns on the vaccine rollout working and getting through basically everyone who wants a jab by the end of the year. That’s precisely the reason Ardern has turned the top of the 1pm update into a misleading advertorial about the vaccine programme, in which she or the minister fronting produces a huge headline figure of the number of New Zealanders who “have either booked or had at least one vaccination”. It’s a nonsense number.

Being booked and being vaccinated are not the same thing. Trying to pretend that the rollout is quicker than it is by blowing up a concocted headline number does no-one any favours and hurts the Government’s credibility.

But it does speak to the political vulnerability of the Government. Elimination is still the strategy, and it needs to hold until the population gets vaccinated. Luke Malpass

All of that means this is the last-gasp lockdown. Delta is going to be here, it is going to have to be managed, but lockdowns won’t be how it is done. They are too tough, too costly and, ultimately, compliance is unlikely to remain as high in the future.

Elimination via lockdowns was arguably the best strategy. But in a world of Delta, the economic juice won’t be worth the squeeze. Now the Government has to remind Kiwis that it can’t save every life, and also realign its messaging around the fact that health outcomes are never the only consideration in policy-making.

This lockdown may drag on, and there may still be others before the end of the vaccine programme, but it is now clear that its time in the Covid toolkit is coming to an end. – Luke Malpass

To suggest that the articles of the Treaty of Waitangi in some way obviate the Crown’s need to obtain the consent of the New Zealand electorate before changing the way justice is administered, and by whom, is tantamount to suggesting that the Treaty legally entitles the Crown to extinguish democracy in the Realm of New Zealand without reference to its citizens and in defiance of its laws.

Such action would constitute a declaration of war upon the people of this country. Any government participating in such an open attack on the civil and political rights of its citizens would immediately identify itself as their enemy, and forfeit all claims to their continuing loyalty. It would be responsible for unleashing civil war upon New Zealand.

The Labour Government’s silence on these matters is indefensible. A clear statement of its determination to uphold the Rule of Law and protect the democratic rights of all New Zealanders is long overdue. Chris Trotter

The border closure followed by the smugness that led us to do nothing comes at a massive economic price.

Smugness and complacency don’t pay the bills – Mike Hosking

An ICU bed is a physical structure alone. It cannot provide care or compassion and cannot save your life. To do all these things, a bed must come with staff who literally stand next to it every hour of every day.

Although doctors are able to provide support for several patients at once, individual care is provided almost exclusively by ICU nurses. Such expertise does not grow on trees; nurses only acquire these skills after five years of (intensive) training. Trans-Tasman wage gaps ensure a significant ongoing turnover. – Dr Alex Psirides

A single ICU bed costs well in excess of one million dollars per year. There are convincing arguments to be made that investing similar sums in either public or primary health will produce greater benefits for more New Zealanders, including addressing healthcare inequities. Building a cheaper fence at the top of the cliff is surely preferable to funding more expensive ambulances at the bottom.

These difficult decisions are for politicians and health economists, but should be informed by clinicians and the expectations of the public who should simultaneously hope that they never require an ICU bed, yet that one be readily available for them should they need it. – Dr Alex Psirides

If PR spin was all we needed to defeat a virus, Covid-19 might have been vanquished by now. But there comes a point when the Beehive communications wizards run out of snappy lines and the government’s vulnerability is exposed for all to see. Perhaps we’ve reached that point. Karl du Fresne

On three key metrics – testing, vaccinations and contract tracing – the government’s performance has been, to put it politely, tardy and sub-optimal. Protection at the border has been slack and the MIQ system appears to be a shambles. Meanwhile vulnerable essential workers, from police to port employees, have inexplicably been left unvaccinated.  – Karl du Fresne

Myself, I’m conflicted on Covid-19 and the lockdown. I instinctively bridle against the government’s gloss and spin. I’m over Ardern’s patronising entreaties from the Beehive Theatrette and I know lots of people – apolitical people, in many cases – who feel the same.

I also take the cynical view that the Covid-19 outbreak gifted a floundering government with a priceless publicity opportunity and a rare chance to give the appearance of being in control of something. But while the crisis initially looked good for Labour, it turned out not to be, because it served to cast light on the multiple glaring deficiencies in its preparedness. – Karl du Fresne

 

In April 2020, the Government banned all point-of-care tests unless they are approved by MedSafe, and MedSafe has not seen fit to approve any tests. Pedants might argue that this does not constitute a ban, but banning anything that has not been approved while deciding not to approve any options sounds an awful lot like a ban. – Eric Crampton

Whatever the merits of the ban prior to Delta, it makes little sense in the context of a Delta outbreak with transmission among essential workers. Providing rapid antigen tests to essential employers, such as hospitals, care homes, and supermarkets, would provide an additional layer of protection. If the Government did not want to purchase the tests for those employers, it could at least ease the ban on them.Eric Crampton

The effective functioning of any army has forever been based on instant obedience and strict unquestioning discipline – attributes now seriously out of fashion, especially with the liberal left. Why, these good folks demand, should soldiers be required to behave like automatons, just because they enlisted in an army? This kind of stricture, they maintain, is scandalously undemocratic, and before risking being shot or blown to bits, every trooper should be allowed due process and adequate consultation. – Dave Witherow

But the armed forces, no matter how they are viewed, ARE exceptional. They are not at all like other institutions, and the nature of their role immediately precludes many people whose merits, otherwise, might be undeniable. The blind and stone deaf, for example, are of limited utility as tank drivers or fighter pilots, or even as basic infantry. Paraplegics, pacifists, octogenarians, hemophiliacs, epileptics – whole categories of estimable people, however meritorious, need not apply.Dave Witherow

Can we just stop and think about how crazy this is:  In the middle of an outbreak – our government is seriously talking about slowing down our vaccination rate, because otherwise they will run out of supply.

Surely, it’s better to have those vaccines in arms rather than the freezer?  Surely, it’s better to simply jab until you run out?  – Heather du Plessis-Allan

There is only one reason that the government would rather slow down and that’s so they don’t’ have to say the embarrassing words ‘we’ve run out’.  

Because that make global headlines “New Zealand runs out vaccine”.Heather du Plessis-Allan

So, what they’d be doing is telling up to 40K Kiwis every day that they’re not going to get vaccine protection from delta, during an outbreak, because Labour needs to avoid an embarrassing headline. That is literally the calculation that’s happened.

If Labour does this then it has made the decision that it is more important to save face globally than it is to get you jabbed if you’re one of those 40K kiwis who miss every single day.  And by the way 40K a day is 280K a week is 1.1m a month. That’s a lot of us who go unprotected to save face. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Labour putting its political reputation ahead of you staying protected from Covid is frankly outrageous. 

Get it out of the freezer.  Get it in arms.  If we run out, we run out, but at least more kiwis have protection that way.   – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Comparing a fictional TV series set in the context of a world war against an invading army may be seen by some as trivialising what is a real threat against an aggressive virus. However, there does seem to be a Dad’s Army element to the manner in which New Zealand has responded to the pandemic and a Home Guard feel about the way our government has managed the Delta variant. – Frank Newman

The most important chart right now, the only one that matters, is how many New Zealanders have received a Covid-19 vaccination. The Prime Minister may like to point to other charts each day, but all they show is a lack of direction from her and her GovernmentJudith Collins

 


Quotes of the month

01/03/2021

In olden times, journalists were like children – seen but not heard. Now if the public had three wishes it would probably be for us to please shut up, shut up, shut up about ourselves. – Jane Bowron

Climate policy is incredibly complex. Yes, science sits at its core – but there are also economic, social and political implications to be considered,”  – Tim Mackle

Any new outbreak will have major health, economic and social costs. But there will also be another significant casualty. Until now, politicians and public health officials have been able to draw on their social capital, the trust they have earned. But that trust is conditional. If leaders are seen as failing to act and letting foreseeable failures happen, that has the potential to seriously weaken the collective support and compliance that is absolutely pivotal for current public health measures.The ConversationBernard Walker

It is not necessary for anyone actually to have been offended for an utterance to be considered offensive; on the other hand, if someone has taken offence at it, this too proves that it was offensive. That the person who took offence was a paranoiac whose  outrage was completely unreasonable, or expressed in the hope of compensation or some other advantage, is no defence, for one of the criteria of offensiveness is simply that someone says that he has taken offence, the other criterion being somewhat more Platonic, namely that someone might take offence.  – Theodore Dalrymple

But playing our part to best effect, doing the most good that New Zealand can do, means finding the most cost-effective ways of abating greenhouse gas emissions – regardless of where they are. It turned out that the best way of getting cars wasn’t by building them in Petone, but by growing them in other parts of the country. It could easily turn out that the best way for New Zealand to sequester carbon is not to plant trees here, but to fund replanting efforts elsewhere.

If we could achieve twice as much or more by helping to fund mitigation efforts abroad, the climate would not thank us for pursuing less effective measures here at home instead – Eric Crampton

Western civilisation is built on the sovereignty of the individual, sovereignty derived in large part from the Christian concept of man being created in the image of God and being equal in His sight, be we king or commoner, free or slave, white or black.  . . As sovereign individuals we have agency, but with agency comes personal responsibility.  By adopting a group approach, personal responsibility can be avoided and politically correct faux virtue-signalling used to cover the real aim – the pursuit of power. Thus when the principles of government are based on classifications or groups rather than individuals, the results are almost invariably bad.  Examples include Communism, Fascism, Nazism, apartheid, the Indian cast system and, more recently, gender identity and ‘woke’ prescriptions generally. In short, the currently fashionable emphasis on group rights rather than individual rights must be rejected. – Anthony Carr

Progress requires bad practices to be replaced by good, not justified as part of a culture frozen in aspic. – Anthony Carr

Our society’s success depends on people making themselves useful, taking education seriously, working hard and conducting themselves properly with respect to their families and society as a whole. If taking personal responsibility for one’s life is avoided, no amount of aid or intervention from any source will ever succeed. We are sovereign individuals and avoiding responsibility only ensures that one is neither granted nor actually deserves any genuine respect. – Anthony Carr

The backlash against wokeism will be made much more aggressive by the difficulties its opponents encounter in making their voices heard. The mainstream news media – and especially the state-owned media – have become increasingly intolerant of ideas and opinions which directly, or indirectly, challenge the wokeists’ view of the world. Stuff, the largest newspaper publisher in the country has embraced wokeism wholeheartedly and set its face resolutely against the errors of “racist” New Zealanders. Even more significantly, citizens determined to spread “unacceptable” ideas can no longer rely upon the major social media platforms for their dissemination. Increasingly, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are “de-platforming” individuals and groups (including a former President of the United States!) whose beliefs have been anathematised by the woke. – Chris Trotter

Imagine you are an idealistic young Labour MP. Let’s call you, say, Grant, or Chris, or Jacinda. You realise you’ve just overseen the greatest transfer of wealth from those who work to those who own in the history of our country. David Seymour

We have a country that’s practically uninhabited, but somehow it has a shortage of land you’re allowed to build on. Only governments can manufacture famine from plenty … they’re like a reverse Jesus – David Seymour

It goes without saying that the justice with which the iconoclasts and vandals are obsessed is always of a very peculiar sort (it continues to surprise me how little protest there is against the very expression racial justice, than which few expressions could be more racist); but at any rate they are always judging the past, as they judge the present, against an impossible standard of perfection—perfection, that is, according to their own conception of that the world ought to be.Theodore Dalrymple

The gap between people’s impression of Ardern and her actual performance as a leader has widened to a gulf. So long as enough modern Tacituses write gushing Ardern portraits, her superstar status will not change. – Oliver Hartwich

So, let’s make Waitangi not just about airing grievances. There is much to celebrate in the advances Māori have made. Surely it is time to drop the victimhood and inspire younger generations to build? –  Fran O’Sullivan

It’s quite a skill, really, making announcements about a policy without any sort of plan to achieve it, and then have the country believe that what you’ve just said is significant, transformative or, as we heard this week, foundational. National was criticised for this all the time and often quite fairly. Under this government, however, such expediency has almost become a form of art.  – Monique Poirier

The good thing about debt is it can mask a lot of stuff and buy you time. But it never stops being debt and it never stops needing to be paid back. And $100 billion and counting is a lot to pay back.Mike Hosking

Every culture must treat women as equal to men, and afford them the same rights in every aspect as they afford men. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

The middle path needs to be actively promoted and defended. We need to shrug off the image of being spineless fence-sitters who get bullied into sell-out compromises by those at the extremes. Being a middle-pathster does not mean having no firm principles. We have our bottom lines too which we will not surrender to either the extreme left or the extreme right. The political spectrum is best represented not as a straight line but as a circle in which extreme left and extreme right meet. The middle path is diametrically opposed to both – and for much the same reason: their erosion of liberty. It is liberty that defines our bottom line. – Barend Vlaardingerbroek

If the New Zealand news media persists in the folly of “cancelling” all those listeners, viewers and readers who fail to pass ideological muster, then we will see the emergence of our own version of Fox News – with all that entails for the health of our country and its democratic institutions. Who would lead it? Do we have a Hannity, or a Tucker Carlson, waiting out there in the wings? Where to start looking for a talented right-wing contrarian, boasting years of professional broadcasting experience, who is currently between jobs? – Chris Trotter

It’s just the same broken system with a new letterhead. Karen Chhour

I had people that helped me to believe in myself just enough that I could see my way out. – Karen Chhour

. . .ethnicity and culture should not be how we decide what is in the best interests of children. Oranga Tamariki should be colour-blind and open to whatever will ensure a child’s wellbeing and safety. – Karen Chhour

As someone who has experienced three elements of placement – non family who wanted me, family who didn’t and extended family who did – I can tell you, as a young person you’ll take love, compassion and stability wherever you can find it. – Karen Chhour

I think we spend far too much time on the (isms) in this country, racism, sexism, and classism. I firmly believe these can be used as a weapon to distract us from the important issues instead of focusing on what needs to be done in these areas. – Karen Chhour

The consequence of constantly putting labels on things seems to be that we have created an environment where expectations are lowered and personal responsibility is no longer a requirement. I want to focus on people being the best that they can be and celebrate their successes in these areas, instead of constantly focusing on the negatives that give these people the platform they desire. – Karen Chhour

We’re in urgency today on a local democracy bill making fundamental change. Am I the only one who sees the ridiculous irony of that? There’s an anti-democratic local democracy bill. That’s literally what we’ve got here, because the other side is putting this through—it’s ramming it through—in urgency.Simon Bridges

In relation to the wards themselves, personally, I find it hard when we come to special separate representation for Māori. As a Māori man, it says I’m not good enough, because of my whakapapa, because of the colour of my skin. . . This bill, to me, says that I’m not good enough to win a vote of a non-Māori. Well, I am good enough. I am good enough. – Simon Bridges

Central planning fails not just because we cannot predict the future but because the Climate Commission can never know enough to make better decisions about you, your family or your business than you can. The commission says its decisions will be based not just on science but “equity”. What the commission thinks is fair. As an example the commission says the rules for Māori should be different. “Māori collectives” should get “free allocation.” 

Politics will decide what is fair. It will be a lobbyist paradise. Some firms will get privileged allocations and get their competitors’ products banned. It will be like the days when some firms got import licenses and grew rich while others were refused. Bureaucrats will decide which businesses to reward and which to ruin. A central plan cannot even guarantee the result will be net zero emissions. – Richard Prebble

Attacks on freedom of expression are coming from multiple directions: from a government that proposes to place new limits (conveniently vague at this stage, so as not to cause too much alarm) around what people may say on subjects such as race and religion; from woke vigilantes in mainstream and social media who campaign for the defenestration of non-woke broadcasters; and from cowed media bosses and corporate advertisers who show no commitment or loyalty to the values of the free, capitalist society in which they operate, and for whom defence of democratic values is less important than winning brownie points on left-leaning social media platforms.   – Karl du Fresne

Companies operating in the field of news and current affairs have a responsibility not shared by purveyors of other commodities. As shapers of public opinion and providers of information of vital public interest, the news media perform a role central to the functioning of democracy.  This imposes obligations of fairness, accuracy and balance; but as long as we profess to be a free and open society, it also requires them to reflect the full spectrum of public opinion. Karl du Fresne

The people we have most to fear from are not shoot-from-the-lip provocateurs like Banks, but the authoritarian zealots who insist that they be silenced. The threat these censorious prigs pose to a democratic society is potentially far greater and more far-reaching than anything a bigoted talkback host might say to his limited band of followers. As the British columnist Bernard Levin once put it: “Any legally permissible view, however repugnant, is less dangerous promulgated than banned.” Karl du Fresne

Trust; that’s a crucial factor here. The Left has always had a problem with trust. Leftist apparatchiks fret that people who are left to make up their own minds will make the wrong choices, so seek to lead them by limiting the range of ideas and opinions they are exposed to – which is why freedom of expression is such a crucial battleground in the so-called culture wars. Karl du Fresne

Here’s another canard: the reason voters have rejected Maori wards whenever the issue has been put to a referendum is that voters are racist. But I don’t believe for a moment that people vote against Maori wards because they don’t want Maori councillors. They do it because they intuitively understand that democracy is supposed to be colour-blind, and that candidates should get elected on the basis of merit rather skin colour. Voters get that, even if the Year Zero cultists in the government don’t. Karl du Fresne

It’s unclear whether, following this flip-flop, Speaker Mallard will now acquire the nickname of ‘The Jandal’. – James Elliott

While an MP bridles against neckties, voters who oppose Maori wards are being told to get knotted – Point of Order

I made a great choice when I got married. You’re very lucky if you get that one right. –Sir Eion Edgar

We spent a lot of time bringing up our children, and they’ve turned out well because we put the time and effort into them. – Sir Eion Edgar

Plunket was hectoring, abrasive, shallow, belligerent and generally obnoxious. In other words exactly what you want in a populist talkback jock pandering to a certain market segment. He is a cultural warrior on the side of the deplorables.

Talkback is not a counselling session where every caller is taught to be reasonable and sensitive. It is not a barber shop or a hairdressing salon where the attendant listens politely and asks a few friendly questions. I imagine that most callers are ill-informed cranks who a talkback host must tolerate and perhaps egg on in the hope the next caller has a coherent view, but clearly a lot of people do enjoy it. –  Martin van Beynen

Like a lot of people, I’m struggling with the rapid change in the new moral and political climate. The silencing of Plunket suggests mainstream broadcasters are so concerned about toeing the politically correct line that someone who echoes a sceptical and possibly prejudiced public cannot be tolerated. This appears to be on the basis that if we get rid of everyone who disagrees with current trends, the audience will just go away and reform. – Martin van Beynen

Sometimes media organisations just have to tell advertisers to get lost in the interests of higher principles like the value of the fourth estate and free speech. – Martin van Beynen

We need to remember we are not a powder keg nation. An off remark will not set off riots in the streets and see shops burnt down. We can take it and should not expect all debate to be sensitive, respectful and totally reasonable. Surely we are not so fragile that a controversial talkback host who challenges the new orthodoxy, even if he is a reactionary, cannot be tolerated. – Martin van Beynen

The beautiful thing about Valentine’s Day is that unlike a lot of other more prescriptive annual celebrations, it’s incredibly flexible. While films and advertisers might have told us otherwise, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a day for dramatic grand gestures featuring diamond bracelets and white tablecloth dinners. It’s a lot more enjoyable if you instead set it aside as a day for sweetness and tenderness. It’s about “e iti noa ana nā te aroha” – a small thing given with love.Charlotte Muru-Lanning

It certainly has its faults, but amid the routine of everyday life, Valentine’s Day is a much-needed reminder to celebrate the sweet things that make your heart flutter. Just like any relationship, it’s worth loving, in spite of its faults. – Charlotte Muru-Lanning

 It is entirely reasonable to aspire for personal responsibility while acknowledging that compassion will always be required – and that sometimes this has to take the form of government intervention.Monique Poirier

If we aspire to live in a society where reliance on the state is all but non-existent, we have to break the cycle of poverty. If parents are unable or unwilling to do this, it cannot be left up to the children to do it themselves. – Monique Poirier

The government is quite happy to throw $55m at the media, rush constitutional law changes through urgency, debate supplements, and snipe at the opposition. But child poverty? All we hear is some statistics on supposed measures improving, while conveniently forgetting to mention that the very one that matters – material deprivation – is not. – Monique Poirier

What is the answer? I don’t know. What I do know, however, is this shouldn’t be a partisan monopoly for the left. It is nothing short of reprehensible that New Zealand still has so many children living in poverty, and our politicians and leaders should be ashamed.  – Monique Poirier

Every serious moral philosophy, every decent legal system and every ethical organization cares deeply about intention.  It is the difference between murder and manslaughter. It is an aggravating or extenuating factor in judicial settings. It is a cardinal consideration in pardons (or at least it was until Donald Trump got in on the act). It’s an elementary aspect of parenting, friendship, courtship and marriage. A hallmark of injustice is indifference to intention. Most of what is cruel, intolerant, stupid and misjudged in life stems from that indifference.Bret Stephens

Should intent be the only thing that counts in judgment? Obviously not. Can people do painful, harmful, stupid or objectionable things regardless of intent? Obviously.  Do any of us want to live in a world, or work in a field, where intent is categorically ruled out as a mitigating factor? I hope not.

That ought to go in journalism as much as, if not more than, in any other profession. What is it that journalists do, except try to perceive intent, examine motive, furnish context, explore nuance, explain varying shades of meaning, forgive fallibility, make allowances for irony and humor, slow the rush to judgment (and therefore outrage), and preserve vital intellectual distinctions?

Journalism as a humanistic enterprise — as opposed to hack work or propaganda — does these things in order to teach both its practitioners and consumers to be thoughtful. There is an elementary difference between citing a word for the purpose of knowledge and understanding and using the same word for the purpose of insult and harm. Lose this distinction, and you also lose the ability to understand the things you are supposed to be educated to oppose. – Bret Stephens

A journalism that turns words into totems — and totems into fears — is an impediment to clear thinking and proper understanding. So too is a journalism that attempts to proscribe entire fields of expression. “Racist language” is not just about a single infamous word. It’s a broad, changing, contestable category.Bret Stephens

We are living in a period of competing moral certitudes, of people who are awfully sure they’re right and fully prepared to be awful about it. Hence the culture of cancellations, firings, public humiliations and increasingly unforgiving judgments. The role of good journalism should be to lead us out of this dark defile. Last week, we went deeper into it.Bret Stephens

Climate change is a real, manmade problem. But its impacts are much lower than breathless climate reporting would suggest. The UN Climate Panel finds that if we do nothing, the total impact of climate in the 2070s will be equivalent to reducing incomes by 0.2-2 percent. Given that by then, each person is expected to be 363 percent as rich as today, climate change means we will “only” be 356 percent as rich. Not the end of the world.

Climate policies could end up hurting much more by dramatically cutting growth. For rich countries, lower growth means higher risks of protests and political breakdown. This isn’t surprising. If you live in a burgeoning economy, you know that you and your children will be much better off in the coming years. Hence, you are more forgiving of the present. If growth is almost absent, the world turns to a zero-sum experience. Better conditions for others likely mean worse conditions for you, resulting in a loss of social cohesion and trust in a worthwhile future. – Bjorn Lomborg

 If all the rich countries in the world were to cut their carbon emissions to zero tomorrow and for the rest of the century, the effort would make an almost unnoticeable reduction in temperatures by 2100. – Bjorn Lomborg

The last 30 years of climate policy have delivered high costs and rising emissions. The only reliable ways to cut emissions have been recessions and the COVID-19 lockdowns, both of which are unpalatable. Expecting nations to stop using cheap energy won’t succeed. We need innovation. – Bjorn Lomborg

We should spend tens of billions to innovate the price of green energy below fossil fuels. Spending trillions on enormous and premature emissions cuts is an unsustainable and ineffective First World approach. Bjorn Lomborg

Here, though, is the detail that haunts me. For every patient who dies from Covid-19 in hospital, from the moment they encounter that first masked paramedic, they will never see a human face again. Not one smile, nor pair of cheeks, nor lips, nor chin. Not a single human being without barricades of plastic. Sometimes, my stomach twists at the thought that to the patients whose faces I can never unsee – contorting and buckling with the effort of breathing – I am no more than a pair of eyes, a thin strip of flesh between mask and visor, a muffled voice that strains and cracks behind plastic.

Of all Covid’s cruelties, surely the greatest is this? That it cleaves us from each other at precisely those times when we need human contact the most. That it spreads through speech and touch – the very means through which we share our love, tenderness and basic humanity. That it transforms us unwittingly into vectors of fatality. And that those we love most – and with whom we are most intimate – are the ones we endanger above all others. –  Dr Rachel Clarke

 For however bleak the times, however grim our prospects seem, human kindness finds a shape and form: it will not be locked down. –  Dr Rachel Clarke

Any straight person who uses a pronoun is definitely tattooing themselves as one thing – a bit of a wanker. Any gay person using the same, yeah still. – Cactus Kate

Pigeon holing people into the LGBTQIA community for quirks in their behaviour or preferences that are not stereotypical to society, is something social engineers have been trying to do to swell the numbers in those minority communities.  Not only is it an insult to people who genuinely belong to those communities, it is in itself creating the sort of division and anxiety the engineers are claiming to now use six figure government department jobs to remove. Do not be a wanker. Refuse to become a pronoun.  – Cactus Kate

My working hypothesis has been that MoH is just a wall of “Computer Says No” because the whole system’s held together with bailer wire and they know they can’t trust themselves to try to adjust anything. But some moves reduce the riskiness of the whole shambles. Daily testing in MIQ makes the whole thing less risky. – Eric Crampton

We do not have to inhabit a fantastical dystopian universe to imagine that one day, not so far away, Amazon will be pressured by customers or staff to eradicate Rowling’s spawn for the greater good. We can only hope that these platforms eschew the snivelling self-abasement that we have seen recently and uphold individual autonomy, but an oxymoronic Union of Individualists may have to join forces with brave small independent distributors to defeat the moronic mob. – Juliet Moses

The whole point of our parliamentary democracy is that the actions of Government and the policies of government and the statements of government are scrutinised, and the reason they’re scrutinised is because without scrutiny, governments can do what they like. Chris Bishop

The UK is not New Zealand. So everybody says ‘ah, New Zealand, New Zealand, it’s all terrific’, but as I’ve pointed out before on the media, they’ve got quite a lot of sheep in New Zealand, and they are a million miles from anywhere and it’s a lot easier if you want to put up border controls for New Zealand than it is here. – Professor Sir John Bell 

Publishers must realise they rely on readership and advertising. Treat these two groups with respect by giving them news and a platform for their views and they will succeed.Nick Smith

However, given that Tauwhiro means to tend or care for as a verb in Māori, or social worker if it’s a noun, putting the fear of God into gangstas is probably not what this police initiative is about. Bloody hell. Give me a Strike Force Raptor any day over an Operation Tend and Nurture when it comes to the gangs. . . The Government will proclaim it a huge success and the Police Commissioner will praise his task force. And during that six months, the gangs will have survived and thrived and laughed all the way to the bank. You want to try being kind with the new breed of gang members? Let’s just see how that works out, shall we? – Kerre McIvor

More generally, RNZ’s “product” reflects the network’s reckless abandonment of the middle way. The sensible notion that, as a public broadcaster, RNZ should do its best to reflect the public, has been set aside, and in its place a regime of extreme cultural didacticism has arisen. National Radio is no longer a station where the broadest possible range of New Zealanders’ ideas and opinions is broadcast for their fellow citizens to hear and judge. The views of those who remain unconvinced by the new orthodoxies of identity politics have been rigorously filtered out, and those espousing them “de-platformed” with extreme prejudice.- Chris Trotter

Breathlessly inoffensive, punctiliously politically correct, “The Panel” has made the penitential journey from seditious to soporific – and kept on going. – Chris Trotter

Not every New Zealander born between 1966 and 1986 subscribes to the extreme “wokeism” that is currently masquerading as the default ideology of RNZ’s listeners. Most of them would, however, be glad to hear its contentious propositions debated.Chris Trotter

An RNZ which refuses to acknowledge the full diversity of belief and aspiration in New Zealand runs a terrible risk. When the mood of the nation inevitably shifts, the worst possible position in which the public broadcaster could find itself is so far out on an ideological limb that its enemies feel completely safe in sawing off the branch altogether. An RNZ so bereft of friends and allies that no effective defence is any longer possible. There is a very good reason why the public broadcaster should do everything within its power to be the citizens’ friend and comforter. It’s so those same citizens will always have a reason to be the friends and comforters of public broadcasting – when its enemies come a-calling. – Chris Trotter

The utterly disgraceful reality is that local governments have conspired to drive up housing costs to absurd levels – among the highest in the English-speaking world relative to incomes – by tightly constraining the availability of land (in a country among the least populated in the world) and by imposing long and expensive delays on the construction of houses. Damien Grant

Nobody should take Jacinda seriously when she says she is concerned about child poverty. Until she is willing to face the reality that child poverty is going to continue to get worse as long as house prices continue to rise faster than incomes, she’s crying crocodile tears. – Damien Grant

The costs of confusing public health messaging are suffered more by some groups than by others, but this can all too easily be forgotten by progressive elites in the rush to signal inclusiveness. . . The elaborate dance involved in avoiding using words such as “mother” and “breast” offers those at the cutting edge of political discourse the opportunity to demonstrate their status at no cost to themselves. That does not, however, mean there is no cost to be borne by anyone else. – Louise Perry

The public’s best interest lies in full transparency and two extra weeks to digest the commission’s work and make thoughtful submissions. The hurdles are only manufactured deadlines on the road to an objective some 30 years hence. – Kate MacNamara

The most offensive use of urgency is when it is done for political convenience.Nick Smith

How could anyone of his intelligence fail to realise that, though as ever there was much wrong with the world, attempts to put everything right at once by the implementation of petty intellectual schemes are fraught with danger, and have a history of mass slaughter behind them?- Theodore Dalrymple

No transgression of sensitivities is so trivial that it will not invite a moralizing rebuke on social media. No cultural tradition is so innocuous that it needn’t be protected from the slightest criticism, at least if the critic has the wrong ethnic pedigree. – Bret Stephens

But in the humorless world of Woke, the satire is never funny, the statute of limitations never expires. . . In the game of Woke, the goal posts can be moved at any moment, the penalties will apply retroactively and claims of fairness will always lose out to the perpetual right to claim offense.  Bret Stephens

Since the 1990s, there is now about 36% less land farmed for sheep and beef. Yet the sector is in a very strong position and remains one of the fundamental engines that drive our economy. – Rob Davison

Whoever controls the dissemination of information controls the culture. And whoever controls culture controls thought. This was true in Nazi Germany, it was true during my childhood in Catholic-nationalist Ireland, it was true in communist-controlled eastern Europe, and it’s true now in the public sphere dominated by the left-wing woke ideologues of Big Tech. The problem will get worse before it gets better. – Declan Mansfield

We live in a postmodern world where truth is conditional on holding the right opinions, which are, conveniently, the beliefs of the most educated generation in history – at least in relation to computers and social media – and the most uneducated in, literally, everything else. They know nothing except what they are feeling, and they’ve been told what to feel, which is that someone evil or something intangible is responsible for the ills of the world – or, in a new iteration of an old rhetorical fallacy, that their anxiety or the ache in their toe is the reason why free speech should be curtailed. It’s solipsism, narcissism and anti-reason manifesting on a global scale. And it’s all done with smiley emojis, conspicuous compassion, virtue signalling and socially sanctioned empathy.

The name of this intellectual disease is wokeness, or identity politics, and it is an assault on logic, common sense, kindness and decency. It’s also, most importantly, a philosophy with no notion of forgiveness. Once you have sinned against its ever-changing tenets, you will be cast out of society. Ritual displays of contrition, repentance and obsequiousness will have no effect on your humiliation. Redemption is absent from the woke catechism. And, after destroying someone’s life, the modern-day Jacobins who champion this ideology congratulate each other, paradoxically, on their morality.Declan Mansfield

Every local authority is the servant of the people. The powers given to Local Government are to increase the local authority’s ability to serve all the people and to increase its capacity for such service. It is not, nor should it ever be about named selective service. – Gerry Eckhoff

Here in New Zealand some 57 years later our Government legislates that people are indeed to be judged but only by the colour of their skin. Sometimes we really do need to protect our country from our Government. – Gerry Eckhoff

You do not defend free speech by demanding it for yourself but by demanding it for others, especially when you reprehend the use to which they put it or what they say. Freedom to agree with yourself is no freedom at all and inevitably ends in tyranny.

But increasingly a tyranny of self-proclaimed virtue seems to be the aim of university-trained intellectuals who, in the name of their own beneficence, seek to silence those whose opinions they find objectionable. It is the very class that one might have supposed had most to fear from censorship, both legal and extra-legal, that most strongly advocates it. – Theodore Dalrymple

What seems to me clear is that central governments and the managers of lesser or subordinate institutions, such as the police and universities, increasingly think of themselves in the way that Stalin thought, or said that he thought, of writers: namely as the engineers of souls.

This they deem to be necessary because, left to themselves, people are inclined to think the wrong thoughts, and wrong thoughts are very dangerous, especially to those who invariably have the right thoughts.

Indeed, so dangerous are wrong ideas that their expression should either be criminalized or those who express them socially marginalized, preferably ostracized; but since prevention is better than cure, children, adolescents and young adults should be immunised against them by indoctrination. – Theodore Dalrymple

The simple act of self-compassion can lift a whole lot of stress and pressure off your shoulders. And it makes it easier to find compassion for others: to recognise they stuff up, get it wrong or aren’t as helpful as they should be. – Dougal Sutherland

In a high-trust, low-enforcement environment, which we’ve been working under, people must comply or we have to change the way we do things. The “Be Kind” mantra needs to become a “Be Responsible or You’ll Suffer the Consequences” edict. – Kerre McIvor

An organisation confident in its recommendations should not fear transparency about its modelling. – Oliver Hartwich

While the gas BBQ is becoming a distant memory, I for one, miss them. It is still BBQ weather after all, probably because the rest of the world hasn’t bothered to cut its emissions. – Steen Videbeck

The roughly $1080 paid to a full-time worker in South Auckland forced to stay home for 14 days leaves barely $100 in the bank after rent. – Jo Moir

Getting the country to play ball for the next six days and once again nip Covid in the bud is the biggest test the country’s faced in quite some time. – Jo Moir


Rural round-up

03/11/2019

Forestry conversions rules ‘totally out of control’ – Kate Newton:

Wealthy European buyers have snapped up four more sheep and beef farms to convert to forestry, as rural concerns over the sales ramp up.

Overseas Investment Office (OIO) decisions made in September and released today show the sales total more than 2200 hectares of land previously owned by New Zealanders, in Gisborne, Wairoa and Whangarei.

The new owners plan to plant 1600 hectares of the land as commercial forests.

Austrian count Johannes Trauttmansdorff-Weinsberg, who purchased two other sheep and beef farms for forestry conversion in August, is the purchaser of two of the latest properties. . .

Farmers given breathing space on ETS but stress remains – Jo Moir:

The government’s “world-first” agreement with farmers on emissions means some farmers are grateful for the breathing space, but for others it’s just one less thing to worry about.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the agreement with farmers last week, putting agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme from 2025 – with a 95 percent discount rate.

Ms Ardern said the plan would give farmers autonomy over their own businesses. . .

Flying under the rural radar – Colin Williscroft:

The Women of Influence Awards often recognise women who contribute a lot but are not household names and this year’s rural winner fits that description, as Colin Williscroft found out.

Environmental planner and independent Resource Management Act hearings commissioner Gina Mohi was recently named the rural winner in the Women of Influence Awards.

The judges praised Mohi’s work balancing competing tensions around the productive use of land while having appropriate measures in place to manage environmental and cultural impacts on natural resources. . .

Look ahead with farm confidence – Annette Scott:

A programme to help sheep and beef farming partners plan for their future and adapt to change will next year extend to 20 rural centres.

The two-month Future Focus business planning programme, set up in 2017, equips farming partnerships to set a future path for their businesses, develop systems to achieve goals and lead their teams to success. 

The programme, delivered by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust to more than 130 sheep and beef farmers this year, will reach 320 farmers in 2020 with continued support from the Red Meat Profit Partnership. . .

Annual appointment for a trim but it’s no beauty treatment – Tracy Roxburgh:

Ladies, picture this if you will.

It’s been a long, cold winter and along with the extra layer of insulation you’ve acquired on your body, you’ve decided, to help keep yourself warm, to instigate a self-ban on your regular beauty therapy appointments.

But the sun actually has warmth in it now.

And very soon everyone’s going to be walking around in their next-to-nothings (undies, undies, togs, undies) so it would behove you to, well, sort yourself out.
Like, ASAP if not sooner. . .

 

North Canterbury farmer to represent New Zealand in Switzerland:

A young North Canterbury man will represent New Zealand at an international gathering of dairy farmers in Switzerland.

Robbie Wakelin, 28, has been selected to attend the 15th World Holstein Friesian Federation Conference in Montreux.

He was one of a record 17 people who were vying for the fortnight-long trip, which is being funded by Holstein Friesian NZ.

“It’s a really humbling experience to have been selected to be part of the New Zealand delegation,” he said. . .

 


Rural round-up

02/11/2019

Ringing up in tears’ : Canterbury farmers doing it tough – Jo Moir:

Canterbury farmers say they’re at breaking point. A recent Ministry of Health report presented to MPs showed suicide was up 20 percent in rural areas compared to a drop of 10 percent in cities and towns.

Droughts, floods, earthquakes, farm debt, M bovis, looming water quality reforms and climate change legislation have Canterbury farmers feeling under the pump.

Ashburton farmer and Federated Farmers’ board member, Chris Allen, said nothing brought home just how many farmers were battling depression than a funeral. . .

Researchers did deeper in fight against climate change – Rebecca Black:

Researchers have found deep soil holds potential to off-set greenhouse gas emissions and improve production for farmers.

Dr Mike Beare and his colleagues at Plant and Food Research have been studying how soils differ in their potential to store carbon, and the risk for carbon loss.

Beare said many of New Zealand’s long-term pasture top soils are approaching saturation and don’t have the potential to store carbon near the surface.

Many continuous pasture soils in New Zealand are stratified, with carbon levels declining rapidly with depth. “Where there is much greater potential to store additional carbon is below the surface soil,” Beare said. . . .

Give farmers the tools and they will respond – Todd Muller:

The Government should let farmers focus on continuing to produce world class food, not trying to negotiate complex tax systems, writes National’s spokesman for Primary Industries, Todd Muller.

Last week the Government announced a broad agreement had been reached with the agriculture sector on how to approach the very complex challenge of reducing our emissions from sheep and cattle animals in New Zealand.

Unlike our CO2 emissions, which we’re all exposed to whether we’re a farmer or city dweller via the carbon price, natural emissions from belching and urinating cows and sheep currently sit outside a pricing regime. . .

Biosecurity business pledge signed by 50 companies:

A group of 50 New Zealand companies have signed a first-of-its-kind pledge to protect New Zealand from pests and diseases.

The Biosecurity Business Pledge – which includes some of New Zealand’s biggest businesses, including Fonterra, Auckland Airport, Goodman Fielder, Countdown and Mainfreight – was launched today by participating businesses and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor. . .

Feds urges going the extra mile with biosecurity pledge :

Businesses which sign up to the Biosecurity Pledge 2019 are underlining a commitment to go the extra mile to protect our environment and economy from diseases, pests and hazardous organisms. 

“It’s one thing to tick all the boxes in terms of meeting all the regulatory requirements.  That should by now be standard practice,” Federated Farmers biosecurity spokesperson Karen Williams says.

“The Pledge campaign, supported by Federated Farmers and 10 other farmer and grower organisations, is about businesses actively looking for ways to cut out potential risks to protect not just their own interests, but those of their peers, the wider community and our little slice of paradise at the bottom of the world. . .

 

Filipino farmer grows new life in New Zealand after rough beginning – Emma Dangerfield:

Bob Bolanos had a good life in the Philippines but political corruption prompted him to move his young family to New Zealand and start at the bottom again. Emma Dangerfield reports.

When a Philippines Government official offered Bob Bolanos a top electrical contract, he knew he had to leave.

The farmer was well connected, so he and his young family were well looked after, and he was regularly awarded good contracts because of who he knew. But it did not sit well.

Something about it made me sick to my stomach,” he says. “I didn’t want my children being brought up in that environment.” . .


Post-election horse trading costs another $30m

24/08/2018

Jo Moir has uncovered another $30 million we’re paying for Winston’s dowry:

New Zealand First’s loyalty to the racing industry has galloped beyond tax breaks for good-looking race horses to include several all-weather race tracks for the industry.

Racing Minister Winston Peters secured a tax change in the Budget this year to allow new investors to claim deductions for the cost of horses based on the “virtue of its bloodlines, looks and racing potential”.

It’s now been revealed $30 million of contingency funding in the Provincial Growth Fund has been earmarked for the coalition government pet projects and the racing industry is set to benefit. . . 

National’s economic development spokesman Paul Goldsmith said his party supports the racing industry but the lines are blurred when a project gets the green light simply because a coalition partner likes the sound of it.

“They should be able to make their case clear, and open and rigourous, and if it stacks up, it stacks up.

“The problem that we’ve got here is that the whole system is opaque and murky so it’s hard to disentangle the arguments, and in that area they’re not even making an argument, they’re just saying we’re going to do it,” Mr Goldsmith said.

Mr Goldsmith described the provincial growth fund criteria as being “as loose and as billowing as the deep blue sea”.

“Well what we’ve seen is that it’s an all-purpose political slush fund and you can fit anything into it,” he said. . . 

The Taxpayers’ Union says this horse barrel politics sets a new low:

. . .“This sets a new low for coalition back room deals, clearly designed to benefit an industry with known links to NZ First, with the tab picked up by hard working taxpayers – most of whom don’t own race horses,” says Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union.

“I think we could call it the worst of ‘horse-barrel politics’. The barrel is so large even race tracks fit into it.”

“And why are we finding this out only now? Why isn’t Winston’s Dowry open to the public? Was this part of the coalition agreement’s missing five pages? It’s almost as if the Government doesn’t want the public to be able to judge how much it cost to get Mr Peters’ support.”

A friend who has a share in a race horse got a letter before the election asking him to contribute to a donation that had been made to NZ First because, as the advertisement placed by the Hogan’s said, :

To all those eligible to vote – breeders, owners, trainers, jockeys, administrators, punters and the many businesses that are financially supported by the industry – this is an enormous opportunity to support New Zealand First’s initiative to have 100 per cent what we’ve been asking for.  

Post-election horse trading is one of the expensive downsides of MMP.

Pre-election policies and promises to the public come a very distant second to the demands a party holding the balance of power can make during coalition negotiations.

There’s no chance that negotiations will be public but coalition agreements could and should be.

If we’re paying the price of government we have a right to know the cost and to have some light shone on the links between party funders and government policy.


In other news

27/02/2018

Ron Mark has lost the position of deputy of New Zealand First to Fletcher Tabuteau.


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