We have a choice

March 26, 2019

We are one, we are united.

That was the strongest message seen and heard in response to the shootings in the Christchurch mosques and it came with many heartwarming and uplifting displays of support.

But there was another message from some – a diatribe of blame aimed not just at the shooter but more widely at New Zealanders in general.

As Karl du Fresne wrote:

. . .  in the days following the shootings, an alternative narrative emerged.

According to this alternative narrative, we are a hateful nation of racists, white supremacists and Islamophobes.  . . 

It’s a narrative of self-loathing that wants us to think the worst of ourselves. It’s a narrative that shamelessly seeks to politicise the killings and create a moral panic in the hope not only that we’ll tighten the gun ownership laws – no arguments there – but far more ominously, that we might be persuaded to discard such democratic niceties as freedom of speech. . . 

They were only words, and most didn’t get to the mainstream media,  but they weren’t words that sought to heal or help.

They were words that upset and divided.

The speakers were motivated by anger and politics. They made accusations of intolerance in such a way that showed they are intolerant.

They failed to see what they were expressing was not far away from the bigotry that blinded and drove the shooter.

I am not suggesting they were inciting violence.

I am not suggesting that there is none of the racism and xenophobia against which they were railing.

But they were opportunistically using the massacre to advance their own political agenda – one that doesn’t follow the example of the victim’s families who showed immense grace in the face of immeasurably grief.

Given their politics, these angry people might not have listened to Simon Bridges when he said:

. . . we all have a choice following the violence that tore through their community. To choose fear, hate or anger. Or to choose compassion, love and forgiveness.

Martin Luther King put it so well. “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” . . 

It doesn’t matter whether blame and hate come from the left or right of the political spectrum, they are still blame and hate which at best solve nothing and at worst create more.

If these people want positive change they must seek to reconcile and repair, leave the darkness, seek the light, lose the hate and work for love.

 


Quotes of the year

December 31, 2018

That’s creative thinking – if I had known that I probably would have joined them. –  Inspector John Kelly on the New Year revellers who built a large sandcastle in the middle of the Tairua estuary in an attempt to avoid the liquor ban.

Among western leftists, morality had become culture-specific. If imperialism’s victims asked for support, then they would be given it, unquestioningly. If not, then they would tend to their own political gardens exclusively.

The problem for western feminists is that, in spite of these cultural and political self-denying ordinances, the only garden currently showing unequivocal signs of flourishing, is their own. Across vast regions of the planet, not only are women’s rights not flourishing, they are being diminished. – Chris Trotter

Any family, in any part of the country, dealing with any one of those challenges, would find it difficult. But when you have all of those at once, it is incredibly difficult to see how a family could navigate their way through all of that on their own.

And you sure as heck, can’t have an official sitting in Wellington waving a magic wand, and fixing it for them. – Louise Upston

If I look at my colleagues, they get up and go to work every day because they care so much. . .Why would we do that if we didn’t care? Why would we do that if we didn’t care about individuals and actually want something better for their lives? Louise Upston

Men who have been inculcated into a culture of toxic masculinity need to regularly top up their King Dick Metre, which can only be fuelled by the disempowerment of someone else. And that someone else is very often a woman.

Their feelings of strength only come when someone else is in a position of weakness. They can only feel valid when they are able to invalidate someone else. They only feel like they have won when someone else has lost. – Kasey Edwards

Could you imagine a return to a world where the only people that gave dairy farmers grief were sheep farmers and bank managers?

Could you imagine the next time Fonterra was in the news, it was for a collaboration with Lynx in producing a deodorant that smelled of silage and cowshit, that dairy farmers could put on if they used too much soap in the shower?

Maybe we can hope that our on-farm processes continue to develop, along with scientific developments, adoption of best practices and consumer preferences, as opposed to at the whim of vote-hungry politicians, misinformed urban housewives and the combined armies of anaemic vegans, animal rights activists, goblins and orcs.

Maybe we could hope that we can reverse the trend that has seen rural folk and farmers become an ethnic minority in this country – a minority that is now seen by many New Zealanders as dirty, destructive and somehow freeloading on resources, with less credibility then prostitution. . .  –  Pete Fitzherbert

We welcome the government’s focus on tracking the number of children in persistent poverty and hardship. However, setting multiple arbitrary targets for reducing child hardship is easier than actually helping people extricate themselves from their predicaments. – Dr Oliver Hartwich

Good intentions are not enough. They’re not even a start, because there’s been a lot of money wasted and lives wrecked on the basis of good intentions expressed through public services. Bill English

 . . . the only reason we have a 37-year-old female Prime Minister is because a septuagenarian put her there. – Fran O’Sullivan

Peters’ inability to contain his bitterness suggests the coalition negotiations were a charade. His resentment towards National is deep-rooted, and since the election, the feeling is reciprocated. It is unlikely that National’s change of leader will diminish Peters’ toxicity.  – The Listener

It strikes me as rather unfair that while we’ve been up in arms over where the country’s burgeoning cow population does its business, our burgeoning human population has been fouling up the waterways with what comes out of our own backsides. We can’t berate dairy farmers for dirtying the rivers if we’re content for our biggest city to keep using its waterways as one giant long drop. – Nadine Higgins

Over-reacting about everything someone says or does, creating controversy over silly innocuous things such as what I choose to wear or not wear, is not moving us forward. It’s creating silly distractions from real issues.Jennifer Lawrence

The incident has also highlighted the danger of a government full of academics, health professionals, public servants, teachers and career politicians picking business winners.

The idea that councils around the country would rail or truck their rubbish to Westport for incineration is one of those ludicrous ideas that only regional development officials would think is a flyer. – Martin van Beynen

Getting policy right matters. In the end, lots of money and good intentions is never enough. You’ve got to get the policy right. – Nicola Willis

So consumed are they with the grassy vistas opening up in front of them that they are oblivious to their drawing ever closer to journey’s end, namely the holding yards of the local freezing works. – John Armstrong

Businesses, by and large, are better at coping with bad news than they are at coping with uncertainty. You cannot plan for it or adapt to it. Hamish Rutherford

Feminism is about choice, the right to have one, the right to be equal. It is not about trampling men to death in the process. It is not about spending so much time telling girls that “they can do anything” that they become curious and confused as to why you keep telling them something they already knew.

Guess what? The girls we’re raising haven’t had it occur to them they can’t do anything. – Kate Hawkesby

I’m not sure what affordable means but I am sure I’m not alone in that. It’s bound to be a complicated formula with one of the variables being the price of avocados. I just hope it doesn’t add up to borrowing from KiwiBank to buy from KiwiBuild during the KiwiBubble resulting in KiwiBust.James Elliott

 If we believe that correcting harmful inequities lies in asserting an inherent malice and/or obsolescence in all people with a specific combination of age, gender and ethnicity then we have already lost the fight. The real enemy is the unchecked and uncontested power exercised through institutions, social norms and structures which privilege one group over another.    – Emma Espiner

A tagged tax has to be a tagged tax, otherwise it’s a rort. – Mike Hosking

While the Greens are dreaming of compost, wheelbarrows, chook poo and quinoa, the rest of us wouldn’t mind getting on with business. And that means we need water. – Mike Hosking

Certainly a rational person, and especially one convinced of the threat of global warming and the possibility of more droughts, would increase, not stop investment in irrigation?

That is not to argue that water quality and nitrate leaching are not problems – they are. But to stop irrigation as a solution is to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The rational approach is to find ways of reducing nitrate leaching even under high-producing irrigated pastures. This requires more science, more evidence, more rational thinking. – Dr Doug Edmeades

Businesses — it doesn’t matter what they are — require reliable steady staff; not rocket scientists but reliable steady staff. Unless we have those types of people available our whole economy has an issue. – Andre de Bruin

There’s power in love. There’s power in love to help and heal when nothing else can. There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will. There’s power in love to show us the way to live. – Michael Bruce Curry

The well-being of all communities can be enhanced by enabling greater levels of social solidarity, empowering people in their personal and community lives, enhancing social infrastructure and establishing opportunities for dignified work and alternative livelihoods. – Tracey McIntosh

Tough on crime is popular with the insular and ignorant when it comes to justice policy, while restorative approaches with enduring outcomes that help people stay away from jail because they offend less are not popular, not sexy and seen as “soft on crime”. Chester Borrows

Everyone can do something amazing once. You’ve got to back it up and do it again – Rowland Smith

The money spent on eliminating risk in one area means less available to fix problems in other areas. In other words, the consequence of lowering risk in one sphere can hinder minimising risk in another one. Chew carefully on that one. – Martin van Beynen

That’s what the call for diversity means. An endless slicing and dicing of society into every thinner minority groups with everyone scrambling for quotas and box ticking.

It’s a bureaucratic nightmare. It’s also a complete denial of individuality. You are not important. All that matters is what boxes you tick. It’s the boxes that define you, not what you do, what you think or what you produce. – Rodney Hide

We went to do a story about an American billionaire buying up wineries in Wairarapa. Local wine makers were going broke and in stepped the American billionaire. I went down with a TV crew expecting locals to be up in arms about the ‘foreigner’ buying up the land. But I couldn’t find one voice raised against him.

There is one thing worse than a foreign buyer, they told me, and that’s not having a buyer at all. – Guyon Espiner

It feels like a Dear Winston moment really – Mike Jaspers

We grow up thinking the world is fair, but it’s not, so you’re not always going to get the results you’re looking for. The challenge is to pick yourself up again when you have those days.Joe Schmidt

I believe rugby is similar to society, where it is about interdependence and us trying to help each other. Imagine if everyone in life became the best version of themselves and made life easier for those either side of them. – Joe Schmidt

The very premise of our system is we learn from our mistakes and wrongs and are given freedom to make amends.Mike Hosking

Grown-ups know that being short $60 a week is not what ails and troubles our most vulnerable children. Proper parenting can’t be bought for $60 a week. – Rodney Hide.

So stop beating yourself up for buying too many books or for having a to-read list that you could never get through in three lifetimes. All those books you haven’t read are indeed a sign of your ignorance. But if you know how ignorant you are, you’re way ahead of the vast majority of other people. – Jessica Stillman

Feminism has descended into a cauldron of cattiness; of nasty factionalism. It doesn’t empower. It  scrutinises and judges groups within groups. Like extreme left or right politics, the creed is hardest on those most like it – those who should know better but fail. – Lindsay Mitchell

Regional development is about more than funding a few projects; it’s about allowing people to make a living. – Paul Goldsmith

This image of Anglo-Saxon culture isn’t grounded in the up-to-date distinct cultural traditions or practices of the United Kingdom. It is a cover of a misremembered song, played by a drunk who forgot the words mid-song and so started humming. – Haimona Gray

Imagine the world today if William Wilberforce and Kate Sheppard had refused to engage with people whose views they found repugnant. If Martin Luther and Martin Luther King Jr had decided not to argue back. If Desmond Tutu and Te Whiti had seen no point in suffering the slings and arrows of their opponents because, hey, nothing’s gonna change.

The twist in this debate is that the Molyneuxs, Southerns and other so-called champions of free speech only win when their shouting drowns out other voices. Voices of conciliation and peace. Because regardless of the polarisation we see today, people can change. We can learn. And, even if we still disagree on some profound issues, we can find other things to agree on and other things to respect in each other. Tim Watkin

The day that this country’s dictated to by the social media trolls is the day that democracy dies. If we are to be spooked into compliance by what an anonymous moron threatens by the swipe of a cellphone screen then we’re little better than they are. – Barry Soper

It is unfortunate, but the world seems to have lost the ability to disagree well. Civility in our discussions and debates over contentious issues seems to have been lost. We are increasingly polarised in our views with recourse to extreme positions in order to ‘prove’ or force our point. However, the answer is not to avoid difficult and, at times, confronting conversations. Rather, community leaders, and universities in particular, play a vital role in leading our communities in those discussions, as difficult as they may be, applying the principles of informed discussion, compromise, enlightenment of the points of view of others, and if all else fails, respectful disagreement. – Chris Gallavin

But where is that line that we need to find as a Parliament between being culturally sensitive to people that may not see things in the way in which New Zealand’s own cultures have developed, and, on the other hand, being firm enough that, actually, no, these things, regardless of culture, are not right. Nick Smith

We have an education system that does not reward excellence and does not punish failure. Decades of bureaucratic hand-wringing has delivered a broken system that relies on the personal integrity and good intentions of those who choose teaching as a profession. – Damien Grant

After all, as long as we can discern the truth clearly, love it passionately, and defend it vigorously, we have nothing to fear from open debate; and if we can’t do those things, then why are we claiming to be a university at all? – Dr Jonathan Tracy

The answer to suffering, physical or mental, is affection and good care. This should come first and as far as possible from family and community, supported by institutions.

“Finishing people off” may suit our current individualistic, utilitarian, impatient culture, but it will degrade us all in the end. – Carolyn Moynihan

In a liberal, democratic society, there will always be speech in the public domain that some people find offensive, distasteful or unsavoury. Unless that speech is manifestly doing harm to others, there is no case to ban it, only a case for arguing strongly against it or ridiculing it. Recourse to suppression is redolent of authoritarianism, not democracy. – Chris Bishop

The irony is that although the elimination of subsidies started out as a kind of political punishment, it wound up becoming a long-term blessing for farmers. We went through a difficult period of adjustment but emerged from it stronger than ever. . .

 We became ruthlessly efficient, which is another way of saying that we became really good at what we do.

We also improved our ability to resist regulations that hurt agriculture. Subsidies empower politicians, who can threaten to cut off aid if farmers refuse to accept new forms of control. Without subsidies, we have more freedom to solve problems through creativity and innovation rather than the command-and-control impulses of government. – Craige Mackenzie

But as someone who’s spent a bit of time writing and talking about the important, and not so important, issues in life, there is one thing I know which will never change.

Truth always wins. If you report the facts you can never go wrong. – Peter Williams

We can’t prosper by taking in our own washing so, strutting it on the global stage has to be our modus operandi.And I mean strutting, not just selling low value stuff that rises or falls on the rise or fall of the NZ dollar. Strutting starts with the daring of the ambition and is sustained by the ability to execute.  Ruth Richardson

The frightening retreat from sane economics. Free trade is the path to growth, protectionism is the path to decline. Ruth  Richardson

This is an accidental government formed on the fly and governing on the fly.–  Ruth Richardson

Death of great science on the alter of doctrinal and PC positions doesn’t strike me as the smartest choice.  – Ruth Richardson

I’m satisfied within myself. I’ve got more to do with my life than look at that. Barbara Brinsley

Each of us has made different life choices and, actually, that gives women everywhere role models.

It’s legitimate to choose. We don’t have to be the same, we don’t have to judge each other, we make our own choices. – Dame Jenny Shipley

Every student who walks out of the gate to truant is already a statistic of the worst kind, highly likely to go to prison, highly likely to commit domestic violence or be a victim of domestic violence, be illiterate, be a rape victim, be a suicide victim, be unemployed for the majority of their life, have a major health problem or problems, die at an early age, have an addiction – drugs, gambling, alcohol or smoking. Virginia Crawford

I am Māori. Tuhinga o mua Ngāti Hāmua a Te Hika a Pāpāuma. Ko taku iwi Ngāti Kahungunua a Rangitāne. I am Scottish, I am English, I am a New Zealander. I am not defined by the colour of my skin. I am a victim. I did not choose to be a victim. – Maanki 

If we want to see fewer Māori in prison, our whānau broken apart because dad is in prison and mum is now in rangi (heaven), we must free ourselves and our whānau from the increasing level of domestic violence and abuse in our homes. The drugs must stop, the high level of drinking and violence among our own must be gone.

How many of our fathers are incarcerated, because their fathers taught them the only way to deal with anger was violence, to punch their way through a situation. How many of our whānau have lost a mother, a child, a brother from our people’s own hand. – Maanki

The blame needs to stop. It is not the police, the system, the state, the Government, the justice system or even the Pākehā who made a man beat his wife to death, to rape an innocent stranger, to murder their own child or to sexually abuse a daughter or son.

No, it was a choice, a choice made by a perpetrator. – Maanki


The Senate, collectively, could not find their own arses with a sextant and a well-thumbed copy of Gray’s Anatomy
Jack the Insider

Over the years I have come to the conclusion that God’s table is a smorgasbord of theological truths with some in conflict with others and some more important that others.    People are free to pick and choose from that smorgasbord and do so based on what is important to them. – The Veteran

But I can’t remember not having books. I’d go to the library every week, search every shelf with children’s books, then go home with a stack. . .   Every choice was my choice. Then I could control what went into my head by plugging into new worlds, learning new things and just imagining a different life. . .

When we only look to reinforce our taste and beliefs we lose the opportunity to browse and the opportunity for serendipity, and that’s unfortunate. – Maud Cahill

It was sort of total irritability associated with feeling hungry that would manifest as grumpiness. This void in my stomach would create a void in my sense of humour and my ability to tolerate things. – Simon Morton

This is a partnership designed by a drover’s dog and a clinical psychologist who have absolutely nothing in common except they both have experience dealing with rogue steers who don’t believe in being team players. – Clive Bibby  

I live down in the South Island, and there’s been a lot of farmers trying to curtsey. Most of the time they’re in gumboots. – Dame Lynda Topp

In the west food is produced by a few to feed the many and when people are relieved of the duties of working on farms and subsistence farming the job is handed to a few and people move to the cities and that is when they become disconnected. – Anna Jones

Class is a commodity that doesn’t seem to be in conspicuous supply in politics at the moment. – Chris Finlayson

New Zealand’s real problems are not identity politics, no matter what the left may think. They are that the welfare state has failed. Too many kids don’t get educated. Too many working aged adults are on welfare. Too many are in jail because there is too much crime and they’re never rehabilitated. Housing has gone from a commodity to a ponzi scheme. Our productivity growth is anaemic. With government’s and councils’ approach to regulation, it’s amazing anyone still does anything. Andrew Ketels

I certainly don’t celebrate diversity for its own sake. You have to distinguish pluralism from relativism. Relativism tends towards ‘anything goes’ and that can’t be right

Pluralism is the view that although some ways of living really are wrong, the list of possible good ways to live a flourishing human life and have a good society contains more than one item. – Julian Baggini

We didn’t need a tax on stones, there wasn’t a concern about ‘peak stone’ and we didn’t need to stage protests in front of the chieftains’ caves to argue for the use of bronze. It came down to developing the new technology, which had benefits over the old technology, and disseminating the knowledge. – Andrew Hoggard

I am the culmination of generous moment after generous moment, kind moment after kind moment and that is the glue that holds this country together. – Kurt Fearnley

It is a privilege for any mother to be able to propose a toast to her son on his 70th birthday. It means that you have lived long enough to see your child grow up. It is rather like – to use an analogy I am certain will find favour – planting a tree and being able to watch it grow. – Queen Elizabeth II

When I noticed that I was spending far more time scrolling through my email and Twitter than I was playing on the floor with my son, I realized that the problem wasn’t with screens warping his fragile mind. It was that I’d already allowed my phone to warp mine. So these days, my husband and I try not to use our phones at all in front of our son. Not because I think the devil lives in my iPhone, but because I think, to some extent, a small part of the devil lives in me. – EJ Dickson

The proper purpose of journalism remains as Kovach and Rosenstiel defined it – not to lead society toward the outcome that journalists think is correct, but to give ordinary people  the means to make their own decisions about what’s in their best interests.Karl du Fresne

I’m bloody angry at New Zealand for fighting over Santa and I want us to stop. This is not what Santa’s about. Santa is not about angst and Santa is not about Santa hate.

Santa is about hope, Santa is about dreams. Santa can come down the chimney even when you don’t have a chimney. Santa can come in the ranch slider, Santa can drink craft beer. Santa can drink strawberry-flavoured Lindauer for all I care. – Patrick Gower

The expectation that we rustics just need to lean on the gate chewing a straw and making obscure pronouncements about the weather in impenetrable accents for picturesque effect is entertaining until it dawns on you that your role apparently really is just to provide background local colour and not disturb the peace too much.  Rural places are workplaces — stuff happens down on the farm and that stuff can be noisy.  And not just on the farm — gravel quarries, jet-boat companies and the construction sites of all those new houses that didn’t used to be there. – Kate Scott

Rose-tinted nostalgia strikes us all from time to time, but when it comes with a side of imported urban world view where non-working weekends and the notion of property values is accorded more worth than building community resilience, I begin to feel resentful of the twittering worries of suburbia intruding on my bucolic peace with its soothing soundtrack of barking huntaways, topdressing planes and chainsaws –Kate Scott

I had a gentleman come to my office three years ago. He was a Labour candidate. He ran for the Labour Party. He was coming to see me because he’d been to see his own team—they wouldn’t help him with an issue, so he came to me. Did I say, “Oh, sorry, you’ve been a Labour candidate. I’m not going to assist you. I’m not going to help you.”? No, I didn’t. I actually helped him with his issue, because that’s my job as a member of Parliament. I don’t care whether you support New Zealand First, I don’t care whether you’re a supporter or member of the Labour Party, the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, or the National Party—if you come and ask for help and support, you will get it. That’s my job.-  Mark Mitchell

The only positive outcome from the UN’s 2009 Copenhagen fiasco was the launch of New Zealand’s Global Research Alliance (GRA) to reduce methane and nitrous-oxide emissions, which account for 22 per cent of the world’s GHG total. More than 50 countries are now involved. If the GRA develops science to cut agricultural emissions by two-thirds it would be the equivalent of the US becoming a zero emitter. If it eliminated them, it would be like China going carbon zero. This would benefit the world at least 100 times more than New Zealand becoming net-zero domestically. – Matthew Hooton

No one bets on a horse with a dud jockey.  Simon Bridges

Ms Ardern promised to lead the most open and transparent Government New Zealand has seen. That doesn’t mean picking and choosing to be open and transparent when it benefits her. – Tova O’Brien

Shaw and his comrades have a vision of a different economic model, one that sane people have tunnelled under barbed wire fences to escape. Alas, the sacrifice required to achieve this gender-fluid post-colonial paradise requires a reversal of most of the economic gains of the last 50 years.Damien Grant

The less you trust people, the more distrustful they become and so the more law you need in order to trust them. A good society would not have too much law, because people would do the right thing he says. But in New Zealand we have a lot of law. – Professor Mark Henaghan


Let some knowledge flourish?

August 6, 2018

Then-vice chancellor of Massey Chris Kelly provoked outrage after making comments about women vets:

Kelly told Rural News that 75 to 85 per cent of vet students were women and in the first year when there was a high ‘cull’, it was the female students who continued because the work was largely academic.

“That’s because women mature earlier than men, work hard and pass,” he told Rural News. “Whereas men find out about booze and all sorts of crazy things during their first year.” . . 

When I went through vet school, many years ago, it was dominated by men; today it’s dominated by women. That’s fine, but the problem is one woman graduate is equivalent to two-fifths of a fulltime equivalent vet throughout her life because she gets married and has a family, which is normal. So, though we’re graduating a lot of vets, we’re getting a high fallout rate later on.” . . 

Shortly after the outrage, he stepped down.

He apologised yesterday and said the information he gave in the article was incorrect.

He told the university today that he intended to step down from his position, effective immediately.

In a statement, Mr Kelly said his decision followed media coverage of his comments.

“Having had time to carefully consider the views of many staff, students and stakeholders, I believe that it is in the interests of the university that I step aside,” he said. . .

Martin van Beynen wrote at the time that the chancellor’s point was lost in the silly vet sexism fracas:

 . . But there is a wider problem with jumping from a great height on a man like Kelly.

Kelly spoke his mind giving a view which was not hateful or disrespectful. Essentially he was saying the taxpayer gets more bang for their buck by training male vets because of the nature of the job and the fact women, due to an unfortunate quirk of biology, have babies and want to spend some time with them.

It sounds like a defendable view which should prompt some debate. There might actually be a problem brewing away in vet education due to the dominance of female graduates. That won’t be talked about now because no-one will be brave enough to raise it.

The danger is that due to the sensitivity of the issue and possible ramifications of expressing a view, the wrong decisions will be made, not because people don’t know the facts or what to do, but just because to raise the difficult matters is a career wrecker.

The last and important point is that it’s quite healthy for people to shoot their mouths off now and again. It’s much better to know what people think than to have their views massaged by public relations or communications staff into nothingness. People censoring themselves is far more dangerous than saying what they really think.

Exactly. It is far better to know what people think than to have their views and opinions, whether they be right or wrong, silenced.

The importance of free speech is not something the current Massey vice chancellor Jan Thomas appears to believe in:

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.

So far so good but then she writes:

Freedom of expression is one thing, but hate speech is another. As a concept that has now entered common parlance, hate speech refers to attacks based on race, ethnicity, religion, and increasingly, on sexual orientation or preference. . .

But not all religions are equal when it comes to criticism. I’ve yet to read or hear anyone attacking Christianity accused of hate speech.

Let me be clear, hate speech is not free speech. . .

She’s right that hate speech, however, it’s defined, isn’t free speech.

But the point that free speech would permit people to indulge in hate speech appears to have escaped her.

. . . Academics have a responsibility to engage with the communities we serve, to correct error and prejudice and to offer expert views, informed by evidence, reason and well-informed argument.

Given the current dominance of wall-to-wall social media and the echo chambers of fake news, universities are in many ways obliged to make positive societal interventions.

Universities support our staff and students to push boundaries, test the evidence that is put to them and challenge societal norms, including examining controversial and unpopular ideas.

This also obliges our institutions to support staff if and when they are attacked for engaging in such debates.

In this regard, I am guided by the University of California’s former President Clark Kerr’s oft-cited maxim that “the role of universities is not to make ideas safe for students, but to make students safe for ideas”.

And as I regularly remind our graduates, with rights come responsibilities.

Public universities have an obligation to uphold our civic leadership role in society and our first responsibility, I would argue, is to do no harm.

Universities are characterised by the academic values of tolerance, civility, and respect for human dignity.

All of that is reasonable.

And that is why it is important to identify and call out any shift from free speech towards hate speech. The challenge we face is to clarify when that shift occurs and to counter it with reason and compassion.

While I have concerns about what exactly hate speech is, I can’t argue against countering it with reason and compassion.

But then she concludes:

Hate speech has no place at a university. My university values our commitment to ideas and scholarship and free expression. . .

Spot the contradiction: a commitment to free expression and the exlusion of hate speech.

A university of all places ought to be able to counter the misguided, misinformed and mistaken by reasoned and reasonable debate, not by shutting them up and shutting down their right to express their views, however wrong or revolting those views are.

Karl du Fresne writes we should be very suspicious about claims of “hate speech”:

. . . My first concern is that much of what is emotively described as hate speech isn’t hateful at all. Too often it simply means opinions and ideas that some people find distasteful or offensive. But merely being offended is no justification for stifling expressions of opinion in a liberal, open democracy that depends on the contest of ideas. 

More worryingly, accusations of “hate speech” can be used to intimidate people into silence and put discussion of certain issues and ideas off-limits. In fact I believe that’s the over-arching aim.

Anyway, who defines hate speech? The term is bandied around as if there’s some agreed definition. But there’s not, and freedom of expression is too precious to leave it to an aggrieved minority or an academic elite to define it and therefore determine what the rest of us may say.

It’s also an infinitely elastic term. In Britain, where police have the power to prosecute for hate speech, there have been some frightening cases of overkill and heavy-handedness. 

Better to set the legal bar high to allow plenty of space for free speech, as the courts have tended to do in New Zealand. By all means, draw the line at harmful acts, direct threats to people’s safety or incitements to violence against minorities. But the law already allows for criminal prosecution in such cases.

We have far more to fear from people who want to suppress speech than we do from those who say things that others find objectionable. The real issue here is language control – because if you can control the language people are allowed to use in political discourse, you can control the range of ideas people are permitted to articulate and explore. . .

No, language is the latest battleground in what is known as the culture wars. The mounting clamour for tougher laws against so-called hate speech is an outgrowth of identity politics, in which minority groups are encouraged to see themselves as oppressed or disadvantaged because of their colour, ethnicity, gender, religious belief or sexual orientation. 

Hate speech makes some colours, ethnicities, genders, religions and sexual orientations more equal than others.

This has generated a demand for protection from comments that might be seen as critical or belittling – hence the frequency with which we hear people being accused of xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia, homophobia and misogyny.

No one likes to have these labels pinned on them, so people keep their heads down. Accusing someone of hate speech has the same effect. It’s a quick way to shut down debate. . .

It’s so much easier to accuse someone of hate speech than it is to debate and counter what they say with facts and reason.

Journalists, of all people, should be ardent advocates of free speech because they have the most to fear if it’s abolished. In totalitarian regimes, journalists are often the first people to be imprisoned (as in Turkey) and even risk being murdered (as in Putin’s Russia).

But the most illiberal pronouncement I have read on the supposed dangers of free speech came from a university vice-chancellor who clearly thought that ordinary New Zealanders can’t be trusted to form their own sensible conclusions about contentious issues.

This pompous academic thought we needed guidance to keep us on the right path. And where from? Why, from universities.

We can infer from this that universities see themselves as having taken over the Churches’ role as moral arbiters. God help us all.

That the academic is vice chancellor of the same university the former-chancellor resigned from for saying something which got the crowd baying intrigues and concerns me.

Kelly wasn’t criticised for saying young men mature later and drink too much. He didn’t say that women don’t make good vets. He did say women work shorter hours than men.

He got his numbers wrong – saying women vets worked two-fifths of the time men did when younger vets work similar hours and after 30 women vets work an average of 37 hours a week and men an average of 45.

He might also be accused of not wording what he said better.

But over-egging the numbers and wording what he said somewhat clumsily ought to be a minor transgression.

A vice chancellor of a university, which is supposed to be a bastion of free speech, declaring that hers won’t  be ought to be a major one.

Kelly’s comments provoked an outrage, lots of media coverage and led to his resignation. All I’ve come across in response to Thomas’s declaration that Massey won’t uphold free speech are a very few well reasoned opinion pieces arguing against her.

Liam Hehir didn’t refer to Thomas’s remarks but he highlights the value of free speech and the danger in silencing it:

. . . New Zealand has developed a similar free-speech culture.

And the value of that culture isn’t that it protects racists and crackpots. It’s that it protects the humane and decent, who will not always hold the reins of power. The re-emergence of authoritarianism in continental Europe, where free-speech rights are less embedded, may well provide a warning here.

So should we accord liberal free speech rights to those with deplorable views? Yes. But it’s not to protect them from us. It’s to protect us from them.

Kelly stood down as chancellor for speaking freely, if what turned out to be unwisely in these politically-correct times. Vice chancellor Thomas declared Massey a free speech-free university and hardly raised an eye brow.

The uiniversity’s motto is floreat scientia – let knowledge flourish.

It isn’t qualified as some knowledge but if free speech can’t flourish there, can all knowledge?


No mention of elephants in homeless room

February 13, 2018

The report on homelessness shows the problem is getting worse.

. . .Co-author Alan Johnson says the data shows how far behind we are when it comes to building homes.

“The current position around homelessness and people with temporary and unsatisfactory housing is that it appears to have got gradually worse.

“In terms of the population growth we’ve seen in New Zealand and particularly in Auckland over the last three years, we just haven’t built enough houses to accommodate that growth.

“That’s one of the biggest causes of what we’re seeing now literally on the streets of New Zealand.

“Part of the problem, then, is that it will take some time to resolve that.”

The report considers homelessness, the rental market, housing affordability and housing supply around the country, with an in-depth focus on Auckland. . . 

What the report doesn’t consider is two of the causes of the problem – family dysfunction and community living for the mentally ill.

When a marriage or relationship breaks up a family which lived in one house then needs two.

Relationship breakdowns happen for many reasons. When there are irreconcilable differences and/or problems such as violence and addiction a break up can be the only solution  and children can be better with two parents living happily separately than unhappily together.

But no matter how justifiable a break-up is, a family needing two homes contributes to the housing shortage.

Then there are young people whose parent or parents can’t, or won’t, have them at home.

The reasons for that can be complex too but whatever they are, the result is too often young people with no family home to go to and without resources to make one of their own.

Another contributor to homelessness is deinstitutionalisation of people with mental illnesses . In writing about the mental health inquiry Karl du Fresne says:

. . .My prediction is that activists will do their best to ensure that the inquiry focuses on the supposed “drivers” of mental illness. These will include poverty, racism, colonisation, homelessness and homophobia. In other words, they will want to make it all about victims.

No one will want to talk about the virtues of the old “asylums”, because the word is deeply unfashionable. But they were given that name for a reason. An asylum is a place that provides sanctuary. That’s why we talk about political prisoners seeking asylum and asylum-seekers who have fled from unsafe countries.

An asylum was a place where the mentally ill were guaranteed a warm bed, three meals a day, medical care and company, if they wanted it. There were nurses to ensure they took their medication. It wasn’t an ideal existence, but it was safe and secure.

In the 1980s, however, mental health professionals decided the system was inhumane. Hospitalisation was little better than imprisonment, they argued. The mentally ill were entitled like everyone else to live independently and autonomously.

Wrapped in the warm embrace of that amorphous thing called the community, they would be liberated to fulfil their true potential as human beings.

It didn’t seem to matter if they were incapable of cooking, shopping, managing their finances, holding down a job, washing their clothes or showering. And so they ended up living in squalid flats, boarding houses and caravan parks where there was no one to ensure they took their meds. At best, a nurse or mental health worker might check on them occasionally.

It was an ideologically driven change, but the government bean-counters and deconstructionists liked it because it meant the closure of all those big, expensive old institutions.

Doubtless this bold experiment worked for some people, but its negative consequences can be seen in frequent heart-breaking newspaper reports about acutely ill patients living in the community who have committed murder or suicide. . . 

Institutions weren’t perfect. People who with the right help are living much better lives in the community are better off without them.

But some people can’t cope in the community and far too many of them are homeless because of that.

Homelessness is a driver of mental illness and the reverse is also true – mental health is a driver of homelessness so is family dysfunction.

They are the elephants in the homeless room and neither will be solved by building more houses.

 


Quotes of the year

January 3, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Civilisation is built on cultural appropriation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I got up again. – Bill English

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

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

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

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

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

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

I got up againBill English

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Telling the truth is colour blind. – Duncan Garner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Winners losers, losers winners?

October 12, 2017

Karl du Fresne is right – this is all arse-about-face:

. . . In any half-rational political system, it would be the parties which between them won more than 81 percent of the vote, not Peters with his measly share, that determined the course of negotiations. A minor player such as New Zealand First, if it had genuine respect for democracy, would accept that its negotiating strength should be proportionate with its level of popular support. But again, this is Peters we’re talking about. And sadly he’s encouraged in his delusions by both the media, which can’t resist stroking his ego (for example, by calling him the kingmaker), and by the major parties, whose attempts to appease Peters come perilously close to grovelling.

Pardon the expression, but this is all arse-about-face. It’s demeaning to democracy. We’ve heard a lot over the years about the tail-wagging-the-dog scenario under MMP. Well, here it is writ large, and unfolding before our very eyes.

It’s a situation rich in irony. We voted for the introduction of MMP primarily to punish our politicians and bring them to heal. We were fed up with their broken promises. We wanted to make them more accountable.

Only now are New Zealanders realising that we achieved the exact reverse. Voters have no control whatsoever over whatever’s going on right now behind closed doors at Parliament. In effect, we have placed still more power in the hands of the political elites. This is the antithesis of what the promoters of MMP promised (and perhaps naively believed themselves). . . 

The situation is made even worse because whatever decision Peters and his negotiating team make has to be approved by serious consensus from the party board – the members of which have not been made public.

Frustrating as the protracted negotiations  and the secrecy over the board membership are, my fear is that the government that eventuates might be even worse.

It is possible Winston Peters and New Zealand First have learned from previous failures and will be determined to ensure strong and stable government in the best long term interests of  New Zealand.

But it is at least as likely that they haven’t and that both they and any coalition partners will be damaged by whatever permutation of government is foisted on us.

I dearly want Bill English to continue as Prime Minister but not at any price.

The Employers and Manufacturers Association warns that the country will come to a grinding halt if there are drastic changes to immigration; NZ First’s anti-trade and foreign investment rhetoric contradicts its assertion it wants what’s best for the regions and mining the misery of the Pike River families is simply despicable.

Like David Farrar, I think it will be better for the country to have National leading the government, but it might be better for the party to be a formidable opposition – what Emma Espiner calls the opposition from hell – instead.

I have a lot of confidence in the ability of Bill English and his team. Nine years leading the country through financial and natural disasters has proved they are more than capable. But they will need all their skill and experience, and more than a little luck to govern in coalition with, or the support of, Peters and his party.

Even then, there is a risk that whoever wins in the short  term might become the losers and the losers might turn out to be the winners in the medium to longer term.

P.S. Apropos of foreign investment – Eric Crampton gives some context:

 New Zealand is the most restrictive country in the entire OECD. It is the seventh most restrictive country of the 62 countries they surveyed.


Quotes of the year

December 30, 2016

When you work in the media, you realise men and women age differently. Male hosts and presenters age chronologically – when they’re 40, they’re 40. Women hosts and presenters age in time and a half – when they’re 40, they’re really 60 and obviously unemployable. – Kerre McIvor

All these observations have led me to build up a profile of the typical litterer.

Their most blindingly obvious characteristic is that they have no taste. No surprises there: people who drink Lion Red or eat Chicken McBites are unlikely to be sensitive to aesthetic concerns about the urban environment. . .  – Karl du Fresne

“I think it’s more important that New Zealand has a policy on these things that is based on principle and for us it’s got to mean as a small country we support strong international institutions and we support international law.” – Murray McCully

A strong, growing economy encourages businesses to boost investment in new products and markets, hire more staff and pay good wages.

It means New Zealanders can be rewarded for their enterprise and hard work.

And a strong economy supports better healthcare, education and other public services New Zealanders need.

We frequently hear Opposition parties calling for the Government to magic up more jobs, to increase wages or to spend more on any number of things.

Actually, governments can’t do any of those things without a strong, confident economy.

The Government’s role is creating an environment that gives businesses the confidence to invest and grow.

And to do that in the knowledge they’ll be backed by clear and sensible government policies.  – John Key

I’ve been warned recently, don’t go to most university campuses because the political correctness has been taken from being a good idea—which is, let’s not be mean particularly to people who are not able to look after themselves very well, that’s a good idea—to the point where any kind of criticism of any individual or group can be labelled cruel. And the whole point about humor, the whole point about comedy—and believe you me, I’ve thought about it—is that all comedy is critical. Even if you make a very inclusive joke—like, How do you make God laugh? Tell him your plans—that’s about the human condition, it’s not excluding anyone, it’s saying we all have all these plans that probably won’t come and isn’t it funny that we still believe they’re going to happen. So that’s a very inclusive joke, but it’s still critical. All humor is critical. If we start saying, oh, we musn’t criticize or offend them, then humor is gone, and with humor goes a sense of proportion, and then, as far as I’m concerned, you’re living in 1984. –  John Cleese

“The electorate will either come to believe that Labour has given no serious thought to how its promises are to be paid for – which makes it fiscally incompetent. Or, that Labour knows very well how its promises will be paid for, but is unwilling to say so before it has been safely elected – which makes it politically dishonest. Chris Trotter

I miss Clark. She knew how to bribe voters.

Each election was a fresh and exciting promise with other people’s money. You did your voting, and you got your money. It seemed somehow more honest. – Rodney Hide.

“Unfortunately all Tai Tokerau (Northland) tribes are tainted by the Te Tii Marae circus. Their decision that the PM could go on the Marae but not talk makes a mockery of Marae culture.

What were they thinking, that the leader of the nation would stand and hum Pokarekare ana? – Shane Jones

. . . And I still don’t get it. I never get it when people use the word rape loosely, to cover any insult or transgression, when the reality is by no means imprecise, is often violent, and is always intensely, revoltingly invasive. . .

There is a difference, and it’s important. We shouldn’t undermine the serious criminality of rape by accusing people of it every time they annoy us. And another thing: if you’re going to protest, make your message clear. . .  – Rosemary McLeod

What bandwagon won’t politicians use our money to jump on? Here is a fantastic grassroots initiative, rightfully earning praise and the support from tens of thousands of New Zealanders, and Andrew Little comes along and wants in on the action. If politicians want to be associated with the campaign they should be digging into their own pockets, not forking out what comes from other people’s.”

“Being prudent with taxpayers’ money means not saying yes to every good cause that comes along. Is this beach really the most pressing need for extra Government cash right now? – Jordan Williams

Before any politician commits taxpayer’s money to any project they should think beyond the kudos of the publicity and be sure it is the most beneficial – and hence responsible  – way to spend the next million of other people’s (i.e.; taxpayer’s) money.

It is the norm before any public money is spent for the Treasury to give advice on the value for money that the spend offers. To let politicians to just spray taxpayers’ property around like confetti is a recipe for disaster. While running on their gut political instincts is their natural predisposition, any politician who expects tenure needs to be a bit above that. – Gareth Morgan

We all know DOC has plenty of land in its portfolio and can’t look after the estate it has already. The true conservation dividend it can earn comes from killing stuff – eliminating predators so that our native species can flourish. It does not come from buying more hectares that it can’t protect. Predator free zones are our best investment in conservation. – Gareth Morgan

He should be generous with his time but prudent with his money, quick on the rugby field but slow to criticise his mother-in-law.

He should also prefer to hold an articulate conversation rather than be hunched over a phone wasting time on social media. – Jane Smith on what makes the perfect Southern man.

. . . Against all this, our national day is almost rational. 

It marks the anniversary of the signing of an agreement – or rather a couple of differently worded agreements in different languages – which we have been arguing over pretty much ever since.

We’re kind of good at that. 

But we’re not breaking each other’s heads over it, despite the bad-tempered stirrers on both sides. We do tend to yell a lot. But we don’t ignore the issues any more.  . . Rob Hosking

“I’m the sort of guy who wants to give everything a crack.

“When you’re an old man sitting back and reflecting… Whether you achieved it or not, at least you gave it a crack, and that’s what I want to be thinking.” – Richie McCaw

Outside the membership of the ALP and the Greens, few Australians are interested in the politics of income redistribution.

And why should they be? After 24 years of continuous economic growth – a rising tide of national prosperity and wealth creation – the objective of government policy should be to float all boats, not to sink the biggest yachts in the flotilla in the vain hope that somehow this might help everybody else … – Mark Latham

One of the best parts of my job is the number of public servants and services providers I get to meet.

Overwhelmingly I find we’re all driven by the same thing – getting better results for New Zealanders, and doing our best for the most vulnerable.

Whether it’s social housing, health, education, welfare or justice, the goal is the same.

It is not enough to simply service misery with welfare payments or social houses or urgent health services. We want to help people make the changes they need to become independent.

This ensures people lead better lives, but also saves taxpayer money in the long run.

This Government is focussed not on spending for the sake of it, but on getting tangible results for people from that investment. . . Bill English

“We want to reduce misery, rather than service it and that requires a deep understanding of the drivers of social dysfunction.”Bill English

The first six weeks of the year has seen the left-wing parties talking about subjects of great interest to left-wing voters – the TPPA, free tertiary education, should John Key go to Waitangi? But, as with the last seven years, they’ve said and done nothing to cause soft National voters to question the competence or credibility of the government to run the country, and consider an alternative.

That’s really the game, now. Opposition MPs talking about values and visionary aspirations and compromised sovereignty and the future of work and what a jerk they all think John Key is is all very well, but if Key’s government is seen to be doing a good job in delivering the core government services that voters value, they’re not going to change their votes. And they shouldn’t! – Danyl Mclauchlan

“Of course I love the Union Jack, it’s my favourite flag and does things to my heart, but you guys are New Zealand.”  – Dawn French

I think the vans are plain nasty. Their slogans reinforce the misogyny that seems to have pervaded our society in recent years and imply that men are simply walking penises with only one thing on their mind and women are only useful as receptacles for sperm.

They demean both sexes and reduce men and women to their most base. – Kerre McIvor

There’s a classic clash of rights here: the right to protest versus the right of people to go about their lawful business unobstructed (or to use the classic phrase, “without let or hindrance”).

Freedom of movement, like freedom of speech, is a fundamental part of our rights. No one has the right to impede it just to make a political point, no matter how righteous they feel about their cause. . .

Now here’s the point. We live in one of the world’s freest and most open societies. People are entitled to shout and wave placards.

Protesters are indulged to the extent that authorities routinely allow them to conduct street marches that inconvenience other people.  In much of the world this would be unthinkable.

But protesters too often interpret this tolerance as a general licence to disrupt, which is where they get it wrong. Generally speaking, the right to protest ends at the point where it obstructs the rights of others.

When protesters become so pumped up with self-righteousness that they believe they’re entitled – indeed, have a moral duty – to interfere with the rights of others, public sympathy for their cause rapidly evaporates.Karl du Fresne

. . . This no doubt explained the Labour Party’s petulant stance, which itself raises the issue of how far we can trust a party that promoted a change of flag in its 2014 election policy and was fully represented on the cross-party committee that gave its blessing to the referendum process, but changed its mind. . .

The referendum may have resulted in no change, but for reasons so complex, confused and contradictory that it would be unwise to draw too many conclusions about why people voted the way they did. There were many ironies, including anti-TPPA protesters voting for the ultimate symbol of corporate greed ­sanctioned by the Empire.

Support for a new flag hasn’t been snuffed out. Rather, its momentum has been temporarily slowed. As we go on with the task of explaining to the rest of the world the difference between our flag and that of Australia – the Aussie flag depicts the Southern Cross more accurately – New Zealanders have at least engaged in a passionate, if frustratingly inconclusive, debate about what our flag should say about us. In the process, we may have learnt something about ourselves. That should leave us better prepared when the issue comes up again – as it will. The Listener

Admittedly humour is subjective, but Wicked’s misogynistic brand of wit is hardly worth dying on the barricades for. It’s a smart-arse, advertising-agency type of humour that appeals chiefly to sniggering schoolboys.

In fact one of the striking things about the Wicked controversy is that the company’s supposed humour has managed to offend almost everyone, liberals as well as conservatives.   – Karl du Fresne

We measure success by results, rather than the level of spending – Bill English.

. . . no one should be verbally attacked and denigrated because they believe in democracy and the right to make their own unsolicited political choice on who they want to give a donation to. – Lani Hagaman.

I would like to thank the dairy industry for pulling this country out of the recession in 2008, when the milk price generated the revenue, paid the tax, helped us stave off the pressure on the government’s books and, in particular, lifted the general confidence in regional New Zealand,” said Mr English. “It’s something of an untold story. –  Bill English

It is a common misconception that socialism is about helping poor people. Actually, what socialism does is create poor people, and keep them poor. And that’s not by accident.

Under capitalism, rich people become powerful. But under socialism, powerful people become rich.Glenn Reynolds

Real beauty is being able to laugh out loud and to make others laugh — not at ourselves, but at the absurdities of the lives that we’ve been told we should live. –  Gina Barreca

. . . Look, if we weren’t giving out the first, second and third place ribbons and the day was just about having fun and being outdoors, great! Let’s go on an Oprah Christmas special ribbon giving spree: “You get a ribbon, and you get a ribbon and you get a ribbon, riiiibonnnnnn!”

However WE DO give out the first, second and third place awards, so what message are we sending them? “Hey kids it doesn’t matter if you win but if you do win you get a special prize and accolade, but it doesn’t matter, but it does, and the rest of the kids get a generic thing because they’re not special like the kids who won, who aren’t special, but they are …”

Confusing huh? Imagine being a kid then!

After my highly scientific research at the track I’m now of the opinion that we don’t need to bother with participation awards.

For three reasons:

1. The kid’s don’t want them. They’re well on to us, the jig is up mates.

2. It’s OK to fail! Don’t be afraid to let your kids feel the sting of defeat. Let their little hearts get a ding or two, help them identify what they can learn from it and then they will grow and be better next time.

3. Don’t reward them for just showing up. It makes them grow up feeling entitled. You’re not doing them any favours — want and need create drive. . . Em Rusciano

We have tried everything and all we have created is a culture of dependence, entitlement, helplessness and irresponsibility. – Martin van Beynen

Food is essential to a stable functioning society and we must look at irrigation as essential public infrastructure. We must consider its benefits in terms of regional development and food production, urban water supply and recreation use, not simply in terms of economics and income generation.  . .

We need to start looking at water storeage and land use intensification as part of the s0lution and manage the environmental issues appropriately. It’s as simple as that.- Peter Graham

The Swiss decide not to steal from each other, launder the loot through a government bureaucracy and then give what’s left back to each other. Note this comment from a voter who favored the idea: “For me it would be a great opportunity to put my focus on my passion and not go to work just for a living.” Translation: “I would like others to work harder and pay taxes so I can work less and have fun.” – Lawrence Reed On the Swiss referendum where the majority rejected the proposal for a guaranteed basic income.

When female narcissism translates as empowerment I am both amused and confused. Whose gaze are such women courting when they expose so much pampered, surgically enhanced flesh if not males? If their intention is to attract female attention their only possible purpose could be to annoy, and cause older women to wonder how they deal with going to the bathroom, let alone cold weather. Blue goose-bumped skin has yet to take off as a fashion trend, but they could yet make that fashionable I guess.

These new-style feminists are not displaying ordinary, imperfect bodies, but bodies that conform to traditional pin-ups from men’s magazines, small-waisted, big-breasted, with rounded buttocks and flawless legs, in Kim’s case an old-fashioned hourglass figure that formerly called for a tight corset.Rosemary McLeod

So when an individual attempts to keep more of what he has created there is less anger than when someone tries to take what he hasn’t. That is why society has greater tolerance (and exhibits it through the courts) for tax evasion than welfare fraud. – Lindsay Mitchell

Every day starts with me not being dead, and what a fantastic way to start each day. . . There’s no excuse to not appreciate life fully. You owe it to the people who are unable to. Jake Bailey

It’s not easy being left wing in New Zealand at the moment. We’re currently focusing most of our efforts on cyber bullying John Key’s kids: it’s pretty bleak.

Labour and the Greens joining forces should be something I guess, if you add two parties together you can create a larger and more cohesive losing unit for 2017. The one bright spot is that after a solid eight years in opposition the Labour party have put together a comprehensive plan of what not to do. – Guy Williams 

My observation is that idiot posters from the hard Left tend to be plain nasty whereas their idiot colleagues from the far Right tend to be defined by their stupidity.    One of my PolSci lecturers used to put it this way … that there’s really no difference between the far Right and and the far Left … they are joined at the hip.  Both are authoritarian; both are dismissive of dissenting opinion to the point of violence. –  The Veteran

“When you’re a farmer who isn’t working your farm it can be pretty hard. We are farmers because we love the lifestyle, but over the last couple of years the fun has completely been taken out of it.

“Day in and day out all you think and talk about is the weather. It can be pretty depressing.

“There isn’t much you can do about it. You can’t buy the rain.” – Nick Hamilton

At 100, like many centenarians, this country’s Labour Party is looking confused and befuddled. It appears to have forgotten what it stood for when it was young and vibrant.

Under Little, this party that once stood against unthinking imperialism has campaigned to keep the Union Jack on New Zealand’s flag – perhaps keen to safeguard that Royal telegram! This party that once stood for workers making new lives in a new land, now wishes to stop immigrants investing in property in New Zealand; this party that once stood for diversity now makes overseas investment policy by tallying up “Chinese-sounding names”. Little is busy battling defamation claims, rather than fighting for Labour principles. – Jonathan Milne

News editors need to insist their journalists call out falsehoods in press conferences. Both Shorten and his Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen have previously advocated corporate tax cuts. They went to the election with higher deficits, higher spending and higher borrowing. How can reporters all last week have allowed Labor MPs to warn of imminent budget blocking tactics when only a week earlier Labor accepted $30 billion of so-called zombie cuts? Will reporters now let Labor get away with blocking savings it counted in its own election costings?

Do reporters know the Medicare rebate freeze Shorten claims is the basis for his Medicare scare was introduced by Labor in its 2013 budget? Are reporters going to let Labor continue to claim the government, which has presided over the highest bulk-billing rates in the history of Medicare, has cut $57bn from health when Labor ­itself only committed $2bn more to health than the Coalition?

Labor lost the election. Its primary vote, at 35.2 per cent, is its second lowest since World War II. Not only did it need a lie to save its primary, in truth it owes much of its position to Kevin Rudd, who in 2013 saved at least 15 seats that would have fallen under Julia ­Gillard. – Chris Mitchell

A complex and difficult social problem with many levels to it is being reduced to inane, empty slogans (just build 100,000 “more bloody houses” to quote the elegant language of the rather crude Leader of the Opposition) without any regard to how all that might be achieved. – Peter Dunne

There is no healing in pretending this bizarre violent stuff is not going on, and that there is some cute bumper sticker silver lining. (It is fine if you believe this, but for the love of God, PLEASE keep it to yourself. it will just tense us all up.) What is true is that the world has always been this way, people have always been this way, grace always bats last, it just does–and finally, when all is said and done, and the dust settles, which it does, Love is sovereign here. Ann Lamott

Seumas Milne remains on the staff of the Guardian and Observer while Labour pays him to work as its director of strategy. As a colleague on leave, he has the right to be treated with a gentleness journalists would not usually extend to spin doctors who do not enjoy his advantages. I therefore write with the caution of a good corporate man and the cheeriness of a co-worker when I say Milne could not do a better job of keeping the Tories in power if rogue MI5 agents had groomed him at Winchester College, signed him up at Oxford University and instructed him to infiltrate and destroy the Labour party.Nick Cohen

“If students can’t learn the way we’re teaching then we need to teach the way they learn.  Teaching is like any job, complacency is the enemy. So to ensure the success of students the teacher has to actually care.” – Matarahi Skipper 

. . . I would also like to think in Queenstown that we embrace culture instead of judging race and we celebrate our differences while not letting ourselves be defined by them.

We exist united by our similarities, not divided by petty differences.

We are, for the most part, grateful we have the opportunity to live in paradise, safe, happy and free.

If only this attitude could be spread as easily as fear and intolerance.Mark Wilson

I recognise that politicians don’t create jobs. Politicians create the environment in which business people create jobs. My job is to create the right the right environment for them to flourish and thrive.” – Sadiq Khan

The man is a psychopathic narcissist and that’s not just my opinion, that is the opinion of a whole range of people who are currently sitting in the Parliament. Come on, folks. I can think of 12 Australians off the top of my head who would be a better Secretary-General and one of them’s my Labrador. – Kristina Keneally

It isn’t so much saying Empress Helen has no clothes: It is just that she hasn’t quite earned the halo other people are all too enthusiastic about crowning her with. – Rob Hosking

Labour needs to move away from leftist anti-trade and anti-growth populism and try to make an actual difference to people’s lives rather than keeping its bloggers happy. – Greg Loveridge

Whatever shorter-term measures that government might take to contain spending, in the longer term the ideal way to reduce or contain government spending is to have less need for it.  . .

Much of Government spending is dealing with past failure, with poor decisions with programmes that claimed a lot and didn’t work.

We are creating a whole new set of tools that enable us to be much more discriminating about where spending is effective because where it is effective, it is worth spending a lot. – Bill English

In whichever direction you look, the autocrats, the dictators, the terrorists and the corrupt and cynical opportunists are fighting back. They are demonstrating daily that the lazy assumption of western triumph may be mistaken. Accordingly, it is time to relearn the lessons of history: that free societies do generally triumph in the end, but they need constant vigilance to protect them, and they often need a mixture of strong leadership, determined unity and a good measure of low cunning to help them along. – William Hague

The combination of John Key as PM and Bill English as Finance Minister has achieved an increasingly rare feat in any advanced economy. It includes returning a budget to surplus while managing better growth along with substantive social, economic and taxation reform.All within a political framework of relative popularity, especially a track record good enough to be re-elected with stronger voter endorsement for its programme. Better outcomes in health and education, fewer people on welfare and a return to surplus – not bad. – Australian Financial Review via Trans Tasman.

The principle of free speech can sometimes be used to defend the indefensible but it certainly shouldn’t be curtailed to avoid hurting the feelings of over-sensitive people whose views are often as unreasonable and entrenched as those of the very people they despise. – Martin van Beynen

Urban Kiwis are fewer generations away from the paddocks than are their American counterparts, and that helps maintain a certain egalitarianism of respect, but that won’t last forever. We already are seeing strong pushes to legislate and regulate against the lifestyle choices of those outside of the urban elite. You hear it in trendy Wellington cafes, where well dressed rich folks drinking high calorie mochaccinos speak with disdain about how others drink Coke or eat at McDonalds. It’s an inequality of respect.

Poverty is real and important. When it comes to inequality, I think we need a renewed egalitarianism of respect for the choices others make about what is best for them. The more cocooned we are in bubbles away from those who make different choices than we do, the more hesitant we should be to cast judgement. – Eric Crampton

Just remember that Hamish and I came out of a boat that failed.Eric Murray

Maybe it’s time to stop looking for someone or something to blame. The truth is: I am the only one who can give myself permission to be a badass. So here you go, sister. Turning 49 is not the moment to turn into a wilting sissy; it is not the time to be faint-hearted: it is time to prevail. In your own way, whatever that entails, since both the slavish adherence to rules and the utter abhorrence of them are reactions that need to be examined.

It is also time to stop making excuses because you have nothing to excuse.  – Deborah Hill-Cone

“I went down, and I was like, ‘What’s happening? Why am I on the ground?’ Then suddenly this hand on my shoulder, like ‘Get up, get up, we have to finish this,’ and I was like, ‘Yup, yup, you’re right. This is the Olympic Games. We have to finish this.”

“When you’re at this level you know how hard it is to get here. There’s just a mutual understanding of how much everyone puts into it. I’m never going to forget that moment. When someone asks me what happened in Rio in 20 years’ time, that’s my story.”

“I’m so grateful for Abbey for doing that for me. That girl is the Olympic spirit right there. I’ve never met her before, like I’ve never met this girl before, and isn’t that just so amazing? Such an amazing woman. . . . – Nikki Hamblin

I hate to break it to you, but there is a right to insult. The way to deal with a racist is to shame him with reason, not to jail him. Freedom of expression includes the right to say offensive things. It doesn’t include a right never to be offended.

There is certainly a right to say things that will be construed as insults by those intent on being insulted even though they’re not intended to be. – Lindsay Perigo

One thing we seem to have no shortage of is activists who claim Labour and National have devastated our country with successive “neoliberal” governments in the past 30 years. But the alternative to neoliberalism isn’t Norway, Denmark or Sweden. It’s Cuba, Zimbabwe and Venezuela. I know where I would rather live. – Liam Hehir

. . . silliness is part of sanity.
Looseness is an antidote to being uptight all the time.
Being able to play is essential to mental health.
If you don’t still sometimes do things that are foolish, or wacky, or a little loony then you will lose contact with your inner child, and miss the simple delight that comes with doing something just for the higgledy-piggledy hell of it. –  Robert Fulghum

It’s actually really important for us to be welcoming immigrants. We have to get over this xenophobic idea that we’re doing them a favour. At worst, it’s this completely mutually beneficial thing. So they get to live in a pretty nice country, and we get to live with people who are skilled and smart and clever and who are doing things that build our economy.  – Nigel Latta

In fact, being a parent is valuable precisely because it is so unlike goal-directed productive work. Caring for a child involves a deep recognition of the individuality and autonomy, the irreducible complexity and value of another unique, irreplaceable human being. That makes it worthwhile all by itself. – Alison Gopnik

There are some principled, genuinely compassionate in there who really want to make a difference. And then I think there are people that are the complete opposite.

They are, after all, just people like all of us. Like all organisations they have great people, and some not so great.

For us though, as voters, I’m hoping we can learn to demand more than coverage of the trivial, or the endless inane controversies, and instead expect a higher quality of debate. We should also, just by the by, lift our own game.

We might like to think they don’t of what we want, but the sad thing is a lot of the time they do exactly what we want. Maybe we need to want different things?Nigel Latta

There will always be a place for career politicians in Government since, if nothing else, a lifetime in politics can be assumed to impart knowledge about how the system actually works. But an effective Government should also include people who have experience with how things are in the real economy.  . .

That’s why I think government could do with more people like Alfred Ngaro. In addition to the skills he will have picked up in his as a pastor and a backbench MP, the five years he spent as a self-employed tradesman will give him an insight into the world so many of us live in. This is the world of GST returns, uneven cash-flows, customer complaints, hard to manage work-flows, provisional tax payments, accounting and legal fees, red tape, health, bad debtors and health and safety compliance costs. It is world with which fewer and fewer lawmakers have much, if any, familiarity.

Not everyone in politics needs to have this kind of background – but some of them should. –  Liam Hehir

Hongi’s name lives on in Hongi’s Track, the place his men dragged their canoes through the forest between lakes Rotoehu and Rotoiti, thence onto Lake Rotorua. He slaughtered and ate and enslaved many of my Te Arawa ancestors. But that’s all right, Hongi. It’s what went down in your day. Are we not, each generation, of the times we live in? –  Alan Duff

There were indeed many aspects of our past that were neither “good” nor “beautiful”; I’m sure that our descendants will find just as many things to condemn in our own age.  But we can never move forward as a nation by spitting on the legacy of the men and women (however imperfect) who helped to build it. – Jonathan Tracy

Domestically the big winner in all this is Key, who got to demonstrate to a couple hundred thousand female swing-voters what a progressive, balanced women-leader-supporting, generally great guy he is. It’s conventional wisdom on the left that Key et al are morons, and the left is morally and intellectually superior, and I’m not sure how this squares with Key and his party constantly doing very smart things, and the left’s parties and leaders mostly, consistently being pretty dumb. – Danyl Mclauchlan

I always encourage particularly young people, don’t be a job snob. Take the job which is there and which is available. Because you take that job, and even if it’s not the perfect one, you do it for six months or so (and) you’ll be much better positioned to take another job down the track which is much more to your liking.

The longer you are on welfare, the steeper the road back to employment is. – Alan Tudge

Just listen to the way a lot of politicians and commentators talk about the public,” Mrs May will say. “They find their patriotism distasteful, their concerns about immigration parochial, their views about crime illiberal, their attachment to their job security inconvenient. They find the fact that more than seventeen million people voted to leave the European Union simply bewildering.Theresa May

A change has got to come. It’s time to remember the good that government can do. Time for a new approach that says while government does not have all the answers, government can and should be a force for good; that the state exists to provide what individual people, communities and markets cannot; and that we should employ the power of government for the good of the people. – Theresa May

The Labour Party is not just divided, but divisive. Determined to pit one against another. To pursue vendettas and settle scores. And to embrace the politics of pointless protest that doesn’t unite people but pulls them further apart… So let’s have no more of Labour’s absurd belief that they have a monopoly on compassion. Let’s put an end to their sanctimonious pretence of moral superiority. – Theresa May

I’m no fan of the burqa. It’s subjugation. A woman whose face is covered, is like a document with all the words blacked out.

A woman in a burqa has been redacted from society. A burqa says, don’t look. Nothing to see here. Her identity is unimportant.

Her smile, her frown, all her expressions, are on the cutting-room floor. . .

The burqa is medieval. And like medieval plumbing and medieval medicine, it’s out of date. Like women not owning property, not going to school, or not leaving home without male guardians, the burqa contradicts basic human rights.

Of course, basic human rights, is a recent concept. But air travel and YouTube have given us time travel. Medieval people are time-travelling into the 21st century, leap-frogging centuries of liberal progress, and they find our ways shocking.

The burqa isn’t some post-feminist freedom from a bad hair day. It’s a mistake we made to get here. –  Raybon Kan

If you consider appearing on the side of a cereal box a qualification for being a role model then you need help. – Jim Kayes

. . . politics is not telling everyone what you think; it’s everyone telling you what they think. – Rodney Hide

And we shouldn’t just be critical of fake news or wary of falling for satire. We should be critical of what we read from any source.

Ask yourself: how does this journalist know what he or she published? How did they gather that information? Where did they cut corners? Why have they paraphrased here instead of a direct quote? Who did they talk to? Have they done their due diligence to verify the facts?

Not asking these questions of our real news is what leads to us not asking them of our fake news. – Ben Uffindell

It is not the business of journalists to tell their readers, listeners and viewers what to think; but to place before them any and every matter that a free people might reasonably be expected to have an interest in thinking about. – Chris Trotter

Whether or not the National Party retains its ascendancy next year, Mr Key must go down as one of New Zealand’s most successful leaders. And New Zealand, under his stewardship, can claim to be one of the most successful countries in the world. – The Economist

It has been an enormous privilege to be Prime Minister of New Zealand, and these last eight years have been an incredible experience. Throughout these years I have given everything I could to this job that I cherish, and this country that I love.

Bronagh has made a significant sacrifice during my time in politics, and now is the right time for me to take a step back in my career and spend more time at home. . .

“I do not believe that if I was asked to commit to serving out a full fourth term I could look the public in the eye and say yes.

“And more than anything else in my time here, I have tried to be straight and true with New Zealanders. – John Key

I’d been telling my kids for years that if they get knocked down they should get up so, in a very public event, I kind of had to do it myself. I had to do it myself to demonstrate integrity to them. That was a big motivator. – Bill English

. . . you learn more from losing than you do from winning. – Bill English

I am having that moment, and I know it sounds cliched, but the 17-year-old solo mum and now I’m standing on the cusp of hopefully a positive Monday vote. . . 

It’s exciting and I just hope there are some solo mothers out there and think ‘actually your future is not pre-determined. Hard work, energy and self-belief can get you a long way in New Zealand. – Paula Bennett

I’ve never been in a community where there isn’t someone with the vision and energy to change how it works  . . . The Government isn’t the answer to everything, most of our answers are in our own families and communities. Sometimes Government gets in the way of that. This is a Government that will be focussed on understanding, at a very individual level, what is going to work with people and then supporting them to achieve it.    Bill English

It’s not your driving you have got to worry about all of the time, it’s other people out there too and some of them can make really bad choices. – Sergeant Pat Duffy

Like the recently departed former prime minister, Mr English and Ms Bennett can also be grateful each day for the idiocy of their enemies in the Labour-Green axis and the shallowness of the WLME, who are not only obsessed with identity politics themselves but really seem to think that the secret to ending National’s political hegemony is through attacking how others choose to personally identify. – Matthew Hooton

A country where the populace is obsessed with politics, and with who sits where around the cabinet table, is a country of angry dullards. – Rob Hosking

That’s stirring stuff. It’s just a pity the movement doesn’t grasp that “equality, empowerment and freedom” are less about what you can do and more about the respect you must show others. – Rodney Hide

But to be inspirational you don’t have to save lives or win medals. I often draw strength from meeting ordinary people doing extraordinary things: volunteers, carers, community organisers and good neighbours; unsung heroes whose quiet dedication makes them special.

They are an inspiration to those who know them, and their lives frequently embody a truth expressed by Mother Teresa, from this year Saint Teresa of Calcutta. She once said: ‘Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love’. – Queen Elizabeth


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