Quotes of the month

01/12/2022

The government is quite happy to pay $280 a person to get you out of your car and onto a slow train, with a hopelessly inconveniently schedule, to drop you off at a station where you don’t want to be, at a time of the day that does not suit you.

That certainly does sound like Labour Party policy! – Frank Newman

The truth is that “far-Right” is an entirely arbitrary term, used to disparage any politician or party whose policies the left-leaning commentariat dislikes – or perhaps more precisely, fears.Karl du Fresne

“Far-Right” is often used in connection with the equally damning word “populist”. But a populist politician, by definition, is one who appeals to the people. Isn’t that the essence of democracy?

Here, I suspect, is the core of the problem. “Populist” is used as a derogatory term because the progressive elite, deep down, don’t trust democracy and don’t think ordinary people, ignorant proles that they are, can be relied on to make the right choices.

For the same reason, the political elite want to control the public conversation by regulating what we are allowed to say or hear. Uninhibited political debate is dangerous. People might get the wrong ideas – hence the moral panic over disinformation.

Do the journalists and academics who so freely use the misleading term “far Right” realise that the world has moved on from the days when it described fringe nationalist groups with little hope of electoral success? Possibly not.

I think they’re in denial. They don’t want to admit that the so-called far Right has moved to the political centre, and that this is an entirely natural and predictable reaction to stifling left-wing authoritarianism. – Karl du Fresne

People who know they are forcing a majority of the people to accept policies demanded by a minority, will always, under pressure, fall back on the blunt interrogatives of political power: Who has it, and who is willing to use it?

That’s why it is so easy to finish a sentence that begins, “As a governor”, with the words: “it is my will that prevails – not yours.” Easy, but a perilously long way from New Zealand’s egalitarian political traditions.Chris Trotter

That 16 per cent of the population will get to decide exclusively what is best for the remaining 84 per cent in the management of water and water infrastructure — built up over many generations by ratepayers and taxpayers, both Māori and non-Māori alike — is outrageously divisive and entirely undemocratic. – Graham Adams

The solution is a political one. No amount of polite protest will change the fact that the only solution is to remove the Labour Party from government. That opportunity presents itself next year. Co-governance is shaping up to be a very important election issue.- Graham Adams

Realistically, no amount of arm waving and foot stomping to the Panel is going to make any difference. Nanaia Mahuta has set a course on co-governance and the Future for Local Government report is part of that agenda, as detailed in He Puapua.

The solution is a political one. No amount of polite protest will change the fact that the only solution is to remove the Labour Party from government. That opportunity presents itself next year. Co-governance is shaping up to be a very important election issue. – Frank Newman

We’re seeing, for example, that companies are trying to dierentiate themselves on CO2 emissions per kilogram of product. But the significance of this indicator is very limited, because the value of a food is largely determined by the nutrients it contains. This indicator takes no account of this. Mineral water, for example, can have a low CO2 emissions level, but you can’t live on it. There are no or hardly any nutrients in it. That’s why there’s no point to comparing the CO2 emissions per kilogram of a soft drink to that of milk. Or of bananas to meat. Stephan Peters

Comparisons based on a single nutrient like protein are too limited. You can’t base a healthy diet on protein alone. We need a combination of many dierent nutrients to stay healthy. By quantifying the most important nutrients in a product, you can attain a new ecological footprint. The so-called Nutrient Rich Food (NRF) scores are one example. A product’s contribution to the daily requirements of the consumer can be calculated based on a summation of the nutritional benefits of that product. Products with a high NRF score have a lot of added value for our health. This also means that for products with low NRF scores, we have to eat more of them, which often means more unwanted calories and a higher footprint. By using the NRF scores in the ecological footprint of foods, you can connect ecological footprint to a product’s health benefits. This sometimes provides a different picture than you would expect from the ecological footprint per kilogram – Stephan Peters

When you combine the ecological footprint with the NRF scores, these plant-based substitutes show a less positive picture. Of course there are many nuances here, but this makes clear that nutritional value and (micro)nutrients have to be included when comparing products in terms of sustainability.Stephan Peters

Extremism is bound to thrive when dissent is suppressed by members of a pharisaical caste that takes upon itself the right to determine what others may read and hear. – Karl du Fresne

The reasons for Local Government appearing to be so dysfunctional all over the country – starts and finishes around a council table. Quite some years ago there was little or no obvious political affiliations as councillors put aside their back grounds and or political beliefs. Recent past elections have seen overtly Green and Labour candidates standing for election which draws into question exactly who they represent and whether the oath of office is little more than a meaningless formality as they take their place around the council table. The battle lines are therefore drawn before debate is enacted as predictable attitudes soon manifest themselves. It’s called predetermination and that is a root cause of council acrimony. To make matters worse, councils are now compelled to accept unelected representatives (Maori) to promote a singular point of view alongside those who must act in the wider interests of the region/district. The oath of office -sworn by councillors – is not required of the Maori appointees. The call for more diversity and broader representation is a nonsense. Given the size of councils balance sheet, it is knowledge, judgment and experience that matters – not age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or street address.Gerry Eckhoff

Trust and integrity of process are the hall marks of a well-functioning democracy. There can be no place for those who seek authority and power for their own sake. The situations in China and Russia, where the seedlings of democracy are crushed under the tyranny of false authority and weaponry – must serve as a reminder to us all that our freedoms start – not just with local government but with those who also serve – by challenge and protest. – Gerry Eckhoff

None of the significant changes undermining democracy and our Kiwi way of life, that are being introduced through He Puapua have received a mandate from the public. The restructuring of health, polytechnics, and water services are all illegitimate policy changes designed to pass control to the tribal elite. None have public approval, and all should be repealed by the next government.

In this climate of division created by Jacinda Ardern, key institutions are being corrupted from their original purpose of serving all New Zealanders as equals, to prioritising and privileging those of Maori descent. Under her leadership, democracy is being replaced by apartheid. – Muriel Newman

Of all the forms of pollution that harm this world, that of noise seems to gain the least attention, perhaps because we have no one to blame for so much of it but ourselves, preferring as we do to concentrate on harms for which we can blame others.Theodore Dalrymple

The English have always taken their pleasures sadly, but now they take them first noisily, then antisocially, then forgetfully. Several times I have heard young people claim to have had a wonderful time the night before, the evidence for which is that they can remember nothing whatever of it. On this view of things, death is the final, eternal nightclub. – Theodore Dalrymple

Who’s taking any notice of the laws? Answer – no one. They couldn’t give a crap.

 And why would they? There are no consequences in this country for anything anymore so why fear authority or rules or laws? Even ram raiders get a wraparound hug and a meeting rather than any kind of law enforcement.

Being young means being off the hook. Kids know it, their mates know it, the parents know it. So why are we surprised when they don’t follow the rules?  – Kate Hawkesby 

There’s more youth in trouble than there is aid. And despite all the best efforts of Youth Aid and their valiant attempts at restorative justice and rehabilitation, we have a major problem in this country with disenfranchised youth. – Kate Hawkesby 

I despair that we are now just in a cycle of youth trouble equals Youth Aid, and that’s it. The forgotten word here is – consequences. – Kate Hawkesby 

There is a sense however that Ardern is attempting to expand the legitimate need for surveillance of a very small group of potentially dangerous individuals to also cover people whose beliefs simply run counter to government policy or to the norms of woke culture.

That suspicion was reinforced by the TVNZ documentary Web of Chaos which looked at the internet’s influence on modern-day life and included what the producers described as “a deep dive into the world of disinformation”. Whilst the documentary made some good points, there were some odd moments, including when the Director of the Disinformation Project made the astonishing claim that Kiwi mothers with interests in children’s clothes, healthy cooking and interior design were being drawn into “white nationalist ideals”. – Thomas Cranmer

We are an important liberal power at a time when illiberal forces in Moscow and Beijing are flexing their brutal and authoritarian muscles on the battlefields of Ukraine, the streets of Hong Kong and across the narrow water of Taiwan.

We have to take the risk of voicing our doubts about decolonisation. It should be open for discussion, open for interrogation. We need to break the spell. – Nigel Biggar

New Zealand sheep farmers have been singled out to bear the brunt of our country’s efforts to stop the planet warming. Our government’s chosen metric is to measure progress by annual emissions. When applied to constant or diminishing emissions of short-lived gasses such as methane, this results in perverse outcomes. – Dave Read

I love farming because it offers unlimited opportunity to use my intellectual and physical skills. I am proud to produce a product that is very close to organic. Our system is on a different planet when compared to feed-lot animals that are fed grain, grown under an industrial farming system awash with fossil fuel.Dave Read

I produce the same amount of meat from less pasture, and therefore less methane. Since 1990, I have planted willows and poplars for erosion control and now have over 6,000 that will cover 100ha when they are all mature.

Trees are the current feel-good factor, but actually, retiring land to plant is only made economically possible by efficiency gains on the remainder. Conversely, whole farms changed to pine forests are wiping out food production entirely. – Dave Read

I have walked to every corner of the farm and feel an intimate connection to this land. Returning from elsewhere, I get to within 100km of home and feel the land reaching out towards me. When the land suffers under drought or flood, I feel it as a pain in my own body. And I love trees, but when I see whole farms planted in a monoculture of pines, I feel sick to my stomach.

Right now, I feel like a contentious objector must have during the first world war. I am being reviled as an environmental vandal. The news feels like propaganda. Dave Read

When I do the math, the UN target for ruminant stock works out to a 4.7 per cent reduction for New Zealand. This is under half New Zealand’s target, but no editor will print this fact because ‘readers don’t want complicated maths’, ‘you are not a climate expert’, ‘it would undermine the consensus achieved’.

I am forced to watch sustainable food production (my life’s work) destroyed even though it is expected that 1.4 billion people will be protein-deficient by 2050. I lie awake in the early hours, composing yet another submission to be filed and ignored by group of professional listeners in Wellington (the seat of our government). The road that used to be quiet at 4am roars with logging trucks carrying logs from trees planted in the 90s during the last wave of land-use change. Transport carries on warming the planet; people drive to the store when they could walk; they fly to Sydney for shopping weekends instead of buying local.

Meanwhile my sector, the only sector of New Zealand no longer warming the planet, is being gutted. – Dave Read

Climate change is hugely important. But it just isn’t a substantial prudential risk for the financial system.

There are far bigger financial risks out there. For example, a Reserve Bank that spends too much time playing with its frog-exaggerator when an inflation monster is running wild.  – Eric Crampton

Constant tweaks to immigration settings have contributed to complexity and confusion for migrants and officials. The Government abandoning targets for processing visa applications has led to fewer decisions being made. Immigration NZ’s antiquated legacy processes and teething problems with its new online systems have also played a role. And then there has been the Government’s clunky approach to dealing with pandemic-related backlogs.

Yet these issues are all symptoms rather than the cause. The root of the problem is the Government’s distrust of immigration. It stems from a belief that productivity improvements will come from restricting the supply of migrant labour. Unfortunately, that belief is not founded on economic evidence. And it risks tarnishing our longstanding record as a favoured destination for skilled migrants. – Roger Partridge 

As New Zealand firms and workers battle rising interest rates, a cost of living crisis and geopolitical uncertainty, it is time our Government ended the self-inflicted harm of restrictive immigration settings.Roger Partridge 

Well-functioning cities should mean higher real wages for workers and better entertainment options. So why are New Zealand’s cities shrinking?

Our cities just do not seem to be working well and that comes down to poor policy decisions.  – Oliver Hartwich

When zoning and consenting make it too hard to build in places where people want to live, work and play, land prices inflate in surprising ways. Turning inner suburbs into museum pieces blocks the dynamic change that lets cities thrive. And banning new subdivisions at the city’s fringes makes the land under downtown apartments more expensive than it should be. – Oliver Hartwich

Councils need incentives to zone ample land for development. It is vital to finance infrastructure well. Then zoning will not introduce artificial scarcity. More competitive land markets unleash opportunities.  – Oliver Hartwich

But don’t expect a vote for NZ First to deliver anything transformational.  From 1996-1998 NZ First was a brake on a National Government continuing with free market liberal reforms, but not a stop. Similarly, from 2005-2008 and from 2017-2020 it was a brake on Labour Governments continuing with growth of the welfare state, but put a foot on the accelerator of economic nationalist interventions.  It was not a brake on Maori nationalism, because the policies now being advanced by the Government had their genesis in 2017-2020 (or earlier in the case of He Puapua).Liberty Scott:

Surely, in the interests of “partnership”, the rights of private landowners should be honoured or is this another example of everyone being equal, but Māori are more equal than others.- Frank Newman

My view is that bad accidents are the result of a couple of things. Exceedingly bad luck, in other words you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. It isn’t your fault and no amount of advertising and road rules would have stopped it.

And idiots. Whether by madness, booze, drugs, criminal activity, poor cars, or insane behaviour. It’s the stuff that is  preventable, but only if the fool behind the wheel was behaving differently.

Those sort of people are not reached by ads on telly and cops that aren’t on the road. So, back to the question; when we get to the end of the year in a month or so and the toll is up yet again, one of the worst yet again, what then? Another ad agency ?    – Mike Hosking

There are three things that are needed immediately if we are to tackle the huge and growing pile of unmet need in our health system. We need more people in the health workforce, we need more facilities, and we need targets and goals for the facilities we already have. – Steven Joyce

Our Health Minister looks more and more like a tired one-trick pony. His only initiative was to rearrange the bureaucracy and slap a new coat of paint on it, then stand back to wait for it solve the world’s problems.

He ignores that it is infeasible a bureaucracy in Wellington, roundly derided by most who work in the health system, should suddenly be the solution because it is now called “Te Whatu Ora”. Particularly as it exhausted itself changing all the deckchairs around and few people within it yet seem to know how the new entity works.Steven Joyce

Our health sector needs new thinking, not hidebound technocracy. It needs to be led by someone new with energy and enthusiasm, who is prepared to roll sleeves up and lead from the front.

Someone who stands up for patients and their families, visibly backs the doctors, nurses and other professionals and is prepared to take on entrenched interests like the health unions and medical school duopolies. We don’t need a tired paper pusher. He needs to go. – Steven Joyce

 The effect of three of the judgments in this case is to introduce Maori customs of uncertain definition and unknowable consequences as they existed in 1840 as a third arm of the common law of New Zealand. These customs are collectively labelled “Tikanga.” The way in which they have  been infiltrated into the common law is unprecedented.Anthony Willy 

This excursion into Maori customs raises a number of questions: What is “Tikanga?” A search of the meaning of the word in the Maori dictionary yields fifteen possible definitions all of which amount to doing the right thing in the circumstances. None of the meanings have anything thing to do with the law as it has been understood and  practiced in New Zealand since 1840.  Every society throughout time has its customs as a means of surviving both its environment and from the attentions of others. Maori tribes were no different but the world in which persons of Maori extraction now live is unrecognisable for those who lived here in 1840 when they accepted British sovereignty and all that entailed. Obviously, the law must change and adapt to changing circumstances but it is extraordinary to suppose that this should be done by importing concepts some of which are no more than are to be found in any developing society but have no unique contemporary relevance to the lives of New Zealand citizens. One might as well say that attention to good manners and consideration for others should form part of the common law. – Anthony Willy 

 Willie Jackson the Minister for Broadcasting and who appears to lead the Maori caucus in government and who has probably read the writings of Williams J. knows all this. He has recently rejected a report from who knows whom proposing co government in New Zealand because it is too radical. He now has barely six weeks left in the Parliamentary cycle to introduce new legislation dealing with that deeply unpopular proposition making it unlikely it will ever see the light of day. It is astonishing that the  majority of the judges in our highest court would do his work for him by elevating Maori customs to become an equal source of law alongside the common law, and the statutes enacted by Parliament. That is the most unprecedented and blatant descent by three out of five members of our highest Court into matters of crucial social and political import. These judges leave a poison challis for their successors with unknowable malign social consequences. It will now be left to Parliament by legislation to reinstate the commonality of Judge made law.Anthony Willy 

Our preference has always been for commercial pragmatism and fact-based analysis to lead solutions, rather than any politically-motivated or interest-driven proposals. Our vision involves enhancing existing assets, while investing in supporting infrastructure such as new rail connections and coastal shipping – Julia Hoare

It is our belief that current legislation and policy does not encourage nor facilitate investment even when it is environmentally sound and nationally significant. The consenting process is complex, time consuming and costly. It hinders adoption of new technology with its economic and environmental benefits, ensures we are always playing catch up with capacity and stops existing assets from being used to their full potential.Julia Hoare

Parliament did not legislate for a tax increase large enough to break Treasury’s tax calculator. Nobody proposed it. Nobody campaigned on it.

It never went to Select Committee for deliberation. No tax experts analysed the distributional consequences of it or its affordability. It never received Royal Assent. Parliament simply failed to undo that which Adrian Orr gifted it, at our expense. – Eric Crampton

Failing to inflation-adjust tax thresholds, since April 2021, pushed some 40,000 people from the 10.5% bracket into the 17.5% bracket, about 187,000 people from the 17.5% bracket into the 30% bracket, 161,000 people from the 30% bracket into the 33% rate, and about 18,000 people from the 33% rate into the new top 39% rate.

As consequence, the government collected about $1.3 billion extra in tax – though both the figures on the numbers of people and revenue effects come with a heavy caveat from Treasury. Changes this large cause changes in behaviour, and those behavioural shifts are not in Treasury’s simple model.

When inflation’s effects over a little more than a year are enough to break Treasury’s tax calculator, something has got to give. At this point the question shouldn’t be whether to adjust the tax bands for inflation, but how best to do it – and how to avoid this ever happening again.

Whatever your views on the appropriate size of government, a few basic principles should apply.

The government should not normally spend more than it is prepared to take in tax revenue. Careful accounting needs to be applied, so that long-lived infrastructure can be appropriately debt-financed and paid off by users over its lifetime. But operating revenue and operating expenditure should balance.

If a government wants to reduce the amount of tax it collects, it should reduce the amount it spends.

And if a government wants to increase the amount that it spends, it should have to explicitly legislate for the taxes needed to fund that spending – rather than let inflation do the work. – Eric Crampton

 Bracket creep is a stealthy and dishonest form of taxation. Worse, it can easily lead to the impression that Parliament wants the Reserve Bank to ignore its remit and let inflation run hot.

Inflation indexing tax thresholds isn’t just good tax policy. When inflation is no longer a tidy little earner for central government, we might worry less about whether the Reserve Bank is really committed to fighting it.Eric Crampton

I wrote a book, Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality, which was published in July 2021. The idea behind the book is also simple: biological sex is fixed, it is binary. And transgender ideology — which replaces sex with subjective claims of ‘gender identity’ in law and policies — does serious harm. To anyone not blinded by this dogma, the argument is obvious. You cannot let men claim to be women just because they feel like it and thereby gain entry to women’s toilets, women’s changing rooms, women’s refuges, women’s jails. It puts women at increased risk of male violence. It is not acceptable. – Helen Joyce

And what I discovered was this: during the past two decades, ‘trans rights’ have morphed into a totalitarian project the aim of which is to make the very concept of biological sex unsayable. It has been pernicious, and extraordinarily so. Almost every civil-rights organisation, including Amnesty, Liberty and Stonewall, now insists that a man truly can become a woman simply by saying he is one. ‘Trans women are women — no debate,’ that’s their slogan. The rest of us must shut up. – Helen Joyce

This radical transactivism has erased and endangered women, pushed us out of our own spaces and destroyed protections from male violence that we fought so hard for. – Helen Joyce

That was when I understood the full horror of what is happening. In the name of a warped ideology masquerading as a civil-rights movement, doctors are potentially endangering children who may be gay or mentally ill. How did we get here?

Young adults have certainly changed since my student days. Many now see themselves and the world through the lens of gender, sexual and racial identity, placing great store by ever more specific self-descriptions (they might, for example, be a ‘queer non-binary asexual person of colour’).

The objective reality of our shared human nature is sidelined, in favour of what each individual feels or claims about themselves.  It is childish, and dangerously so. – Helen Joyce

If you had coal in the 19th Century you were rich, if you had oil and gas in the 20th Century you were rich and if you have water then you’re rich in the 21st Century.

It gives you options and frankly successive governments haven’t been able to appropriately resolve the tension that has existed in the community around how to manage water. – Todd Muller

I’m hearing a sense of hopelessness around the future, and whether it’s worth staying in the sector is extremely palpable. The big change for me that I’ve never seen before is that the message is being articulated by younger farmers.

You will always get in a group, individuals who are perhaps resisting change, and normally they tend to be people who are more senior than younger, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen it the other way where the anger, frustration and hopelessness is very much the message I’m getting from younger farmers.Todd Muller

Here it’s like a cumulative sense of obligation and criticism and a lack of acknowledgement of everything that’s been done on farm. How complex farm systems are and how interactive they are in terms of their farm animals, various farm practices, the interaction on the environment and trying to measure and mitigate that.

Trying to work all that out across a myriad of issues, from water quality, to soil, to winter grazing, to climate – they feel overwhelmed actually and that’s hugely striking and quite shocking when the faces who are telling me that are under 40. – Todd Muller

There’s a real sense that no one’s in their corner, that nothing they do on farm is ever good enough. It doesn’t matter if they’ve done plantings, riparian strips, put in more effluent ponds or set aside bush because it’s the right thing to do.

Nothing seems to be acknowledged or rewarded or supported – you’ve still got some clipboard warrior from MfE (Ministry for Environment) coming out, or local government saying, ‘That’s wrong and here’s the penalty’.Todd Muller

Part of it is actually accepting that some of this is going to take some time, and I know there are always the critics of the agriculture sector who immediately run to the pulpit and say the sector has always sought to kick the can down the road.

I fundamentally reject that, and I think the people who say that have never been on a farm and never seen the work farmers have done individually and cumulatively across water quality, soil improvement, reducing erosion, fresh water – they just don’t see all that effort. – Todd Muller

That’s why I’m so critical of the Government’s response to He Waka Eke Noa … they’ve decided they’ve got a better view on how it should be managed, and it doesn’t surprise me the sector is up in arms.

I’m not signalling in any way that because farmers are so angry, no action is required to continue to look to improve freshwater, improve measurement and mitigation of emissions. But there’s a way of doing it that brings the sector along with you and there’s a way of doing it that makes them feel like second-class citizens, and that’s how they feel at the moment. – Todd Muller

There’s a whole heap of additional work that could be done with the sector around efficient capture of additional sequestration. The Ministry for Environment and MPI constantly talk about how difficult all this stuff is, well yeah it is difficult, but it has to happen. You can’t run to the taxation lever, which this Government wants to do with vigour, and kick the can down the road. – Todd Muller

I’ve been involved with the sector for 25 years, and just seeing the vehemence of the reaction makes it clear the Government has lost the farmers here completely.Todd Muller

He clearly has the better of Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor in any Cabinet conversation they have on these things because the balance is always skewed toward David Parker’s view of the world, which is frankly, he thinks farmers have got away with it for too long, and in my view that’s an outrageous position to hold. – Todd Muller

Indeed, we are at a difficult crossroads in New Zealand, where we are being pushed into accepting a new order and a new name for our country that has not undergone a referendum. It seems to me a form of bullying. Of course, Māori and other indigenous people across many countries were oppressed for several centuries but often were not themselves kind to others and indeed gained much from colonialism. The world has made great progress over the last half-century but we are undoing that progress very rapidly.David Lillis

He Puapua is one of the most alarming documents I have ever read. It will sow the seeds of discontent and division for decades to come. We must oppose the current ideology while embracing equality and the rights of minorities, and commit ourselves to assisting all people on the basis of disadvantage rather than of race. We are not a bicultural society but instead a multicultural society that today includes people from all parts of the world.

On the question of the demarcation of science and indigenous or traditional knowledge – most probably it is true that many scientists know little of indigenous or traditional knowledge and may undervalue the genuine wisdom to be found there. Some Māori and others have made this point forcibly and quite correctly. But proponents of indigenous or traditional knowledge often betray an even greater ignorance of science. – David Lillis

Towards the end of the meeting two Māori women stood up and called for decolonisation of science. Is science colonial and, if so, how exactly are we to decolonise it and whose science are we to decolonise? We can understand where they are coming from in relation to past oppression and their need to resurrect pride in their culture, language and traditional knowledge. However, I and many others have grave concerns about the He Puapua report, which recommends that mātauranga Māori (Māori traditional knowledge) be valued equally and resourced equally to “Western science”. Indigenous people, including Māori, and other minorities make valuable contributions in many areas in which science and technology play a part. Surely, all traditional knowledge ought to be valued and preserved but no traditional knowledge of any cultural group, anywhere in the world, should be taught as science until tested and shown to be valid through the methods of science. Nor is there the slightest justification for resourcing traditional knowledge equally to science, however valuable that knowledge may have been in the past.David Lillis

However, assertions to the effect that indigenous science is equally valid and equally important as “Western science” are very worrying (for example, Henry, 2022). In specific cases they can be as valid but, unfortunately, mostly they are not, and the notion of “Western science” is demonstrably mistaken.

It is not a criticism of traditional knowledge or of the communities or societies that produced it that such knowledge cannot compare with the centuries of advances and investments that lie behind the modern physical and life sciences; for example, randomised controlled trials in medicine, molecular and atomic physics, evolutionary biology and developments in energy and climate science. We have duty of care to define clearly what sits within the ambit of science and that which lies beyond, just as we have a critical obligation to exercise the utmost rigour when we test the efficacy of newly-proposed cancer drugs and other treatments.

The idea that in any country traditional knowledge should be regarded as fully the equal of science and be resourced equally is astounding and, as a person who trained originally in physics and mathematics, and who worked in research evaluation for Government (for funding decision-making), I find it deeply disturbing that people buy into it, however well-meaning they may be. Similarly, incorporation of traditional knowledge into any national science curriculum is potentially very detrimental to the education of young people. – David Lillis

Every citizen should have equal opportunity of access to education, healthcare and to political and economic power. Here in New Zealand we include Asians, people from North Africa and the Middle-East, people of European origin and, of course, Māori and everyone else.

A second lesson is that we can take affirmative action by removing a Government that is causing damage to its people. Perhaps in New Zealand we can still do something about the current absurdity. We have a duty of care to our country to remain kind, embracing and inclusive – but to stand firm against a Government that may be well-meaning but that has lost its way. – David Lillis

The core role of the public service is to provide New Zealanders with essential services focused on achieving better outcomes and delivering for all Kiwis. Whether it be healthcare, education, transport or infrastructure, New Zealanders should get value for the taxes which they pay to the Crown.

Government is currently spending $1.8 billion of taxpayers hard earned money every year on 14,000 extra bureaucrats, and that’s without mentioning the staggering amount spent on expensive consultants and working groups. The public service in New Zealand has ballooned to unprecedented levels. Yet, we seem to have worse outcomes as a result. – Stuart Smith 

 More churn means more costs, and the lack of continuity puts strain on workflow and projects.  Adding to that, the Crown accounts released earlier this month show that the government’s tax revenue increased from $76 billion to $108 billion in five years. That is an average of $15,000 more in tax for every household in New Zealand. 

With all the extra revenue and all the extra government officials and public servants, I struggle to understand how and why New Zealand’s public services are not functioning as they should.Stuart Smith 

The question is, why are we getting worse outcomes? Frankly, it’s because this government is focused on the wrong things. – Stuart Smith 

If New Zealanders are paying high levels of tax, they should get services that deliver for them and their families. We should not be content with mediocrity, we should be ambitious and focused on giving Kiwis the best opportunities and best services possible. I’m confident that a National Government will be able to manage the economy competently and deliver outcomes that rival some of the best in the world.Stuart Smith 

Oh dear. What an embarrassment. The Prime Minister’s advisers wrote her a conference speech which summarized why this government has become unfit to govern. Since it was based on a misunderstanding of the Covid-19 shock and, as a consequence, the types of changes we need to make to get things back on track.  – Robert MacCulloch

 The Great Depression is widely acknowledged to be a demand-side shock, set off by the 1929 stock market crash. Consumption and investment slumped. It gave rise to Keynesian economics, the view that maintaining demand, running budget deficits and establishing a welfare state could help mitigate the effects. Which was all true!

But the Covid-19 shock was entirely different. It was a supply-side shock: people couldn’t go to work due to the virus, so the supply of labor crumbled. Now there are all sorts of other supply-chain issues.

Adverse demand shocks cause inflation to fall.  Adverse supply shocks cause inflation to rise.

Now we know why this government stuffed up monetary policy. They thought they were dealing with a demand shock which needed to be dealt with by money printing, but all that did was cause inflation. – Robert MacCulloch

The PM must be getting woeful economic advice to write a speech saying the way out of a supply shock is not to address the root cause of cost pressures but instead to embark on 1929-style welfare expansionism.
By the way, the creation of a welfare state was a great victory back in the 1930s. But it was already in place when Covid-19 hit and a century before Ardern came to office. Her government have not furthered the cause of the development of the welfare state. Instead its legacy has been to run-down our health-care system.
If Ardern thinks we’re living in Great Depression times and wants to create a welfare state, she should have run for office in 1935 and not 2023. – Robert MacCulloch

Sure, there are plenty of opinions and comments published every day on the internet and elsewhere that are not accurate. They’re not hateful. They’re not terrorism. But they’re not accurate. There’s also plenty that is accurate, or just to confuse us all, accurate in the views of some people but not in the eyes of others.

The great majority of that material is opinion. Some opinions are well informed. Others less so. We all have them. And we have all been entitled to have them. Opinions and the debate they generate form the basis of better decisions and better outcomes. But who decides what is right and what is wrong?  – Bruce Cotterill

As I understand it, there are already laws that deal with extremism and harmful content. And so the question needs to be asked: will our new hate speech legislation seek to go further? If so, how far?

There are plenty of people who agree with any given government. There are usually plenty who disagree with that same government. Democracies around the world are better off for such diversity of views. Is our Prime Minister suggesting that ultimately, someone should decide that one side is right and another is wrong? – Bruce Cotterill

The trouble with hate speech laws and disinformation claims is this. Who decides what’s right? What is information versus opinion? What is an accurate opinion versus an inaccurate one? And if you eventually shut down one side of an argument or discussion, how are we to know where the alternative view might have led us if it was allowed to be pursued?Bruce Cotterill

Freedom to speak. Freedom to publish. Freedom to congregate. Freedom to protest. Freedom to participate in matters of government. These freedoms quite rightly apply equally to those who disagree with us, as well as those who agree. They are all important cornerstones of democracy as we know it.

Every society needs balanced, constructive and reasoned debate. The fact that this newspaper publishes opinions and comment that are divergent and sometimes opposite is a good thing. Such commentary informs discussion and debate. Debate leads to accountability and better outcomes.

Constructive and well-reasoned argument is essential. It paves the way for better outcomes. But if we seek to shut down such discussion, where does it lead? When does “disinformation” become watered down to “disagreement”? When does any amount of criticism become an unacceptable challenge to authority? When will we be asked to leave our “point of view” behind? – Bruce Cotterill

The freedoms we enjoy provide for a range of views to be expressed, listened to and challenged. Sure, in doing so we are also enabling the fringe views, or sometimes the extreme views, and maybe even the intolerable ones. But they are a tiny minority of cases when compared to the many thousands of other voices we hear every day.

To block mainstream debate because of those few voices is to curb one of the greatest freedoms that we have — the freedom to think for ourselves, inform our views and express our opinions.Bruce Cotterill

It would be a great shame if just some of those very freedoms were taken away at a time when Europe is once again at war. Freedom is worth talking about, arguing for, debating, and defending. – Bruce Cotterill

Voters clearly have given the one-fingered salute to Labour’s cost-of-living packages and perhaps there’s nothing Labour can do right now but hope next year gets better and people forget about inflation. But, right now, it’s described like this: the phone is off the hook.

It’s because Labour appears to put ideology, unfinished business, pet projects, and settling scores ahead of tested and fair, economically sensible policy. Why, for instance, during Covid has it spent so much money on health reforms that no-one can see the immediate benefits of.

And why waste hundreds of millions on screwing RNZ and TVNZ? It’s a merger no-one believes in and no-one thinks will work. And, at $600 million and counting, we simply can’t afford it. Duncan Garner 

Despite the name, FPAs will bind all employers and employees in the occupation/industry, whether or not they want to be bound by the FPA or they participated in bargaining for the FPA. It will be illegal to contract out of an FPA, even if an employer and an employee both want to. – Edwards Law

The FPA process is likely to be complex and time-consuming for employers and employees. Given the employer side will need to represent potentially hundreds of employers of varying size and scale, it may be difficult for employers to reach an agreement amongst themselves, let alone with the employees. All of this could mean more costs for businesses in New Zealand, and maybe, higher prices for consumers as a result.Edwards Law

For better or worse, FPAs are here, and we will soon see the first industries/occupations beginning the process to implement an FPA. It is widely expected that hospitality, cleaning, and security guards will be the first industries to begin bargaining for an FPA. Only time will tell if FPAs will achieve their goal of improving working conditions and productivity in New Zealand, or if they will instead be the final straw for many employers already under pressure. – Edwards Law

Ardern will be remembered as a Prime Minister who collected windfall votes in that year’s election and — like a feckless and foolish Lotto winner — recklessly squandered the vast amount of political capital they gave her on divisive projects like co-governance and decolonisation she had never campaigned on and had no mandate for. 

She will mostly be seen as a leader who disgracefully betrayed the trust that voters placed in her.Graham Adams

It’s a real shame that they think Te Ao Māori is too narrow for the views that I expound, which are based on a free society, which I think is the best place for people to thrive and prosper over time.

Now they may think that you can’t be Māori and have those views, or you are a useless Māori, or not an advocate for Māori, but I would say to them that their disagreement is not with my Māoriness but with my views. – David Seymour

What I think is dangerous is the idea, we are talking past each other and no longer committed to some old values which have got New Zealand as far as it’s come.”David Seymour

We have democracy and human rights on the one hand and this idea of a Tiriti-centric Aotearoa with Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti on the other and it is incompatible. If anyone says it dangerous or dog whistling to discuss that then I would put it back to them that they are endangering New Zealand by suppressing that discussion.

Apartheid is a system where people have a different set of political rights based on their ancestry, which happened in South Africa to a much more dramatic extent. – David Seymour

Ethnostate is a state where your citizenship or your rights are connected with your whakapapa, your ancestry and we have a government that is formalising that into lawDavid Seymour

How is one more kid who is hungry going to school with a full tummy because a distant relative is sitting around a co-governance table? – David Seymour

Do you really think that everything Europeans bought to New Zealand was bad or would it be more honest to say, that there have been good and bad on both sides and the real question is how do we go forwardDavid Seymour

Throwing cash like this fixes things for about 5 minutes then the pain returns. It’s not a solution, but thinking it is a solution is why Labour is on 32 percent. – Heather du Plessis-Allan 

Ardern had no answer for why bank profits were a bad thing, falling back to the old trope of “social licence”, which is essentially an ill-defined extra level of behaviour – over and above the legislated and regulated laws of the land – that commercial enterprises are somehow supposed to undertake to earn said licence.Luke Malpass

Ultimately bank profits are a distraction for the issues facing New Zealand and a bit of vague bank-bashing won’t long distract the public from the one, real-life, indicator that rules them all: inflation. – Luke Malpass

The unpleasant aspects of health care in Britain are universally acknowledged, are well-known, and a cause of wonderment to all Western Europeans.  I have come to the conclusion, however, that it is precisely these aspects that appeal so strongly to the British. How else is fairness to be guaranteed, other than by ensuring that everyone is humiliated and made to feel that he is privileged to receive anything at all?Theodore Dalrymple

That’s this Government in a nutshell, though. Some headlines, bit of noise, some advertising, a bit of hiring and some “transition” work. But the reality and the grunt work, where is it? – Mike Hosking

When you go back through 80 years of history of this party, it’s at its best when it’s a national National Party … that’s when we’ve been really strong.Christopher Luxon

I will argue our end hard, but I can disagree without being disagreeable in a personal sense – Christopher Luxon

Perhaps the problem with New Zealand’s education system is that it was once world-class. An outstanding reputation sticks long past its use-by date.Oliver Hartwich

New Zealand has experienced a continuous decline in its Pisa results over two decades and we don’t know how far we still have to fall before bottoming out.

Meanwhile, we fool ourselves by pretending we are still doing well. Thanks to the ‘flexibility’ of our NCEA assessment system, more and more students graduate with a certificate. Today, roughly 80 percent of our students leave school with NCEA Level 2, up from 60 percent two decades ago.

However, we know these NCEA results are meaningless, and not just because of the simultaneous declines in international tests like Pisa. Our own domestic analysis of basic literacy and numeracy should have been enough to wake us from any complacency. – Oliver Hartwich

This year, when the Ministry of Education finally assessed what was really going on, the results were as predictable as they were depressing. Reading tests were passed by just two-thirds of the 15-year-old students participating, and numeracy tests by just over half. Writing was even worse, with only one-third passing.

When an education system “performs” at such atrocious levels, it is justified to talk about a crisis. More than that, it is a national disgrace.

It is even more scandalous because the drop in achievement is unequally distributed. To put it bluntly, the poorer your family, the less likely you are to succeed at school.Oliver Hartwich

If a wrecking ball had been run through the education system as it was in the 1990s to yield such results, there would have been an outcry. But because the decline has occurred slowly, that outcry has never happened.

Instead, parents concerned for their children’s education have done their best to make up for the decline in the education system. – Oliver Hartwich

New Zealand parents have noticed that schools are not quite what they used to be. But instead of going on the barricades, those who can do their best to fix the failings of our public education system privately.

Today, we have reached a point at which most parents can no longer make up for the education system’s deficiencies. Many parents do not have the time or the means to do so. Besides, young parents may never have experienced for themselves what a good education is like.Oliver Hartwich

Practically everything in the system cries out not just for reform, but for revolution.

We need better teacher training and a better career structure for teachers. We need a deep, knowledge-rich curriculum. We need a better assessment system. We need proper monitoring systems for school performance. We need an overhaul of the education bureaucracy. And we need all of this at once.

If a war had wiped out our entire education system, the task could not be more daunting. – Oliver Hartwich

The challenge for the current generation of politicians is to have the courage to admit just how bad our education system has become. And then they need to have the courage to discard what is wrong and start again.Oliver Hartwich

The coalition was concerned with one issue only: protecting the principle of free speech and the right of New Zealanders to be exposed to ideas and opinions regardless of whether people happened to agree with them.

This, after all, is the very heart of democracy. Democratic government depends on the contest of ideas, and the contest of ideas in turn depends on people being able to engage openly in free expression and debate. Free speech is where democracy starts. I would argue that it’s even more fundamental than the right to vote, because people’s ability to cast an informed vote depends on them first being able to participate in free and open debate about political issues and ideas. – Karl du Fresne

Note that the law doesn’t just refer to the freedom to speak; it gives equal weight to our right to seek and hear alternative views. There’s nothing in the Act that says opinions and ideas must be approved by people in power, such as the mayor of Auckland, before we can be safely allowed to hear them.Karl du Fresne

The problem with so-called hate speech laws is that they could impose unreasonable and undemocratic limitations on public discussion of legitimate political issues. Hurtful is different from hateful. Someone might feel insulted or offended by a statement but that doesn’t mean it’s intended to incite hatred or harm, and the courts have traditionally been liberal in recognising people’s right to express opinions that upset others – with good reason, because judges are reluctant to interfere with the fundamental right to free speech. – Karl du Fresne

As an aside, I was astonished to learn recently that according to the New Zealand Police website, a hate crime is an offence perceived by the victim to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards a person’s race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or age. So it’s down to victims to decide whether they’ve been the subject of a hate crime. This goes far beyond what the law says and shows that the police have already been well and truly politicised.Karl du Fresne

The Free Speech Union campaigned vigorously against a law change – 20,000 submissions to Parliament, 80 percent of them opposed – and the government quietly consigned the proposal to the too-hard basket.

Job done, the union thought. But now we have a new justice minister, Kiri Allen, and suddenly hate speech laws are back on the agenda. Not only that, but the prime minister recently delivered an address at the United Nations in which she talked about the need to combat threats from so-called disinformation – a word that seems to mean whatever the user wants it to mean.

All this points to the possibility of the government seeking to control the dissemination of information and opinion that it disapproves of, perhaps even relating to issues such as climate change, Covid vaccination, transgenderism and immigration. – Karl du Fresne

The Minister of Māori Development, Willie Jackson, recently declared that “Democracy has changed… This is not a majority democracy.”

He is right. Aotearoa has changed its understanding of democratic norms, and we are establishing different political and economic rights based on a person’s whakapapa. – Damien Grant

He Puapua is remarkable in its scope and ambition. It has Orwellian statements such as, by 2040, “All New Zealanders will embrace and respect Māori culture as an integral part of national identity…”, and has some grandiose plans that defy political reality.

It lapses into Cultural Revolutionary rhetoric and over-reaches, but it reflects the thinking of a large swathe of the Wellington cultural elite. – Damien Grant

The effect is a shifting of political power away from the process of voting for political office holders to manage the state’s assets, and towards a new political caste. The changes are not restricted to the water assets.Damien Grant

Most have accepted, in this new order, a health and increasingly a welfare system that responds on race and not need is acceptable; or they do not care enough to speak out.

Adults are created by our childhoods and mine, like most of my generation, was raised on very different cultural gruel that those who are coming of age today.

Our children have been raised in classrooms that placed an emphasis on te reo Māori over TE Lawrence, and Kupe before Kipling. – Damien Grant

There remains in conservative circles a belief that the tide can be turned back, that an omnibus piece of legislation or major reform agenda can roll back a regime that has been decades in the making.

This will not happen. Although some programmes, such as Three Waters, may falter, the direction of travel is set.

Andrew Breitbart, an iconoclastic conservative thinker and agitator, famously declared that politics is downstream from culture, and on this issue, the cultural landscape has shifted permanently. – Damien Grant

The risk of cancellation at Williams College, where I have taught for 12 years, and at top colleges and universities throughout this country, is not theoretical. My fellow scientists and I are living it. What is at stake is not simply our reputations, but our ability to pursue truth and scientific knowledge.

If you had asked me about academic freedom five years ago, I would have complained about the obsession with race, gender and ethnicity, along with safetyism on campus (safe spaces, grade inflation, and so on). But I would not have expressed concerns about academic freedom.

We each have our own woke tipping point—the moment you realize that social justice is no longer what we thought it was, but has instead morphed into an ugly authoritarianism. For me that moment came in 2018, during an invited speaker talk, when the religious scholar Reza Aslan stated that “we need to write on a stone what can and cannot be discussed in colleges.” Students gave this a standing ovation.  Having been born under dictatorship in Brazil, I was alarmed. – Luana Maroja

The restriction of academic freedom comes in two forms: what we teach and what we research.

Let’s start with teaching. I need to emphasize that this is not hypothetical. The censorious, fearful climate is already affecting the content of what we teach.

One of the most fundamental rules of biology from plants to humans is that the sexes are defined by the size of their gametes—that is, their reproductive cells. Large gametes occur in females; small gametes in males. In humans, an egg is 10 milliontimes bigger than a sperm. There is zero overlap. It is a full binary. 

But in some biology 101 classes, teachers are telling students that sexes—not gender, sex—are on a continuum. At least one college I know teaches with the “gender unicorn” and informs students that it is bigoted to think that humans come in two distinct and discrete sexes.  – Luana Maroja

In psychology and public health, many teachers no longer say male and female, but instead use the convoluted “person with a uterus.” I had a colleague who, during a conference, was criticized for studying female sexual selection in insects because he was a male. Another was discouraged from teaching the important concept of “sexual conflict”—the idea that male and female interests differ and mates will often act selfishly; think of a female praying mantis decapitating the head of the male after mating—because it might “traumatize students.” I was criticized for teaching “kin selection”—the the idea that animals tend to help their relatives. Apparently this was somehow an endorsement of Donald Trump hiring his daughter Ivanka. – Luana Maroja

While the history of science does contain baseless and shameful assertions about race, we know that it is true that human populations, say over distinct geographic areas, have differences in allele frequency. Many of these differences are deeper than just skin color and relevant to health and well-being. Imagine the consequences of this lack of knowledge in medicine. After all, many genetic diseases vary between populations, for example, sickle-cell anemia among African-Americans, cystic fibrosis in Europeans, and Tay-Sachs disease among Jews.

But it has become taboo in the classroom to note any disparities between groups that are not explained as the result of systemic bias. – Luana Maroja

The language purity that this ideology requires is also distressing. It gets in the way of spontaneity and good teaching. At Williams, for example, our teaching assistants were told at a DEI training session that the word “guys” is a microaggression. So students learn that inoffensive words are harmful. This leads to a snowball effect, where ever more insignificant words or gestures can be taken as proof of bigotry. Many professors I know will freeze in class when realizing they were praising the work of a “colonialist” such as Darwin or Newton. Others will avoid mentioning historical figures if they are white and male.  – Luana Maroja

The prestigious journal Nature Human Behavior just announced in a recent editorial: “Although academic freedom is fundamental, it is not unbounded.” They are not referring to the importance of protecting individuals participating in research. They are saying that the study of human variation is itself suspect. So they advocate avoiding research that could “stigmatize individuals or human groups” or “promotes privileged, exclusionary perspectives.”

The censors and gatekeepers simply assume—without evidence—that human population research is malign and must be shut down. The costs of this kind of censorship, both self-imposed and ideologically based, are profound. Student learning is impaired and important research is never done. The dangers of closing off so many avenues of inquiry is that science itself becomes an extension of ideology and is no longer an endeavor predicated on pursuing knowledge and truth.Luana Maroja

Yes, a spreading web of ignorance and credulity that will doom some Māori to illness or death. Applauding the spread of the tohunga is like applauding the spread of faith healing. Indeed, that’s much of what the tohunga do! – Jerry Coyne

Do things differently! But hang on, this is a government that is overseeing a health system that now reports that patients are choosing to die rather than suffer the tribulations of a hospital waiting list. How’s that for doing things differently? – John Porter

The Government is spending $30 million on an investigation into renewable energy projects including a hydro scheme at Lake Onslow in Central Otago.

If the scheme proceeds it would be the largest hydro project in New Zealand’s history and could cost more than $4 billion. Knowing this Government’s inability to accurately cost projects, you have to say $8 billion not $4 billion! – John Porter

And then MBIE advise, “…proof that the project would lower wholesale electricity prices is not necessary for Onslow to proceed”. Does this sound more like ideological thinking rather sound economic thinking?

I haven’t even touched on how greenhouse gas emissions from geothermal power production, while generally low, are emitters of CO2 and studies overseas show some are on par with emissions from coal fired power plants! – John Porter

Labour’s new “Landmark New Zealand Energy Strategy” sounds awfully like so many other Labour strategies: huge on aspiration; minimal planning and negligible delivery! – John Porter

Collectively, our local and Central Government politicians could have avoided all the unnecessary sacrifice of our prime grazing land on the idealogical altar of emissions reductions targets. 
It has been known ever since the government set its zero emissions target by 2030 that this could relatively easily be achieved by limiting the planting of trees to what has been historically known as class 7 land.
The truth is, we don’t need to plant a single hectare of our most profitable country with anything other than the best pasture species especially at a time when the produce from that farm land is delivering returns we have never seen in my lifetime.  – Clive Bibby

Violent and inappropriate language does, indeed, appear to be a real problem in the US. In this country, however, on both sides of the political divide, people tend to express their views strongly but generally within the bounds of propriety. There have always been people who express extreme views and social media perhaps helps them. But they are the exception rather than the rule.

It would be a tragedy for this country if, influenced by overseas excesses, we were to legislate for hate speech. Such legislation could have a chilling effect on debate here on all manner of issues.

I agree with people who say that, if passed, the law could be used to attack those who may hold unpopular positions. Given the increase in wokery in society, there would be innumerable complaints to the police and also the possibility of private prosecutions. – Chris Finlayson

The most effective way of rebutting positions you disagree with is to master the arguments of your opponents and engage in a robust and civil debate.

May the best person win the argument. It is contrary to fundamental principles of freedom of expression and to a liberal democracy to have a law that could stop the full and frank exchange of views. – Chris Finlayson

I ended up as an activist in a very different place from where I started. I thought that if we just redistributed resources, then we could solve every problem. I now know that’s not true. There’s a funny moment when you realize that as an activist: The off-ramp out of extreme poverty is, ugh, commerce, it’s entrepreneurial capitalism. I spend a lot of time in countries all over Africa, and they’re like, Eh, we wouldn’t mind a little more globalization actually. – Bono

Capitalism is a wild beast. We need to tame it. But globalization has brought more people out of poverty than any other -ism. If somebody comes to me with a better idea, I’ll sign up. I didn’t grow up to like the idea that we’ve made heroes out of businesspeople, but if you’re bringing jobs to a community and treating people well, then you are a hero. That’s where I’ve ended up. God spare us from lyricists who quote themselves, but if I wrote only one lyric that was any good, it might have been: Choose your enemies carefully because they ill define you. Turning the establishment into the enemy — it’s a little easy, isn’t it? Bono

The real danger to our democracy is the deliberate distortion of these historical facts that would, if allowed to take root, set our development back for no good reason.

We must insist that the complete record (warts and all) is included in any state sanctioned revision of our curriculum. Failure to do so will result in a division from which we may never recover.

If it is not the full truth – it is a lie. –  Clive Bibby 

Protectionism [i..e, shielding local industry from foreign competition by the likes of protective tariffs] necessarily imposes larger costs on the rest of the home-country economy.

Protectionism’s harm to consumers is obvious. Having to pay more to buy the outputs of ‘successfully’ protected firms, consumers must reduce their purchases of other goods and services or reduce their savings. 

To grasp this economic reality is to realise also the harm that protectionism inflicts on other home-country firms and workers. Every input that protectionism diverts into protected firms is an input diverted away from other productive uses. Non-protected firms thus have less access to raw materials, tools, intermediate goods, and labour. Their outputs fall. 

Further, because workers in non-protected firms have fewer or lower-quality tools and inputs with which to work, these workers’ productivity falls. And falling productivity means falling wages.

Looking only at the alleged ‘success’ of protected firms and then confidently concluding that protectionism is a boon to the entire country, [one] reasons as would an apologist for successful thieves – an apologist who points to the thieves’ bustling business in larceny, and to the thieves’ high ‘earnings,’ and then confidently concludes that thievery is a boon to the entire country. Don Boudreaux

Monetary policy operates on a time delay, so often it appears the sensible decisionmaker is a killjoy, taking away the punchbowl just as the economic party is getting started. That’s not a popular approach at any gathering.

Back when monetary policy was left to politicians, the temptation to goose the economy beyond its capacity at election time was often too great. Political cycles made economic cycles worse, with magical rip-roaring times prior to election day, and big hangovers a year or so afterwards as resurgent inflation had to be tamed. That’s why New Zealand was a world leader in removing the monetary policy remit from politicians and placing it in the hands of an independent entity.

And it’s worked well. So well that with the help of the price stabilising effects of trade globalisation, a generation or two has been able to largely forget about inflation and central bank governors. Until that is, the last three years.

The economic response to the pandemic has reminded everyone of the power wielded by central bankers. The extreme monetary loosening and belated monetary tightening have created big swings in prices, asset values, and economic activity. There have been stark winners and losers, none more so than those who were encouraged to get out and buy houses when prices were high, only to see their equity evaporate before their eyes now, and their mortgage costs soar. – Steven Joyce

It doesn’t help that Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s response to the review was it was evidence the Bank “got the big decisions right” when that’s clearly not the case. Say what you like about the notwithstandings, extenuating circumstances, and who else also got it wrong, but inflation this far outside the required band, (including food inflation now in excess of 10 per cent), and the need for sudden rapid increases in interest rates is not “getting it right”.Steven Joyce

Because of the bank’s importance and independence, the appointment of the governor is supposed to be a non-partisan decision that both sides of politics can live with. For whatever reason, it is clear that for the opposition parties and many independent commentators that is not currently the case.

A sensible Finance Minister concerned for the independence of the institution would have either appointed a new governor or reappointed the current one for a shorter term. It would have been entirely reasonable to make a two-year extension, say, until the current crisis is passed, and then appoint a new governor for the next stage of the bank’s evolution and the next economic cycle. – Steven Joyce

It is Robertson who appointed Orr and the buck stops with him on Orr’s reappointment. It is also Robertson who implicitly and explicitly extended the bank’s remit to focus on housing, employment, climate change, Māori issues, and the economy generally. As Finance Minister he has never once publicly said the bank should focus on price stability alone and leave the rest to the Government.

This in itself is endangering the political independence of the bank. The more it is inserted into activities outside macroeconomic policy, the more reasonable it is for people to take a political position on what it is doing and saying.Steven Joyce

It has been convenient for Robertson to set the bank up with a broader brief. It has enabled him to crank up spending and make policy decisions that arguably hold the economy back, while abdicating economic responsibility for those decisions and charging the bank with looking after the downstream effects.

However, we are currently experiencing a salutary reminder of the reach and importance of monetary policy and the critical but circumscribed role of an independent central bank in a successful economy.

The Finance Minister should be taking steps to reinforce the bank’s focus, its independence, and the broad-based support for it as an apolitical institution. At the moment he risks undermining it. – Steven Joyce

Pandemic preparedness, at least for a virus with similar properties to Sars-CoV-2, should be regarded as a failure if a country requires a lockdown in the first six to 12 months.Philip HIll

If everyone was wearing high quality masks in all indoor situations, that also stops the virus. We just didn’t have enough tools initially – we didn’t have the mask use; we didn’t have the test and trace up to scratch at that point. It’s definitely something you’d want to avoid in the future.

Taiwan were phenomenally ready … You need all these systems ready to go, with all the tools you need. – Michael Baker

Our baseline position is not very good. So we need to take that into consideration when we plan for the next pandemic … To assume it will be fine, and it will all work out, would be a mistake. – Anja Werno 

If we don’t have a vaccine readily available, and we don’t have enough information about its specific characteristics, and it looks like it’s very virulent, with a high case fatality, I think sometimes lockdowns should be considered. But I think they are an option of last resort.

I don’t think the government or the public wants to go through all that again unless we absolutely have to. – Chris Bullen

The social cost of a lockdown should also not be underestimated. There should be no spin about us being prepared when we are not. We can be good enough if we want to. – Philip Hill

How many times this year have you heard advocates of green energy decrying the fact that consumers have been ripped off by our failure to shift to renewables even more quickly? Yet we really don’t have an alternative to gas to make up for shortfalls in wind and solar. We could try to store renewable energy, but storage, in the form of batteries, say, or pumped-storage hydro-electric stations or some other emerging technology, is incredibly expensive. It costs around three or four times more to store a unit of electricity than it does to generate it in the first place. – Ross Clark

At present, consumers are not directly exposed to these kind of price surges, because they are absorbed by retail suppliers of electricity. But it is the intention that in the future consumers will be charged variable rates for electricity via their smart meters.

That, then, is the future to which we can look forward: not one where the lights necessarily go out, but where we are forced to pay through the nose if we want to keep them on in unfavourable weather conditions. The price of green energy is a form of terrible segregation, where the rich will have access to light and heat, and those who need it most, the poor, will shiver in the dark. – Ross Clark

Did you know that men’s legs, which tend to have better muscle definition than women’s, are often used to advertise hosiery? It seems men really do make the best women sometimes. – Jo Bartosch

Ordinarily, I would refrain from making personal comments about the appearance of a teenager of either sex. And as a middle-aged, slowly sagging midget with a fashion sense that would put a home-educated child to shame, I am well aware that I have never been and will never be beauty-pageant material. But beauty queens are usually judged, at least in part, on their looks. It is part of the deal. So you cannot help but notice that the winner of this particular contest bears a striking resemblance to an undercooked, lumpy sausage, with his fleshy moobs squashed into a gown.Jo Bartosch

The idea of women and girls parading around while sweaty-palmed judges score them is certainly creepy and anachronistic. Nonetheless, the women entered the Miss Greater Derry pageant in good faith and deserved a fair chance. They were denied a prize that rightfully belonged to one of them. Brían sashayed off not only with the tiara, but also with a university scholarship and sponsorship opportunities. The other contestants had no choice but to clap along at the mockery made of their efforts. The spectacle served as a powerful reminder that, in today’s America, failing to show due deference to the trans overlords (or trans overladies?) is potentially career-ending.

This pattern is being replicated across public life. From sports to politics to science, wherever schemes are established to increase female participation, entitled men in stilettos are marching in to mark them as their territory. And if proof were ever needed that transwomen are men, it can be witnessed in the fawning, gushing behaviour of the wider world towards them. Overweight women are not entered into beauty pageants at all, let alone crowned. – Jo Bartosch

As WoLF’s chair, Lierre Keith, tells me: ‘You can roll your eyes about it being a beauty pageant, but the principle is the same whether it’s a pageant, a homeless shelter, a hospital ward or a prison. Women are saying no to men, as we have a right to.’ This is about ‘men claiming to be women and claiming a right to our spaces’, she says. The idea that womanhood is a costume that can be stepped into by men is the very essence of dick-swinging entitlement.

Much to the chagrin of proudly hairy-legged feminists like me, there are probably more Miss America fans and aspiring contestants than there are critics raging at the patriarchal beauty standards such contests promote. Given this, the plus side of plus-size men like Brían waltzing in and sweeping up women’s prizes is that more women will be forced to put political differences aside and recognise what unites us. The threat trans ideology poses to women’s spaces and opportunities could hardly be any clearer. So, I would like to say a sincere ‘well done’ to Miss Greater Derry – he might just end up inspiring women everywhere. Just not in the way he imagined. – Jo Bartosch

As a mother I used to worry about a lot of things but I learnt to let Sammy go and live his life. Mums, love your babies, just accept them and love them exactly as they are. The most important thing is the love you give your child, they are not here forever, make the most of it. Hug them and love them. – Lisa Finnemore

The real test is yet to come, however, when the Black Ferns next play an international.

Will New Zealand rugby back the team by scheduling a test at Eden Park in primetime again? Or will it blink?

But that’s next year. This year we’ve got a team to thank for a wonderful few weeks of rugby and sportsmanship.

Rugby was indeed the winner on the day.  – Tracy Watkins

If the bank executives were scratching their bald spots wondering how a review can be thematic, they have a new term to digest. Social License. Last week the Prime Minister decried the level of bank profits and asked: “…in the current environment, does it speak to a level of social licence?” She then continued in a nice bit of Maoist resonance, to state; “It doesn’t always take government intervention for that kind of self-reflection to occur. It’s time the banks operating in New Zealand did that very thing.”

The term social license has no philosophical or ideological underpinnings. It lacks even the dignity of its own Wikipedia page.-  Damien Grant

The criticism that the banks are currently earning abnormal profits is not true. The central bank keeps data going back to 1991 and it shows that the return on equity has consistently been around the 13% mark, where it is now. The only difference is that banks have grown larger and as their capital base grows so does total profit.

If you wanted to restrain bank profits you would need to deregulate the sector and allow more entrants to hang out their shingle. Competition, not regulation, is the only way to permanently improve customer service and lower profits.

Reaching for something as nebulous and undefined as a term with no meaning is perfect for our first post-modern Prime Minister. The banks cannot comply with their social license because there is no criteria from which a compliance officer can measure compliance.

Its application shifts governance away from the rule of law and towards the rule of man because, like obscenity, you know it when you see it, but you cannot define it. – Damien Grant

According to the Reserve Bank, trading banks made nearly seven billion in the last twelve months. The Prime Minister has not detailed what is an appropriate level of bank profitability but as she ponders this perhaps she can run the slide rule over the harm caused by that other bank that dominates our financial sector like a massive kauri tree in a forest; the Reserve Bank. – Damien Grant

If the financial community has lost faith in Orr, and I believe they have, they will not accept his statements that he is serious about price stability. To convince the public Orr will need to drive up unemployment and business failures in a way a credible governor would not. In the nomenclature favoured by the Prime Minister, he will need to do that because he has lost his social license.

Of course, if you can lose this ethereal quality by acting in such a way that damages the living standards of your fellow citizens in a persistent fashion over many years, well, Prime Minister, it might not just be the banks who need to engage in a bit of self-reflection.Damien Grant

During the troubled reign of the current governor we have seen inflation become endemic. Asset prices have accelerated to such an extent that a generation is locked out of homeownership. Businesses and workers are grappling with the uncertainty and hardship created by an inflationary spiral that now requires a harsh recession to bring under control. Orr’s mistakes in pricing the bonds during his fifty-three billion collar money printing splurge has cost the taxpayers over nine billion dollars.

These actions are causing real suffering for kiwis, in contrast with the mostly accounting profits being made by the banks.

If trading banks, operating within the law are risking their social license how does a central bank governor who has failed in his single most important duty, price stability, retain his?  – Damien Grant

These meetings are a gathering of the great and the good in the climate change world. Some will fly to Egypt in their private jets to lecture us all on using public transport, oblivious to their own hypocrisy at using the highest emitting form of transport possible.
Regardless, I hope they have the foresight to focus on real, achievable solutions: that is policies that are realistic and not ahead of technological solutions. We only have to look to Europe and the UK to see the damage done by a premature expectation that they could close down their thermal power stations and rely on wind and solar to keep the lights on. Stuart Smith

In the energy sector they talk about the trilemma. The energy trilemma refers to affordable, reliable and environmentally sustainable energy.

The difference between life in the developed world, as we enjoy in New Zealand, and life in the third world is having ready access to reliable and affordable energy. We forget that at our peril.

Wind and solar energy do have a vital role to play. Of course they do! But we haven’t yet reached sufficient levels of technological advancement in New Zealand to be burning our bridges just yet and shutting down our non-renewable generation and still expect the lights will stay on.Stuart Smith

Our government’s attempt to tax our farmers in the name of climate change is a great example of a policy moving ahead of available technology. Why? Farmers currently have no practical tools to mitigate their emissions, and drastically reducing agricultural production in the name of climate change would put us in breach of the Paris Accord.

We should acknowledge the environmental progress that we have made. Yes, we have more to do, but food security and access to affordable, reliable energy must not be put at risk by climate change policies. We can have both, but it will take leadership. – Stuart Smith

It is being in the public eye and being a bit of a polarising personality that has taught me my biggest lessons. I worked out you don’t die of embarrassment. Sometimes it just feels like you might and just putting one foot in front of the other and keeping moving will mean that it will pass.

I learnt that you can’t personalise other people’s opinions and sometimes their hate. They have their own stuff going on and I don’t have to take it on board. I learnt that you can couch your inner voice to be positive and not negative. It takes work and now, instead of sinking, I can see the signs and head it off earlier. I can bounce.

I have learnt to kick Mildred to the curb. She is the nasty voice on my shoulder that nags and doubts me. I have no room for Mildred, so I send her packing quick-smart.

I have also learnt thanks to people like Sir John Kirwan and Mike King and reinforced in Michelle and Maia’s book that it’s okay to not always be okay. Sometimes you just need to find space and reach out to your mum or daughter or husband or best friend and just breath through it.  – Paula Bennett

At any rate, it is curious that so many of those who claim to oppose fascism these days resemble fascists both in their manner and their dress. Black is their favorite color, and they shout to drown out the sound of all voices other than their own. In addition to repetition, their rhetorical method is intimidation. Often, it works. – Theodore Dalrymple

What is most alarming about all this is that a very noisy but tiny minority has been able with surprising ease to overturn, and indeed reverse, a tradition of free speech and enquiry. Our society has proved surprisingly susceptible or vulnerable to the activism of monomaniacs of many kinds. The problem is that an issue is all in all to the monomaniacs, but to the rest of us it is merely one thing among many others, not even, or far from, the most important. – Theodore Dalrymple

Generalizations about animal agriculture hide great regional differences and often lead to diet guidelines promoting shifts away from animal products that are not feasible for the world’s poor. For instance, the highly publicized 2019 EAT-Lancet Commission reportrecommended a largely plant-based diet whose cost, based on retail prices from 2011, was estimated to exceed the total household per capita incomes of more than 1.5 billion people. The urgent food, nutrition, and economic needs of hundreds of millions of people in Africa and Asia should not be sacrificed to pay for methane that was largely emitted elsewhere. – Jimmy Smith

Across Africa, and indeed much of the developing world, farm animals are much more than cellophane-wrapped meat or bottled milk. The farming of cows, goats, pigs, and poultry is essential to people’s livelihoods—and therefore purchasing power, which in turn determines household food security at a time of increasing global insecurity. In countries that face high levels of malnutrition and poverty, livestock provide families with food, jobs, income, draught power, and a sense of cultural identity.Jimmy Smith

Like every continent, Africa must strive to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. But African countries must also reduce malnutrition, create decent livelihoods for their people, and promote environmental stewardship. The continent has the opportunity through livestock to achieve all this.

Improving livestock productivity in Africa goes hand in hand with reducing agricultural emissions and protecting food security from the impacts of climate change. As the delegates and activists gather in Egypt, they must remember that both outcomes are vital for humanity’s long-term well-being. Villainizing livestock will achieve neither. – Jimmy Smith

The survey confirms what most news consumers already know – as a whole, journalists are biased. Not only do they have a strong left-wing bias, but about a third of the industry is also hard-core in their left-wing beliefs.

That would not be of concern if the journalists kept their personal views to themselves and saw their role as non-biased neutral observers. While that may have been their role in years gone by, journalists now see their role is to change the opinion of their audience.  – Frank Newman

What is quite clear is the growing disconnect between what journalists produce and what the public wants to consume. That is visible in their declining audience and reflected in a noticeable mistrust of the mainstream media.

The audience that is looking for media coverage that is balanced and fair is increasingly turning to new channels for news and political commentary. It is therefore hardly surprising that the legacy media is becoming its own echo chamber with a dwindling audience.

The challenge for the media sector is how it remains relevant. The logical response is to return to the more traditional values as espoused in the virtuous principles of the Broadcasting Standards Authority and the Media Council. That will, however, be difficult for an industry that is now highly populated with extreme socialists intent on re-educating their audience towards their form of left-wing ideology. – Frank Newman

For a while now, Orr has been ridiculed by some as a symbol of woke.

It’s been obvious how hard he’s tried to make the Reserve Bank cool. He’s given speeches on climate change and speeches on embracing te ao Māori.

In fact, in at least its last three annual reports, the RBNZ has made more mentions of “carbon” or “climate” than “inflation” or “price stability”. Just a reminder, inflation is the bank’s job. The climate is someone else’s.Heather du Plessis-Allan

Finance Minister Grant Robertson didn’t help. He also tried to make the bank cool. He appointed a board of directors who specialised in a lot of things that weren’t necessarily boring old economics. Things like “managing people” and “culture”. Critics noticed that and that was also mocked. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

His select committee appearance at Parliament last week might’ve been a low point. He blamed our inflation on Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, parroting a Labour Party line. He would know that the truth is our inflation was out of control at least eight months before the invasion. The invasion was in late February this year. Our inflation was 5.9 per cent by December last year. It was 3.3 per cent (outside the 1-3 per cent band) by June last year.

Unfortunately for Orr and everyone who shares his ideological commitment to getting distracted from your day job, he’s reinforced exactly what the opponents of woke stuff have long feared, which is that you can’t do your day job properly if you start getting distracted by wanting to appear cool to the users of Twitter.Heather du Plessis-Allan

Adrian Orr frequently presents as so thin-skinned that he must be approached with extreme caution to avoid what could usefully be termed a “Vesuvius” moment.

In my view, it is well past time that Orr grew a hard shell, faced up to probing questions with frankness and more respect for his interlocutors, and combined that with the necessary gravitas to take the inflation fight public and instill confidence so that Kiwis are united behind what should be a single-focus endeavour.

Right now Orr presents as an inept manager who has struggled to retain the confidence of the “markets” at a time when it is essential that there is broad consensus on the measures necessary to tame inflation. – Fran O’Sullivan

But it’s a fat lot of good blaming Orr alone for the “poverty effect”, which is in fact being felt through much of “the West” as central bankers try to crunch soaring inflation through raising interest rates yet maintain “sustainable employment” — a frankly ridiculously balancing act that would test the most adroit high-wire exponent.

This current state of affairs suits politicians and the financial sector alike. Each are absolved from encouraging the unsustainable “wealth effect” in the first place in New Zealand to alleviate the impact of the Covid pandemic. This was manifest here by a huge escalation in asset prices and cheap money to sustain employment. Fran O’Sullivan

Because of the dire worker shortages, employers are already bending over backwards to give employees competitive wages, greater flexibility, and additional benefits.

There is a risk that the standardised approach may adversely impact employees who already have a flexible agreement that suits their individual needs.

It’s also a bad time in our economic cycle to be increasing wages. Unless New Zealand’s wage inflation starts to decrease, the Reserve Bank of NZ will continue to increase borrowing rates – hurting first-home buyers and low-income households the most. – Matt Cowley

Spending money does not, on its own, fix problems. It matters how that money is spent.

Perhaps you think that is obvious. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem so obvious to the government.Michael Johnston

There has been widespread commentary from the leaders of ECE bodies on the urgent need to address teacher supply.

Without more teachers, the new funding, even if it’s just offsetting the effects of inflation, will increase pressure on an already strained ECE sector. That will mean longer waiting lists and reductions in quality. – Michael Johnston

We should trust ECE centres to make pragmatic recruitment decisions and release them from red tape. This approach wouldn’t even cost anything. In fact, it would likely save money.

Sometimes the best solution to a problem is also the cheapest.Michael Johnston

I sometimes feel as though we have abdicated our responsibility as grown-ups because I know what it was like to be young.
I thought I knew everything. Now, I look back, I’m like, I knew nothing. I was wrong in many of my sort of fierce positions.

And, I was fortunate that when I was young, there were adults who were willing to tell me, you’re actually really not right about that. Here’s what you should think about differently. That’s not happening now. –Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Can we all agree on compassion?

Can we all agree that not everyone means harm? Can we all agree that people can learn and people change? You know, just sort of basic things that we seem to have forgotten. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Co-governance appears to be a hill that this Labour Government is prepared to die on.

But as I also said on Friday, co-governance should be the least of your worries if you’re concerned with creeping socialism.

The Three Waters reform suggested is property theft and that’s the reason that Phil Goff was against it and had to be bought off.

This Government wants to seize assets paid for by ratepayers, amalgamate them and then borrow off them, so that funding for water stays off the Governments and Councils books. It’s blatant nationalisation by a left wing government

It’s like needing to do urgent repairs on the house but you have no money.  So you take your neighbour’s house and use it as equity to borrow money to fix your place. It’s just wrong.- Andrew Dickens

I don’t agree with accusations I am ‘phobic’ towards anyone, and I would stress that what we need at this time is not name-calling but constructive, nuanced and robust dialogue with a view to better help vulnerable children experiencing difficult questions and distress around identity,” she said.

I and many other practitioners have real concerns with the growing number of children being encouraged to believe they have been born in the wrong body and need to medically change their bodies to align with their inner thoughts and feelings in order to resolve psychological distress.

I respect and empathise with those who believe differently, but I stand by my professional opinion and approach as I believe it to be best practice, and in the best interests of children.Marli de Klerk

But as we’ve said a number of times now, with all due respect our beliefs will not be changing. Christian beliefs have been held by people around the world for thousands of years because they bring life, hope and flourishing and continue to be just as relevant and valuable today.

”We know not everyone will agree with our beliefs. We respect their right to hold and express their beliefs. We just ask that respect is offered in return. – Paul Shakes 

Have you noticed that when Jacinda’s government is forced to make concessions under public pressure they never sacrifice co-governance? Maori domination of the revised hospital structure was defended tenaciously. With Three Waters, Nanaia Mahuta will fiddle around the edges of the legislation, but co-governance is still there in the middle, an immovable obstacle. Advancing it is central to Nanaia’s being; it has become her raison d’etre. After a lengthy, undistinguished political career, she can at last see her long-desired Tainui tribal takeover on the horizon, and she doesn’t want to give an inch. Jacinda Ardern and her low-level caucus understand so little about Maori affairs that most of them can’t see what Nanaia is doing right under their noses. They won’t lift a finger to prevent her tribal takeover bid.Michael Bassett

To this government, co-governance means that non-Maori, who constitute more than 83% of New Zealand’s population, would possess 50% of the authority in the country, and be democratically elected. Forget about one-person, one-vote: some, as Napoleon the Pig said in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, “are more equal than others”. The other 50% will be made up from only 17% of the population who are Maori. “It’s time to re-think democracy”, Minister of Maori Affairs Willie Jackson tells us. And, there’s nothing in any legislative proposal for co-governance to ensure Maori would be democratically elected by all Maori voters. Instead, they will be selected in the old tribal way: by a handful of self-appointed aristocrats. But co-governance will be more than that. Whichever becomes the dominant tribe will exercise much wider power. Nanaia intends to make sure that that tribe is Tainui. That explains the appointment of the Mahutas and Ormsbys to so many positions, irrespective of their merits, or lack of them. Their job is to ensure that when push comes to shove, Tainui does the pushing and the shoving at the behest of the King Movement, with that loudmouth, Tuku Morgan, yes, he of the $89 pair of silk underpants paid for by the taxpayer, playing a key role. –Michael Bassett

It should not be any minister’s role to advance personal tribal interests. Getting family members appointed other than on merit is beyond the pale. New Zealand is a democracy; our constitution provides for one person-one vote. Willie Jackson should be firmly reminded of this fact. Any scheme which endeavours to entrench racial or tribal privilege in any administrative arm of government should immediately be rejected.

It is clear that Labour’s cabinet has failed to enforce these basic rules. Promoting tribalism under the guise of co-governance should be stopped in its tracks. Now! In addition to all the other changes needed to the Three Waters legislation, co-governance must be dropped. Michael Bassett

What the country didn’t hear very much – if anything – about were the contributions of other hui attendees. A cynic might suggest that the suppression of this material was deemed necessary by the hui organisers because if the average citizen was made aware of its existence there would be an outcry. Most New Zealanders do not see it as a role of their government to “guide” the thinking of the nation towards the radical, ideologically-driven goals of a tiny, unelected, elite of bureaucrats, academics and activists.- Chris Trotter

Ms Ardern’s and her government’s radicalisation is fast becoming electorally problematic. Precisely because radical ideas, practically by definition, are polarising, they tend to make those who espouse them politically defensive and hostile to criticism. Those citizens who oppose state-sponsored radicalism, mark themselves as “enemies of the people”.

“No Media Access” is only the beginning.Chris Trotter

We need to bottle up Ruby Tui and spread her far and wide around New Zealand because, by being positive, so much can and will be achieved. – Duncan Garner

Just because I don’t fit someone else’s stereotype of what a Māori looks or acts like, doesn’t mean that is not who I am.James Meager

You’ve got to protect women’s spaces. I just worry about a lot of the battles that have been very hard won for women, like for racial equality, being reversed but at the same time, trans people have a right to be treated with dignity and not to be discriminated against. – Peter Hain 

You can’t run a country and have a future when you have 40 percent of your kids attending school, that’s just not going to cut it. It’s a moral failure.  It’s a social failure. It’s an economic crisis. So we have to all, Government schools and parents, be really accountable for getting our kids to school. That’s what matters most in our education system. –  Christopher Luxon 

Only 15 percent of road deaths happen because of speed only.  Which means 85 percent of crashes happen below the speed limit or because the drivers are boozed or drugged up.

85 percent.

So Waka Kotahi’s big solution to getting the road toll down completely ignores the fact that 85 percent of the road toll will probably be unaffected. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

The worst thing about this is that it gives transport officials an excuse to not do the things that would actually make a difference.

They’re doing this so they don’t have to put in media barriers that would actually be effective at stopping cars crossing the centre line and smacking into other cars head on.

And that wouldn’t just stop head on crashes from speeding cars, but from everything else as well. Tired drivers, distracted drivers, drunk drivers, drugged drivers.Heather du Plessis-Allan

What’s frustrating is that those facts are not what are being debated; instead, we’ve got an argument dictated by emotion.

Which means we’ll probably all end up having to drive more slowly, while hundreds of people still die on the roads each year because speed isn’t really the biggest problem. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

A metaphor for the current state of Western societies is that of a tail wagging a dog. A mere appendage has become the most important or powerful part of the animal.

Another apt metaphor for those societies is that of perpetual guerrilla war, waged by tiny ideologically armed minorities against a huge but bloated army, the majority of the population. The ideological guerrillas are nimble, rapid, persistent, and, above all, fanatical. They’re fighting an enemy that’s slow, torpid, complacent, and without real belief in itself. Although initially weak, the guerrillas believe themselves destined to win.Theodore Dalrymple

First, a proposition is adumbrated that initially appears preposterous to most citizens. Then, arguments in its favor, using all the sophistry available to people who attended university, are relentlessly propagandized. Finally, success is achieved when the preposterous proposition has become widely accepted as an unassailable orthodoxy, at least by the intellectual class, denial of or opposition to which is characterized as extremist, even fascist, in nature.

This process is possible because the struggle, as in a guerrilla war, is asymmetric.- Theodore Dalrymple

Strength of belief doesn’t guarantee that a cause is good, very far from it; but it does mean that those who struggle on its behalf will do so with all their heart.

The absurdity of modern ideological enthusiasms is evident, but while those who promote them make them the focus of their existence and the whole meaning of their lives, better-balanced people try to get on with their lives as normal. No one wants to spend his life arguing, let alone fighting, against sheer idiocy, and thus, sheer idiocy wins the day.Theodore Dalrymple

We should make no bones about the fact that lying about the truth of issues for political and personal advantage is a great badness. It is even worse with defenceless children targeted by activists using fear tactics to enlist their support – as with the ‘climate change emergency’ nonsense. And if there is a distinction between badness and sheer evil, it reaches its apex now in regard to two other issues.

Predominant is the lying by hierarchies persuading youngsters they can choose to become male or female. This canard strikes at the very personhood, the mental and emotional stability of particularly vulnerable individuals. Yet Professor Robert Winston, scientist and surgeon, is undeniably correct, asserting, ‘I will say this categorically. You cannot change your sex… it is there in every single cell of your body.’ The physical mutilation of children, disregarding this, can be regarded as criminal, its consequences devastating for so many.

With the apparent passing of the age of reason comes the insidious nastiness of identity politics, with individuals believing themselves superior if they have a Maori ancestor. With Jacinda Ardern’s government instructing all government departments to prioritise impenetrable Maori phraseology in their communications – renaming our institutions so their actual function becomes unintelligible – the deliberate promotion of divisive racism is well underway. Yet the worth of individuals has no relation to their ethnic background. And who can possibly defend instructions to all government departments to teach ‘white privilege’, with the aim of inducing guilt and shame among non-Maori children in schools – supposedly because of some imaginary privilege they have from being descended from Europeans? – Amy Brooke

Rather, the signage is a call to the first duty of the citizen: be anxious.  Only if you are truly anxious do you need the protection of our bureaucratic shepherds. Theodore Dalrymple

Te Whatu Ora’s actions suggest that, at least for the moment, it is more focused on the structure and planning of a national public health service, than supporting previously agreed regional priorities. If these delays are indicative of the way Te Whatu Ora will approach regional matters in the future, the new system looks like it will be far more unresponsive to meeting regional needs than the cumbersome district health board system it replaced.

Previously, there was a legitimate argument about the inherent inequity of the old population-based funding model for health services, which meant the bigger population centres always got the largest slice of the cake, often at the expense of the regions. A nationally based funding model such as Te Whatu Ora was intended to provide more equitable outcomes, across the country –something people in Otago/Southland, and other regional centres, will now surely be questioning in the light of last week’s decisions. – Peter Dunne

The Government has not yet won its argument that upgrading water services across the country can only work with the new co-management provisions. Many remain suspicious the Government is using this legislation to address wider issues simply because this may be its last opportunity. A wider and more open process of public consultation would allow the opportunity for a better-informed public debate.

But by using its large majority, the Government is merely ensuring the bill will be more far more politically divisive than is necessary. Moreover, this bill is but the first of three intended to reform the structure of water delivery. That, plus National’s and ACT’s repeated commitments to repeal the governance provisions, makes the situation even more fraught and uncertain.Peter Dunne

Health reforms that appear to negate the capacity to reflect regional priorities in the development of national public health services, and water services reforms that leave the central issues of concern unaddressed, while establishing new uncertainties about their scope and application may well prove the devil is indeed always in the detail. However, creating new uncertainties on top of already contentious unfolding plans – however merited the original policy intent – is not good politics.

And it will be political management, not well-meaning intent, that will ultimately determine their success or failure.   – Peter Dunne

They are trying to create safetyism, a world where nothing bad happens, and they see liberty as a challenge to that when, actually, liberty is the thing that protects us all. – Kemi Badenoch

I see myself very much as a classical liberal. Because we keep moving, socially, in a particular direction […] the people who take the progressive line will assume that me trying to maintain the conservative line makes me a culture warrior. I don’t know, I’m just trying to do the right thing. – Kemi Badenoch

Back in the day there was a pact between elected politicians and those who put them in office.  They did our bidding.  They exercised power in our interests.  They were, in other words, “accountable”.  They limited their actions to doing things for the benefit of the people.  They showed restraint.  They were answerable to the people’s houses of parliament.  They had to front the electorate periodically to get our permission to continue in office.

The democratic system (aka “responsible government” and representative democracy) required two things in order to function properly.  Properly motivated politicians and informed voters.  Now we have neither, and this is why the system is so broken.Roger Franklin 

Perhaps even worse, today’s voters are low information, superficial and ill-motivated to inform themselves about public policy.  They are, in the late American economist Anthony Downs’ term, “rationally ignorant”.  They have decided to focus on themselves and their toys, and have chosen to let the state do its own thing, even when it harms them personally and harms their fellow citizens.  For they have signed away their stake in the political system.  They are a combination of midwits – those just smart enough to be dangerous – and total buffoons oblivious to what is going on in the world and what is driving it.

Being superficial and driven by how they “feel” about issues of the moment, today’s citizens are prepared to emote their way to public policy, clutching at, and accepting at face value empty cliches and propaganda like “climate emergency”, “love is love”, “follow the science”, “black lives matter”, “we are all in this together”, “stop the spread”, “flatten the curve” and the rest, and all the while believing earnestly (or at least casually) that these slogans have actual meaning based on truth, research and analysis.

Policy-as-emoting is a creature of the post-modern age.  It fits perfectly with a shallow, politically illiterate, morally vacuous Me Generation that mistakes “feeling” for thinking, or worse, for being.  In such a regime, the patently absurd becomes mainstream belief, almost overnight. – Roger Franklin 

If, perchance, evidence counter to their world view comes their way, they will simply look in the other direction in order to avoid having illusions dented.  Leaps of faith that are poo-pooed among the traditionally religious are easily absorbed by the emoting class.  If you accept that truth can simply be defined away, or morphed into “my truth” and “your truth”, you will all the more easily accept that, for example, crushing traditional marriage is simply “all about love”, that giving up our petrol-fuelled cars will stop droughts and floods, that giving offence to “victims” must be outlawed no matter what the ramifications for free speech, that robust policy itself (aka science) is a whitey/male social construct. 

There is another, more familiar phrase that describes the motivation for at least some of what we are describing here as policy-as-emoting.  This is virtue-signalling, the supporting of a particular policy because doing so make us look good, or at least makes us not look bad (now defined routinely as racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or patriarchal).  Virtue-signalling can be effected by both politicians and by voters.  It has become a core part of the great modern pact between the governing class and the governed. 

It creates convenient hate-figures to be derided and scorned.  It is front-and-centre of our new media and university-based clerisy.  It doesn’t require any policy evaluation or review for it to be justified in the minds of its adherents.  – Roger Franklin 

The very term “progressive” is indicative of our self-deception.  Policy-as-emoting just feels right.  Whenever we see the ‘right side of history’ invoked as a justification for a policy, we should be extremely worried.  There is moral vanity afoot with little regard either for people’s real interests or for facts.

Hence, we get policies that are themselves merely slogans.  “Clean energy”, which is not clean and provides no reliable, practical energy.  “Climate reparations” to pay former colonies for the civilisation and all its trappings that Britain (and others) gave them. – Roger Franklin 

 “Net zero” — who even knows what it means, or can say what it will entail?  Who among those who blather on about it could crisply define and justify the term, other than with yet more cliches and slogans based on lies?  Who better, then, to be giving advice to “global leaders” at COP27 than tik-tok-dancing teenaged girls?

The willingness of the governed class to allow the polity to be run on misinformation and ephemera has allowed the epidemic of governments addressing non-problems with non-solutions, at massive cost.  Governments and major political parties naturally welcome the new reality of democracy.  They simply love it.  It gives them an essentially free ride and endless get-out-of-jail-free cards and creates the opportunity for them up to indulge their own agendas, absent even the most limited scrutiny.  The new pact between government and citizenry goes like this – we will make your lives comfortable and convenient, with a veneer of prosperity, if you lazily give us unfettered power and let us keep it.  Don’t worry.  We have got this!   – Roger Franklin 

With us comfortable and looking the other way, the state can indulge in the five standard forms of policy that are either not in the public interest or are actively against it:

♦ Vanity projects (unneeded light rail, stadiums, Olympic Games bids);

♦ Ideological projects (nationalisation, privatisation, renewable energy, mass migration, wokedom, state child care, the republic, the voice, removal of statues);

♦ Crony projects (the apartment boom, privatisation, public-private partnerships);

♦ Projects that enhance politicians’ power (programmable currencies, especially Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), The Biosecurity Act of 2015, track-and-trace technology to enable carbon footprint tracking, facial recognition, big data, various means of citizen surveillance, cancel culture-enhancing actions, nudge units, propaganda, military-style policing of the kind now routinely seen in Victoria and medical mandates)

♦ Mistaken projects (lockdowns, masks, new urbanism, first home owners’ schemes, the NDIS).

Only the fifth type of public policy might be said to be the result of good motivation on the part of decision-makers.  The others are bound to be self-regarding and harmful to the public interest. – Roger Franklin 

All five types of policy failure are the result of second-rate and/or ill-motivated politicians and ignorant or lazy citizens.  And, to make it worse, we fail to realise that any of these things matter.  That printing money endlessly is not a good idea.  That foreign wars in which we have no legitimate interest yet which we are more-than-willing to join may bring us the ultimate harm.  That outsourcing parenting to the state will ruin our children.  That abandoning support for traditional marriage and family formation will dissolve civil society within a few generations.  That failing to be fiscally continent will have ramifications.  That killing coal will also kill our economies.  That encouraging the momentarily gender-confused young to have their bits chopped off or added to will not inevitably bring them happiness or fulfilment, long-term.  That giving the indigenous a “voice” will solve nothing for the Aborigines who actually need help. 

Yes, policy failures matter.Roger Franklin 

By choosing to walk away from our democratic responsibilities, by surrendering our freedoms without blinking, by handing extreme power to politicians (without recourse, even through the legal system, to remedies), by settling for comfort and faux-wealth instead of being tough on those we elect, by gullibly trusting those who we ridiculously believe have our best interests at heart, we have abandoned to right to call our system democratic in any meaningful sense.  Marriages of convenience are never wise. – Roger Franklin 

Maybe this is how the world ends, not with a whimper but a shambles. Sharm El Sheikh is an appropriate place to hold a climate conference; the whole place is a climate warning. It’s an Egyptian Las Vegas with a casino and the world’s largest artificial lagoon. The city’s carbon emissions must be enormous.Richard Prebble

COP27′s new initiative is to create a fund for loss and damage. It is like the passengers on the Titanic demanding compensation for any water damage to their luggage rather than insisting the ship misses the iceberg. Any compensation will never be more than a gesture. It was disappointing to see New Zealand supporting this nonsense but then our Government loves gestures.

The message from COP27 is if we are relying on the politicians there is no way global warming will be limited to 1.5C. – Richard Prebble

The whole world is applying its mind to climate change. Imagine how many clever ideas there are.

If we are going to beat global warming it will by human ingenuity.Richard Prebble

It cannot be a boot camp that just punishes kids.  That’s only going to make them angrier.

But, it can work if it’s a place away from bad parents, where kids are taught some discipline and consequence, where they have rules not allowing them to roam the streets in the middle of the night, where they have counsellors to help them learn new behaviour and deal with past trauma, where they have school, and where they have support when they do go home to those parents.

And look, that is in National’s proposal. They are proposing to include schooling, counselling, drug and alcohol treatment, mentoring, and cultural support, and a case worker assigned to the family for ongoing support.

It’s probably worth giving it a go, isn’t it?

Because what else have we got?

Clearly, what few consequences there are for these kiddie ram-raiders are not enough, because it just keeps happening.  – Heather du Plessis-Allan

 The tactic of the bully is to shun the victim into silence. The bully targets one person, recruits others to cheerlead and then attacks. They count on the fact that the victim is shocked and cannot immediately fight back. The bully hones in on what they know to be beloved of the victim – their career, their family, their freedom of expression – and takes these things away.Rosie Kay

Mental strength to fight the bullies is essential, but what can be even harder to take than the bully is the collective silence that surrounds your victimisation. At school, I still feel the betrayal of friends who turned a blind eye, and the teachers who did nothing. Those were different days, I think, we are all so much more bullying aware.

But look at what is happening to women who dare to speak up for women’s rights. We are being bullied, ostracised, our livelihoods destroyed, and our reputations and careers threatened. Instead of standing up and supporting these women, there is a collective silence and even a collective de-platforming. More than the bullying, this level of cowardice from everyone else in your career fields chips away at your trust in the decency of people and the strength of collective good.

We see it in our political parties, we see it in the arts, we see it in universities, we see it across so many aspects of society. – Rosie Kay

But we are strong, intelligent women, and we are often at the height of our powers, and we feel compelled to speak out and to seek the truth and to protect women and girls now and into the future. There is nothing transphobic about the protection and safeguarding of women in vulnerable spaces, in prisons, in sports and in hospitals, and it shouldn’t take courage to say so.Rosie Kay

We need more people in positions of power to start to stand up and respect the rights of women and to ignore the nasty bully tactics of extremists who dare to silence and oppress our best and brightest women. We cannot allow a generation of brilliant women to be lost.

At its heart, we need to really think about what kind of principles do we hold true and strong for us a society. – Rosie Kay

In it, my basic premise, quite apart from all the incredible new developments of info-wars, grey zones and human augmentation, was to ask; what do we ask our soldiers to fight for and to defend, if freedom and civilisation and democracy is not at the heart of our collective society?  Can we, with the spirit of enlightenment still within us, argue that the quality of freedom is a universally good one? That as humans we are happier, more fulfilled, stronger, safer, when we have freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience? For the quality of ‘offence’ is far, far trickier to define. Qualities of offence are time specific, place specific and shift and warp through cultures. The debate on art, culture and freedom of expression is not one of ‘culture wars’; it speaks to the very core of our democratic principles and our ability to think, to debate, to question and to express. The arts are not, and never have been, a luxury; they are the very frontline of the human mind and deal with our dreams, fantasies, nightmares and our darkest impulses. Shut them down or censor them, and what kind of civilisation is left? – Rosie Kay

But the presence of these young people at what are supposed to be serious UN shindigs probably says more about the UN than it does about them. There seems to be a keen desire on the part of elite environmentalists to use young people as a kind of stage army on the climate issue – a tool of emotional blackmail to harry world leaders into the eco-austerity that Guterres and Co already favour.Tom Slater

As frankly silly as this whole spectacle is, the cult of climate youth certainly tells us a few things about the state of the environmental movement more broadly.

First up, there’s the simplistic moralism of it all – the childlike reduction of energy and climate policy to a matter of right and wrong, to one of believing The Science or ignoring it for corrupt or self-serving reasons. The notion that maybe, just maybe, political leaders – particularly those from developing nations – might want to prioritise their citizens’ living standards over costly green virtue-signalling seems to have been dismissed out of hand.

Indeed, for all the talk of young people being ‘on the front lines of climate action’ the world over, you can’t help but notice that these handpicked youth ‘leaders’ tend to be from well-to-do families in developed Western nations – young people who are sufficiently materially comfortable to have the time to worry about the end of the world.

Then there are the religious echoes of this whole charade. Through initiatives like Guterres’ Youth Advisory Group, supranational environmentalism seems to have developed a pipeline of would-be child saints, to be brought out to preach doom to the already converted. – Tom Slater

And finally there’s the contempt all this actually shows for young people. Taking young people seriously does not mean pretending that they know everything. What’s more, I dare say there would be little room on that little advisory group for young people who take a different view on climate. This is an exercise in pumping young people full of doom-laden propaganda, then inviting them up on stage to repeat it while wagging a knowing finger.

This is not inspiring or progressive or empowering of young people. It’s weird and patronising and all to the end of pushing an anti-human and anti-growth agenda – one that will screw over young people in the long-run. In short, environmentalists, how dare you?Tom Slater

One weird thing that can come as a surprise when you lose people is that real life doesn’t stop. All the same usual trivial crap keeps coming and you have to keep dealing with it, even though on the inside you are hollow and sore. You can still have a laugh, too, as we all did at the wake last Friday at a Working Men’s Club where the price of a round of drinks – two pints and a large white wine for £9 – took you right back to the nineties (which let’s face it, is where many of us often wish we could be).

Grief is a bully, that keeps on showing up and getting in the way of your life, and life is a bully that keeps on showing up and getting in the way of your grief. Neither life nor grief care how you feel or that you might not have time for them right now. They don’t want to know what other stuff you have going on. They don’t give you space or respite.- Milli Hill

Being bullied can make you bitter. The bullies themselves pack a visceral punch; short and sharp, it knocks the wind out of you. But this doesn’t hurt as much or last as long as the silence of the bystanders – those whose legs you see when you have been knocked to the ground or shoved under the bus; very much in the vicinity, very much aware of your suffering, very much still standing. The rational part of your mind can understand they are silent to protect themselves. A deeper part feels they are unforgivable. – Milli Hill

We teach our children to talk about bullying, to speak out and support each other and get help. But in the meantime, one of the worst epidemics of bullying any of us have ever witnessed is taking place daily on social media, as woman after woman is ostracised, defamed, deplatformed and pilloried for speaking up for women’s rights. Whether you agree or disagree with their views shouldn’t affect your judgement that what is happening to them is disproportionate and unfair. It’s bullying. And to say that this is a problem between gender critical feminists and trans activists is also wildly reductionist. There is disproportionate pillorying of women going on within feminism itself.

And there is disproportionate pillorying of women going on completely outside the feminist discourse.  – Milli Hill

Everyone agrees they said something racist, and, under the current rules, this means they deserve for their lives to be destroyed, and if you speak up for them, you’re a racist too.

What is the end-game of those meting out these show trials and public executions? Have they noticed that the majority of people in the virtual dock are female, and if so, does this bother them? Do they feel that justice is truly being served? Do they feel the world will become a better place once every wrong thinker has been ‘educated’ or dispatched? How will they feel if one of the recipients of these attacks actually takes their own life? Will this still be just and fair in their opinion? Perhaps this has already happened, perhaps this kind of behaviour has been the final straw for someone whose name I do not know. Being bullied by a large group of people, on social media where unlimited numbers can watch and participate, and having your reputation, career, livelihood, friendships and life as you know it completely destroyed is not something that is easy to survive.

Nobody, even those who’s views we find repellant, deserves to have their life destroyed. – Milli Hill

I firmly believe that the way we vote in the next general election will have a huge impact on our lives, our children’s lives and, quite possibly, our grandchildren’s lives.

The next election will determine the character and integrity of how we are governed and what rights we will have.

There will be a not so simple choice between voting for a democracy or allowing democracy to perish by voting for the party that is demolishing democracy and replacing it with an ethnocracy.John Porter

It sickens me to read claims that my representations on behalf of women and girls for fairness on the sporting field are twisted in such a way to expose me to vicious and vexatious accusations of homophobia.

My belief in protecting girls and women from the unfair consequences of competition against biological males should be seen for precisely what it is. –

There are extremists who wrap themselves up in the proud flag of the LGB movement, coming after me and many other women, even other gays and lesbians who do not agree with the addition of the TQA+, by using this cover to legitimise completely baseless attacks.

Because of their rainbow camouflage, the sight of this banner has triggered me, but in no way does that emotional response reflect my view of the millions of people who celebrate their rights under the same flag. – Katherine Deves

What should be the symbol of genuine pride, has become distressing because of its misuse.

Consistent with the time-honoured custom of politics, the worst enemies are found within your own ranks. – Katherine Deves

One of the saddest ironies of this debate is that those who are gay or lesbian were highly probable to have been gender non-conforming growing up.

But today, these are largely the children and young people most likely to be convinced by media and social media they are “trans”, “non-binary” or “born in the wrong body”.

Despite ample evidence demonstrating almost all children with distress about their natal sex resolve this during puberty, experimental medical interventions rather than “watchful waiting” are being baked into law and policy as the solution.

We are sterilising a generation of gay and lesbian children by turning them into profit-centres. Katherine Deves

What is the “trans community”?

Because I fail to see what a distressed same-sex attracted teenage girl with a GoFundMe for a bilateral mastectomy has in common with a middle aged man who has decided to publicly flaunt his cross-dressing fetish full-time.

My position has always been about the sex-based rights of women and girls and the safeguarding of children.

Sex self-ID laws and policies mean men and boys can now simply self-declare they are a woman or girl, giving him the right to intrude into spaces such as toilets, change rooms, shelters and prisons, compete in the female sports category, avail himself of woman-specific services and resources including those for lesbians, and win awards, competitions, contracts and scholarships created for the benefit of females.

Anyone with an ounce of common sense recognises that this state of affairs is profoundly unfair at best and dangerous at worst. – Katherine Deves

I will rest my case on the percolation of the truth that continues to emerge in defiance of virtue-signalling ideology and ignorance.Katherine Deves

One of the things that appalls me about young billionaires (and erstwhile young billionaires) such as Bankman-Fried is their absence of taste. What is the point of being so rich if you look and dress as he looks and dresses? No doubt the look of false indigence that billionaires adopt is intended to deflect from their vast wealth, all of them being left-wing in everything but their finances, but it undermines as well as flatters public taste and detracts from civilized life. – Theodore Dalrymple 

But let us return to the question of hair and its relation not only to genius but to goodness. Nineteenth-century gurus—Tolstoy, Ruskin, William Morris, Bernard Shaw, and no doubt others—had long, straggly beards of an appearance of the nests of the less aesthetically fastidious species of birds. It was their beards that stood guarantor of these men’s wisdom; no one with a beard such as theirs could be any less than profound.

It is easy to make the logical mistake of supposing that if wise men have straggly beards, then men with straggly beards must be wise.Theodore Dalrymple 

Now, of course it is true that some geniuses have had wild hair—Beethoven, for example, or Einstein—but the majority have not. Power grows out of the barrel of a gun, said Mao Tse-tung (or however we are supposed to spell his name these days, my automatic spell-check on my computer not allowing me the spelling I grew up with); but cleverness does not grow out of disordered hair. A brush and comb are not completely incompatible with thought. – Theodore Dalrymple 

A conference in Glasgow this weekend, entitled ‘Education Not Indoctrination’, will take a critical look at the way schools are being used to inculcate woke values in our children, often against the wishes of parents. It is being organised by Hands Up Scotland, a group of parents and educators concerned about the politicisation of Scottish schools, in association with the Academy of Ideas, where I am science and technology director. Yet the event almost didn’t happen because staff at the original venue refused to work on it. This is a good example of how ‘cancel culture’ works today.Rob Lyons

As the blurb for Saturday’s event notes, schools are at the centre of the woke agenda. There’s the continued promotion of critical race theory in the classroom. There’s the Scottish government’s new sex-education curriculum, which will expose very young children to overtly sexualised material. There’s a new LGBTQ+ vocabulary (cisgender, transgender, bisexual, non-binary and genderfluidity) already being taught in primary schools. And there’s the Scottish government’s guidance on ‘Supporting Transgender Pupils in Schools’, which advises teachers not to question a child’s desire to transition.

In short, the views of a tiny minority, supported by the Scottish government, are being foisted on children, often in defiance of the wishes of parents. Profound changes are happening in Scottish education. And it is important that we get a chance to debate them.

But not everyone agrees this should be up for debate, it seems. – Rob Lyons

In a statement to The Times, the venue owners, Agile City, claimed that: ‘There was no attempt to stop the event happening or shut down the discussion; it’s just not something we can host in our venue.’ Yet it’s not entirely accurate to suggest there was no attempt to shut down discussion. The very act of pulling the booking at such short notice meant that the event might well have had to be cancelled.

Fortunately, a sympathetic venue – the Tron Church in Glasgow city centre – has stepped in, and the event will go ahead. It seems that Christians are now more open to political debate than many right-on liberals.

What the whole affair reveals is the brittleness of woke thinking. It is one thing to be passionate about particular issues. It is another to think that the mere airing of a different point of view is a threat, in and of itself. This is No Platforming taken to another level – it is an attempt to clamp down on debate itself.

This Civic House case also reveals another driver of cancel culture – the sense of entitlement among woke members of staff in cultural and political institutions. Rob Lyons

We need spaces to have civilised debate about important and controversial issues, free from the threat of cancellation. Thankfully, ‘Education Not Indoctrination’ will now go ahead. But that should never have been in question in the first place. –  Rob Lyons

In New Zealand, we talk a lot about big-ticket projects such as cycleways and convention centres. But we don’t focus nearly enough on infrastructure security. That’s a problem.

Infrastructure is not just a game of getting things done. Success means getting projects done well, and part of that means investing in necessary protection. – Matthew Birchall

Electricity is another area worth keeping an eye on. New Zealand is fortunate to have an ample supply of power sourced from wind farms and hydroelectric dams. But renewables can also be unreliable. When the wind is blowing and the dams are full, New Zealand is well-positioned to meet demand.

The problem arises when demand surges during winter and generation fails to keep up. When that happens, those still July days suddenly begin to lose their appeal. And it is in this context that coal and gas play an important role in keeping the power on. The 2021 blackouts. – Matthew Birchall

While the government has promised that all of New Zealand’s electricity will be generated from renewables by 2030, there is a strong argument to be made for continued use of gas and coal to shore up supply. At the very least, the move to renewables makes the question of secure electricity supply all the more salient. Wind, after all, has a bad habit of fluctuating.

However, the greatest risk to New Zealand’s infrastructure security may originate in cyber space. If a rogue actor hacked New Zealand’s power grid, telecoms network or water utilities, the country would be thrown into chaos. These assets are so essential to day-to-day life that society cannot function without them.

Experts speak of a cascade effect when critical infrastructure is destabilised. When one link in the chain goes down, the rest follow. –

Matthew Birchall

After all, if we don’t ensure that our kit is in good nick today, then we will have to pay more to maintain it tomorrow.  – Matthew Birchall

As “the greatest moral challenge of our times”, the dogmas of the climate change cult are no longer limited by any secular need for evidence or data

If climate change policy was ever based on “the science”, then that basis has long been overwhelmed by politics and tribal groupthink. It is now the very badge of a progressive left-wing worldview. In both USA and Australia, climate change alarm is the single greatest differentiator between the left and the right of politics.  – Barry Brill

The “climate justice” narrative is a post-modern cultural phenomenon, intertwined in endless mysterious ways with race and gender and other categories of perceived Marx-like oppression. Belief in the climate change credo is a sine qua non for every left-leaning politician (or journalist) – in the English-speaking world and further afield.

While an ideology for some, it is a quasi-religion for others. As long ago as 2003, author  Michael Crighton declared that mankind’s greatest challenge was to distinguish reality from fantasy, in the context of environmentalism becoming a religion. Regrettably, over the ensuing 20 years, faith in climate change has moved inexorably to fill the large vacuum left by the rapid decline of Christianity. – Barry Brill

Just as Torquemada declared war in the 15th century on those who could not believe in the teachings of the Vatican’s Holy See, Prime Minister Ardern has declared war in the 21st century on those who can not believe in the teachings of the United Nations’ IPCC.

The Inquisition used the old weapons of the thumbscrew, the rack, and the burning of books. Ms Ardern is a proud cheer-leader for the use of the “new weapons” of hate-speech laws, de-platforming, and cancel culture.Barry Brill

Roll over Josef Goebbels: your stunted canvas was but a single nation. Now we have the entire globalist population of the planet united behind the most ambitious propaganda campaign in history – with limitless funding and with no tether to any known system of ethics. – Barry Brill

We at the New Zealand Initiative are aware of an ill-founded view that we are somewhat critical of our much-beloved government. Of course, this “alternative view” has no merit.

Take, for example, Labour’s 3 November list of its 100 achievements since November 2021. On one count 71 of the 100 involved government spending more of our money on this or that.

Top of the list was putting a targeted cost of living payment on its credit card. Good thinking. After all, inflation is up because Government drew so heavily on the RBNZ’s ATM in responding to COVID. The remedy for too much government spending yesterday is obvious – more spending today.

The magical thing about the 71 spending items on this list is that they are all good. No one is harmed. Every item is beneficial. Why, otherwise, would it make the list? Why is it magic? Well anytime you or I spend our money we give up something – the chance to spend it on something else. We have to think about that.

Government is different. It can and does create more money out of nothing. Today’s government borrowing, like tomorrow’s inflation, is the next government’s problem. What did future generations ever do for us? There is more. Another 21 items in the list use regulations to spend other people’s money. – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

The list includes many things that a different government would also have achieved, for example, finishing Transmission Gully and free trade agreements.

Given this feature, we should acknowledge Labour’s modesty in excluding sunshine and fresh air from its list of achievements. They are free lunches too. – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

The Human Rights Commission says it’s “very disappointing” that the government isn’t going ahead with law changes that would curb New Zealanders’ right to free speech.

Let me repeat that, just in case you didn’t get the irony. An agency ostensibly set up to protect our rights is upset that the government isn’t introducing new laws that would restrict them. What better evidence could there be of the commission’s highly selective interpretation – you might say perversion – of its own name?Karl du Fresne 

The government’s retreat from its original intention is clearly a blow and a setback to the HRC, which is so obsessed with identity politics and the supposed menace of hate speech that it completely ignores its bigger responsibility to protect New Zealanders’ freedom of expression. – Karl du Fresne 

You’d think the commission’s own name was a bit of a giveaway, but no; its interpretation of the phrase “human rights” is selective, self-serving and unfailingly woke. Rather than concern itself with upholding and promoting New Zealanders’ rights generally, it directs its energies toward protecting us from racism, islamophobia, homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia and white supremacy. These endanger all of us, according to chief human rights pooh-bah Paul Hunt, arguably the most useless bureaucrat on the government’s payroll (in fact worse than useless, since the effect of his job, if not the purpose, is to promote a sense of division and drive wedges into the community).

To put it another way, the commission thinks it’s okay in a democracy to sacrifice the free-speech rights of the majority in order to protect supposedly vulnerable minority groups. It justifies this by arguing that restrictions on speech are needed to counter “violent extremism”. This is worryingly similar to the spurious pretexts – such as public order and public safety – routinely cited by authoritarian regimes that want to control what people think and say. Iran and Xi Jinping’s China come to mind. 

Reconciling free speech with the interests of minority groups calls for a balancing act, but the commission doesn’t even attempt it. It solves the problem by simply ignoring the free speech side of the equation altogether.Karl du Fresne 

The commission is a $13 million-plus per annum deadweight on the economy – money that could more usefully be spent on any number of worthy projects. Teaching dogs to ride bikes, for example. – Karl du Fresne 

Even without knowing the contents of the revised bill, haste is something we should be concerned about. It’s a pace of activity that is usually reserved for matters that the Government wants dealt with immediately; either because it is vital for the national interest or it is so unpalatable that they want to shut down the debate as quickly as possible. It would seem that the latter was their only justification.

I’m told by a highly regarded former MP that for a matter of this nature, it’s a pace that is unusually rushed, and in the context of Parliament’s rules, technically inappropriate.

Not that we can do too much about that. Let’s face it, this Government has been in an “inappropriate” hurry on Three Waters from the start. Despite the changes not yet being signed into law, they have already recruited a heap of people and leased high-quality and expensive office space in Auckland at least and possibly elsewhere. Every step has been action ahead of the democratic process.Bruce Cotterill

Imagine 88,000 submissions. Ignored. Just think for a moment of the emotion and passion that people had for the End of Life Choice Bill. And yet that received just less than half of the number of submissions that Three Waters did. And those submitters have been ignored. –Bruce Cotterill

We should be ropable that this is happening. And we should be stomping mad that neither of our top-rating TV news channels ran the story of the bill’s passing on their 6pm bulletins on Thursday evening. What the hell is going on here NZ?

This is major constitutional reform, involving the deliberate confiscation of assets from ratepayers and the councils that represent them, to a government and a policy that will be controlled by iwi-based or tribal interests. The consultation process around it has been minimal and most of us would say what little consultation has occurred has been ignored.Bruce Cotterill

So we see, finally, after all this time, what Three Waters has been about all along. It’s not about brown sludge coming out of your taps. In fact, it’s not about water at all. It’s about an asset grab of not only the water assets we thought, but also for a slice of our hydro schemes and for the highly contentious foreshore and seabed. By the time the third and final reading comes around, you can bet that the country’s parkland will no longer be an option. It will be included.

Perhaps the inclusion of the foreshore and the parkland will get us animated and angry.

We should be staggered that this legislation, delivering major constitutional change, is sleepwalking its way through Parliament via an aggressive majority government, while it appears that there is nothing that opposition politicians can do about it. – Bruce Cotterill

It would be tempting to throw in the towel. And yet, despite everything that has happened, Three Waters should continue to be a central election issue in 2023. Those parties currently in opposition must run a campaign to totally repeal this legislation and if elected they must do so promptly.

And we may as well brace ourselves for it now. Taking things away from people is always much harder than giving them out. Repealing this law will be messy and disruptive and difficult. But it must happen.

That’s why we have elections. When governments become this corrupt, they and the laws they created must go.Bruce Cotterill

Of course the key issue of this report is that it recommends that mana whenua sit on local councils, with full voting rights.  These representatives would have the same power as elected councillors, except of course, residents/ratepayers would have no power to remove them (except for those few that may be involved in mana whenua processes to select their councillors).

I don’t think much of liberal democracy, as it is not very effective at protecting individual rights, but it does have one useful function, in that it provides an effective process to remove politicians if enough people are fed up with them.  This proposal destroys this for mana whenua representative.  It institutes the principle that you can be taxed, regulated and governed by people you have NO say in being selected or being removed. – Liberty Scott

However there is no possible way that the New Zealand Labour Party wants to let people live their own lives as they see fit in such a way. The review of local government is about growing local government, it is the idea that wellbeing comes not from what individuals, families, colleagues, friends, communities, businesses and societies do, but from what government does – and the main tools of government are ones of coercion by taxation (and dishing out financial favours to preferred individuals and groups) and regulation. Liberty Scott

There is a desperate need for a review of local government that will decide what roles and responsibilities it should have and what ones should be taken away from it, and that would do much more to enhance wellbeing, by enabling more housing to be built, more businesses to be developed, more competition in retail and the economy, the environment and society to grow with local government being barely visible. It may manage some parks, have a fast, efficient planning permitting function, deal with neighbourhood noise and pollution complaints, and ensure rubbish is collected.

In the meantime though, the idea that elected politicians should be replaced by mana whenua representatives with MORE power to increase rates, establish new taxes and pass bylaws (and ban property development) is just a form of petty nationalist authoritarianism eating away at an already flawed system. – Liberty Scott

The intelligence of the New Zealand population increased during the 20th century. Nutrition played its part but so too did education. Young people were taught the abstract knowledge of academic subjects and in the process developed secondary intelligence.  Since the 1990s, the emptying out of prescribed academic knowledge from the national curriculum is likely to reverse the trend.  It’s a sobering thought that the population in the 21st century may be less intelligent than our 20th century predecessors. Elizabeth Rata

It is abstraction (or separation) from the everyday world of experience which gives academic knowledge both its intelligence-building power and its difficulty.  Because academic subjects are necessarily difficult they need to be taught by expert teachers. For their part, children must bring hard work and effort to the job. Parental support is vital for this mammoth task of intelligence building. There are no short-cuts for anyone involved.

So what makes academic knowledge the ‘intelligence builder’?  By ‘intelligence’ I mean an individual’s secondary thinking–the thinking that is self-consciously rational and very different from primary commonsense intelligence.  Humans have lived for millennia with the primary thinking needed for survival.  It remains essential today as we pick up the everyday socio-cultural knowledge of the family and community.  We must have this primary thinking ability but we can in fact do without complex abstract knowledge and its generating secondary intelligence. We can do as our ancestors did, rely on knowledge acquired from observation and experience and bounded by the limits of primary thinking. The question is – do we want to? – Elizabeth Rata

A well-designed national curriculum of prescribed academic knowledge is the only way to ensure that all New Zealand children are taught the knowledge that builds secondary intelligence.  It is the intelligence needed for a modern democratic society. This is the case because democracy is itself an abstract idea – built on networks of abstractions such as freedom, equality and citizenship.

The alternative is returning to the pre-modern world of our ancestors. The tribal world managed successfully using primary thinking. This is because kinship relations are material not abstract – we can literally ‘see’ our relations.  In contrast, democracy is justified by abstract ideas and abstract relationships – the main one is that of citizenship. For us to understand these abstractions, we must have secondary intelligence. Elizabeth Rata

We need to keep in mind why freedom of speech is so important. Freedom of speech is a right recognised domestically (in the Bill of Rights Act 1990) and internationally (in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). The starting point for any new legislation should be that. We have the freedom to say what we want unless there is a compelling and pressing reason for the state to curtail it by threatening criminal punishment.

Free speech has been a vital tool for the least powerful in society. – Marcus Roberts

Even if we are satisfied that there is a compelling reason to restrict our right to free speech, the restriction needs to be as narrow and as clear as possible. It’s not good enough to leave the contours of which speech counts as hate speech to the “you’ll-know-it-when-you-see-it” test. Tossing it to the courts to determine the boundaries as they go is also no answer.

Even if the courts do find in favour of a defendant (and thus, by their decision, help set the contours of the legislation), Liam Hehir has convincingly argued that the process is the punishment. Winning a legal battle can be as ruinous as losing one for an individual. Yet, win or lose, the state will never face financial, much less personal, ruin.

With so much at stake, let us hope that the Government’s proposed hate speech amendments adhere to first principles. If it doesn’t, the hate speech vs free speech battle risks collateral damage of much more than what you may (or may not) say.  – Marcus Roberts

You chose to have these kids, you have to wake up at 7am, get your kids to school at 8am. You have now got subsidised free lunches, free breakfasts, subsidised period products, subsidised school uniforms. There are no excuses. What we have in New Zealand is a culture of excuses. –  Christopher Luxon

Age is not an immutable characteristic. Treating children differently to adults is not the same as treating people differently based on race or sex. And 18 years is the generally agreed-upon age at which a child becomes an adult.

For most New Zealanders, the idea of 16 and 17-year-olds voting defies common sense. Large majorities of people surveyed reject the idea. Letting kids vote is less popular than letting prisoners vote.

Of course, there is increasingly little room for common sense in New Zealand’s appellate courts. Not, at least, when the opportunity for the promotion of liberal opinion is concerned. Our justices are no longer so shy of broad political questions that touch upon subjects not usually reducible to legal reasoning.Liam Hehir 

The court has, therefore, set the agenda on an inextricably political question.

It is a rarer and rarer thing for our justices to refuse involvement in political questions when it comes to the preoccupations of the chattering classes. The best that can be hoped for is a reluctant refusal to grant relief paired with some obiter dicta about where the court’s sympathy lies. Those comments crack the door open just that little bit further, of course, and provide something for the next case to build upon.

This is not all the fault of the courts. Judges are only human and there is nothing more human than being tempted to use the tools at your disposal to achieve the outcome you want. Some blame lies with the elected politicians who have given the judiciary these tools or, at least, have permitted their use.

Ambiguous laws promote judicial activism. They create a permission structure for the judiciary to exercise personal discretion to the act interpretation. – Liam Hehir 

Law faculties would absolutely hate this as, would of course, the judiciary. But the time has long since passed where the democratically accountable branches of the government flex a bit of muscle. And if the courts are bent on drifting into politics then they can hardly complain about politics drifting into the courts.Liam Hehir 

All I’m doing is calling parents to responsibility to say ‘Hey, listen, it’s in your interest that we want your children to do better than you did’ … education is the biggest thing that creates social mobility and opportunity. – Christopher Luxon

As the Kremlin’s spokesman tells us – somewhat improbably – that regime change was never Vladimir Putin’s goal, the debate on whether Russia and Ukraine should be negotiating gets another bounce.

Depressing – but necessary – to bear in mind that a settlement will rest more on power than on justice.

Some other lessons from the conflict also seem to be getting neglected.

First, that the success of Ukraine’s resistance is due to the courage and commitment of a smallish group of mostly young men. A group who in general weren’t getting good press or much encouragement before all this kicked off.

Secondly, the steady flow of Western self-congratulation seems overdone.Point of Order :

Thirdly, this is a war with a system, rather than a country. – Point of Order

And as a Russian and an insider, he provides a vivid picture of the creation from the security apparatus of a governing class that is a law unto itself.

During Putin’s twenty two years in power, it has systematically eliminated the bases of civil society: security of property and the fruits of labour; reliable justice and restraints on state power; fair competition for the right to govern; the opportunity and ability to organise, express and disseminate alternatives. Point of Order

The contrast with China is stark.  Deng Xiaoping also toiled for nearly twenty years but in a different direction.  He sought to convince the workers and peasants that the Communist party would respect the fruits of their labour – just as long as they did not challenge its governance (and hence the significance of President Xi’s recent signals that he might renegotiate the bargain).

This suppression of independent activity – social and entrepreneurial – would now appear to be Russia’s chief source of political and economic weakness.

It should clarify that the principal enemy is the Russian governing class, rather than the Russian people.

And that we all win if the Russian people can be helped to turn round the course of the last twenty two years.

Don’t forget then, that in all that time the only people who have come near to inflicting a political defeat on that class are a handful of American (and British) trained Ukrainian men.

So it might be a good idea to be very clear what you are negotiating about, before starting. – Point of Order

This Labour Government constantly confuses spending money with outcomes. If money was the answer to solving the many issues facing the sector, then Kiwis’ would have timely access to services, better facilities, and see an overall improvement to the country’s mental wellbeing.

Unfortunately that is not the case and mental health in New Zealand has never been in a worse state. What Kiwis’ are experiencing is longer wait times to essential services, overcrowding, a worsening state to mental health facilities, and serious workforce shortages facing the sector

Measurable outcomes are what matter for individuals, and their families, who are desperately seeking help. Not wasted money and broken promises- Matt Doocey 

Penological liberals, then, whether they realize it or not, are effectively in favor of violence against women.- Theodore Dalrymple

With their claws savagely embedded in the throats of most of New Zealand’s news media (so to speak) racist commentators are really having a great time distorting and rewriting the history of our once fair country of New Zealand. 

They appear to have learnt that if you tell the BIG LIE often enough and loud enough, people will come to believe it and of course once should be enough for innocent children, that is if they can be induced actually to go to school.  If statistics are to be believed for once, it appears that truancy is at a record high in New Zealand schools, highest apparently among children of part-Maori descent and lowest among Chinese. Bruce Moon 

Perverse incentives facing councils seemed to underlie many of the problems with the existing resource management system.

Nothing in the RMA forced councils to set restrictive district plans, though it did make it difficult to modify existing ones. Nevertheless, district plans often made it very difficult to build apartments and townhouses in inner suburbs near the amenities where a lot of people want to live, or new subdivisions and lifestyle blocks on the edges of cities.

When cities can neither grow up nor out in response to changes in demand for housing, prices adjust instead.

The reason for restrictive district plans is simple. When cities grow, central government enjoys the increase in income tax, company tax, and GST. But councils experience urban growth as a cost to be mitigated, rather than a benefit to be sought. And councils at or near their debt limits have extreme difficulty in funding and financing the infrastructure necessary to support it. – Eric Crampton

The National Planning Framework will need to provide very strong direction to regional planning committees to prioritise flexible urban land markets over other objectives.

But the game of whack-a-mole in which central government legislates against each new way that councils find to obstruct growth seems likely to continue – unless councils are made to welcome urban growth by sharing in its benefits. For example, councils could receive grants from central government reflecting a share of the increased tax take that growth provides to central government.

Without that kind of change to the incentives councils face, any wine that eventually pours from the new planning bottles may taste remarkably, and depressingly, familiar. – Eric Crampton

For all of the posing and posturing, most of the arguments to extend (or not extend) the size of the electorate to include 16 and 17yos come with a big tinge of self-interest around power.  It’s been proclaimed that it is “discriminatory” that they don’t get a chance to vote, but almost every argument extended to this can be applied to 15, 14 or even some 13 and 12yos.  Paying taxes doesn’t give visitors or tourists a vote, and plenty who pay little to no taxes get to vote.

No, it’s an exercise in emotionally laden performance from those in politics who get an advantage from having more fungible brains to convince to give them power. It’s hardly a surprise that there is strong leftwing support for the idea, because it is widely perceived that most younger people (certainly the more politically active ones) are leftwing, because they are lured by the idea of more government, which can make good stuff compulsory, cheaper or free, and bad stuff banned or more expensive. This is, after all, the predominant philosophical bent pushed through state education and much of the media. – Liberty Scott

 If there were to be an age when an individual is an adult, in terms of powers to contract, to be treated as an adult in the justice system, and to not have age based restrictions on what you can and can’t do with your body, then that should be the age of adulthood.  At present it is a mix of 16 and 18, but few on the left think 16yos should face the same judicial treatment as 18yos, and almost none think they should be able to buy alcohol, be prostitutes and even buy tobacco. 

There is a curious cultural disjunction between those who want younger teenagers to vote, and demand they be given “a voice” for their often ill-informed, inconsistent views (and they have no monopoly on that), but also think they need “protection” from the consequences of their actions.  They aren’t old enough to handle being intoxicated, to face adult court and prison if they initiate force against others,  and although it is often cited that they can “have sex”, it’s a serious criminal offence if anyone takes photos of them doing so or even possesses them, even with their consent.  So many who want to give them the vote also deem them vulnerable.  So which is it?Liberty Scott

So let’s not pretend this is about young people having a “stake in their future” because the politicians eager for their votes don’t think young people can make competent decisions on what they ingest or what photos are taken of them.

If politicians want to argue that 16 should be the age of being an adult, then all well and good, let it be and let them accept the consequences for what this means, and they can vote.

Otherwise it’s just a call for “more votes for my side, to help me do what I want to you all” – Liberty Scott

Time has been called on overhauling ‘hate speech laws’ in New Zealand. After sitting in Labour’s manifesto for years, and two Ministers of Justice failing to build support for the proposals, maybe they’ve seen the light: legislation is no antidote to hate. – Jonathan Ayling

The basic issue still remains: silencing opinion, even condemnable opinions (which do not amount to incitement to violence, which is already illegal), doesn’t deal with a lack of social cohesion.

And if hate speech laws don’t work for other ‘vulnerable communities’, we need to rethink the entire venture. The question, ‘if this group, why not that group’ is legitimate. If hate speech laws do work to protect vulnerable communities, like religious groups, then why won’t the Minister commit to including other vulnerable groups too? It’s because she herself has admitted they could make the situation worse.  – Jonathan Ayling

The fact of the matter is hate speech laws (even if they’re just extending protected classes by one group) make things worse.

The government must stand for Kiwis’ right to express their opinions in speech and do away with the notion that gagging voices resolves complex issues. Sections 61 and 131 of the Human Rights Act should be repealed entirely and simple incitement to violence outlawed as speech beyond the pale of free expression. Until then, we’re making social cohesion worse by hand-picking which groups we’re allowed to be derogatory about, and which we can’t. This is hardly a winning strategy for unity.Jonathan Ayling

It goes without saying that we don’t want religious groups lumped into monolithic groups without any nuance or insight. But is this change really going to stop that? – Jonathan Ayling

It’s time better solutions were given a chance, solutions that elevate dialogue, reason, and counter-speech. Hate speech is a problem, but the problem is the hate, not the speech. As the American journalist Jonathan Rauch claims, ‘Trying to fix the hate by silencing the speech is like trying to fix climate change by breaking all the thermometers.’

Today’s announcement is a good start, but we need to look at whether hate speech laws have any place in our law. Ultimately, they’re a fool’s errand that actually make the situation worse.Jonathan Ayling

Yes there are some superbly informed smart and diligent 16 year olds, but there are equally many who are completely out to lunch, totally ill informed, barely turning up to school, or in some cases, just out ram raiding.

Now when they do stuff like that – they’re ‘children’ – cue the heartstrings – who can’t possibly be punished or sent to boot camp or put in ankle bracelets, because they’re ‘children’.

There is also the argument trotted out every time a young person does do something wrong, that cognitively their brains haven’t fully developed yet. But when it comes to getting them to tick a box for a party and a candidate – suddenly they’re now cognitively proficient informed adults?

It’s a mixed message. – Kate Hawkesby

Is it also discriminatory to use age as an excuse not to pay them benefits, or to use their age as a tool to means test them against their parents income for allowances? Do we lower the drinking age too, now that 16 is so responsible? Is 16 the new benchmark?

Anyone who has raised 16 year olds knows that it’s still very young, and I just don’t know why we keep wanting to make childhood shorter and shorter for our young people.

They already have to grow up so fast, now we expect them to know about taxes and laws and politics too? Can they not just enjoy their youth while they still have it? Kate Hawkesby

You can’t know how the world works surely until you’ve actually experienced it? Paid rent or a mortgage, left home, gotten out into the real world, earned your own money, paid your own taxes – lived a little.

It’s not up to us though, or the Supreme Court, it’s up to Parliament, and it won’t get the 75 percent support required so it’s going nowhere.

But nor should it, if Parliament’s going to devote time and energy to anything to do with young people right now it should be getting the 60 percent of kids not attending back into school and addressing the surge in youth crime.

Surely that’s more pressing right now than whether they can vote or not? – Kate Hawkesby

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the government was delighted with this week’s ruling from the Supreme Court that excluding sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds from the right to vote was inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act. Not because of the weight of the legal argument, nor the morality of the cause, but simply because the ruling provided the government with a huge distraction from all the other problems confronting it at present.Peter Dunne

But rather than waiting six months to make its response known, the government waited barely six hours, so gleeful was it at the distraction the Court had provided. The Prime Minister did not even wait for the Labour Caucus to meet, before announcing the government’s response. Legislation to lower the voting age to 16 will be drafted immediately, she promised, and introduced to Parliament as soon as possible.

That immediately ensured all the right headlines and focus for the next couple of days at least, during which time the Reserve Bank is expected to lift interest rates by the biggest amount yet, further hitting already struggling household budgets. The cynicism of the decision is highlighted by the fact that for the voting age for Parliamentary elections to be lowered, a minimum 75% of Parliament (90 MPs) must vote in favour. When she made her announcement the Prime Minister said she did not know whether all Labour MPs, let alone MPs from other parties supported the move, which she hoped would be determined by a conscience vote. Her promised legislation was therefore nothing but smoke and mirrors. – Peter Dunne

The current outcome could not be better for her – thanks to National and ACT, nothing will change, but the Prime Minister will be able to keep empathising with young, upcoming voters about how much she “personally” supports their cause, even though, like so much else, she cannot deliver it. More importantly, by doing so, she potentially locks in their support for when they are eligible to vote. So, the government’s response is far more about securing its political advantage, than addressing the principle raised by the Supreme Court of whether it is right to exclude 16–17-year-olds from being able to vote.Peter Dunne

 If a lowered voting age for local body elections proves to be successful in terms of increasing turnout and engagement, then consideration could be given to reducing the age for general elections. The most likely date for that to happen would be the 2029 general election, by which time most of the current crop of politicians will have moved on.

But that is all too far in the future for the government to be concerned about at present. All it knows, is that right now the Supreme Court has presented it with a wonderful diversionary opportunity of which it must take full advantage. Given there is little else flowing its way at present, it is hardly surprising it will milk the issue for all it can over the next little while, secure in the knowledge that nothing is actually going to change. – Peter Dunne

The fact a majority of the working group decided the right to issue binding Te Mana o Te Wai statements should be extended to include coastal and geothermal water brings to mind David Lange’s quip about panel-beaters being allowed to design an intersection.Graham Adams 

I have to say that this is the most despicable, the most dishonest, and the most dishonourable piece of legislation I have had the misfortune to speak to in this House. This is a deplorable way of stealing assets off communities — assets that have been bought and paid for over generations…

“This is despicable, and I want to say that the people of this country deserve better. – Maureen Pugh

It is widely accepted that to avoid catastrophic climate change we must extract carbon from the atmosphere as well as reduce emissions. That is, we need negative emissions technologies. Indigenous people created such technology over thousands of years, manifested in Amazonian terra preta (black soils) and carbon-rich black soils in West Africa. These soils were likely created accidentally through charcoal being added with food scraps and other waste into infertile soils, turning them into enduringly fertile, carbon-rich black soils. While most soil carbon is lost to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, charcoal endures as a permanent soil carbon store. Peter Winsley

Contrary to some perceptions, on a population-adjusted basis indigenous societies are not more environmentally benign than modern, industrialised ones. Both Māori and Pakeha wasted resources when they were abundant and developed sustainable practices only when resources became depleted. In pre-European times Māori were responsible directly or indirectly for the loss of about half New Zealand’s forest cover, and the extinction of over forty bird species.

In modern times, some Māori groups have given priority to commercial interests over environmental protection. For example, in 2013 government mooted an ocean sanctuary surrounding the Kermadec Islands. However, Māori interests opposed this, arguing that the proposed sanctuary breached possible future fishing rights. – Peter Winsley

Where environmental management can go badly wrong is when privileged business, tribal or sectarian interests exploit legal or political processes for rent-seeking purposes. What was once the “Three Waters” reforms has now become “Five Waters” due to some late backroom amendments to draft legislation. The Five Waters legislation if enacted will set up a racialist system to manage New Zealand’s water resources. It will make corruption and nepotism possible on a monumental scale. However, on the positive side it will teach people lessons about not taking democracy and institutional integrity for granted.

It is often contended that economic growth is environmentally damaging. However, the environmental Kuznets curve hypothesis suggests that environmental degradation increases at early economic development stages. However, when income reaches a certain level local environments improve. For example, air and water quality is now far better in modern cities than it was 100 years ago. Today, London is no longer threatened by industrial “pea souper” fogs, and the Thames is swimmable. In Wellington, biodiversity is flourishing due to pest control and the Zealandia wildlife sanctuary that we can afford to pay for.Peter Winsley

Resources such as oil and gas fields concentrate economic and political power in specific places with benefits captured quite narrowly. In contrast, decentralised industries such as distributed energy (wind, solar) and farming diffuse power. Many technological responses to climate change are consistent with a more distributed energy system and a more equitable economy and society. This is what we should be aiming for, rather than perpetuating untruths about colonialism, and dismissing whole swathes of humanity as being dependent on ongoing genocide. – Peter Winsley

Tension in the farming ranks is palpable; discontent with central Government policies is intense; frustration regarding inexorable cost increases is a dark cloud, and given the recent profits recently announced by the banking sector followed by spiraling interest rates, accusations of price-gouging by the trading banks are now emerging.

In terms of returns for primary produce, given the market-related signals reflecting an easing in price levels for beef, lamb and dairy products, the mood of caution within the simmering cauldron of the rural sector is sobering, and food for reflection. – Brian Peacocke

I think that for farming to advocate for itself, it’s not only advocating for what’s annoying and frustrating them, but there’s also a huge need for us as an agriculturally strong community to continue to share both the gains and the commitment of the agricultural community to farming well both for themselves, the community, and the future. – Jenny Shipley

When we were farming, many were just farming to survive. Now, I see farmers all over the place investing not only in best practice for themselves, but I do see a lot of change. I think the voice of that needs to be shared across the community much more broadly so that the urban New Zealand population both values agriculture and understands that it’s moving in response to many of the concerns that urban communities have.  – Jenny Shipley

I think that urban-rural split has always been a risk in New Zealand and it’s one we can’t afford to give airtime too. Because, frankly, if you just thought that even in the COVID period, if we had not had a strong agricultural sector during the last three years when the global economy had been disrupted, New Zealand’s position economically would be far more dire than it is at the moment.

Tourism collapsed, a number of other productive areas were compromised and yet agriculture was able to carry a huge proportion of the earnings, as it’s always done. But thankfully, on a strong commodity cycle at this particular time, and again, I think we should name the value of agricultural exports. The effort agriculture puts into the New Zealand economy to support our way of life, in a broad, holistic sense – not a them and us sense.

We’re in this together, being the best we can be at home and selling the best we can abroad in a best practice sense. I think if we keep sharing that over and over again, there’ll be a better understanding between rural and urban communities.  – Jenny Shipley

Often we say, well, we consulted, or we sent out a document and gave them a chance to comment. I think that for people to genuinely become supporters of a regime, they have to have a deep sense of ownership. They need to be able to see themselves in whatever is proposed as opposed to seeing something being imposed on them, which they don’t or can’t relate to.  

So the test of high-quality engagement and consultation has got to be that measure of – can the people we’re representing see themselves in the proposed solutions or are we just saying, well, regardless of what you think, you’ve got to be there in five or ten years’ time. That’s not easy to do. I think in New Zealand’s circumstances, whether it’s agriculture or Maori – Pakeha relations, or any of the other demanding spaces, we’ve just got to put the time and work into it.  – Jenny Shipley

The Kellogg Programme is fantastic. I’d encourage any community to keep identifying young leaders and to promote them into those Programmes. Often people think, these people are too young. I must have been, I don’t know, 32 or thereabouts when I went into Kellogg. Often at that stage, you haven’t identified your leadership purpose and your particular intentions as to how you will use your leadership skills. But others often see leadership potential in those young people.

There’s no question that our political environment, our economic and social environment, need younger people coming through all the time in order for us to be able to shape the future successfully. I would encourage people to look for those chances and look for individuals who they can sponsor or promote and make sure they support them. Because often these are the young people, male and female, who have got kids and are trying to run a farm and all that. So the programmes themselves are a big commitment, but it’s worth it.   – Jenny Shipley

Consultation is not a promise of change and never has been.

New Zealand has traditionally been known as the land of the long white cloud. Now, it seems, it is destined to become the land of the tall green pine. – Rural News

This passage, which the word creepy doesn’t adequately describe, is very revealing of the moral sensibility—or lack of it—of our time. The courts in Canada have recognized a perfectly true fact about human development, that it doesn’t take place at the same pace in every individual, and has drawn from this undoubted fact the unjustified conclusion that placing legal age limits is therefore unacceptably arbitrary. This is an argument that has helped to produce and inflame the egotism and individualism without individuality of our times. – Theodore Dalrymple

According to this argument, however, the law had no right to fix an age of consent, as fixing it at any age would be arbitrary. What is claimed, therefore, is the right of everyone to set his own rules and decide everything for himself. He doesn’t accept that living in society entails acceptance of rules that, in a world of continua rather than of absolutely discrete categories, it’s necessary just to accept rules that are neither wholly defensible in rational terms nor that one hasn’t made for oneself.Theodore Dalrymple

I can envisage circumstances in which I would like to be put down painlessly. I wouldn’t much care to be professionally entrusted, let alone required, to do it for others. Therein lies a paradox. – Theodore Dalrymple

Instead of opening up to desperately needed skilled workers, Labour’s immigration settings have essentially raised the drawbridge and made New Zealand a fortress.Erica Stanford

The Government’s immigration policies have been a total disaster, and Kiwis are paying the price with higher inflation and higher interest rates. – Erica Stanford

Businesses are struggling with the restrictive system for work visas and the complicated system for bringing in skilled migrants, which is making it hard for firms to access the skills they need.

Among the business community there is confusion about NZ’s policy making on immigration which does not seem to recognise the importance of migration to this country.

Business requires open, simple, permissive immigration settings to meet the challenge of severe skill shortages and reduce economic and social harmCatherine Beard

This decision takes us places.

It means that if you want to have age-based entitlements then you have to show that the age is really relevant. There has to be some specific feature of a certain age, which doesn’t apply at another age, but which applies for everyone.

We use age as a proxy for a bundle of entitlements because testing individual competence or attributes can be intrusive and cumbersome. The court gave this principle no shrift at all, and in doing so it has struck a blow against a fundamental principle of modern social democracy: the progressive principle of universal entitlement. – Josie Pagani

The only way to reconcile the Supreme Court’s new principle is to means-test Super. If entitlement at an age depends on objective reasons for choosing that age, then if you are sickly or poor, you should get a pension but if you have KiwiSaver, no Super for you. Stop saving now.Josie Pagani

If you’re 16, parents still have an obligation to house, feed and protect you. The state has the authority to step in if parents fail. Third parties, like companies, governments and political parties, are regulated from exploiting teenagers. Make them adults and the responsibility to provide and protect withers and dies.

The real issue is about when childhood ends and with it the protections in law for children.

Voting at 16, and all the other entitlements that would come between 16 and 18, are the rights of adults.

Voting makes children into adults.

I want to protect children from worrying about taxes, responsibilities and the need to provide for others. – Josie Pagani

The prohibition on discrimination on the basis of age exists because a 60-year-old should not be denied a job in favour of a less qualified 30-year-old. It does not substitute for an argument about when adulthood begins.

In its decision the Supreme Court records a breezy observation that, ‘’it is clear that the line [of adulthood] has to be drawn somewhere’’. To resolve where to draw the line, the court then rehearsed a claim from an academic that there is little evidence to support 18 as a ‘’suitable proxy for maturity and competency to vote’’.

In quoting this evidence, it has done subtle but brutal damage to our democracy. Competence, maturity and intelligence should never, ever, be judicially contemplated as a qualification to vote.Josie Pagani

Voting is the right of all adults. The only issue to determine is ‘’are you an adult?’’

By discussing whether votes attach to competence, the court has ensured that, one day, some class of people will be declared not competent. This is not progressive. – Josie Pagani

The dissenting judge said the majority has reduced the rights of everyone over 18 by slightly altering the composition of the voting electorate.

I would argue it also affected the rights of under-18s to transition out of childhood without having the responsibilities of adulthood imposed too soon. – Josie Pagani

No-one knows what is meant by co-governance. Or, more accurately, there is no agreement about what is meant by this term. – Hilary Calvert

If the Government is promoting co-governance it should be clear about what it is.

This is particularly important if it may have the effect of ceding the authority vesting in the democratically elected government to any organisations which are or could be 50% appointed and the other 50% elected by the entire population. And where there must be an ability to resolve a deadlock of views by granting some undisclosed person or people a right to exercise a casting vote.

The Government, including the most relevant ministers, is either unsure or it is attempting to comfort those who are unsure whether to embrace co-governance by telling different audiences different things.Hilary Calvert

Surely when there are proposals to change something as fundamental as our democracy we should all be part of the conversation. It is not good enough to leave the concept of co-governance to mean different things to different people who are signing up to or accepting the concept.

We should all be discussing how it can be that Te Tiriti can mean equal control of everything in public ownership in New Zealand. And who has the casting vote. And what we do about some being appointed and some elected. And how our legal system can be fundamentally messed around with by suggesting that you can leave someone with ownership without control. And how the Declaration of Indigenous Rights can be interpreted to give all of a population 50% control and 17% of the population 50% control.

We also should talk about whether democracy means for us one person one vote. – Hilary Calvert

Now is the time to be talking about what co-governance actually means and how the Government wants to impose it on New Zealand.Hilary Calvert

The Government was right to pull back from extending our laws around controlling what people say about each other in case social peace is threatened.

However Minister Mahuta has said that opposition to the Government’s proposed fresh water reforms “seemed to be driven not about economics or effectiveness but racist tropes about co-governance”.

Driving discussion about such issues underground by labelling concerns as racist tropes is more likely to threaten social peace and encourage more extreme views.

We do well if we retain the ability to listen to and understand the fears and hopes we have about the future of our democracy and what it means to be a New Zealander in an inclusive and enriching society. – Hilary Calvert

Most of the commonly-raised arguments are unconvincing.

For example, although 16- and 17-year-olds are affected by the laws passed by Parliament, this does not provide an argument for lowering the voting age to 16 and no further. After all, a newborn will feel the effects of today’s political decisions for longer than a 17-year-old.

Similarly, the argument that 16 is more in line with the legal age of majority is not true. As the Court of Appeal noted, the “age of responsibility varies greatly under New Zealand law”, and there are many areas where the age of maturity is generally deemed to be 18, like contract law, making wills, getting married, and the criminal justice system, to name a few.  – Marcus Roberts

The evidence, however, is out there. It suggests that throughout our teenage years, our brains are inherently imbalanced.

While the part of our brain concerned with rapid, automatic processing matures around puberty, the part which allows us to think in the abstract, weigh moral dilemmas, and control our impulses does not mature until our mid-to-late 20s.

This imbalance means that teenagers are more susceptible to peer pressure (even without direct coercion), are more likely to focus on immediate benefits and underestimate long-term consequences, and are less able to resist social and emotional influences.

The odds are against us when making the decisions required at the voting booth in our teenage years. This evidence might even justify raising the voting age to 25, but at the very least, it suggests that an 18-year-old is more mature and more competent than a 16-year-old. – Marcus Roberts

The “please explain” is because the criteria they set is hopeless, the delivery is virtually non-existent and the overarching aspect is because they are soft on crime and apologists for criminals.

Because none of them have ever run a small business, they don’t have a clue about the role they play in the community, about the graft and risk involved and therefore the unconscionable position they have been placed in by a Government.

We have a Government that still inexplicably defends all of this as either a complex issue or something that isn’t their fault, and refuses to defend their citizens from the ever-growing tide of lawlessness that they have directly created.Mike Hosking

A modern-day monetary Moses, this week Orr had made his six-weekly descent from the Mount Doom of the Reserve Bank to issue the latest OCR decision and his set of commandments.

The OCR decision was not pretty and the commandments included thou shalt not ask for a pay rise, thou shalt not buy nice Christmas presents for people, thou shalt swap the Christmas turkey for a humble, cheap chicken, thou shalt have a nice staycation.

Orr’s own gift was high mortgage rates and a recession for 2023 – a cruel-to-be-kind present. He wrapped it in an apology, saying the bank’s monetary policy committee was very sorry about the whole state of affairs indeed. – Claire Trevett

It would be hard to tell which group is filled with most dread by Orr’s bitter medicine: the Government for the impact on mortgage rates as election year looms, retailers for his “have a sensibly spending Christmas” sign-off, or the 80 per cent of mortgage holders who have to refix in the near future.Claire Trevett

Labour is now confronted with an election-year hell – and so are voters. – Claire Trevett

One week does not an election loss make. The crime wave may well improve.

The pronouncements from Mount Doom, on the other hand, will not be getting any more cheerful for some time yet.Claire Trevett

Many thinking New Zealanders would like more debate on these issues.

Surely it is at the point where there should be a Royal Commission to examine our constitutional arrangements? – Fran O’Sullivan

You know, I made a living out of being a very open, happy sort of guy on the telly, but I was fibbing to people in a way because I was ‘Jack the lad’ on TV and then would go home and from time to time cry myself off to sleep or whatever it is.

And so we have a responsibility in the public roles that we have to own this stuff and let others know that no one’s immune and everybody’s got stuff going on, and we always will. – Matt Chisholm

I embraced it. I got into it. I played my footy, I loved my farming, I did all those things. But I also was a bit of a sensitive guy and concealed that for a long time, and it wasn’t until I’d got a bit older and a bit longer on the tooth that I thought, actually, no, I don’t wanna drink booze three nights a week, and drive myself into the ground that way. – Matt Chisholm

[Honesty] has cost me work opportunities. It’s cost me the odd relationship. But this is what I think – you get to a stage in life, and you think, right, do I be open and honest about this? And I think, yes, I will, and that is because it’ll help more people. It is the right thing to do because even though it might cost me and it might set me back – and I’m learning that as I go – but it’ll help more people than it’ll negatively affect me.Matt Chisholm

Finance Minister Grant Robertson padded Budget 2022 with $2.05 billion from the remnants of the Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund contrary to his undertakings that the enormous pot of emergency money be limited to direct, pandemic-related spending and over the Treasury’s objections.

The Government took $1.05b from the fund and “reprioritised” the money to spend on the “cost of living payment” and extended cost reductions for motorists, both rushed into existence in light of surging inflation and polling that suggested a related ebb in the Labour Party’s popularity. – Kate MacNamara

Using the contingency as the Government has means they can spend more in the short term only, ie in the lead-up to the election. When the funding runs out they will have created an unfunded cost pressure.Tony Burton

This set of facts makes a mockery of the Minister’s claims that he stuck to his operating allowance in this year’s Budget. In fact, he showed a reckless disregard for the fiscal discipline needed to keep pressure off inflation – Nicola Willis 

Arguably, most westerners just don’t take religion seriously enough to kill and die for it anymore. But free speech may also have contributed to the truce.

Over several centuries, growing acceptance of free speech made it more and more possible for Catholics and Protestants to talk through their differences. Over the same time period, the incidence of armed conflict between them diminished.

Unfortunately, our ability to speak freely on religious matters may be at risk. – Michael Johnston

As hurtful as it is to be a target of hateful comments, there are sound reasons not to criminalise those who make them.

For one thing, ridiculing religious ideas themselves arguably insults those who believe them too. So scornful remarks about religious beliefs could easily run afoul of Allen’s new laws.

For another, the new legislation, if passed, might actually increase the likelihood of violence motivated by or against religion. People who don’t feel free to voice their hateful thoughts may be more likely to act on them.

But there is an even better reason to maintain the ability to freely express ideas, even awful ones. Untrammelled expression, as bruising as it can sometimes be, tends to bring people together in the long run.

Protestants and Catholics once regarded one another as heretics. They sought to censor one another on pain of death. Now, following a long period during which peaceful dialogue has been possible, it is not unknown for them to worship together.

Our legislators would do well to reflect on that. – Michael Johnston

There are still the same number of mental health beds as there were in 2019.

Despite numerous speeches and pledges. Despite billions of dollars spent. And despite years of government activism.

Mental health patients sleep on mattresses on the floors of our hospitals. Those in the greatest need and desperation have not even the dignity of a bed.

These stories are hard to bear. They contrast sharply with New Zealand’s self-image as a kinder country. – Oliver Hartwich 

There is Weber’s ethics of conviction, and the Prime Minister shows much of that. And then there is Weber’s ethics of responsibility, which is measured in outcomes. The Government’s record on that front is abysmal.

Before I hear one more grand vision from this Government, I would love to see them tackle at least one problem satisfactorily.

The way the Government is going, I will probably wait a long time. – Oliver Hartwich 

The Prime Minister’s willingness to gaslight the nation about Five Waters is disturbing.

It takes a large dollop of brazenness — and perhaps desperation — to deny reality quite as readily as Jacinda Ardern was willing to do last Tuesday, but the Prime Minister did not resile from the task.

When Newstalk ZB’s Barry Soper asked her why the three waters (fresh water, storm water and waste water) had suddenly become five waters (with the late addition of coastal and geothermal water) in the amended Water Services Entities Bill, Ardern flatly denied that was the case.

Denying observable facts is typical of very young children before they understand that bending the truth beyond breaking point is an art that requires at least a modicum of plausibility to avoid ending up deeply and shamefully embarrassed. – Graham Adams

While this might be seen as an amusingly naive ploy in a child anxious to avoid the consequences of being caught red-handed, such behaviour is plainly alarming in an adult — and especially when that adult happens to be the Prime Minister.Graham Adams

By denying that adding coastal and geothermal water will boost the number of categories of water covered by the bill to five, Ardern was gaslighting the nation in a way that makes a quote from George Orwell’s 1984 entirely apposite: “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

The Prime Minister has always had difficulty dealing straightforwardly with dissent or criticism and is clearly allergic to admitting she is wrong — let alone getting around to apologising. She is also not above making stuff up to defend the indefensible.

However, denying that a clause in legislation means what any reasonably intelligent person — or lawyer — would accept its meaning to be is a new and worrying expression of that deep character flaw. – Graham Adams

When you are immersed in the business of politics, as she is, accusing others of “politicking” is absurd — yet she does it without any apparent awareness of how risible it is.Graham Adams

When you ride a very high horse, as the Prime Minister does, falling off can be painful and spectacular.

As the wheels of her government continue to wobble alarmingly — as they are in education, health, crime, and cost of living, to name just a few of the disasters Ardern is presiding over — watching how she reacts to the relentless criticism inevitable in an election year will bring its own horrified fascination, both for supporters and opponents alike. – Graham Adams

When I was young, kids appeared before a magistrate (a District Court Judge before 1978) sufficiently rarely that questions were raised about the young person’s family, and inadequate parental supervision. Sometimes the magistrate would rebuke the parents if a child had been wagging school, or had been out late and was unsupervised. Remedial action was usually fairly swift: parents took steps to look after their children lest there was further police action.

Over the last fifty years there has there been a steady movement away from holding parents to account for the children they bring into the world. Why all the hooha when National’s Christopher Luxon recently suggested it was time for parents of perennial young trouble-makers to be held to account? The short answer is that politicians, especially those of a left persuasion, fear voter backlash not just from the parents and the kids once they reach voting age, but from the significant industry that now farms the country’s underclass. Gradually a perception has been allowed to emerge that problems are always someone else’s responsibility to deal with, never the family’s. Yet that is where the heart of the problem lies. – Michael Bassett

Requirements that men should support the children they fathered decreased, particularly when birth mothers could refuse to name their children’s fathers. Under all these pressures, the underclass mushroomed. Quite quickly many children had no family link with anyone working for a living. The 100,000 recipients of Job-Seeker Benefits, with no experience, nor intention of working make up the bulk of a self-perpetuating stratum of modern New Zealand society. It costs the taxpayer hugely in benefits, Kainga Ora subsidies, criminal activity, police and prison time. Most of the ram raiding, knife-wielding, gun-toting young offenders come from this modern, politically-created social group.

Springing up alongside this growing disaster has been a cluster of public and private agencies that are meant to be wrestling the social tragedy into a more tolerable shape. Social welfare officers – God knows what their latest Maori label is – Kainga Ora officials who seem more scared of the underclass than it is of them, and low-level bureaucrats are all intent on safe-guarding their jobs. They feel threatened by any alternative suggestions about how to deal with, let alone diminish, today’s social problems. To you and me, a bit of tough love is fundamental to straightening out lives where bewildered and angry people lack the necessary education and life experience ever to hold down a job.

But the likes of Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson, who themselves never held responsible jobs before entering Parliament, always dismiss such ideas. – Michael Bassett

But Ardern and Robertson quickly denounce anything other than their own policies of muddle along; alternatives are “proven failures” or “futile”. Getting tough on school attendance might prevent children from going to tangis, said Ardern in what must surely have been her stupidest observation as Prime Minister. And the ministry averts its gaze from the growing number of outrages being perpetrated by today’s Kiwi underclass. The scourge of Hamilton ram-raiding and events like the Sandringham stabbing of a shop-keeper in the heart of the Prime Minister’s own electorate, get no more than a wringing-of-the-hands response and toothy expressions of sympathy from her.

Meanwhile, enormous sums keep on being spent on expanding Three (or is it now Five?) waters, centralizing Health and Education and lavishly funding “consultants”. This government has no respect for working people. Peter Fraser and Norman Kirk would not be able to recognize them, and Norman Kirk would have doubled back from the DPB many years ago. – Michael Bassett

When the Rugby Union does its review of why the Black Ferns are world champions and why the All Blacks are not, I know what they will not consider; how we are educating boys.

David Kirk, the captain of an All Black team, wrote a thoughtful rugby book, so it did not sell.

In it he said he thought the All Blacks got their edge from fathers teaching their sons the fundamentals of the game from a very young age. – Richard Prebble

The percentage of New Zealand domestic university students who are men has reached an all-time low of 39 percent. While our statistics for our failure in Maori and Pacifica education are readily available, gender statistics are much harder to find, just like America. Try doing an Internet search for boys’ education and see what I mean.

The Education Department goes so far as to post that there is no crisis and to claim boys and girls can be taught the same way. This government did a big review of all aspects of education. I could find no mention of boys’ education.  – Richard Prebble

There is a grade gap. In the seventies when we have School Certificate there was no gap. Now boys are far more likely to drop out early, fail to achieve any grades in NCEA, male enrollment at university is falling and women are far more likely to graduate.Richard Prebble

Women are successfully entering and even dominating previous male professions. We have not rethought what it means to be a male.

While women do have an advantage in the careers that require empathy it does not mean that many men don’t also have empathy. He cites the shortage of nurses. It is worldwide. Many men could have a very satisfying career in nursing. As men dominate among patients in areas like drug and alcohol addictions, we need more male nurses. Yet as a profession for men it is still looked down on. I suspect until we change our attitude we will never have enough nurses.

We have to be willing to see if things we have done to help girls have affected boys. The international educationalist Joseph Driessen says adding literacy into NCEA math to help girls worked but as boys often struggle with literacy it lowered boys’ marks. Math is a requirement of a range of occupations boys do well at. – Richard Prebble

For boys’ education, let us acknowledge that while many boys succeed too many are failing. It is not an attack on girls’ education to acknowledge girls and boys develop at different rates and learn in different ways. Richard Prebble

When you go from a 2.5 percent interest rate to a 6.5 percent interest rate and even higher, that is huge amounts of pain. How do you find $600 extra after tax to be able to deal with that and just pay the interest cost? – Christopher Luxon

We implore them once again, fix it. If this economy doesn’t get workers we’re going to have New Zealanders paying the price every time they pay at the eftpos terminal and every time they make a mortgage payment – get it sorted.Nicola Willis 

We now have a government with an absolute majority which is incompetent in all facets of government except for driving, without the consent of the people, its ideological misconception of the meaning of the Treaty of Waitangi as expressed in He Puapua.

The Water Services Entities Bill is perhaps the most egregious example of the implementation of the false premise that the Treaty signed in 1840 mandated co governance in all aspects of the governance of New Zealand.  – Graeme Reeves 

I want to bring your attention to another matter. That is the Orwellian indoctrination of the Civil Service and the bureaucrats who administer the departments of state. Graeme Reeves 

There is no accountability to the shareholders.

In fact, section 15 of the Bill makes it clear that the shareholders have no powers to do anything other than to hold shares.

The shareholdings are nothing more than a deception and a dishonest representation politically motivated to allow the government to maintain that the territorial authority’s co -own the entities when in fact none of the attributes of ownership exist. – Graeme Reeves 

Satisfaction of the Maori specific criteria are entirely subjective and will depend, to use a legal expression, on the length of the Chancellor’s foot which is not satisfactory.

In my opinion, this Bill is in itself racist, and it’s passing will be a gargantuan mistake which will change the course of race relations in New Zealand for the worse. Graeme Reeves 

Well, we made it through the pandemic alive, and now we’re going broke.

Happy bloody Christmas, Adrian Orr.

If you were dreaming of a lavish summer holiday, or bulging festive stockings after the grind of Covid lockdowns, the Reserve Bank’s own Scrooge has news for you. Winter’s coming and Christmas is cancelled. –   Andrea Vance 

There have been a number of such cases where it appears that the judiciary has looked at the equity of the case and worked backwards to find the result that suits the popular mood. Damien Grant

Many readers will find no issue with this state of affairs because the high regard we hold judges in contrasts with how we regard our MPs; and for good reason.

The process to obtain a judicial warrant requires decades of legal excellence, personal integrity and a reputation for diligence and prudence. The calibre of those who enter Parliament can be seen by how few maintain any professional life once the voters tire of their antics.

Yet the creeping expansion of judicial authority has occurred without significant public comment or civic engagement.

Like Elizabeth Baigent three decades past, we have woken up to find officers of the state running amok in areas we did not expect to find them, exercising authority we did not grant them, and no clear means of removing them. – Damien Grant

What a week. The Government would like us to be talking about whether 16 and 17-year-olds can vote. It is one of those issues that people generally have an opinion on and it’s a distraction from the major issues that have gone on this week.

They can’t pass legislation to strengthen our laws around youth crime but miraculously they can find time to bring legislation to Parliament on whether 16 and 17-year-olds can vote. They will say they had to.  – Paula Bennett

The Government looks like a deer in headlights, desperately deciding where to run to divert attention from the absolute mess we have seen this week. – Paula Bennett

As we hear this week that we are heading into a recession – and one that is predicted to last a long time – the Government would like us to be talking about whether 16 and 17-year-olds can vote. There is a lot that those 16 and 17-year-olds need. To feel safe in our beautiful country. To have hope that they may be able to buy a home one day. A bed in a mental health unit if they need it. Next year let’s hope they get a new government with the right priorities.Paula Bennett

The die is looking increasingly cast for this Government. In a range of crucial policy areas they have resolutely refused to change course in response to changed circumstances, despite people jumping up and down and telling them they are sailing on to the rocks. Now they are in the process of reaping the consequences of their intransigence. And at this late stage it seems there is precious little they can do about it.

The economy is a case in point. Grant Robertson’s refusal to alter his spending plans, his lack of interest in a more welcoming immigration policy to unstick the labour market, his failure to hold back his colleagues’ tsunami of increasing regulation, and his unwillingness to require discipline on government-mandated wage increases, have all contributed to a glum economic prognosis. – Steven Joyce

Crime is another example. This government has spent years building a reputation for being soft. They doth protest but emptying the prisons, stopping police chases, softening sentences and generally showing more interest in criminals than victims leads to a sense of lawlessness and a growing list of personal tragedies.

And so on. Health, same story. Education as well. All a case of people arriving in government with a pre-conceived and rigid set of beliefs, often harking back to the 1970s, and then resolutely refusing to respond to the evidence in front of them until it is too late.

One of the biggest messes they have made, and continue to make, is in transport infrastructure. Its hard to fathom just how big a stuff-up this has become, and how difficult it will be to put it back together again.Steven Joyce

 We’ve lost five years to paper pushing.

Now, in the face of a mounting road toll and pretty much no progress on a highway building plan, the government has resorted to the old saw of lowering speed limits, not on particular sections of road, but across the whole lot.

Ignoring that many of our road deaths occur out of driver impatience, or by people already flouting the current rules, the government has decided to punish everyone in terms of travel times and speeds, at the expense of productivity and getting home on time.

And yes it is the government. They are hiding behind NZTA but no agency advances these sorts of plans without government approval.

The only sure way to drive down our road toll is by relentlessly improving the quality of our roads. That means continuing to boost the capacity and safety of our busiest regional highways, and building more forgiving features into the not so busy ones. – Steven Joyce

There is no getting away from the fact the country has lost at least six years in building transport infrastructure and mega millions of dollars because of an ideologically driven junking of pre-existing plans. – Steven Joyce

The job for the next government will be to quickly resume a programme of transport investment focused on actual transport use rather than the fevered ideas of politicians and planners, one that is prioritised ruthlessly on actual benefits to actual users, and is funded over a decade or more so that contractors have confidence to invest in getting it built.

As with so much, it is too late for this Government and frankly beyond its wit to change tack. – Steven Joyce

But the thing I’ve realised is if you always do the right thing for the right reasons, then good things will happen.Erica Stanford 

Science deals with the natural world but matauranga is rooted in the supernatural. Science has plenty of evidence to prove that humanity evolved from apes by Darwinian natural selection. Maori believe the god Tane created people.

Science aims to make universal laws, such as Newton’s laws of motion and gravity, Ohm’s laws of electricity, and Hubble’s law of cosmic expansion. These laws apply in New Zealand as they do on distant galaxies. Matauranga is limited to local situations and local events, and has produced no universal laws.

Writing about matauranga, leading Maori thinker Aroha Te Paraeke Mead writes (2007) that “Maori are the only ones who should be controlling all aspects of its retention, transmission and protection”. By contrast, science is in public hands. Anybody can contribute to it and every word or calculation is open to world-wide challenge and criticism. But challenge matauranga and you’ll be branded a racist, and say goodbye to your funding, promotion, and perhaps your job. – Bob Brockie

The differences between world science and matauranga are so great that they cannot be reconciled. Bob Brockie

Parroting Foucault and Derrida, councillors of our Royal Society assert that science is “based on ethnocentric bias and outmoded dualisms (and the power relations embedded in them) ” and they want “to place the Treaty of Waitangi centrally and bring alongside that, inequality and diversity issues holistically”.

But the Treaty is a political document with no scientific content. It has no place in science.

The Society was once the bastion of science in New Zealand. It now champions woke anti-science and paradoxically punishes professors who defend science. Matauranga would best be taught in history or religious studies, certainly not in science. – Bob Brockie

We have one part of the system fully-funded and overseen in an apparently coherent way by the Ministry of Health (assisted suicide and euthanasia), and the other sector that doesn’t even have a strategic plan in place, that is inequitably funded, and has no coherent overview of how to develop the service,.

Why don’t we have the exact focus on palliative care, so anyone making the biggest decision of life can make an equitable, informed choice? – Dr Bryan Betty

Everyone is affected by death and dying. That is part of health. Good dying and having equitable choice is a fundamental part of the healthcare system we set up. It has to be given space and focus at this point. – Dr Bryan Betty

What Labour and  have done is vote for to entrench a clause relating to something which is merely a public policy issue, and have done so without bipartisan support. This is repugnant behaviour. – David Farrar

Super-majority entrenchment will only remain respected if it is used solely for constitutional protections, and for laws that were passed with over-whelming bipartisan support.

In this current case, the Government is actually using it almost as a PR stunt, as it deal with not privatising the Three Waters assets. This is a bogeyman created entirely by the Government. They are the only ones talking privatisation. Not a single Council has ever proposed selling off their water infrastructure. – David Farrar

We make our parliament “supreme” in the sense that a bare majority of its MPs can enact any law they want on any subject they want. However, we temper that power somewhat by saying that a future bare majority of MPs, perhaps elected by future voters, can revisit any of those laws and change them to reflect what they now think best.

This approach is rooted in ongoing democratic accountability. Electing MPs entrusts them with overall law-making power, which we then evaluate at subsequent election. If we disapprove of how that power has been used, we can pick another lot of MPs, who can use their law-making powers to fix things up. Should the majority viewpoint change, then the law can easily change along with it. Parliament’s law-making power is vast, but it is always contingent.Andrew Geddis

For those lacking the appetite for a 10,000-word academic article, basically it was a political deal to stop MPs from any party being tempted to game these electoral rules in ways that might help them stay in power. Because, if our system of parliamentary supremacy over the law depends on MPs being freely and fairly elected by the voters, you want to make sure that our elections are free and the rules under which they get elected are fair!

This particular entrenchment provision has been scrupulously abided by in the subsequent 66 years.  – Andrew Geddis

Why does this matter? Well, first note the 60% threshold for future change. That number doesn’t reflect a principled decision on the appropriate level of parliamentary support for change. It just happens to be the current number of MPs from the Green and Labour Parties who were prepared to support Sage’s amendment. Because, parliament’s rules say that an entrenchment provision in a bill must be supported by at least the same number of MPs as it requires for future amendments. Had 70% of MPs supported including the entrenchment provision, the threshold would have been set at this level.

Second, and perhaps more important, note what this entrenchment protection applies to. Certainly, future ownership of water matters. Whether it lies in public or private hands is a really important question of policy. However, it is still just a question of policy.

It’s different from the provisions entrenched in the Electoral Act, which go to core matters regarding the fairness of the process that chooses who governs the country. We can’t really trust a bare majority of MPs, elected as they are and so eager to win and keep political power, to make rules here. Or, at least, there will always be the suspicion that any rules they make will reflect that bare majority’s personal, partisan interests instead of their best considered view of the right thing to do.Andrew Geddis

Why, then, should we say that future MPs can only act to make it easier to privatise water where a super-majority of 60% of them want to do so? What makes this one particular policy issue of such importance that it requires a different, much harder parliamentary law-making process than any other?

The point being, what happened on Wednesday was a potentially momentous broadening out of an existing wrinkle in our system of parliamentary governance. Since 1956, our law has said that some key bits of our electoral system are so at risk of partisan gaming that we can’t trust a bare majority of MPs to decide them. Now, the amended three waters legislation also says that there is a basic policy issue that is so overwhelmingly important as to justify today’s MPs placing handcuffs on tomorrow’s MPs when dealing with it.

If that is indeed the case, what other sorts of issues might a supermajority of MPs think rise to that level? And, in this brave new world, what happens to our system of parliamentary law-making, based as it is on the assumption that the view of the current majority is always subject to revision by the future’s?- Andrew Geddis

The real danger is it opens up possibilities of entrenchment on other matters. It’s not beyond imagination that a National-ACT Government may in the future decide to entrench a three strikes law on the basis that being safe is important policy.

We start this set of shenanigans about using it for those types of policy matters that don’t have that widespread support. We get the sort of game playing which is unlikely to end wellDean Knight

It is constitutionally concerning and exceptional for a policy matter like this to be entrenched, and for it to be formally dropped-in at such a late stage, so it didn’t have the time … for a debate about whether we want to change our constitution to allow for this type of thing.

“Using this sort of the entrenchment as handcuffs, in a slightly cheeky way … risks upsetting the traditions and expectations around entrenchment, whether it’s enforceable, whether there are conventions that you just can’t repeal them anyway, those sorts of things. – Dean Knight

If waterways and freshwater in this country were unequivocally recognised in New Zealand law as the life blood of the land, which cannot be owned by human beings but only held in trust for future generations to enjoy, then flawed legal devices such as ‘entrenchment’ would not be needed, and the spectre of ‘privatisation’ would vanish.Dame Anne Salmond 

OK. Watch out for what you wish for.

You’ve done it, you’ve broken the convention, you’ve shown there’s a different way of doing things. See you at the election – if you’re not in the majority at the next election, don’t cry when it gets done to you. – Andrew Geddis 

It is a fundamental principle of our representative democracy that the current Parliament should not be able to bind its successors. The use of entrenchment to protect a piece of law from being changed or repealed via a simple parliamentary majority goes against this fundamental principle. By entrenching a current government’s policy preference, we either reduce the ability of future governments to legislate or, more likely; we undermine the current importance that we grant to entrenched constitutional provisions.Maxim Institute

Our informal constitution relies on conventions and norms to continue functioning. These norms only work when all in and around power continue to uphold them. It is concerning that those in Government saw little wrong in introducing this entrenching provision and have sought to defend it. It is also worrying that there was little reaction to the provision from the Opposition or wider media at the time it was made. Legal academics have driven the pushback to this provision, and it is heartening that there is still room for the academy to function as the “critic and conscience of society.” – Maxim Institute

Mention woke indoctrination in schools and most people might imagine something like a pink-haired, nonbinary teacher forcing children to take the knee for Black Lives Matter. If you look on TikTok, you will find no shortage of such teachers gleefully revealing how they sneak Pride flags, LGBTQ+ books and BLM posters into the classroom. Certainly, there are plenty of activist teachers working in schools, who see pupils as a captive audience. Yet as worrying as such examples may be, they are merely the tip of the iceberg.Joanna Williams

These ideas have gained ground precisely because it is not just pink-haired TikTok teachers who are intent on promoting a one-sided, politically motivated view of the world. It is also the academics who write the school curriculum and textbooks. It is the university educationalists who train each new generation of teachers. It is the journalists and campaigners outside of schools who agitate for their own pet issues to gain a hearing in the classroom. And it is the people who stock the school library and put together online resources for teachers and children alike. The upshot is that when it comes to English, history, geography and even maths, the curriculum itself has become politicised.

Discussions of gender identity and ideas that emerge from critical race theory are not just a sneaky addition to the ‘proper’ curriculum. They are now central to what and how children are taught. In many schools, books featuring transgender characters are used in literature classes not because of the quality of the writing, but because of the issues about identity that such texts raise. Similarly, slavery and empire feature on the history curriculum not so much because of their important place in human history, but more as a means of discussing current concerns with race and racism. And all of this is in addition to the assemblies, form periods, PSHE classes and RSE lessons that provide a forum for promoting the woke outlook. In these kinds of lessons, social engineering really is the main point. – Joanna Williams

The attitudes young adults are likely to have encountered while at school stand in contrast to the Enlightenment values that have shaped Western societies for the past two centuries. The Policy Exchange report adds to a growing body of evidence showing that young people are more sceptical about the importance of free speech, democracy and tolerance than older age groups. It shows that those aged 18 to 25 are evenly split on whether the gender-critical academic Kathleen Stock should have been defended by her university when she came under attack from trans activists. They are also split on whether Harry Potter author JK Rowling should have been dropped by her publisher for her comments on trans issues. In contrast, older adults are more likely to value freedom of expression over censorship. And while 38 per cent of young adults agree with the idea of removing Winston Churchill’s statue from Parliament Square because he held racist views, among adults as a whole this figure falls to just 12 per cent.

Education and indoctrination have become blurred, and the impact of this is now being felt beyond the school gates. We need to tackle this problem head-on. Sadly, it is no longer enough to say that teachers should simply stick to teaching when the curriculum itself is so politicised. Instead, we need a wider debate about the purpose of schools. And parents need to be given much clearer information about exactly what their children are being taught. We need teachers to be more ambitious when it comes to conveying subject knowledge, less keen on promoting their own political views and wise enough to know the difference between the two. – Joanna Williams

As big a figure as he was, his aura was never greater than when he had to use a wheelchair because of the effects of motor neurone disease (MND). He was never stronger than when his body was breaking down, never more commanding of worldwide respect than when he’d lost the ability to speak and could only communicate via a voice app operated with his eyes darting around a screen of letters.

His relentless energy in fighting an illness without cure was awe-inspiring. He said the only drug available to him was positivity – and he gorged merrily on it. The many millions of pounds he raised for research through his My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, the money donated to families who were suffering as his family were suffering, the lives he made better along the way. His legacy could circumnavigate the rugby world many times over. – Tom English

His attitude was rooted in grim realism. This thing had befallen him and he had better “crack on” as he put it. “I have never, ever thought ‘Why me?’ It was, ‘Right, let’s get this sorted… it’s like with rugby. If you don’t get in the team, do you give up your jersey or do you fight?”Tom English

In New Zealand over the last five years (including, but not limited to, the Government’s Covid response) the tide has gone out on the New Zealand education system. I doubt that there is a single, even semi-informed, observer who could claim any more that we have a world-class system. – Alwyn Poole

The crisis already exists but has been covered up for a long time. It is now widely known that our education system is a mess and many schools are simply not fit for purpose.

Some key indicators are that: Even our Level 2 NCEA graduates often lack functional numeracy and literacy. We have in excess of 8500 students not enrolled in any school as of July. Our full attendance for Term 2 was less than 40% across all deciles and just 23% for decile 1 students. We have 12% of our students graduating with less than Level 1 NCEA (33% for Māori students in South Auckland). The gaps across socio-economic levels are the worst in the developed world. Our ethnic gaps are also horrendous with Asian students getting University Entrance for leavers at 67%, back to Māori at 18%.Alwyn Poole

Labour keeps stating that this decline started under National. Under National there was a slight downward trend in attendance. Labour drove the school attendance bus off the cliff.  – Alwyn Poole

Who will take responsibility? The Ministry of Education, whose email footnote states: “We shape an education system that delivers equitable and excellent outcomes”? NZ’s school attendance is behind all the key countries we compare ourselves with (including 15 percentage points behind Australia).

When principals complain about the new credits for functional literacy and numeracy they need to remember that they can be achieved at any time from Year 10 to Year 13. Are they really saying they can’t help students achieve functional literacy and numeracy in five years? The sitting students will have had 12,000 hours of funded schooling each by then. – Alwyn Poole

Where they are right is that there needs to be major change in both parenting and schooling. – Alwyn Poole

As a nation we need massive education and support for pregnant women/partners regarding care for their children in-utero, including a huge programme to counter foetal alcohol spectrum disorder and other harms. We need it to be imperative that parents are the first (and most important) teachers for ages 0–5, including health, reading, numeracy, movement, music, languages. 

Then it is time for all parents across NZ to ask the hard questions about school leadership, school quality, teacher quality and to demand a LOT better. Parents fund the schooling and it is their children. They deserve better, but they need to be prepared to help.Alwyn Poole

Our primary school teaching and learning needs overhauling and a lot of the busy work and downtime needs to go. Primary teacher qualifications in English, Maths and Science need significant upgrading.

The Education Review Office says schools should make attending more “enjoyable” (aka fun). How about – inspirational, aspirational, high quality, demanding?

When the tide is out it is the very best time to make things right. – Alwyn Poole

The MIQ system was shockingly designed, fundamentally flawed and ended up in court with a loss for the Government.

It was a foray into repression and fury that was never really needed and a very good example of what this Government has become famous for – dreaming up a plan then cocking it up.

The famous got access to The Wiggles and Jacinda Ardern’s favourite DJs while people were locked out and forced to watch loved ones die, loved ones get married via zoom and that mad lottery of getting up at all hours and watching as you yet again got a number that would not get you anywhere close to getting a room and into the country.

Charlotte Bellis, remember her? The pregnant journalist who bullied her way in by embarrassing Chris Hipkins into submission – the whole thing was a grotesque mess. Mike Hosking

Governments have to run on their record. Last term, Labour successfully locked down the country. Then they overdid the lockdowns. This term what has Labour achieved?

Labour inherited a strong economy and an excellent set of books. Labour promised to be fiscally prudent. Covid was used as an excuse to wriggle out of that pledge.

Labour did inherit issues in housing, health and education. After five years the issues are worse. Tens of thousands of households are going to struggle to service 8 per cent mortgages. Health services are failing. The Government’s priority is a Māori Health Authority. Meanwhile, 98 per cent of pupils graduating from decile 10 schools would fail NCEA literacy. – Richard Prebble

It feels like karma. Labour’s re-election was helped by the Reserve Bank at one stage printing a billion dollars a week to pump up the economy. To correct the inflation caused by that money printing the Reserve Bank is helping defeat Labour.

No one would want to campaign on Labour’s record. All Labour can do is try to convince us that National and Christopher Luxon would be worse. It is possible but hard to imagine. Richard Prebble

Labour must press ahead with its unpopular Three Waters. Labour is fighting a two-front election campaign. National and Act on one front. The Māori Party on the second front. Labour cannot abandon co-government without also abandoning the Māori seats.

The next 12 months are going to be very dangerous. We have no written constitution restraining Labour. The only sanction on any government is the knowledge that they will be accountable in an election. This is why three years may be too short for a good government but too long for a bad one.

Ministers can read the polls. Labour will ignore the Reserve Bank’s advice.

Ministers will go on borrowing and spending. Labour intends to leave inflation as the next government’s problem. Paying back the borrowing is another problem for a future government. It is called laying a minefield. – Richard Prebble

Luxon and Act’s David Seymour had better factor into their plans the likelihood of many unexploded bombs. The health system appears close to a systematic failure. The briefing for the incoming ministers in many portfolios will make a very grim reading.

There is an even greater danger. MPs who think they are dog tucker can be tempted to try to defeat the outcome of the election.

It is fundamental to democracy that one parliament cannot bind future parliaments.

Not anymore. In the Three Waters bill that critics say privatises billions of dollars of ratepayers’ assets into effective ownership by tribal entities, Green MP Eugenie Sage has an amendment. The amendment requires a 60 per cent vote by future parliaments to privatise the assets. Go figure. Intellectual rigour is not prized in the Green caucus. Under urgency, Labour supported the Green Party amendment.  Richard Prebble

In 168 years of the New Zealand Parliament, no government has ever attempted to entrench its policies.  Richard Prebble

Labour and the Greens have committed a constitutional outrage. It is an attack on democracy. Even if the reaction forces a U-turn it shows Labour and the Greens are willing to abuse their power.

Lame duck governments are dangerous. Richard Prebble

THE MORE THE VOTERS DISCOVER about Labour’s Three Waters, the less they like it. No matter, this Government has clearly decided that, if it is to be destroyed, then Three Waters is the hill upon which it will die. That being the case – and the still-unfolding Entrenchment Crisis leaves little room for doubt – then the only real question to be answered is: Why? What is it about the Three Waters project that renders it impervious to rational reconsideration

When a group of people refuse to accept they have made a poor choice – even as it threatens to destroy them – then it is a reasonably safe bet that they are in the grip of dangerously delusional thinking. Cult-like thinking, some might even suggest. But is it credible to suggest that a mainstream political party could fall victim to delusional thinking on such a scale? Is Labour really crazy enough to put its long-term survival at risk? – Chris Trotter

What idea is big enough to derange the Labour Party into courting electoral suicide? The answer would appear to involve a radical revision of New Zealand history. Something along the lines of the colonisation of Aotearoa being a heinous historical crime. In this narrative, the colonial state is identified as the institution most responsible for the criminal dispossession of Aotearoa’s indigenous Māori population. Labour’s big idea is to facilitate a revolutionary reconstitution of the New Zealand state.

Now, where would Labour get an idea like that? Putting to one side Labour’s Māori caucus, whose interest in such an historical project is entirely understandable, how could Labour’s Pakeha MPs have picked up such a self-destructive notion? Well, the university graduates in Labour’s caucus (which is to say nearly all of them) are highly likely to have come across arguments for “decolonisation” at some point in their studies. The lawyers among them would certainly have encountered and absorbed “the principles of the Treaty”. So, too, would those coming to the Labour Party from the state sector. Chris Trotter

The version of New Zealand history conveyed to those attending these workshops is remarkably consistent: colonisers = baddies; the heroic Māori who resisted the colonisers’ ruthless predations = goodies. Only by giving full effect to te Tiriti o Waitangi can the wrongs of the past be righted: only then will equity and justice prevail.

Many of those attending Treaty workshops will have been invited to “check their privilege” and “confront their racism”. This can be a harrowing experience for many Pakeha, leaving them with a strong inclination to keep silent and step aside whenever those on the receiving end of “white privilege” are encouraged to step forward and speak out. In the most extreme cases, Pakeha are actively discouraged from sharing their opinions, lest their higher education and superior facility with the English language overawe and “silence” those denied such privileges.

When Labour’s Māori caucus (the largest ever after the 2020 general election) sought to take full advantage of the party’s absolute parliamentary majority to advance their Treaty-centric agenda, it is entirely possible they found themselves pushing on an open door. – Chris Trotter

It is, perhaps, unsurprising that Labour’s Māori caucus has found the party’s Pakeha majority so easy to cajole into backing what, from its perspective, is an entirely legitimate constitutional agenda. Led by Nanaia Mahuta and Willie Jackson, the Māori caucus has taken full advantage of the fact that their Pakeha colleagues’ lack of constitutional conviction has never been a match for their own passionate intensity.

Three Waters may be the hill Labour dies on, but when the victors survey the field of battle, the only corpses they’ll find will be Pakeha. Each one clutching the “Big Idea” for which their party has paid the ultimate price. Chris Trotter

While tinkering around the house is an enjoyable pastime that can also yield some improvements, it is not a productive approach to government policy-making, and rarely leads to the best of outcomes. – Leeann Watson

New Zealand’s political environment seems to be stuck in an unfortunate position, because of the three-year election cycle, where we tend not to bother on the big things, and we instead focus on tinkering with the little things– the quick wins and the headline grabbers. And when we do focus on the big things, we do it in a way that is rushed, and often not with a long-term view in mind. We’ve digressed from a Parliament that is solely focused on creating better outcomes for New Zealanders, and identifying problems before we attempt to fix them.Leeann Watson

One of the big pieces of legislation that has been plaguing the business community this year is Fair Pay Agreements. In my previous column, I wrote about these in more depth, and I will repeat the point we hear from Canterbury businesses ad nauseam. Why has a complicated and convoluted piece of legislation that will make it more difficult for businesses to operate been introduced to solve a problem that does not exist? New Zealand enjoys some of the best employment relations in the developed world, with flexibility and agility that we cannot lose. So what are we fixing?

One of the pieces of legislation that was introduced in urgency last week was one that will require all businesses in New Zealand to elect a health and safety representative, including the small business that might employ three people, which now has to invest in training for their staff, at a time where the economy is under significant pressure. Previously, small businesses did not need to worry about this unless they were a high-risk industry, such as forestry or mining, so, again, what is the problem we are trying to solve? Are small businesses really that unsafe?

The business community is losing faith in our policymakers’ ability to define problems and create meaningful and fair solutions. We are stuck in a Catch-22 type situation, because the complex problems that need to be addressed – rising levels of crime, investment in infrastructure, reforming aspects of our public system that are not delivering successful outcomes – all require a long-term approach. And the level and extent of reform needed to fix them, is prohibited by election cycles. – Leeann Watson

Reform is a word that has lost its true meaning. Reform is bold. Reform is about pulling things apart and reassembling something that is faster, better and more efficient than it was originally. The reform we have seen of late has not fit that definition at all.

Let’s consider the reform of the health system. A new name and a restructure is not a reform. It is a new name and a restructure. The same entity still exists, and it is still delivering the same outcomes and, in some cases, maybe worse than before. The components might look different, or be slotted in a slightly different place, but it is still the same. It hasn’t gained anything new, or lost anything clunky that is preventing it from delivering better outcomes for New Zealanders. As has been the case in Christchurch this year, cancelling all non-urgent appointments because the system is about to collapse under pressure is just not acceptable. A new name is not going to fix that.Leeann Watson

At a time when we desperately need to be investing and focusing our attention on equipping the future workforce, we are seeing the merger of entities – some of which are performing quite well on their own. The headlines, instead, indicate it is fraught with scandals, resignations, and our future workforce, and our younger generation, are no better off because of it.

That’s not to mention the changes in almost every other aspect of the public sector that are occurring, including Three Waters. Is changing everything, all the time, all at once, really the best method? Should we not be focusing on the most pressing issues first and doing it properly, with a view of creating better outcomes over the long term rather than quick wins? – Leeann Watson

 Christchurch aside, where new infrastructure was required immediately due to the earthquakes, elsewhere in New Zealand we seem to take the approach that it is not until a road is constantly congested, and motorists (read: voters) are unhappy, that we make decisions to invest and expand. We should be starting projects decades before they are needed. Not after they’re needed. But that doesn’t win votes.

There is a growing and quite compelling case that our current electoral system is limiting the ability for successive Governments to be bold and to engage in actual reform, and not just tinker with minor alterations and the headline-grabbing policy wins that sound great on paper and are good for the polls, rather than the tough actions that solve problems, and leave New Zealand in a better position.

As we head into the barbeque season before an election year and the inevitable political debates amongst family and friends occur, maybe it’s time to focus on the system and not the political personalities, and consider, whether it may not necessarily be the political parties alone that are not delivering to their best extent, but rather a political system that is not hindering the ability to deliver long term outcomes – and a public service as a whole that would benefit from a new operating model that enables agility, innovation, a growth mindset and is focused on execution versus tinkering.Leeann Watson

This new fog canon measure is too late – they know it, we know it.

Worse yet, the PM tried to deflect all blame from her Government by saying that there’d be a delay on said fog cannons – due to a global shortage. This turns out to be an outright lie.

Newstalk ZB Drive host Heather du Plessis Allan smelt a rat straight away and last night called a fog cannon supplier to fact check the PM on this one. No surprises in his response.. he said to her, ‘I see the Queen of Spin is at it again..’

He said the facts are, there is no global shortage of fog cannons, the supply issue is due to the Government not placing any orders for them. They’ve dropped the ball, again. – Kate Hawkesby

So the delay is the Government’s fault, it’s on them. Remind anyone of the vaccine rollout?

This is a government of inaction and indecision. Unless it’s Three Waters legislation of course, that appears to be able to be rammed through no holds barred. But this fog canon supply shortage claim – or should I say lie, is akin to the same lie the PM trotted out yesterday, that the Government’s new increased support for dairy business owners is not based on the death of Janak Patel. – Kate Hawkesby

The Government wants to pretend it’s considerate, organized and proactive enough not to wait for a death, in order to act, but that’s simply not true. Spinning us lies is just not working anymore; this Government has a credibility problem.

The PM has a credibility problem. Included in her post Cab was the other audacious claim that they’ve been tough on crime.

She “rejected” criticism her Government was soft on crime. She “rejected” that the Government had acted too slowly, she “rejected” the idea that it took Patel’s death for the Government to act. – Kate Hawkesby

I can tell you this for nothing, rejecting this stuff doesn’t make it go away. It is a crisis for every single victim and every family member of victims in these burglaries and raids.

But the other real crisis we’re in at the moment is a spin crisis. There’s too much of it coming from the Pulpit of Truth.

We’re drowning in it; we’re exhausted from being fed it. I do worry about all those who just accept it without question though, or have checked out because they don’t even care anymore.

We should care; we are being fed a steady diet of BS, from a government that has no idea what the words accountability or responsibility mean.Kate Hawkesby

In his great book titled Russia in 1839, the Marquis de Custine called the Tsar “eagle and insect.” He was eagle because he soared high above the country over which he ruled, completely alone, taking it all in at a glance, but he was insect because there was nothing too small or trivial for him to interfere with: he or his power burrowed into the very fabric of society as a termite burrows into the fabric of a wooden house. There was no escaping him.

This is the image I have in my mind of the operation of the adherents of Woke ideology. They have a grand vision, at least implicitly, both about the nature of the society in which they live and what should replace it. Insufficient, incoherent, or absurd as their vision might be, it actuates them. As human history demonstrates, intellectual insufficiency is no bar to effectiveness in the search for power; indeed it might be an advantage insofar as more scrupulous searchers after truth and goodness are riven by doubt.

On the other hand, nothing is too small for their attention. Being visionaries, they can infuse their slightest actions with the most grandiose theoretical significance. This gives them self-importance and confidence that they are doing what once might have been called God’s work. Triviality is thus reconciled with transcendence. They are part of the movement of History with a capital H, whose right side they both define and bring forward by their actions. – Theodore Dalrypmple

The eagle is sharp-eyed while the adherent of Woke ideology has cataracts. When the house crumbles to dust because of the action of the termites, it is not because they desired such a denouement: it was, rather, a natural consequence of their conduct. The destruction wrought by the adherents of Woke ideology is a good deal more deliberate. Theodore Dalrypmple

I have been proud to be part of the New Zealand health sector. When I started in GP I didn’t feel the need to have private health insurance. The health system, while it had its limitations, generally worked well. I would do everything I could to manage the patient in the community and when I needed help I could refer the patient on and they would be seen. I was so proud of the initial government response to Covid, one that prioritised public safety, that I applied for citizenship.

How things have changed. The health system is fundamentally broken and I can’t see how it is going to be fixed. Patients who need to be managed in secondary care aren’t, instead being pushed back into primary care. Patients going to Emergency are not getting the imaging they require on presentation; they are given pain relief and told to see their GP in the morning and get referred for an ultrasound. The patient then needs to pay to see me (and I usually have to double-book them to see them promptly). Unless they are one of the chosen few eligible for community-funded radiology that ultrasound will cost them $280 and will require a four week wait.

Good medical practice prioritises early intervention for children with developmental delays. The Child Development Service, which does the majority of assessments for autism, global developmental delay and other conditions, has a waitlist of over 12 months. Even if a family has the resources to go private, I have no one to refer to. – Dr Corinne Glenn

Every consult becomes more and more complex as patients get sicker waiting for care. Patients have to wait longer for an appointment so by the time they come there are multiple issues to deal with. Follow-up is hard as patients struggle to pay for repeat appointments. We don’t have the medications that are bog-standard in other parts of the world. We have only recently funded some diabetes medications (empagliflozin and dulaglutide) that are second line treatments elsewhere. The special authority criteria are so strict there are many who can’t access them.

Please don’t mention mental health. Again, I am really confident managing a range of mental health conditions. However good mental health management requires a team. Access to counsellors, and sometimes a psychiatrist. There is no one I can refer to. Funded counselling is very scarce and limited to the most needy. Most people can’t afford to pay $160-170 an hour to see a psychologist and even if they can, I can’t find one with open books. If I have a patient in crisis in my rooms and I need to call the Crisis Team, I wait on hold for 30-40 minutes. The patient has normally left the room by then and my other patients are left waiting.

No new antidepressants have been funded for years. GPs are often accused of jumping straight to medication – but often it is the only affordable option I have to offer patients.Dr Corinne Glenn

So much of my time is spent battling to get patients the care they need. As soon as a patient comes in I am desperately looking at their demographic: do they have a community services card? What quintile is their address in? If they don’t have a community services card and live in a quintile 3 street I have no chance of getting them counselling or imaging that they don’t have to pay for (and usually can’t).

I used to be able to have some friendly banter with my practice team during the day. Now I sit in my room through breaks, trying to catch up on the neverending mounds of paperwork. ACC requests for information. Ministry of Social Development disability forms. Letters for Kainga Ora for a place without stairs for my patient with severe arthritis. I work most evenings and for two hours on a Sunday. One Friday evening at 5.30 I logged out of the patient management system. By Saturday afternoon when I logged back in I had 105 inbox documents waiting to be checked. Dinner table conversation is taken up with stories of patients I can’t help. Sometimes I can share a win, however those are getting fewer by the week. – Dr Corinne Glenn

Some days I am filled with rage at the injustice of it all. Some days I am just tired and sad. I am proud of the work that I do, but I am no longer proud of the system I work in.

I have sold my house and put in my notice. I fly back to Australia on Boxing Day. I have a new job lined up – it really wasn’t hard to find one. GPs are just as scarce as they are here. The Australian system is different. It has its pros and cons. All I know is that I can’t stay here.

The New Zealand health system is broken, and it has broken me.Dr Corinne Glenn

We’re told that the fundamental problem is poverty. Well guess what? The only sure path out of poverty begins with education. Lotto isn’t going to do it, and nor is social welfare.

I understand that some of us ordinary folk might have difficulty with the extraordinarily complex idea (not!) of taking kids out of a toxic environment and giving them a chance to learn skills and develop attitudes that will change their lives for the better. The media, though, has no excuse.

Whatever one thinks of National’s “boot camp” proposal for recidivist young offenders — my view is that it offers a promising start, but is only one ingredient of a proper solution — it is surely worth discussing, and considering, without the hysterics displayed by many. – Peter Jackson

For a start, who says taking kids who are well on the way to becoming career criminals out of the environment that has damaged them so and putting them where, for the first time in their lives, they have the chance to fulfil their potential is punitive? Have I missed something here?

As I read it, these “boot camps” (a derogatory term that is designed to disparage the policy before it even gets off the ground) will have nothing to do with punishment. If you’re going to bandy about words like brutal and punitive, then obviously you know something I don’t. Peter Jackson

Sixty per cent of kids aren’t attending school regularly. The Government’s less than lofty goal is to reduce that to 30 per cent over the next couple of years. And you don’t have to be an expert to understand how kids who are under-educated are likely to fare as adults.

We’re told that the fundamental problem is poverty. Well guess what? The only sure path out of poverty begins with education.

Lotto isn’t going to do it, and nor is social welfare. There is no reason, apart from poor parenting and misguided politicians, why every child in this country shouldn’t have a shot at succeeding, in whatever it is that they want to do. And for some, National’s proposal will be a godsend. – Peter Jackson

I do have a proviso. There seems to be little point in giving young people a glimpse of what the world could offer them, if, at the end of the programme, they are sent back to the same dysfunctional families that they came from. While the kids are away, their families will need to be “rehabilitated”. It is totally unrealistic to expect a young teenager to come home, with a whole new outlook on life, not to be dragged back down by drug and alcohol abuse, violence, dishonesty and whatever else made them the way they were in the first place.

We also need to restore education to the pedestal it should be sitting on. All you need to know about where we’ve gone wrong is encapsulated in the current drive to make school so interesting and exciting that kids will want to be there. Do sane, rational people actually believe this stuff?

There is a reason why primary and secondary schooling are called compulsory education. It is compulsory, and parents who don’t send their kids to school are breaking the law. More to the point, they are likely sentencing their children to lives of misery. – Peter Jackson

Is it possible that we’ll see the defeat of the Russian Army and the collapse of the Chinese Communist Party in the same year? Authoritarians can only squeeze their people so far, and liberal democracy, for all its greedy bankers and silly pronouns, still has the moral upper hand. Yet one feels impotent in the face of such evil.Tim Stanley

Foreign tyrants are leviathans with feet of clay, and our own government should not limit our liberties in order to supposedly protect us against them. – Pierre Lemieux

If we exclude possible wars, there is only one reason why residents of a free, or more or less free, country should feel economically threatened by a foreign authoritarian state. It is that the subjects of the latter will have limited opportunities to trade, both among themselves and internationally, and will thus be poorer. And it is more beneficial to have trading partners, either as suppliers or customers, who are richer than poorer.Pierre Lemieux

It is true that leviathans like the Russian, Chinese, or North Korean states finance themselves out of the total production of all their subjects. Especially with nuclear weapons, they represent a security risk for other individuals in the world; I think that they would even be dangerously to an anarchic society if such a society ever exists. But trying to become like “them” in order to protect us against them provides only an illusion of security.

Protectionism is one big step in this fool’s errand, at least when an actual war is not raging. – Pierre Lemieux

Terrorist charges need to be used for terrorist activity, not regulating material that has nothing to do with terrorism. Watering down such a significant term runs the risk of seeing Kiwis legally branded ‘terrorists’ without ever performing any terrorist act, or even accessing material which promotes terrorism. 

The act of terrorism comes with appropriately harsh penalties. By extending terrorism related charges to individuals who possess certain ‘objectionable material’, these significant penalties may be placed on those who have simply accessed censored material, despite it being unrelated to terrorism.

Legislation already allows for individuals in possession of material which advocates or inspires terrorism to be charged under terrorism laws. Extending this further to material that is entirely unrelated to terrorism is a law ripe for abuse.

New Zealand already has a strict censorship regime. It’s not hard to imagine the incredible harm which could occur to speech rights and other liberties if this amendment was used as a precedent to justify the prohibition of other material under terrorism legislation. –  Jonathan Ayling


Rural round-up

31/10/2022

Farmers count the cost of government regulation – Rachael Kelly:

The rate of change coming at the agriculture industry and the cost of complying with it keeps fourth generation farmer Ben Dooley awake at night.

Dooley is adamant he doesn’t want to come across as a whinging farmer, and he’s keen to do what he can to improve his 250ha sheep farm and the environment.

He is the fourth generation on his family farm at Mimihau, south-east of Gore, but he fears his sons may not be the fifth.

“There’s so much regulation coming at us and costs just keep going up. I wonder whether it will get to the point where it’s not possible to make a living here and then there won’t be farm left here for them to take over,’’ he says. . . 

Key methane technologies misfire – Keith Woodford:

Methane technology breakthroughs cannot stop cannot ruminants from doing what comes naturally

Reducing methane production from pastoral agriculture lies at the heart of efforts to make pastoral agriculture more climate friendly. If only sheep and cattle could be made to stop producing methane!

Here I look at the challenges of making this happen. Unfortunately, those challenges are not easily solved. It is a lot harder than the uninitiated might think.

This is not just an issue for farmers. It is also an issue for all New Zealanders, given that almost half our exports come from pastoral agriculture – currently more than $32 billion per annum.  According to MPI, approximately 82 percent of all exports come from primary industries once timber, fish, horticulture and wine are included. . . 

Land plan in the firing line – Lois Williams :

A regional council head who wants to spare ratepayers the inconvenience of statutory land rules is ready to abandon a Local Government Commission-mandated planning document

Three million dollars and three years of work by West Coast councils will be down the drain if regional council head Allan Birchfield has his way.

The Greymouth gold miner was reinstalled as chair by a unanimous vote at the first meeting of the new-look and all-male council this week. 

High on his to-do list is the scrapping of the recently notified Te Tai o Poutini plan that coast councils and planners have been labouring over amid much angst since 2019.

Farm sales drop by almost 40 percent compared to previous year :

Just released real estate data shows a massive slump in farm sales in the three months to September compared with the same period last year.

There were nearly 109 fewer sales – that is a 39 percent drop compared with 2021, and a 53 percent drop when compared with 2020.

Real Estate Institute rural spokesperson Brian Peacocke said the median price also fell nearly 4 percent, down to $23,080 a hectare, compared with $30,890 recorded for the three months ended September 2021.

He said the sales drop was worse than usual for this time of year – which was a generally slower time – and a few factors were at play including inflation and emissions tax. . . 

They don’t care about non-Maori farmers – John Porter:

A new government report to Cabinet, yet again, states Maori are going to be disadvantaged! This time it is Maori farmers.

The Maori Party’s Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said an agriculture emissions pricing system disadvantages Maori-owned beef and sheep farms.

Why, Debbie? Are Maori farmers the only farmers going to be negatively impacted by an agriculture emissions pricing system? Are Maori farmers the only farmers practising regenerative and value-add farming?
I don’t know about you, but I get frustrated with the continual lack of objectivity in pronouncements by the Maori Party. . .

 

New Zealand wine export value hits all-time high :

The value of New Zealand wine in international markets is stronger than ever, with exports for 12 months to September at an all-time high of $2.03 billion, up 6% from the previous year. USA ($727 million) and Canada ($157 million) are at new record levels. The total value increase of 6% is due to a rise in value per litre, with volume for the 12 months to September decreasing 4% from a year ago.

The month of September 2022 has set a new export record of $287 million, this being the first time the export value has exceeded $¼ billion in any month.

“Record export value in September proves that our customers continue to appreciate the exceptional flavours, commitment to quality and sustainability of New Zealand wines, particularly in key international markets such as North America. Consumers around the world select a bottle of New Zealand wine off the shelf as they know it is a premium and unique product that they can trust,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

 

 


Quotes of the month

02/05/2022

Personally, I believe you don’t need two systems to deliver public services, you need a single system that has enough innovation to target for people on the basis of need. – Christopher Luxon

None of the demands of the new left stray from the culture into the material, they are all about flags, statues, word changes, date changes, forced declarations and compelled pronoun announcements, all shielding privilege in virtue. The new green movement’s aim to consolidate international power to control energy production doesn’t seem at all suspicious to the new lefties, I can tell you the old left would have had some bells going off. Edie Wyatt

This agenda to create an elite New Zealand ethnic group is racist, its undemocratic, its destructive, it has no mandate from the people and its directly opposed to the true and communicated intent of Treaty, so to stand against it is a 100% morally defendable position, so stand and do whatever you can, no matter how little. – John Franklin

I was not much surprised after the continual fanatical research by the Thought Police, to read that the Declaration of Independence being displayed at the National Archives in Washington has now attracted a ‘trigger warning’ on one of the original copies. How could we even hope that those resounding words: ‘ We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’  would be acceptable in these days of endless virtuous Thought Correction. Valerie Davies

Liberal thinking, modern concepts of liberty, equality, and diversity, whether in terms of race or gender, were not common in previous ages, so most of the great classics, though they often helped to push the boundaries of thought in all these things, are doomed, I fear.

Literature, described by one writer, as the ‘logbook of the human race,’ will struggle to exist if the woke mobs have their say – and history and theories that enlighten and educate and shift our thought processes, and initiate new paradigms. The creativity of uncensored minds is what leads  civilisation and lifts it to greater heights..

Power corrupts, and the power of virtue signallers of all colours seems to have brought about the disgrace and cancelling of numerous forward looking thinkers, of established and reputable writers like JK Rowling, and even of ordinary people who posses the common sense to see things in  perspective and the courage to speak out, and who lose their jobs and reputations as a result of this persecution. – Valerie Davies

Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of this sort of censorship is the way employees of publishers now seem to hold the upper hand, and refuse to work if they don’t like the content of a book, so that publishers and writers are intimidated. They have become fearful of publishing or writing any book which doesn’t conform to the guidelines of the new groups who demand that we all think like they do.  Valerie Davies

Not only does this sort of policing of our minds and thoughts have terrible similarities both with the Nazi era, and the unforgivable brain washing of the Russian population during this latest unspeakable war, but it also limits the creativity and diversity of thought by which a society itself expands its perceptions, and explores the further reaches of thought and creativity, and the possibilities of the human spirit.

It’s called gaslighting when a person undermines the feelings of another person, making them feel that their feelings have no validity and don’t matter. What is happening to our history, to our literature, to our culture, is another form of gaslighting, which can also be described as bullying. – Valerie Davies

I wish it was different, I wish we had a better leadership, I wish we had more hope and more optimism, and I wish we had people running this place that were just a little bit in touch with the real world.Mike Hosking

One of the criticisms this government faces — and has faced often — is that there is little substance to their policies and at times, little rationale for their decision-making.

There is certainly very little transparency in terms of what’s shaping their thinking, what the intended outcome is, and why they’ve have taken the position they have.  – Rachel Smalley

Forcing local councils into toothless submission via far-reaching national policy directives and rushed legislative change is becoming a familiar refrain. Mike Yardley

Language is central in the culture wars and if you invalidate the words that enable people to articulate their concerns, you strip them of an essential weapon. By characterising users of terms such as “woke” and “political correctness” as alarmist, out of touch and jumping at their own shadows, the neo-Marxist Left seeks to minimise the implications of its radical agenda. The perception that New Zealand democracy is being systematically dismantled as part of a grand ideological project can then be presented as a figment of fevered right-wing imaginations.

Conservative New Zealanders tend to be reticent at the best of times, and are even more likely to keep their views to themselves if they fear being ridiculed for using the wrong words.  – Karl du Fresne

The lesson that arises, which is of acute relevance to the co-governance debate, is that reasonable public consideration of important issues will not take place if it is constrained by a framework constructed by politicians. All that ensures is that the outcome of any such consultation is shaped and ultimately decided according to the partisan political lines dominant at the time.Peter Dunne

The job of the fourth estate is not to take a position and tell anyone what to believe; it is to ask questions and report the answers, and investigate as far as possible and report evidence that may show whether those answers are truthful and comprehensive.

In other words, journalists are not endowed with special powers of insight by dint of their profession – though some may be uncommonly perceptive – and they should not be expected to take either a particularly antagonistic or obsequious stance in order to be seen to be doing their job well. – Andrew Barnes

When people feel afraid, when downtowns are no-go zones when police aren’t there to be seen when Kāinga Ora evicts no one despite the threats to blow you up or burn your house down when you curtail your lifestyle because of fear, and perhaps worst of all when your Government fails to accept any of it is true, just how long can you go rejecting the premise of the question before you are rejecting it from the opposition benches? Mike Hosking

For the record, I was a lousy public servant. Truly. I was the worst of the worst. I was eternally frustrated by the glacial pace of progress, the bureaucracy, the obsession with tiers and titles, a sector-wide fear of ministers, the Wellington-centric view of New Zealand, and the level of waste. – Rachel Smalley

This week, I wondered if the Government had learned anything from KiwiBuild.

Some of its decision-making continues to feel hasty, off-the-cuff, and lacking in strategy and substance. Remember the public sector pay-freeze in the middle of a pandemic? The policy around hate speech that neither Kris Faafoi nor Jacinda Ardern could articulate? The bungled border decisions that left Kiwis stranded overseas? And the little-scrutinised major health reforms announced almost a year ago. – Rachel Smalley

The July deadline is fast approaching and the CEOs of the country’s 20 DHBs have limited insight into what August will look like. In fact, Health NZ is yet to confirm an operating model.

It feels like KiwiBuild all over again. Health NZ began with a big announcement, but there is little substance behind it. The Ministry of Housing & Urban Development couldn’t wait to offload KiwiBuild to Kāinga Ora to manage, and Bloomfield may have timed his exit to avoid having to deal with the inevitable Health NZ mess.

The origins of major reform may lie with ideology, but they must be built on strategy and ‘real world’ thinking. – Rachel Smalley

At universities there has been a strong trend towards what is called “no platforming”, a concept that argues “platforms” shouldn’t be provided for harmful or wrong ideas and debates. It’s essentially the concept of “banning” bad ideas from being available. This concept has led to several speakers and ideas being kept off New Zealand campuses. Not only that, but it has also sent a strong message to academics about the possibility of being “called out” or marginalised if they don’t conform to orthodox views. – Bryce Edwards

In a sense, the left has swung from one extreme in the 20th century, when everything was about economics and class (and important issues around gender and ethnicity were not given their due focus) to one where the focus is much more on culturalist and identity politics. – Bryce Edwards

The modern version of the left – or the “liberal left” – has different ways of pursuing political change. Largely it’s an elite, top-down model of politics, reflective of the left being made up of the highly educated stratum of society. They confidently believe that they know best.

This elite leftwing approach is very compatible with a more censorious approach to politics and that partly explains the authoritarian impulses we are seeing today. – Bryce Edwards

The rise of “culture wars” has been incredibly important for shaping the political atmosphere we are currently in. Rather than debate and discussion, or finding a middle ground, it’s more polarising – with both conservatives and liberals focusing more on personalities. For example, from the left we see widespread labelling of opponents as racists or sexists. There is now a sneering tendency on the left – especially at those who are seen as socially backward.Bryce Edwards

One logical consequence for many on the left is to take an approach of “language policing” and concern for “cultural etiquette”, in an almost Victorian way. Again, this is topsy-turvy – it used to be the conservative or rightwing side of politics that was concerned with policing people’s behaviour, and looking down on the less educated and enlightened.

The contemporary left has a mistrust in the ability of society to make the right decisions or to understand the world. In an elitist way, many on the progressive side of politics view the public as being ignorant or lacking enlightenment. Hence, the view of gender or ethnic inequality or oppression is often understood as something to do with personal behaviour and “bad ideas” (racism, sexism, homophobia) – rather than a fundamental part of how our society is structured. – Bryce Edwards

I think what people would say about me is that I play politics like I played sport.

I mean when I got the ball in rugby, I ran it up the guts. That’s the truth. Because for me if you want to achieve something you look at the best route possible and for me it has always been from A to B. – Louisa Wall

The natural consequence of an ideology that holds the group, not the individual, as the standard of value, is complete disregard for the rights of individuals. If what really matters is the Russian state, who cares if some Ukrainian civilians are sacrificed for that ideal? This sounds callous and brutish to Western ears, precisely because Western culture places great importance on the value of the individual’s life. When that standard of value is lost—when the state or the group replaces it—the door is opened to unthinkable depths of inhumanity. – Thomas Walker-Werth

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in an address to the Russian people that he does not believe the invasion is being perpetrated in their name, echoing the view expressed by many that Putin is acting against the values of Russian people. However, although Putin is clearly a madman, his actions are enabled by a philosophy that has as thoroughly permeated Russia today as it had Germany in the 1930s. This truth is borne out in the reaction of many Russian people to the invasion of Ukraine: According to independent polling agencies cited by Forbes.com and other Western sources, Putin’s approval ratings have increased sharply since the war began.14 Many Russian people accept the government’s “justification” for the invasion.15 There are some valiant individuals who resist, and they deserve enormous credit, as do those Russian soldiers who defect or refuse to obey orders to murder civilians. But they are a small minority.

What is happening now in Ukraine is a kind of barbarism many in the West thought was consigned to history. But the collectivism that led to the murder and brutalization of millions upon millions of people in Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s USSR, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and numerous other collectivist tyrannies during the 20th century, is still alive and capable of inflicting gruesome harm on millions of innocent people.

The only antidote to collectivism is a principled defense of the very ideas Putin opposes: individualism and individual rights. That is what was missing in 1930s Germany, and that is what is missing in Russia and many other countries today. Nationalist parties inspired by Dugin have made significant electoral gains in relatively free European countries such as France and Germany.16 Collectivist ideology even underpins policies of both major American political parties. It will lead to ever more human suffering—until and unless people come to understand and embrace individualism and individual rights. – Thomas Walker-Werth

Even Dr Bloomfield appears reluctant to join the Prime Minister on stage for a repeat of their hit 2020 performances.

Back then it seemed to matter. Now it has the ring of a Culture Club farewell tour playing to shambolic dive bars while still dreaming of the packed stadiums of yesteryear. – Damien Grant

This administration has the feeling of a dead-man-walking. New Zealand has tuned out. Money, interest and attention has now turned towards Messrs Luxon and Seymour, as there is now a sense of inevitability about a change of government.

Here is my take: Outside of Covid, this administration has a terrible record. Inequality, if you care about that metric, has deteriorated. The only way a working family can now obtain a house is through inheritance. We are toiling longer, with unemployment having fallen, but the wages being earned are worth less thanks to inflation.

Few things better define the Ardern government than the Auckland Harbour cycle path. Announced with great fanfare then quietly forgotten. KiwiBuild, the Provincial Growth Fund, transparency, mental health funding and even the entire Well-Being budget framework have all fallen over. – Damien Grant

The poor now struggle to get credit, thanks to changes to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act. The poor now have to pay more for their petrol cars, thanks to the tax on dirty petrol cars. The poor now struggle to cover the cost of groceries as prices rise faster than wages, thanks in part to changes to the mandate of the Reserve Bank away from a single focus on inflation.

Other than increasing benefits at nearly the rate of inflation, the Ardern Government has achieved close to nothing outside of Covid, and in many key areas the welfare of Kiwis has fallen. – Damien Grant

Not all of this is Ardern’s fault. Her agenda was derailed by the pandemic and the paucity of competence within her caucus from which to draw talent. There are only so many portfolios you can force onto Chris Hipkins before he loses focus and begins to bait pregnant journalists trapped in Kabul.

There are still a few big projects on the books. The Fair Pay Agreements and unemployment insurance may become law by the next election, but if the past performance is any guide these reforms will not be well-designed and be implemented badly. – Damien Grant

Never, in the history of the world, have we lived in more generally inclusive and accepting societies than those that make up the West nowadays. That is not to say things are perfect and we should consider the job of promoting equality and fairness done. However, it seems the further we have progressed, the more ardently some quarters of our society declare evil to be found everywhere.

Instead of ‘reds under the bed’, these zealots find racists in the pantry, homophobes in between the couch cushions, transphobes in the bedside drawer, and misogynists under the rug. Again, I am not disputing that there are still the odd ‘phobes’ or bigots lurking unwanted, but the insistence that there is an epidemic of these uncouth kinds of folk runs the risk of manifesting them into existence. – Ani O’Brien

Much of New Zealand lives in incredibly multicultural communities – Wellington to a lesser extent and maybe that’s why bureaucrats are some of the worst offenders when it comes to imagining racists.

We, of all backgrounds, attend kindy together, then school. We are friends, neighbours, lovers, life partners, parents, family, and whanau. We cheer for the same sports teams, despair at the same petrol prices, and often share aspects of the same Kiwi sense of humour.

But despite our integrated, though at times flawed, society there are those who will have you believe that every white New Zealander harbours hatred towards New Zealanders of other ethnic backgrounds and especially Māori.Ani O’Brien

The reductive view these privileged theorists take paints the poorest, drug-addled beggar on the street as the oppressor of a successful and wealthy businessperson if only the beggar is white and the businessperson is not.Their concept of racial privilege is so lacking in nuance that a kid who has his shoes and raincoat supplied by a charity and is fed at school will be taught by his teacher that he is privileged over some of his more fortunate classmates because he is white and they are not.

This constant placing of people in diametrically opposite camps based on race is a recipe not for improved cohesion and furthering equality. It is a sure way to increase divisiveness and create distrust and animosity between groups of people.

When already marginalised people are told constantly that they are “bad” because of the colour of their skin, or that people like them need to “sit down and shut up”, and that they have less claim to their country of birth than the bloke next door, they begin to see themselves as outsiders.

And, when the criteria for being a ‘racist’ or a ‘white supremacist’ is so diluted that accusations are flung about as frequently and as flippantly as they currently are, the accused begin to be a larger and larger group. – Ani O’Brien

In this context, a white identity group is being formed not by those it is being imposed on, but by the mostly white, educated, ‘liberals’ who somehow exclude themselves from the characterisations they make about other white people as entitled, greedy, mean, ignorant, privileged, and, of course, racist.

White identity is being manifested by those who most decry it.

People who have always been more invested in a ‘Kiwi Identity’ untethered to race, now find themselves being repeatedly told that they cannot understand their fellow countrymen and women because they are racially different. People who have heartily taken part in the haka and sung Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi at the top of their lungs are now self-conscious and reluctant to attempt te Reo Māori for fear of being accused of appropriation or disrespect. – Ani O’Brien

White New Zealanders are being told “you stay over there in your lane”, while Māori are told “look at those guys over there – they’re racist and hate you”, and New Zealanders of all other races and ethnicities wonder ‘where do we fit into this dysfunctional situation?’

Division is being driven from the top. Government agencies, academia, media, and our education system are all complicit in dreaming into reality a toxic ‘white identity’ that imposes the very worst of fringe extremism on a population that still makes up the majority of New Zealanders. – Ani O’Brien

There is a glorification of making white New Zealanders uncomfortable as if that in itself is an acceptable and entertaining pastime by those at the top. It is inevitably white people with more institutional and economic power sneering at white people with much less than them. One should, in my opinion, rightly be made uncomfortable if they are racist, but often the shaming that happens is gratuitous and not in the pursuit of bringing an end to genuine racism.

Likewise, it seems to be a small group of wealthy, highly educated Māori who are driving the culture war from their end. Your average Māori, just like your average white New Zealander, is uninterested in ‘intersectional politics’ and reckons everyone should just get a fair go regardless of race. They certainly do not profit from the divisiveness like those who get air time and academic papers out of it. 

It is unlikely that the behaviours driving the manifestation of white identity are going to change anytime soon. The establishment white ‘liberals’ are too drunk on the power of denigrating ‘lower’ white people and promoting their own exceptionalism. They will continue to drive wedges between communities that otherwise live pretty harmoniously.

As with much of the antagonism in the culture wars, the accusation of racism is largely a weapon wielded by the powerful and fortunate against those who they see as the great unwashed and uneducated masses. They cancel others with relative power in order to retain control of the narrative and prevent the empowerment of the majority. Cancellations are punishments for deviating from the dominant discourse, but they are also warnings; ritualistic public shamings intended to make anyone who would be inclined to challenge norms, think twice.

There are ultimately more of us who wish to live peacefully in our multicultural country than those who want to pit us against each other. We can choose not to be afraid of the tactics used to make us comply. We can refuse to allow the toxic ‘White Identity’, they are attempting to manifest, to take hold. We should celebrate our shared values and manifest instead a Kiwi Identity that we can all be proud of.Ani O’Brien

When I heard Ukraine’s President Zelensky arguing for a fundamental overhaul of the United Nations, and especially of the Security Council, I recalled our greatest New Zealand Prime Minister and World War Two leader, Peter Fraser. He envisaged just the sort of issue we face today with Russia’s war on Ukraine. Old Peter, a wily, highly intelligent Scotsman, was one of the world’s few prime ministers to attend the San Francisco conference in 1945 that set up the rules for a postwar body to monitor the peace. With support from nearly all the smaller countries represented at the conference, Fraser objected strenuously to the great power veto that enabled any of the five victorious powers – the US, Britain, France, Russia and China – to block any substantive move the Security Council might want to take in the event of a breach of the UN Charter, even if all other countries favoured action. Peter Fraser pointed out that by allowing a veto, one of the five might behave as it pleased, and then act as judge and jury in its own cause. He was right. That’s exactly what has happened several times since 1945. The US has done it and Russia much more often. The veto is why today the United Nations is such a toothless tiger. It is unable to protect Ukraine, one of its member states, from the ruthless onslaught from neighboring Russia. The recent motion to condemn Russia passed the Security Council with a significant majority. Several Security Council members abstained from voting or absented themselves, but Russia exercised its veto, thereby preventing what should have resulted in international punishment, with Russia having to pay reparations for the damage it has done. – Michael Bassett

Wise heads are needed to work out some way of dealing with nuclear blackmail. Over Cuba in 1962 the United States stared Russia down and Nikita Khruschev blinked rather than take responsibility for blowing up the world. This time the US couldn’t be sufficiently sure that Putin wouldn’t push the nuclear button and blow everything up. The problem with high level threats is that one has to presume that both the offenders and the victims are capable of making rational decisions. With modern Russia, this has always been in doubt. Putin has never produced any rational explanation for the invasion he kept denying he intended, and then suddenly launched. There is considerable speculation that after 22 years in office he’s been removed from reality for too long. In his search for some kind of legitimacy for the corruption and looting that he and his oligarch mates have undertaken within Russia he’s become obsessed with Russian Orthodox Christianity which so far has placed a firm stamp of approval on his years in office. Put simply, he seems to have lost it, and to be beyond reason.

If this is so, it raises a further issue that Peter Fraser and the founders of the United Nations hoped they wouldn’t face again once that Adolf Hitler was dead: how to deal with a madman possessed of the wherewithal to blow up the world. In the meantime, a concerted effort to reform the Security Council and remove the veto powers has become urgent. President Zelensky is right. Michael Bassett

To call a belief a myth is usually to denigrate it, though there are beneficial myths as there are noble lies. There’s no doubt that myths can be harmful, however, for they can, and often do, obstruct critical thought.

In Britain, the mythology of the National Health Service (NHS), which now manages to combine the baleful characteristics of Stalinist administration with pork barrel politics, has obstructed necessary reform for decades. Because of the mythology, the NHS is the nearest to a religion that the country comes, according to Nigel Lawson, the second-most powerful British politician during Margaret Thatcher’s premiership. Even the Iron Lady feared to reform it fundamentally. It was much more difficult for her than confronting the Soviet Union. – Theodore Dalrymple

It’s therefore difficult to know how representative of the whole any scandal is. But the institution is coated in a kind of Teflon, to which no scandal can stick.

And yet everyone knows that it’s better to be ill in almost any European country than in Britain. The outcomes of various diseases—heart attacks or cancer, for example—are worse in Britain than elsewhere. When the NHS was established, in 1948, British life expectancy was six years higher than France’s. Now it’s two or three years lower. Life expectancy is not determined by health care alone, of course, but the government report that led to the establishment of the NHS stated that health care in Britain was superior to that in most of the rest of Europe. No one would claim that any longer.  – Theodore Dalrymple

I had never heard of a colour-coordinated library. I stood looking at her in total disbelief. After about 20 seconds of stunned silence I managed to blurt out, “Well, my books have to be read! I will not sell any of my books just to be put in a fake library and forgotten. You can’t buy any of these books!” – Ruth Shaw

When I hold one of my mother’s books I remember her; I touch the same page she touched, I read the same words she read. Books collected over many years become part of the family. They have been loved, read and re-read, and have often travelled around the world. They live in silence for years in a family home bearing witness to many special occasions, bringing the reader joy and sometimes tears.Ruth Shaw

This underlines a striking trend in recent years for the mainstream media in New Zealand to align themselves consciously and deliberately with causes that they must know alienate a large proportion of their readers, viewers and listeners. Call it slow-motion suicide.

The bigger picture is that the media have abandoned their traditional role of trying to reflect the society they purport to serve in favour of advocating on behalf of divisive and often extremist minority causes. By doing so they create a perception of New Zealand not as a cohesive, stable society made up of diverse groups with vital interests in common, but as one characterised by aggrieved minorities whose interests are fundamentally incompatible with those of a callously indifferent (or worse, deliberately oppressive) majority.

Media outlets that once tried conscientiously to provide a platform for a range of opinions and ideologies now unashamedly attack, or just as insidiously ignore, views and beliefs that run counter to the narrative favoured by the leftist cabal that controls the institutions of power. The most obvious example is the collective undertaking by major media organisations to ignore any opinion, including those of distinguished scientists, that runs counter to the “approved” narrative on climate change or the effectiveness of policies intended to ameliorate it.

Such flagrant suppression of news would have been unthinkable not long ago. Now it’s official editorial policy.- Karl du Fresne

As an occupational group, journalists have long tended to lean to the left. Earlier generations of reporters countered this by restraining their natural impulses, knowing that media credibility hinged on public confidence that events and issues would be covered fairly, accurately and impartially. That professional discipline is long gone, along with the moderating influence exercised by editors who insisted on the now highly unfashionable principle of objectivity.

We are bombarded daily with politically slanted content masquerading as trustworthy and authoritative reportage. A recent example was an episode of the New Zealand Herald’s newly launched podcast The Front Page (which claims to “go behind the headlines” and ask “hard-hitting questions”), in which Herald journalists Damien Venuto and Georgina Campbell purported to examine the Three Waters project without once mentioning its most contentious feature – namely, the proposal for 50/50 co-governance with iwi.

“High-quality, trusted” coverage as promised by Herald managing editor Shayne Currie? It’s time to revive the Tui billboards, surely. – Karl du Fresne

The war immediately combined the personal and public. And this is probably the fatal mistake of the tyrant who attacked us. We are all Ukrainians first, and then everything else. He wanted to divide us, to shatter us, to provoke internal confrontation, but it is impossible to do this with Ukrainians. When one of us is tortured, raped, or killed, we feel that we all are being tortured, raped, or killed. We do not need propaganda to feel civic consciousness, and to resist. It is this personal anger and pain, which we all feel, that instantly activates the thirst to act, to resist aggression, to defend our freedom. Everyone does this the way they can: Soldiers with weapons in their hands, teachers by continuing to teach, doctors by conducting complex surgeries under attacks. All have become volunteers—artists, restaurateurs, hairdressers—as barbarians try to take over our country. I’ve seen this raise the deepest patriotic feelings in our children. Not only my children, but all the children of Ukraine. They will grow up to be patriots and defenders of their homeland.Olena Zelenska

Blocked, destroyed Mariupol is our terrible pain. That continues. And the Kyiv region has become horrible—that’s what we’ve seen as the Russian army has retreated. The world has learned the name Bucha. This is one of the once-beautiful towns near the capital—but the same horrors can be seen in dozens of villages and towns in Kyiv region. People killed on the street. Not military—civilians! Graves near playgrounds. I can’t even describe it. It makes me speechless. But it is necessary to look at it.

I hope we are not the only ones who see the message Russia is sending. This message is not only addressed to us. This is their message to the world! This could be what happens to any country that Russia does not like. – Olena Zelenska

The democratic world must be united and give a tough response, thus showing that in the twenty-first century there is no place for killing civilians and encroaching on foreign territory.Olena Zelenska

The main thing is not to get used to the war—not to turn it into statistics. Continue going to protests, continue to demand that your governments take action. Ukrainians are the same as you, but just over a month ago, our lives changed radically. Ukrainians did not want to leave their homes. But so often they did not have homes left. – Olena Zelenska

My family—just like every Ukrainian—and my compatriots: incredible people who organized to help the army and help each other. Now all Ukrainians are the army. Everyone does what they can. There are stories about grandmothers who bake bread for the army just because they feel this call. They want to bring victory closer.

That is what Ukrainians are like. We all hope for them. We hope for ourselves. – Olena Zelenska

Change in linguistic usage is normal, and it can either add to or detract from language’s expressive power. It’s much more likely to be sinister when it’s directed by some organization acting in an official or public capacity than when it arises spontaneously from the population at large.

Directed change in linguistic usage is usually done in pursuit of some practical or ideological end, acknowledged or unacknowledged—or both. – Theodore Dalrymple

Why is there this drive to exculpate people totally from their own situation, if that situation is in some way undesirable or worse?

First, there’s the desire for power by those who see their fellow beings as pure victims, that is to say, as inanimate objects acted upon but not acting. But I don’t think that this is the whole explanation.

Another part of the explanation is the debased secularization of Christian ethics. Christian ethics enjoin us to forgive our enemies, to love others as oneself, and to be charitable toward the unfortunate. But the secularized version of these ethics omits one important aspect, namely that we’re all sinners in need of mercy. In the secularized version of Christian ethics, there’s no notion of sin, at least not in victims: Only perpetrators, such as commercial interests and governments, can sin in the new revised version.Theodore Dalrymple

In the older view, a Christian could—and, in fact, should—recognize the sinfulness of every person, including the very fat, but at the same time attempt to be compassionate toward him. For essentially he, the Christian, was in the same boat, if not necessarily with regard to the same sin—but he was a sinner of some kind or another.

Again, it isn’t the case that Christians always practiced what they preached or should have preached. Far from it: They can be as censorious, cruel, punitive, and sadistic as anyone else. But at least, in theory, their belief or doctrine allows them the possibility of recognizing both a person’s sinful part in bringing about his own bad situation and being compassionate toward him. – Theodore Dalrymple

 It wants to be compassionate toward those who suffer. But because it hangs on to Christian ethics with the concept of sin removed, that turns almost everyone, including the readers of this, into inanimate objects, with all the potential for a totalitarian dictatorship and abuse that such a worldview inevitably implies.Theodore Dalrymple

Why do we feature car or motorbike racing as though it is sensible to drive very fast to nowhere in particular, or simply round and round to get back to where we started? – Jacqueline Rowarth

Those of us who want our science free of ideology can only stand by helplessly as we watch physics, chemistry, and biology crumble from within as the termites of Wokeism nibble away. I once thought that scientists, whom I presumed would be less concerned than humanities professors with ideological pollution (after all, we do have some objective facts to argue about), would be largely immune to Wokeism.

I was wrong, of course. It turns out that scientists are human beings after all, and with that goes the desire for the approbation of one’s peers and of society.  And you don’t get that if you’re deemed a racist. You can even be criticized from holding yourself away from the fray, preferring to do science than engage in social engineering. (Remember, Kendi-an doctrine says that if you’re not an actively working anti-racist, you’re a racist.)Jerry Coyne

And everybody knows, though few dare to say it, that what’s happening is the erosion of the meritocratic aspects of science, replacing them with standards of social justice determined by a small group of “progressive” people on the Left. Further, the less that merit is considered and used as a fundamental tenet of science, the slower science will progress. But I suppose the proponents of injecting Wokeism into science would say “merit is an outdated criterion; what we really need is equity.” Perhaps, but the effort is all directed at calling present science riddled with “structural racism.” And that’s not true. – Jerry Coyne

Incitement to psychological fragility is one of the most important enemies of freedom today, especially where the taking of offence requires no justification and confers certain moral rights automatically, including those of censorship, upon the offended. Anyone who does not compassionate the offended compounds the supposed reason for his or her having taken offence in the first place. Moreover, taking offence is the highest proof of that most sterling of all human characteristics, vulnerability. Only the insensitive and hard-hearted lack vulnerability.

To increase people’s vulnerability is thus to improve their character. As it happens, it also creates job opportunities, for example those of so-called sensitivity readers, those youngish women, educated in the humanities, who read books for publishers in order to pre-empt any offence that readers might take. Without people primed and ready to take offence, where would they be?

Of course, only certain types or categories of people must be protected from offence; others may be offended with impunity, indeed it is a duty and a pleasure to do so.- Anthony Daniels 

The more people are protected from that against which they might take offence, the more hypersensitive and easily offended they become, so the more protection they need. Sensitivity reading is a job for life.

It is therefore important to seize all possible occasions to emphasise the fragility of the human psyche.  – Anthony Daniels 

Now I am myself somewhat prudish by nature, especially in the matter of bad language. I think it should be kept in reserve and brought out only on very important or special occasions. If used all the time, it has no real impact and is inexpressive. English is rather impoverished when it comes to bad language and so, apart from being bad in the moral sense, it is bad in point of monotony and uninventiveness. I am told that by comparison Hungarian, for example, is rich in expletives and the like, and it is possible to swear and insult in Hungarian for minutes on end without repetition.Anthony Daniels 

I regret very much the resort to bad language in Anglophone life. In England, the rapid increase in its daily use is almost exactly datable, back to the time when the highly superior theatre critic Kenneth Tynan first pronounced a certain word on BBC television, thinking thereby that he was liberating his fellow-countrymen from the terrible chains of respectability. It is sometimes claimed that the Irish writer Brendan Behan had used it before him, but he was so drunk at the time, and his speech so slurred and incoherent, that nobody could quite catch what he said.

Less than fifty years later, it was more or less compulsory for anyone who wanted to be taken seriously to use the word constantly. – Anthony Daniels 

Warnings that assume that we are a population of histrionic or hysterical personality disorders are common these days. Anthony Daniels 

At whom, then, was the warning aimed? Perhaps this is the wrong question: it should be, “What was the purpose of the warning?”

I think it was to instil in the population the idea that there are large numbers of delicate people—adults—in our society who need protection the way that minors were once thought to be in need of protection, because they are psychologically so sensitive, fragile and vulnerable. This in turn necessitates a great army of sensitivity readers and the like to prevent distress, and counsellors, psychologists and so forth to cure it after it has occurred. At the same time as our culture is unprecedentedly vulgar, crude and violent, we must protect people from representations of vulgarity, crudity and violence. In the words of the old Flanders and Swann song, “It all makes work for the working man to do.” But we have progressed somewhat since their benighted time: it makes work for the working woman too. – Anthony Daniels 

As I’ve always said, I don’t mind using whatever pronouns someone wants to be known by, but the buck stops for me when transgender women are considered as full biological women—and by that I mean women who produce (or have the potential to produce) large and immobile gametes. It’s not the word “woman” I object to; it’s the implicit conflation of biological women with transsexual women in every possible way: the equation of biological women with biological males who consider their gender to be female and may or may not take action to change their bodies. (I don’t care if they “transition” physically or not; I’ll be glad to use their pronouns.) In this case the Post uses “people” instead of “women” because they want to go along with the mantra that “transmen are men”, though transmen who can get pregnant are actually biological women, which is the only reason they can get pregnant.Jerry Coyne

There was once a place called the University. I knew it well – in fact I grew up there. The son of a mathematician, I often spent time in my formative years hanging around campus. I enjoyed interacting with my father’s colleagues. They were people who loved to argue. Even when I was a child they paid me the respect of challenging my thinking. They did so in a manner as generous and good-humoured as it was intelligent and robust. The idea that it might take courage to be a dissenting voice would, I think, have occurred to them as strange.

The people who inhabited that University knew what academic freedom was. They didn’t talk about it, they simply lived it. They understood implicitly that academic freedom was both a privilege and a duty. They understood that the University was an institution at the heart of democracy, that the health of democracy is a contest of ideas and that, as academics, they had leading roles in that contest. Academic freedom – the freedom to say things that are controversial, unpopular, almost unthinkable – kept culture fresh and provided grist to the mill of politics.

The University I grew up in is fading fast. In the New University, academic freedom is all too often seen as an embarrassing relic of the past, or worse, as a tool of oppression. Recent research commissioned by the Free Speech Union (FSU) shows just how far it has fallen out of favour. – Dr Michael Johnston

The Treaty, as well as sex and gender issues, have become sacred cows. There are doctrines about them that many academics feel scared to openly disagree with. – Dr Michael Johnston

I will add only that academic freedom is actually one of the principal mechanisms at our disposal for challenging the status quo. But I suspect that the academic who made that comment thinks that the status quo is simply whatever he or she disagrees with.

I encounter some of my dad’s old colleagues around campus from time to time. It’s always good to see them, but it makes me sad about what’s been lost. They’re in their 70s and 80s now, and they must wonder what’s happened to their university. To dispel any doubt, when I say, “their university”, I’m not speaking of a specific university, but of the spirit of open-minded scholarship they embodied. I hope that, in time, we’ll find a way to rekindle that spirit in the bricks and mortar of our country’s campuses. – Dr Michael Johnston

The Black Death (bubonic plague) in the mid-1300s is reckoned to have killed 30 per cent of Europe’s population at the time. The “Spanish” flu a century ago killed 50 million, 2.5 per cent of the world’s population. Covid-19 has so far killed 25 million, according to the Economist’s measure of “excess deaths” of all causes, 0.3 per cent of today’s population.

Clearly a pandemic in epidemiology is not what I imagined it was. But it therefore becomes more important to ask, were lockdowns ever a proportionate response now that we can see what a pandemic really is?John Roughan

We live in an age of serial expertise. First we were experts in climate change, whether or not we believed it was taking place, and consequently in energy policy. Then, with Covid, we became expert epidemiologists, though most of us would shortly before have been hard put to explain what epidemiology as a science actually was. And now, with the war in Ukraine, we have become expert military strategists. – Theodore Dalrymple

How does one become a panjandrum? Is there a special school for them? If there is, I suppose they teach there such subjects as gravitas and pomposity, pretentiousness and portentousness. No doubt students are selected by natural ability in these subjects, and perhaps psychologists have already developed validated and reliable scales for them, as they have for practically all other human characteristics. (Psychology is another subject of our chronic expertise, of course.)Theodore Dalrymple

As to increasing human capital, delightfully so-called, in the hands of government it is likely to result in an overgrowth of qualifications irrelevant to, and even obstructive of, any productive activity whatsoever, to what one might call, if it were a disease, fulminating diplomatosis. – Theodore Dalrymple

I do not want to cast doubt on the idea of expertise in some kind of know-nothing way. But there is no more important task for the citizen than the recognition of true expertise, as well as the recognition of its limits. Theodore Dalrymple

The delusions of the protesters outside Parliament have been debunked. The delusions of those inside Parliament also need debunking.

The fantasies of anti-vaxxers primarily hurt themselves. The fantasies of our leaders hurt us all. – Richard Prebble

An analysis of the Consumers Price Index reveals most of New Zealand’s inflation is domestic. Actions such as printing $55 billion and government deficit spending have pushed up prices more than either fuel increases or supply chain congestion.

The adult minimum wage has gone from $16.50 in 2018 to $21.20 today. Only a politician could call that a “race to the bottom“. – Richard Prebble

Surrounded by lackeys saying “Yes Minister”, it’s a struggle to keep in touch with reality. – Richard Prebble

When it is leaders who have delusions, it is very dangerous. President Vladimir Putin’s delusion that Ukraine is not a country has brought the world to the edge of nuclear war.

Ministers’ refusal to accept that their reckless government spending is inflationary makes reducing inflation very difficult. At a time of full employment, the effectiveness of the Reserve Bank’s anti-inflationary interest rate rises is being countered by inflationary government deficit spending. – Richard Prebble

Awards did not result in cleaners and bus drivers being well-paid. As Minister of Railways I found that, despite unions, awards and industrial action, railway workers needed social welfare to top up their income. As a law clerk, my union negotiated an award wage that was less than the unemployment benefit.

Despite prohibitions on strikes, the system of awards allowed those with industrial power to extort high incomes. For hours worked, wharfies earned more than brain surgeons.Richard Prebble

Successive studies have found that a factor such as having a fifth of all pupils leaving state schools functionally illiterate is one reason for our poor productivity. The appalling productivity in the unionised state sector is another.

One-size-fits-all union wages and conditions mean few are happy. It is why union workplaces often have industrial unrest.Richard Prebble

This Labour Government is the master of gesture politics. Maybe a majority of voters can be persuaded that inflation is imported. Maybe a tenth of all workers will vote for union sector-wide wage fixing.

What we do know is that gestures cannot change reality. Just saying “inflation is imported” will not reduce our grocery bills.

Fantasies that union bargaining results in “higher quality goods and services” cannot make New Zealand a prosperous country. – Richard Prebble

Governments like scapegoats. A good scapegoat can take the blame for something that is a government’s fault. It can also help justify measures the government was itching to take for other reasons.

When all goes well, a very good scapegoat can do both. – Eric Crampton

Greed is a poor explanation for inflation, not because companies are altruists, but because greed is always with us. It isn’t cyclical.

Should we credit corporate public-spiritedness for the five years from December 2011 through December 2016 when inflation ran well below the midpoint of the RBNZ inflation band?

Of course not. Monetary policy drives inflation, not changes in greed. – Eric Crampton

In short, the minister was wrong from beginning to end. Absolute economic ignorance would be the most charitable explanation, but even then he might have considered asking Treasury’s advice.

More plausibly, Clark was scapegoating the supermarkets to justify populist measures against them, or to deflect attention from his government’s failure to keep the Reserve Bank on target, or both.

Voters should be wary of policies justified by scapegoating – Eric Crampton

New Zealand is one of the oldest democracies in the world. This system of government ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’ – that treats all citizens as equals before the law – has been a liberating force of human endeavour throughout the ages. We have indeed been fortunate in New Zealand that successive governments have faithfully upheld policies to protect our democracy as sacrosanct.

That is, until now. – Muriel Newman

Do we uphold the foundation of our Westminster Parliamentary democracy, namely one person one vote, where all votes are equal, or do we go down the path towards an Orwellian Animal Farm democracy, where all are equal – but some are more equal than others?

Unfortunately, this is not a trivial question. It’s time for a national conversation about what we want from our democracy, and in particular, whether we want those New Zealanders identifying as ‘Maori’ to be guaranteed greater rights and privileges than everyone else. – Muriel Newman

A key problem New Zealanders face is that the partnership the Government is using to justify what amounts to totalitarian tribal control – through the transfer of democratic power and public resources to the iwi elite – is actually fake. Since it is constitutionally impossible for a partnership to exist between a Sovereign and the governed, it represents a massive deception of New Zealanders by the Government. – Muriel Newman

The resulting upheaval isn’t measurable so much by legislative change as by a profound shift in the political and cultural tone of the country. Ardern’s re-election was like an injection of steroids for the leftist cabal that now exerts control over all New Zealand’s institutions of power and influence, including the media and the craven business sector.

This university-educated and predominantly middle-class neo-Marxist cabal is distinct from New Zealand’s dwindling old-school socialist/communist Left, which ironically now finds itself aligned with conservatives on issues such as free speech and identity politics. But the New Left wields far more power than the comrades of the Old Left ever dreamed of.Karl du Fresne

How is this leftist cabal’s influence manifested? Chiefly through the divisive phenomenon known as wedge politics, and most provocatively through the promotion of 50-50 co-governance between representatives of the European majority and a minority consisting of people with Maori ancestry.

There are now effectively two levels of citizenship in New Zealand, one of which confers entitlements not available to the other. This is evident across a range of public policies that include compulsory Maori representation on local councils, the appointment of Maori activists to positions of power and the splurging of vast sums of money targetted exclusively at people who happen, by what is effectively a genetic accident, to have a proportion of Maori blood.

All this is predicated on the notion that people of part-Maori descent are entitled to redress for the baneful effects of colonisation. These deleterious effects presumably included the introduction of democratic government, the rule of law and the end of cannibalism, slavery and tribal warfare. – Karl du Fresne

Whether decolonisation includes rejecting such innovations as literacy and Western medicine isn’t clear, since the advocates of decolonisation are careful not to spell out exactly what they mean. – Karl du Fresne

. The stark choice facing New Zealand voters at next year’s general election will be between democracy and a different form of government for which we have no name.

But the cultural upheaval goes far beyond that, stoked by state-subsidised media that have abandoned their traditional purpose of seeking to reflect the society they purport to serve, and which instead bombard the public with indoctrination promoting the interests of attention-seeking minority groups.  – Karl du Fresne

This sense of polarisation is magnified by an authoritarian intolerance of dissent and by Stalinist-style denunciations of anyone bold or foolish enough to speak out against prevailing ideological orthodoxy.

Meanwhile, Ardern floats above it all. She’s a shrewd enough politician to have remained largely aloof from the rancour her government has generated, and who avoids entanglement in any unpleasantness that might detract from her carefully crafted image as an empathetic politician. But she cannot disown responsibility for presiding over a government that is promoting the politics of division and destabilising what was previously an admirably cohesive and harmonious society.Karl du Fresne

What were normal people—those who did not have any trouble defining woman, those who found talk of “pregnant people” and “contested spaces” and “rabbit holes” baffling—to make of this obvious discomfort with “women”?  – Zoe Strimpel 

But now these exemplars of female empowerment—educated, sophisticated, wielding enormous influence—seemed to have forgotten what “woman” meant. Or whether it was okay to say “woman.” Or whether “woman” was a dirty word. 

It wasn’t simply about language. It was about how we think about and treat women. For nearly 2,500 years—from Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata” to Seneca Falls to Anita Hill to #MeToo—women had been fighting, clawing their way out of an ancient, deeply repressive, often violent misogyny. But now that they were finally on the cusp of the Promised Land, they were turning their backs on all that progress. They were erasing themselves.  – Zoe Strimpel 

By the 1980s, women had won several key victories. Equal pay was the law (if not always the reality). No-fault divorce was widespread. Abortion was safe and legal. Women were now going to college, getting mortgages, playing competitive sports and having casual sex. In the United States, they were running for president, and they were getting elected to the House and Senate in record numbers. In Britain, Margaret Thatcher was prime minister.

In the wake of all these breakthroughs, the movement began to lose steam. It contracted, then it splintered, and a vacuum opened up. Academics took over—hijacked—the cause. – Zoe Strimpel 

It wasn’t just that these academics took it upon themselves to develop fiendishly complex theories about women, dressed up in a fiendishly complex language. It was that this hyper-intellectualized feminism, by embracing this hyper-intellectualized language, excluded most women. It transformed feminism from activism to theory, from the concrete to the abstract, from a movement that sought to liberate women from the discriminations imposed on them by their sex to a school of thought that was less interested in sex than gender. 

Sex, to the academics, was outdated. It was crude, fleshy, obvious—the stuff of everyday women everywhere. Gender, on the other hand, was fascinating—the starting point for an endless theorizing that, with each passing paper or book or conference, became more abstruse, more removed from the daily challenges faced by ordinary women. – Zoe Strimpel 

The new, abstracted feminism had little interest in changing political or economic reality, as the older, grittier feminism had. It was like a fancy garment that only the well off—those who had gone to college and lived in big cities and were fluent in the new vernacular—could afford. Or knew to buy. –

It is not an accident that the rise of gender ideology coincides with the long anticipated petering out of the feminist cause.

That’s because the rise of the one and the decline of the other are closely linked with our fetishization of identity. The fight for transgender rights over and above that of biological women’s rights, just like the war on systemic racism, jibes perfectly with our new identity politics.

Unfortunately, identity politics cannot content itself with simply defending women’s rights or LGBT rights or the rights of black people to be treated equally under the law. It must persist indefinitely in its quest for ever-narrowing identities. (The ever-expanding acronym of gay and gay-adjacent and vaguely, distantly, not really in any way connected communities, with its helpful plus sign at the end, neatly illustrates as much.) Everyone is entitled to an identity, or a plethora of identities, and each identity must be bespoke—individualized—and any attempt to rein in the pursuit of identity runs counter to the never-ending fight for inclusivity. Even if that inclusivity undermines the rights of other people. Like women.

This dynamic, with the most marginal interest trumping all others, easily took over a feminism long primed by whacky postmodern ideas like Butler’s—paving the way for its second, related hijacking. This one by biological males. – Zoe Strimpel 

And so Post-Feminist Feminism has morphed into a dark, strange Anti-Feminism. Anti-Feminism borrows from the language of liberation, but it’s not about liberating women. It’s about pushing women out of college sports. It’s about telling girls they aren’t lesbians or tomboys, but in fact men struggling to find themselves. Zoe Strimpel 

To attempt an answer, any answer, to the question—Can you provide a definition for the word ‘woman’?—would be to re-center women, biological sex, the concrete, mundane experience of ordinary, boring, bourgeois and working-class and very poor women the world over. It would be to attempt to undo the hijacking of the feminist cause and to return it to the people for whom that cause was created so many decades ago.

Returning the cause to the people for whom it was created is the only way to save it, and to stop the many discriminations that girls and women still face: domestic violence; the economic and psychological penalty of having babies; the manifold hurts and crimes visited upon countless women in non-Western countries simply for being women. For now, doing anything about all of that is a fantasy. First, we have to honor the actual meaning of words, like woman. We have to insist that those meanings are important. We have to go back, again, to first principles. That is the only way forward. – Zoe Strimpel 

The simple approach is to require integrity in communication and employ strategies suitable for the target audience. The bureaucracy and “political correctness” the Plain Language Bill promotes are not the answer. A basic principle is to communicate in a manner your audience can understand, as I hope I have. Dennnis Gates

Our business leaders big and small are currently being forgotten for their contribution to society. They put themselves on the line, take risks, worry about paying their staff and their bills and hope to make a profit, although, for many that last one is a distant dream, survival now takes priority. They have been broken by having to close their doors or cut right back and for most, it has been the heartbreak of letting people go they have worked with and cared about for many years.

Those that have survived through the worst of the Covid years now need our support more than ever but instead, they are treated with disdain as cost after cost is piled on to them with regulatory changes that make it harder to stay in business. An extra public holiday, increases in the wage bill, transport costs going up and a struggle to get workers will drive a whole lot out of business. Their contribution is more than the goods and services they provide, it is how they play a vital part in our community, employ us and our neighbours and support the many charities that need them – often quietly and without recognition. We need their entrepreneurial spirit and their dream of the next big thing. – Paula Bennett

 I thought the chance of another civil war in the US was minimal and in a country like New Zealand, neglible. . . The most important single factor is when one or more major parties in a country’s political system doesn’t organise around left-right political values but around identity – race, religion or ethnicity. –  David Farrar

The bottom line is that some of our friends on the left want to shoot at the rich, but they wind up wounding the poor instead by greasing the rungs on the ladder of economic opportunity. – Dan Mitchell

FPAs are a solution looking for a problem.Levi Gibbs

Of course, wages in New Zealand are lower than those overseas – most notably in Australia.

But the strong relationship between productivity and wages indicates the problem is not weak collective bargaining power, but our sluggish productivity growth.  – Levi Gibbs

The problem with misdiagnosing a problem like low wages is that the prescribed cure may in fact do harm.

FPAs are inflexible in the face of technological change – firms seeking to maximise productivity need to respond nimbly to new challenges and opportunities presented by change. Sometimes, such a response will necessarily involve adjusting employment arrangements. – Levi Gibbs

One-size-fits-all FPAs will mean “unproductive” firms with low profit margins, unable to bear the same wage costs as their larger competitors, will exit the market. Denying small firms the chance to grow more productive and forcing them to lay off workers is a short-sighted and unimaginative way to make productivity and wages look higher.

Wage floors will mean those on the outside looking in – including 188,000 job seekers and unskilled young people (NEETs) – will find it harder to find work, as they have not developed the skills to justify the entry-level wage. Higher labour costs will reduce the likelihood of firms hiring additional workers, and force those firms that do not simply shut down to reduce their workforce, cut back hours, or accelerate automation. – Levi Gibbs

The increased influence of trade unions will come at the expense of the vulnerable, the low skilled, and less experienced workers. This threatens New Zealand’s good record of high labour participation and low unemployment.

Improving productivity requires investing in people, taking risks on new ideas and innovative processes. It requires reforming New Zealand’s underperforming education system, attracting foreign direct investment, promoting capital reinvestment, and reallocating resources to the productive sector via tax relief. That is how New Zealand makes up for lost time over the past forty years. The ultimate result will be higher wages for workers and more prosperity.

The Fair Pay Agreement fantasy is an ill-advised, union-driven attempt to hack a shortcut to higher wages.Levi Gibbs

Decolonisation is not only destructive but simplistic. Although cultural knowledge is not science, the science-culture distinction doesn’t exclude traditional knowledge from the secular curriculum. It does however put limits on how it is included. Students can be taught in social studies, history, and Māori Studies about the traditional knowledge that Te Hurihanganui describes as the “rich and legitimate knowledge located within a Māori worldview’. But this is not induction into belief and ideological systems. The home and community groups are for induction into cultural beliefs and practices. – Elizabeth Rata

Ironically, decolonisation ideology is justified using the universal human rights argument for equity. But the equity case misrepresents the problem. As with all groups, it is not ethnic affiliation but class-related cultural practices that are the main predictors of educational outcomes. Māori children from professional families are not failing. Rather it is those, Māori and non-Māori alike, living in families experiencing hardship and not engaging in cognitive practices of abstract thinking and literacy development, who are most likely to fail at school. This is not inevitable. Education can make a difference to a child’s life chances but it requires all schools, Maori medium immersion and mainstream alike, to provide quality academic knowledge taught by expert teachers. Elizabeth Rata

Decolonisation will indeed divide society into two groups – but not that of coloniser and colonised locked into the permanent oppressor-victim status used to justify ethno-nationalism. Instead one group will comprise those who receive an education in academic subjects. These young people will proceed to tertiary study with a sound understanding of science, mathematics, and the humanities. Their intelligence will be developed in the long-term and demanding engagement with this complex knowledge. It is to be hoped, though this cannot be assumed given that the rationality-democracy connection is analogous not casual, that they will have the critical disposition required for democratic citizenship, one that is subversive of culture and disdainful of ideology.

The second group comprises those who remain restricted to the type of knowledge acquired from experience and justified in ideologies of culture. Distrustful of academic knowledge as colonising and oppressive, ethnically-based cultural beliefs and practices will provide the community needed for social and psychological security. In this restricted world they are insiders. And as there are insiders, there must be outsiders – in traditionalist ideologies these are the colonists who are seen to have taken everything and given nothing. And yet the tragedy is that it is the cultural insiders who are to be the excluded ones – excluded from all the benefits that a modern education provides.

A revolution is coming. The government’s transformational policies for education make this clear. It will only be stopped by a re-commitment to academic knowledge for all New Zealand children within a universal and secular education system. Colonisation is not the problem and decolonisation is not the solution. – Elizabeth Rata

Once the principle of one person, one vote is abandoned at local government level, pressure will build for something similar at the central government level.

It is hard to think of a more divisive agenda for any government to be pushing. – Paul Goldsmith

Big, radical changes to our democracy are being peddled in obscure local Bills by backbench MPs – with the Minister of Justice, the Attorney General and others nowhere to be seen.

These rushed, sneaky bills have become the stock-in-trade of this government.

It astounds me that the human rights lobby, constitutional lawyers, the Crown Law Office and other members of civil society are so relaxed about all this. Sadly, it speaks of a climate of fear that stifles open debate on these issues. – Paul Goldsmith

Our country is imperfect. We have many inequities, a fraught history and much work to do. But no inequities will be improved by shifting away from the bedrock of our relative success as a nation.

A core element of the liberal democracy we enjoy is the fundamental principle of one person, one vote.

We should not casually throw it away.Paul Goldsmith

Parliament imposed tough penalties. It meant these crimes to be serious. So consider the constitutional consequences of the police deciding to overrule Parliament. If the police are wrong in their judgments about which crimes to enforce, then there is no way for the rest of us to bring about justice. – Josie Pagani

Road rules are rules, but who decided that bus lanes and doing 110 on a brand new motorway are a higher priority than robbery?

Deciding which laws should be enforced is Parliament’s job. If the police do not have enough resources to enforce acts of Parliament, then democracy demands that citizens participate in ranking their priority offences. I want theft policed ahead of driving in a bus lane. – Josie Pagani

Last year, police attended more than 70,000 events that involved a person having a mental health crisis or attempting suicide (an increase of 60% in five years). Police are called in because they are the social agency of last resort.

But mental health professionals are needed for those cases – trained staff who were promised in the ‘’wellbeing Budget’’ and never delivered. The Government had nearly $2b, and three years, to train specialist staff. They can’t train a psychologist in that time, but they could have trained carers with more skills for mental health than a stressed constable. – Josie Pagani

Campaigning on values, mental health, and fixing inequality was electorally successful for Labour. It has been a shameful policy disaster.Josie Pagani

Call the Budget what you want – ‘’Wellbeing’’, ‘’Wellness’’, ‘’Well Done’’. We don’t care. Just make sure it’s not the police turning up when people need mental health professionals and somewhere safe for loved ones to go.

Tell us why we can’t have the decent mental health care that was promised. Don’t wait until the promise has failed.

Let voters make choices about which crimes to enforce, don’t pretend you’re not choosing.

If you can’t have that honesty then you have stolen our trust, like a scooter thief in the night, knowing you won’t be caught. – Josie Pagani

When it comes to the Three Water reforms, it is subordinating the rights of ratepayers to the interests of local iwi, and doing so without consent or compensation.Damien Grant 

We have a process for settling Treaty issues. Not everyone agrees with the outcome of a Waitangi Tribunal decision, but almost everyone agrees to abide by their decisions. It isn’t a perfect system but it works better than Molotov cocktails and hunger strikes. – Damien Grant 

Central to the reform agenda is the claim made by Nanaia Mahuta that 34,000 New Zealanders become ill each year from drinking poor-quality water. This number is softer than a week-old feijoa.Damien Grant 

Taumata Arowai is the regulatory body set up in response to Havelock North. We can see in this organisation that their focus isn’t solely water quality. According to their website, “Our name Taumata Arowai was gifted to us by Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Local Government”.

Having your name “gifted” by the reigning minister has a North Korean feel to it. This body enjoys a Māori advisory board whom it must consult. The chair of this advisory body is the minister’s sister. – Damien Grant 

If iwi believe their water rights have been compromised they can seek refuge in the Waitangi Tribunal, as they did when some energy companies were up for sale in 2012. (I was uncompromising in my support of the Māori Council’s intervention at the time.)

This is not happening, presumably because any such claim would fail. What possible claim can there be on dams and polyethylene pipes constructed and paid for in the 182 years since 1840?

If we are being asked to enter into a new compact with Māori, where rights that do not exist under the Treaty are to be created, then this does need to be put before the public. – Damien Grant 

Mahuta has no electoral, legal or Treaty mandate for her vision of co-governance, and even the claims of poor water quality are based on weak foundations.

If she wants to remove from ratepayers their legal and property rights, perhaps it is she, and not David Seymour, who needs to be putting this issue to the public.

After all, removing property rights without consent is what got us into the mess in the first place. – Damien Grant 

That this government spends record amounts of our money on political spin and social engineering is evident from propaganda campaigns to which we are subjected – none more reprehensible than the $5.3m commercial on the government’s 3 Waters intention.

Also frequently aired is a puerile presentation aimed at convincing us that a reduction in speed on our roads will increase our safety. – Garrick Tremain

Destroying confidence in the science – culture distinction, a distinction which is one of the defining features of the modern world, will be decolonisation’s most significant and most dangerous victory. According to the International Science Council science is ‘the systematic organization of knowledge that can be rationally explained and reliably applied. It is inclusive of the natural (including physical, mathematical and life) science and social (including behavioural and economic) science domains . . .  as well as the humanities, medical, health, computer and engineering sciences.

In contrast, culture is the values, beliefs and practices of everyday life – the means by which children are socialised into the family and community. For a Māori child, this may well involve immersion in marae life – or it may not.  But the experiences of everyday life should not be confused with the ideology of cultural indoctrination, what I call culturalism or traditionalism and others call decolonisation. It is this ideology which is permeating the government, universities and research institutes, the Royal Society Te Apārangi, and mainstream media. Here we are presented with an idealised Māori culture of what should be, not what it actually is.

It is as much a moral, quasi-religious project as a political one, its religiosity responsible for the intensity, and perhaps success, of its march through New Zealand’s institutions. Indeed, the spiritual is a central theme in decolonisation. The belief is promoted that Māori are a uniquely spiritual people with a mauri or life force providing the link to their ancestors – the  genetic claim for racial categorisation. Political rights for the kin-group are justified in this claim. –  Elizabeth Rata

Given that over 50 percent of Māori already have no religious affiliation, it is doubtful that there is a constituency for a spiritual-based education. This is where decolonisation plays its part with Te Hurihanganui and the refreshed curriculum promoting the ideological version of culture. Those hesitant Māori who are suspicious of the ideology will be outed as ‘colonised’, in obvious need of decolonisation.Those who are now racially positioned on the other side, officially the non-Māori, will require decolonisation to ensure support for the new moral and political order. Numerous consultants are already on hand to provide this profitable reprogramming service. Intransigent dissenters, who determinedly refuse the correct thinking will be ostracised as fossilised racists and bigots. 

The tragedy is that this decolonising racialised ideology will destroy the foundations of New Zealand’s modern prosperous society. The principles of universalism and secularism are its pillars in education as elsewhere. Academic knowledge is different from cultural knowledge because it is universal and secular. We could certainly live without this knowledge – our ancestors did,  but would we want to?Elizabeth Rata

 The formidable task of acquiring even a small amount of humanity’s intellectual canon is made even more complex and remote because abstractions are only available to us as symbols – verbal, alphabetical, numerical, musical, digital, chemical, mathematical – creating two layers of difficulty. While it is unsurprising that the much easier education using practices derived from action rather than abstraction is more attractive, to take this path, as teachers are required to do, is a mistake.

We humans are made intelligent through long-term systematic engagement with such complex knowledge. Yet decolonisers reject the fundamental difference between science and culture claiming instead that all knowledge is culturally produced, informed by a group’s beliefs and experiences, and geared to its interests. Indigenous knowledge and ‘western’ knowledge are simply cultural systems with academic education re-defined as the oppressive imposition of the latter on the former.

What is deeply concerning is the extent to which this ideology is believed by those in education and uncritically repeated in mainstream media.  – Elizabeth Rata

Decolonisation is not only destructive but simplistic. Although cultural knowledge is not science, the science-culture distinction doesn’t exclude traditional knowledge from the secular curriculum. It does however put limits on how it is included. Students can be taught in social studies, history, and Māori Studies about the traditional knowledge that Te Hurihanganui describes as the “rich and legitimate knowledge located within a Māori worldview’. But this is not induction into belief and ideological systems. The home and community groups are for induction into cultural beliefs and practices.

What about the proto-science (pre-science) in all traditional knowledge – such as traditional navigation, medicinal remedies, and food preservation? This knowledge, acquired through observation and trial and error, as well as through supernatural explanation, along with the ways it may have helped to advance scientific or technological knowledge, is better placed in history of science lessons rather than in the science curriculum.

Science provides naturalistic explanations for physical and social phenomena. Its concepts refer to the theorised structures and properties of the physical world, its methods are those of hypothesis, testing and refutation, its procedures those of criticism and judgement.  The inclusion of cultural knowledge into the science curriculum will subvert the fundamental distinction, one acknowledged by mātauranga Māori scholars, between naturalistic science and supernaturalistic culture.Elizabeth Rata

As with all groups, it is not ethnic affiliation but class-related cultural practices that are the main predictors of educational outcomes. Māori children from professional families are not failing. Rather it is those, Māori and non-Māori alike, living in families experiencing hardship and not engaging in cognitive practices of abstract thinking and literacy development, who are most likely to fail at school. This is not inevitable. Education can make a difference to a child’s life chances but it requires all schools, Māori medium immersion and mainstream alike, to provide quality academic knowledge taught by expert teachers. – Elizabeth Rata

Unlike authoritarian regimes, liberalism can tolerate some dissent. What it cannot tolerate is the removal of its very foundations – those principles of universalism and secularism that anchor democratic institutions into modern pluralist society. The separation of public and private, of society and community, makes room for both science and local culture. (The recent commonplace practice of using ‘community’ for ‘society’ is one of a number of indications that the separation is being undermined.) Valuing culture and devaluing science in a merger of the two fatally undermines the universalism and secularism that creates and maintains a cohesive society out of many ethnicities and cultures.

Decolonisation will indeed divide society into two groups – but not that of coloniser and colonised locked into the permanent oppressor-victim opposition used to justify ethno-nationalism. Instead one group will comprise those who receive an education in academic subjects. These young people will proceed to tertiary study with a sound understanding of science, mathematics, and the humanities. Their intelligence will be developed in the long-term and demanding engagement with this complex knowledge. It is to be hoped, though this cannot be assumed, that they will have the critical disposition required for democratic citizenship, one that is subversive of local culture and disdainful of ideology.

The second group comprises those who remain restricted to the type of knowledge acquired from experience and justified in ideologies of local culture. Distrustful of academic knowledge as colonising and oppressive, ethnically-based cultural beliefs and practices will provide the community needed for social and psychological security. In this restricted world they are insiders. And as there are insiders, there must be outsiders – in traditionalist ideologies these are the colonists who are seen to have taken everything and given nothing. And yet the tragedy is that it is the cultural insiders who are to be the excluded ones – excluded from all the benefits that a modern education provides.

A revolution is coming. The government’s transformational policies for education make this clear. It will only be stopped by a re-commitment to academic knowledge for all New Zealand children, rich and poor alike, within a universal and secular education system. Colonisation is not the problem and decolonisation is not the solution.Elizabeth Rata

Which brings us cheerfully to our friendly “be kind”, “listen to the science”, “we’re so transparent” Ardern-Robertson government, which seems to be now acting like a “friend” who would like you to look the other way, so it can get on with what’s good for it, such as getting re-elected. – Kevin Norquay

In 2022 NZ, it’s starting to look more like “of the people, by the party, for the party.” Kevin Norquay

“Listening to the science” now carries a taint, as decisions made could be seen as party political, rather than public health related.

It’s an erosion of trust. Why cover up things that are supposedly done in our best interest? – Kevin Norquay

There’s that “friend” again, telling us all the secrecy was for our own good. Whether MIQ did a good job is not the point here, it’s when that good job might have ended.

You could argue “we listen to the science” remains accurate, with the coda “but our decisions are based on the politics”, but transparency was always a fiction written boldly on a blocking PR wall.

What’s the next slogan: “You’ve got to be cruel to Be Kind?”Kevin Norquay

The truth of Hōne Heke’s rebellion deserves to be more widely-known. His  was the beginning of a proud lineage of anti-tax protest that is today carried on by the Taxpayers’ Union (even if we prefer to use arguments over axes). So congratulations to Hōne Heke for rightfully being recognised as one of the greatest New Zealanders. If it were up to us, he might even be ranked number one. How many taxes did Sir Ed cut, after all? – Louis Holubrooke

You don’t want to live in fear but I’m not going to be blasé about it. We are seeing very sick people every day, it’s not worth the risk at the moment. The more I read, the more bad things I find that this virus can do to your body, particularly your brain. You hear people say ‘might as well get it over with’. Well I wouldn’t want to voluntarily risk taking on a bit of brain damage for any reason.Dr Greg White

Whatever New Zealand does in isolation as its contribution to the world wide battle against climate change, it will have next to zero affect on whether or not we reach or even get close to the IPCC’s greenhouse gas emissions reductions that they say will be required to save the planet.

I can make that statement with confidence that l will be proved right simply because those key nations who have the capacity to collectively turn things around, with or without our help, are in fact increasing their use of fossil fuels at an alarming rate and as a result, increasing their emissions as if there was no tomorrow. In that context, our efforts, no matter how self sacrificial, will be like a blip on the radar as the rest of the world continues to condone the destructive activities of those who could and should be making a difference. – Clive Bibby 

We will watch on from the sidelines seemingly unnoticed by even the UN heavy hitters whose praise we appear to crave.

And in the meantime, we will destroy what remains of our agriculturally based economy at a time when we are emerging from the pandemic suffering from self inflicted wounds that already have reduced our capacity to earn overseas funds when we most need them. Clive Bibby 

It appears that the government is still hell bent on cementing in place policies that will negatively effect the two most important ingredients that will determine our survival as a sovereign state.

The first is economic growth and the second is race relations, both of which are in danger of managed decline because both are reflecting the deliberate implementation of programmes that will have the opposite effect of what is needed now more than ever.

If allowed to be fully implemented, these policies: – the emissions reduction policies such as the halving of our dairy herds and the race based legislation that is being un-necessarily promoted giving control of our natural resources to Maori – have the capacity to propel a sufficiently divided nation into a state where civil war is a serious possibility. – Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby 

I choose my words carefully when discussing these potentially dangerous policies simply because it appears we are not yet prepared to acknowledge that the immediate danger to our collective future comes from within rather than anything from the world at large – including climate change.

In order to have a rational discussion about our future, we need to be acutely aware of the options available to us. In that context, the truth remains our only hope.

We can and must stop this erosion of trust before it is too late. Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby 

But if I could go back in time and find a doctor who made me feel like they were treating my health, and not my size, that would have been a real gamechanger. – Megan Whelan

Democratic Socialist. Isn’t that a bit of a contradiction and maybe even an oxymoron?

Presiding over a government that has gone out of its way to decimate democracy by promoting the politics of division, there is nothing democratic in these actions! – John Porter

Don’t you think the way Ardern’s government, its Maori caucus and tribal leaders are surging ahead with their co-governance agenda, is pushing New Zealand close to that point of, if not actual civil war, then certainly civil disruption?

In New Zealand there is a significant degree of apathy and almost total lack of comprehension and knowledge around the subversion of democracy and promotion of Maori exclusivity that is very, very scary.

The overarching concern is that, based on ethnicity, a minority section of the population is being given an absolute right to control the rest of the population without, it appears, any limits on their power or any route for appeal. – John Porter

There is a very small group of those of part-Maori descent, Maori tribal elite, presumably swollen with self-importance because a small part of their cultural inheritance that they are clamouring for co-governance of this country. This co-governance agenda is gathering speed and, dare I say it, credibility at an alarming rate. John Porter

Ardern and her government’s separatist agenda combined with their inept fiscal management, are bringing this country to its knees!

Are we speaking out loudly, are we protecting our democracy, our rights to one person, one vote and do this government actually respect and represent the majority of New Zealanders? – John Porter

It’s either a caricature or merely a hallmark of a modern conservative New Zealand politician to be comfortable with whatever change has happened up to the present, but to think that any more would be a step too far.

This is by and large a positive. The fact that only journalists writing profiles on centre-right politicians, rather than the politicians themselves, ever want to revisit milestones like the marriage equality vote of 2013 means that the country has avoided the destabilising and counterproductive culture wars that have racked the United States for decades. – Ben Thomas

When the government spends $51 million to not build a bridge, that’s inflationary. Spending money on a new hospital that increases the provision of necessary services does not have the same effect. – Liam Hehir

There are six provisions in our law that are so important for democracy that they can only be changed by the vote of 75 percent in parliament or by a majority in a referendum. One is clause 36 of the Electoral Act that guarantees everyone regardless of race has an equal vote. – Richard Prebble

Having unequal voting will not solve Rotorua’s real issues. Here is one. The Labour government has filled our motels with the homeless from all over the Central North Island. There are enough children in our motels to fill a primary school. Borders are reopening. Where are Rotorua’s tourists to stay? – Richard Prebble

For most Westerners, the war unfolding in Ukraine makes no sense. Russians and Ukrainians look the same, speak the same languages, have lived lives that were, until very recently, culturally indistinguishable. Why are they fighting?

The chilling answer is that both sides are commanded by ghosts. It is the unquiet dead, the unpunished crimes, the gagged memories of countless perpetrators and their victims that drive these armies forward. Impulses barely understood, inherited from parents and grandparents who could neither speak about nor forget the horrors they had witnessed or performed.

Two nations to whom great evil has been done are being driven, by dead hands, to do evil in return. Chris Trotter

R for recession comes after I for inflation in the economic alphabet. Then comes v for voter and w for wallet. Get the drift? – Shane Jones

Behind the scenes, officials are working on other ways to make New Zealand less rather than more attractive to prospective students. They have plans to almost double the amount of money each student must bring to New Zealand for each year’s study, and heavily restrict post-study work rights. This is all part of the Government’s immigration re-set, more correctly called an anti-immigration re-set.Steven Joyce

If we are to avoid a recession, which is looking an increasingly difficult goal, we need to encourage more outward facing sectors to grow, rather than be always putting up new barriers to their success. International education is one of the best placed to resume pulling its weight, to the benefit of our country’s education system and the wider economy and society. The Government needs to get over its ambivalence to it. – Steven Joyce

We’ve become accustomed to hearing the words, “I support free speech, but ….” New Zealand is full of people in positions of power and influence who purport to defend free speech, but always with the addition of that loaded word “but”. You can’t say you support free speech and then, in the next breath, put limitations around it beyond the ones that are already clearly established in law and broadly accepted, such as those relating to defamation and incitement to hatred or violence.

We’ve been introduced to phrases unheard of a few years ago: cancel culture, speech wars, hate speech, gender wars, safe spaces, culture wars, trigger warnings, transphobia and no-platforming. We’ve acquired a whole new vocabulary. We’ve seen the emergence of a media monoculture in which all mainstream media outlets adopt uniform ideological positions that effectively shut out alternative opinions, even when those marginalised voices may represent mainstream opinion.

We’ve seen traditional ideological battle lines totally redrawn as people on the left and right of politics unite around the need to save freedom of speech from a new and powerful cohort of people who have co-opted the term “hate speech” as a pretext for banning any opinion that they dislike.

We’ve even seen radical feminists, who were once at the cutting edge of politics, demonised as dangerous reactionaries who must be shut down because of their opposition to a virulent transgender lobby that appeared to spring out of nowhere.

All this has happened within a remarkably short time frame. Mainstream New Zealand has been caught off guard by the sheer speed and intensity of the attack on free speech and as a result has been slow to respond. But what’s at stake here is nothing less than the survival of liberal democracy, which depends on the contest of ideas and the free and open discussion of issues regardless of whether some people might find them upsetting.Karl Du Fresne

The right of free speech, after all, means the right to hear as well as the right to speak. Our Bill of Rights Act doesn’t just talk about the right to speak freely. It refers to “the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and opinions of any kind and in any form”. That seems pretty clear-cut and unambiguous. To deny New Zealanders the right to hear opinions that some politicians and public officials don’t like is a flagrant abuse of power and must be challenged at every turn, which is exactly what this union is doing. – Karl Du Fresne

In other words there are people in the police who apparently think that anyone who criticises the government should be watched. This is how police states begin. Fortunately in this case, wiser senior officers stepped in before things got out of hand.Karl Du Fresne

The reality is that the enemies of free speech have no fixed ideology. Control is enforced with equal brutality whether it’s Nazi Germany or communist North Korea. The only thing the enemies of free speech have in common is a desire to exercise untrammelled power and to forcibly suppress any speech which threatens that power.

As it happens, the present threat to free speech in New Zealand doesn’t come from either the traditional left or the traditional right. It comes from a powerful new cohort that largely controls the national conversation. This cohort is dominant in politics, the bureaucracy, academia and the media and regards the exercise of free speech as serving the interests of the privileged. Free speech to them means licence to attack oppressed minorities and is therefore something to be deterred, if not by law then by denunciation and intimidation.

Depressingly, this group is entrenched in universities and libraries – institutions that have traditionally served as sources of free thought and access to knowledge. Libraries were at the forefront of the effort to shut down the feminist group Speak Up For Women, which was targeted by aggressive transgender activists because it opposed legislation allowing men to identify as female. It was only after this union went to court on the feminists’ behalf that libraries in several cities were forced to back down and allow them to hold public meetings.

A common factor in these instances is the belief that people have a right not to be offended and that this right takes precedence over the right to free speech. It’s as if the woke elements in society have developed an allergic reaction to the robust democracy that most of the people in this room grew up in, where vigorous debate was seen as an essential part of the contest of ideas that democracy depends on.

If a statement can possibly be interpreted as a slur against one’s gender, race, body type or sexual identity, it will be, no matter how innocent the intention of the person who made it. Apologies will be demanded and the ritual humiliation of the transgressor inevitably follows.

The purpose is clear: it sends a message to others that they will get similar treatment if they’re bold or foolish enough to challenge ideological orthodoxy. Yet paradoxically, the same people who insist on the right not to be upset don’t hesitate to engage in vicious online gang-ups and ad hominem attacks on anyone who disagrees with them.

A recurring theme in the speech wars is the notion of safety – not safety from physical danger, which is how most people understand the term, but safety from anything that might upset people or challenge their thinking. – Karl Du Fresne

Safety, then, is a highly elastic concept – critically important for women attending abortion clinics, even if no risk of harm exists, but not a problem if those who feel threatened are white guys in suits.

The enemies of free speech are blind to the contradictions in their position. They bang on about the right to be safe but applaud aggressive and intimidating behaviour against people they don’t like. And they demand protection against hate speech while freely indulging in it themselves on Twitter and other social media platforms, their purpose being to bully people into silence.Karl Du Fresne

I can claim to be something of an authority on freedom of the press if only for the reason that I’ve written two books about it. Back then the concern was with threats to media freedom from outside sources, principally the state. But ironically we’re now in a position where I believe the New Zealand media abuse their own freedom.

They have fatally compromised their independence and their credibility by signing up to a government scheme under which they accept millions of dollars in taxpayer funding and in return commit themselves to abide by a set of ideological principles laid down by that same government.

Defenders of the Public Interest Journalism Fund justify it on the pretext that it enables the media to continue carrying out worthwhile public interest journalism at a time when the industry is financially precarious. They bristle with indignation at the suggestion that their integrity is compromised. But it is. You need only look at the projects approved for funding to grasp that this is essentially an opportunistic indoctrination project funded by taxpayers.

From a free speech standpoint, however, it’s the ideological uniformity of the media that is of even greater concern. The past two decades have seen a profound generational change in the media and a corresponding change in the industry ethos.

News outlets that previously took pride in being “broad church” – in other words, catering to and reflecting a wide range of interests and opinions – are now happy to serve as a vehicle for the prevailing ideology. They have abandoned their traditional role of trying to reflect the society they purport to serve. The playwright Arthur Miller’s definition of a good newspaper as a nation talking to itself is obsolete. The mainstream media are characterised by ideological homogeneity, reflecting the views of a woke elite and relentlessly promoting the polarising agenda of identity politics.

The implications for free speech are obvious. What was previously an important channel for the public expression of a wide range of opinions has steadily narrowed. Conservative voices are increasingly marginalised and excluded, ignoring the inconvenient fact that New Zealand has far more often voted right than left. – Karl Du Fresne

But it’s worse than that, because the prevailing ideological bias doesn’t just permeate editorials and opinion columns. Its influence can also be seen in the way the news is reported – in the stories that the media choose to cover, and perhaps more crucially in the issues they choose not to cover. The Maori co-governance proposals in Three Waters, for example.

Underlying this is another profound change. From the 1970s onward, journalism training – previously done on the job – was subject to academic capture. Many of today’s journalists were subject to highly politicised teaching that encouraged them to think their primary function was not so much to report on matters of interest and importance to the community as to challenge the institutions of power.

Principles such as objectivity were jettisoned, freeing idealistic young journalists to indulge in advocacy journalism, push pet causes and sprinkle their stories with loaded words such as racist, sexist, homophobic and misogynist. In the meantime, older journalists who adhered to traditional ideas of balance and objectivity have been methodically managed out of the industry.

Worse even than that, we now have mainstream media outlets that actively suppress stories as a matter of official editorial policy, and even boast about it. I’m thinking here of climate change, a subject on which major media organisations have collectively agreed not to give space or air time to anyone questioning global warming or even the efficacy of measures aimed at mitigating it. This would have been unthinkable 20 or even 10 years ago. People are bound to wonder what else the media are suppressing.Karl Du Fresne

Robert Muldoon was a tyrant who tried to bully the media into submission, but eventually journalists and editors stood up to him. In the past few years, however, we’ve gone backwards. We now live in a climate of authoritarianism and denunciation that chokes off the vibrant debate that sustains democracy, and tragically the media are part of the problem.

There are positive signs however, and this meeting is one of them. As I said at the start, the sheer speed and intensity of the culture wars caught the country off-guard. Ours is a fundamentally fair and decent society, eager to do the right thing and rightly wary of extremism. For a long time we stood back and allowed the assault on democratic values to proceed virtually unopposed. We were like a boxer temporarily stunned by a punch that we never saw coming.

But the fightback has begun and is steadily gaining momentum. In giddy moments of optimism I even sense that the tide might be turning in the media. Even the most cloth-eared media bosses must eventually realise they have alienated much of their core audience, as reflected in steadily declining newspaper circulation figures and in opinion surveys measuring trust in the media. – Karl Du Fresne

The risk New Zealand runs in 2023 is that the policy promises of the contending parties will be come to be seen by their respective supporters as critical to the survival of the nation. On the Right, the introduction of co-governance will be equated with the death of democracy. On the Left, a racist referendum endorsing the elimination of co-governance will be construed as an all-out assault on the Treaty of Waitangi and the indigenous people it was intended to protect.

In such circumstances, the uncompromising partisans on both sides begin to believe that if they concede defeat there will be no “next time”. At that point the cry goes out for a “continuation of politics by other means”. Bullets replace ballots, and peace ceases to be an option – for anybody.Chris Trotter


%d bloggers like this: