Inflation steals from us all

19/10/2021

The last election took us back more than 25 years to a First Past the Post result and the government that gave us is giving us an increase in inflation from the same era:

The consumers price index rose 2.2 percent in the September 2021 quarter, the biggest quarterly movement since a 2.3 percent rise in the December 2010 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

Excluding quarters impacted by increases to GST rates, the September quarter movement was the highest since the June 1987 quarter, which saw a 3.3 percent rise.

Annual inflation was 4.9 percent in the September 2021 quarter when compared with the September 2020 quarter. This was the biggest annual movement since inflation reached 5.3 percent between the June 2010 and June 2011 quarters.

Excluding periods impacted by changes to GST rates, the September 2021 annual inflation was the highest since it reached 5.1 percent in the September 2008 year. . .

The Prime Minister who promised to address child poverty is leading a government that is fueling a sharp increase in the cost of living:

The Government needs to urgently recognise soaring inflation as the biggest medium-term threat to the New Zealand economy and halt its wasteful spending, says National’s Finance spokesperson Michael Woodhouse.

“Today, StatsNZ has confirmed what Kiwis all across New Zealand already know – the cost of living is rising fast under the Labour Government.

“In the past 12 months, the cost of living has increased by almost 5 per cent, meaning prices are now rising faster than they have at any time in the past 10 years.

“Grant Robertson has increased the size of government spending by more than 40 per cent in just four years. It is no surprise New Zealanders are now seeing costs increase all throughout the economy.

“Labour’s big spending is hurting the very people Labour claims to represent. The cost of renting a house has now increased 7.8% since just September last year, the biggest increase since records began.

“Prices of fresh fruit and vegetables have increased 9.3 per cent in the past 12 months.

“The increase in prices in just the last three months is the highest three-monthly increase since the 1980s, excluding the one-off increase in GST in 2010.

“The next big cost increase is unfortunately likely to now be mortgage costs as the Reserve Bank is forced to painfully increase interest rates as Kiwis and businesses try to recover from the current Covid outbreak.

“Grant Robertson needs to hit pause on any and all of his so-called Covid stimulus spending that is not fully committed. It makes no sense for the Government to be spraying cash at pet projects like the Green School when the biggest problems now facing the economy are inflation, labour shortages and Covid closures.

“The Covid Fund needs to be used to support businesses impacted by lockdowns and to ramp up the health response to Covid, not as Grant Robertson’s personal slush fund.”

The only winner from soaring inflation is the government that will collect more tax as pay increases push people into higher tax thresholds:

Responding to the revelation of 4.9% inflation for the last year, Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Jordan Williams says:

“Skyrocketing prices are an indictment on the Government’s print, borrow, and spend economic strategy. In general, Government spending is more inflationary than leaving money in taxpayers’ pockets, and Grant Robertson needs to shoulder some of the blame for today’s numbers.”

“The need to adjust income tax brackets has now become desperate. Inflation pushes our wages up into higher tax brackets even when we’re no better off in real terms. Grant Robertson might be pleased to get his hands on all this inflation-driven tax revenue, but during a pandemic this tax grab is unconscionable.”

 

 

It steals from us all, devaluing the real value of wages and savings by making everything more expensive.

It creates a vicious circle. When people know things will cost more in the future they are much more likely to buy more today. That feeds inflation which encourages people to buy more . . .

It will almost certainly force an increase in interest rates which will make mortgages unmanageable for the highly indebted and add to the costs of doing business which will in turn push up prices and that will feed into higher inflation and all of this will hit the poorest hardest.


Higher costs for no gain

14/10/2021

The government has done it again – an announcement of a plan that will add costs but do absolutely nothing to reduce emissions:

The proposed Emissions Reduction Plan is an emperor with no clothes as it won’t reduce emissions because of the way the Emissions Trading Scheme works, points out the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union whose members and supporters made up the vast majority of submitters to the Climate Change Commission on the same plan last year.

“The Government’s approach to climate change is centred around making as many announcements as possible, with costly new interventions into Kiwis’ lifestyles and the economy, while ignoring the system that actually governs our net carbon emissions,” says Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Jordan Williams.

“Most of our emissions are capped and traded under the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). That means when the Government uses regulation to cut emissions from a particular source – say, petrol vehicles – carbon credits are simply freed up making it more affordable to produce emissions in other ways. That is why the UN advises countries against the very interventions this Government proposes when cap and trade is in place.”

“Even if the laundry list of regulations proposed in this plan did succeed in reducing total emissions, a Government-knows-best approach inevitably means blunt measures with unforeseen costs. For some businesses, their particular circumstances mean switching to electric heating or electric vehicles will involve inordinate cost.”

The Government has the power to cut emissions at will by simply reducing the emissions cap, which would increase the cost of carbon credits and incentivise businesses and households to cut emissions in ways most practical for their individual circumstances. Ignoring the ETS and using a hundred different regulations to whack unfashionable sectors is divisive, costly, and cynical politicking.”

Using the ETS to increase costs will hit everyone and be hardest on the poor which makes it politically unpalatable, but it would reduce emissions.

What the government is imposing will increase costs but won’t reduce emissions.

Matt Burgess wrote about this last month and concluded:

. . .Next month, the government will commit tens of billions of dollars-worth of new emissions policies under its Emissions Reduction Plan. Nearly all of them will work under a binding ETS cap. As a result, they will not change total emissions by a single tonne. We will be no closer to our emissions targets, not by one gram. We will just be poorer. . . 

This is exactly what’s been proposed – a plan that will impose higher costs on us all for absolutely no environmental gain.


Quotes of the month

31/07/2021

After all, if we really were one of the first countries to eliminate Covid19 as the Prime Minister claimed, we should not be one of the last, as now seems increasingly likely, to escape its clutches. – Peter Dunne

A government entity is threatening a specialist contractor’s livelihood on the basis of her race. It’s almost unbelievable that this could happen in 2021 in a developed country. – Jordan Williams

If the Labour Government were a beloved childhood character it would be Pinocchio, the puppet whose nose grows when he lies.

There’s been several examples of blatant porky-telling in the past week; its weak framing-up of what constitutes hate speech is one – but the most obvious (and the most important politically) concerns this country’s vaccine roll-out. Pinocchio’s snoot is experiencing quite the growth spurt. – Janet Wilson

Don’t forget that over-promising and under-delivering is a hallmark of this Government. 

Then there’s the “what’s-good-for-you-is-even-better-for-me” strategy. – Janet Wilson

What’s needed now, more than ever, are honest conversations, based on fact, not what’s increasingly looking like opaque butt-covering. – Janet Wilson

New Zealanders returning after a few years abroad might wonder whether they’ve blundered into a parallel universe. A government that is pitifully thin on ministerial ability and experience is busy re-inventing the wheel, and doing it at such speed that the public has barely had time to catch its breath. Karl du Fresne

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

The government has done its best to ensure continued media support for this ideological project by creating a $55 million slush fund supposedly created to support “public interest journalism” but available only to news organisations that commit themselves to the promotion of the so-called principles (never satisfactorily defined) of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi. 

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

Potentially even more damaging to Ardern’s government, because it hits ordinary people at a very basic level, is the shambolic incompetence of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, and the growing perception that the public has been continually fed falsehoods about the pandemic and the government’s response to it. – Karl du Fresne

The right groups, with the right processes, can make excellent decisions. But most of us don’t join groups to make better decisions. We join them because we want to belong. Groupthink persists because groupthink feels good. – Tim Harford

Ethno-nationalism has political categories based on racial classification – the belief that our fundamental identity (personal, social and political) is fixed in our ancestry. Here the past determines the future. Identity, too, is fixed in that past. In contrast, democratic-nationalism has one political category – that of citizenship – justified by the shared belief in a universal human identity. – Elizabeth Rata

He Puapua envisages a system of constitutional categorisation based on ancestral membership criteria rather than the universal human who is democracy’s foundational unit. Ancestral group membership is the key idea of ‘ethnicity’. This slippery term refers to a combination of culture – what we do and how we understand ourselves – and genetic inheritance. The word entered common usage from the 1970s followed by ‘indigenous’ in the 1980s. ‘Ethnicity’ was an attempt to edit out the increasingly discredited ‘race’. However changing a word does not change the idea. Ethnicity does not mean culture only. It has a genetic, biological – a race, component. Although race is an unscientific concept it retains social currency with whakapapa often used to soften the racial connotation of ancestral belonging.

Whatever term is used – ethnicity, race, culture, whakapapa – the issue is the use of ancestral membership for political status. Liberal democracy can accommodate identification with the ancestral group in the civil sphere. Inclusive biculturalism allows for the evolving social practice of a hybrid Maori and settler-descendant culture, one enriched by diverse migration. Exclusive biculturalism, on the other hand, takes those ethnically or racially categorised groups into the constitutional sphere of legislation and state institutions. It is here that we see the effects of five underpinning beliefs of ethno-nationalism. – Elizabeth Rata

The first belief holds that our ethnic or racial identity is our primary and determining personal identity. This denies the fact that identity in the modern democratic world is individual identity.  – Elizabeth Rata

For many people, the meaning of who they are is intimately tied to the idea of ethnic belonging. There are those who choose their primary social identity to be pakeha. Others, with Maori ancestry, choose Maori identity as their defining subjectivity. From a democratic point of view the right to choose a determining identity, including an ethnicised or racialised one, must be supported. It is the same for those who wish to define themselves in religious or sexuality terms. As long as such identities remain private choices, practised in association with others of like minds in the civic sphere, there is no problem. It is the right of an individual in a democratic country to make that choice. Elizabeth Rata

The second belief underpinning the He Puapua Report is that the ethnic or racial group is primordial – existing from the beginning of time and known through the mythologies that are now called ‘histories’. This belief feeds into the assumption that the group is fundamentally distinctive and separate – hence ethnic fundamentalism. It denies the universal human reality of migration, genetic mixing and social mixing. It certainly denies the New Zealand reality. – Elizabeth Rata

A third belief permeating He Puapua is that how people live and understand their lives (culture) is caused by who they are (ancestry or ethnicity/race). Such biological determinism asserts that our genetic heritage causes what we do and the meaning we give to our actions – culture. It is a belief that has taken on its own life in education to justify the ‘ways of knowing and being’ found in matauranga Māori research, Māori mathematics, and in ‘Māori as Māori’ education. – Elizabeth Rata

The fourth belief is a blood and soil ideology. It is the idea that an ethnic group indigenous to an area is autochthonous. The group is ‘of the land’ in a way that is qualitatively different from those who arrive later. As a consequence of this fact the first group claims a particular political status with entitlements not available to others. The ideology is located in mythological origins and seductive in its mystical appeal. By separating those who are ‘indigenous’ from those who are not, a fundamental categorisation occurs which then becomes built into political institutions. Such a categorisation principle can be extended – why not have a number of ‘classes’ with political status based on time of arrival – those who arrived first, those who came a little later, to those who have only just arrived. In an ethno-nation it is quite possible that these ‘classes’ could become caste divisions. – Elizabeth Rata

The fifth belief builds on the others. The classification of individuals as members of ethnic categories is extended to political categories. Membership of an ethnic category  takes precedence over citizenship as a person’s primary political status. One’s political rights follow from this status. The acceptance of ancestral membership as a political category, rather than a social identity, has huge implications for national cohesion and democratic government. It is where ethnic fundamentalism becomes a major problem for us all. – Elizabeth Rata

The democratic political arena is where we meet as New Zealanders, as equal citizens of a united nation. That public arena is textured by contributing communities certainly, but it is the place where we unite – as a modern pluralist social group that is also a political entity. If we choose not to unite in this way, and the He Puapua Report is recommending that we don’t,  why have a nation – New Zealand?

When we politicise ethnicity – by classifying, categorising and institutionalising people on the basis of ethnicity – we establish the platform for ethno-nationalism. Contemporary and historical examples should make us very wary of a path that replaces the individual citizen with the ethnic person as the political subject. – Elizabeth Rata

Ethnic fundamentalism is no better, no worse than the myriad of other fundamentalisms that some individuals impose upon themselves (or have imposed upon them) to give their lives meaning. It becomes a danger to liberal societies regulated by democratic politics when ethnicity is politicised. By basing a governance  system of classification and categorisation on historical rather than contemporary group membership, we set ourselves on the path to ethno-nationalism. ‘He Puapua’  means a break. It is used in the Report to mean “the breaking of the usual political and social norms and approaches.” The transformation of New Zealand proposed by He Puapua is indeed a complete break with the past. For this reason it is imperative that we all read the Report then freely and openly discuss what type of nation do we want – ethno-nationalism or democratic nationalism? – Elizabeth Rata

For New Zealand’s Prime Minster to be talking such nonsense – in fact, such a complete untruth as ‘bold action on climate change is a matter of life and death’ –  is more than ominous. Her obvious preference for calling urgency on endorsing the recent recommendations of the Climate Change Commission is completely unacceptable. Its unbalanced findings verge on the fanatical and it is high time Ardern is called to account for the fear-mongering she is spreading and for promoting policies which would in fact basically destroy our economy. – Amy Brooke

She must be very well aware that policies have consequences – so why is she so dramatically advocating what would be a self-inflicted wound on New Zealand? There is no evidence whatsoever that we are faced with any life or death decision with regard to climate change –except the one she is not highlighting: that adopting its extreme and unnecessary recommendations would economically cripple us as a country.

So what is she up to? She must know very well that given our size, in comparison with major producers of carbon dioxide, what we might achieve would not make one shred of difference to the total global CO2 emissions. She is treating New Zealanders as fools by maintaining this fiction – Amy Brooke

Ardern, apparently, is making obeisance to the extremist propaganda advanced by the far Left. However, New Zealanders are gradually realising that the guerrilla tactics of communism have long been undermining our country. Given her hard-core, leftist agenda – and a strong body of dedicated, socialist comrades in her Labour coalition – extraordinary moves are now being made to destroy our democracy, largely unchallenged by a lacklustre National party opposition. – Amy Brooke

By fanning the flames of concern over the supposedly catastrophic consequences of climate change – giving it cargo cult status – an extraordinarily useful tool is at hand, particularly given the prophesying of impending calamities by our helpful, now government-paid media. – Amy Brooke

Facts? The majority of policymakers and politicians are damagingly uninformed about the findings of the hundreds of scientists in related fields, many with world-renowned reputations. Some, themselves serving as expert reviewers for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, have pointed out that the IPCC has been hijacking science for ideological ends and have shown that hard evidence for a ‘climate emergency’ doesn’t hold up. In other words, the Left’s policy-makers’ agenda is to destroy the West’s economic and social ecology, but so successful has been the propaganda that an obsession with an impending global warming climate change catastrophe is now prevalent – Amy Brooke

The truly shocking  aspect of the Climate Change Commission’s recommendations to government on how to limit New Zealand’s greenhouse gases is the damage they would inflict upon this country. Its role was apparently originally envisaged  to take politics out of the climate change debate. It has done nothing of the sort and, instead, launched an attack on our freedoms. It would give the government unprecedented, basically fascist, control over the cars we drive and import, our energy sources and our housing and agriculture. It also recommends reducing the number of farm animals and replacing productive farmland with still more pine tree plantings.

Not only is our set 2050 target of net zero emissions entirely unnecessary, its totally unrealistic recommendations such as prioritising re-cycling are impracticable – and almost risible.  – Amy Brooke

We should make no mistake: the government’s Emissions Reduction Plan, due by 31 December, is meat and drink to our now totally compromised, hard-left Labour coalition.

The way ahead is now fraught indeed – unless that sleeping giant, the public, properly wakes up. – Amy Brooke

Understanding the other side’s point of view, even if one disagrees with it, is central to any hope for civility in civic life. Monique Poirier

It should be acceptable to hold the position that New Zealand’s response to Covid-19 was a good one while simultaneously being critical of it when things go wrong – particularly when they are avoidable – without fear of the response you might receive. – Monique Poirier

I don’t like the idea of New Zealand as a country where political opponents are also political enemies. Monique Poirier

“My worry when I think about Willie … [Foreign Affairs Minister] Nanaia [Mahuta], other ministers, is there is something a bit religious about this. A sense that ‘if we haven’t said Aotearoa 18 times by lunchtime, if we haven’t referenced the Treaty and tried to do some things in that area, we’ll have to go home in the evening and say a few Hail Marys’ – Simon Bridges

If the critical race theorists are correct, if you’re a white person who denies that you’re a racist, that just proves that you’re a racist…they used a very similar test back in the medieval period to identify witches. – Andrew Doyle

“I think that’s what’s going to happen if this Government doesn’t pull its finger and get the immigration department to actually do its job and support our migrant workers. We will lose a lot of people who are productive to our economy, and good human beings. – Judith Collins

I grew up thinking being a farmer’s daughter was the best thing … and now I find people apologising for being farmers. Judith Collins

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, said Lord Acton. One might add, absolute money creation power corrupts absolutely, too. So central banks, armoured with the power to keep governments afloat and markets working, now aim to use it for whatever political goals they please. –Oliver Hartwich

It is a strange world in which we now find ourselves. While politicians are constrained by majorities and public finances, central bankers are unconstrained. They do not have to convince the electorate. They cannot run out of cash. They cannot be voted out of office. – Oliver Hartwich

Once upon a time, central bankers did not tweet. And perhaps that was just as it should be. – Oliver Hartwich

The open discussion of any issue must be possible without fear of repercussions on both sides of the debate if the best outcome is ever to be reached. That is the fundamental value of free speech that permits the free enquiry, self-reflection, self-criticism and peer review that underpin our scientific and academic edifices and, in fact, our entire civilisation. – N. Dell

I argue that a deliberate effort to engineer diversity will do more harm than good. In fact, to focus on identity goes against the well-known Army maxim of colour-blindness: ‘we are all green’. – N. Dell

The trend over the past five to six years to increasingly focus on race, gender and sexual orientation feels like a return to a pre-social revolution era where these arbitrary features of a person were given so much more weight than they deserve. Their return to the spotlight has been undeniably corrosive to society and the political sphere, which appears to have grown to encompass everything. Instead, the kinds of diversity that should matter to an organisation like the Army are diversity of opinion, experience, attitude, class and background. Again, in my experience, the Army already excels in this area. – N. Dell

The ‘Woke’ culture that has led to the popular preoccupation with Diversity and inclusion is antithetical to the Army’s ethos and values. It is built on the notion that feelings are more important than facts. It asserts that everyone is the same while promoting the merits of Diversity. It shuns notions of excellence and meritocracy. It diminishes personal responsibility and erodes resilience, even rejecting the notion that resilience is a virtue. Social media has been the vector for this intellectual contagion and evidence has even surfaced that this has been cynically aided and abetted by belligerent foreign governments with the explicit goal of weakening western democracy. We must not capitulate to our enemies’ efforts. – N. Dell

The primary threat of any effort to be more ‘Diverse’ and ‘inclusive’ is opportunity cost. Put simply, every resource that we divert toward programmes aimed at improving Diversity and Inclusion is a resource that is not available to be used for the Army’s onlyresponsibility: to protect New Zealand. Whether that is in preparing for wars or fighting them (or civil defence).  Every man-hour that is spent on ‘cultural awareness training’ or similar programmes is a man-hour that is not spent training for combat or monitoring our enemies. How are they spending their man-hours? 

The second key area where Diversity and Inclusion could harm our effectiveness is in recruitment. Recruiting based on a concerted effort to increase Diversity necessarily comes at the expense of recruiting the best candidates. If the current policy of (presumably) recruiting the best candidates for their roles does not produce the desired Diversity outcomes, then the conflict is self-evident.  – N. Dell

Diversity must also mean diversity of thought. The essay should not be buried, it should be debated. To gag one of our soldiers in this way, removing what had already been acknowledged as a well-articulated point, simply because the optics of the well-articulated point confronted some who do not share the views espoused, must have nations overseas bending in laughter. – Dane Giraud

You get the feeling that if Judith Collins baked a cake and donated it to orphaned puppies the headlines would read “Collins feeds animal obesity epidemic”.Neil Miller

It is a stark contrast that this government – which seems so willing to move at increasing breakneck speed with an almost “damn the torpedoes” bravado to implement the policy items that appear dearest to it – appears stubbornly determined to move at near glacial pace on matters immediately affecting the day-to-day lives of New Zealanders. – Peter Dunne

At best, “world-class” is a phrase used by people with brains of tinsel; more often it is an attempt to mislead people into accepting a rotten present on the promise of a supposedly glorious future.Theodore Dalrymple

For those who worry about stealing vaccines from places that might need it more, fear not. The Government could contract for twice as much as New Zealand might need, with extra doses to be sent to poorer countries via COVAX.  Richer countries paying now helps build more production lines for delivering a lot more vaccine to the whole world in a far bigger hurry. It would leave the world much better prepared for new variants as they emerge. Far from being stingy about such things, economists have urged governments to spend a lot more to get vaccines rolled out and broadly distributed far more quickly. – Eric Crampton

We’re becoming intolerant of tolerance – Frank Luntz

It is farmers, other businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators, inventors, scientists, workers, and, not least, households – the whole team of five million – who will get the job done, and at the lowest cost, so long as the overall cap set by the Emissions Trading Scheme (or through a carbon tax) is secure.

The commission’s efforts to predict what will happen in each sector are pointless – not worth the code their models are written in. They result in dozens of goofy pronouncements like: “There will be fewer motor mechanics”. Oh, please.

Also mostly pointless, are the multitude of policy recommendations that pour forth from the report. If the real decision-makers in the economy (i.e. all those listed above) are getting the correct price signal from the ETS, then there is generally no justification for further government intervention. What should be done will be done –  Tim Hazledine

And – not so incidentally – the expensive scheme to subsidise purchases of electric vehicles that the commission has foisted on the current government will almost certainly fail the cost-benefit test. Around 90 per cent of the well-heeled beneficiaries of the scheme’s largesse would have purchased an electric car anyway – we have just given them an $8000 present. – Tim Hazledine

When you see the results done at a catchment group level, you can’t help but feel optimistic.  If you want change, you need to be very specific.  Ultimately, any reform needs to be community-led and science-based. – Mark Adams 

Humans respond well to tension, you can’t achieve anything without it. But for real change to occur, we need to develop a culture of innovation rather than a culture of box-ticking.Mark Adams 

It has never been explained how absentee (de facto) landlords such as the government or councils can ensure better outcomes on the newly identified SNAs by devaluing them to the point of becoming real liabilities to the landowner. The eco-puritans are of course fully entitled to deceive themselves as to the benefits of state command and control. They are not entitled to deceive the country. – Gerry Eckhoff

Rather strangely, no environmental organisations or advocates appear to have ever purchased or offered up into state control any land that they personally or collectively owned for conservation. Nor, curiously enough, was it mentioned in the article that private landowners line up to protect environmental values in a QEII Trust covenant to the extent that that trust can barely cope with their requests.  – Gerry Eckhoff

So guys, make your choice – avoid some potentially unnecessary stress, or avoid an exceptionally inconvenient truth. Take responsibility for your health and get your PSA tested.

If your doctor says you shouldn’t get a PSA test, get another doctor. – Conor English 

There are two types of New Zealanders – those who are quite happy hiding behind Jacinda’s skirts, who don’t see any reason whatsoever to allow “foreigners” in; indeed, they’re reluctant to let New Zealand passport-holders back in. . .But in the meantime, on the other side of the divide, there are those who generate their own living.  These are people who are eager to engage with the rest of the world. These Eager Engagers are people who get up every morning and make their own money and provide jobs for other New Zealanders. – Kerre McIvor

Ninety-seven per cent of New Zealand businesses are classified as small-to-medium businesses. They employ three-quarters of New Zealanders and generate more than a quarter of our economic output and they’re doing it tough. Not because they don’t have enough work. But because they simply cannot find reliable, drug-free staff who will help them become more productive.

Pay them more, say the bureaucrats and politicians sitting in their taxpayer-funded offices, drawing their taxpayer-funded salaries. But it’s not that simple. Workers are being paid about as much as businesses can sustain before price rises kick in and products and services become unsustainable. As one commentator said to me, people want to buy their bread for a dollar a loaf and have supermarket workers paid $40 an hour.  – Kerre McIvor

If you cut off one of the vital arteries that pump life into New Zealand business, and that’s skilled staff, businesses will wither. As will the tax take. The money to fund New Zealand Inc comes from New Zealand businesspeople and all they have ever asked is for the opportunity to do what they do best. And yet this Government continues to treat them with contempt. A constant complaint is that this Government doesn’t understand business. The reluctance to let skilled workers into the country is another example that reinforces that complaint is justified.  – Kerre McIvor

In speaking to Part 2 of this bill tonight, just really wanting to make a point that this report is an example of the fine work of the Office of the Controller and Auditor-General, and this beef that we’re having tonight is with the Government, not the Auditor-General. This is the productivity of the Auditor-General, this is the productivity of an apple orchard [Holds up two apples]. So I would like to propose a tabled amendment—I’ve got a tabled amendment here, and my amendment suggests that we have a new clause 8. So “After clause 7, insert 8 New section 98A, after section 98, insert: 98A Extend the apple picking season—(1) All local Government bodies, where able, for the financial year ending 30 June 2021 should ask that apples stay ripe for the picking of an extra three months.  – Barbara Kuriger

I did actually brainstorm with some of my policy staff about what they thought would be appropriate alternative titles for the Annual Reporting and Audit Time Frames Extensions Legislation Bill. And they were pretty good at coming up with, I think, more appropriate names. One said the bill should be the “Skill-shortage Solution Grant Robertson’s Magic Wand Act 2021”. And, oh, that DHBs could have the same magic wand, that they could magic up either staff or extensions of time. I wonder how it would go if—in fact, we know that it’s happening every single day, that the DHB entities that are the subject of the extended reporting requirements in this bill are actually telling their patients they’ve got an extension of time. It’s not an extension of time that they look for if they wanted to have their cancer treatment in a more timely manner or cardiac surgery. So it is a magic wand that Mr Robertson is providing for himself but for no one else.

I think that actually is a nice segue into the second alternative title that we have seen: the “Helpful Government But Not for Business Act 2021”, because we have implored the Government to give relief to business who have severe staffing shortages of their own, and the answer has been no, no, no. And, yet, when it comes to giving financial reporting and audit relief, it’s a yes, yes, yes from this Government.

So that, again, would suggest a title that is “We Don’t Have Solutions for Actual Kiwis Act 2021”. I don’t know about that. I think they do have solutions. They’re staring the Government in the face but they are so blind to the need and the opportunity to maintain and increase economic growth in this country that they simply will not see where the need and the opportunity is.Michael Woodhouse

This is a tricky message to get across, because after 20 years of nuking our taste buds with bread that’s mostly sugar, Ronald McDonald’s special sauce, chicken vindaloo, deep-fried chicken and crisps made from artificially flavoured carpet underlay, most of us could not tell a beautiful piece of prime beef from a Walnut Whip. – Jeremy Clarkson

Ironically, MIQ, which is often held responsible for restricting the flow of labour into the country, was itself a victim of the labour shortage. – Thomas Couglan

First, and most obviously, the government is acting as a monopsonist. The government is the largest employer of nurses. It is worried that MIQ facilities offering higher pay to attract nurses would bid nurses away from the rest of the health sector, and then force the government to pay nurses more to avoid that happening. For all the government’s push for Fair Pay Agreements and utterly implausible arguments about ‘monopsonistic’ employment conditions requiring a benevolent state to come in and force new pay relations under an Awards system, the only parts of the labour market that work like that are the ones where the government is the monopsonist: teaching and nursing. And in those sectors, the government behaves exactly as you would expect a monopsonist to behave. Maybe that’s why the government sees monopsonists everywhere – it extrapolates from its own conduct. – Eric Crampton

It looks to me like the government ran a near-corrupt tendering process resulting in contracting with a provider who doesn’t even have a validated test, because the Ministry of Health was embarrassed that Rako showed them up. It hasn’t been deployed at anything like scale, and nobody knows whether the test would actually work. Eric Crampton

We can’t expand MIQ capacity because the government doesn’t want MIQ to be pushing up the cost of nurses for the rest of the health system – and again the Commerce Commission can’t go after this kind of anticompetitive practice, because State protects State.

And we can’t have better testing methods that won’t put pressure on nursing and current testing capacity because the Ministry of Health is embarrassed that Rako could do something that ESR couldn’t manage, and because demonstrating competence in delivery just isn’t the way things are done in New Zealand.

Remember that old “there’s a hole in the bucket” song? It’s that, except there’s a bung for the hole sitting right there, and MoH refuses to use it and prefers to bleat endlessly about the axe not being sharp enough, the whetstone being too dry, and there being a hole in the bucket preventing getting the water to wet the stone.  – Eric Crampton

Incidentally, “Public Interest Journalism Fund” strikes me as a bit of a mouthful, and time-consuming to type, besides. So I’m giving it a shorter, punchier name: the Pravda Project, after the old Soviet Union’s esteemed official press organ, on the assumption that the PIJF will exhibit the same fearless independence and unstinting commitment to the truth. – Karl du Fresne

We’ve always suffered the loss of our best and brightest who seek out life in countries run by grown-ups. I’m picking a massive exodus in the immediate years ahead by freedom lovers, tired of nanny-statism and blatant “front of the vaccination queue” lying. – Bob Jones

You don’t save money by spending billions of dollars and employing thousands of people. It just doesn’t stack up. – Dan Gordon

What we want and need is to see the information, not hear the PR spin. – Dan Gordon

The first good decision the British government took was to bypass its own civil service in appointing a very successful venture capitalist with a background in biochemistry and pharmaceuticals, Kate Bingham, as the head of its vaccine procurement and vaccination strategy agency. She took on this role without pay, and her success has reinforced my belief that management at the highest level of public administration ought to be amateur rather than professional: amateur in the sense of being unpaid and undertaken from a sense of public duty, not in the sense that it should be amateurish, as so much professional management is. Those who act temporarily at this level without pay have no vested interest in complicating matters or in institutional empire-building, and insofar as they have a personal interest, it is in the glory of successful accomplishment. – Theodore Dalrymple

Farming could be a joy but really it’s a bloody nightmare. – Jim Macdonald

Voters hate inflation. Wages never catch up to prices. Interest rate rises devastate households with mortgages. Voters punish governments that cannot guarantee the buying power of our money. – Richard Prebble

Nothing causes an election loss more certainly than our money losing value. – Richard Prebble

The Government’s vaccine programme is running behind schedule, the trans-Tasman bubble is looking decidedly deflated, it has welched on several key transport election commitments and is building a bicycle and pedestrian bridge across the Auckland Harbour Bridge that doesn’t look like it could possibly pass any sensible cost-benefit analysis.Luke Malpass

I’ll tell you what we did this week: we stuck up for business. We stuck up for the inconsistency that exists between the ‘suck it up’ approach by this Government to the severe staffing shortages that are a handbrake on this economy and a Government that gives itself a pass for teachers and for auditors. – Michael Woodhouse

We need to ensure that any price mechanism is correctly set so that we don’t have emissions leakage offshore.  Reducing production in the most efficient country in the world to have it replaced offshore makes no sense.  If we get this price mechanism wrong then we get a situation that could inadvertently cause us to make changes on our farm that may reduce overall emissions but perhaps lose some of the efficiency and world leading footprint. Let’s not forget it’s that footprint which is what these supposedly discerning customers are after.

We get this wrong and it could have major implications for our economy and not do diddly squat with regards to climate change. So, industry and government officials need the time to focus on this in the coming months, not be bogged down with even more legislation and work.Andrew Hoggard

 The government can’t do much about a global pandemic, but there are some steps it could take that would give people some hope. Firstly, we already have people in the country who are in a limbo land with regards to visas, and are being lured offshore, so let’s stop buggering around, if they are here, have a clean record, have a job – give them residency. – Andrew Hoggard

The Government needs to understand the burden that is being placed on people in the ag sector right now.  Our sector is doing the heavy lifting to bring in export revenue, and yet while our farmers and growers are doing this often short staffed all these other pressures I have just mentioned are weighing down on them and potentially going to add to their workload. For a government that talks about wellbeing a lot, they seem to have forgotten about it with regards to rural NZ.

Overall, my message to the government is we need to organise the workplan better. We have a siloed haphazard approach right now, that is causing stress and anxiety for many. Not just for farmers and growers, but other sectors and quite frankly probably the government’s own officials. Andrew Hoggard

The Government will only have itself to blame if next local body elections sees a tide of councillors elected on a platform opposing Three Waters and development. Over the past four years, it’s contributed to rates rises across the country as part of effectively forcing councils to spend more on water infrastructure ahead of the Three Waters reforms, which will likely culminate in water assets effectively being seized. – Thomas Couglan

They only seem to have four sports in New Zealand at the moment, that’s rugby, cricket, netball and bashing farmers, and farmers and rural people have really just had enough of this.

We’re the ones doing the heavy lifting in the economy, in fact we’re just about all the economy at the moment, and we just really want common sense solutions to things. – Laurie Paterson

It remains to be seen whether funding from the proceeds of crime ends up funding the precedes of more crime.James Elliott

Metropolitan centres may be where the majority of votes exist, but we need a fair New Zealand which allows all Kiwis to thrive economically, environmentally, socially, and culturally. – Gary Kircher

Farming isn’t all sunshine and daffodils. It’s about life and the death that inevitably accompanies it. It’s working in the mud, making stuff-ups that potentially impact your staff, or your animals. Farming is looking at bare, parched paddocks in March and wondering where the heck you’re going to shift those steers to next. Sometimes, farming can make you cry. – Nicky Berger

And farming is very real. It is connected to the very real earth beneath our feet, to the precious waters that fall from the sky to help our plants and animals thrive. Sometimes it’s about reaping rewards, and sometimes it’s about making hard decisions. – Nicky Berger

Jacinda Ardern must understand that organised crime is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop – until her Government decides to stop it. – Chris Trotter

An overly zealous implementation of any new hate speech law poses the biggest threat. Without extremely clear limits and guidelines on its application leaving bureaucrats and the courts to fill in the gaps, the risk of unintended consequences arising is high. And that, in turn, poses the greatest risk to our future freedom of speech, thought and opinion. – Peter Dunne

I wonder how many urban New Zealanders would be willing to give up the cheap overseas imports that make their lives more enjoyable and comfortable and buy eye-wateringly more expensive furniture and clothes and cars made by New Zealanders getting a decent wage. – Kerre McIvor

 Farmers aren’t Luddites. You don’t get to be the most carbon-efficient dairy producers in the world by ignoring science and innovation. – Kerre McIvor

Still, the Prime Minister would do well to remember the shower regulations that, in part, scuttled Helen Clark’s chances of an historic fourth term. It was just another nanny state policy from a Government increasingly interfering in the lives of its citizens and it was the final straw for voters. Sound familiar? – Kerre McIvor

Critics are swatted away with a moral argument – there are other countries more deserving.

That plays well to Ardern’s compassionate image, but it’s cynical. In reality, we are not safe until we are all safe, and it makes more sense for the countries with infrastructure capability to get on and vaccinate populations while others get up to speed. – Andrea Vance

Ultimately, the Government is responsible for delivering the programme. If on-the-ground processes need to be fixed, ministers should get on and do it rather than pretending all is running smoothly.

For now, they’re reassuring us Pfizer will send more stock – enough for 750,000 people in August.

We can only trust that this is enough to keep the intended nationwide roll-out on course.

But if Hipkins and Ardern persist in their White King and Queen double-act, while the rest of us experience more delays on the other side of the Looking Glass they will squander that trust, and patience will run out. Andrea Vance

Each pastoral lease has its own inherent values and no government official could have a better grasp of that than the family who lives there. – Jacqui Dean

It’s naïve to think that when land is left to nature that only the good things grow. I’ve seen how wilding pines and other vegetation have been allowed to take over thousands of hectares of precious land right through the South Island and it’s a sorry sight.Jacqui Dean

As every proponent of freedom of expression must allow, the right to it is not an unqualified one. The standard way of explaining why is to cite the case of someone shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theatre when there is no fire. Because it can do harm, and because it can be used irresponsibly, there has to be an understanding of when free speech has to be constrained. But given its fundamental importance, the default has to be that free speech is inviolate except … where the dots are filled in with a specific, strictly limited, case-by-case, powerfully justified, one-off set of utterly compelling reasons why in this particular situation alone there must be a restraint on speech. Note the words specific,strictly limited, case-by-case, powerfully justified, one-off, utterly compelling, in this particular situation alone. Give any government, any security service, any policing authority, any special interest group such as a religious organization or a political party, any prude or moralizer, any zealot of any kind, the power to shut someone else up, and they will leap at it. Hence the absolute need for stating that any restraint of free speech can only be specific,strictly limited, case-by-case, powerfully justified, one-off, utterly compelling, in this particular situation alone. A.C. Grayling

 “Hate speech” is an important matter, but here one has to be careful to note that hate speech can only justifiably be linked to aspects of people they cannot choose—sex, sexuality, ethnicity, age, and disability if any—whereas their political or religious affiliations, dress sense, voluntary sexual conduct, and the like, are and should be open season for criticism, challenge, and even mockery. Most votaries of religions attempt to smuggle “religion” into the “age, sex, disability” camp, and though it might be thought an instance of the last of these, it is not sufficiently so to merit immunity from challenge and satire. – A.C. Grayling

A particular aspect of freedom of expression that has much importance is “academic freedom.” This is the freedom of those who teach, research and study in academic institutions such as universities and colleges, to pursue enquiry without interference. The pursuit of knowledge and understanding is hampered, if not derailed altogether, by external control of what can be studied; and the silencing of teachers and researchers, especially if they make discoveries unpalatable to one or another source of authority, stands in direct opposition to the quest for truth.

It is a widely and tenaciously held view among all involved with academies of higher education in the world’s liberal democracies that freedom to teach, research and study is essential for the communication of ideas, for formulation of the criticism, dissent and innovation required for the health of a society, and for the intellectual quality of its culture. Censorship and political control over enquiry lead to the kind of consequences exemplified by the debacle of biological science in the Soviet Union which followed the attempt to conduct it on dialectical-materialist principles, concomitantly with the expulsion of “bourgeois” biologists from laboratories and universities. – A.C. Grayling

The intellectual life of Western countries happens almost exclusively outside universities; within their humanities departments jargon-laden nit-picking, the project of speculating polysyllabically more and more about matters of less and less importance, consumes time, energy and resources in a way that sometimes makes even some of its own beneficiaries, in their honest moments, gasp. – A.C. Grayling

And having said all that, I shall now retract some of the cynicism (which, experto crede, has enough justification to warrant it), and repeat the most significant of the points made above, which is this: it matters that there should be places where ideas are generated and debated, criticized, analysed and generally tossed about, some of them absurd, some of them interesting, a few of them genuinely significant. For this to happen there has to be freedom to moot radical, controversial, silly, new, unexpected thoughts, and to discuss them without restraint. Universities are one of those places; humanities departments within them make a contribution to this, and as such justify at least some of the cost they represent to society. For this academic freedom, as an instance of freedom of speech more generally, is vital. –  A.C. Grayling

Ironically, the whole point of freedom of speech, from its beginning, has been to enable people to sort things out without resorting to violence.Greg Lukianoff

Yes, a strong distinction between the expression of opinion and violence is a social construct, but it’s one of the best social constructs for peaceful coexistence, innovation and progress that’s ever been invented. Redefining the expression of opinion as violence is a formula for a chain reaction of endless violence, repression and regression. – Greg Lukianoff

Historically, freedom of speech has been justified as part of a system for resolving disputes without resort to actual violence. Acceptance of freedom of speech is a way to live with genuine conflict among points of view (which has always existed) without resorting to coercive force. – Greg Lukianoff

Being a citizen in a democratic republic is supposed to be challenging; it’s supposed to ask something of its citizens. It requires a certain minimal toughness—and commitment to self-governing—to become informed about difficult issues and to argue, organize and vote accordingly. As the Supreme Court observed in 1949, in Terminiello v. Chicago, speech “may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger.”

The only model that asks nothing of its citizens in terms of learning, autonomy and decision-making is the authoritarian one. By arguing that freedom from speech is often more important than freedom of speech, advocates unwittingly embrace the nineteenth-century (anti-)speech justification for czarist power: the idea that the Russian peasant has the best kind of freedom, the freedom from the burden of freedom itself (because it surely is a burden). – Greg Lukianoff

Freedom of speech includes small l liberal values that were once expressed in common American idioms like to each his own, everyone’s entitled to their opinion and it’s a free country. These cultural values appear in legal opinions too; as Justice Robert H. Jackson noted in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, “Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.” Greg Lukianoff

A belief in free speech means you should be slow to label someone as utterly dismissible for their opinions. Of course you can kick an asshole out of your own house, but that’s very different from kicking a person out of an open society or a public forum. – Greg Lukianoff

And I don’t just believe that cracking down on hate speech failed to decrease intolerance, I think there is solid grounds to believe that it helped increase it. After all, censorship doesn’t generally change people’s opinions, but it does make them more likely to talk only to those with whom they already agree. And what happens when people only talk to politically similar people? The well documented effect of group/political polarization takes over, and the speaker, who may have moderated her belief when exposed to dissenting opinions, becomes more radicalized in the direction of her hatred, through the power of group polarization. – Greg Lukianoff

I want to highlight one last argument very briefly: free speech is valuable, first and foremost, because, without it, there is no way to know the world as it actually is. Understanding human perceptions, even incorrect ones, is always of scientific or scholarly value, and, in a democracy, it is essential to know what people really believe. This is my “pure informational theory of freedom of speech.” To think that, without openness, we can know what people really believe is not only hubris, but magical thinking. The process of coming to knowing the world as it is is much more arduous than we usually appreciate. It starts with this: recognize that you are probably wrong about any number of things, exercise genuine curiosity about everything (including each other), and always remember that it is better to know the world as it really is—and that the process of finding that out never ends. – Greg Lukianoff

The fact the protesters were well behaved and the protests had such a huge turnout made it impossible to dismiss them as the actions of a small number of radicals or perennially disaffected farmers. It was a big swathe of grassroots New Zealand on the move. – Graham Adams

The people must be trusted with fear, and the governing class must be comfortable with leadership during times of crisis. Fear is an unpleasant emotion— but at times, a useful one. Fear lends urgency to action. Fear forces the afraid to focus on that which matters. This is the great lesson of the 2020 coronavirus: We should have been allowed to fear. Alas, our leaders feared our fear more than they feared our deaths. The world bears the consequences of this stark faith in the myth of panic. – Tanner Greer

This is the sad reality of entrepreneurship internationally, particularly around women’s health, where men go and attempt to solve a problem that doesn’t actually exist. They don’t only then get the investment dollars to make it happen, they also then have the opportunity to create and market a product in such a way that is pushes people to believe they need it.Angela Priestley

Indeed, what these founders are essentially creating is another “pink tax” — where women pay the additional cost of “feminine” marketing and colours for a product that is often already available or, worse, that they don’t need at all. – Angela Priestley

First, and most obviously, no one in NZ should be working anywhere near the international border unless they are vaccinated and wearing a mask.

Secondly, the NZ government needs to be well prepared in advance of any outbreak. That means having significant capacity in contact tracing and Covid testing before trouble strikes. It is no good trying to build that capacity during an emergency.

Thirdly, there is no future in lockdowns, closed borders, and quarantine. Citizens will grow increasingly frustrated with them and, inevitably, less compliant. Rapid and comprehensive vaccination is vital in New Zealand like everywhere else. It offers the only possible path out of the Covid-19 dilemma (including any future variants).Ross Stitt

Being well meaning is no excuse for the racial division the government is promoting with its endless excuses for maori failure and maori privilege. – Bob Jones

Meaning well is no excuse for causing harm. The government is causing enormous divisive damage to our social fabric by catering to the dying Stuff’s type maori wonderful nonsense. It will be a key reason they’re run out of office in two years time. Bob Jones

The country is now overwhelmed by a wave of economic capacity issues most of which are linked in some way to severely reduced migration and border flows. – Dileepa Fonseka

If you were a migrant and feeling angry about how things have gone since lockdown you might take a strange sort of comfort in the way inflation has spiked, job vacancy advertisements have soared, job re-training budgets have proven woefully inadequate to the task of retraining people, and employers have been unable to fill vacancies. – Dileepa Fonseka

As a rule, farmers stay beneath the radar, unseen and unheard, going about their business producing milk for our lattes and kiwifruit for our smoothies. The parade was peaceful and wonderfully managed. The awful placards that were shared on social media were not representative of the wider sentiment. – Anna Campbell 

As I reflected on the protest and pondered why the protest was important, I decided it comes down to this — respect. Farmers are in the middle of change, they know that and they are adapting. Farmers listen and take on sensible policies — we have seen this over many years — but when they are spoken to like naughty schoolchildren and treated like idiots, they react in a different manner. – Anna Campbell 

Farming is complex, there are different types of farming activities, from cropping to livestock, from horticulture to forestry. There are different landscapes — New Zealand would have some of the most varied farming landscapes in the world. With differing landscapes there are differing soils, terrains, micro-climates and waterways. Blanket policies forced down people’s throats by inflexible bureaucrats who have barely stepped on a farm, won’t lead to successful change. – Anna Campbell 

Farmers don’t want a top-down, telling-off, they want to make their communities the best places they can be and they want to make their children proud to be part of a rural community — so proud, that they want to come back and live in those communities as adults. Anna Campbell 

Farmers, keep up the amazing work that underpins our country’s economy, keep up the changes you are making, there is more support out there for you than you realise. Climate change is society’s problem and we all need to be involved in the solutions. – Anna Campbell 

“It is aimed at saying to people of goodwill that this is a project where this country has done very well – it is bipartisan project – and yes there will be tensions and everyone will get up one another’s nose on a regular basis but it is worth the effort. 

Other countries have problems; we have a project. – Chris Finlayson

As a liberal conservative, I have always had a healthy scepticism of the ability of governments to do good. –

We should not forget that our small size and unitary system can lend itself to radical and innovative solutions when required. Things can change fast. – Chris Finlayson

Young people who play sport, waka ama or kapa haka do not join gangs. – Richard Prebble

I think the further we go, the more we find that there is a real rowdy faction that are actively trying to cause division; that have agendas that perhaps aren’t in the best interest of New Zealand as a whole, and definitely not in the best interest of rural people. . . I think we are really finding out how small of a minority they are. They’re just very rowdy, that’s all. Maybe it’s time we become a little bit more rowdy ourselves. – Bryce McKenzie

Everyone agrees with the big picture direction, but these policies, regulations and legislation are coming out in random orders. It’s like there’s not a workplan behind it. – Andrew Hoggard

Maybe we’ve just been a little too polite. Maybe we need to be blunter. For the average farmer, the key point is they all want their kids to be swimming in the local rivers that run through their farms. At the end of the day we all want our farms to be better for the next generation, but we don’t want to spend all day filling in forms.Andrew Hoggard

Wine is liquid geography. And the Waitaki terroir, particularly that of Clos Ostler, is unique in the world of wine. – Jim Jeram

Herein we find the first issue that teachers will find problematic to navigate–it is not obvious that Pākehā have been intentionally manipulating society to suit themselves. There are ethnic groups in New Zealand, many who start from humble beginnings, that not only do better than Māori and Pasifika but also do better than Pākehā too. – Dr Paul Crowhurst

Yet this latest form of racism that teachers must address can’t even be seen because apparently it is so deep in our psyche that we don’t know it is there. Unconscious bias is hard to define and identify, meaning it will be very difficult to teach. And, we thought getting algebra across to kids was tricky. – Dr Paul Crowhurst

I expect that Unteaching Racism is founded on the good motive of addressing disparities in New Zealand society. However, the disparate outcomes we can see do not necessarily mean that New Zealand society is fundamentally racist or proves that there are less opportunities for some groups.

Growing up in Auckland I had much the same opportunity as a number of athletes who have grown up near me and have developed their talent to a point where they have gone to the Olympics. Alas, my athletic career has not moved past the status of keen amateur. Same opportunities, different outcome. – Dr Paul Crowhurst

Life outcomes are far more complex than the sum of opportunities that we have or haven’t received. This points towards the great elephant in our classrooms. What about the opportunities that all New Zealanders do have? What about New Zealand privilege?

The pristine environment, a comparatively accessible social welfare system, free public education, and cultural icons to be proud of like our beaches, The All Blacks and Taika Waititi movies. If there is a list of great privileges in the world, living in New Zealand should be one of them. – Dr Paul Crowhurst

As part of the current wellbeing movement we are told that gratitude is key to a happy and meaningful life. It is here that perhaps the greatest concern lies with regard to unteaching racism.

We are going to miss all that we have achieved as a nation, while descending into a state of introspection that encourages people to resent one another.Dr Paul Crowhurst

Young people in Aotearoa are living in a less segregated, more affluent, more culturally aware society than ever before.

Our teachers should be motivating our rangatahi of all cultural backgrounds by focusing on our progress and the many reasons young people of all racial groups can realise their potential in our wonderful country. – Dr Paul Crowhurst

But perhaps the biggest deal-breaker for a freedom timetable is one the Government would not admit publicly: 18 months into the crisis, this country is not yet on top of testing and enforcement to protect those living here, let alone to cope with more folk coming and going.

One of the most disillusioning let-downs of the entire pandemic is the Government – having belatedly decided all border workers must be vaccinated, as the experts have been imploring – saying it cannot muster the logistical capacity to complete that until October. The definition of “urgent” and “compulsory” must have changed while we weren’t paying attention. – Jane Clifton

A road map that starts with a ruddy great U-turn is no use to anyone. Although, to be fair, the sanctimonious would get a bloody-minded kick out of it. – Jane Clifton

Pitting sex against gender identity in sports policies has caused a collision of incompatible, competing rights. In the name of inclusion, however, international and national sports authorities and organisations are allowing transgender athletes to compete in the category that is the opposite of the sex they were born. Nobody wants to be seen as failing to play along with this notion of progressivism, nobody wants to be accused of failing to demonstrate sufficient allegiance, but nobody is stopping to think about what “inclusion” actually means.  

When males are included in the female category, what happens to the women and girls? They miss a spot on the team, they self-exclude, they are withdrawn by their parents, they are silenced if they resist, they lose out on the opportunity for prizes and scholarships and are threatened with loss of sponsorship. Inclusion really means exclusion for women and girls. – Katherine Deves

Due to their androgenised bodies, biological males have substantial and observable performance advantages that are simply insurmountable for a female of comparative age, size and training. – Katherine Deves

When boys hit mid-teens, the differences between the sexes become acute and their performances begin to surpass those of the most elite females. Allyson Felix, the fastest woman in the world, is annually beaten by 15,000 men and boys. The world champion US women’s soccer team were beaten by under-15 schoolboys 5-2, as were the Australian Matildas by under-16 schoolboys, 7-0.  

No matter how hard a female athlete trains, how many sacrifices she makes, or how naturally talented she is, a male’s physiology gives him greater speed, strength, size and stamina.  – Katherine Deves

We divide sports by age, by weight in combat sports, by size in children’s collision and contact sports, and yes, by sex, as a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of ensuring the benefits of athletic success are available within those protected categories. – Katherine Deves

Backed by mounting evidence and the rising chorus of voices that object to the mockery inclusion policies make of female sports, there is an easy answer to this problem. The female sports category must be protected for biological females, and men must start being more accepting and inclusive of gender non-conforming males instead of expecting women and girls to sacrifice the opportunity to play safely and fairly in their own sports.Katherine Deves

How is it possible that Britain’s best-selling author, a woman credited with having encouraged an entire generation of children to read more books, can be subjected to such gutter abuse and threats of murder and yet the prime minister says nothing? And the Guardian shuffles its feet? And the literary set carries on chatting about what fun last month’s Hay Festival was, pretending not to notice the thousands of people calling one of their number a disgusting old hag who should be forced to fellate strangers or, better still, murdered with a pipe bomb? It’s because ours is an era of moral cowardice. Of fainthearts and wimps. An era in which far too many who should know better have made that most craven of calculations – ‘If I keep quiet, maybe they won’t come for me’. – Brendan O’Neill

No one who believes in freedom, reason and equality can stand by and watch this happen. Watch as the reality of sex is erased by trans activists promoting the hocus-pocus view that some men have ‘female brains’. And as words like woman, mother and breastfeeding are scrubbed from official documents to avoid offending the infinitesimally small number of campaigners who think their feelings matter more than our common language. And as female writers, columnists, professors and campaigners are censored and threatened merely for discussing sex and gender. And as JK Rowling is transformed into an enemy of decency deserving full, Stalinist destruction of her reputation and her life.Brendan O’Neill

Radical leftists’ incessant branding of any woman who questions the ideology of transgenderism as a bigot or a TERF – a 21st-century word for witch – is the foundation upon which much of the more unspeakable hatred for sceptical women like Ms Rowling is built. – Brendan O’Neill

In many ways, the liberal elite’s silence over the abuse of JK Rowling is worse than the abuse itself. The hateful, threatening messages come from people who have clearly lost touch with morality, who have been so corrupted by the narcisssim of identity politics and the delusions of the transgender lobby that they have come to view those who question their worldview as trash, essentially as subhuman, and thus requiring ritualistic humiliation and excommunication from normal society. But the quiet ones in the political and literary worlds are making a greater moral error. Because they know that what is happening to Ms Rowling is wrong, and horrific, but they opt not to speak about it because they want to avoid the attention of the mob. Like the identitarian persecutors of Ms Rowling, they put their own feelings – in this case, their narrow desire for an untroubled life – above doing what is right and true.

They think this will save their skin. How wrong they are. It should be clear to everyone by now that looking the other way as woke mobs set upon wrongthinkers and speechcriminals does not dampen down these people’s feverish urge to persecute those who offend them. On the contrary, it emboldens them.  – Brendan O’Neill

The forces of unreason, illiberalism and denunciation that are now central to woke activism, and especially trans activism, cannot be countered by keeping quiet. They won’t just fade away. They have to be confronted, forcefully, with clear arguments in favour of freedom of speech, rational discussion and women’s rights. It’s the Rowling Test – will you or will you not speak out against the misogynistic persecution of JK Rowling and others who have been found guilty of thoughtcrime by the kangaroo courts of the regressive regime of wokeness? Right now, many are failing this test, miserably.  – Brendan O’Neill

It is, I’d argue, the sudden, rapid, stunning shift in the belief system of the American elites. It has sent the whole society into a profound cultural dislocation. It is, in essence, an ongoing moral panic against the specter of “white supremacy,” which is now bizarrely regarded as an accurate description of the largest, freest, most successful multiracial democracy in human history.

We all know it’s happened. The elites, increasingly sequestered within one political party and one media monoculture, educated by colleges and private schools that have become hermetically sealed against any non-left dissent, have had a “social justice reckoning” these past few years. And they have been ideologically transformed, with countless cascading consequences. – Andrew Sullivan

This is the media hub of the “social justice movement.” And the core point of that movement, its essential point, is that liberalism is no longer enough. Not just not enough, but itself a means to perpetuate “white supremacy,” designed to oppress, harm and terrorize minorities and women, and in dire need of dismantling. That’s a huge deal. And it explains a lot.

The reason “critical race theory” is a decent approximation for this new orthodoxy is that it was precisely this exasperation with liberalism’s seeming inability to end racial inequality in a generation that prompted Derrick Bell et al. to come up with the term in the first place, and Kimberlé Crenshaw to subsequently universalize it beyond race to every other possible dimension of human identity (“intersectionality”). – Andrew Sullivan

The movement is much broader than race — as anyone who is dealing with matters of sex and gender will tell you. The best moniker I’ve read to describe this mishmash of postmodern thought and therapy culture ascendant among liberal white elites is Wesley Yang’s coinage: “the successor ideology.” The “structural oppression” is white supremacy, but that can also be expressed more broadly, along Crenshaw lines: to describe a hegemony that is saturated with “anti-Blackness,” misogyny, and transphobia, in a miasma of social “cis-heteronormative patriarchal white supremacy.” And the term “successor ideology” works because it centers the fact that this ideology wishes, first and foremost, to repeal and succeed a liberal society and democracy. – Andrew Sullivan

In the successor ideology, there is no escape, no refuge, from the ongoing nightmare of oppression and violence — and you are either fighting this and “on the right side of history,” or you are against it and abetting evil. There is no neutrality. No space for skepticism. No room for debate. No space even for staying silent. (Silence, remember, is violence — perhaps the most profoundly anti-liberal slogan ever invented.)

And that tells you about the will to power behind it. Liberalism leaves you alone. The successor ideology will never let go of you. Liberalism is only concerned with your actions. The successor ideology is concerned with your mind, your psyche, and the deepest recesses of your soul. Liberalism will let you do your job, and let you keep your politics private. S.I. will force you into a struggle session as a condition for employment. – Andrew Sullivan

A plank of successor ideology, for example, is that the only and exclusive reason for racial inequality is “white supremacy.” Culture, economics, poverty, criminality, family structure: all are irrelevant, unless seen as mere emanations of white control. Even discussing these complicated factors is racist, according to Ibram X Kendi. – Andrew Sullivan

We are going through the greatest radicalization of the elites since the 1960s. This isn’t coming from the ground up. It’s being imposed ruthlessly from above, marshaled with a fusillade of constant MSM propaganda, and its victims are often the poor and the black and the brown. – Andrew Sullivan

But one reason to fight for liberalism against the successor ideology is that its extremes are quite obviously fomenting and facilitating and inspiring ever-rising fanaticism in response.- Andrew Sullivan

We can and must still fight and argue for what we believe in: a liberal democracy in a liberal society. This fight will not end if we just ignore it or allow ourselves to be intimidated by it, or join the tribal pile-ons.  – Andrew Sullivan

Change requires buy-in and it’s obvious that the opportunities that await along the road to greater sustainability haven’t been sold to those who are being asked to make the journey.

At the moment those opportunities are being obscured by rules, costs and uncertainty. – Bryan Gibson

Timing might be everything in sport, and it will be 11 years before we can say whether the Queensland capital’s rescue package for the Games will have been years ahead of the curve or embarrassingly behind it. Brisbane will either be the wide-eyed yokel who marvelled at the good fortune of being the only bidder in an empty auction house, or it will be the genius who snapped up the greatest bargain on Earth. – Malcolm Knox

What is clear is that every New Zealander will pay heavily for a gold-plated water standard, decided by government. And affordability has not even been discussed.

The governance structure has been proposed as 50% councils who have put in 100% of the assets and 50% Iwi, an unusual situation to say the least. – Bruce Smith

Where exhibitionism is a means of achievement (and for many people the only means of achievement), it is hardly surprising—indeed, it is perfectly logical—that public conduct should become ever more outlandish, for what was once outlandish becomes so commonplace that it ceases to attract notice.

And in an age of celebrity, not to be noticed is not to exist; not to be famed even within a small circle is to experience humiliation.

To have melted unseen and unnoticed into a crowd is to be a complete failure and is the worst of fates, even if by doing so one performs useful work. If Descartes were alive today, he would say not ‘I think, therefore I am’, but ‘I am famous, therefore I am’.

Celebrity has become a desideratum in itself, disconnected from any achievement that might justifiably result in it. Theodore Dalrymple

The vaccine programme – in a broader political sense – is just about the only thing that matters. It’s the ticket back to something like normality, and it is going to be the only thing that’s going to shift the dial on who can travel where, and with what level of convenience. Luke Malpass

We may be sure that this is mere Orwell-speak for: “criticism shall henceforth be conflated with incitement, and thus, criminalised.” Any dissent from the dictatorship’s Woke-Fascist agenda will be imprisonable.

Criticism of what, exactly? Well, more than anything the Woke-Fascist regime wants to criminalise criticism of Islam, whether that criticism be long and erudite or crude and succinct. Say “Islam sucks,” and you’ll go to jail. (Say “Christianity sucks” and nothing will happen at all. Ditto “Atheism sucks.” Neither should anything happen. I’m an atheist, but I defend to the death the right of any religious person to his or her beliefs, and of me to mine.) Islamic leaders were demanding this within hours of the Christchurch mosque slaughter. Liberty-lovers must continue to reserve the right to proclaim that Islam does suck, and the horror of that slaughter does not mitigate the horror of Islam. – Lindsay Perigo

This is the “social cohesion” so avidly promoted by the Royal Commission. What it really is is coerced conformity. Society will “cohere” because there’s a government gun at everybody’s head.

The zombified young (moronnials), far from being fired up in defence of freedom, have been lobotomised and brainwashed into believing that freedom is a patriarchal, capitalistic, White Supremacist ruse. The media have become the regime’s lickspittles. A sisterhood of snowflakes has overtaken Academia. Infantile “feelings” and Thunberg tantrums have supplanted logic, reason and their indispensable crucible, open and forthright debate. Fry-quacking, upward-inflecting wannabe umbragees get out of bed each day, if they get out of bed at all, just to find someone to be umbraged by; now they’ll have the satisfaction of seeing their umbrager jailed, as well as cancelled, sacked, censored, doxxed or otherwise lynched by the repulsive mindless Woke-Fascist mob on “social” media. –Lindsay Perigo

Rather than entrenching totalitarianism, let us boldly proclaim that there is indeed no such thing as a right not to be offended, and that the precept, “I disagree with what you say but defend to the death your right to say it” should permeate all social discourse and be emblazoned across the sky. – Lindsay Perigo

For monetary policy to work, the public needs to believe that the central bank is serious about controlling inflation. Cutting inflation means taking politically unpopular decisions, like raising interest rates and creating unemployment. – Damien Grant

Low interest rates and printed cash goosed an economy populated by two generations that had never seen inflation. They assumed rising prices and asset values meant they were rich. It was an illusion. Output didn’t change. Only the amount of cash chasing the same amount of goods and services did. The cost of this is now clear: inflation.

The Reserve Bank looks like an organisation in disarray. It terminated the money-printing spigot without warning. Because Orr has been so libertine when it comes to inflation, he may decide a hard money policy is needed to convince the market he’s now serious about price stability and creating unnecessary economic disruption as a consequence. – Damien Grant

A new governor with a tight inflation mandate will not have to drop the monetary hammer to convince the market they are serious about keeping inflation under control. Orr should do the honourable thing and resign. If he doesn’t, Robertson should fire him. – Damien Grant

In a nutshell, it’s essentially that we’re demonising synthetic plastic carpet fibres and obviously promoting the virtues of our beautifully homegrown wool. – Rochelle Flint

It’s quite clear that you know, Sydney isn’t immune from morons as well – David Elliott

If tens of thousands of people all over the country challenging private land rights, freshwater and taxes can only make the front page 50 per cent of the time, then we need to have a debate around how our conversations are being shaped and what priority we put on those conversations.Shane Reti

It is hard not to feel that the Government and much of the country are somehow, incredibly, asleep at the wheel. Eighteen months into a deadly pandemic, we are balanced on the edge of a precipice and yet New Zealand seems to be blissfully unaware. – Bill Ralston 

Has anyone noticed that Fortress New Zealand, our bastion against infection, has some huge holes in its crumbling walls? A stubborn number of border workers have still not been inoculated. Months have passed and the Government has been reluctant to force them to do so because of its concerns about personal freedoms. – Bill Ralston 

The Government refuses to give us a road map of how we can exit Covid-19. Why? Because it doesn’t have one and it doesn’t want to alarm us. Our politicians are sleepwalking through this crisis and we haven’t noticed. – Bill Ralston 

It must be a terrifying time for the families of police officers. It’s always been a dangerous job but the violence and unpredictability of offenders has really ramped up over the past few years. And I’m not being emotive or depending on unreliable memory when I say that – figures show the rate of gun crime increased during 2018 and 2019. We can only imagine what the stats are going to look like for this year.Kerre McIvor

On a number of occasions, during her interview on Newstalk ZB and in subsequent interviews, Williams stressed that she was representing the Māori and Pacific communities of South Auckland – they were her people.

Which would be fine if she was Minister for Pacific Peoples. Or the MP for Manurewa or Māngere. But she’s not. She’s MP for Christchurch East. Of course, her role will be informed by her experiences as a New Zealander of Cook Island descent, and as a woman and in her previous work outside government. But she can’t just pick and choose who she represents as it suits her.

First and foremost, I would have thought a police minister would have the interests of police at heart. Then New Zealanders as a whole. Not just the sectors most dear to her heart.

There must be nothing more disillusioning than hearing your minister rabbiting on about unconscious bias and systemic racism as you put on your uniform and head out to work, not knowing with 100 per cent certainty that you’ll make it home that night. – Kerre McIvor

The men and women I’ve spoken to, from chief supers to constables, somehow, magically, have kept their faith in humanity and believe they are there to serve their community. They have got our backs.

If only we, and especially their minister, offered them the same respect and protection.Kerre McIvor

Anything is tolerable if it is temporary, especially if you are living to the promise of “building back better”, but what if the pain isn’t fleeting but permanent, or what you are building isn’t better, but worse? – Dileepa Fonseka

Hastily set up systems, like the one created for managed isolation bookings, are fine if they are some sort of pit stop on the way to a new normal, but not if they are where we are supposed to end up.

Yet there is a real fear disruptive elements of the pandemic, like the chaos in international shipping, are set to become permanent fixtures.Dileepa Fonseka

Yet it is clearly going to be unconscionable to use the MIQ system for business travel while citizens in need are effectively locked out of it and families of critical workers like teachers and healthcare professions are not able to use them either.

Surely this will all be fixed soon, you say? You would hope so, but if the pandemic has taught us anything it is that we shouldn’t assume it will be fixed either. – Dileepa Fonseka

The inescapable fact of the matter is that neither Faafoi nor the Prime Minister appears well equipped intellectually to lead a debate on such a complicated and demanding topic. –  Graham Adams

And if Ardern and Faafoi can’t even offer convincing examples of what kinds of speech might or might not be deemed criminally hateful, they should count themselves extremely lucky that no interviewer has been cruel enough to ask them more challenging philosophical questions about the proposed changes.

One obvious question is why political opinion should be excluded if religious beliefs are included — which they almost certainly will be after the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the mosque murders recommended they should be and the Labour Party manifesto promised they would be.

Religions, of course, are ideologies just as political doctrines are — even if the former are rooted in the supernatural realm and the latter in the secular. Both often involve deeply held convictions about how society should be organised; followers of both systems of belief are sometimes willing to die for the cause; they often inspire loyalties that are passed within families from generation to generation; and both political and religious adherents are constantly imploring others to accept the righteousness and necessity of their views.

Furthermore, the two are often intertwined with religious beliefs that form the basis of political programmes. – Graham Adams

“Safer”? “Uncomfortable”? Neither exactly qualifies as a compelling or rigorous assessment of why political speech should or shouldn’t be included in a major overhaul of long-standing rights to freedom of expression, particularly if religious belief is.

It is hard to imagine what unholy mix of obtuseness and hubris would allow any politician to enter such a challenging intellectual arena without being armed to the teeth with sound arguments and convincing evidence to persuade voters that expanding the existing hate speech laws is an excellent idea. Graham Adams

Neither shows normal understanding of the role of legislation or the legislator: the elementary requirement for the rule of law that the citizen be able to know in advance from written rules how the law will apply to them and their actions, and are predictable in application to unexpected or novel circumstances. It shows disdain for the protection our law is supposed to provide against the temptation of all in power to make up the rules as they go.

“The deliberate use in the proposals of vague terms confers unfettered law-writing power on the courts. That shows contempt for the fundamental wisdom of our inherited tradition – to write law not for the well intentioned, but for those who will abuse it for personal and group power. – Stephen Franks

Transformation is like Rachel Hunter’s hair. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. – Jamie Mackay

Learn from Rogernomics. Be on the right side of history on this one. Take farmers with you. Be kind. Our collective provincial plea to our PM is; we want Ohakune carrot, not Wellington stick! – Jamie Mackay

Given the difficulty and errors ministers and the Prime Minister have made in trying to sell their policy, how on earth is the average citizen supposed to understand what is lawful and unlawful?Jordan Williams

The proposal to pay people according to their behavior (made possible by information technology) is a sinister extension of state power, but there is no denying that it has a certain logic.

Where people surrender their right to choose how to meet their medical needs, and hand over responsibility to the state (or for that matter, any third-party payer), it’s hardly surprising that they will before long surrender their right to choose how they behave.

If someone else pays for the consequences of your actions, it is only natural that, one day, he will demand to control your actions. After all, freedom without responsibility creates an unjust burden on others. –  Theodore Dalrymple

He’s a highly skilled professional that we desperately need and frankly we’ve treated him like rubbish. I’m sure that his view of New Zealand has been tainted and he will go somewhere else that will treat him much better – Erica Stanford

If you think the Ministry of Health doesn’t have the Covid vaccination programme under control, wait until you hear about mumps. More than a month after I first asked, the ministry has confirmed it doesn’t know how many New Zealanders are vaccinated against any of the diseases on its National Immunisation Schedule.

This includes mumps, but also chickenpox, diphtheria, haemophilus influenzae type b, hepatitis B, human papillomavirus, influenza, measles, pneumococcal disease, polio, rotavirus, rubella, shingles, tetanus and whooping cough. – Matthew Hooton

If we drive the vehicles out, we’ll drive the people out and the businesses will follow. – Alistair Broad

 


Really is a tax grab

07/07/2021

The ute tax isn’t just a tax, it’s a tax grab:

The sheer scale and cost of Labour’s ‘clean car rebate’ has been revealed today in answers to written parliamentary questions from the Act Party.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Jordan Williams said: “When this policy was first announced, we immediately labelled it a Car Tax that would have absolutely no impact on carbon emissions. However, it seems that we actually underestimated the real impact.”

“More than 100,000 New Zealand car owners could be affected by this virtue signalling tax. In addition, the Government is projected to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars more than it will pay back in rebates. There are simply not enough electric vehicles available – now and in the foreseeable future – to make this a revenue-neutral policy as the Government has suggested.”

The government has been attempting to spin the tax as a fee. Call it what they will, it is a tax, it’s broken  the no-more-taxes .promise and it will be taking far more form the people taxed than it will give back in rebates.

“Of course the elephant in the room is that this policy does nothing for the environment because transport is already covered by the Emissions Trading Scheme. That means any emissions saved by the move to electric cars are simply made available for cheaper emissions elsewhere. What is really promoting this is the tax boost to the Government coffers.”

Kiwis are encouraged to sign the official petition at www.CarTax.co.nz, which is about to click over 30,000.

Farmers and tradespeople are obvious targets for this tax but it will hit far more business and service providers.

Emergency services, country GPs and midwives, Search and Rescue, power companies and various local and central government entities including councils, the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) and Department of Conservation (DoC), need utes and SUVs for their work.

The tax might/ be a relatively small part of the total cost of buying a vehicle, but lots of small parts add up and impose more costs on businesses and service providers that either make them less profitable or have to be passed on to customers and service-users.

It would be bad enough if it was going to have a positive impact on emissions, but it won’t.  Compounding that, it will take far more than can be used for the purpose for which the government bases its justification which makes it not just a tax, but a tax grab.


Taxing poor to help rich

14/06/2021

The government has broken another promise with its policy on electric vehicles which will hurt the poor and do nothing to reduce emissions:

The proposed penalty on ‘gas guzzling’ vehicles is a painful, regressive tax, and does zip for saving overall emissions due to transport already being in the Emissions Trading Scheme points out the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.

“This is the sort of policy you implement when you want appearances to defeat reality,” says Jordan Williams a spokesman for the Taxpayers’ Union. “This policy doesn’t even lead to lower overall emissions. The Emperor has no clothes.”

Like so much else this government does – the promise sounds good but the results won’t be.

“Ministers either don’t understand the ETS or are lying about environmental benefits of this scheme.”

Transport Minister Michael Woods claims that up to 9.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions will be ‘prevented’ by 2050. But land transport is already in the ETS. That means that every emission ‘saved’ goes elsewhere under our cap-and-trade model.  It’s called the ‘waterbed effect’ and is precisely why the UN recommends against this sort of political direct intervention.

The waterbed effect is like whack-a mole – push one down here and another pops up there.

“This lack of understanding of the ETS — or deliberate greenwashing — is shocking. Ministers should be hounded by journalists for even trying to pull this line off.”

“Not only does this measure do nothing to reduce overall greenhouse gas, but it also comes at a huge cost to Labour’s traditional working-class supporters who won’t be able to afford to replace gas guzzlers.” . . 

Which is worse, not understanding the ETS or deliberate greenwashing?

The former would be incompetence the latter is lying.

Either way, the policy breaks the no-more-taxes policy, helps the rich at the expense of the poor and will not reduce emissions.

Given how much coal we’re burning to generate power could increasing EV use also increase emissions?

This tweet shows how out of touch the government is about life in the real world where farmers and trades people need bigger vehicles for their work:

The Taxpayers’ Union has launched a petition to stop the tax:

The Taxpayers’ Union is set to launch a new campaign to stop Labour’s unfair, uneconomic, and unenvironmental tax scheme on family cars and utes to fund electric vehicles and the wealthy elite for zero environmental benefit.

The campaign’s petition, at CarTax.co.nz is targeting all vehicle owners who can’t afford a Tesla, or who need a car that lasts more than a few hundred kms or larger than a Nissan Leaf.

“What makes this tax scheme so unfair is that it disproportionately impacts larger families and low-income earners for whom an electric car is a pipe dream,” says Jordan Williams, a Spokesman for the Taxpayers’ Union.

“And the electric vehicle subsidies don’t even help climate change. Because transport is already under the ‘cap and trade’ Emissions Trading Scheme, any emissions saved simply appear elsewhere. It has a huge cost, but zip economic benefit.”

“The electric car rebate system is yet another example of this Government acting contrary to the advice of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Their advice is for the politicians not to intervene in parts of the economy covered by an ETS because of the ‘waterbed effect’. This environmental virtue-signalling will add a few grand to the price of a large family car. This campaign is to call out the cost and the lack of environmental benefit.”

“The Government will be taxing utes and people-movers in Otara so National Party voters in St Heliers can get eight grand off the base model Tesla. And for not a single tonne saved in New Zealand’s greenhouse emissions. Socially, environmentally, and financially, it is wrong.”

New Zealanders are encouraged to sign the petition to stop the Car Tax at www.CarTax.co.nz


There’s a better recipe

10/06/2021

More centralised control, more regulation, more bureaucracy; higher costs, fewer farm animals; less export income, more poverty . . .

That’s the Climate Commission’s recipe.

The New Zealand Initiative has a better one:

The New Zealand Initiative calls on the Government to reject the Climate Change Commission’s recommendations and instead rely on the Emissions Trading Scheme’s cap to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

“The Climate Change Commission has based its plan on the idea that the ETS does not cap emissions,” says Dr Oliver Hartwich, Executive Director of the New Zealand Initiative. “But an ETS cap is the government’s policy and, since June of last year, it is the law.”

“Only this week, the Climate Change Minister said the government’s reforms of the ETS “put a sinking lid on emissions”,” says Dr Hartwich.

“The Commission’s plan cannot reduce emissions by a single gram since the ETS already caps emissions. You can only cap emissions once,” says Dr Hartwich.

“The Commission’s plan is based on a misunderstanding. The government should ignore the Commission’s advice.”

“The Commission says stockpiled carbon units mean the ETS cap is not fixed. But the government takes that stockpile into account when it decides how many units to auction each year. If the stockpile were not there, the government would auction more units.” The Commission’s claim is wrong.[1]

The New Zealand Initiative supports the commitment to lower emissions and the emissions targets agreed by Parliament.

“Because we support the net-zero goal, we oppose the Climate Change Commission’s plan,” says Matt Burgess, Senior Economist at the New Zealand Initiative.

“The first job of any emissions policy is to reduce emissions. Today’s plan from the Climate Change Commission does not do that.”

“The Climate Change Commission has now made two botched attempts to explain how its plan cuts emissions under an ETS,” says Mr Burgess.

“Households and businesses will unnecessarily pay many times too much to cut emissions because the Climate Change Commission refuses to reduce emissions at least cost,” says Mr Burgess.

“That puts our emissions targets at risk.”

“We can manage afforestation risks without abandoning a least cost approach,” says Mr Burgess.

“Rod Carr had one job, to deliver a credible path to our emissions targets. He has failed in that duty.”

[1] The Ministry for the Environment states auction volumes are set taking into account stockpiled units (April 2021): https://environment.govt.nz/what-government-is-doing/key-initiatives/ets/nz-ets-market/setting-unit-limits-in-the-nz-ets/

The Taxpayers’ Union  says the commission has doubled down on the most egregious and costly aspects of the plan,:

The Climate Change Commission has thrown a bone to a few sectors while doubling down on the most egregious and costly aspects of the plan,” says New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Jordan Williams in response to the release of the Commission’s final report.

The following quotes are attributable to Mr Williams:

High-cost approach: “The Commission doubles down on its decision to avoid a ‘least cost’ approach. In other words, the plan knowingly does far more damage to our economic welfare than is necessary to achieve our emissions targets.”

Obsession with ‘gross’, not ‘net’ emissions: “The Commission barely bothers to justify why it’s focused on slashing ‘gross’ emissions, and not ‘net’ emissions. Slashing gross emissions means radical and costly regulation of local sectors. Meanwhile, affordable ways to reduce net emissions, such as offshore tree-planting, are ruled out.”

Ignores the ETS: “The Commission’s own fine print once again concedes that we are already on track to meet our net zero emissions target using the Emissions Trading Scheme. This should be in the headline of every news story about the plan. If the Commissioners were worried the accuracy of the forecasts, they could have laid out a plan to strengthen the ETS. But instead they’ve used their obsession with ‘gross’ emissions to ignore these forecasts and push new regulations that won’t even reduce emissions due to the way the ETS works.”

If the Commission admits we are on track to meet the zero emissions target with the ETS why does it want to impose such high economic and social costs on us for no environmental gain?

Politicians empowered: “The Commission’s report has been welcomed by the Prime Minister and James Shaw, and it’s not hard to see why. This report urges politicians to be ‘as ambitious as possible in each sector’, and James Shaw is saying that all Ministers will have to think of themselves as Climate Change Ministers. This opens the floodgates for radical interventions at every level of our economy and lifestyles.”

Politicisation by the Commission: “The Commission was set up to ‘take the politics out of climate change mitigation’ but at every turn Rod Carr and his officials have done the opposite. He’s taken it on himself to outline what he has acknowledged are the most radical reforms of the New Zealand economy since the ’80s. Such radical plans deserve real scrutiny, but he’s even politicised that. In today’s lock-up briefings, media and independent analysts were given less than an hour to absorb a 400-page document, and while favoured media were invited, opponents of his draft plan were excluded. That’s outrageous.”

The reforms of the 80s were tough but made the country stronger.

The Commission is prescribing far stronger medicine and it will do little or nothing to treat the environment while imposing unnecessary economic and social pain.


Trampling democracy

22/02/2021

Fast forward to a future political cycle when National leads a government with Act’s support.

Neither party campaigned on radical changes to local government legislation but the government decides to make them under urgency.

It introduces a Bill that reinstates the right for residents to petition a council for a referendum on Maori wards and it goes further.

It adds a clause to allow people who own more than one property, a vote for every property whether or not they are in the same local authority area.

It then cuts the Select Committee process form its usual six months to six days and the time to lodge submissions from 20 days to just one.

Adding anti-democratic insult to authoritarian injury it advises groups it knows will support the move six days notice to prepare submissions for the Select Committee and alerts those it knows will oppose the Bill just one day before submissions are due.

Imagine the uproar that would ensue.

The Minister responsible would be pilloried by the media which would also give wide coverage to anyone who took issue with the Bill and the process.

Why then has there been hardly a ripple to the way Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta is doing exactly this:

The Government’s parliamentary process on its Bill to allow Councils to have separate Māori Wards has been a sham, National’s Local Government spokesperson and Electoral Reform spokesperson Christopher Luxon and Dr Nick Smith say.

“Electoral law is important as it determines how we are governed, yet the Government is running a sham process and giving supporters an unfair advantage through the short Select Committee process,” Dr Smith says.

“Labour cut the normal Select Committee process from six months to six days and the time for submissions to be lodged from the normal 20 days to just one day,” Mr Luxon says.

“What’s more appalling is that Councils supporting the Bill were told on Friday February 5 of the Bill’s timeline, that the Select Committee process would be exceptionally short and to prepare to lodge their submissions by February 11.

“Giving those who support the Bill six days’ notice and those opposed just one day would be called insider trading in the business world.”

“To have read the submission on the Bill in the timetable set by the Government, I would have had to read three submissions every minute with no sleep for three days,” Dr Smith says.

“Further, the Labour Chair told the Committee there was insufficient time to consider any amendments to the Bill, raising the question as to why the Government bothered with a Select Committee.”

“Labour is making a mockery of Parliament with this Bill. New Zealanders deserve a better process on the laws that determine how we are governed,” Mr Luxon says. 

The Taxpayers’ Union says the process has been so badly screwed the Bill should be referred back to the Select Committee:

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is condemning Local Government Minister Nanaia Muhata’s decision to give local councils supporting her Māori wards legislation advance notice of the short submission process.

This decision was revealed by National MP Dr Nick Smith during Question Time this week.

Union spokesman Jordan Williams says, “The Minister gave her allies a five-day head start to prepare submissions on the Bill to entrench Maori wards. Meanwhile, members of the general public were given just one day’s notice to prepare for the disgracefully short two-day submission window.”

“The Minister knew perfectly well what she was doing. The decision to warn her mates before blindsiding the general public can only be read as a cynical attempt to manipulate the consultation process and limit the contributions of New Zealanders opposed to the Bill.”

“The Taxpayers’ Union has 60,000 subscribed supporters, thousands of whom would have likely produced personalised submissions on the legislation, had they been given the time. Instead, these voices were effectively silenced while the Bill’s allies were able to spend six days writing screeds for the select committee.”

“If a National Government did a favour like this for corporate special interests, Labour would rightly be up in arms.”

“This is a complete betrayal of the promise of open and transparent government. It shows a complete disrespect for not just the public, but Parliament as an institution. It undermines trust in the Select Committee process and justifies the Speaker stepping in so that public submissions are reopened.”

Local body elections are nearly two years away. There is plenty of time to go through the proper process of consultation.

That her government has a majority is even more reason to follow correct processes.

By using urgency, truncating the submission process and giving her allies nearly a week more to prepare than the Bill’s opponents, the Minister is trampling all over democracy and opening herself, and her government, up to accusations of acting like a dictatorship.

 


Separate wards not needed

05/02/2021

The government’s move to rush through legislation cancelling the right to a referendum on the establishment of Maori wards on local councils is based on a big lie:

The Government is planning to rush through Parliament under urgency retrospective legislation that will cancel nine local referendums on whether or not to establish a Maori Ward in nine local authorities. This will disenfranchise several hundred thousand New Zealanders.

They effectively argue that it is vital to have Maori wards, because without them, racist New Zealanders will not vote for Maori and they will be under-represented in local Government. Nanaia Mahuta said that “Increasing Māori representation is essential to ensuring equity in representation”. This implies that there is a huge under-representation. . .

If you click on the link above you’ll get to Kiwiblog where a graph shows a positive trend with the proportion of local government elected officials who are Maori tripling from 4.2% in 2004  to 13.5% now .

That is only fractionally less than the percentage of Maori in the population.

These people will have stood for a variety of reasons and on a variety of platforms. People will have voted for them for a variety of reasons, which might include their ethnicity.

Why they stood, on which platforms and why people voted for them is irrelevant. What matters is that they were free to stand, did so and succeeded without the assistance of government patronage.

Why then is the government rushing through legislation to cancel nine local referendums on whether or not to establish a Maori Ward in nine local authorities, disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of residents in the process?

The Taxpayers’ Union has the answer to that question:

The Taxpayers’ Union has launched a nationwide petition against Labour’s plan to entrench Māori wards for local councils.

Union spokesman Jordan Williams says, “Nanaia Mahuta’s legislation has nothing to do with equity or justice. It is quite simply an attempt to dominate local politics, guaranteeing more councils will be controlled by Labour-aligned councillors. These councillors will consistently vote for higher rates to fund the pet projects that Labour supports.”
 
“It has been a long tradition that electors can vote on, and veto, fundamental changes to local voting systems. For example, voters get to approve any change from an FPP voting system to an STV one. Labour now plans to disenfranchise voters, overturning convention in order to privilege its local candidates and allies.”
 
“Labour knows perfectly well that new Māori ward candidates will disproportionately come from the political Left. That’s already true for Māori electorate seats and in existing Māori wards and statutory boards.”
 
“In short, the Government is ramming a law change through Parliament under urgency to cancel referenda because they think people will vote the wrong way. It’s a disgraceful hijacking of local democracy that we must oppose with all our strength. We’re calling on ratepayers across the country to add their names to the cause.”

If you oppose the government’s plan to hijack local democracy by ramming a law change through Parliament under urgency to cancel referenda because they think people will vote the wrong way you can sign the petition here.


Is freedom of speech under threat in New Zealand?

12/09/2020

Don Brash was invited to speak at Victoria University by the Shalom Students Association.

In an email from the Freee Speech Colation Jordan Williams says:

Last night Don Brash gave his speech to a handful of people at Victoria University.  I say a handful because the University limited those who could be in the room to just ten!

Other events are the University are fine with much larger numbers.  But for some reason COVID is much more a concern when it is Don Brash, or when his speech is about free speech…

The Free Speech Coalition thought it deserved a wider audience.

Here it is:

IS FREEDOM OF SPEECH UNDER THREAT IN NEW ZEALAND?

On the face of it, that’s a silly question.  In New Zealand, freedom of speech is enshrined as one of our fundamental rights in the Bill of Rights Act of 1990.  Section 14 of that law, headed “Freedom of expression”, notes that “everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form.”

That sounds pretty unambiguous.  But as you probably know that piece of law is qualified by another, namely Section 61 of the Human Rights Act of 1993, which states:

“It shall be unlawful for any person –

    • to publish or distribute written matter which is threatening, abusive, or insulting, or to broadcast by means of radio or television or other electronic communication words which are threatening, abusive, or insulting; or
    • to use in any public place…, or within the hearing of persons in any such public place, or at any meeting to which the public are invited or have access, words which are threatening, abusive or insulting.”

By comparison with a great many other countries, New Zealand stacks up pretty well.

In most Muslim-majority countries, for example, there are laws which make it a criminal offence to speak ill of Islam, or to make an attempt to convert people from Islam.   Laws against blasphemy – speaking ill of Islam – can get you killed in Pakistan.   Even suggesting that Muslims are free to vote for a non-Muslim as Governor of Jakarta can get you jailed in Indonesia, as the former Governor of Jakarta discovered to his cost.

A couple of years ago, a Turkish writer who had been invited to give three lectures in supposedly modern Malaysia was detained and forced by the religious affairs authority in that country to abandon his third lecture.  His crime: arguing that Islam should never use coercion either to win converts or to keep those who are already Muslim in order.

Nor is it only Muslim-majority countries which seek to suppress free speech in the name of religion.  Since 2013, insulting the feelings of religious believers has been a criminal offence in Russia.

In many countries, anti-defamation laws are used to control political opponents.

Thailand, for example, prohibits even the slightest criticism of its king, who is believed to be semi-divine.  Anyone who “defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir-apparent or the regent” can be imprisoned for up to 15 years.  The government which seized power in 2014 has charged scores of people with lese-majeste, and a great many more for violating an order forbidding public discussion of a proposed referendum. 

Even in ultra-modern Singapore, government officials have sued and bankrupted critics for statements that politicians in many other places would have disputed, laughed off or simply ignored.

In the United States, the first amendment to the constitution appears to provide a strong guarantee of freedom of speech.

But in recent times we’ve seen increasingly aggressive attempts to shut down free speech, perhaps especially at US universities. 

In early 2014, Brandeis University, one of America’s leading universities, revoked its invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali to receive an honorary degree at its commencement ceremony.  Protestors had accused her – a strong advocate for the rights of women and children, especially in the Middle East – of being “Islamophobic”.

Three years later, in 2017, there was the celebrated case when Charles Murray was unable to speak at Middlebury College, with the female host of his lecture suffering injury as she tried to extract him from the melee of rowdy students.  And Charles Murray’s offence?  Though he is an anti-Trump Republican, and the author of such notable works as Human Accomplishment and Coming Apart, he is still blamed for what is seen as an unforgivable sin, namely suggesting in a book he co-wrote with Richard Herrnstein more than 20 years ago that some races might be slightly brighter, on average, than other races.

The same year, Berkeley’s KPFA Radio cancelled a planned interview with Richard Dawkins.  The interview had been planned to discuss Dawkins’ book The Selfish Gene, which had been named the most influential science book of all time by the Royal Society a week earlier.  The interview was cancelled because of Dawkins’ alleged attacks on Islam – which Dawkins strenuously denied.

And the intolerance has spread beyond the universities.  There was, for example, strong opposition from some members of the orchestra when conservative commentator Dennis Prager was invited to conduct the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra.  Prager was on record as favouring the adoption of a child to a married man and a woman, in preference to a single person or to a same-sex couple; and as noting that, if there is no God, ethics are subjective.  Happily, the orchestra held fast, and Prager conducted the orchestra.

Even more happily, in the last few years there has been a strong push-back against these attacks on free speech.  The University of Chicago has issued a firm statement, since adopted or endorsed by more than 30 other colleges and universities, including Princeton, Johns Hopkins and Purdue, which states that its role is not “to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive”.  

A letter sent to the incoming class went further: “we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings’, we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’”.

Well, what of New Zealand?  The debate about what should be allowed has been well and truly joined in the last few years.

In 2016, there were two speeches which triggered complaints to the Human Rights Commission.

One was by Muslim cleric Shaykh Mohammad Anwar Sahib, at the time the secretary of the Ulama Council of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand.  In his speech, he said that “Jews are using everybody because their protocol is to rule the entire world.”  He went on to say that “Jews are the enemy of the Muslim community”, and made offensive remarks about women.  Then Ethnic Communities Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga responded quickly, reminding everybody that hate speech is prohibited in New Zealand under Section 61 of the Human Rights Act.

The second speech was by self-proclaimed Bishop Brian Tamaki.  Quoting the Book of Leviticus, he stated that the Bible made it clear that gays, sinners and murderers were responsible for the recent earthquakes.

Perhaps it was these speeches, perhaps it was recent developments at US universities, or perhaps it was the reaction to the suggestion that there should be a club for “Europeans” at Auckland University, but something provoked Professor Paul Moon, History professor at AUT, to launch his petition in defence of free speech early the following year.

It was a relatively short petition, but made some essential points:

“Freedom of speech underpins our way of life in New Zealand as a liberal democracy.  It enables religious observance, individual development, societal change, science, reason and progress in all spheres of life.  In particular, the free exchange of ideas is a cornerstone of academe…

“Individuals, not any institution or group, should make their own judgments about ideas and should express these judgments not by seeking to suppress speech, but by openly and vigorously contesting the ideas they oppose, without discrimination or intimidation.

“We must ensure that our higher learning establishments are places where intellectual rigour prevails over emotional blackmail and where academic freedom, built on free expression, is maintained and protected.  We must fight for each other’s right to express opinions, even if we do not agree with them.”

Voltaire’s famous line comes to mind: “I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.”

In short order, Professor Moon got 27 well-known New Zealanders to sign the petition – New Zealanders as diverse as Tariana Turia and Don Brash!

But in some respects things have gone backwards since that time.

In April 2018, physicist and retired historian Bruce Moon was invited to give a speech by the Nelson Institute, in the Nelson public library.  He chose to speak about the “fake history” which is too often being used to reinterpret the Treaty of Waitangi.  Shortly before he was due to speak, the Nelson library cancelled the booking on spurious “health and safety” grounds.

In the middle of 2018, two so-called alt-right Canadian speakers were prevented from speaking at venues owned by Auckland Council on grounds which Auckland mayor Phil Goff argued at the time related to what they might say (though Auckland Council had had no problem in allowing Kim Dotcom, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden to use the Town Hall a year earlier).

That prompted Jan Thomas, the Vice Chancellor of Massey University, to pen an op-ed for the New Zealand Herald in July that year asserting that “the right to speak freely is a bedrock principle of democratic society.  This includes the right to hold opinions and express one’s views without fear and the ability to freely communicate one’s ideas.  History is littered with examples of tyrants who have sought to stymie this freedom of expression and, conversely, reveals the tragedy of those whose voices have been silenced under such oppression.”

But she went on to argue that “freedom of expression is one thing, hate speech is another”, endorsing Auckland Council’s decision to ban the two Canadians from speaking at a Council-owned venue.

And the following month she banned me from speaking on the Massey Palmerston North campus, ostensibly on security grounds but actually because she thought that in talking about my time as the Leader of the National Party I might chance to say something that might offend some of her staff.  It was an outrageous ban, and when her emails were released under the Official Information Act, it was quite clear that she had lied in claiming I had been banned on security grounds.  She should have resigned, or been fired.

In March last year, New Zealand saw the tragedy of 51 Muslims killed, and many more injured, by a man who clearly hated Islam with a passion and who saw it as his duty to kill as many Muslims as he could.  No sane person could condone such an atrocity and the perpetrator has rightly been sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole.

But the event has prompted serious discussion about whether New Zealand needs laws prohibiting so-called hate speech, with both Attorney General David Parker and Justice Minister Andrew Little talking publicly about the need for laws to criminalise hate speech.  The Human Rights Commissioner has also called for such laws.

But it’s a hugely tricky area, and perhaps that explains why we haven’t yet seen any draft legislation which would restrict hate speech. 

What does “hate speech” actually mean?  Nobody defends the right for people to urge violence against persons or property of course.  But beyond that opinions will differ.

Should Israel Folau be allowed to point out that the Old Testament says that gays will go to hell after they die unless they repent of their homosexuality?  I would argue “yes”.

Should Muslims be allowed to argue that gays, adulterers, and those who abandon Islam should be killed, thus implicitly condoning murder?  I would argue “no”.

But those are, at least to me, relatively straightforward cases.  There are many other areas where societal attitudes are effectively shutting down discussion or debate, with mainstream media simply refusing to entertain debate in areas where views differ strongly.

For example, it is judged to be too insensitive, or too judgmental, to suggest that the children brought up by their two natural parents are likely to have a much better start in life than those brought up in single-parent families, or in families where the adult male changes at irregular intervals.

It is regarded as quite inappropriate to recommend that adoption be regarded as an alternative to either abortion or single parenthood.

It is regarded as verging on treason to question whether human-induced climate change is really the most serious challenge facing humanity, despite the contrary views of people as different as Canadian Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace, and Matt Ridley, a well-known British science writer.

It is regarded as far too judgmental to suggest that some cultures are superior to, or more advanced than, others.

It is regarded as quite inappropriate to publicly question the wisdom of allowing as immigrants people who believe that adulterers should be stoned to death. 

And you dare not suggest that the Enlightenment civilization brought to New Zealand by the early British settlers was significantly more advanced than the Maori culture of the early nineteenth century, even though early nineteenth century Maori had no written language, had not yet invented the wheel, and were still practising cannibalism.

You may not even question the proposition that Maori are indigenous, even though Maori themselves talk about Maori arriving by canoe from a distant place within the last 1,000 years, vastly more recently than humans arrived in North America some 15,000 years ago, or in Australia more than 50,000 years ago.

It is regarded as racist to suggest that all New Zealanders should have equal political rights, despite that being the clear meaning of Article III of the Treaty of Waitangi and the only basis for a peaceful society in the long-term.

And the mainstream media censor any who would argue that case.  As you may know, Casey Costello and I are the two spokespeople for the Hobson’s Pledge Trust, an organisation committed to advancing equal citizenship in New Zealand.  We get almost no media coverage, despite issuing umpteen press statements, and when we do get media coverage most of it is focused on me: I can be caricatured as an elderly white male racist.  Casey can’t be: she is a young woman of Ngapuhi and Anglo-Irish ancestry, so doesn’t fit the need to describe Hobson’s Pledge as a male, white, organisation.

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article about the way in which affirmative action in favour of Malays had damaged most Malays, based on an article from the well-respected British weekly The Economist.  I noted the parallels with New Zealand.  I submitted the article in turn to the Sunday Star Times, the Herald on Sunday, the Otago Daily Times, and the Listener.  All declined to publish it.

Hobson’s Pledge is routinely described by our critics as “racist”, which surely is a totally Orwellian use of the word.  It is those who argue for preferential rights for some based on their race who are, of course, the real racists.

As long ago as 2017, well-known writer and former editor of the Dominion-Post Karl du Fresne noted that then Police Commissioner Mike Bush had talked to the Human Rights Commission about the possible need for a law prohibiting “hate speech”.  Mr du Fresne commented:

“A hate speech law would mark a radical and dangerous extension of existing police powers: from protecting people and property against clearly identifiable threats, such as assault and theft, to making value judgments about whether a citizen has crossed the blurry line between fair comment and something much darker.

“Such a law would be welcomed by activist minority groups which want the state to protect them from any comment they see as hurtful or oppressive.  But freedom of speech is far too precious in a democracy to be undermined by subjective judgments from police officers about what constitutes incitement to “hate” as opposed to a robust expression of legitimate opinion.”

OK, but what would I do with the speech by the Muslim cleric?  Given the long and appallingly negative effects of anti-Semitism, for me it’s a line call. But on balance I think I would allow it, as long as I am allowed to argue publicly that people who hold such misogynist and anti-Jewish views should not be allowed to become permanent residents or citizens of New Zealand.

And the speech by Brian Tamaki?  Again I would allow such speech, as long as I am free to note that the guy is a nutter, and that the Book of Leviticus also bans the eating of meat containing blood and the wearing of any garments made of two types of fibre.  No rational person takes such strictures as relevant today.

I don’t know whether I am optimistic or pessimistic about the future of free speech.  A very noisy number of New Zealanders – who unfortunately control at least the taxpayer-funded media in New Zealand, and the editorial policy of our two major newspaper chains – have a narrow view of what can be shared with the wider public.

On the other hand, when the Auckland Council banned the two Canadians from speaking in Council-owned facilities back in 2018 a very diverse range of New Zealanders – from Chris Trotter on the left to Lindsay Perigo on the right – quickly formed the Free Speech Coalition, and raised money to take the Auckland Council to court arguing that banning the Canadians was quite contrary to the Council’s obligation to Auckland citizens.

And after I was banned by the Massey Vice-Chancellor I was phoned by a former Parliamentary colleague – a member of the Alliance Party no less – who told me that while he and I differed on almost every policy issue, we were at one on the importance of free speech.

A podcast of the speech and the Q&A that followed it is here.


Just wondering

03/09/2020

Just wondering:

Why did James Shaw decide the Taranaki Green School was of sufficient merit to prompt him to issue an ultimatum?

. . .Newshub has obtained an email that went to Government ministers and the Treasury from Shaw’s office and it included a stark ultimatum.

“Minister Shaw won’t sign this briefing until the Green School in Taranaki is incorporated.”

The email said Shaw discussed the ultimatum with the Education Minister. 

“Minister Shaw has also discussed this one with Minister Hipkins.

“Sorry to be the spanner-in-the-works, but if we can get the project included, he’ll sign everything this afternoon,” the email said. . . 

Just wondering:

After all the dead rats he and his party have had to swallow in contravention of their policy in the last three years, why on earth would he make such a strong stand over  this?

Just wondering:

Who leaked the email, and why?

Just wondering:

Why did the other Ministers give in to the greenmail?

Just wondering:

What does it say about a party leader who didn’t remember his party’s policy against all state funding of private schools and what else has he forgotten about his party policy?

Just wondering:

If he’ll read this from the Villa Education Trust:

There are more reasons for dismay than immediately strike home with the Green School $11.7million debacle.

Plenty has already been said about the “greenmailing” of James Shaw over signing off on the rest of the $3 billion. The hypocrisy of the move. The passing the buck by the Minister of Finance and Minister of Education. Etc. We then had Chris Hipkins – Minister of Health, Education, State Services and Leader of the House – reverting to nonsense around Charter Schools and stating that at least the Green School kids won’t be learning in shipping containers.

The first missed point of despair is that the entire response to this spend from the perspective of other schools has been around property. One question you can always ask the Boards of dilapidated schools is how have managed their maintenance budget over the last 12 years. If they are honest you will get a range of answers. The second point is that our genuine crisis in education is student achievement and it is not highly correlated to the buildings they learn in (within reason of course). We have gone educationally insane of we think that flash buildings with close the MASSIVE U.E. gaps for Maori and Pasifika (compared to Asian and European) and reverse the decline against international measures. The NCEA results have already started to slide after 2 years under Labour. With the amount of absenteeism currently happening and the level of online engagement for many this year’s results could be a massive disaster for marginalised groups. However – educators are prepared to make a spectacle of themselves for spouting and a dab of paint.

What’s more important, flash buildings or student achievement?

The injustice our Villa Education Trust feels is around a second hidden effect. In the Learning Support Action Plan 2019-2025, Minister Hipkins acknowledged “one in five children and young people need some kind of extra support for their learning. This might be because of disability, learning difficulties, disadvantage, physical or mental health or behaviour issues” and “New Zealanders want an education system where all children and young people can take part in education and can learn and achieve, whatever their needs.”

In the Plan, Minister Hipkins goes on to say “This Government has a vision for an inclusive education system where every child feels a sense of belonging, is present, makes progress, where their wellbeing is safeguarded and promoted, where learning is a lifelong journey, and where children and young people with learning support needs get the right support at the right time.”

During 2019 we took the Minister at his word – as we are – according to all external reviews (e.g. “In summary we find and conclude that in both schools, the management and staff are actively involved in continuous development, and the delivery, of a unique programme of teaching and learning which is based on a comprehensive ‘local’ curriculum that is aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum, and which provides for the personalised needs of priority learners ‘many of whom have been failed by the current education system” Cognition Education) Hence we proposed to close our small private school and open a non-zoned, 240 student State Designated Character School, near a transport hub for a wide range of Auckland families to access. The Prime Minister had told the country she wanted more options like this and the “work was being done.”

Our school community has been exceptionally poorly treated by Ministry through a process that, so far, resulted on July 7th with Hipkins saying “no” with him blaming his officials and his officials blaming him.

So – while 25 students benefit by $11.7 million at The Green School … 240 students per year with diverse needs will miss out. To rub salt in Minister Hipkins publicly mocked our efforts in the House yesterday. Class, kindness and compassion.

This whole debacle illustrates the problem with politician’s making individual funding decisions:

The Taxpayers’ Union is calling for the abandonment of grant decision making by politicians and Cabinet committees, and a return to the tradition of these being made by officials using objective and transparent criteria.

The following can be attributed to Jordan Williams, a Spokesman for the Taxpayers’ Union:

“The spectacle of politicians horse-trading individual funding decisions is something we expect to see in smoke-filled rooms of yesteryear, not a modern day New Zealand with a reputation of being corruption-free.”

“The Provincial Growth Find, and now the COVID ‘shovel ready’ fund, are normalising a process of decision making that rewards companies which are politically connected. It is a dangerous path.”

“Steven Joyce reintroduced the sort of corporate welfare largess not seen in New Zealand since the Muldoon Government. But instead of fixing the problem, the current Government has doubled down and we have now returned to politicians making funding decisions for individual projects and pet causes.”

“Enough is enough. Now we are seeing the warts and all flaws in the process, New Zealand should return to a transparent process of the politician’s job being limited to setting criteria and objectives, and leaving it to officials to make the individual grant decisions.”

There is a case for Ministers to have a role when decisions are finely balanced.

This wasn’t.

Treasury opposed the grant:

The Treasury advice to Shaw and the others ministers who signed off on hundreds of projects for infrastructure investment says the Green School does not have “full private school registration” and would be unlikely to get that until mid 2021.

“We believe it would be inappropriate to announce or provide government funding for a project that does not yet have the necessary education approvals,” the advice says.

Furthermore, it says even if it had the “necessary” approvals, “we do not recommend funding for this school”.

Treasury also objected to the project being overseen by the Provincial Development Unit saying it was not the “appropriate agency for this school”. . . 

Shaw has accepted responsibility for the debacle but whoever gave into his greenmail is just as culpable.

This isn’t just a waste of money, it’s also a poor reflection on the whole government  its processes and priorities:

The murky brinksmanship revealed in the decisions to fund the Green School suggest the $3 billion shovel ready fund is operating like a slush fund by the Government, National’s Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“Grant Robertson needs to come clean about the deals being done between Ministers. How is it that one Minister could hold up shovel ready projects unless the Green School was signed off?

“It’s clear the Government doesn’t have its priorities in order. These projects are supposed to be about investing in infrastructure to create jobs and grow our economy.

“But the impression left is that the shovel ready fund is operating as yet another $3 billion slush fund with different projects carved out by Government parties for their political wins.

“No matter how hard he tries, Grant Robertson cannot wipe his hands of this decision. He is the Minister of Finance, it is his job to make sure every taxpayer dollar is spent wisely. Instead he signed off on a private school receiving millions of taxpayer dollars.

“With the scale of debt-fuelled Government spending right now, it is more important than ever that the Government demonstrates to New Zealanders that decisions are made on the basis of need and effectiveness rather than ‘wins’ for different Government parties.

“The whole episode makes a mockery of the Prime Minister’s claim there is no politics in Covid.

“The Government can’t claim ignorance, Treasury told it not to give any funding to the Green School because it didn’t have the full education approvals needed for a private school.

“Grant Robertson needs to front up and explain exactly what happened and why he’s allowing himself to be held to ransom by his own Associate Minister of Finance.”

Just wondering:

Does Grant Robertson need reminding of his own words: that every dollar the government pays out is being borrowed?

Just wondering:

What were the merits of the ‘shovel ready’ projects that were put forward for grants and missed out?

It would be difficult to believe that at least some didn’t have a much better cost-benefit ratio than this one.


No indexation = tax increase

11/08/2020

Labour’s wrong on tax – again:

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is slamming the claim by Labour Party finance spokesman Grant Robertson that the National Party’s policy to index tax brackets to inflation is a “tax cut”.

Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says, “It’s dishonest to frame indexation – adjusting income tax thresholds to inflation – as a ‘tax cut’, like Mr Robertson did today.”

“Adjusting tax brackets so that people are not artificially pushed into paying higher marginal tax rates isn’t cutting tax. By definition, it’s keeping the rate of tax paid the same.”

“Mr Robertson is trying to cloud the issue so he’s not held to account for the dishonest way he, and successive Ministers of Finance, have increased tax by stealth through wage inflation. It’s a shame he is choosing to be so misleading about tax at a time many households are facing fiscal crisis.”

Adjusting tax thresholds to account for inflation is not a tax cut but failing to do so pushes people into a higher bracket  and subjects them to paying more which is in effect a tax increase.

Given Labour’s big spending plan with borrowed money is not matched by plans to reduce spending anywhere, encourage growth nor to repay the debt it will almost certainly increase some taxes.

Even if it does nothing more, by refusing to index brackets to inflation it will be increasing tax for everyone who is pushed into a higher threshold.


Reds’ policy path to poverty

29/06/2020

The Reds have announced an $8 billion tax grab:

The Green Party have unveiled a sweeping new welfare policy that would guarantee a weekly income of at least $325, paid for by a wealth tax on millionaires and two new income tax brackets on high-earners. . . 

The $325 after-tax payment would be paid to every adult not in fulltime paid work – including students, part-time workers, and the unemployed. The student allowance and Jobseekers benefit would be replaced. . . 

It would be topped up by $110 for sole parents, and the current best start payment would be expanded from $60 per child to $100 per child, and made universal for children up to three instead of two.

This guaranteed minimum income plan would cost $7.9b a year – roughly half what is spent on NZ Super, but almost twice what is spent on current working age benefits.

Paying for all this would be a wealth tax of one per cent on net wealth of over $1 million and two per cent for assets over $2 million. The party expects this would hit only the wealthiest 6 per cent of Kiwis.

This would take the form of an annual payment and would only apply to those who owned those assets outright – not someone who still had a mortgage on their million-dollar home, for example.

That looks like everyone could avoid the tax by never paying off their mortgage, but the party wouldn’t be that stupid, would it?

Any party that thinks up this sort of economic vandalism could be.

The Taxpayers’ Union is slamming the Green Party’s proposed wealth tax as bureaucratic economic vandalism that would hammer job creators.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesperson Jordan Williams says, “The proposed wealth tax would mean the return of the dreaded compulsory asset valuations that made a capital gains tax so unpopular. A bureaucratic valuation scheme would incentivise people to hide their wealth, or shift it offshore. It would be a dream for tax accountants but hell for small business owners.”

“The policy also appears not to differentiate between asset types.  It would tax entrepreneurs creating jobs the same as someone sitting on an art collection. Ultimately it would cost jobs at the very time New Zealanders need entrepreneurs to create them.”

“Wealthy iwi groups sitting on often unproductive land would also be smashed under this scheme.  It’s bumper sticker type policy which is poorly thought through.”

“Any party that says you should raise taxes in the middle of a recession is divorced from reality. It is scary that all the work James Shaw has done to try and make the Greens more economically credible appears to be for nothing.”

Commenting specifically on the Green Party’s income support policy, Mr Williams says, “Under the Greens’ policy, a family of five with both parents on the dole would receive $1180 a week in taxpayer funds, assuming one of the kids is younger than three. That goes beyond generosity: it is using taxpayer funds to encourage long-term unemployment. Combined with the policies to tax job creators, this package would take a sledgehammer to New Zealand’s productivity.”

There’s no good time to increase taxes and a recession is an even worse time.

Recovery from the economic carnage wrought by the Covid-19 response requires investment, expansion and increased employment opportunities.

This policy will be a handbrake on all of those and an accelerator for benefit dependency which is a pathway to increased poverty.

This policy is typical of a party that’s more red than green and doesn’t understand that a greener country has to be well and truly in the black and you don’t there by taxing more.

New Zealanders gained a glimpse today of what a Labour Greens government would look like, and it involves a lot more taxes, National’s Finance spokesperson, Paul Goldsmith, said today. . . 

At a time when we need our successful small business people to invest and create more jobs, the Greens want to tax them more.

Rather than celebrating Kiwis doing well, the Greens seem to want to punish them.

The Greens never have the influence to get their way entirely, but they would push a Labour Greens coalition in the direction of higher taxes.

Labour have so far refused to rule out taxing people more if they win the election.

The very real fear many New Zealanders have is that this current government, which has $20 billion available for election spending, will spend whatever it takes to try to keep its poll numbers up until the 19 September election.

Then on the 20th, if they win, the smiles will drop and New Zealanders will be presented with the bill – higher taxes.

National has committed to no new taxes for Kiwis in our first term.

While the economy is going down, the Greens want to tax us more, and Labour haven’t ruled out doing the same.

That’s another very good reason to vote for a National/Act government that will focus on policies which foster the economic growth necessary to provide a pathway for progress.


Curate’s egg package

18/03/2020

The key parts of the Covid-19 coronavirus economic package are:

Extra spending of $12.1 billion for businesses, beneficiaries, pensioners and the health system.
• $8.7 billion in support for businesses and jobs.
• $2.8 billion for incomes support.
• $500 million for health.
• Wage subsidy for employers up to 12 weeks and up to $150,000 if they have suffered a 30 per cent decline in revenue compared to last year, $585 a week for full-timers, $350 a week for part-timers, available to all employers and self-employed.
• Leave and self-isolation support for eight weeks people with Covid-19, caring for people with it or people in self-isolation up to eight weeks at same rates as wage subsidy but not for those who can work from home.
• Self-isolation payments not available to people who leave NZ after March 16 and return.
• Permanent increase of $25 a week in main social welfare benefits after increases from indexation on April 1, likely to affect 350,000 low income families.
• One-off doubling of winter energy payment to $1400 for couples and $900 for singles, likely to affect 850,000 people.
• Families with children not receiving a main benefit but are in work will no longer have to satisfy the work test of 20 hours a week for sole parents or 30 hours for couples, likely to benefit about 19,000 low-income families.
• $50 million extra for GP and primary care and $20 million for videoconferencing consultations.
• $32 million for extra intensive care capacity and equipment in hospitals.
• $40 million for public health units mainly for contact tracing.
• $100 million set aside to support work deployment.
• Provisional tax threshold will lift from April 1 from $2500 to $5000 allowing an estimated 95,000 business to defer tax payments and possible waiving of interest on late payments.
• Reinstatement of depreciation deductions for commercial and industrial buildings at an estimated cost of $2.1 billion to 2024.

This is, like the curate’s egg, good in parts:

The boost in health funding, assistance for business and payment for leave for self-isolation and sickness are welcome.

However, the wage subsidies only apply to businesses with 20 or fewer staff. Businesses with more than that are still vulnerable. Jobs, and those businesses themselves are at risk.

The risks are greater because the government mandated increase to the minimum wage is till going ahead.

And what’s what’s the rationale for permanent increases in benefit payments?

There is a case for a temporary increase but if a permanent increase has nothing to do with covid-19 and should have been left for the Budget.

As Jordan Williams from the Taxpayers’ Unions says:

. . .“However, it’s disingenuous for the Government to use this crisis as an excuse to make a permanent increases in benefit rates, which are automatically ratcheted up for wages and inflation. This looks like ideological opportunism at a time when no one knows whether higher benefits will be affordable in years to come.”

“We’re open to increasing benefits for duration of the pandemic, but it’s not an excuse for locking it in. For context, the cost of the benefit hike is around $2.3 billion – almost five times as much as the boost to the health system. Every extra dollar means less for the productive sector and frontline health services.”

What would do more good – more than $2 billion for health or the increase in benefits?

Three more cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed.

So far none of the cases has been fatal and none has required prolonged hospital care.

But that may not last and equipping the health system should be the priority.

The $500m is welcome but it may only be the start of what is needed.

 

 

 


Taxpayer funded competing with taxpayers

05/03/2020

Taxpayer-funded RNZ is running an advertising campaign which doesn’t tell the whole truth:

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is slamming Radio New Zealand’s use of taxpayer money for misleading advertising suggesting New Zealanders do not have to pay for its content, unlike other media organisations.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Jordan Williams says, “The idea that we don’t pay for RNZ is ridiculous. Unlike other media organisations, all New Zealanders are forced to pay for RNZ.”

“Private platforms also present a much more diverse range of views and perspectives.”

“In addition to being dishonest, RNZ’s advertising is an underarm bowl to those private media organisations, many of which are kneecapped by the state subsides for RNZ and TVNZ.”

Example of RNZ online advertising:

 

We’re all paying for that premium content through our taxes whether or not we listen to it.

Galling as these advertisements are to taxpayers, they’re worse still for those with which the state broadcaster competes:

 Stuff recently campaigned on the value of journalism.

Billboards, bus backs, paid social posts – it was everywhere. RNZ drove its message so hard it even featured in a digital display in Stuff’s own lobby. Trolling maybe?

The message was right, but only in part. RNZ doesn’t run ads. RNZ doesn’t have paid subscriptions for its content.

This, though, is only because it doesn’t need to.

You already pay for its content through your taxes, so its journalism doesn’t need to be either ad-funded, like ours is, or supplemented through a paid content model like, say, the NZ Herald.

It’s simple:

    • Commercial media make money through ads and subscriptions, which they then use to pay for public interest journalism.
    • Public media are Government-funded to pay for public interest journalism.

But, like newsrooms the world over, the advertising and subscription revenues commercial media once thrived on no longer sustain the number of journalists we once could. As audiences have shifted from newspapers to websites, so have advertising dollars. But the slice of the pie left for news organisations is tiny after the giant global platforms like Google and Facebook take their share.

In short, funding journalism, especially in regional New Zealand, has become increasingly hard. The pursuit of a new, sustainable business model to support journalism is something that is common across competitors; one galvanising connection that brings us all together. . .

Plurality of journalistic voices is deemed in the public interest. RNZ is chartered to serve that public interest. It is its purpose to serve an audience, not to compete for audiences; audiences which in one way or another are needed to fund the great journalism created by many organisations and many companies across New Zealand each and every day.

Journalism and mainstream media are under threat from digital platforms and social media.

Struggling businesses don’t need the taxpayer-funded outlet which competes with them.

The unfair competition from the state-owned Landcorp has been a bone of contention for farmers but at least it hasn’t run a campaign putting down private sector competitors the way RNZ is. That it’s doing it with what isn’t the whole truth makes it worse.


Cash spray BAU

02/12/2019

What does it say about a party when a keynote speech on infrastructure offers nothing more than funding for school maintenance?

Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson have cancelled billions of dollars of infrastructure projects whilst dressing up business as usual school maintenance grants as infrastructure investment, National’s Economic Development spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“Kiwis deserve the roads, transport and education infrastructure that National was delivering, not spin from a weak and wasteful government that’s failing to deliver on its promises.

“Today’s education announcement is less than it’s wasted on 300 plus government working groups and committees.   

“This Labour-led Government’s poor economic policies have slowed New Zealand down and on its watch, New Zealand’s infrastructure plans are in disarray.

“Labour inherited a strong economy with GDP growth around four per cent. Latest ANZ and ASB forecasts predict a drop to two per cent at a cost of $1.7 billion in lost revenue each year.

“At the same time this Government has wasted billions on failing policies and isn’t delivering on the things that matter to hardworking Kiwi families.

“Our economy is slowing because of Labour’s failure to deliver. A complete stall in infrastructure spend and $400 million of business as usual school repairs and maintenance just won’t cut it.”

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Jordan Williams describes the announcement as  a lazy attempt to buy votes, rather than better educations:

“This announcement appears more targeted at parents’ votes, than fixing run down schools, and you only need look at which schools get what to figure that out.”

“What a lazy and pathetic policy. A brand new school gets the same dollop of cash as a school with buildings from the 1950s.  No school gets more than $400,000, but none less than $50,000. Ultimately that approach means those schools which desperately need redevelopment get less.”

“Instead of asking officials which schools need what, the Labour Party has cooked up an ‘every school gets cash’ policy for the PM’s big speech. This is the sort of stuff you’d expect from an unorganised opposition, not a Party in Government.”

It is because Labour was disorganised in opposition it delivers this sort of stuff in government.

“If this is indicative of Labour’s big spending plans, spraying taxpayer cash, instead of micro targeting so taxpayer money goes to where it is most needed, hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars are going to go down the drain.”

If a government that inherited a very healthy economy has to borrow to fund maintenance it has its spending priorities wrong.

Borrowing for infrastructure investment when interest rates are so low isn’t wrong per se, but if the government is borrowing to spend on infrastructure it ought to be investing in new projects not on-going maintenance.

Maintenance is business as usual (BAU), it’s shouldn’t be the recipient of a cash spray, but then spraying cash is BAU for this government.


Open and transparent?

30/09/2019

When Jacinda Ardern declared hers would be an open and transparent government this probably wasn’t what she was meaning:

Controversial Cabinet Minister Shane Jones told a forestry awards ceremony they needed to vote for him or miss out on the billions he’s handing out for provincial growth, it has been alleged.

One person present labelled Jones’ comments as an inducement to “bribery” and another thought the minister – responsible for forestry and the $3 billion provincial growth fund – was “buying votes”.

But Jones says New Zealand can expect him to remind it over the next 12 months that votes for New Zealand First are needed to ensure it continues to fulfil promises in its coalition agreement with Labour.

“When you get a retail politician like myself – a son of the north – you’ve never going to take the politics out of the politicians.” . .

There’s politics and there’s politicking and then there’s blatant vote-for-us-or-else which looks very close to bribery.

Another person who paid close attention to Jones’ speech said he was angry and shocked at the political approach.

“Some of the things he said I didn’t particularly like. [It was] he had this big pot of gold so make sure you keep voting for me. There were direct comments along those lines.”

A third person who objected to Jones’ comment said it detracted from the intent of the evening, which was to celebrate excellence in forestry.

“It should never have been a political rally, which is what he made it. He was saying ‘if you don’t vote for me, you won’t get any share of the billion dollars’. He said you’ve only got a few months of me here, so you’d better vote.

“It’s just bribery. I thought that was pretty disgusting.”

Another person present said: “It wasn’t a political forum. He didn’t do himself any good. He just made a complete idiot of himself.”

Those interviewed did not want to be named, citing the influence of Jones’ Provincial Growth Fund and concerns speaking openly could have a personal and financial impact. 

Whether it was meant as a threat or not, these people have not only interpreted what Jones said as vote-for-us-or-else, they’re scared about the consequences of speaking out.

What he said is bad enough. That he said it so openly is worse. It shows that he thinks he’s immune from any censor by both his leader and the Prime Minister that ought to follow this behavior but won’t.

Reacting to the Herald piece, Taxpayers’ Union Spokesman Jordan Williams said:

“This is truely banana republic stuff.  A Minister telling an industry sector that they need to pony up with support, or else lose taxpayer funded lavish.”

”It is shocking, and belongs in Namibia, not New Zealand.”

“Even for Shane Jones this is breathtakingly shameless.  This not only sours the reputation of the current Government, it sours the reputation of our whole political establishment.  It is pork barrel politics in its true meaning.”

“Taxpayers are relying on the Prime Minister to prevent Shane Jones dragging us down the transparency indexes.  Now is the time for her to show whether she demands western democracy standards of her Ministers, or whether her junior coalition partner wields the true power and can do what they like with public funds.”

Sadly the junior coalition partner does wield the true power and its members not only can and do do what they like with public funds, at least one is open that they’re vote-buying with them.


Are electric vehicles as green as they’re painted?

10/07/2019

Stuff asks which are the cleanest and dirtiest car brands in New Zealand?

. . .Actually, the car brand currently on sale in NZ with the lowest emissions of all is Tesla, which boasts an unbeatable CO2 output (or non-output?) of 0.0. Obviously that’s because they are fully electric, which means the only connection with CO2 these cars might have, would be from what emerges from any gas or coal-fired power stations that generate the electricity in the first place.

But, as so often in the climate change argument, this doesn’t give the whole picture. It counts only the emissions from running the car, what about the emissions in making it, in particular the battery?

A friend has recently returned from Africa where he saw a continual procession of fuel tankers making the journey from the coast to supply mines in the Congo so that cobalt and lithium can be exported to allow people in rich countries to buy electric cars to save the world.

If you take into account the emissions from the many thousands of kilometres those tankers travel and everything else involved in their manufacture and disposal when judging the CO2 output of electric and hybrid cars, would they still be as green as they’re painted?

I don’t know the answer to that question and it raises another: how can we know what is green and what is greenwash if only the emissions from running vehicles are quantified and not those from their manufacture to their eventual end?

The answer to those two questions is even more important now the government is proposing a ‘feebate’ scheme on the sale of new vehicles.

The Government’s proposal for a sweeping fuel-efficient vehicle policy is being criticised because it doesn’t apply to the majority of cars being sold.

It would only apply to newly-imported used and brand new light vehicles from 2021 onwards, and would only hit those vehicles when they are sold for the first time – taking in about only a quarter of vehicle sales.

School Strike 4 Climate NZ criticised the proposal and said all vehicle sales should be affected by fuel efficiency standards.

The “feebate” scheme wouldn’t cost the taxpayer anything, instead using money gained by putting a fee on imported high-emissions cars in order to make imported hybrids, electric cars, and other efficient vehicles cheaper with a subsidy. . .

It wouldn’t cost the taxpayer anything but who would it help and who would it hurt?

The proposed penalty on ‘gas guzzling’ vehicles is a painful, regressive tax, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.

Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says, “Let’s be very clear: this is a tax on Otara vehicles to subsidise Teslas in Remuera.”

“Only a few, largely high-income, motorists will benefit from this subsidy, while many more low income motorists will have to choose between a nasty penalty or delaying the purchase of a new car. And as this tax leads driver to hold on to their existing vehicles for longer, we’ll miss out on improvements to safety and environmental standards.”

Older cars are less efficient and also not as safe as newer vehicles, but what’s the environmental impact from holding on to them longer?

Would spreading the emissions from making them over a longer period compensate for the emissions from driving them?

What about utes and trucks that are used for business and transporting goods and for which there are no hybrid or electric alternatives.?

“Successive Governments have already whacked motorists hard with hikes to petrol tax. Now Julie-Anne Genter is mixing it up with scheme to ‘take from the poor, give to the rich’.”

“Just because something is shrouded in environmental branding doesn’t make it any less nasty to the poor.”

Electric and hybrid cars cost less to run than petrol or diesel ones and newer vehicles are more efficient than older ones so  people who can’t afford newer, more expensive vehicles will be paying a bigger proportion of the fuel tax.

London has emission charges and diesel vehicles, including taxis, have to use AdBlue  to their fuel. When we were there recently we noticed the air was much cleaner than it had been several years earlier.

Clean air is to be encouraged but until the total lifetime emissions, not just from driving vehicles, but from their conception to their ultimate end, are quantified, we won’t know if the policy will make a positive difference or not to global CO2 emissions or not.

The emissions picture is a very complex one to which the ‘feebate’ policy, like so many other climate change ones, provides a simple answer but we don’t have enough information to know if it’s the right one.

The push towards electric vehicles raises two other questions: does our electricity generation and transmission have the capacity for a significant increase in electric vehicles?; and what will replace fuel taxes when the uptake of hybrid and electric vehicles reduces them to the point a replacement is required?


Tax Freedom Day at last

01/06/2019

We’re nearly half way through the year and have only just got to Tax Freedom Day:

A media release from the Taxpayers’ Union says:

From today until the end of the year you are finally working for yourself, and not the taxman, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.
 
‘Tax Freedom Day’ marks the day on which New Zealanders have collectively worked enough to pay off the cost of government for the year.
 
Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “For the average New Zealander, getting to work on Monday represents the first day they’re working for themselves.”
 
“This year’s total government expenses have been forecast to suck up 41.5 percent of the economy. That means, if a taxpayer wanted pay off their share of government expenses as soon as possible this year, they would have to work sacrifice all their wages from January the 1st, until today, June 1st.
 
“Today is worth celebrating, but it’s a shame we had to wait so long to pay off the politicians’ expense card. Unfortunately, government spending increasing faster than economic growth means the continuation of the trend of a later Tax Freedom Day.”
 
“Some other groups chose to observe Tax Freedom Day earlier this year. But our chosen date – based on OECD figures – takes into account local government and spending paid for with debt, meaning it reflects the full burden of government on taxpayers.”

And on the eve of Tax Freedom Day, the government pushed through an increase to fuel taxes under urgency:

The Taxpayers’ Union is slamming the passage of legislation hiking the price of petrol at the pump to see that more than 50 percent of the price paid will soon be tax. Union spokesperson, Jordan Williams says:

“Clearly ‘wellbeing’ is just marketing fluff.  Petrol taxes are highly regressive – they hit the poor, those in regional New Zealand, and those who live on outer suburbs the hardest. It’s one of the cruelest forms of tax.”

“Rushing these new petrol taxes through Parliament under urgency is disgraceful. They are a total breach of the Prime Minister’s ‘no new tax’ election promise.  And Labour know it.”

“Pain at the pump underscores the fact that big-ticket Budget announcements come at a real cost, regardless of the fuzzy wellbeing language the politicians use to promote them.”

Petrol was more than $2.45 a litre when we passed through Omarama earlier this week. Tax is already too big a contributor to that.

Taking more money from everyone and adding to the cost of everything will not contribute to wellbeing.


How to lose donors

23/01/2019

Oxfam claims inequality is increasing in New Zealand  but it’s wrong

While Oxfam claims inequality is increasing and uses its latest report to push a political campaign, the official data shows the complete opposite, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.

Taxpayers‘ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says, “Oxfam bases their conclusions from the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook 2018. That report shows wealth inequality in New Zealand measured by the Gini coefficient falling from 72.3 to 70.8. Instead of using a comprehensive statistic like the Gini coefficient, Oxfam abandon any of their residual credibility and instead choose to cherry-pick two wealthy New Zealanders and highlight their improved financial position. It is a dishonest political manipulation of public debate.”

“As is clear from this campaign, Oxfam is little more than a left-wing political campaign group. In the same way that Family First and the Sensible Sentencing Trust are not allowed charitable status, it is time the same rules were applied to Oxfam and it was deregistered as a charity.”

Charities which get political risk losing donors.

A few years ago my daughter gave me a midwife for Christmas. It was an Oxfam programme that paid for midwives in a developing country.

The charity got my email and began asking for funds. I liked the idea of practical help and donated.

Then I saw a media release similar to this one that I knew was based on misinformation and stopped my donations.

Political advocacy plays an important role but charities which get into it risk confusing people about their priorities and losing support for their charitable work.


Tax cuts could cut strikes

17/01/2019

The Taxpayers’ Union has a simple way to reduce strikes:

Implementing tax relief would relieve the pressure of low take-home pay and resolve much of the current industrial action, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.

Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says “It’s understandable that junior doctors and the Wellington bus drivers feel under pressure – no Government has delivered a tax cut since the 2010 Budget. If the Government delivered tax cuts, take-home pay would increase and workers would feel welcome reprieve.”

“Tax cuts would help all workers. The Taxpayers’ Union is calling on our union allies to help back collective action for tax cuts. Acting together, the union movement could put pressure on the Government to boost pay for everyone and end the pressure of industrial action on our heath and transport sectors.”

The Government surplus is running ahead of forecasts which means it’s taking more tax than it needs.

Tax cuts would boost take home pay for workers and increase pensions which are based on after-tax income.

The government should be letting us all keep more of our own money.

It should throw out whatever suggestions the Tax Working Group has for introducing any new taxes – especially a Capital Gains Tax.

It should end wasteful spending.

And if it can’t bring itself to cut taxes, at the very least t should increase tax thresholds so modest pay rises don’t push people into higher tax brackets.

 

 


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