Quotes of the month

01/05/2021

No other new government in the last half century has been as ham-fisted as this one. Fancy initially announcing a policy that had been the subject of no research! Then spending to start that research, and then establishing a new unit to consult the public, look at options and produce costings. – Michael Basset

Light rail comes on top of Kiwibuild, ending child poverty, and housing the homeless. This government is nothing more than a collection of willful children blundering about clutching the taxpayers’ and ratepayers’ credit cards, shifting from one cow pat to another. – Michael Basset

One of the economic lessons we are determined not to learn is that government cannot regulate prosperity. Each generation must learn, from scratch, this lesson. Helpfully, we already know the script.

A successful economy is, over time, corroded by a growing layer of restrictions. Each set of regulations imposes an unintended and unanticipated cost or outcome. This necessitates further rules and government oversight. Eventually the entire system becomes so overwhelmed that it either grinds to a halt or there is a sudden and dramatic economic liberalisation – Damien Grant

The businesses, entrepreneurs, financiers and investors who are essential to maintaining our quality of life will all react to the new restrictive environment. Some changes will be large, some firms will fail. Other developments will be incremental: investments will not be made, staff not employed and opportunities lost.

Few of these will be notable, but the collective impact is that we will be a poorer nation as a result, our economy will underperform and, over time, we will slide further away from our potential until, at some point, we will begin to resemble a Polish shipyard. – Damien Grant

The first rule for a government minister put in charge of a New Zealand industry should be: “don’t break it”. Even a small sector has thousands of actors, most of whom have been living and breathing their industry for years and will likely know much more than the minister. And as a small country with relatively thin markets, breaking a sector is easier than you might think.

The second rule is: when designing a policy, have a clear idea what the objective is, and then look for levers that will help you get there. Think through the effect each lever will have, or you might fall foul of the law of unintended consequences.

Unfortunately, quite a few ministers in the current Government seem to be unaware of these important rules of thumb. In industries as diverse as housing, energy, tourism, international education and broadcasting, ministers are being highly interventionist in ways which will depress investment and generally make a bigger mess. Messes that will thwart their objectives and which we will all end up paying for. – Steven Joyce

The Government’s stated objective in the energy sector is to reduce carbon emissions, which is a laudable public policy goal. However the levers it is pulling to achieve that outcome are both expensive and delivering results that counter its objective. – Steven Joyce

Simply put, Onslow is the wrong solution in the wrong place. It will chill other renewable electricity investments and either force up our already rapidly rising electricity prices or leave a massive bill for taxpayers. – Steven Joyce

Ministers need to more carefully think through the consequences of their actions. Right across the economy, poorly thought-through interventions risk damaging industries, discouraging investment and providing poor outcomes for kiwis. Its almost like Muldoonism and the command economy never went away. – Steven Joyce

But even in a crisis you have to lift your head above the parapet and start mapping out a path for the future, and the first step along that path must inevitably involve gradually reopening our borders. – Tracy Watkins

Vaccines work and they’re critically important, and when my turn comes, I’ll get mine with enthusiasm. – Dr Shane Reti

The Ardern Government has decided to avoid awkward questions about its pathetic record for per capita income growth by trying to focus attention instead on “well-being”, as if well-being can be improved in a sustainable way while per capita income growth is negligible. The new head of the Productivity Commisson’s definition – “Productivity = applying our taonga to deliver wellbeing” – says it all. – Don Brash

Road congestion is of course a very real problem, as tens of thousands of motorists understand only too well almost every day – the result of underinvestment in road networks over decades. But why not adopt a modern form of congestion pricing? Such systems work brilliantly in cities like Stockholm and Singapore and, according to surveys by the Automobile Association, are popular among motorists. To make them even more popular, the revenue from congestion pricing could be used to reduce the excise tax on fuel – cheaper fuel and less congestion – what is there not to like? – Don Brash

Investing huge sums of our limited capital in low-yielding vanity projects is what got us into this hole in the first place.  – Don Brash

Advised by impressively credentialled and highly experienced public servants, today’s Labour MPs feel obliged – by the meritocratic principles central to their personal identities – to do exactly what they’re told. And if they discover subsequently their advisers have lied to them, well, they must have had a very good reason for doing so. A reason they simply aren’t qualified to understand – or challenge. Not when the only alternative is allowing the people to decide. Because, seriously, what do they know? – Chris Trotter

The gods of political correctness are jealous gods: they will not have any other gods before them. Unfortunately for worshippers, however, there is a whole pantheon of them, and their demands may conflict. – Theodore Dalrymple

These days, professional politicians are so avid for office, and so much in the public eye, that all their activities must be interpreted politically, from their musical preferences to their diet to their visits to churches and other institutions.Theodore Dalrymple

“Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus” (false in one thing, false in all) used to be a legal dictum applied to witnesses in court who had once told a lie on oath; it is no longer applied in most jurisdictions, but now, in our intolerant age, we hold it true with regard to opinions. One bad opinion makes a man bad in all other respects, unfrequentable by the decent person in fact. – Theodore Dalrymple

The ultimate object of the monomaniacs is not only to make certain things unsayable, but—because they are never said—unthinkable. As the good totalitarians they are, they want everybody to think alike. – Theodore Dalrymple

The fact the government is now prepared to face the potential emotional backlash involved in turning citizens away from the country’s border suggests to me that matters may really be turning pretty dire, and so a temporary removal of the right to enter is justified. Or, at least, I hope and trust that is the case. Because if the government has gotten this one wrong, it’s a betrayal of everything that citizenship is meant to promise. – Andrew Geddis

The worst form of racism perpetrated against Maori is that “they all think the same way.”Lindsay Mitchell

New Zealand has tended to pride itself over many years about the incorruptibility of public life. Unfortunately, we have seen too many cases over the last few decades that suggest this is more folk myth than reality, although clearly there are many places worse than us. But “many places worse than us” is simply not an acceptable standard; rather it expresses a degree of complacency that allows standards to keep slipping a little more each time, with excuses being made (“not really that big a deal”), especially for those who happen to be in favour at the time. But those sorts of cases, those sorts of people, are precisely where a fuss should be made, where mistakes or rule breaches should not be treated lightly. Integrity – and perceived integrity and incorruptibility – really matter at the top, and if there is one set of accommodations for those at the top, and another (more demanding) standard for those at the bottom it simply feeds cynicism about the political system and about our society. – Michael Reddell

It’s partly an art – you’ve got to have good technique, you’ve got to persist, you’ve got to train hard. If you’re going to write anything, there’s only one way to do it – you do it.Brian Turner

How does a man cope with that? You get a grip, mate! You just get on with it! – Brian Turner

 At the heart of their weaknesses is that they are a government of designers. They are effective at the stuff they can do with a “stroke of the pen”. – Bruce Cotterill

Increasing taxes, eliminating interest deductions and extending the brightline test (or capital gains tax) for property owners are a function of the same activity. Design. A stroke of the pen. A series of proposals that become rules that others will abide by. Design. A stroke of the pen.

And like much design, the outcome will not solve the problem it was invented for. The reality is that, if we have a housing crisis, it will be resolved by a simplified resource management process, more land becoming available and new houses getting built. In other words, engineering and execution. Instead, these new policies will see rents increase and property developers and owners spending their time restructuring their affairs to minimise their now heightened tax obligations and not much more. – Bruce Cotterill

When we look for engineering and execution, there seems to be an extensive array of failed promises. These breakdowns are in the initiatives that require more than a stroke of the pen. They require governments and their numerous personnel, having changed the rules, to actually do something. To make it happen.

There are now a number of major policy areas where outstanding public relations campaigns have trumpeted design, planning and vision while the delivery teams have completely failed with the engineering and execution. – Bruce Cotterill

There are times when good design alone, is enough. However, in most cases, good design of everything from grand visions to workable solutions needs to be accompanied by good engineering and ability to execute.

As we approach the three-quarter mark on this Government’s current six-year term, it would seem that the designer will ultimately fail due to its inability as an engineer.  – Bruce

Paternalism is an ugly concept we’ve long decried, having witnessed the damage it did throughout the British Empire, when colonisers treated indigenous peoples like naive children who needed instructing.

But paternalism is what is unfolding here: one group imposing restrictions on another, against their will, stemming from an attitude of superiority. We think we know what’s best for them. We might not.

The Cook Island’s Prime Minister is an adult, elected by his country to run his country. He must weigh up the risk of Covid-19 against the risk to his economy. He must decide if the country is equipped to mop up any outbreaks. It’s not our place to question his capacity to make those calls. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Our healthcare system is gaslighting us. This arrogant culture contributes to misdiagnosis, long wait times, and lower survival rates for illnesses. And just as we’ve been brushing off women’s symptoms, we continue to ignore the gender imbalance at the doctor’s surgery. – Andrea Vance

Constantly blaming racism for the problems faced by Māori is wrong. We can’t move forward as a nation if that is our only response. Rather than using such divisive language, our Government should be uniting New Zealanders behind good ideas that lift everyone up.Karen Chhour

That leads into the second problem with Mythical Plan Chart B: It appears to be completely made up. When Bishop asked Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins for the data underlying the chart, so that the Opposition and media can better hold the Government’s rollout to account against its own aspirational targets, he said there were no numbers behind it. Instead, he said that Mythical Plan Chart B “is intended to be illustrative and approximate”. – Marc Daalder

A proper plan would be built around targets that are not merely achievable but aspirational. It should be epidemiologically informed, not based simply on Ministry of Health bean-counters adding up vaccine supply, expected demand and workforce availability.Marc Daalder

The Ministry of Health won’t give out daily vaccine data, ministers and officials can’t say what percentage of the frontline border workforce meant to be vaccinated by early March has actually been immunised and now an unvaccinated border worker has tested positive for Covid-19 and no one has any clue why. Making it up on the fly has failed us – it’s time for the Government to give us a plan. – Marc Daalder

How do we best manage our renewable water for environment and human use? Thinking will help turn luck into a valuable resource. It’s what Kiwis have done in the past and can do again – as long as regulations enable innovation. Jacqueline Rowarth

The cold, hard irrefutable fact is that in all human activities the private sector always outperforms the state. The state’s prime role is as a rule setter and it should only supply services which are necessary but unprofitable, such as our railways, police and so on. Bob Jones

My father has been my teacher, my supporter and my critic, but mostly it is his example of a life well lived and service freely given that I most wanted to emulate. His ability to treat every person as an individual in their own right with their own skills comes through all the organisations with which he was involved.Princess Anne

Economists like to talk about “optimal policy instruments” – essentially, policies that achieve their objectives more effectively or efficiently than the alternatives, and have minimal unintended consequences. Judged by those criteria, the New Zealand government’s recently announced package of housing policy instruments is a long way from optimal. You might even call it a shambles. – Norman Gemmell

Science is a method for inquiry—guided by intellectual humility, skepticism, careful observation, questioning, hypothesis formulation, prediction, and experimentation—that is open to everyone, that aims to advance knowledge and improve the lives of all. While indigenous epistemologies are certainly worthy of study, and valuable in their own right, such epistemologies should not be promoted as superior to, or as a replacement for, Enlightenment epistemologies. – Samantha Jones

I do know how important it is to have a husband—a partner—who is a source of strength and a rock in times of trouble. – Theresa May

 Of course, if we don’t celebrate physically blocking trade, we shouldn’t celebrate any other means of blocking it. Like the gambler’s fallacy, the fallacies of protectionism, can be exploded with just a bit of logical thinking.Tom Palmer

The desire to compensate people for the historical wrongs done to their ancestors isn’t an altogether dishonorable one (except that the desire is usually to be fulfilled at the expense of someone else). – Theodore Dalrymple

The doctrine that is indoctrinated doesn’t have to be true to have real psychological effects, only to have emotional resonance. Every totalitarian, or would-be totalitarian, knows this.Theodore Dalrymple

A child who has spent all or most of their life dependent on their parent’s benefit is very likely to migrate onto their own benefit as a young adult. In my experience as a volunteer it wasn’t uncommon to find the parent encouraging this event as it upped the household income. – Lindsay Mitchell

The people of New Zealand, businesses under dire strain and families desperate to reunite across the Tasman have every reason to feel angry and upset.

We have been let down again. Surprisingly, however, the public and much of the media seem relatively blase. It is as if we think we will again get away with the mistakes, the slackness, the false assurances. After all, we have mostly in the past.ODT

But we yet again have a Government, full of high-sounding words, that struggles to perform. All border workers should have been vaccinated with the first dose or removed from the front line before now.

We again have a director-general of health who reassures us all is well and under control. But we again find some of those reassurances are false. – ODT

After the stinging criticisms from the Simpson-Roche and Kitteridge reports (both kept from the public for many months), we must have doubts about both the wider vaccine roll-out and about the extent of Government obfuscation.ODT

So it seems fair to ask what would be the bigger lie: an individual signing a false declaration about testing. Or the New Zealand public being told that testing was already mandatory and occurring. – Duncan Grieve

 Increasingly it looks as if the Government wants safer borders in the same way that I want to lose weight every New Year’s Day. That is, we would both be delighted if it happened, somehow, but there’s no real link between our goals and our subsequent actions. – Ben Thomas

We’re not looking after babies until we look after their mothers, and the story reminded me I am just one of countless women who have a tale of trauma about our maternity system; a system firmly based on the belief that baby-care is an innate female skill. Virginia Fallon

WHEN GOVERNMENTS EXTEND the state’s power to monitor their citizens’ ideas and activities, we should all be on our guard. Even when such extensions are introduced in response to a terrorist atrocity, we need to ask ourselves: would these new powers have prevented it – Chris Trotter

The state can punish Lone Wolves, but it cannot stop them. In attempting to minimise the terrorist threat, however, the state can eliminate our freedoms.Chris Trotter

Because people aren’t dying, it is tempting to confer retrospective competence upon a bureaucracy which, in the months since the decisive battle against Covid in March and April of 2020, has demonstrated almost unbelievable ineptitude. The government’s response to these repeated failures has been insufficiently forceful to prevent their recurrence. What’s more, in the absence of bold measures to reconfigure and reinvigorate them, our public institutions’ disturbing propensity to fuck things up may finally overwhelm Godzone’s good luck. – Chris Trotter

It’s good to know the Government and Health Ministry can still surprise us, even as a growing number of us thought the levels of ineptitude couldn’t possibly get any worse. – Mike Hosking

This is just sheer dumb luck that you can mess it up, know as little as they do, refuse to improve the way they have, and still be moderately unscathed. It’s little short of a miracle.  –

Surely in your quiet moments, you have to be wondering to yourself just how it is they can be this useless and still be in work.

They literally can’t deliver a thing. Not a house, not light rail, not a shovel-ready project, not a mental health programme, not a flu jab rollout, not a PPE rollout, not a Covid vaccine rollout, not a comprehensive secure border rollout. – Mike Hosking

This incompetence is absolutely outstanding. The stonewalling and obfuscating from the Government is appalling.

I think it is just there to prevent the world from seeing they haven’t got a bloody clue, and I maintain, looking at this record from the past year, that it is dumb pure luck. – Kerre McIvor

We need to be treading carefully when legislating against people’s thoughts. It shouldn’t be the Government’s role to dictate what people can and can’t say. – Simon Bridges

Including political belief in hate speech laws is a grave threat to free speech. There may be a case for laws against vilifying someone for immutable characteristics such as sex and age and disability but to extend that to religious and political belief is just staggering. – David Farrar

Much of the business community is keeping its head down and playing a wait and see game on new investments as they worry which sector is going to be the next to be negatively impacted by a government decision. Last week it was freedom campers and Air New Zealand. This week it’s livestock exporters. Next week? – Steven Joyce

A big part of this sense of drift is the growing realisation that the current Government, while good at stopping things, is having a real problem actually making anything happen. – Steven Joyce

Let’s be blunt. In the last nearly four years since the change of government, almost nothing of substance has been built. There have been announcements up the wazoo, some funding has been allocated, but there’s been precious little action. – Steven Joyce

Another part of the problem is that the obsessive anti-car lobby always carries outsize influence in Labour governments relative to their constituency. These are the people who believe a lane on the Harbour Bridge should be given over to cycling, or that all road-building induces more traffic. Which it sort of does, along with economic growth and jobs and houses and useful stuff like that. – Steven Joyce

But as Australia and other places accelerate faster than us out of this pandemic we wouldn’t want the view to take hold again that New Zealand is a place you leave in order to succeed. Over the last decade or so our country has built a reputation as a more vibrant well-connected happening place. We don’t want to lose that. – Steven Joyce

When the history of New Zealand’s management of Covid-19 comes to be written, it will record that almost every government action to protect the country happened too late, and then only after politicians and officials were forced into action because a sceptical journalist (there are still a handful, thank God) or alert opposition MP (not a lot of them either) exposed glaring deficiencies in their performance or flagrant porkies in what the country was being told. – Karl du Fresne

What matters, especially to a Government that seems to have lost its way and is treading water on more pressing issues, is that banning live exports will make a lot more people happy than it annoys, and the people who do get annoyed by the ban probably weren’t going to vote for them in the first place. – Craig Hickman

Activities that we farmers undertake without second thought may in fact be very large risks to our industry, and the live export of animals was one such risk. If enough people object to a farming practice, regardless of the facts of the situation, we slowly begin to lose our social license to operate. We lose public support, and it becomes increasingly more attractive for the Government of the day to take action. –  Craig Hickman

New Zealand figures other democracies can do the fighting. New Zealand can meanwhile sweet talk China and clean up businesswise. But it may be worse than that. I think woke culture is also to blame. “New Zealand’s foreign minister is dizzy with her new age earth worship and old nature gods. For her, China is an ally in the fight against global warming, which seems to her far more important than the danger of war. China would be laughing.Andrew

In general, the lifestyle leftist values autonomy and self-realisation more than tradition and community. He finds traditional values such as performance, diligence and effort uncool. This is especially true of the younger generation, who were so gently guided into life by caring, mostly well-off helicopter parents that they never got to know existential social anxieties and the pressures that arise from them. Dad’s small fortune and mum’s relationships at least provide so much security that even longer unpaid internships or professional failures can be bridged.

Since the lifestyle left has hardly come into personal contact with social issues, they are usually only marginally interested in them. So, they do want a fair and discrimination-free society, but the path to it no longer leads via the stodgy old topics from social economics, i.e. wages, pensions, taxes or unemployment insurance, but above all via symbolism and language. – Sahra Wagenknecht

A society in which people must affirm political doctrines in order to maintain employment and respectability is no better than one in which atheists must pretend to accept religion to get by.Spencer Case

When a particular expression is expected from everyone, refusing to go along is automatically a countermessage. There’s no possibility of opting out of significant political communication altogether. We’re in danger of ending up in a society like this. – Spencer Case

Politics has its place, but that place shouldn’t be everywhere, all the time. When politics is pervasive, it is worse. There must be space for political neutrality, and this means that we must be able to remain silent on political matters in most contexts without (too many) adverse social consequences.Spencer Case

Sadly, as society increasingly politicizes, political silence becomes harder to maintain. And there’s reason to worry that what we say can and will be used against us in a different sort of court. – Spencer Case

Even if it were possible to measure the strength of a man’s beliefs or fears on a valid and reproducible scale, the fact is that none of us either does or can spend his life examining the evidence for all that he believes or fears. At best, we can do so only intermittently and in bursts. We are obliged to take much on trust or according to our prejudices.Theodore Dalrymple

The fear of immunization against Covid-19 seems to me exaggerated and irrational. The fact that none of us can be fully rational does not obviate the need for us to try to be as rational as possible. – Theodore Dalrymple

If we were to take notice of a 1 in 936,364 chance of dying from something, all human activity whatsoever would cease. Even if half the cases were missed, the figure would still be 1 in 468,182. To adapt Dr. Johnson slightly, nothing will ever be attempted, if all possible dangers must first be avoided – Theodore Dalrymple

Child poverty stats are a joke. If grown-ups get collectively poorer, children get richer (relatively).  – Lindsay Mitchell

There is so much documented evidence, here and internationally, that shows benefit dependence – especially long-term – is detrimental to children’s outcomes.  Benefits erode family cohesion and they discourage work. – Lindsay Mitchell

Societies have always comprised collectives of minority groups and ALL members of ANY society can claim to be in a minority-be it age, ethnicity, religious affiliation, gender (yes, males are now a minority in New Zealand), sexual orientation, socio-economic status, the list is endless. We can all claim to be a member of a minority-which is actually and factually, at the base of governmental problems. – Henry Armstrong

Yet, the Ardern government has deliberately opted for diversity over merit (skills, experience, competencies, and management ability), so is it any wonder they are floundering around achieving almost nothing-except of course, keeping Ardern in front of the cameras, giving her trademark, almost daily, theatrical performances?

 Representational politics based on minority interest groups, can only result in ignoring the needs of the majority, ie everyone else-but then majoritarian democracy is long dead in New Zealand under MMP. So, is this government acting in the best interests of ALL New Zealanders? – Henry Armstrong

On any of the well-accepted criteria of good governance, the Ardern government has to be described as an abject failure. Attempts to portray our shared history as being based on oppression, is ostensibly untrue. Attempts to portray “old white men” as being responsible for all of the issues which beset New Zealand society, are not only insulting, they are deeply offensive and divisive.

The treaty offered us all an opportunity to progress which, by and large, as citizens of New Zealand, of every ethnicity and creed, we have achieved. This government seems to be, through its total incompetence, determined to divide us.Henry Armstrong

However, we also need to talk about them because our language is falling victim to the ‘righteous’ indignation of those who confuse offence with harm and take it upon themselves to be offended on behalf of others. – Gavin Ellis

I believe it was the result of our language becoming sterilised, as more and more develop what I might call idiomatic mysophobia or a pathological fear of the use of certain contaminating words in case someone might have their feelings hurt.

Saying ‘man’ or ‘woman’ does not amount to a harmful failure to acknowledge those who nominate another gender identity. Frankly there are far more serious forms of discrimination against those groups and individuals that should concern us.Gavin Ellis

You’re either startlingly arrogant or thick or quite possibly in this case both, that you can stitch up something as shonky as this, not ask a single legal mind a single question, slip it out at Christmas, and then assume nothing is going to come back to bite you.  Add it to the list of stuff they’ve cocked up and we’ve paid for. If National and ACT are taking notes, they’re going to have an astonishing list set to go by 2023. – Mike Hosking

Instead of a system that refuses to tolerate their destructiveness, we get a system which rewards them with no-strings-attached cash and plenty of excuses for their defection from the rest of society. Nobody has explained to them that the social security system was born out of shared values, shared compassion for genuine need, and shared commitment to fund it. – Lindsay Mitchell

Someone needs to get – and someone needs to give – the correct message: you can’t keep biting the hand that feeds you. Don’t hold your breath for that someone to be the person in charge though. – Lindsay Mitchell

I don’t want any racist tirades about this issue, I want some reasoned discussion. And for me, it comes back to this. I believe in the concept that all people are equal, that in this country everybody’s vote is as important as everybody else’s. We are all New Zealanders. – Peter Williams

At the heart of our Judeo-Christian heritage are two words. Human dignity. Everything else flows from this. Seeing the inherent dignity of all human beings is the foundation of morality. It makes us more capable of love and compassion, of selflessness and forgiveness.

Because if you see the dignity and worth of another person, another human being, the beating heart in front of you, you’re less likely to disrespect them, insult or show contempt or hatred for them, or seek to cancel them, as is becoming the fashion these days. You’re less likely to be indifferent to their lives, and callous towards their feelings. – Scott Morrison

Appreciating human dignity also fosters our sense of shared humanity.This means that because we are conscious of our own failings and vulnerabilities, we can be more accepting and understanding of the failings and vulnerabilities of others.

True faith and religion is about confronting your own frailties. It’s about understanding your own and our humanity. The result of that is a humble heart, not a pious or judgemental one. – Scott Morrison

Human dignity is foundational to our freedom. It restrains government, it restrains our own actions and our own behaviour because we act for others and not ourselves, as you indeed do here this evening. That is the essence of morality. – Scott Morrison

Liberty is not borne of the state but rests with the individual, for whom morality must be a personal responsibility. – Scott Morrison

Freedom therefore rests on us taking personal responsibility for how we treat each other, based on our respect for, and appreciation of, human dignity. This is not about state power. This is not about market power. This is about morality and personal responsibility.

Now, morality is also then the foundation of true community. The place where we are valued; where we are unique; where we respect one another and contribute to and share one another’s lives. Where we pledge faithfulness to do together what we cannot achieve alone. – Scott Morrison

The determination to step up and play a role and to contribute as you are indeed doing this evening as part of this amazing organisation. Not leaving it to someone else, to another. That is the moral responsibility and covenant, I would argue, of citizenship. Not to think we can leave it to someone else. 

But there are warnings. Where we once understood our rights in terms of our protections from the state, now it seems these rights are increasingly defined by what we expect from the state. As citizens, we cannot allow what we think we are entitled to, to become more important than what we are responsible for as citizens. – Scott Morrison

Now together and individually we are each responsible for building and sustaining community, and we each have something unique to bring. Because community begins with the individual, not the state, not the marketplace. It begins with an appreciation of the unique dignity of each human being. It recognises that each individual has something to offer and that failure to appreciate and realise this, as a community, means our community is poorer and it is weaker.

In short, to realise true community we must first appreciate each individual human being matters. You matter. You, individually.

And in this context I would also argue we must protect against those forces that would undermine that in community, and I don’t just mean, as I’ve recently remarked, the social and moral corrosion caused by the misuse of social media, and the abuse that occurs there. But I would say it also includes the growing tendency to commodify human beings through identity politics.

We must never surrender the truth that the experience and value of every human being is unique and personal. You are more, we are more, individually, more than the things others try to identify us by, you by, in this age of identity politics. You are more than your gender, you are more than your race, you are more than your sexuality, you are more than your ethnicity, you are more than your religion, your language group, your age.

All of these of course contribute to who we may be and the incredible diversity of our society, particularly in this country, and our place in the world. But of themselves they are not the essence of our humanity.

When we reduce ourselves to a collection of attributes, or divide ourselves, even worse, on this basis, we can lose sight of who we actually are as individual human beings – in all our complexity, in all our wholeness and in all our wonder.

We then define each other if we go down that other path by the boxes we tick or don’t tick, rather than our qualities, skills and character. And we fail to see the value that other people hold as individuals, with real agency and responsibility. – Scott Morrison

So my message is simple: you matter, you make the difference, you make community. And together with family and marriage and the associations of clubs and community groups, faith networks, indeed the organisations we’re here celebrating tonight, and so much more, they are the further building blocks of community on that individual, providing the stability and the sinews of society that bind us one to another.

And upon that moral foundation of community we build our institutions of state. Within that moral context we operate our market place. – Scott Morrison

You matter. Community matters. In a democracy, it matters especially. It’s a tremendous source of strength and it’s why foreign actors seek to sow discord online, in many other ways, inflaming angers and hatreds and spreading lies and disinformation.

Of course, the right to disagree peacefully is at the heart of democracy, I’m not referring to that. But democracy is a shared endeavour, and the civility, trust and generosity, they are the currency that mediates our differences. – Scott Morrison 

Farmers need the best tools and technological solutions to grow enough crops – using fewer natural resources to produce sufficient high-quality food, respect the environment, safeguard consumers and support themselves.  Allowing them to use the right tools at the right time for the right crops will assist them do this.  Helping farmers build a stronger and more resilient agricultural economy, requires an open and transparent dialogue and collaboration between scientists, academia, innovators, politicians, regulators, NGOs and all along the food value chain from farmers to consumers.Mark Ross


Quotes of the month

01/03/2021

In olden times, journalists were like children – seen but not heard. Now if the public had three wishes it would probably be for us to please shut up, shut up, shut up about ourselves. – Jane Bowron

Climate policy is incredibly complex. Yes, science sits at its core – but there are also economic, social and political implications to be considered,”  – Tim Mackle

Any new outbreak will have major health, economic and social costs. But there will also be another significant casualty. Until now, politicians and public health officials have been able to draw on their social capital, the trust they have earned. But that trust is conditional. If leaders are seen as failing to act and letting foreseeable failures happen, that has the potential to seriously weaken the collective support and compliance that is absolutely pivotal for current public health measures.The ConversationBernard Walker

It is not necessary for anyone actually to have been offended for an utterance to be considered offensive; on the other hand, if someone has taken offence at it, this too proves that it was offensive. That the person who took offence was a paranoiac whose  outrage was completely unreasonable, or expressed in the hope of compensation or some other advantage, is no defence, for one of the criteria of offensiveness is simply that someone says that he has taken offence, the other criterion being somewhat more Platonic, namely that someone might take offence.  – Theodore Dalrymple

But playing our part to best effect, doing the most good that New Zealand can do, means finding the most cost-effective ways of abating greenhouse gas emissions – regardless of where they are. It turned out that the best way of getting cars wasn’t by building them in Petone, but by growing them in other parts of the country. It could easily turn out that the best way for New Zealand to sequester carbon is not to plant trees here, but to fund replanting efforts elsewhere.

If we could achieve twice as much or more by helping to fund mitigation efforts abroad, the climate would not thank us for pursuing less effective measures here at home instead – Eric Crampton

Western civilisation is built on the sovereignty of the individual, sovereignty derived in large part from the Christian concept of man being created in the image of God and being equal in His sight, be we king or commoner, free or slave, white or black.  . . As sovereign individuals we have agency, but with agency comes personal responsibility.  By adopting a group approach, personal responsibility can be avoided and politically correct faux virtue-signalling used to cover the real aim – the pursuit of power. Thus when the principles of government are based on classifications or groups rather than individuals, the results are almost invariably bad.  Examples include Communism, Fascism, Nazism, apartheid, the Indian cast system and, more recently, gender identity and ‘woke’ prescriptions generally. In short, the currently fashionable emphasis on group rights rather than individual rights must be rejected. – Anthony Carr

Progress requires bad practices to be replaced by good, not justified as part of a culture frozen in aspic. – Anthony Carr

Our society’s success depends on people making themselves useful, taking education seriously, working hard and conducting themselves properly with respect to their families and society as a whole. If taking personal responsibility for one’s life is avoided, no amount of aid or intervention from any source will ever succeed. We are sovereign individuals and avoiding responsibility only ensures that one is neither granted nor actually deserves any genuine respect. – Anthony Carr

The backlash against wokeism will be made much more aggressive by the difficulties its opponents encounter in making their voices heard. The mainstream news media – and especially the state-owned media – have become increasingly intolerant of ideas and opinions which directly, or indirectly, challenge the wokeists’ view of the world. Stuff, the largest newspaper publisher in the country has embraced wokeism wholeheartedly and set its face resolutely against the errors of “racist” New Zealanders. Even more significantly, citizens determined to spread “unacceptable” ideas can no longer rely upon the major social media platforms for their dissemination. Increasingly, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are “de-platforming” individuals and groups (including a former President of the United States!) whose beliefs have been anathematised by the woke. – Chris Trotter

Imagine you are an idealistic young Labour MP. Let’s call you, say, Grant, or Chris, or Jacinda. You realise you’ve just overseen the greatest transfer of wealth from those who work to those who own in the history of our country. David Seymour

We have a country that’s practically uninhabited, but somehow it has a shortage of land you’re allowed to build on. Only governments can manufacture famine from plenty … they’re like a reverse Jesus – David Seymour

It goes without saying that the justice with which the iconoclasts and vandals are obsessed is always of a very peculiar sort (it continues to surprise me how little protest there is against the very expression racial justice, than which few expressions could be more racist); but at any rate they are always judging the past, as they judge the present, against an impossible standard of perfection—perfection, that is, according to their own conception of that the world ought to be.Theodore Dalrymple

The gap between people’s impression of Ardern and her actual performance as a leader has widened to a gulf. So long as enough modern Tacituses write gushing Ardern portraits, her superstar status will not change. – Oliver Hartwich

So, let’s make Waitangi not just about airing grievances. There is much to celebrate in the advances Māori have made. Surely it is time to drop the victimhood and inspire younger generations to build? –  Fran O’Sullivan

It’s quite a skill, really, making announcements about a policy without any sort of plan to achieve it, and then have the country believe that what you’ve just said is significant, transformative or, as we heard this week, foundational. National was criticised for this all the time and often quite fairly. Under this government, however, such expediency has almost become a form of art.  – Monique Poirier

The good thing about debt is it can mask a lot of stuff and buy you time. But it never stops being debt and it never stops needing to be paid back. And $100 billion and counting is a lot to pay back.Mike Hosking

Every culture must treat women as equal to men, and afford them the same rights in every aspect as they afford men. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

The middle path needs to be actively promoted and defended. We need to shrug off the image of being spineless fence-sitters who get bullied into sell-out compromises by those at the extremes. Being a middle-pathster does not mean having no firm principles. We have our bottom lines too which we will not surrender to either the extreme left or the extreme right. The political spectrum is best represented not as a straight line but as a circle in which extreme left and extreme right meet. The middle path is diametrically opposed to both – and for much the same reason: their erosion of liberty. It is liberty that defines our bottom line. – Barend Vlaardingerbroek

If the New Zealand news media persists in the folly of “cancelling” all those listeners, viewers and readers who fail to pass ideological muster, then we will see the emergence of our own version of Fox News – with all that entails for the health of our country and its democratic institutions. Who would lead it? Do we have a Hannity, or a Tucker Carlson, waiting out there in the wings? Where to start looking for a talented right-wing contrarian, boasting years of professional broadcasting experience, who is currently between jobs? – Chris Trotter

It’s just the same broken system with a new letterhead. Karen Chhour

I had people that helped me to believe in myself just enough that I could see my way out. – Karen Chhour

. . .ethnicity and culture should not be how we decide what is in the best interests of children. Oranga Tamariki should be colour-blind and open to whatever will ensure a child’s wellbeing and safety. – Karen Chhour

As someone who has experienced three elements of placement – non family who wanted me, family who didn’t and extended family who did – I can tell you, as a young person you’ll take love, compassion and stability wherever you can find it. – Karen Chhour

I think we spend far too much time on the (isms) in this country, racism, sexism, and classism. I firmly believe these can be used as a weapon to distract us from the important issues instead of focusing on what needs to be done in these areas. – Karen Chhour

The consequence of constantly putting labels on things seems to be that we have created an environment where expectations are lowered and personal responsibility is no longer a requirement. I want to focus on people being the best that they can be and celebrate their successes in these areas, instead of constantly focusing on the negatives that give these people the platform they desire. – Karen Chhour

We’re in urgency today on a local democracy bill making fundamental change. Am I the only one who sees the ridiculous irony of that? There’s an anti-democratic local democracy bill. That’s literally what we’ve got here, because the other side is putting this through—it’s ramming it through—in urgency.Simon Bridges

In relation to the wards themselves, personally, I find it hard when we come to special separate representation for Māori. As a Māori man, it says I’m not good enough, because of my whakapapa, because of the colour of my skin. . . This bill, to me, says that I’m not good enough to win a vote of a non-Māori. Well, I am good enough. I am good enough. – Simon Bridges

Central planning fails not just because we cannot predict the future but because the Climate Commission can never know enough to make better decisions about you, your family or your business than you can. The commission says its decisions will be based not just on science but “equity”. What the commission thinks is fair. As an example the commission says the rules for Māori should be different. “Māori collectives” should get “free allocation.” 

Politics will decide what is fair. It will be a lobbyist paradise. Some firms will get privileged allocations and get their competitors’ products banned. It will be like the days when some firms got import licenses and grew rich while others were refused. Bureaucrats will decide which businesses to reward and which to ruin. A central plan cannot even guarantee the result will be net zero emissions. – Richard Prebble

Attacks on freedom of expression are coming from multiple directions: from a government that proposes to place new limits (conveniently vague at this stage, so as not to cause too much alarm) around what people may say on subjects such as race and religion; from woke vigilantes in mainstream and social media who campaign for the defenestration of non-woke broadcasters; and from cowed media bosses and corporate advertisers who show no commitment or loyalty to the values of the free, capitalist society in which they operate, and for whom defence of democratic values is less important than winning brownie points on left-leaning social media platforms.   – Karl du Fresne

Companies operating in the field of news and current affairs have a responsibility not shared by purveyors of other commodities. As shapers of public opinion and providers of information of vital public interest, the news media perform a role central to the functioning of democracy.  This imposes obligations of fairness, accuracy and balance; but as long as we profess to be a free and open society, it also requires them to reflect the full spectrum of public opinion. Karl du Fresne

The people we have most to fear from are not shoot-from-the-lip provocateurs like Banks, but the authoritarian zealots who insist that they be silenced. The threat these censorious prigs pose to a democratic society is potentially far greater and more far-reaching than anything a bigoted talkback host might say to his limited band of followers. As the British columnist Bernard Levin once put it: “Any legally permissible view, however repugnant, is less dangerous promulgated than banned.” Karl du Fresne

Trust; that’s a crucial factor here. The Left has always had a problem with trust. Leftist apparatchiks fret that people who are left to make up their own minds will make the wrong choices, so seek to lead them by limiting the range of ideas and opinions they are exposed to – which is why freedom of expression is such a crucial battleground in the so-called culture wars. Karl du Fresne

Here’s another canard: the reason voters have rejected Maori wards whenever the issue has been put to a referendum is that voters are racist. But I don’t believe for a moment that people vote against Maori wards because they don’t want Maori councillors. They do it because they intuitively understand that democracy is supposed to be colour-blind, and that candidates should get elected on the basis of merit rather skin colour. Voters get that, even if the Year Zero cultists in the government don’t. Karl du Fresne

It’s unclear whether, following this flip-flop, Speaker Mallard will now acquire the nickname of ‘The Jandal’. – James Elliott

While an MP bridles against neckties, voters who oppose Maori wards are being told to get knotted – Point of Order

I made a great choice when I got married. You’re very lucky if you get that one right. –Sir Eion Edgar

We spent a lot of time bringing up our children, and they’ve turned out well because we put the time and effort into them. – Sir Eion Edgar

Plunket was hectoring, abrasive, shallow, belligerent and generally obnoxious. In other words exactly what you want in a populist talkback jock pandering to a certain market segment. He is a cultural warrior on the side of the deplorables.

Talkback is not a counselling session where every caller is taught to be reasonable and sensitive. It is not a barber shop or a hairdressing salon where the attendant listens politely and asks a few friendly questions. I imagine that most callers are ill-informed cranks who a talkback host must tolerate and perhaps egg on in the hope the next caller has a coherent view, but clearly a lot of people do enjoy it. –  Martin van Beynen

Like a lot of people, I’m struggling with the rapid change in the new moral and political climate. The silencing of Plunket suggests mainstream broadcasters are so concerned about toeing the politically correct line that someone who echoes a sceptical and possibly prejudiced public cannot be tolerated. This appears to be on the basis that if we get rid of everyone who disagrees with current trends, the audience will just go away and reform. – Martin van Beynen

Sometimes media organisations just have to tell advertisers to get lost in the interests of higher principles like the value of the fourth estate and free speech. – Martin van Beynen

We need to remember we are not a powder keg nation. An off remark will not set off riots in the streets and see shops burnt down. We can take it and should not expect all debate to be sensitive, respectful and totally reasonable. Surely we are not so fragile that a controversial talkback host who challenges the new orthodoxy, even if he is a reactionary, cannot be tolerated. – Martin van Beynen

The beautiful thing about Valentine’s Day is that unlike a lot of other more prescriptive annual celebrations, it’s incredibly flexible. While films and advertisers might have told us otherwise, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a day for dramatic grand gestures featuring diamond bracelets and white tablecloth dinners. It’s a lot more enjoyable if you instead set it aside as a day for sweetness and tenderness. It’s about “e iti noa ana nā te aroha” – a small thing given with love.Charlotte Muru-Lanning

It certainly has its faults, but amid the routine of everyday life, Valentine’s Day is a much-needed reminder to celebrate the sweet things that make your heart flutter. Just like any relationship, it’s worth loving, in spite of its faults. – Charlotte Muru-Lanning

 It is entirely reasonable to aspire for personal responsibility while acknowledging that compassion will always be required – and that sometimes this has to take the form of government intervention.Monique Poirier

If we aspire to live in a society where reliance on the state is all but non-existent, we have to break the cycle of poverty. If parents are unable or unwilling to do this, it cannot be left up to the children to do it themselves. – Monique Poirier

The government is quite happy to throw $55m at the media, rush constitutional law changes through urgency, debate supplements, and snipe at the opposition. But child poverty? All we hear is some statistics on supposed measures improving, while conveniently forgetting to mention that the very one that matters – material deprivation – is not. – Monique Poirier

What is the answer? I don’t know. What I do know, however, is this shouldn’t be a partisan monopoly for the left. It is nothing short of reprehensible that New Zealand still has so many children living in poverty, and our politicians and leaders should be ashamed.  – Monique Poirier

Every serious moral philosophy, every decent legal system and every ethical organization cares deeply about intention.  It is the difference between murder and manslaughter. It is an aggravating or extenuating factor in judicial settings. It is a cardinal consideration in pardons (or at least it was until Donald Trump got in on the act). It’s an elementary aspect of parenting, friendship, courtship and marriage. A hallmark of injustice is indifference to intention. Most of what is cruel, intolerant, stupid and misjudged in life stems from that indifference.Bret Stephens

Should intent be the only thing that counts in judgment? Obviously not. Can people do painful, harmful, stupid or objectionable things regardless of intent? Obviously.  Do any of us want to live in a world, or work in a field, where intent is categorically ruled out as a mitigating factor? I hope not.

That ought to go in journalism as much as, if not more than, in any other profession. What is it that journalists do, except try to perceive intent, examine motive, furnish context, explore nuance, explain varying shades of meaning, forgive fallibility, make allowances for irony and humor, slow the rush to judgment (and therefore outrage), and preserve vital intellectual distinctions?

Journalism as a humanistic enterprise — as opposed to hack work or propaganda — does these things in order to teach both its practitioners and consumers to be thoughtful. There is an elementary difference between citing a word for the purpose of knowledge and understanding and using the same word for the purpose of insult and harm. Lose this distinction, and you also lose the ability to understand the things you are supposed to be educated to oppose. – Bret Stephens

A journalism that turns words into totems — and totems into fears — is an impediment to clear thinking and proper understanding. So too is a journalism that attempts to proscribe entire fields of expression. “Racist language” is not just about a single infamous word. It’s a broad, changing, contestable category.Bret Stephens

We are living in a period of competing moral certitudes, of people who are awfully sure they’re right and fully prepared to be awful about it. Hence the culture of cancellations, firings, public humiliations and increasingly unforgiving judgments. The role of good journalism should be to lead us out of this dark defile. Last week, we went deeper into it.Bret Stephens

Climate change is a real, manmade problem. But its impacts are much lower than breathless climate reporting would suggest. The UN Climate Panel finds that if we do nothing, the total impact of climate in the 2070s will be equivalent to reducing incomes by 0.2-2 percent. Given that by then, each person is expected to be 363 percent as rich as today, climate change means we will “only” be 356 percent as rich. Not the end of the world.

Climate policies could end up hurting much more by dramatically cutting growth. For rich countries, lower growth means higher risks of protests and political breakdown. This isn’t surprising. If you live in a burgeoning economy, you know that you and your children will be much better off in the coming years. Hence, you are more forgiving of the present. If growth is almost absent, the world turns to a zero-sum experience. Better conditions for others likely mean worse conditions for you, resulting in a loss of social cohesion and trust in a worthwhile future. – Bjorn Lomborg

 If all the rich countries in the world were to cut their carbon emissions to zero tomorrow and for the rest of the century, the effort would make an almost unnoticeable reduction in temperatures by 2100. – Bjorn Lomborg

The last 30 years of climate policy have delivered high costs and rising emissions. The only reliable ways to cut emissions have been recessions and the COVID-19 lockdowns, both of which are unpalatable. Expecting nations to stop using cheap energy won’t succeed. We need innovation. – Bjorn Lomborg

We should spend tens of billions to innovate the price of green energy below fossil fuels. Spending trillions on enormous and premature emissions cuts is an unsustainable and ineffective First World approach. Bjorn Lomborg

Here, though, is the detail that haunts me. For every patient who dies from Covid-19 in hospital, from the moment they encounter that first masked paramedic, they will never see a human face again. Not one smile, nor pair of cheeks, nor lips, nor chin. Not a single human being without barricades of plastic. Sometimes, my stomach twists at the thought that to the patients whose faces I can never unsee – contorting and buckling with the effort of breathing – I am no more than a pair of eyes, a thin strip of flesh between mask and visor, a muffled voice that strains and cracks behind plastic.

Of all Covid’s cruelties, surely the greatest is this? That it cleaves us from each other at precisely those times when we need human contact the most. That it spreads through speech and touch – the very means through which we share our love, tenderness and basic humanity. That it transforms us unwittingly into vectors of fatality. And that those we love most – and with whom we are most intimate – are the ones we endanger above all others. –  Dr Rachel Clarke

 For however bleak the times, however grim our prospects seem, human kindness finds a shape and form: it will not be locked down. –  Dr Rachel Clarke

Any straight person who uses a pronoun is definitely tattooing themselves as one thing – a bit of a wanker. Any gay person using the same, yeah still. – Cactus Kate

Pigeon holing people into the LGBTQIA community for quirks in their behaviour or preferences that are not stereotypical to society, is something social engineers have been trying to do to swell the numbers in those minority communities.  Not only is it an insult to people who genuinely belong to those communities, it is in itself creating the sort of division and anxiety the engineers are claiming to now use six figure government department jobs to remove. Do not be a wanker. Refuse to become a pronoun.  – Cactus Kate

My working hypothesis has been that MoH is just a wall of “Computer Says No” because the whole system’s held together with bailer wire and they know they can’t trust themselves to try to adjust anything. But some moves reduce the riskiness of the whole shambles. Daily testing in MIQ makes the whole thing less risky. – Eric Crampton

We do not have to inhabit a fantastical dystopian universe to imagine that one day, not so far away, Amazon will be pressured by customers or staff to eradicate Rowling’s spawn for the greater good. We can only hope that these platforms eschew the snivelling self-abasement that we have seen recently and uphold individual autonomy, but an oxymoronic Union of Individualists may have to join forces with brave small independent distributors to defeat the moronic mob. – Juliet Moses

The whole point of our parliamentary democracy is that the actions of Government and the policies of government and the statements of government are scrutinised, and the reason they’re scrutinised is because without scrutiny, governments can do what they like. Chris Bishop

The UK is not New Zealand. So everybody says ‘ah, New Zealand, New Zealand, it’s all terrific’, but as I’ve pointed out before on the media, they’ve got quite a lot of sheep in New Zealand, and they are a million miles from anywhere and it’s a lot easier if you want to put up border controls for New Zealand than it is here. – Professor Sir John Bell 

Publishers must realise they rely on readership and advertising. Treat these two groups with respect by giving them news and a platform for their views and they will succeed.Nick Smith

However, given that Tauwhiro means to tend or care for as a verb in Māori, or social worker if it’s a noun, putting the fear of God into gangstas is probably not what this police initiative is about. Bloody hell. Give me a Strike Force Raptor any day over an Operation Tend and Nurture when it comes to the gangs. . . The Government will proclaim it a huge success and the Police Commissioner will praise his task force. And during that six months, the gangs will have survived and thrived and laughed all the way to the bank. You want to try being kind with the new breed of gang members? Let’s just see how that works out, shall we? – Kerre McIvor

More generally, RNZ’s “product” reflects the network’s reckless abandonment of the middle way. The sensible notion that, as a public broadcaster, RNZ should do its best to reflect the public, has been set aside, and in its place a regime of extreme cultural didacticism has arisen. National Radio is no longer a station where the broadest possible range of New Zealanders’ ideas and opinions is broadcast for their fellow citizens to hear and judge. The views of those who remain unconvinced by the new orthodoxies of identity politics have been rigorously filtered out, and those espousing them “de-platformed” with extreme prejudice.- Chris Trotter

Breathlessly inoffensive, punctiliously politically correct, “The Panel” has made the penitential journey from seditious to soporific – and kept on going. – Chris Trotter

Not every New Zealander born between 1966 and 1986 subscribes to the extreme “wokeism” that is currently masquerading as the default ideology of RNZ’s listeners. Most of them would, however, be glad to hear its contentious propositions debated.Chris Trotter

An RNZ which refuses to acknowledge the full diversity of belief and aspiration in New Zealand runs a terrible risk. When the mood of the nation inevitably shifts, the worst possible position in which the public broadcaster could find itself is so far out on an ideological limb that its enemies feel completely safe in sawing off the branch altogether. An RNZ so bereft of friends and allies that no effective defence is any longer possible. There is a very good reason why the public broadcaster should do everything within its power to be the citizens’ friend and comforter. It’s so those same citizens will always have a reason to be the friends and comforters of public broadcasting – when its enemies come a-calling. – Chris Trotter

The utterly disgraceful reality is that local governments have conspired to drive up housing costs to absurd levels – among the highest in the English-speaking world relative to incomes – by tightly constraining the availability of land (in a country among the least populated in the world) and by imposing long and expensive delays on the construction of houses. Damien Grant

Nobody should take Jacinda seriously when she says she is concerned about child poverty. Until she is willing to face the reality that child poverty is going to continue to get worse as long as house prices continue to rise faster than incomes, she’s crying crocodile tears. – Damien Grant

The costs of confusing public health messaging are suffered more by some groups than by others, but this can all too easily be forgotten by progressive elites in the rush to signal inclusiveness. . . The elaborate dance involved in avoiding using words such as “mother” and “breast” offers those at the cutting edge of political discourse the opportunity to demonstrate their status at no cost to themselves. That does not, however, mean there is no cost to be borne by anyone else. – Louise Perry

The public’s best interest lies in full transparency and two extra weeks to digest the commission’s work and make thoughtful submissions. The hurdles are only manufactured deadlines on the road to an objective some 30 years hence. – Kate MacNamara

The most offensive use of urgency is when it is done for political convenience.Nick Smith

How could anyone of his intelligence fail to realise that, though as ever there was much wrong with the world, attempts to put everything right at once by the implementation of petty intellectual schemes are fraught with danger, and have a history of mass slaughter behind them?- Theodore Dalrymple

No transgression of sensitivities is so trivial that it will not invite a moralizing rebuke on social media. No cultural tradition is so innocuous that it needn’t be protected from the slightest criticism, at least if the critic has the wrong ethnic pedigree. – Bret Stephens

But in the humorless world of Woke, the satire is never funny, the statute of limitations never expires. . . In the game of Woke, the goal posts can be moved at any moment, the penalties will apply retroactively and claims of fairness will always lose out to the perpetual right to claim offense.  Bret Stephens

Since the 1990s, there is now about 36% less land farmed for sheep and beef. Yet the sector is in a very strong position and remains one of the fundamental engines that drive our economy. – Rob Davison

Whoever controls the dissemination of information controls the culture. And whoever controls culture controls thought. This was true in Nazi Germany, it was true during my childhood in Catholic-nationalist Ireland, it was true in communist-controlled eastern Europe, and it’s true now in the public sphere dominated by the left-wing woke ideologues of Big Tech. The problem will get worse before it gets better. – Declan Mansfield

We live in a postmodern world where truth is conditional on holding the right opinions, which are, conveniently, the beliefs of the most educated generation in history – at least in relation to computers and social media – and the most uneducated in, literally, everything else. They know nothing except what they are feeling, and they’ve been told what to feel, which is that someone evil or something intangible is responsible for the ills of the world – or, in a new iteration of an old rhetorical fallacy, that their anxiety or the ache in their toe is the reason why free speech should be curtailed. It’s solipsism, narcissism and anti-reason manifesting on a global scale. And it’s all done with smiley emojis, conspicuous compassion, virtue signalling and socially sanctioned empathy.

The name of this intellectual disease is wokeness, or identity politics, and it is an assault on logic, common sense, kindness and decency. It’s also, most importantly, a philosophy with no notion of forgiveness. Once you have sinned against its ever-changing tenets, you will be cast out of society. Ritual displays of contrition, repentance and obsequiousness will have no effect on your humiliation. Redemption is absent from the woke catechism. And, after destroying someone’s life, the modern-day Jacobins who champion this ideology congratulate each other, paradoxically, on their morality.Declan Mansfield

Every local authority is the servant of the people. The powers given to Local Government are to increase the local authority’s ability to serve all the people and to increase its capacity for such service. It is not, nor should it ever be about named selective service. – Gerry Eckhoff

Here in New Zealand some 57 years later our Government legislates that people are indeed to be judged but only by the colour of their skin. Sometimes we really do need to protect our country from our Government. – Gerry Eckhoff

You do not defend free speech by demanding it for yourself but by demanding it for others, especially when you reprehend the use to which they put it or what they say. Freedom to agree with yourself is no freedom at all and inevitably ends in tyranny.

But increasingly a tyranny of self-proclaimed virtue seems to be the aim of university-trained intellectuals who, in the name of their own beneficence, seek to silence those whose opinions they find objectionable. It is the very class that one might have supposed had most to fear from censorship, both legal and extra-legal, that most strongly advocates it. – Theodore Dalrymple

What seems to me clear is that central governments and the managers of lesser or subordinate institutions, such as the police and universities, increasingly think of themselves in the way that Stalin thought, or said that he thought, of writers: namely as the engineers of souls.

This they deem to be necessary because, left to themselves, people are inclined to think the wrong thoughts, and wrong thoughts are very dangerous, especially to those who invariably have the right thoughts.

Indeed, so dangerous are wrong ideas that their expression should either be criminalized or those who express them socially marginalized, preferably ostracized; but since prevention is better than cure, children, adolescents and young adults should be immunised against them by indoctrination. – Theodore Dalrymple

The simple act of self-compassion can lift a whole lot of stress and pressure off your shoulders. And it makes it easier to find compassion for others: to recognise they stuff up, get it wrong or aren’t as helpful as they should be. – Dougal Sutherland

In a high-trust, low-enforcement environment, which we’ve been working under, people must comply or we have to change the way we do things. The “Be Kind” mantra needs to become a “Be Responsible or You’ll Suffer the Consequences” edict. – Kerre McIvor

An organisation confident in its recommendations should not fear transparency about its modelling. – Oliver Hartwich

While the gas BBQ is becoming a distant memory, I for one, miss them. It is still BBQ weather after all, probably because the rest of the world hasn’t bothered to cut its emissions. – Steen Videbeck

The roughly $1080 paid to a full-time worker in South Auckland forced to stay home for 14 days leaves barely $100 in the bank after rent. – Jo Moir

Getting the country to play ball for the next six days and once again nip Covid in the bud is the biggest test the country’s faced in quite some time. – Jo Moir


Karen Chhour’s maiden speech

10/02/2021

Act MP Karen Chhour delivered her maiden speech yesterday.

It will surprise those who think only those on the left of politics know what it is like to grow up in poverty.

KAREN CHHOUR (ACT): Thank you, Mr Speaker. We often don’t have the hard conversations that are needed for many reasons. They are too hard to hear or we don’t want to face the truth that things are not as they should be. I’ve come into this role, knowing that I’m going to have to have some of these hard conversations about the care of our children in this country. In an ideal world, we would not need someone like me to stand here and say New Zealand deserves better; unfortunately, that’s what I’m having to do. I’ve watched over the years as Governments, past and present, tiptoe around issues that are so important to the average New Zealander. I’ve waited for a Government that had the courage to stand up and start saying what needed to be said; unfortunately, this never seems to happen. For years I’ve never really told my story, as I was ashamed of it. As I got older, I realised, unless we are honest with ourselves about our past, we cannot move forward. So here it goes.

I myself was born in Australia and brought to New Zealand by my mother when I was around a year old. I was taken to live with my grandparents in Kaeō. Life was simple, power and running water was not a thing, and, unfortunately, neither was indoor plumbing, but I was in a loving environment, which was the most important thing. I was moved to Auckland to live with my mother when it was time for me to start school. This is when my life changed. My mother had just got married and was starting a new life, and now they were taking on a child they didn’t really know at all. To the outside world, we looked like the perfect family, but, unfortunately, nothing could have been further from the truth. Life got so bad that, by the age of nine, I didn’t think I was going to survive to the age of 10. It was around this time that I ran away from home and cried out for help. Unfortunately, my cries for help went unheard and I was sent back into the same situation that I had run away from. Around this time, my mother’s marriage was ending and, eventually, she ended up on the DPB.

What was going on at home was affecting me in my day-to-day life in many ways. I was quiet and reserved and easily upset. This made me a target for bullies. The bullying got so bad in intermediate that it was decided it was best for me to leave, rather than dealing with the problem. How often have we heard that? I felt alone, with nowhere to turn, in a system that had let me down in so many ways. So I kept to myself and tried hard to simply stay unnoticed. By this stage in my life, my mental health was in the toilet and I was at the point where I didn’t know if I wanted to wake up the next day. The simple truth is I was at rock bottom.

This is when a lady by the name of Donna noticed something was not right. She came to me and asked me one simple question: “Are you OK?” Donna offered me a lifeline that day—one I knew I had to choose. One night I ran and ended up on her doorstep, with just the shirt on my back, and she took me in, no questions asked. Now, this is was my second experience with the system. They organised family group conferences and tried to find members of my family that would take me in. My mental health did not seem to be of a concern to them. I was made to feel like a burden. Their questions made me feel like I was to blame, and I was being labelled a trouble-maker.

Time went by and, even though I loved living at Donna and Clarke’s, I knew I couldn’t stay there forever, so I started to ask questions. This is when a social worker told me, “I’m sorry, none of your family wants you.” I asked whether I could go back to my grandmother and was told, “Your grandmother can’t take you again—it’s too hard for her.” I spent years resenting my grandmother for this, and it was only when I got older that I found out she had begged social services to have me, only to be told she was too old. Can you imagine being a child and hearing from a social worker that nobody—not even your family—wants you? I have lived with these words my whole life.

The system needs to learn that children are not just a number or a problem to be got rid of. They have minds and hearts of their own, and our words can break them. Eventually, I was placed with a family member that did their best, but I always knew that I was forced on them and I never felt welcome. I was a teen moving around from relative’s houses to friend’s couches, and back with my mother when I had nowhere else to go. I was bounced from pillar to post, and, by the time I was 14, I had moved schools seven times. I could not keep up, so I did what so many have done before, and I simply dropped out. I got a job and I saved what I could, and eventually I moved into a flat and became completely independent. I worked graveyard shifts at McDonalds while I tried to continue my education by day, doing a course. I drank a bit, I cried a lot, but I was doing OK.

One night I promised myself that, if I ever had a family of my own, I would never allow them to go through what I went through. Yes, I made mistakes—I was young—but it was then that I decided to take on every opportunity I could to try and better myself. I have worked hard over the years to make something of my life that my children can be proud of. It has not always been easy. I’m grateful to my husband, Ming, who has stood by me through all the tough times. We started our family earlier than expected: having our first child at 18. Ming found a job as a compressor mechanic and supported me while I searched for work. Once the baby was born, I worked nights at any job I could find. Eventually, Ming managed to find an apprenticeship in telecommunications. That apprenticeship has led to so many opportunities for us. I won’t pretend it was easy. The hours were long and the income was low, but he is now a project manager in his field.

Marriage came and then a second child. Then a year later we had saved enough to buy our first home. It wasn’t much, but it was ours, and it was so much more than just a house. It was the happy home that I had never had. Two more children followed, and we ended up living there for 15 years until we could finally afford the house we’re in now.

I worked many jobs over the years to help where I could, but all I wanted was to be home for my kids. So I stopped working and started helping my mother-in-law with her business. I sourced work and helped prepare clothes for deliveries. In return, she taught me how to sew. This was amazing as it allowed me the time to do things I wanted with my children, while learning a new skill. I’ve spent the last seven years volunteering with the St John Youth programme, holding the position of assistant divisional manager for five of those years. Over the years I’ve been that mother in the classroom, helping with reading groups, school trips, and anywhere else I was needed. And when we moved into our bigger home, I took the skills my mother-in-law taught me and became self-employed in the New Zealand – made clothing industry.

This brings me to today. Over the years, I’ve watched and listened to people in my community telling me their stories. It became clear to me that the system has not got any better than when I experienced it. In fact, it’s getting worse. My heart would break because I could relate so much to what they were saying, but I felt there was nothing I could do to help them. I’ve watched so many promises being made to improve the system, but it seemed that every time a promise was made, they changed the name but not much else. Whether it be Child, Youth and Family, Ministry for Vulnerable Children, or now Oranga Tamariki, it’s the same system with a new letterhead. This simply isn’t good enough.

I am one of the lucky ones. I had people that helped me believe in myself just enough that I could see my way out. It’s because of them I am able to stand here today and say enough is enough. We can’t keep doing what we’re doing. Society needs to take a stand and decide what is acceptable and what is not. I had the privilege of giving a similar speech to an audience during the election campaign and I’m going to say the same thing I said to them. It is high time the Government stopped the lip service and did something that actually helps the people that need it the most. Governments past and present have spent years avoiding making any real meaningful decisions, but at least we can now say we’ve had an inquiry into abuse in State care.

The royal commission report is a good thing. It brings some closure to the victims and I am grateful that these people have been given the opportunity to speak up and finally have a voice. But does this report really tell us anything we did not already know? Now we need more than just words. Apologies only go so far and cannot be taken seriously when what we apologise for is still happening.

I stand here today not only as a survivor of abuse as a child but a survivor of our system’s abuse. It is time we said what needs to be said: enough is enough and we won’t tolerate it any more. We must focus on our most vulnerable, our children. Parents are grownups. They can make their own choices and decisions. Our children don’t have the ability to make big choices yet, and they shouldn’t need to. They deserve our guidance and protection.

ACT thinks this can’t really take place while there’s such a focus on race and culture in an organisation delivering that protection. As I recently said, when Grainne Moss stood down as Oranga Tamariki chief executive, ethnicity and culture should not be how we decide what’s in the best interest of our children. Oranga Tamariki should be colour-blind and open to whatever will ensure a child’s wellbeing and safety. It is not a one-size-fits-all thing, and having legislation that tries to make it that way doesn’t work for our children.

If that means placing a vulnerable child into a home of a family who desperately want to love and care for them, rather than doing everything possible to place their child back into a family that made them vulnerable in the first place, then that should be the solution. As someone who has experienced three elements of placement—non-family who wanted me, family who didn’t, an extended family who did—I can tell you, as a young person you’ll take love, compassion, stability wherever you can find it. That’s why ACT believes Oranga Tamariki needs reform, just not in the way the reform looks likely to be done under this Government. But who knows? They might listen to me.

We actually need to set up a better system of support for people in this country, proper care for survivors so they can move forward with the hope of a better life. I’m really concerned, if we don’t do something fast, our next generation is going to suffer in ways we can’t comprehend. For years, I’ve been frustrated watching the numbers for homelessness, child poverty, and mental health rise. There seemed to be no party that was willing to have an open and honest discussion around these issues. I want to have these conversations and work to find a solution that is more than just throwing money at the problem.

We need to set up targeted help and put that money where it is needed the most. I think we spend far too much time on the -isms in this country: racism, sexism, and classism. I firmly believe that they can be used as weapons to distract us from the important issues instead of focusing on what needs to be done in these areas. The consequence of constantly putting labels on things seems to be that we’ve created an environment where expectations are lowered and personal responsibility is no longer a requirement. I want to focus on people being the best they can be and celebrate their successes in these areas instead of constantly focusing on the negatives that give these people the platform they desire.

I myself have been on the receiving—oh, please don’t misunderstand me when I say this; I know these things happen—end of bullying for some of these very reasons. I was judged when I was younger, sometimes very openly, about just being another Māori dropout that would never get anywhere in life. I soon learnt that it did not matter how hard I worked to improve myself. If someone wants to, they will always find a reason to try and drag you down. We cannot just accept that this is OK, but we also can’t let this distract us from reaching our goals. We cannot afford to get this stuff wrong any more. Our next generation is relying on us to learn from the past and get better.

That’s why I’m proud to be standing here as a member of the ACT Party team. They are willing to look at issues from an understanding of what’s good for the country and not just what’s good for the party. I would like to thank everyone who voted to support us and look forward to serving you and all New Zealanders in the years to come. Thank you, Mr Speaker.


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