Quotes of the year

January 3, 2018

. . . And there it was, the secret of all overseas-born grandparents the world over who give up everything, their own brothers and sisters back home, their independence, their everything to look after grandchildren.

They do it so their sons and daughters can work or study full time (and keep the economy running) and avoid insanely expensive childcare options.

They do it because they love their grandchildren so much they are willing to live in a country where they can’t understand a lot of what is being said or written around them, but march on nonetheless.

And, in the case of Nai Nai, they do it knowing that even if they can’t teach their grandchild English they will do whatever they can to make sure someone else can. . . Angela Cuming

Cooking means you use better food and you have far more control over what you eat. It also brings a lot of the things to the table – manners, eye contact, social skills, the art of conversation and confidence. . . Ray McVinnie

. . .Yes, according to the science, dairying is a major factor in a decline in water quality. The science also shows this is the result of 150 years of farming, albeit escalated in the past 20 years.

Dairy farmers are doing everything asked of them to reduce the loss of nutrients from their farms. They have bridged stream crossings, fenced waterways, planted riparian strips and built highly technical effluent treatment systems. They want clean streams as much as any other New Zealanders.

But those with their own axe to grind don’t want to know this. And the ignorant follow along.

The opinion writers and the commenters seem to think that clean streams and lakes can be accomplished immediately, that 150 years of pollution can be erased overnight.

It can’t be – even if all farming was banned and the land converted to trees and bush, the leaching would go on. . . Jon Morgan

The brutal truth is that while the Treaty’s influence has grown to the point where it is now cemented into New Zealand’s unwritten constitution, Waitangi Day is sinking under the weight of its conflicting roles.

It doubles as a mechanism for acknowledging legitimate Maori grievances past and present while also serving as the country’s national day and which is about projecting an image of unity and happy families.

Divisiveness and inclusiveness are oil and water. They don’t mix.

The tiresome antics regularly on display at Waitangi have undermined the power and symbolism of the occasion.

The wider New Zealand public which should be happily embracing the proceedings instead feels alienated by them. – John Armstrong

I can perfectly describe why we’re dying on the roads.

It’s you.

It’s not the lack of cops, or lack of passing lanes, or sub standard roads. It’s you. It’s the 40% in 2016 who died or caused death on the roads due to drugs and alcohol. The 24% who died due to speeding and dangerous driving. And the majority of the remaining deaths caused by those who were so clever they didn’t need a seatbelt. Why the hell wouldn’t you put on a seatbelt when you get in a car? – Bernadine Oliver-Kerby

If you become what you are fighting you have lost. You must fight freedom’s cause in freedom’s way. Helen Dale

Trump is never more certain than when he is completely clueless. The truth is that protection against foreign trade leads away from prosperity and strength. A country that deprives itself of foreign goods is doing to itself what an enemy might try to do in wartime—cut it off from outside commerce. It is volunteering to impoverish itself. – Steve Chapman

Protectionism amounts to the claim that everyone benefits when choices go down and prices go up. The only reason more Americans don’t dismiss that claim as self-evident crackpottery is because it comes cloaked in the language of nationalistic resentment.  – Jeff Jacoby

Honesty is to be preferred. However, there is a genuine gulf between the burdens of opposition and leadership. Opposition is fun, and largely without responsibility.  Leadership only sounds fun, and carries abounding burdens, among them the inchoate demands of “American leadership” and the rather specific requirements of interagency coordination. –  Danielle Pletka

 Greater understanding, insight, knowledge – even wisdom – are  gifts we acquire if we’re lucky, as we grow older, yet it’s when we’re young that we have to step up, and so often blunder blindly into the unknown, sometimes realising fearfully that we don’t know, or often, thinking we know better. – Valerie Davies

It was not so long ago that I was a young boy, crying in my room, wishing that I had real legs.  In an attempt to lift my spirits, my dad said one day someone will build you legs that will allow you to run faster than your friends. – Liam Malone

If only I had known that broadening a church required merely climbing up the steeple to set the clock back 20 years, I could have saved a lot of ink and cognitive energy.  Apparently, all New Zealand voters have been waiting for is for Labour to finally reinvent itself as The Alliance Historical Re-enactment Society.  Is there anything Labour’s deviously brilliant internal polling can’t teach us? – Phil Quin

Agriculture is being attacked by misinformation. Agriculture is being attacked by ignorance. Agriculture is being attacked by science illiteracy. Agriculture is being attacked by deceitful marketing. And those things do not discriminate based on party lines. – Kate Lambert

Mr Average migrant is healthier with less character problems than the average New Zealander because they had to go through all of those hoops before they got permission to stay in our country.David Cooper

My challenge to employers is to hire people based on merit, to give women as many opportunities as men and to pay women what they are worth.

It’s 2017. It’s not about what you can get away with. It’s not about what she is willing to accept.

It’s about what she is worth.-  Paula Bennett

If borrowing to put money into the Super Fund is such a perfect ”free money” scenario, why stop at $13.5 billion? Surely we should borrow a couple of trillion. Nobody will notice – it’s all still on the books somewhere. Then we could make mega trillions, pay all our super costs, and never work again. – Steven Joyce

Not that it matters. None of it matters. Who came from where & what happened there. Because lets admit it, New Zealand is a tiny remote island at the ass-crack of the world…WE ALL CAME ON A BLOODY BOAT SOMETIME OR ANOTHER! – Deanna Yang

By nature, I am a pragmatist, not an ideologue. That is because, in my experience, most people just want results that work. Some people have said that my pragmatism indicates a lack of a clear set of principles. I do not think that is true. It is just that my principles derive mostly from the values and ethics instilled in me by my upbringing, rather than by the “Politics 101” textbook.  . .

Mum taught me the things that allowed me to succeed and which I think are echoed by so many Kiwi parents—that you get out of life what you put in to it, that hard work can create opportunities. And that you really can change your own life, not by wishing it was different but by working to make it different

I have brought to politics an unshakeable belief that, regardless of our circumstances, most of us share the same aspirations: we want our children to be fulfilled and we want them to do better than we have. To most of us, what matters more than anything else are the health, welfare, and happiness of those people about whom we care most. In the end, Mum did not leave me any money, our holidays were always pretty basic, and the house we lived in for a long time was owned by the State Advances Corporation. But, truthfully, she left me the most important gift of all: the determination to succeed and the work ethic to make it happen. . .  – John Key

God, I wish I ran a small country. – David Cameron

The only vision really worth having for any government in a democratic society is enabling individual citizens the maximum amount of freedom to pursue their own visions.

All the rest is just politicians indulging in their personal narcissism.Rob Hosking

But in these troubled times of shifting societal landscapes, the simple joy of a cheese roll is a throwback to when times were perhaps less complicated.

That such a simple dish has survived mostly unchanged and is still revered, is a sign that – at the bottom of the country at least – we still enjoy the simple things in life. – Oscar Kightley

He was another example of that unique Aussie — a New Zealander. We claim him with pride, along with Russell Crowe and Ernest Rutherford.  – Robyn Williams on John Clarke.

If humour is common sense dancing, John Clarke was Nureyev. He proved that you can laugh at this strange part of the world, and still keep your mind and heart fully engaged. – Don McGlashan on John Clarke.

 I think I thought he might have been immortal. The Great God Dead-Pan. – Kim Hill on John Clarke

I always said as long as my mind, my body and my heart were in it, then I could do this for as long as I like. My mind’s been pretty good, my body’s been pretty good, but it was my heart that was on the fence. So, it’s time to go.”  – Eric Murray

We prefer to be in a situation where we have a positive relationship with Australia and Kiwis get a good deal in Australia – that’s better than mutual ‘armed war’ to see who can treat each other’s citizens worse. – Bill English

Keep that moment. You get to hold the baby and the mother is there and it’s an experience you can’t prepare for. There’s going to be so many times when this looks hard and it is, so keep that moment. – Bill English’s advice to new fathers.

Beware of the guy with the soft hands – go with the guy with the calluses on his hands. – Neil Smith

Spend two minutes of the hour being negative, but you have to spend the other 58 being positive.Neil Smith

I’m the person who got us into this mess, and I’m the one who will get us out of it. – Theresa May

Civilisation is built on cultural appropriation.

Every society absorbs influences from other cultures, often cherry-picking the best of what’s on offer. This process cuts both ways, because disadvantaged societies learn from more advanced ones. It’s not all about exploitation.

Those who seek to outlaw what they arbitrarily define as cultural appropriation would condemn us to a monochromatic, one-dimensional world beset by sheer boredom – and one in which New Zealanders would be reduced to eating tinned spaghetti on toast, since it’s one of the very few dishes we can call our own.

On second thoughts, scratch that. Spaghetti’s Italian. – Karl du Fresne

Beaver’s far and beyond what I am – he’s a top man. There’s no movie here. I’m just a little white fella that’s chipping away in Dunedin. – Marty Banks

“Yeah, well just the same way you prepare every day,” Peter Burling in response to a reporter’s question:  “You know, looking back to 13, going, okay, you guys were on match point a lot in 13, how do you prepare for tomorrow?”

The biggest software company in the world just got beaten by little old New Zealand software.” – Grant Dalton.

 . . . it’s a privilege to hold the America’s Cup – it’s not a right. And was embodied in the way Team New Zealand was under Sir Peter Blake. If you’re good enough to take it from us then you will and we’ll try very hard to be good enough to keep it. We won’t turn it so to make sure you can’t.Grant Dalton

More so than any other industry, agriculture is a relationship industry. We work with, and spend money with, people we like. People we trust. People we often times consider part of our family. Sometimes those people work for “Big Ag”. Sometimes they don’t. But farmers don’t do business with corporations or small companies. Farmers do business with people.  – Kate Lambert

You only get 40 attempts at farming. From your 20’s to your 60’s, you get 40 seasons,” says Duncan Logan, the founder and CEO of RocketSpace, a tech accelerator company. “In tech, you get 40 attempts in a week. – Duncan Logan

My philosophy is that people who are born with a healthy body and a healthy mind can look after themselves, but people that are unfortunate [enough] not to have that blessing, I’m prepared to help. – Mark Dunajtschik

I am repeating the warning that free money to able-bodied humans anywhere can do just the opposite of what it intends: take away the will to work, the guts to struggle, the spirit to pick yourself up by the bootstraps. . . – Alan Duff

I got up again. – Bill English

Just because males talk loudly doesn’t mean they have anything to say. – Deborah Coddington

Those who work to change public perception in spite of the evidence use a number of tactics – they cherry pick data, they drive fear, they over simplify, they take data out of context, they deliberately confuse correlation with causation and they undermine trust. –  William Rolleston

Innovation in agriculture is where the future health and wealth of New Zealand lies. As a country we need to invest in how we can support this innovation and practice change. Taxation as an answer to agricultural challenges demonstrates a lack of imagination. – Anna Campbell

. . . once a society makes it permissible to suppress views that some people don’t like, the genie is out of the bottle and the power to silence unfashionable opinions can be turned against anyone, depending on whichever ideology happens to be prevalent at the time. . . . What we are witnessing, I believe is the gradual squeezing out of conservative voices as that monoculture steadily extends its reach.- Karl du Fresne

I learned from the film that if we want to have enough food to feed the 30 billion people soon to inhabit the planet and we only grow organically, we’ll have to chop down the rainforest and make it farmland. But if we grow GMO crops that need less space and less water, the rainforest is safe. – Lenore Skenazy

Personality doesn’t feed your children or keep the rivers clean, personality doesn’t make the country safe, it requires sound leadership strong intellect and the right policies. – Jim Bolger

I got up againBill English

The only thing that could bring English down is Winston Peters choosing to go with Labour and the Greens. – Patrick Gower

There are good and bad people in all parties. Sometimes, people with whom you agree will do something dumb. Sometimes, they will conduct themselves in a manner of which you do not approve.

If your chief criteria for judging propriety and competence boils down to partisan affiliation and advantage, then you really are contributing to a problem that is going to drain all the goodwill out of this country’s politics. – Liam Hehir

This is the only assurance to an irreversible path to national freedom, happiness and economic prosperity.
To our neighbours, you now all know the simple choice you face; either support our rights or our refugees. – Morgan Tsvangirai

Loss comes in all forms, not just death, but loss of careers, loss of confidence, loss of relationships and marriage, my own succumbing to the high percentage of those that end upon the death of a child.

With all our collective legislative wisdom, there shouldn’t also have to be loss of faith in a system supposedly designed to protect those that need it at precisely the time when they most need it. . . .

Politics really did become personal for me then. A flick of the pen, wording of an amendment, an exchange in the debating chamber – parliament’s processes affect everyday lives.- Denise Lee

We are not a nation of holier-than-thou busybodies. We are friendly, moral realists who face facts and credit others with doing the best they can when they are in circumstances we are fortunate not to share. That is how we should be represented to the world. – John Roughan

. . . Abundance is no long-term solution. We can’t have as much as we want, for as long as we want. That’s not how life works, it’s not up to us to decide when the fun ends.

We ought to make the most of moments, of the people, of the laughs, because we are numbered. They are numbered. As you wind through them, one day there will be a final click.

We all know this deep down, but we gloss over it day to day. Either because more pressing issues take centre stage, or because pondering mortality of loved ones and ourselves isn’t that enjoyable.

Yes, looking back on captured moments after they’re developed is great. But being present in these moments is key to truly appreciating the finite things in life. –  Jake Bailey

Telling the truth is colour blind. – Duncan Garner

. .  .New Zealand’s GST is uniquely, and admirably, clean. It applies broadly. Every producer has an incentive to report honestly because they also report the GST they paid to their suppliers on every item when claiming GST on their inputs.

Were New Zealand to exempt healthy foods from GST, we would well be on the slippery slope. It is one of those things that sounds really easy, but would be an utter disaster in practice. . . Eric Crampton

I must say, it has been a bit rich sitting here listening to the moral awesomeness and self-congratulation of the Labour Government over the family incomes package when they opposed every single measure that it took to generate the surpluses that they are handing out. That is why they won’t get the credit they expect from the New Zealand public, because the New Zealand public know it’s a bunch of people who found the lolly bag and ran the lolly scramble without having any idea where it came from.  – Bill English

Everybody wants to do the right thing; they just want to know what the expectations are, how long they have got, what it’s going to cost, where the tools are, and they will get up and they will get on with it.  – Barbara Kuriger

. . . the United Nations has just declared access to the internet a basic human right. It’s no more that than ownership of a Rolls Royce.

One can laugh at this stuff but for humanity to make progress it’s actually damaging, leading as it does to false expectations. Far better if the UN was to talk sense and describe it as an aspiration achievable through effort rather than by right. – Sir Bob Jones

The number of children the Labour-led government will lift out of poverty next year is 12,000. That’s over and above the 49,000 the previous government’s 2017 Budget was already lifting out. That”s right 80% of the new government’s achievement was already in train.

The new caring and sharing government’s achievement is much more modest when compared with the previous heartless government’s achievement. But that’s the power of the headline.   – Rodney Hide

Essentially, progressives tend to make up their minds about things according to a grievance hierarchy, which goes something like this: Worries about Palestine trump concerns about gay rights. And concerns about gay rights trump women’s rights which, despite the big and necessary push against harassment and abuse over the past several months, tend to wind up as the last unionised, fair-pay electric cab off the left’s organised and properly supervised rank.

Or to put it another way, being anti-Western means never having to say you’re sorry, but being female doesn’t mean that the left will let you get away with having your own opinion. – James Morrow

One of the wonderful things about living the years that I have, is that Time has taught me so much about myself. In doing so, Time and opportunity have set me free to be the essence of who I really am, rather than the person who has been beset by the grief of bereavement, abandonment, divorce, poverty, pain and rejection. The insights that Time has allowed me to gather, have set me free from those profound and painful experiences to be joyful, happy, fearless, and, – I hope -loving… – Valerie Davies


Four engines firing or faltering

September 10, 2017

Poll after poll show that Prime Minister Bill English and National have the most trust when it comes to running the economy.

If that trust doesn’t translate into votes, people don’t understand the importance of sound economic management and the economic, environmental and social dividends that flow from it.

Nor do they understand what a poorly managed economy would deliver but John Roughan spells it out:

Until now the economy has been flying on four good engines: good government (which means above all controlled spending), business confidence, population growth and a strong currency. Loosen control of public spending and all those engines start to splutter. If business confidence drops, immigration drops and the dollar drops it is going to be ugly. Growth will stall, import prices will rise, interest rates will have to go up against inflation, house prices will tumble and heavily mortgaged owners are going to be in trouble. I hope this is not where we are next year.

Voters have a choice – we can keep four engines firing with PM Bill English and National or let them falter.


We’ve grown

August 9, 2014

Foreign investment is an issue which bubbles away in the background with the occasional boil over, usually based on emotion not facts.

This week’s fuss over the sale of Lochinver Station is a prime example.

The rules for foreign investment were already tight and National tightened them further.

Foreign buyers of sensitive land must convince the Overseas Investment Office they can meet strict criteria – including delivering greater economic, environmental and social benefits than a local buyer would.

This isn’t just a matter of ticking boxes.

A friend manages farms owned by a foreign company and he says they are strictly monitored to ensure they are doing what they said they’d do.

This isn’t good enough for politicians who sense an opportunity to grab a headline and garner votes.

The concern is that if emotion rules, New Zealand and New Zealanders will be poorer.

Foreign investment brings benefits as John Roughan points out:

Foreign investment seems to have done us no harm. In fact we would be a smaller, meaner, more worried place without it. We’ve grown.

Prime Minister John Key has said if there’s a run on our land the government will act.

There is a need for a discussion on what would constitute a run and the total area of foreign ownership we should allow.

But that should be based on reason not emotion.

Foreign investment has helped us grow and poor policy based on  political opportunism by politicians desperate for attention could threaten future growth.

We’ve grown and we need some foreign investment to ensure we keep growing.


Whose breasts are they?

May 20, 2013

Angelina Jolie went public last week on her decision to have a radical mastectomy because she had a high risk of breast cancer.

She carries the BRCA1, gene which her doctors said gave her an 87% chance of getting breast cancer and a 50% chance of getting ovarian cancer.

Her mother died of breast cancer which gives her a very real understanding of what that risk could mean.

But John Roughan thinks that the genetic risk poses a dilemma:

Isn’t it a little disturbing that genetic science has caused Angelina Jolie to remove a perfectly fine pair of breasts? A “faulty gene” gave her good reason to watch them carefully, but preventive surgery?

Now that science has mapped the human genome, is this the future? . . .

As knowledge increases so do our choices, not all of which are simple.

I wonder if the geneticists who gave Angelina Jolie an 87 per cent risk of developing breast cancer also told her that “developing breast cancer” does not necessarily mean you will die of it. . . 

. . . breast screening has produced many more cases for treatment than ever proved fatal. Research suggests one case in three would have died without treatment. Some put the ratio nearer to 1 in 15.

One in three is a pretty high ratio and it’s not just that people die. A cancer diagnosis is traumatic for the patients, their families and friends. Even if it’s not fatal the treatment isn’t pleasant and it’s expensive.

Possibly hereditary cancers have a higher fatal rate but I would have thought it useful to weigh those odds against the genetic risk before deciding on drastic surgery. . .

Does he really thank any woman and her doctors wouldn’t weigh the odds before making such a decision?

. . . Angelina Jolie saw her mother die at age 56 after 10 years of treatment for breast cancer. Now, she writes, “I can tell my children they don’t need to fear they will lose me.”

That is one less fear for them but her article did not mention whether they also carry the gene mutation. How sad if a girl or boy should come to maturity regarding an organ of their developing sexuality as a death sentence unless they get rid of it. Sad and unnecessary.

Sad yes, unnecessary no.

Medical science has provided a tool which enables doctors and their patients to make informed decisions on risk and equally informed decisions about what they do about it.

Jolie went public about the decision in the hope other women could benefit from her experience.

Her fame has ensured the story has been widespread. It has given people knowledge. What they do with it is up to them, although not all of them will have access to private services which, I presume., Jolie did.

They’re their breasts, their bodies.

Medical science has given them more knowledge and enabled better informed choices.

That doesn’t come without risks but what does?

That is the future.


There’s hope

May 4, 2013

Quote of the day:

. . . Before the electricity market could be replaced with a state-controlled pricing regime, two things would need to happen. Labour and the Greens would need to win the next election, and if they did they would need to carry out this policy. Neither, I think, is likely.

John Key remains the most widely admired of any New Zealand Prime Minister I have seen. National continues to lead all polls by a margin that is remarkable five years into the life of a government.

Unless something disastrous happens, he looks certain to win again next year. . . 
John Roughan.

But winning the most votes of any party isn’t enough under MMP, parties have to get above 50%, by themselves or in coalition.

Should National go into the election with no partners in prospect, an absolute majority is conceivable. Conventional wisdom says it is practically impossible because it hasn’t happened since 1951. But before then, it was not unusual.

Labour won more than 50 per cent of the vote in 1938 and 1946, as did National in 1949 as well as 1951. Since then many have gone as close as 47 per cent, including National at the last election when it became only the third post-war government to be re-elected with an increased share of the vote.

There is nothing magical about an extra 3 per cent. Conventional wisdom is destined to be surprised sooner or later.

It becomes more possible the more often David Shearer stands too close to the larrikin.

Shearer is a sensible man. To enact Norman’s scheme or Labour’s version of it, he would need to ignore all the economic advice available to him. . .

It can be very easy to ignore the soundest of advice if it doesn’t fit your policy and you’re more interested in power – or the electoral rather than the electrical kind – than people.

Yesterday’s  Roy Morgan poll showed National up and LabourGreen down after the latter’s power plan was announced.

However, that poll is notoriously unreliable.

The next few polls will be more significant but even if they do give the thumbs down to the LabourGreen policy it’s more than a year until the election.

We have few one term governments which makes the odds on winning a second term better than reasonable.

Winning a third term is much harder.

Roughan’s comment shows there’s hope. Enough voters might understand the danger of powering back to seventies socialism to scorn LabourGreen.

But hope doesn’t win elections.

That takes good people, good policy, active party members, money and a lot of hard work.

There’s hope but no certainty.


Voting blue to help brown

November 1, 2008

John Roughan has declared his hand.

He thinks Maori – and the Maori Party – will do better if National leads the next government.

I do too, although not necessarily for the same reasons.


Generation gap 2

October 18, 2008

John Roughan’s column is worth reading in full  .

It’s one of few realistic views on student fees, allowances and costs I’ve read and concludes:

Announcing their living allowance would gradually lose its parental means test, Helen Clark said her “dream has always been to enable our young people to have the kind of support that my generation had”.

Her dream is unduly romantic; our generation did not live as well at university as today’s students do. A student of today dropped into a campus of 1970 would notice the clothing, vehicles, bookshops, cafeteria food and general surroundings much plainer and poorer.

About the only thing more lively in 1970 was the politics and it would strike today’s students as immature. It was generationally embarrassing in Tuesday night’s television debate when Helen Clark could not believe John Key had not taken sides on the 1981 Springbok Tour.

It is not hard to believe a 20-year-old commerce student with conservative views and a new girlfriend was among those not particularly interested. He spans the generation between me and my kids and makes mine seem suddenly dated.

When I consider the economy we have given them, it is not tertiary costs and their debt that I regret, it is the housing debt they face because the baby boomers never learned to invest in anything more productive. Most of my generation never learned to invest in themselves. That’s the difference.

And is one of the reasons too many of my generation – for I’m a baby boomer – didn’t invest in themselves is because we were brought up with governments doing too much for us?

I think that’s part of the problem and one of the reasons we should be very careful of Labour and other parties on the left who think the government should do more because we’ll pay dearly for it.


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