We’re not going to take it

15/10/2022

Matthew Hooton joins the chorus pointing out the government’s stupidity:

. . .If her positioning of the new taxes as a world first was designed to prop up her base, it underlined to everyone else the complete idiocy of her move. New Zealand dairy farmers have the lowest GHG emissions per unit of production of any in the world. The same is broadly true of sheep and beef farmers.

Their climate efficiency is such that a block of New Zealand butter sold in London has a smaller climate footprint than one produced in the UK. Every time a Chinese consumer buys New Zealand milk powder over an American, European or Australian equivalent, the climate is theoretically better off.

Yet, right now, government policies mean our dairy herd is declining while the US herd is growing. Every time there is one less cow in New Zealand and one more in the US, the world gets just that little bit hotter.

Ardern knows this, as do Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Climate Change Minister James Shaw, who attended her haybarn announcement. In my view they are knowingly reducing the competitiveness of the New Zealand agriculture sector relative to its competitors, threatening the survival of provincial communities while consciously increasing global emissions.

Two arguments are made in response. The first is that New Zealand exporters will gain a premium for having the world’s lowest GHG emissions. Except for a tiny sliver of products that might be sold in specialty stores, everybody in the agriculture sector and hopefully even the Wellington bureaucracy and Beehive know this is nonsense.

Were evidence needed, New Zealand could already advertise that our food products are the world’s most climate-friendly but the reality is that international consumers, let alone the global milk powder and hamburger patty auctions, don’t care.

The second claim is even more ludicrous, that, as claimed by Shaw on Tuesday: “Countries grappling with the same challenges as us are once again looking to New Zealand for climate leadership.”

If any other country is looking at us it’s only to laugh at the idiocy of taxing the world’s most efficient farmers when they haven’t got the tools to reduce emissions, there’s a global food shortage and the Paris Accord states climate change policies shouldn’t come at the expense of food production.

Unlike the claim about the alleged market premium, it is possible the likes of Shaw even believe this. But in reality, nobody looks to New Zealand leadership on anything, whether nuclear non-proliferation, free trade or climate-change policy.

That was true even when the rules-based international system prevailed in the 1990s and 2000s, but it has now unravelled.

China’s GHG emissions are now double those of the US and still growing. Those two countries, plus India, the EU, Russia, Indonesia and Brazil, are responsible for 60 per cent of global emissions and growing.

In the current international environment, it is extremely unlikely that Xi Jinping, Joe Biden, Narendra Modi and Vladimir Putin are remotely interested in whether or not the world’s most climate-friendly farmers are paying Ardern’s new tax. . . 

Our neighbour has not intention of following this folly:

Groundswell is planning another protest to show to show farmers aren’t going to take it:

In response to the Government’s assault on food production and rural communities with a punitive and counterproductive tax on livestock emissions, Groundswell NZ is holding a nationwide protest at midday on Thursday, 20 October, Groundswell NZ co-founder Bryce McKenzie says.

“The Government’s ideological commitment to punitive and counterproductive emissions taxes on food production is an existential threat to rural communities.”

“After years of faux consultation, the Government has given up on all pretence of a fair and workable agricultural emissions policy.”

“Instead, we have a tax that, on the Government’s own numbers, will result in up to a 20% reduction in production for Sheep & Beef farmers and a 6% reduction for Dairy farmers, while their emissions reductions will be replaced by less efficient foreign farmers due to emissions leakage.”

“Looking good at the UN is not a good enough reason to send rural communities to the wall and drive food prices through the roof. That’s why we’re calling on all New Zealanders to show the Government that We’re Not Going To Take It, this Thursday, 20 October, at midday.”

“Most New Zealanders oppose reducing livestock numbers to meet emissions targets and now we’re going to remind the Government how New Zealand pays its way in the world.”

“As in previous protests, we are asking all those participating to respect private property and support local businesses,” says Mr McKenzie.


Quotes of the month

01/10/2022

Today there are still a few who have faith in Jacinda’s Labour government despite the overwhelming evidence that it is an outmoded religion, lacking analytical and executive skills. Ministers tell you they’ll solve inflation by spending more; they’ll fix the shortage of nurses in hospitals by refusing to allow easy entry for foreign-trained medical staff; they’ll stop our locally trained nurses heading off overseas by getting them to settle their wage claims for half the current rate of inflation; they’ll lift kids out of poverty by persisting with failed methods of teaching literacy and numeracy in schools, and by teaching them Te Reo; they’ll improve Maori lives by giving co-governance powers to Maori aristocrats; they’ll fix all your problems by employing 17,000 more bureaucrats than we had five years ago, and inflation will waft away on the breeze, hopefully in election year…. –  Michael Bassett

The problem with this government is that many of its policies have been shown historically to work no longer. Even before the Labour Party was formed in 1916, rent controls led to landlords selling their rentals, causing central city slums in many countries. By the mid 1940s one European economist who had surveyed rent controls at work in Europe concluded that the only thing that did more damage to central cities than rent controls was pattern bombing. But we hear today’s crop of Labour ignoramuses still musing about possible rent controls. Learning from history is not something the current lot are prepared to risk instead of their doctrine. A caucus of trade union hacks, low level lawyers and lesser bureaucrats simply rely on Labour’s ancient religion: if it moves, control it, if it makes money, tax it, and if there’s still a problem, throw taxpayers’ money at it. – Michael Bassett

The banking lessons learned by the Fourth Labour Government in the 1980s where the ASB and then the BNZ under Jim Bolger quickly strengthened themselves by allying with expanding international entities, will now never be available to Kiwibank. You can count on it not growing much above its current 4% of the banking market. It will be tied hand foot and finger to the Minister of Finance and the government’s purse strings. A stagnant asset. – Michael Bassett

Come the next election, I suspect the Labour government will resemble those 1931 pilgrims, traipsing down the mountain like wet sheep. One has to hope, however, that eventually a brighter, better educated crop of political hopefuls comes along, a group that understands what works and what doesn’t, who aren’t tied to some old-time religion, and have been living in the real world. – Michael Bassett

It’s becoming more apparent every day that this Government is on its way out and I just wonder whether that’s why they’re spiralling now into the realm of the nutty. – Kate Hawkesby

I just don’t know how they’re so tone deaf. Their ability to try to barrel through policy that negatively impacts us, instead of doing anything that’s actually useful, is worrying. Kate Hawkesby

The Nats called it as they saw it; a government addicted to spending, and we know this with the free-for-all spray around treatment of the cost of living payment. – Kate Hawkesby

They’re lucky to be a two-term government – thanks to Covid – but at this stage I don’t think even another pandemic could save them.

This is a circus that fewer and fewer of us want tickets to. – Kate Hawkesby

The Ardern administration has finally confirmed — were confirmation required — that it is the most incompetent New Zealand Government in living memory, and perhaps ever. – Matthew Hooton

This Government has managed to “deliver” the biggest cut for at least 30 years in the real wages of the middle and working class — those a “Labour” Party supposedly represents. It is paying for it in the polls.Matthew Hooton

It took this Government’s special idiocy to decide that which wasn’t broken should be fixed, by moving the Reserve Bank away from its laser-like focus on inflation, approving the appointment of Adrian Orr as Governor and signing the so-called dual mandate in March 2018.

Meanwhile, it accelerated increases to the minimum wage and began putting greater shackles around the labour market, including abolishing automatic 90-day trial periods, and restricting access to foreign labour and preparing the ground for 1970s-style national payment awards for workers.

After all this — and most likely because of it — real wages rose by just 1.5 per cent in Ardern’s first three years, before any effect from Covid. – Matthew Hooton

Infamously, ultra-loose monetary and fiscal policy transferred about $1 trillion to property owners at the expense of wage earners and savers. Now the data is in on real wages.

From mid-2020, real wages began falling and have done so for eight quarters. Since the Labour Cost Index (LCI) began in 1992, that has never happened before.Matthew Hooton

Perhaps a government of political science rather than economics student presidents could be forgiven for putting votes ahead of sound money, but the Ardern regime has proven incompetent even at handing out free cash.

It turns out cost-of-living cash went to foreign landlords, Kiwis living permanently abroad and those who are no longer alive. – Matthew Hooton

Perhaps we should forgive them their confusion for, on everything except public emoting, it is clear that they know not what they do. This is a pattern. –  Matthew Hooton

 The defeat of the Ardern Government is increasingly likely, and more than deserved.

Labour governments can do many things and survive. Enriching property owners while slashing workers’ real wages isn’t one. – Matthew Hooton

I suspect that we are fast approaching a state of society in which pedantry will be the best defence against the prevailing moral and philosophical (not to say physical) ugliness. Find a corner of the world about which nobody cares, and immerse yourself pedantically in it. That will be the way to survive until you reach the bourne from which no traveller returns.Theodore Dalrymple

At its worst, and the worst was on display this week, the party puts too much emphasis on increasing the size of the state, and neglects to ask itself what it’s taxing people for. If no one can articulate a good reason for why the Government is taking citizens’ money, can you really blame them for getting upset? – Thomas Coughlan

Not only is increasing tax difficult at the best of times, but after committing not to introduce taxes beyond what it campaigned on at the 2020 election, Labour proceeded to break its promise in spirit if not letter, multiple times this term, most obviously in its extension of the bright line test, the removal of interest deductions for landlords, and now, on GST.

The party needs to regain the public’s trust on tax.  It won’t do that through stealth taxes on their savings. – Thomas Coughlan

If the Minister of Finance demands evidence on value-for-money in adjudicating between different budget bids, because there will always be more bids than there’s space to accommodate, that drives demand for rigour in analysis. If the Government wants everything put through a soft-focus wellbeing lens instead, then that razor gets dulled. And if you combine it with a ludicrously soft budget constraint where government borrows $50 billion, nominally for Covid, and then spends it on any darned thing that passes a comms test, you’ll get what we’ve had.  – Eric Crampton

It all looks pretty bleak. Europe’s heading for disaster if the energy futures market is anything to go by. Covid shocks were bad but what happens when European factories supplying critical parts into NZ supply chains can’t afford to run? There’s terrible mess ahead, we can’t afford for policy to continue to be this persistently stupid, and there’s no reason to hope that policy will stop being this persistently stupid.Eric Crampton

Lowering the bar means you allow yourself to dream but you don’t chase dreams that are ridiculously out of reach — that they are in the ballpark of possibility for who you are: Your genetic inheritance, talents, skills and work ethic.

And that you don’t hold off celebrating until you’ve smashed that dream over the fence. Instead, you enjoy, and celebrate, all the milestones — the twists and turns and tiny triumphs — along the way.

Because a successful life does not come down to whether you hit any high bar or not. It’s not in the fact that your name and achievement will the answer to a pop quiz question 20 years from now.

It’s in the life you quietly created below the bar, it’s in the people who joined you on your journey and the experiences you had, along the way. It’s in whether you stayed anchored to the things that mattered to you and found fun in the littlest things. – Karen Nimmo

I do not know quite where to place snobbery on the scale of vices, but wherever it is placed, I think it may be very serious in its effects, though it is probably ineradicable from the repertoire of potential human feeling and conduct.

Snobbery is the feeling of social superiority on the grounds of some quality over which the person believed to be inferior has little or no personal control, such as birthplace or parenthood. If this feeling is conspicuously displayed rather than merely felt, it is likely to provoke furious resentment, far more so than actual injustice. Disdain causes the rawest of wounds, which seldom heal. That is why people who triumph over snobbery in practice nevertheless often retain within themselves a strong core of resentment toward those of the type (not necessarily the actual individuals) who formerly disdained them. And this resentment often impels them to do seemingly self-destructive things.Theodore Dalrymple 

It is probable that intellectual and aesthetic snobbery are now more prevalent than the more traditional forms that attach to place of birth and parentage. Many of us are appalled by the tastes and interests of others and secretly, and not so secretly, congratulate ourselves on our superiority to them. I am far from immune myself from such feelings. I have to control myself not so much in my outer behavior—that is a relatively easy thing to do—but in my inner feeling, that is to say to limit my own feelings of superiority to the people whose tastes I despise. After all, there is more to people than their tastes or enthusiasms, and I have never talked to anybody who struck me as anything other than an individual. Just as we are enjoined to hate the sin but not the sinner, so we have to try to dislike the bad taste but not the person who displays it. This requires the overriding of emotion by conscious thought and self-control. – Theodore Dalrymple 

Fear of appearing snobbish is harmful because it threatens the willingness to make judgments between the better and worse; and since the worse is always easier to produce, it contributes to a general decline in the quality of whatever is produced. This fear of appearing snobbish and therefore undemocratic is now very strong and pervades even universities (so I am told), in which one might have supposed that elitism, in the sense of a striving for the best that has been said and thought, would be de rigueur.

One of the forms that snobbery now commonly takes is disdain of simple, repetitive, and unskilled jobs (which are generally ill-paid as well). The educated can imagine no worse fate than to be employed in such a job, no matter how necessary or socially useful it might be—the person at the supermarket checkout (increasingly redundant, of course) being the emblematic example. With a singular lack of imagination and sense of reality about their fellow creatures, they simply put themselves in the place of these people and imagine thereby that they are being empathic. But of course there are people for whom such jobs are not unpleasant and are even rewarding. Not everyone wants to be, or is capable of being, a master of the universe.Theodore Dalrymple 

The trouble is that snobbery toward the unambitious overvalues ambition as a human characteristic, and thereby helps to usher in the regime of ambitious mediocrities, or even sub-mediocrities, under which we now live. There is nothing wrong with mediocrity, it is indeed very necessary; but it is harmful when allied with ambition.

Irrespective, then, of how bad a moral vice snobbery may be, it is socially harmful and must be guarded against—especially where it resides often in secret, that is to say in the human heart. – Theodore Dalrymple 

 The Pharmac Review Panel proposed that Pharmac’s spending be skewed to favour the needs of “priority populations”, notably Māori.

That approach treats Māori lives as being of higher value than those not in a priority population. The report illustrates how this might be quantified. It also shows how even Māori might end up worse off.

Official documents justify this racially polarising approach for health care generally. Their main grounds are relatively poor average health outcomes for Māori, ‘equity’, and the Treaty.

Non-Māori outnumber Māori by 40% in the bottom decile of according to New Zealand’s Deprivation Index. To favour Māori over others in this decile violates horizontal equity. To favour Māori in better-off deciles over non-Māori in the lower deciles violates vertical equity.Bryce Wilkinson

People who do not care for accurate diagnosis cannot care much if their remedy does not work.

Finding remedies that work for all is critical. The previous government’s social investment approach had that focus. The current racially polarising approach does not. – Bryce Wilkinson

While political risk management shouldn’t be the sole focus of any Government, it does actually serve a critical purpose, in applying a blowtorch to policies to make sure they are targeting the right people and there are no unintended consequences.

It’s hard to know which is more damaging in this instance. Devising a policy which would have had such a disastrous effect on peoples’ nest eggs at a time when inflation is already eroding their sense of wealth and wellbeing.

Or being so careless as to wave it through it without even understanding who it would hurt most. – Tracy Watkins

A lambasting by the Auditor General over the cost of living payment and the humiliating backdown on a plan to impose GST on KiwiSaver fees marked a torrid week for the Labour Government.

Both instances raise the question about whether Labour’s political antenna is broken – and its willingness to be take responsibility for stuff-ups. – Claire Trevett 

It may be too soon to tell how the public spending watchdog John Ryan will be remembered when his term finishes – but there are signs he is starting to get under the skin of the Government.

And looking at his work plan for the current year, it is easy to see why. – Audrey Young

What we don’t see on the other side is ‘what did we get for that money?’ For the $130-plus billion a year, what got better, what got worse, how are things trending? Where is the reporting on that?

We really want to push quite hard on agencies to really hold themselves to account for their performance and to connect that to the public in what they are interested in seeing the agency do. – John Ryan

The art of the political U-turn, flip-flop, volte face – call it what you will – is a delicate one. If you don’t call an end to an unpopular policy quickly enough, you stand to entrench voter outrage, which can result in an election loss. If you do too many of them your party is seen as inept and lacking in conviction, beginning with those within your own caucus. Janet Wilson

Then there’s the cost-of-living payment, in which the second of three instalments came out this week. Having earned a reprimand from the auditor-general, who said the Government should have made better efforts to make the sure the payment was going to its intended targets, and having shed a recalcitrant MP only last week, a prudent Government would be desperate to right the ship.

Instead, it finds itself in a conflagration of its own making, seemingly more interested in increasing its own coffers than helping cash-strapped Kiwis whose vote it’ll want next year. – Janet Wilson

The fact that it’s one of many, and is reminiscent of Ardern’s captain’s call in scotching the capital gains tax in April 2019, shows that when presented with either retaining its ideology or staying in power, this party will always choose the latter.

It also paints a party that can’t be trusted when it comes to tax. Janet Wilson

Not running a balanced Budget after the past couple of years is not a criticism, but the fiscal story has become unanchored from that basic discipline, and Robertson and Labour have not found anything significant to replace it.

The National Party, on the other hand, is forming a compelling narrative of economic turgidity with Labour at the centre of it – whether you agree with this or not. Its narrative is coherent, simple and builds a picture of failure, profligacy and incompetence that the current Government cannot fix. – Luke Malpass

Labour’s retirement tax plan might be their biggest mistake yet. It was huge.

It would’ve affected most of us. Three million in all. It would’ve left us poorer. Some would’ve been down $20,000 by the time they reached retirement. And it would’ve hit us when it hurts the most: our old age.Heather du Plessis-Allan

Labour will pay for this. The biggest price is trust.

This is the party that has now twice promised no new taxes and twice broken that promise. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Labour’s sneakiness will also cost them. The only thing worse than someone breaking their promise, is someone breaking their promise and trying to hide it.

Good luck to Labour trying to convince the public at the next election that they won’t introduce new taxes. If National plans to run a tax-and-spend scare campaign at the next election, Labour will have no defence. They can hardly ask us to trust them that there will be “no new taxes”. We’ve been there, done that, and we’re paying the taxes. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

It’s been a tough few weeks for Labour. The Sharma allegations made them look dysfunctional. The Auditor-General slamming them for sending cost-of-living money overseas made them look reckless with our tax dollars. And now they’ve been busted trying to take more without telling us .- Heather du Plessis-Allan

So unless there is a total breakdown of the normal decision-making processes within government, which is highly unlikely, this decision and the underhand way it was announced was premeditated.

How on earth could you get to such a tone deaf point? After all, this is not a new government, it has been in office for five years. Ministers surely knew this decision would wind up ordinary New Zealanders and cement the perception they are a high tax, high spending government. They must also have known that trying to avoid actually announcing the change could be political suicide, particularly given the media had given them fair warning they were interested in this upcoming decision. – Steven Joyce

There is every sign the Government believes its own BS to an unwarranted degree, so maybe it thought it could spin its way through this issue in the same way as it has so many others. The Prime Minister is certainly adept at arguing black is white and that failure to deliver is the result of aspiration, so there’s plenty of evidence for this theory.

An even more likely possibility is that ministers are getting completely out of touch with the public they serve. There is a very long series of announcements suggesting that is the case. The TVNZ-RNZ merger, the bike bridge, Three Waters, Trevor Mallard’s appointment to Ireland and his pending knighthood, the bank credit changes, immigration policy, and industry pay bargaining are some that leap to mind. They are either completely inexplicable (think GST on KiwiSaver), or clearly designed to serve a part of Labour’s power base to the bemusement or downright hostility of the general public. – Steven Joyce

Whatever the final cause of the Government’s awry political antennae, it appears very likely the die has been cast and the public have made up their minds about this lot, and ministers increasingly know it. – Steven Joyce

Expect to see much more attacking of the opposition over the next 12 months. Labour’s strategists may not have been able to work out that adding GST to KiwiSaver this way was political poison, but they are aware that the only way to level the playing field for the next election is to drag the alternative government down and create as much doubt about them as there is about Labour. It’s the 2005 and 2008 playbook all over again. And it won’t be pretty. – Steven Joyce

The failures of letting government aspirations become unanchored from reality are becoming difficult to ignore. Doing a more limited number of things well might just be better than failing at many things simultaneously.Eric Crampton

What is being proposed by Andrew Little and his minions is morally abhorrent. It is a paternalistic, white-man’s burden re-imagined for a modern era.

As the Initiative report’s title states, every life is worth the same. – Damien Grant

If a workplace relations system requires armies of HR people and lawyers to work, it is too complicated.

These workplace relations reforms run under the name ‘Fair Pay Agreements’. It is a misleading label since there is little that is fair about them. And with the threat of compulsion, they are not much of an agreement, either. – Oliver Hartwich

Still, the Fair Pay Agreements approach is based on little more than voodoo economics.

In conventional economics, wages reflect economic conditions. If a company does well, if it increases its productivity and then its profits, that growing pie will be distributed between owners and workers. So, in this way, the wage increase reflects how well the company is doing.

In the Alice-in-Wonderland world of New Zealand Labour, things work differently. Their starting point is not a how the economy is doing but how it should be doing.Oliver Hartwich

This approach is courageous, in a ‘Yes, Minister’ way. No wonder even the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment warned its ministers about proceeding with their Fair Pay Agreements plan.

There is an obvious problem with banking on future productivity increases: They might not happen.

It comes down to companies deciding on paying above-productivity wages in the vague hope they will be able to afford them later.

But business does not work like that. And economies that see wages rise faster than productivity will sooner or later face rising unemployment, since companies will not pay their workers more than what they produce. – Oliver Hartwich

For negotiations to take place, it takes two sides. Though the unions are keen on going down the Fair Pay Agreements path, BusinessNZ has declared it is no longer prepared to represent the employer side. So either the government finds another organisation to represent business, or it must artificially create one.

Either way, while Australia has now started the process of reforming its broken employment relations system, New Zealand has started to break its working one.

That is good news for Australia. And terrible news for New Zealand.Oliver Hartwich

No sane person should be fooled. A climate-cult madness has infected governments and their activist agencies; exemplar, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). Delusions of grandeur is a common manifestation of madness. Climate cultists fit the profile. Clothing themselves in virtue, they strut about proclaiming that they can save the earth from a fiery end if only we would give away the foundational building block of progress and prosperity; namely, fossil fuels. – Peter Smith

Sometimes the best people to fix the problems are actually those affected most by them. Kate Hawkesby

Rarely has a political party promised so much in an election campaign and achieved so little during its time in office.

Labour made extravagant promises to end child poverty, to build 100,000 houses over 10 years and make housing more affordable, to make a major contribution to reducing greenhouse gases, and to improve our education system. Instead child poverty has increased on most measures; the number of new houses built has been trivial and, while house prices are at last easing somewhat, they are still among the most expensive in the world; we’re still burning imported coal to keep the lights on; and more and more kids are coming out of the taxpayer-funded school system unable to read and write.

And to top it off, New Zealanders are now facing the highest inflation in more than 30 years. Some record! – Don Brash

The Prime Minister pretends that local councils will still own the water infrastructure which their ratepayers have funded but by every measure on which “ownership” is judged, this is a total nonsense: local councils will have absolutely no authority over the water infrastructure in their area. Among other things, because any new urban development is dependent on water infrastructure being put in place in a timely way, this means that the great majority of the decisions which a council makes around urban development – where roads and houses should go – will be effectively determined by the four enormous “entities” into which all water infrastructure will be grouped.Don Brash

The legislation establishing the four entities makes it clear that it is tribal authorities which will control the four entities, not the local authorities which notionally retain ownership of the assets. – Don Brash

The audacity of the Government’s move is surely astonishing. The effective confiscation of billions of dollars in water infrastructure assets built up over decades by ratepayers throughout the country is astonishing enough in its own right. But then to hand effective control of those assets to tribal groups up and down the country is almost beyond belief: it is a full frontal assault on any concept of democracy.

This policy alone should cost the Government next year’s election. If it does not, it is a sad indictment on the Opposition parties, on the media, and indeed on every New Zealander. – Don Brash

But there’s another even bigger and more tragic irony that Gorbachev’s death forces us to confront. While we smugly complimented ourselves on winning the Cold War, the democratic, capitalist West was all along being systematically undermined from within by ideological forces far more insidious than Soviet communism.

Call it the culture wars, call it identity politics, call it wokeism, call it neo-Marxism … whatever the label, a multi-faceted assault on Western values has been fermenting for decades, mostly in our institutions of learning, and is now happening in plain sight.

It aggressively manifests itself in attacks on all the values that define Western society and culture: free speech, property rights, the rule of law, economic liberalism, history, science, literature, philosophy and, most damagingly, democracy itself. The attacks are sanctioned by our own institutions, including the media, and have largely gone unopposed by nominally conservative politicians who give the impression of being in a state of paralysis.

We watched enthralled as Gorbachev defied political gravity and neutralised what we regarded as a potential threat to the free world, but I wonder who will save us from the even more menacing enemy within. – Karl du Fresne

Organic beef farms, whose animals take longer to raise and need even more land, lose twice as much nitrogen for each kilogram of meat produced as conventional beef farms. They also create more methane during their extended lifetime.Jacqueline Rowarth

As for veganism and reducing animal emissions, the concept of removing animals from the diet might seem positive, but the reality is that for a human to stay healthy, supplements and more food needs to be consumed, with consequent greater calorie intake, and hence waste material excretion. The waste contains more nitrogen and this has implications in terms of increased greenhouse gases . – Jacqueline Rowarth

 Different people have different perspectives, but the science facts remain – more people, limited land, and organics and veganism are not the answer for the bulk of the population.

What is clear is that meat and milk produced in New Zealand has lower impact than that produced overseas. The global message should be minimising dietary impact by eating only what is needed – and, where possible, choosing New Zealand food. – Jacqueline Rowarth

We’ve had five f——g years of this ‘be kind’ guilt-tripping propaganda shoved down our throats and everywhere you look the results are crippled systems and crippled people. Lindsay Mitchell

Another week, another demonstration of Government incompetence, nastiness and deceit. – Matthew Hooton

However good the political antennae of Ardern, Robertson and the rest of the 20-strong Cabinet, they can’t fulfil even that modest function without reading the papers they receive each Friday. Once upon a time, prime ministers required that every minister read every paper before showing up to Monday’s Cabinet meeting. There were even discussions and arguments before decisions were reached.

Apparently that rudimentary expression of Cabinet collective responsibility and basic political management is out of fashion.

With her PR talents, perhaps Ardern and her Cabinet don’t think they need to understand decisions they are taking or announcements they are making. Besotted cub reporters in other daily media let them spin out of anything that pops up. Matthew Hooton

While other countries are pulling out the stops to attract global talent to their shores, the New Zealand Government seems to think we can manage without it. It’s a decision based on archaic thinking, and it will cost our economy dearly. – Aaron Martin

At a time when we’re competing in a global talent shortage, Australia is rolling out the red carpet to skilled migrants, while New Zealand has put out a dusty old doormat.Aaron Martin

Not staying globally competitive means we’re not only falling behind in attracting the experienced people we need to build our own capability, but also puts us at risk of losing our own talent. – Aaron Martin

The New Zealand Government still appears to be stuck in the mindset that employers should be reducing their reliance on migrant workers. The philosophy of Australia is completely different – for them it’s not about reducing reliance, it’s about the very realistic approach of understanding what resources are needed to help their economy grow.

Reliance is ingrained in the modern economy, especially one that has a low birth rate and a low population – as New Zealand does. Not being able to offer certainty for migrants who are not on the Green List is going to make it hard to attract scarce and valued talent. That talent will be snapped up by countries who are taking a more progressive approach.Aaron Martin

The government is completely blind to the fact that skilled migration actually leads to job creation. Internationally experienced managers play a crucial role in upskilling local staff. Without it, staff capability and business growth is limited, and so is the potential of New Zealand’s economy.

So not only do we miss out on all the benefits of their expertise, but New Zealanders go looking for it offshore. If the government wants to put a stop to the brain drain and fix our skilled migrant shortage it needs to get its skates on to remedy our crippled immigration system. – Aaron Martin

Part of the hard-to-explain grief I feel today is related to how staggeringly rare that level of self-restraint is today. Narcissism is everywhere. Every feeling we have is bound to be expressed. Self-revelation, transparency, authenticity — these are our values. The idea that we are firstly humans with duties to others that will require and demand the suppression of our own needs and feelings seems archaic. Elizabeth kept it alive simply by example. Andrew Sullivan

She was an icon, but not an idol. An idol requires the vivid expression of virtues, personality, style. Diana was an idol — fusing a compelling and vulnerable temperament with Hollywood glamor. And Diana, of course, was in her time loved far more intensely than her mother-in-law; connected emotionally with ordinary people like a rockstar; only eventually to face the longterm consequences of that exposure and crumble under the murderous spotlight of it all.

Elizabeth never rode those tides of acclaim or celebrity. She never pressed the easy buttons of conventional popularity. She didn’t even become known for her caustic wit like the Queen Mother, or her compulsively social sorties like Margaret. The gays of Britain could turn both of these queens into camp divas. But not her. In private as in public, she had the kind of integrity no one can mock successfully.

You can make all sorts of solid arguments against a constitutional monarchy — but the point of monarchy is precisely that it is not the fruit of an argument. It is emphatically not an Enlightenment institution. It’s a primordial institution smuggled into a democratic system. It has nothing to do with merit and logic and everything to do with authority and mystery — two deeply human needs our modern world has trouble satisfying without danger.

The Crown satisfies those needs, which keeps other more malign alternatives at bay. – Andrew Sullivan

The Crown represents something from the ancient past, a logically indefensible but emotionally salient symbol of something called a nation, something that gives its members meaning and happiness. However shitty the economy, or awful the prime minister, or ugly the discourse, the monarch is able to represent the nation all the time. In a living, breathing, mortal person.

The importance of this in a deeply polarized and ideological world, where fellow citizens have come to despise their opponents as enemies, is hard to measure. But it matters that divisive figures such as Boris Johnson or Margaret Thatcher were never required or expected to represent the entire nation. It matters that in times of profound acrimony, something unites. It matters that in a pandemic when the country was shut down, the Queen too followed the rules, even at her husband’s funeral, and was able to refer to a phrase — “we’ll meet again” — that instantly reconjured the days of the Blitz, when she and the royal family stayed in London even as Hitler’s bombs fell from the sky.

Every Brit has a memory like this. She was part of every family’s consciousness, woven into the stories of our lives, representing a continuity and stability over decades of massive change and dislocation. – Andrew Sullivan

The Queen was crowned in the cathedral where kings and queens have been crowned for centuries, in the same ceremony, with the same liturgy. To have that kind of symbolic, sacred, mystical thread through time and space is something that is simply a gift from the past that the British people, in their collective wisdom, have refused to return.Andrew Sullivan

Because, in a way, the Queen became a symbol for many people in the English speaking world, even if England itself meant nothing to them.

A symbol of what you may ask?

Maybe of times gone past, of an old way of doing things.  But maybe of a kind of ideal. A person of good character when so many news pages are filled with politicians and celebrities displaying the opposite.

A person who never stopped doing what she said she would. On her 21st birthday she said “I declare before you all, that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.”

And she kept that promise.

Maybe also because we watched her publicly face the challenges of being a mum, a grandmother, and the head of a family.  That’s a job a lot of us know is hard enough without having to do it in public.- Heather du Plessis-Allan

She would say that Prime Ministers were always faced with difficult decisions to make, and real challenges and there often was not a right answer, but to do the thing that you believed was the correct thing to do, was not always the easy thing to do.

She had huge amounts of grace and warmth, but equally so much history and wisdom that you could ask questions and get answers that came from a perspective and vantage point that probably no other person had seen. –  John Key

In Britain, there have been few manifestations of extreme grief at the death of Queen Elizabeth.  But there is a profound and shared sense of loss, that everything has changed, and all expressed in a controlled way.  How very British.

She had breezed past the markers of mortality for so long, that in a quiet moment one could almost believe that she was a truly permanent fixture.

But the singing of God Save the King on the accession of King Charles was a marker of finality.  And a reminder that one can’t step in the same river twice. – Point of Order

One can guess that Her Majesty felt she had a great deal to live up to.  Most would say she did it superbly.  

And now that burden falls to her son.

Burkean conservatism is all about reconciling continuity and change, when change is necessary and can be undertaken in accordance with the traditions of the country and people.

Queen Elizabeth embodied something about ‘us’ and on her death, we need to reconsider just what ‘we’ means.Point of Order

Perhaps, just for a moment, reflection on her life and death can briefly refract our thinking and remind us that while it does seem impossible to love one another, we do sometimes need to try a bit harder. – Point of Order

Because a human being can embody something that otherwise defies expression. She (or indeed he) can make the intangible concrete in a different way to symbols like flags (New Zealanders might recall) or words in legal documents.  

Of course, in the beginning was the Word.  But don’t forget the still surprisingly widespread conviction that it became Flesh and dwelt among us.Point of Order

Media coverage has laid bare what locals have known for a long time: Rotorua has, whether deliberately or through absolute dereliction of duty, been transformed into a dumping ground. A place where the vulnerable are treated like cash cows, lining the pockets of a select few.

I despair that I’m at the point where I’m writing this column, knowing that more negative publicity will compound the impact upon Rotorua. But the situation is dire, it must change, and the people who have created this nightmare must be held accountable.- Lizzie Marvelly

I find the word “transitional” ironic. Transitioning to where? The people in these motels are stuck. The conditions are squalid, the social challenges are profound and danger is ever-present. Many of the rooms in these motels don’t even have functioning smoke alarms. Single mums and their tamariki have been housed next to 501 deportees from Australia. It makes you wonder whether they are better or worse off than they were before they landed on Fenton Street.

The people who are undoubtedly better off are those receiving millions of taxpayer money to house and care for the vulnerable. But what do we have to show for the money being thrown around? If the system was working we’d see the number of emergency housing motels decreasing. We’d see a reduction in negative social impacts as people received the support and assistance they needed.

We are seeing quite the opposite. What key performance indicators, if any, have been put in place? When organisations and the offshore owners of Fenton Street motels are receiving millions of dollars of public funding, surely the public have a right to know what the spend is achieving. Forgive the crass expression, but in my view millions of dollars of taxpayer money are being pissed into the wind in Rotorua.  Lizzie Marvelly

Rotorua has become a new kind of visitor Mecca, housing visitors who may never leave. – Lizzie Marvelly

It is undoubtedly vital that Rotorua looks after its own vulnerable citizens, with the appropriate support from Government agencies. It is outrageous, however, that such a small city, already decimated by the impact of Covid, is being expected to also take on vulnerable people from other cities and towns around the country. For a start, it fractures valuable social support that people may have in their home regions. Unsurprisingly, it has created a group of displaced, broken people. It’s time for other centres to look after their own people.

What is often missed in the soundbites is that the tourism industry was the biggest employer in Rotorua, and many of the Rotorua people in emergency housing landed there because they lost their tourism industry jobs. How on earth are they going to get back on their feet, and out of transitional housing, if the tourism industry doesn’t recover? And when walking around town in Rotorua can be objectively dangerous, why on earth would tourists want to come back?

It is the view of many at home that the current leadership, both locally and nationally, are destroying Rotorua. Locals have been voicing their concerns to officials for years, yet things continue to get worse. It is difficult to see how the city will recover. There must be an independent review immediately, followed by swift and lasting change. Lizzie Marvelly

What I look like or what my body is like has no bearing on whether or not I’m a good person, whether or not I’m smart, whether or not I’m attractive, whether or not I’m sexy, whether or not I’m fit or motivated. [My size] doesn’t have the relationship to those things that I had previously thought it did – Alice Snedden 

Anyone who’s fat or has ever been fat knows that’s always in the back of your mind because that will have been an insult people have levelled against you. It doesn’t feel like a good thing to be for the most part.Alice Snedden 

I’m interested in being a good person with the least inconvenience possible. It would be good if it were easy but what do we do in the face of knowing that it’s not? – Alice Snedden 

And I remember learning how flowers grow.
That flowers bloom not just with light from the sun, but also with rain from the clouds.

And then I realise that I can grow this way, too.

That grey skies will form and I will feel sad again, but I will grow understanding that my sadness is made of love.

That tears of sadness will come and fall like rain again, but I will grow knowing that my tears are made of life. – Ben Brooks-Dutton

The claims are unbelievable but I would venture to say that none of you has been through the emotional and physical trauma that being overweight can cause.

At first, I didn’t think anyone would believe it. Then I remembered how insecure being overweight made me. How I desperately looked for answers and beat myself up daily for the poor choices I made and my lack of self-control. The company is completely playing on people’s vulnerabilities. It is cruel and I am genuinely sorry for those who have been taken in by it. – Paula Bennett

I think it’s possible to feel ambivalent (at best) about the institution and what it represents, and at the same time a deep respect for the Queen herself as an individual.

In her case, the privileges of the role, the money and castles and special treatment, were surely offset by the extraordinary burden of service.

The figure that stuck with me on Friday was 21,000 – the barely fathomable number of private service engagements the Queen undertook during her reign.

No one on the face of the earth will know a life quite like it. – Jack Tame

In an increasingly tribal and partisan world, she was a steady, neutral force.

She was the steady force. I admired the Queen’s careful restraint.

The Queen lived through arguably the greatest period of change the world has ever seen.

And in that period of great change there is no figure on Earth who has represented a greater picture of stability. Queen Elizabeth was the constant. – Jack Tame

It is a sign of how dysfunctional Auckland Council is that it considers a debt-to-revenue ratio of 258% as a positive. It had budgeted for 290%. Damien Grant

I’m an engineer. We don’t do empathy. We fix things. – Wayne Brown

 New Zealand has amassed billions of dollars in debt trying to make it through a global pandemic. Our debt levels are huge. Businesses, employers….They’ve carried the brunt of it. And now we’re going to ask them to pay for everyone to have a day off, and at the same time face a 20 percent reduction in output and revenue. 

Madness. – Rachel Smalley

What I would say is this – and I realise I am slightly practical when it comes to these matters — but the Queen is dead. This woman who has lived through wars and great upheaval would tell us to crack on. I think she’d tell us that these are challenging economic times and we’ve already been disrupted by COVID and spent too much time at home, so she’d urge us to keep working.

Keep calm, and carry on, perhaps. – Rachel Smalley

 In a world of vacuous comment, more people than not these past few days have come to the party with their thoughts in an eloquent and kind fashion. The energy and effort was put in to say more than you would have expected on other occasions.Mike Hosking

 In a post-Covid world where we have indulged ourselves to a ludicrous degree, for the monarch little changed.

Little changed as we moved to the country, invented quiet quitting, started the great resignation, and all wound up and bound up in our own wee world of upheaval and change.

I wonder how many times the Queen wanted to quietly quit?

But duty, service, and a promise made all those years ago overrode it all. They are wonderful, uplifting, life-affirming characteristics that are so sorely and sadly missing too often these days.

And you didn’t have to be a monarchist to admire that. – Mike Hosking

Everyone is agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic drove people mad, but there is disagreement over who the madmen were, itself another cause of ferocious argument: a kind of meta-madness, as it were.

I am still not clear in my mind what I would or should have done if I had been in charge (would have done and should have done being very different, in all probability), or whether my darling scheme of concentrating efforts exclusively on those at significant risk would have worked.

What constitutes significant risk is, of course, not a purely scientific question. So-called listening to the science can never be enough—quite apart from the fact that the science does not exist where there are still many unknowns. It is not true that no scientific truths are indisputable: No one seriously expects it to be discovered, for example, that the blood does not circulate in the body. But even in the treatment of well-described diseases there are an infinite number of unanswered questions that could be asked.Theodore Dalrymple

Giving up a worldview is more difficult than giving up a bad habit.

That is why conspiracy theories are so attractive to us. We want the world to be tractable, and for events to have been wrought by human design, even if those who do the designing are evil. In fact, it is really quite reassuring that the bad things that happen in the world must be by evil design (as, of course, some of them are). This gives us the hope that, by removal of the evilly disposed persons, the world may be made perfect. Besides, searching out evil is fun. – Theodore Dalrymple

Plenty will say the nation has lost its grandmother, that we are a family bereaved of its matriarch – and that comparison is not so wide of the mark. Not because everyone knew or loved the Queen like a relative, because obviously that is not true. But the comparison holds in this much narrower sense: she was a fixed point in our lives, a figure of continuity when all around was in constant flux. Everything has changed since the day in 1952 when she inherited the throne. That country – of black-and-white television, gentlemen in hats, and Lyons Corner Houses – and this one would barely recognise each other. The one thing they have – had – in common was her.

She was woven into the cloth of our lives so completely, we had stopped seeing the thread long ago.  – Jonathan Freedland

As with parenting, so with serving as the national figurehead: a big part of the job is simply showing up. Elizabeth understood that very deeply, realising that continuity amid turbulence was the great value that a monarchy could add to a democratic system. – Jonathan Freedland

The result was that an epoch that witnessed enormous social upheavals, a shift to the demotic and democratic in manners and mores and an end to deference – an age that could have proved disastrous, if not terminal, for a feudal institution such as monarchy – instead saw royalty cement its position. Republicanism was a lost cause in the Elizabethan era, even as the notion of allocating any other role in public life according to genetic bloodline would have been dismissed as an indefensible throwback.

Advocates of an elected head of state struggled to gain traction for the simple reason that the Queen did the job so well. Republicans could only argue that it was a fluke, that although the lottery of heredity had thrown up a winner this one time, there was no guarantee it would do so again. But it was no good. For as long as she was there, the monarchy seemed to make sense – an illogical, irrational kind of sense, but sense all the same.Jonathan Freedland

But millions will now be mourning something more intimate and more precious: the loss of someone who has been a permanent fixture for their – our – entire lives. Her death will prompt memories of all that has passed these last 70 years, and all those others who we loved and lost. There is grief contained within grief. Today we mourn a monarch. And in that very act, we also mourn for ourselves.- Jonathan Freedland

If republicans want to succeed, they will need to offer New Zealanders something they can gain from a republic, not just something they will lose.Henry Cooke

The sadness I naturally feel at the passing of someone important, who had, in a sense, accompanied me throughout my childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and into my old age, Queen Elizabeth II, is accompanied by a sense of foreboding as to what might follow. It might give an opportunity for political mischief-makers to make mischief, not for the sake of human improvement or happiness, but for the sake of making mischief. – Theodore Dalrymple

There must surely be very few examples of such single-minded dutifulness in contemporary history. That is why she maintained her popularity from the moment she ascended the throne to the day of her death. Her conduct was as modest as her position was exalted. She never made the mistake of thinking that she was an interesting or remarkable person in herself, and thereby became remarkable.Theodore Dalrymple

And then, of course, there are also the republicans who want to fish in troubled waters. Starting from the irrationality of monarchy when considered from abstract first principles, they point to the deficiencies of any monarch, though this was harder to do in the late monarch’s case. In doing so, they forget that, in practice, people are infinitely more likely to be oppressed by their elected representatives than by their constitutional monarch, and indeed are increasingly oppressed by them every day of their lives. Like many intellectuals, they prefer to fight shadows rather than substantive beings: it is easier and more gratifying. – Theodore Dalrymple

Some MPs can swear an oath to the Queen and to “her heirs and successors” and then proclaim they are republicans. As they make promises they never intend to keep why should we be surprised that they do not keep their oaths?

A government that does not want to run on its record might be tempted to stage a diversion and hold a referendum to become a republic. Those who advocate holding a referendum first need to say what sort of republic. – Richard Prebble

Some nations have had parliament elect the president and others the electorate. Even if the head of state’s role is ceremonial the election by itself gives the president power. The temptation to use power is overwhelming.

The conflict between presidents and parliaments is one of the reasons presidential government is so unstable. – Richard Prebble

A hereditary head of state from another country is weird. Constitutional monarchy just works better than the alternatives. The World Economic Forum says New Zealand is the world’s third oldest democracy. The Economist Intelligence Unit this year rated New Zealand the second most democratic country. Why fix what is not broken?

We are a small, isolated country. Having a shared monarchy with the UK and 14 other countries has been advantageous and will be in the future.

Monarchy is more fun. It has given me one of my first memories, a social success, a great embarrassment, a nice compliment and an honour.Richard Prebble

If we became a republic what would the Woman’s Weekly do? Seriously, the record is that our system of government is much more stable than a republic.

We have real issues but being a constitutional monarchy is not one of them. –Richard Prebble

Death holds up a mirror to everything — moments of love, stretches of strife, memories that punish and exalt. This is true if your family is far removed from the public eye, and it’s true if your family is ensconced in the world’s spotlight.  – Patti Davis

All of us know the difficulties and travails of the royal family. Each time the family members come together, the news media and the public analyze every gesture, every interaction. Did William and Harry speak? Embrace? Having been on the receiving end of such scrutiny, I can tell you that it’s a balancing act. You want to be present, available, sincere, yet there is a part of you that’s always aware you’re being watched and, in all likelihood, judged.

Queen Elizabeth had the ability to call her fractured family together to show up … because of her. My father was the beacon of light we all gravitated to, no matter how we felt about each other. When forces like this die, the fault lines in the family that were always there remain. Yet the beauty of memorial services and funerals is that for a while, that breakage is healed. – Patti Davis

Several times during that period, friends remarked on how hard it must have been to mourn in public. I always said, “No, that actually was the easy part.” I felt thousands of locked hands beneath me, keeping me from falling. That’s also why I didn’t want the week to end. Once it did, I would be left with the solitariness of my own grief, slogging through the waters that would inevitably rise around me.

Even if you are the royal family, the most famous family in the world, everyone doesn’t see everything about you. There is grief that spills out in the shadows. We need to remember that when we watch the public ceremonies surrounding the queen’s passing. Patti Davis

Driving home through dark quiet streets, I knew the river of grief that was waiting for me, and I knew I would have to cross it alone.

My hope is that people remember this about the royal family: In the end, though they breathe rarefied air, they grapple as we all do with life and death, with the mystery of what it means to be human. When darkness falls, and they are alone, they sink into the same waters that everyone does when a loved one dies. And they wonder if they’ll make it to the other side. – Patti Davis

I have often been labelled a conservative. This doesn’t mean I am some unthinking reactionary.

Instead, it just means, to me, that we should always very carefully weigh the transaction cost of change.

When it comes to possibly moving on from the monarchy I believe those costs are much higher than would be commonly thought and indeed are too high to meet a threshold for change. – Simon Bridges 

The point of this minor heraldic history, if any, is simply that politicians are almost infinitely and hilariously corruptible, for reasons ranging from cynical to deeply idiosyncratic, at even the most minute level.

Most of this can be easily handled and harnessed by the process of democracy. But as the final constitutional backstop, in the event of uncertainty or chaos, are politicians what we should rely on?  – Ben Thomas

What we might really need is some institution stripped of agendas, aspirations, or even hope. And in the modern royal family, we have that. Of course, monarchy bestows wealth and privilege on the undeserving. And while no-one would overplay the hardships of royal birth in comparison with the vast bulk of humanity, who have something in the nature of real problems, it hardly measures up to ideas of what extreme wealth involves.

Elon Musk can potentially go to Mars. Her late majesty could go to Balmoral, where candid pictures showed a two-bar heater in the fireplace and council flat wallpaper. Mentions of her “life of service” are not a mere platitude, but a recognition of the daily grind of ribbon cuttings, ceaseless tours and banal social interactions.

Sitting up the front of a formal dinner or prizegiving while maintaining a facade of benign interest is fine for an evening. But smiling politely for 70 years?

Well, critics might say, we don’t all love our jobs. The contradiction is not so much dullness in the middle of excess, but the paradox of powerlessness at the very epicentre of the sovereign. Ben Thomas

But our head of state has almost no autonomy that they can exercise without receiving the imprimatur of Parliament or the advice of the prime minister.

The last remaining, ultimate power they have is deciding who has the right to be the prime minister, and will give them the advice to which they are beholden. This is the constitutional equivalent of carrying around the nuclear codes – a responsibility of last resort so great, and terrible, and absolute that it is generally unthinkable that it should ever be used. And in the meantime, sitting still, and acting interested. – Ben Thomas

If you were to take note of most public commentary on the issue, you’d be justified in thinking the weight of public opinion overwhelmingly favours a republic – but that’s only because republicans make up most of the commentariat.

Many of these commentators miss the point, I suspect wilfully. They treat it as an issue of personalities. Their argument, essentially, is that the Queen was popular whereas Charles is not (although the latest opinion polls in Britain show a sudden spike in his favourability rating). Therefore the time has come to sever the constitutional connection with the Crown.Karl du Fresne

Monarchists, on the other hand, view royalty strictly in constitutional terms. They ask the vital question: do our existing constitutional arrangements serve New Zealand well? Unarguably, the answer is yes. We may have acquired them almost by historical accident and they may be ill-defined and poorly understood, but they have made us one of the world’s most stable democracies.

Paradoxically, they depend on a head of state who appears to do little apart from merely existing. The monarch’s powers are more notional than actual, but they serve as a vital constitutional backstop in case they’re needed. It’s weird, but it works. – Karl du Fresne

The crucial point about the monarchy is that it gives us a head of state who is above politics. It provides an element of impartiality, stability and continuity that could never be guaranteed under a president.

Whatever method might be used to elect or appoint a New Zealand president, political factors would intrude.  There are no constitutional mechanisms that can guarantee us a wholly apolitical New Zealand head of state. And unless the post is held for life, which would never be acceptable, there would be the risk of instability and uncertainty whenever it came up for renewal.  – Karl du Fresne

There is another vital respect in which the monarchy works. As one authority has put it, the significance of the monarchy is not the power it possesses but the power it denies others. For “others” read “politicians”, who may not always act with the purest of motives. The fact that the head of state is unelected runs counter to democratic principles, but it means the monarchy is immune to political pressures. As I said: weird, but it works. –

In constitutional terms, the Queen’s death changes nothing. It may be true that people loved the Queen and don’t feel the same about Charles, but the constitutional underpinnings are unchanged. – Karl du Fresne

I feel I knew the Queen because she was almost indistinguishable from my mother. They were born within three years of each other and died within two. Their hairstyles kept pace for 90 years. Their hemlines also. Both married soon after the war, and both had a son, followed by a daughter, followed by two more sons. (Thank you for asking, I am Edward.) Disregarding the odd palace, the Queen and my mother could have swapped photo albums.

Both women, then, were prisoners of their time and their biology. Nothing odd there. Most of us are. But the Queen was also imprisoned by her role, and that role was one of paradox. She was limitlessly wealthy, but she never shopped. She ruled over kingdoms, but went nowhere freely. She was top of the pile, but her job was to serve. She was just an ordinary woman, but it was her lifelong burden to embody the myth of royalty, the big juju.Joe Bennett

Mentally, this country is already a republic. When royals visit, it is as characters from a soap opera, not as potentates or juju-mongers. No-one holds up a sick child for them to touch. So it would seem fitting now to sever the tie.

But there’s a difficulty. Consider Africa. It is thick with republics and I would struggle to name an incorrupt one. The problem as always is power. To whom do you entrust it? – Joe Bennett

If we ditched the monarchy, we could vest its power in an elected politician. But would you be comfortable with, say, a President Muldoon? The alternative is to give power to someone apolitical.

The obvious choice would be the All Blacks captain. All Blacks are already local royalty. But they do tend to be blokes, and blokes have a worse record with power than women. Also, they get knocks to the head. Perhaps a cricketer, then, would be more suited to the role.

In the light of which, and in the event of our becoming a republic, I propose our head of state be the captain of the White Ferns.

Or we could keep Charles.Joe Bennett

The critical minerals that will power green technology need to be mined somewhere. They cannot be recycled at the rate and volume they are needed, though of course the contribution of recycling will be valuable.

The West Coast has potential for such minerals, including, Nickel, Cobalt, Lithium and Rare Earth Elements. GNS Science has assessed that much of that potential lies in the conservation estate.

It makes sense to keep the option open for mining on conservation land to access these minerals. That is not to say it will happen at scale, or that it will be open slather. – Josie Vidal

We don’t want to see opportunities for creating wealth, jobs and healthy regional economies lost overseas.

And we certainly don’t want to see our best and brightest off to Australia which is on the cusp of a mining boom to beat all others.

While we fully support the Government’s conservation objectives, we believe the negative impact of mining is overstated. The truth is that mineral extraction, suitably regulated, can and should contribute to the solution. – Josie Vidal

The real risk for biodiversity is with pests and predators, such as stoats, rats, and possums.

“Mining and other commercial activities can contribute to the funding of pest control. Mining is part of the solution to conservation, not the problem. – Josie Vidal

Of course, I knew that all men are mortal, etc., and therefore (if I had been asked) that the Queen would one day die, but I still entertained the faint and absurd hope than an exception would be made in her case. A locus of stability in an increasingly unstable and dangerous world, at least one thing was beyond contention except by a few professional malcontents. Theodore Dalrymple

For someone in office for seventy years to remain as popular at the end as at the beginning, while also being an immensely privileged person, is surely a most remarkable feat, and a tribute both to that person’s combined sense of duty and psychological canniness. Of course, it helped that she was a figurehead, at most someone with influence behind the scenes, rather than someone who exercised real political power, such exercisers of power retaining their popularity for a few months if even that. But the iron self-control she exercised in the performance of her duties—many of which must have bored her, and some of which, such as meeting and being polite to odious or even evil heads of states or governments, must have repelled her—was testimony to her sense of duty and her determination to keep her vow, made when she was twenty-one, to devote her life to service.

Another cause for astonishment, especially in the present day, is that she survived her seventy years of office, during which she was adulated, deferred to, and so forth, without becoming a monster of egotism. This was attributable, surely, to an existential modesty—an awareness that she received such deference and adulation not through any exceptional qualities, gifts, or virtues of her own, but by sheer accident of birth. Such modesty in celebrity is not exactly the characteristic of our age, to put it mildly. – Theodore Dalrymple

In Elizabeth’s reign of seventy years, the country changed as much as it had during the reign of the previously longest reigning monarch, Queen Victoria. In many respects, especially measurable ones, the changes were for the better. The infant mortality rate, for example, declined by nearly ninety per cent. The kind of poverty in which millions of people had no indoor bathrooms has been eliminated. Comforts that were once the perquisite only of the better off have come to achieve the status almost of unalienable human rights. When Elizabeth ascended the throne, rationing of some items was still in force, the legacy not so much of the war as of the economic policies pursued after it, though with the excuse of war indebtedness—levels of which we may soon approach without having had a war to account for them.Theodore Dalrymple

During her reign, money ceased to be a reliable store of wealth. In nominal terms, for example, it now costs eighty-eight times what it did in 1952 to post a letter. Many things that did not exist then are now deemed indispensable (invention being the mother of much necessity). Other things have become more expensive in nominal terms, but not by so much as postage. In terms of the labour necessary to pay for it, a house takes probably five or ten times as long to buy as it then did.

In intangible ways, the quality of life has deteriorated. At the beginning of her reign, Britain had a low rate of crime, but by its end it was among the most crime-ridden countries in the West. – Theodore Dalrymple

At the start of the Queen’s reign, the general culture had not coarsened to such an extent that decorum and seemliness meant nothing: they had not yet been mocked to death, with the result that coarseness and vulgarity have become marks almost of political virtue.

The Queen was responsible for none of this, of course. She was in no sense an intellectual, and even appeared to have no intellectual interests apart from her formal duties in affairs of state, and this saved her from subscribing to some of the idiocies subversive of conduct and culture that have resulted in the sheer ugliness, physical, spiritual and cultural, of modern Britain.Theodore Dalrymple

It is for their own lost virtues, exemplified by the Queen, that the people mourn, not least their distinctive understated humour and irony, now replaced almost entirely by crudity. – Theodore Dalrymple

Like all wordsmiths, Mr Bartlett understood that if one truly wishes to tell the truth, then one had best write fiction. – Chris Trotter

A government of the people, in Lincoln’s phrase, has changed by degrees into a people of the government. When one considers the number of duties or obligations one must fulfill to the government, it is clear who is boss in the relationship—and it is not we, the people.

Naturally, the government offers us all sorts of benefits, some real but many notional, in return for obedience to its diktats. But it is as unreasonable to expect it to confer those benefits without taking something for itself—especially power—as it is to expect a company to sell us its products at no profit. The trouble is that governments make John D. Rockefeller look like a disinterested do-gooder. – Theodore Dalrymple 

The fundamental point is, however, that the citizen (and bear in mind that I am not quite at the bottom of the social scale, at least not yet) is now so oppressed by his duties toward authorities that they are sufficient to convince him that he is of no more significance or account than is a single bacterium in a colony of bacteria on a petri dish .

And we call ourselves free!Theodore Dalrymple 

People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer. But in all cases those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are long forgotten. – Justin Welby

We will all face the merciful judgement of God: we can all share the Queen’s hope which in life and death inspired her servant leadership.

Service in life, hope in death. All who follow the Queen’s example, and inspiration of trust and faith in God, can with her say: “We will meet again.” Justin Welby

If it was not for the existence of, and the protection of, ’s sporting categories we would have no female medalists or even contenders on the international stage in any sport where strength, speed, or stamina matters. New Zealanders would have never heard the names of athletes like Alison Roe, Susan Devoy, Sophie Pascoe, and Lisa Carrington. As much as some people may wish to deny reality, biology and physiology matters because we play sports with our bodies, not our identities. – Rowena Edge

Save ’s Sports Australasia had heard from female athletes and the parents of girls across New Zealand who have been impacted by the inclusion of male transgender people in their sports category. They have included cricketers, cyclists, roller derby players, swimmers, netballers, runners, hockey players, weight lifters, and mountain bikers, among others. They have shared stories of how they have been injured and given up sports that they love. They have told how they have been ostracized by people they have previously considered to be friends, called bigots and transphobes, and dismissed by their sporting organisations when they raised concerns. – Rowena Edge

As another example, right now in a community cycling club in New Zealand there is a male transgender cyclist who holds the award for both best female cyclist of the season as well as best overall cyclist. Why? Because this cyclist not only cleaned out the ’s field, posting times so fast that no female had a chance of competing for first place, but on some occasions even beat the fastest male competing in the men’s category.

This is what kindness and inclusion now looks like. Female athletes being forced out of sports that they love and out of their rightful placings and recognition because including males in their category is considered to be a higher priority.

Sportswomen don’t need saving, but their category certainly does. – Rowena Edge

Today’s heirs of William the Conqueror are blank sheets that reflect the will of their prime ministers. Nothing emphasises this more dramatically than the speech from the throne, where a docile sovereign reads a speech written for them. Reducing the king to a ventriloquist dummy is a powerful statement.Damien Grant

It is better to have an excellent monarch, such as Elizabeth, rather than one less impressive as Charles threatens to be, but in a constitutional monarchy it does not matter.

Its success in the modern era relies on the impotence of the office. It works because ultimate political power rests with a person unable to exercise it, and it works because it gives us a focus separate from the state, from the nation, from the prevailing political authority. – Damien Grant

In a constitutional monarchy, those with political, administrative, military or judicial power have it on loan from the sovereign. Their time in office is limited and the boundaries of their authority constrained, yet what power they do have is legitimised due to the sovereign’s recognition of it.

No domestic president can compete. Replace Charles III, a literal and metaphorical descendant of Alfred the Great (warming-pan scandals notwithstanding), with some failed political apparatchik or even Richie McCaw, and we will have dropped something of inestimable value, simply for the pleasure of its destruction.Damien Grant

 As it is now common practice to accord sentencing discounts to criminals with childhood experiences beyond their control, what about surcharges for not exercising self-responsibility?

Every individual has the ability to exercise personal agency. It might be argued for some it is reduced to a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea but it is usually evident that arriving at that impasse could have been avoided. – Lindsay Mitchell

Effort and persistence go unremarked while failure and indifference mark out the victims among us. And don’t we love victims.

So long as, of course, the culprits are fashionable – colonization, capitalism, racism and patriarchal oppression. – Lindsay Mitchell

If it were my call, there would be no discounts. They make a mockery of the free will that defines us. They are in direct conflict with the very reason laws exist. Worse, they send an ambiguous and confused message to offenders and society.

If they are going to be handed out, they should be delivered with a surcharge and explanation.

“Yes, you had a terrible childhood, but so did many others who managed to avoid criminality. You knowingly chose the wrong path so here’s a matching surcharge for not exercising the self-responsibility that others with similar backgrounds managed to.” – Lindsay Mitchell

There is a dialectical relationship between human reality and the language in which we describe it, which is why semantic shifts are so important and often contested.Theodore Dalrymple

One of the shifts that I have noticed is in the use of the word depressed for unhappy. No one is unhappy any more, everyone is depressed. It is as if being unhappy were a moral fault, while being depressed is not merely to be ill, but to be laudably sensitive. How can any decent person be happy when there is so much suffering in the world? The news brings us evidence of fresh catastrophes every day: to be happy is to be complacent, and to be complacent is to be callous. To be miserable, therefore, is the only decent stance towards the world.

How did the shift come about? I do not think that anyone decreed or directed it, though no doubt it was convenient for some, for example the drug companies that were able as a result to sell their doubtfully useful wares to millions, even to tens of millions, of people. About a sixth of the Western world’s adult population now takes them, suggesting either the looseness of the diagnosis or the misery of modern life despite its material advantages. – Theodore Dalrymple

The linguistic termites (or police) are now every­where, and while no individual termite has much of an effect, hosts of them will eventually cause a building to collapse, often unexpectedly. I have in the past had one or two struggles with young sub-editors over the new moral correctitude of language, and so far I have been able to gain my point, though I am under no illusion that my little victories can be anything other than local and temporary. Apart from anything else, the struggle is asymmetrical. I do not want to turn myself into a monomaniac by engaging in prolonged struggles with monomaniacs. That is why monomania so often wins the day in the modern world: the subject of the monomania is only one among others for normal people, but it is all in all, the very meaning of life itself, for those who are in the grip of it.Theodore Dalrymple

Semantic shift when it is not genuinely spontaneous is a manifestation of a power struggle that is not solely, or even to a very large extent, semantic. Some words are genuinely offensive, but most of the concern over terminology is not about the elimination of such words from polite conversation. Rather, it is a question, as Humpty Dumpty pointed out long ago, of who is to be master, or perhaps I should say dominant, that’s all.- Theodore Dalrymple

We need unity now more than ever but some of our leaders can’t resist the temptation to focus on separate development as a means to an end. It is a false narrative that will only harm those who need help more than most – it is a lie.Clive Bibby

There’s a reason why most people aren’t engaged with local government, because by and large, the things it tends to do adequately are taken for granted (local roads, footpaths, rubbish collection), and people have busy lives getting on with making a living, looking after their families, their homes, and living their lives.  – Liberty Scott

Local government also attracts a particular type of person.  More often than not it attracts busybodies, planners, pushy finger-wagging types who think they know what’s best, over what people actually indicate according to their willingness to pay. It particularly attracts socialists who see local government as a stepping stone to central government for Labour and Green Party members. Liberty Scott

So vote if you must, but the real problem is that local government has too much power.  It has stuffed up water, the only unreformed network utility (except in Auckland).  Local government used to manage local electricity distribution, but that was taken off it in the 1990s.  At one time it was responsible for milk distribution, which is why until the late 1980s buying milk OTHER than by kerbside bottles was unusual, and indeed there was no plastic or cartoned milk.

So pick candidates who want to get out of the way, of new housing, of new supermarkets, of enterprise and don’t want to promise grand totemic projects that you have to pay for.  Don’t pick those who think that local government can “do so much good” by spending your money and pushing people around.  Maybe pick those who actually have some understanding of the limits of the ability of local government. – Liberty Scott

However, I’m largely quite pessimistic. People wildly enthusiastic about local government are generally the opposite of people I want in local government, because local government attracts far too many meddlers, regulators and planners.

Try to pick the least worst and hope for the best, at least until there is a central government that keeps them on the leash.  You’ll have to make some compromises.Liberty Scott

The pandemic response was the biggest public policy intervention in people’s lives, in our lifetimes. From lockdowns to the mask and vaccine mandates, from closing the schools to effectively closing the hospitals. Everybody was affected. Everyone’s life trajectory changed, some permanently.

People died, some from Covid and some from other things that could be traced to the choices we made about Covid.

We owe it to ourselves and to the memory of those lost to stop and take stock.

We need to examine what worked and what didn’t. What had the biggest positive effect and what was more trouble than it was worth? When should we have moved more quickly, including both into and out of restrictions, and when should we have waited longer?

A Covid inquiry should not be a journey of recrimination or blame. Responding to a pandemic like this was never going to be a game of perfect. This has been a crazy two-and-a-half years of big decisions on top of big decisions where there was no game plan to work from. Nobody could have got everything right.

Some things obviously worked, some obviously didn’t, and the jury is still out on many more. – Steven Joyce

If we do this inquiry right, we will have a game plan for next time. And to me that is the most important thing. The past two-and-a-half years have been a journey of policy experimentation by necessity. We now have a golden opportunity to perfect a blueprint for future pandemics.Steven Joyce

The sort of lessons I’m interested in vary from the big to the small. How much did hard lockdowns achieve versus what other lesser restrictions could have? Could we keep working on, say, big construction sites with strong health and safety protocols without adding significantly to the risk? Could we keep butchers and fruit and vege stores safely open in hard lockdowns? How could we manage our border more humanely and stay connected to the world without materially worsening the risk?

What should be the threshold for closing our schools, and what are the true costs to the children of doing so, balanced against the risks of virus transmission?

How do we scale up hospital capacity quickly without sending ourselves broke in the meantime?

Is there a better procurement system we should use for buying urgently needed equipment and vaccines? And how do we ensure contestable advice from others besides the public health people, while respecting their expertise? – Steven Joyce

A well-constructed commission of inquiry will encourage reflection and planning for the future while learning the lessons of the present. Contrary to the Opposition’s wishes and the Government’s fears, it would likely not offer an advantage to either political side. The Government would probably even attract public kudos if it instituted a clearly nonpartisan inquiry for the country’s benefit, rather than lapsing into its trademark defensiveness.Steven Joyce

On Roe v. Wade, I am with the Supreme Court ruling, though I am by no means as opposed to termination of pregnancies as some people. It seems obvious to me that if you can derive a right to abortion from the American Constitution, you can derive anything from it, for example a children’s right to teddy bears or an employee’s right to four weeks’ paid holiday a year at a resort of his choice. The proper aim of a constitution is not to secure all the things that people would like, but to provide a limiting framework of liberty in which laws should be made. By returning the legislation on the matter of abortion to the states, the Supreme Court was increasing the scope of democracy, not (as was dishonestly alleged) curtailing it. It remains open to believers in, or enthusiasts for, abortion to work for a properly worded constitutional amendment, granting the right they falsely claim to have found in the Constitution as it now stands; or alternatively (and more realistically) to work for changes in the laws of those states that are highly restrictive. That would be the proper way to go about it, if they believed in constitutional democracy, but they don’t: They believe instead in their own virtue and moral right to govern. – Theodore Dalrymple

From the outsider’s point of view, what is alarming about the situation in the United States is the complete polarization of opinion, precisely at a time when opinion is the sole measure of virtue. A man can be an absolute monster, but if he proclaims the right views at sufficient volume, he remains a good man. It follows from this that a man who disagrees with me does not merely have a different opinion from mine, but is a bad person, even a very bad person. And I am told by American friends whom I trust that people of differing political standpoints can scarcely bear to be in the same room together. They tell me (so it must be true) that the left is worse in this respect than the right, and that while a young conservative is happy to date a young liberal, the reverse is not true. It can’t be long before sexual relations with a person of differing political outlook come to be regarded as a sexual perversion, indeed as the only sexual perversion, all others being but a matter of taste.Theodore Dalrymple

Nevertheless, there seems to be something different about the present level of social hostility between people of different political outlooks, which has now become chronic. This cannot be a favorable augury for the future of a functioning democracy—or rather, for a free country (which is not quite the same thing). While a phenomenon that is more or less binary, sex, has become nonbinary, something that should be nonbinary, that is to say political opinion, has become binary. If you know a person’s opinion on one subject, you know his opinion on all, and you either clasp him to your bosom or cast him out of your sight. Tolerance is not an a priori acceptance of how someone is, however he may be; that is indifference, not tolerance. Tolerance is behaving decently toward someone some aspect of whom one dislikes or disagrees with. I have friends with whose outlooks I strongly disagree, and which I believe to be deleterious (as they probably believe mine to be); I have friends with whose religious views I find alien to me. There is a limit to the tolerable, of course, and where that limit should be placed is a matter of judgment and no doubt of circumstance. But I do not want to live in a social world in which there are only two blocs, akin to those of the Cold War. – Theodore Dalrymple

My record of failure does not prevent or even inhibit me from prognostication, however. I think we have entered a golden age of bad temper that will last some time, one of the reasons being that too many people go to university where they have learned to look at the world through ideology-tinted spectacles. There is nothing like ideology for raising the temperature of debate and eventually of avoiding debate altogether. Theodore Dalrymple

Poor evidence bases for major educational initiatives is, regrettably, nothing new. In fact, our education agencies have a history of flying in the face of evidence.

NCEA was introduced in 2002 against the advice of prominent professors of education. They warned that the standards-based assessment system would result in egregious variability in assessment results. In 2005, the Board Chair and Chief Executive of NZQA both resigned amidst a political storm caused by … egregious variability in assessment results.

I could go on: The literacy teaching methods promoted by the Ministry, their failed ‘numeracy project’ and the knowledge-poor New Zealand Curriculum are all examples of educational initiatives implemented against a preponderance of evidence. All have had disastrous results.

Perhaps the true inspiration for MLEs was the open plan offices in which public servants work. If so, the Ministry’s record of failure might be all the evidence we need that MLEs were a bad idea. – Dr Michael Johnston

I fear for New Zealand’s future when the mainstream news media, which not long ago championed free speech, are instrumental in creating a climate of fear, suspicion and denunciation that resembles something from George Orwell. It becomes even more dangerous when government departments appear to have been frightened or bullied by the media into succumbing to a moral panic.  Karl du Fresne

Cosyism: a new word for one of the most chronic problems in New Zealand public life. We are largely spared, thankfully, the envelopes-stuffed-with-cash corruptionthat infects other countries. But we’re suffused with overly close relationships: nepotism, jobs for the boys, all that jazz.

Some call it cronyism, but that doesn’t quite fit here: “cronies” sound too much like Mafia hitmen. “Cosyism” better describes those insidious processes by which public positions, jobs and contracts sometimes go not to the best-qualified applicants but to the friends, contacts and family members of people in power. It’s an apt term for a famously small society in which cousins and mates are always – cosily – rubbing up against each other in public life.

Cosyism isn’t solely an injustice to the well-qualified but poorly connected people who lose out; it can cost us all, since the winners – the well-connected but poorly qualified – often do bad work, expensively.

A cosy society also tolerates the most colossal conflicts of interest: situations where power-holders’ decisions could be biased by a personal incentive, be it to protect a business connection or aid a relative. Even just a public perception of bias can be harmful, corroding trust and promoting political disengagement. – Max Rashbrooke

No doubt the agencies will improve their protocols, at least to meet current standards. But given what they allow, are those standards fit for purpose? Could any public servant, in any department, deal confidently with a contractor – including, if necessary, rejecting substandard work – if they knew the latter were the minister’s relative?

What, too, about the advantageous information a minister could convey to their contractor relative? There may be no reason to doubt the integrity of current ministers, but that’s not the point. We must design systems for the most corrupt actors, not the least.

Some people respond to such problems with a shrug: in a small society, they say, these conflicts are inevitable. But that’s back-to-front: we have to be tougher on these problems precisely because we’re a small society, and they will crop up so often.

The current default is to “manage” a conflict of interest by leaving the room, sometimes literally, when a particular issue is discussed – as if this removes every opportunity to influence the decision. That default needs to change. – Max Rashbrooke

A cosyism crackdown would, of course, be hard on some people. Too bad. That’s the price we pay for probity, and for public faith in our institutions. – Max Rashbrooke

Voters don’t dislike cycleways. They are over the priority placing they get compared to other civic enhancements.

The misalignment between voter preferences and what their elected representatives do is not a local phenomenon.

New data by global polling company YouGov, not yet publicly available but presented to a Toronto conference I attended this week, reveals seismic changes in what voters want governments to do. – Josie Pagani 

Since Covid and rising inflation, our priorities have changed.

The cost of living worries 78% of people. It simply costs too much to exist.

This is an ‘’everyone, everywhere crisis’’: all incomes and political persuasions. It’s a survival issue for some, a top anxiety for others. – Josie Pagani

Seventy-six per cent of voters think that inflation is increasing inequality, and pulling communities apart. Even if you can weather the rise in prices, you’re worried about how this will divide the nation even further.

People expect governments to do more. A whopping 84% of citizens think that it’s a government’s job to help (followed by central banks at 79%).

But only 46% want a one-off direct payment of cash (assuming a government can even get the cash out the door to the right people).Josie Pagani

Here’s another seismic shift: People are prepared to pay more for public services, but with a sting in the tail – they want the services in their local region. More money spent on their parks, sports clubs, wifi, police stations and services, rather than increases in welfare, or even tax credits. Voters want a transfer of wealth to their communities. They resist paying for services if they see the cash being spent elsewhere. – Josie Pagani

People are willing to trade some growth to bring poorer regions up to the level of wealthier ones.

Even if you don’t live in a poorer region, rebuilding nations, and bringing citizens together after Covid, is a priority. Leave no town behind.

No-one in politics should ignore that there has been massive global shift to the left in the way people think about the economy. – Josie Pagani

The daily congestion on the harbour bridge costs the country money in lost productivity. People need to move to make money. They need to get to the pipes to fix them to get paid. They need to drop off the parcels to get paid. They need to open the shop to sell things. Refusing to build cars into the next crossing is actively choosing to keep Auckland and New Zealand poorer than they should be. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

The next Mayor of Auckland should be building a city for future growth, not stealing ideas from the 1970s.Heather du Plessis-Allan

The blinkers have now come off for many. They feel lied-to. They feel cheated. All the promises, all the words about improving everything from child poverty to housing to crime to cost of living have come to nothing. In fact, we are substantially worse off. Yes, people are angry and they don’t feel they are being listened to. – Paula Bennett

Perhaps the Government should listen to some of those angry people. Understand where they are coming from.

Perhaps they should stop with false promises and actually deliver something and then people might happily get on with their lives.Paula Bennett

Through almost every tier of the social spectrum, there seems to be an excess layer of tension and anxiety creating conflict and division.

Whether it’s the homeless fighting outside central city supermarkets, gang shootings, or the fisticuffs of middle-class parents at posh PTA fundraisers – the nation seems to be at boiling point. – Liam Dann

These females are walking, emoting examples of how women have risen to power in recent years and they are enough to put any sensible woman off.

It is increasingly obvious that the female ‘leaders’ held up as flagbearers for feminism, and who spend their time rubbing shoulders with celebrities, are painfully vacuous. They are promoted as ‘nice’ – gracing the covers of fashion magazines where they prioritise image ahead of competence, sound judgment, and the wellbeing of the people they are elected to serve.

No woman with serious mental firepower would want to be associated with such shallowness.Lillian Andrews

It is as if adopting a caring head tilt and sad eyes in Insta(gram)-ready propaganda photos serves as the equivalent of having actual solutions to critical social and economic challenges.

It is also no coincidence that they are uniformly Woke in their politics. – Lillian Andrews

They bleat about how committed they are to openness and transparency while using media teams to deflect scrutiny away from their actions. When politics gets difficult, they opine obsessively about equality and fairness – as if having a vagina bestows some special insight. At the same time, they turn a blind eye to the cold, hard statistics that show deteriorating socioeconomic conditions and more people struggling.

Powerful women like this can thunderously denounce bullying in public life and then attempt to shove under the carpet contentions of rampant bullying that happens under their watch. They fanatically adopt mantras about gender equality to substitute for having no idea about how to increase security and prosperity for all. Then they use this as an excuse to appoint equally dubious women to senior positions, turning a blind eye to subsequent displays of incompetence, nepotism, and cover-ups.

All the while, the only contribution these women make to public debate is to recycle vague, tired platitudes about inclusion, kindness, and social justice. – Lillian Andrews

The message that women in politics send is this: if you want power without principles, influence without intellect, and command without competence, we want you. Women who secretly yearn to be influencers, but instead delude themselves into the belief that they are policy giants who deserve leadership roles, gladly answer this call. However, it is not one that will be heard by those with the strength of character of a Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, or even Helen Clark.

The more this self-perpetuating cycle repeats, the more insecure lightweights are going to become the carefully botoxed face of women in power. – Lillian Andrews

Men in politics are frequently every bit as bungling and hypocritical as women, but men’s grandstanding is fittingly and increasingly ‘called out’ whereas women are allowed to hide almost interminably behind a cloak of faux-compassion and historical ‘systemic’ factors that were caused by somebody else. We are meant to believe that these systemic issues only become apparent after a woman gets elected on the back of promising to deliver a fix. Any woman of integrity rightly sees this as a demeaning and counter-productive double standard.

It is no coincidence that as the new wave of ‘look at how much I care, aren’t I lovely’ female politicians have risen, other women’s interest in being actively engaged in politics has languished.

Society believes it to be fashionable to denounce patriarchal oppression and sexism for causing this. In reality, the reason why women who should go into politics frequently choose not to, is because of the women who are already there.

For as long as their much-feted but ultimately fraudulent model of ‘success’ persists, the only women who will gravitate to politics will be the ones who are most interested in themselves and least suited for truly serving the public. And no amount of talk about childcare, sexual harassment policies, and flexible working conditions are going to change that. – Lillian Andrews

The expression “people of color” has always seemed to me in equal measure stupid, condescending, and vicious. It divides humanity into two categories, whites and the rest, or rather whites versus the rest; it implies an essential or inherent hostility between these two portions of humanity; and it implies also no real interest in the culture or history of the people of color, whose only important characteristic is that of having been ill-treated by, and therefore presumably hating, the whites. Compared with the phrase “people of color,” the language of apartheid was sophisticated and nuanced.

It should not need saying that, as the history of Europe attests, whites have not always been happily united, and that “people of color” do not necessarily form one happy, united family, either. – Theodore Dalrymple

The very phrase “people of color” is as mealy-mouthed as any Victorian prude might have wished for and, among other things, is a manifestation of the fear we now live under, sometimes without quite realizing it. Truth has now to be varnished so thickly that it becomes imperceptible.Theodore Dalrymple

On the whole I found listening to people and understanding where they were coming from was part of the job and actually made me better at it. Hiding from the public and hearing only the good stuff is ignorant and dangerous. – Paula Bennett

The blinkers have now come off for many. They feel lied-to. They feel cheated. All the promises, all the words about improving everything from child poverty to housing to crime to cost of living have come to nothing. In fact, we are substantially worse off. Yes, people are angry and they don’t feel they are being listened to.Paula Bennett

 Perhaps the Government should listen to some of those angry people. Understand where they are coming from. Perhaps they should stop with false promises and actually deliver something and then people might happily get on with their lives. – Paula Bennett

These days we can no longer trust that what we’re reading or seeing is actual smoke, let alone fire. It’s a world where fake news flourishes on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and where any lie can easily be presented as fact – and swallowed as such by anyone who was already inclined to believe it.

But that’s why governments, and those in power, need to be even more mindful of the need for transparency. And that’s also why managing perceptions around issues like the current controversy surrounding Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta is even more critical.Tracy Watkins

My thesis was that the Port of Tauranga, which had been partially privatised and therefore subject to market discipline, would do better than the Port of Auckland that was shielded from commercial scrutiny by being 100% owned by the Council.

No one paid attention and I didn’t expect anyone would. If my wife doesn’t take me seriously there is no reason why others should. Still. Haven’t events played into my hands?

The Port of Tauranga just declared a $111 million profit. The Port of Auckland, by contrast, declared a $10m loss. The red-ink down at Quay St, however, is far greater than what has been reported.  – Damien Grant

I have no view if the port should be moved or not. I think you need to own land in Ruakaka to have a strong opinion on this matter, but it is self-evident that the current governance model is broken and has been for far longer than a decade.

We know, through long and painful experience, that market provides a degree of discipline that those running a local council can never provide.

Perhaps we should try that; or just sell the cursed thing before any more harm is done. However, I am confident this will not happen, and I look forward to revisiting the topic in 2032. – Damien Grant

It’s not easy looking after kids, and I wonder how many people in charge of hiring have never been alone at home with small children for any period of time? They don’t appreciate how hard it is. It’s relentless. You can’t tell your kids ‘Oh you guys can stop needing stuff now, I need a break’. – Kelsey Ellery-Wilson

In early childhood you’re working with really vulnerable children who are going through a critical time in their development, and it’s hard work,” Cherrington says. “We know if we give them a good start now, they’ll do better later in life.

I think the pandemic provided a window into that, and then people just picked themselves up and went back to work and forgot about it. – Sue Cherrington

Obviously I’m a staunch monarchist, but I’ve always thought in this regard, for those who want New Zealand to be a republic, they might want to ask themselves what they would actually get for that. – Sir John Key

If you want to change government direction then stand for government get involved in national politics. If you want to deliver locally for the community within the rules of our nation then stand for local council and get involved in delivering for community today.Sam Broughton

It’s a good example of the disconnect between the media and the real world. When the Queen dies, the media thinks of what the next angle is. Given her death isn’t changing, all you are left with is the republic question. The poll result tells us we have better things to think about.

There are some suggestions the Prime Minister’s offshore presence might have played better for them. I think the reality is that we are over that. If you were ever enamoured with Ardern on the world stage, that has worn well and truly thin, as it’s become apparent that a lot of what she does amounts to literally nothing.- Mike Hosking

I think we’d feel better about the PM promoting New Zealand if and when her Government had addressed all the pressing issues really upsetting New Zealanders right now, like the upsurge in violent crime emergency housing, poverty, inflation and kids not turning up to school.

But if at home is a mess, there’s a fierce labour shortage where many places still don’t even have enough staff to open their doors, and then others who do are being ram raided and smashed into, then what does that say about priorities? Kate Hawkesby

It should not be scary, or dangerous, to go into a mall with your family at the weekend. It should not be dangerous for retailers to go to work and yet, here we still are. – Kate Hawkesby

No person should be judged by their identity but rather by their words and actions,Karen Chhour 

It feels like if you don’t agree with us, you’re not a real Māori, or you’re not Māori enough, or you don’t have the mana of a Māori, and I find that quite hurtful. – Karen Chhour 

But central government is not helping public perceptions of the effectiveness of local government. The more central government tries to centralise and control policy making as it is at present – in housing and water services especially – the more the public will see local government as ineffective. Therefore, to restore public confidence in local government, central government needs to pull back and allow local government more genuine say on these critical issues, rather than continuing to tell them what to do.

Until that happens, public apathy towards local government will continue, and the harder it will become to attract quality candidates for major leadership roles. The likely poor turnout at the coming election will undoubtedly shake local government leaders, but it should be an even bigger wake-up call for central government. – Peter Dunne

There is a modern superstition that for every terrible experience suffered there is an equal and opposite psychological technique that, like an antibiotic in a case of infection, can overcome or dissolve away the distress it caused or continues to cause. This superstition is not only false and shallow but demeaning and even insulting. It denies the depths of suffering that the most terrible events can cause, as well as the heroism and fortitude that people can display in overcoming that suffering. Fortitude can even be sometimes dismissed as ‘repression’. – Theodore Dalrymple

A psychologically fragile population is the delight of bureaucrats, lawyers and professional carers, and resilience and fortitude are their worst enemies. Repression in the psychological sense is deemed by them not only as damaging but almost as treason to the self. A person who does not dwell on his trauma must expect, and almost deserves, later trouble, as does someone who wilfully ignores the formation of an abscess.Theodore Dalrymple

Repression can also mean the deliberate putting memories of trauma to the back of the mind so that life can be got on with. It is not that such memories cannot be called to the conscious mind when necessary, or even that they never do harm: but the person who represses in this fashion has an instinctive understanding that dwelling on them is an obstacle to future life, rather than a precondition of it. They do not forget, either consciously or unconsciously; they choose to think of something else. – Theodore Dalrymple

Psychology seems often to forget or disregard the fact that humans live in a world of meaning, and that they are actors rather than mere objects acted upon. In the process, it destroys resilience, fortitude and self-respect.Theodore Dalrymple

A university is a community of scholars. It is not a kindergarten; it is not a club; it is not a reform school; it is not a political party; it is not an agency of propaganda. A university is a community of scholars. – Robert Maynard Hutchins

How many universities see themselves as lobbies, political parties, reform schools, and agencies of propaganda? I’d say a large fraction, for political statements and social-justice manifestos proliferate on college websites. And of course you know how universities behave as kindergartens: just look at the recent follies of The Evergreen State University, Yale University, or Oberlin College. Will we even recognize the university as a community of scholars in fifty years, or will it abjure its academic mission in favor of an ideological one?Jerry Coyne

There is a disturbing entrenchment happening in regard to attitudes to benefits and that is that it’s just easier to give people a hand out, when the focus really should be on giving people a hand up.- Kate Hawkesby 

But this is a government of ideology and no matter what you tell them, you must always remember that you are wrong, and they aren’t.Mike Hosking

What’s the point of funding a programme if no one hears it, sees it, or reads it?

What’s the point of the money and time if it plays to an audience of no one or one that barely registers? How much time and money do you want to spend on stuff people don’t use, want, or absorb? And how much damage do you want to do to the other players in the industry as you pump up your own little fiefdom with money that isn’t yours anyway?

The biggest issue with this issue is unlike Three Waters or co-governance it’s not a political hot potato. They won’t win or lose votes by doing it hence they’ll probably get away with it. Plus, they seem desperate to get it up by next year.

It’s only years down the track once they’ve been booted out of office that the damage will be done, and the folly exposed.   – Mike Hosking

 

But beyond all this, there is one other enormous and overwhelming reason, never mentioned in the debate, why we must cling to King Charles. The very fact that it is never mentioned is itself significant. It is obvious ~ and yet it is deliberately ignored. The reason is simply this ~ that if the monarchy were to be abolished, that abolition would undoubtedly be the pretext for introducing the ‘principles’ of the Treaty of Waitangi into our fundamental law. The principles, of course, are a blank cheque. The latest announcement from the Waitangi Tribunal is that they require ‘co-governance’ ~ in other words, an end to democracy and racial equality. That not what they meant even a few years ago ~ and for all we know, we may discover a few years down the track that the ‘principles’ require complete Maori control of our country. That is, after all, what some radicals are saying right now.

But whatever the principles are, we can be certain that they would be to our disadvantage ~ and we would have them imposed on us in a new constitutional arrangement. The argument would be that the Treaty ~ in itself, of course, still a legal nullity, and in any case never anything more than a few vague words of general approach ~ was of course entered into by Queen Victoria’s representative. It was a treaty with ‘the Crown’. If we now do away with the Crown , the argument goes, the Treaty itself might somehow vanish, or be weakened ~ and so to avoid that heart-stopping eventuality the Treaty will have to be formally ‘enshrined’, as we enshrine other idols, in a special written constitution, so that it may last even when the ‘Crown’ has disappeared. –  David Round

And once we had the Treaty in our constitution, we would be sunk. No matter how mild the references to the Treaty might be, we can be certain that they would be used, not just by politicians but by politically activist judges in the courts, to impose apartheid on us for ever. Even without such a provision, our previous chief justice, the unlamented Sian Elias, raised the possibility that judges were entitled to ignore Acts of Parliament which did not comply with her own radical interpretation of Treaty principles, and there is no doubt that several decisions of the courts have already done just that.  What a disgraceful claim that was. But whatever we have in a constitution will be interpreted and applied by courts, and against the judgment of the highest of those courts there is no appeal. And even if a parliament far braver than today’s pack of racists, incompetents  and cowards were to say ‘No, that is not what we meant’, the judges would simply reply that parliament was breaching the constitution ~ was behaving unconstitutionally, and illegally ~ in saying that.  Even now, the law is not what parliament says, it is what judges say parliament says. Once we get a written constitution, a higher law which binds parliament itself, there will be no stopping judges as they interpret it as they please. The entire argument for a written constitution, a higher sort of law, is an attempt to remove matters from parliament’s’ authority and hand them over to judges. I have little respect for most of our politicians, as you gather ~ but all the same, I would rather have elected people in charge ~ and after an election or two we might even get some decent ones ~ than hand our entire future over to a tiny handful of unelected woke  racehorse-owning lawyers in the Supreme Court.   

There might indeed even be more in any new constitution. But can we believe that any new constitution we might acquire would be, as in Cromwell’s time, an opportunity for a new start and new just legal and social arrangements? For ending poverty and inequality, making the law available to all, attempting, in whatever way, to make our country a better and finer place? Dream on. At present, any new constitution would merely be the entrenchment of the intellectually bankrupt,  politically correct,  deeply intolerant and racist current establishment.

‘Monarchy’ and ‘Republic’ are but the battle cries. The battle is over what New Zealand is going to look like; what sort of country, in fact, it is going to be. The battle lines are being drawn. As in the English Civil War, when a hundred slightly different shades of support and sympathy for King and Parliament were forced by circumstances to coalesce into support for one side or the other, sometimes surprising alliances are being formed between different shades of opinion that realise that they have more to lose than to gain from standing alone.

Who is going to run our country? Them? Or us?David Round

Under our present constitutional arrangements, the ultimate law-making power rests in Parliament – and, through our elected representatives, voters. That has been our democratic strength as it continues to remind our law makers that they are answerable to the people.

Those calling for a new “written” constitution want to transfer that ultimate law-making power from voters, to unelected judges – who cannot be sacked.

If we want to preserve what little democracy we have left, any attempt to replace our present “unwritten” constitution, must be firmly rejected.

Right now, iwi leaders are scheming over how best to introduce a Treaty-based constitution without alarming the public. If we are to counter this grave threat to New Zealand, we must ensure other Kiwis become aware of the dangers a new constitution represents. – Muriel Newman

At least now, MPs are able to repeal Judge-made law and replace it with laws that voters want.

Imagine just how much worse it would be if Judges held the ultimate law-making power through a new constitution, that usurped the authority of Parliament.

Worse, with Maori supremacists determined to enshrine the Treaty of Waitangi in any new constitution, New Zealand would be turned into an apartheid society, where race would determine whether we are part of a privileged ruling class or are relegated to second-class status.

Anyone pressing for constitutional change in this political climate, no matter what their intentions, would be opening up the country to capture by separatists. There are no two ways about it – a new constitution would lead to Judge-led tribal rule. – Muriel Newman

But sadly, this looming crisis appears to be receiving scant political attention – across the board. Yet the future of our young people is one of the most important determinants of our country’s future overall. It ought to be taken far more seriously by all the political parties, whether in government or not, than appears to be the case at present.

Lofty speeches about the war in Ukraine, the risk of nuclear conflagration, climate change, and cyber security are of course important and deserving of much attention, but equally so too are the educational opportunities, attainments, and wellbeing of our children.

As New Zealand moves on from the pandemic and begins the slow process of recovery, looking after the future wellbeing and educational attainments of our children must become a top priority for all politicians, whatever their political stripe.Peter Dunne

The worst aspect of all this is that the government’s relentless pro-Maori push is seriously damaging race relations in New Zealand. The 83 percent of our population who aren’t Maori – people like Chinese and Indians who have come here to work hard and to get ahead, not to mention the many generations of Europeans – have to watch rewards going to people on the basis of ethnicity rather than work ethic. Hard-working, talented Kiwi without a drop of Maori blood – and that’s all that most self-designated Maori possess – are passed over for promotion and a place in the sun under this government. The hermit kingdom they call “Aotearoa”, with its tightly controlled borders, has become a social laboratory aimed at facilitating a takeover of authority by a small racial minority backed up by a false narrative. – Michael Bassett

When Kelvin Davis used Question Time to say that I view the world through a “pakeha lens” it was nothing I haven’t heard before: “You’re a whakapapa Māori but you’re not kaupapa Māori”; “You’re a plastic Māori”; “You’re a born-again Māori”. It just comes with the territory of being a Māori woman who doesn’t always fit the left’s comfortable stereotype.

Problem is, I don’t think Kelvin is the only Labour minister who thinks what he said. The others might be smarter at hiding it, but they also worship identity politics.

They believe that who you are can matter more than what you do or say. How do I know this? That attitude is all through the policies they promote. Oranga Tamariki, the area I was asking Kelvin about when he made his comments, is just one example.

I came to Parliament out of sheer frustration around these kinds of attitudes and to fight them. As Act’s Children’s spokesperson and as someone who grew up in state care, I’m starting by fighting against what I view as racism within Oranga Tamariki. Karen Chhour

In fairness to Oranga Tamariki, it was following the law, something called Section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act. Section 7AA means the chief executive of Oranga Tamariki has to consider the Treaty when making decisions.

Sure, 7AA may be well-intentioned. But it creates a conflict between protecting the best interests of the child and race-based factors enshrined in 7AA. This conflict has the potential to cause real harm to our children.

I was a Māori child in state care. I could have only dreamed of a loving home like the one Mary was placed in.

What I needed was what every child needs. To be loved, cared for, clothed and fed.

I bounced between the system and family for years. I still carry the physical and mental scars from that time. It didn’t matter to me whether the adults I relied on were Pākehā, Māori, Chinese or African. I just wanted to be loved and cared for.

I came to Parliament to fight for that for other children. – Karen Chhour

Last week, my Member’s Bill was drawn from that Ballot. It repeals Section 7AA.

Since my Member’s Bill was drawn, I have been called a racist. If anything, the opposite is true. My Bill will make Oranga Tamariki colour-blind. It will have to focus on all of the factors that a child needs, instead of placing race at the centre of their decision-making.

When this Bill comes up for the first reading in Parliament, the predictable and tiresome responses will come from the Labour Party, the Māori Party, and the Greens.

I ask them, before they vote this down, to think about Mary and what was best for her. A family who loved and cared for her? Or returning to her abusers?

Mary’s foster parents traced their family tree back far enough that they could find enough of a link to say they were Māori. This twist also shows how bizarre the law is, Mary’s foster parents are the same people, but something that happened centuries before they were born made it okay for them to parent.

Mary still lives with them. She has come out of her shell, she is doing well at school, she has a home for life where she is safe and is thriving. Thank goodness for that branch they found on the family tree, or Mary’s story might have been very different.

I can only hope that my Bill gets a fair hearing because another child might not be so lucky.Karen Chhour

KELVIN DAVIS believes that Karen Chhour is looking at the world through a “vanilla lens”.

Racially-charged sentiments of this sort used to be reserved for embarrassing Pakeha uncles, a little the worse for drink following a big Christmas Dinner. Family members winced at the old man’s reliance on “Māori blood” fractions to determine who was, and wasn’t, a “real Māori”.

Equally embarrassing, however, is the spectacle of a Māori cabinet minister belittling an Act MP of Ngāpuhi descent for refusing to leave “her Pakeha world”. New Zealanders of all ethnicities now need to confront and deconstruct Davis’s objectionable ethnic dualism – because it is extremely dangerous. – Chris Trotter

Essentially, Davis was declaring the existence of two quite distinct realities – Māori and Pakeha. Viewed from the perspective of Pakeha reality, the behaviour of Oranga Tamariki may appear to be egregiously negligent – even cruel. But, viewed from Te Ao Māori, its behaviour may be construed in an entirely different way. The key to unlocking this profound ontological problem is Te Tiriti – or, at least, Te Tiriti as currently interpreted.

The contemporary interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi would have us believe that it set out to define the relationship between Māori, Pakeha, and their respective instruments of governance. That it was, indeed, a document intended to regulate the interaction of two very different realities. Two ethnic worlds, which were to remain separate but equal in perpetuity.Chris Trotter

However prettily the Treaty expressed the fiction of kawanatanga and tino rangatiratanga accommodating each other’s needs in peace and harmony, the Māori world would not long survive its collision with the rest of Planet Earth.

And so it proved. Call it the inexorable march of “civilisation”; call it “colonisation; call it the making of the New Zealand nation; call it what you will. Te Ao Māori soon ceased to be a description of reality and became, instead, a metaphor. And metaphors are poor armour against the real weapons of one’s foes. The Pai Marire faith may have reassured its warriors that a divine power would deflect the Pakeha bullets – or turn their soldiers to stone – but the imperial troopers cut them down regardless. In the end, there is only one world.

Kelvin Davis knows this as well as anyone. So why is he insisting on treating metaphors as if they were scientific facts? The only rational answer is that he, along with those controlling the increasingly powerful Māori corporations arising out of the Treaty Settlement Process, intends to alter the political reality of New Zealand in such a way that the Māori aristocracy, and the te Reo-speaking, tertiary-educated, professionals and managers of the Māori middle-class (the only Māori worth listening to?) will soon be wielding very real authority over the rest of New Zealand.

Included among “the rest” will be all those Māori without te Reo, without tertiary credentials, without six-figure salaries. Māori struggling to make it through the day in a world that has little sympathy for the poor. Māori without proper housing. Māori on the minimum wage. Māori lost to drugs and alcohol and crime. Māori whose kids suffer horribly for the sins of their fathers and mothers. Māori with backgrounds identical to Karen Chhour.

Chhour was demanding to know what Davis was doing for these, the most vulnerable inhabitants of her world, the real world, the only world. And all he could offer, by way of an answer, was a metaphorical bridge to a world that disappeared 250 years ago. A world which certainly cannot be conjured back into existence by a Minister of the Crown who does not care to be questioned by a wahine Māori who, all-too-clearly, sees him struggling to do his job.  – Chris Trotter

When political figures are powerful they need to be held to account, regardless of race. Allegations of racism are extremely powerful, precisely because of the history of appalling discrimination towards Māori in this country. But such allegations should not be used to shield those in power from scrutiny. Te Pāti Māori is a product of our democratic political system and, as such, has to be held to account in the same way as other political parties, especially on an issue so important and fundamental as the funding of political campaigns.  Double standards can’t be accepted by anyone wanting clean and fair politics – especially those of us worried about vested interests looking for ways to leverage their political donations. – Bryce Edwards

Thomas Coughlan, Dr Eric Crampton, Karen Nimmo, Tracy Watkins, Claire Trevett, John Ryan, Audrey Young, Luke Malpass , Janet Wilson, Dr Oliver Hartwich, Peter Smith, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth, Aaron Martin, Andrew Sullivan, Sir John Key, Point of Order, Lizzie Marvelly, Alice Snedden, Paula Bennett, Jack Tame, Wayne Brown, Rachel Smalley, Jonathan Freedland, Henry Cooke, Patti Davis, Joe Bennett, Josie Vidal, Rowena Edge, Liberty Scott, Dr Michael Johnston, Justin Welby, Max Rashbrooke, Josie Pagani, Liam Dann, Lillian Andrews, Kelsey Ellery-Wilson, Sue Cherrington, Sam Broughton, Karen Chhour, Jerry Coyne, Robert Maynard Hutchins, David Round, Dr Bryce Edwards,


GST debacle was no accident

05/09/2022

Was last week’s attempt to impose GST on KiwiSaver management fees, and hide it from the public an accident? Steven Joyce explains how it couldn’t be:

The suggestion seems to be that the decision to charge GST on KiwiSaver fees slipped into the regular tax bill without the top echelons of government being fully aware of the ramifications of it. And that the failure to mention it in the press release announcing the bill was an unfortunate oversight. Neither explanation stacks up.

I can tell you from personal experience there are many checks and balances in government to ensure everyone is aware of what Cabinet is deciding on each week, and the financial and political implications of those changes.

In the normal course of events, every paper that goes up must be lodged by the middle of the previous week. That gives Treasury, the Prime Minister’s Office, and every other affected government department time to offer their views on it and prime their minister with their concerns.

Each significant paper must be accompanied by a Regulatory Impact Statement, which lays out in detail the impact of a decision on the relevant stakeholders. This was an innovation of the Key government, and its power is that it is written by officials rather than ministers, so it is where you look if you want to find a fish hook glossed over in the main Cabinet paper.

The Regulatory Impact Statement on this proposal was clear in its impact and the risks.

Both Treasury and the Prime Minister’s Office prepare short cheat sheets for their ministers highlighting the key elements of every Cabinet paper. An hour before Cabinet on Monday morning, senior Treasury officials sit down with the Finance Minister and his associates (including in this case David Parker) and discussed the key papers of interest at that day’s Cabinet. At a similar time two floors higher, the Prime Minister’s Office is taking their boss through a similar preview of the papers.

Unless all the officials involved were incompetent, which is highly unlikely, and the Prime Minister and Finance Minister can’t read, also unlikely, there is no way they didn’t understand that the Inland Revenue were lodging a bill to increase the tax take by $200 million and reduce people’s KiwiSaver balances accordingly.

As an added protection Cabinet also has senior ministers who act as sweepers. They are normally alert for things that might carry ramifications others haven’t thought of that either worry their constituency or affect the Government’s broader standing. They serve an important alarm-raising function for the wider Cabinet.

Once the Cabinet decision is made, there are more protections around how the decision is announced. Ministers don’t just dash off press releases themselves for significant economic matters. Any draft announcement involving government finances is shared with the Finance Minister’s Office, and anything political with the ninth floor. It beggars belief that none of the public relations experts in those offices raised concerns with their ministers that the draft contained nothing about the GST hike for KiwiSaver.

So unless there is a total breakdown of the normal decision-making processes within government, which is highly unlikely, this decision and the underhand way it was announced was premeditated. . . 

How could they be so deliberately stupid?

One popular explanation for this state of affairs is the Government has given up and have stopped caring what people think. This theory goes that they know they are on their way out and have stopped trying to politically manage things, content to shovel decisions through and get as much as possible done before they are turfed out. Weak governments can get to that point, but I don’t think we are quite there yet, and no government would damn the torpedoes for the sake of $200 million and the tidy minds at the IRD.

A second one could be political arrogance. There is every sign the Government believes its own BS to an unwarranted degree, so maybe it thought it could spin its way through this issue in the same way as it has so many others. The Prime Minister is certainly adept at arguing black is white and that failure to deliver is the result of aspiration, so there’s plenty of evidence for this theory.

An even more likely possibility is that ministers are getting completely out of touch with the public they serve. There is a very long series of announcements suggesting that is the case. The TVNZ-RNZ merger, the bike bridge, Three Waters, Trevor Mallard’s appointment to Ireland and his pending knighthood, the bank credit changes, immigration policy, and industry pay bargaining are some that leap to mind. They are either completely inexplicable (think GST on KiwiSaver), or clearly designed to serve a part of Labour’s power base to the bemusement or downright hostility of the general public. If you make enough unpopular decisions you can kid yourself that any negative feedback is par for the course.

Whatever the final cause of the Government’s awry political antennae, it appears very likely the die has been cast and the public have made up their minds about this lot, and ministers increasingly know it. . . 

That is why Grant Robertson is making so many personal attacks on Christopher Luxon.

Expect to see much more attacking of the opposition over the next 12 months. Labour’s strategists may not have been able to work out that adding GST to KiwiSaver this way was political poison, but they are aware that the only way to level the playing field for the next election is to drag the alternative government down and create as much doubt about them as there is about Labour. It’s the 2005 and 2008 playbook all over again. And it won’t be pretty.

Cue Margaret Thatcher:

I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.

Labour has had aspirations and announcements, pronouncements and plans but time and time again they have fallen well short on delivery.

There is one glaring exception to the lack of delivery, but as Matthew Hooton points out, it’s not one any government would want to claim:

…This Government has managed to “deliver” the biggest cut for at least 30 years in the real wages of the middle and working class — those a “Labour” Party supposedly represents. It is paying for it in the polls (see graph).

Since inflation was tamed after Labour’s Reserve Bank Act 1989 and National’s Fiscal Responsibility Act 1994, wages have risen faster than prices in almost every quarter, under National and Labour, with unemployment remaining relatively low.

It took this Government’s special idiocy to decide that which wasn’t broken should be fixed, by moving the Reserve Bank away from its laser-like focus on inflation, approving the appointment of Adrian Orr as Governor and signing the so-called dual mandate in March 2018.

Meanwhile, it accelerated increases to the minimum wage and began putting greater shackles around the labour market, including abolishing automatic 90-day trial periods, and restricting access to foreign labour and preparing the ground for 1970s-style national payment awards for workers.

After all this — and most likely because of it — real wages rose by just 1.5 per cent in Ardern’s first three years, before any effect from Covid.

That anaemic real wage growth was well down from the 2.2 per cent and 2.3 per cent over the second and the third terms of the Key-English Government. . . 

Labour governments can do many things and survive. Enriching property owners while slashing workers’ real wages isn’t one.

Can we trust the government that got us into this mess to get us out of it?

Given its failure to deliver on so little positive and do so much damage in the process, not least to the real value of wages, no.

Bereft of ideas that will work, all that’s left is personal attacks on National and its leader, both of which are looking much more like a government in waiting while Labour is looking more and more like a government losing.


Quotes of the month

01/08/2022

Independence does not mean never taking sides. That would be neutrality.

Independence does not entail never deploying one’s military, either. That would be pacifism.

Independence means to make one’s own choices based on one’s values.

Such value-driven choices can (and indeed should) lead towards taking sides when democracies and dictatorships collide. – Oliver Hartwich

With tens of thousands of jobs currently going begging, it surely remains a fiscal and moral failure that tens of thousands of fully able working-age Kiwis are sticking with the dole.Mike Yardley

Welfare dependency has rapidly expanded since Labour took office nearly five years ago.

In December 2017, there were 289,788 on a main benefit, or 9.7% of the working-age population. That has grown to 11% today. – Mike Yardley

Under Labour’s watch, jobseeker support recipients have soared from 123,042 four years ago to 173,735 today.

Despite the recent downtick, that still represents a 42% increase in four and half years. – Mike Yardley

How is it kind to stand idly by and allow so many people to diminish their horizons and wither their lives away in a perpetual state of dependency?

And what meaningful efforts are being made to enhance the work-ready potential of so many jobseeker recipients who have specified health issues? They aren’t serious enough health-related issues to have their benefit status changed to the supported living payment. – Mike Yardley

So don’t blame cows. Ruminants have been roaming the planet for millennia. Blame people. Climate change is a man-made problem.

The primary sector is responsible for 80 per cent of our export income. This pays the bills for a country which, in the next few months, will depressingly have 80 per cent of the population receiving some sort of state benefit. – Jamie Mckay

The country has lost its mojo after a decade of feeling good about itself. – Oliver Hartwich

The biggest contributor to New Zealanders’ grumpiness is the discrepancy between political promises and reality. Without constant promises of world-class performance, even mediocre results would be easier to bear.Oliver Hartwich

NZTA is symptomatic of a much wider problem in New Zealand, even though it is only a small puzzle piece. Faced with a serious problem, the government sets an ambitious long-term goal. It then launches massive public relations campaigns. Following that, it blows up the bureaucracy but fails on deliverables.

It is the same story in practically every major policy area. – Oliver Hartwich

New Zealanders used to be proud of their education system, which was considered world-class.

Today, the only measure by which New Zealand schools lead the world is in declining standards. – Oliver Hartwich

Aside from such big policy failures, New Zealanders are bombarded with worrying news daily. There are GPs reportedly seeing more than 60 patients per day. Patients are treated in corridors at some hospitals’ A & E departments, where waiting times now often exceed ten hours.

As gang numbers have grown, gun crime has also become a regular feature in news headlines. Ram raids, where youths steal cars and crash them into small shops, have become common.

Rather than dealing with these and many other issues, the government appears determined to add new challenges to doing business. It is about to introduce collective bargaining in the labour market and an extra tax on income to fund unemployment insurance.

And these are just the big-ticket items. Practically every industry can tell its own stories about new complex regulations, usually rushed through with minimal consultation, if any.

Furthermore, there is growing unease about the government’s move towards co-governance. It sounds harmless but it would radically alter how democracy operates in New Zealand and undermine basic principles of democratic participation.

All in all, the picture that emerges is that of a country in precipitous decline. That would be alarming enough. What makes it even more so is a perception that the core private and public institutions lack the understanding of the severity of the crisis or the ability to counteract it. – Oliver Hartwich

New Zealand needs to be careful not to turn into a failed state. That does not mean it should expect civil unrest, but a period of prolonged and seemingly unstoppable decline across all areas of public life.

The only way to reverse this process would be for New Zealand to regain its mojo: its mojo for serious economic and social reform. It has happened before. And it must happen again. – Oliver Hartwich

Although we “returned” to the university campus this past semester, students are reluctant to physically attend classes. They can’t see a future. Their mojo & buzz are gone. Despondency rules. One student said she’ll never know what opportunities may have arisen these past years & what doors may have opened had nearly her entire course not been on Zoom. Many say they want to leave NZ after graduating for foreign climes offering higher pay and lower living costs.

What did the government do to them? How did it manage to suck the oxygen out of the air they breathe? An answer has now emerged. It took away their dreams. – Robert MacCulloch

The proportion of people with high levels of psychological distress increased by far the most for 15-24 year olds between 2020 and 2021. It stands at record levels, rising from 5% in 2012 to nearly 20% in 2021. By contrast, for over 55 year olds, distress has fallen these past years to just 5% today. New Zealand has become a country for oldies to enjoy whilst the young silently drown.

There’s more evidence of our youth’s angst. National now polls better than Labour for voters under 40, an incredible turnaround for the PM. Gone are the days when the young embraced her. Their concerns about saving the world from itself have given way to anxiety about personal survival. – Robert MacCulloch

For starters, NZ’s virus policies, which included stringent lock-downs for everyone, regardless of age, were primarily designed for the benefit of the elderly. – Robert MacCulloch

What’s more, the Reserve Bank’s $52 billion money-printing programme during the pandemic favoured the asset-rich elderly. It inflated their wealth by increasing the value of their property and shares, crushing the young’s dream of home-ownership. – Robert MacCulloch

They’ve been robbed of income, since their cost-of-living-adjusted wages are dropping at the same time that inflation is “creeping” them into higher tax brackets.

Most students are hard up, but on the way up. They don’t want to live off the State. They want to be successful. Independent. Yet rewards for achievement don’t figure in our politics. Instead, it is dominated by David Parker-style talk about the evils of inequality between the top 1% and bottom 1%, as if the 98% don’t exist. – Robert MacCulloch

So all told, the unwillingness to vote of young, ambitious, non-work-shy Kiwis, except with their feet to leave the country, is not hard to explain.Robert MacCulloch

With methane, scientists know that the flow of methane into the atmosphere from New Zealand ruminant animals is close to what it was 30 years ago.  As a consequence, and linked to the scientific knowledge that about eight percent of methane molecules decompose each year, an approximate balance in the atmospheric ‘bath tub’ has been reached and the atmospheric cloud of NZ pastoral-sourced methane is close to stable. Hence, this argument goes, New Zealand’s agriculturally-sourced methane is contributing to further global warming in a minimal way. – Keith Woodford

If the new system is to have any hope of giving Kiwis the health services they deserve, there is only one certainty – the Government is going to need the buy-in of those on the frontline.

There is every sign of the opposite being the case.

Imposing another health system restructure on them at a time when workers are already exhausted by one of the most demanding health crises in decades, and especially when they already feel undervalued and misunderstood by the Government, is not a great way to start.Tracy Watkins

It’s very Ardern to gloss over the reality and spin the theory. – Mike Hosking

The vast amounts of money given away by officials to businesses who did not need it has cost each taxpayer several thousand dollars and all the surplus cash started an asset price bubble.

This has impacted on the wellbeing of many New Zealanders by greatly increasing inequality, unaffordable housing, child poverty and inflation. The predictable outcome was the opposite of what the Government said that it wanted to achieve.

The failure of public servants to act in the public interest and the lack of accountability and transparency has highlighted the need for the public service to have greatly improved financial objectives and standards.

A royal commission of inquiry could investigate the management of taxpayer funds since March 2020 and recommend reforms. – Grant Nelson

But everyday life seems to be getting more difficult, more costly, more tiring.

Sorting even the simple things appears harder than it used to be. Slower, dearer, harder seems a suitable motto.Kevin Norquay

New Zealand’s economic foundations are starting to crack pretty severely.

“If we do not see a substantial change in economic direction, there is a risk the whole house gets blown down.

You need those strong economic foundations and more and more of the pillars are starting to take knocks. A lot of warning bells are starting to ring. We are not heading to a nice place. – Cameron Bagrie

We’ve got a very divided society, ethnically, the haves versus the have-nots, wealth inequality… and educational attainment levels, whether you look at actual achievement, or attendance.

If you wanted to pick a variable as to where New Zealand is going to be economically 30 years out, educational attainment today would be probably the best predictor.

The fact that we’ve let that one go for a long time is flashing warning signs about where we are going to be about 30 years down the track.Cameron Bagrie

We can’t just say New Zealand is broken. New Zealand is a great place, but … cracks are appearing very quickly, and they’re big cracks, and not the sorts of things you can ignore.

You can’t ignore inflation. You can’t just keep on spending and think it’s going to fix inflation. – Cameron Bagrie

There’s a shortsightedness. 

They don’t think ‘if I train really hard and get good at this, I can make a load of money for myself, and have my freedom, and the sorts of things that people want’.

Whether it’s a general problem with society, the youth can’t see a way out. It’s ‘I’m never going to own a house, I’m never going to have that’, so they just give up, and just do what’s easiest to get by. – Duncan Field

Angry people on Twitter is not a legal basis. I’m amazed WCC don’t realise this. – David Farrar

John Cochrane, another American economist, asked why free trade agreements are so long; thousands of pages.

He says that these trade agreements should say no more than: “We do not charge tariffs, nor restrict quantities with quotas, nor will government procurement discriminate in favour of local companies.

“We will do the same.”

Job done. That is a free trade agreement.

Any free trade agreement that is longer than these few sentences will be an opportunity for special interests on the right and the left, both unions and big corporations, to feather their own nests. – Jim Rose

The EU deal has brand-new gremlins, such as a climate change chapter and restrictions on the use of wine and cheese product names.

These rules give up a little bit too much sovereignty for little in return, and legitimise the fraught concept of green tariffs between us and the European Union.

The modelling released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade suggests that the EU trade agreement will in time boost the level of New Zealand’s real GDP by between NZ$1 billion and NZ$2 billion.

That is a tiny amount, one-fifth to one-third of 1% of real GDP, in return for a box of tricks. – Jim Rose

Using carbon taxes, an optimal realistic climate policy can aggressively reduce emissions and reduce the global temperature increase from 4.1°C in 2100 to 3.75°C. This will cost $18 trillion, but deliver climate benefits worth twice that. The popular 2°C target, in contrast, is unrealistic and would leave the world more than $250 trillion worse off.

The most effective climate policy is increasing investment in green R&D to make future decarbonization much cheaper. This can deliver $11 of climate benefits for each dollar spent.Bjorn Lomborg

I think even the most law abiding lockdown fanatic would find it hard to stomach more restrictions coming back, just as we’ve worked so hard to shrug them off and find some normality. Compliance would be an issue. – Kate Hawkesby

Nor would it be a great look in the middle of the PM’s globe-trotting exercise, pitching the Great Re-Opening of New Zealand and assuring the word we were open for business. Open for business provided you are seated and separated doesn’t have the same ring. – Claire Trevett

First, we are all in a Covid new normal. It’s hanging around for a fair while longer.

Second: let’s all remember to have a little humility about what has and hasn’t worked. No country has got it entirely right. Not the UK, but not NZ either. We are increasingly working out Covid policies are not just about Covid health, strictly speaking, but have wider health, economic, social, and – ultimately – societal ramifications, short and much longer term.

Incidentally, the normalisation of Covid means we can’t stay in crisis settings – and I am not suggesting the New Zealand Government has. Good official advice whether about, say, masks, lockdowns, or borders needs to be coupled with realism about what a populous fatigued by everything will take from its political masters. –  Simon Bridges

There is no doubt that people are sick of the virus but the problem is, the virus is not sick of us. – Brent Edwards

She has been in New Zealand for a decade, working in healthcare and studying towards a nursing degree.

But after graduating late last year, she was denied the ability to apply for fast-tracked residency and told she must wait two more years.

Uncertain, overworked and unable to buy a house, she is now looking for work in Australia. Of course, she will find it. – Erica Stanford

The Government’s policy to exclude nurses from the fast-track residence list makes no sense.

Ultimately, it is costing New Zealanders their lives.Erica Stanford

Perhaps it makes sense that women — those supposedly compliant and agreeable, self-sacrificing and everything-nice creatures — were the ones to finally bring our polarized country together.

Because the far right and the far left have found the one thing they can agree on: Women don’t count. – Pamela Paul

Far more bewildering has been the fringe left jumping in with its own perhaps unintentionally but effectively misogynist agenda. There was a time when campus groups and activist organizations advocated strenuously on behalf of women. Women’s rights were human rights and something to fight for. Though the Equal Rights Amendment was never ratified, legal scholars and advocacy groups spent years working to otherwise establish women as a protected class.

But today, a number of academics, uber-progressives, transgender activists, civil liberties organizations and medical organizations are working toward an opposite end: to deny women their humanity, reducing them to a mix of body parts and gender stereotypes.

As reported by my colleague Michael Powell, even the word “women” has become verboten. Previously a commonly understood term for half the world’s population, the word had a specific meaning tied to genetics, biology, history, politics and culture. No longer. In its place are unwieldy terms like “pregnant people,” “menstruators” and “bodies with vaginas.”Pamela Paul

The noble intent behind omitting the word “women” is to make room for the relatively tiny number of transgender men and people identifying as nonbinary who retain aspects of female biological function and can conceive, give birth or breastfeed. But despite a spirit of inclusion, the result has been to shove women to the side. – Pamela Paul

If there are other marginalized people to fight for, it’s assumed women will be the ones to serve other people’s agendas rather than promote their own.

But, but, but. Can you blame the sisterhood for feeling a little nervous? For wincing at the presumption of acquiescence? For worrying about the broader implications? For wondering what kind of message we are sending to young girls about feeling good in their bodies, pride in their sex and the prospects of womanhood? For essentially ceding to another backlash?

Women didn’t fight this long and this hard only to be told we couldn’t call ourselves women anymore. This isn’t just a semantic issue; it’s also a question of moral harm, an affront to our very sense of ourselves. 

Seeing women as their own complete entities, not just a collection of derivative parts, was an important part of the struggle for sexual equality.

But here we go again, parsing women into organs. Last year the British medical journal The Lancet patted itself on the back for a cover article on menstruation. Yet instead of mentioning the human beings who get to enjoy this monthly biological activity, the cover referred to “bodies with vaginas.” It’s almost as if the other bits and bobs — uteruses, ovaries or even something relatively gender-neutral like brains — were inconsequential. That such things tend to be wrapped together in a human package with two X sex chromosomes is apparently unmentionable. Pamela Paul

Those women who do publicly express mixed emotions or opposing views are often brutally denounced for asserting themselves. (Google the word “transgender” combined with the name Martina Navratilova, J.K. Rowling or Kathleen Stock to get a withering sense.) They risk their jobs and their personal safety. They are maligned as somehow transphobic or labeled TERFs, a pejorative that may be unfamiliar to those who don’t step onto this particular Twitter battlefield. Ostensibly shorthand for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist,” which originally referred to a subgroup of the British feminist movement, “TERF” has come to denote any woman, feminist or not, who persists in believing that while transgender women should be free to live their lives with dignity and respect, they are not identical to those who were born female and who have lived their entire lives as such, with all the biological trappings, societal and cultural expectations, economic realities and safety issues that involves.

But in a world of chosen gender identities, women as a biological category don’t exist. – Pamela Paul

When not defining women by body parts, misogynists on both ideological poles seem determined to reduce women to rigid gender stereotypes.  Pamela Paul

The women’s movement and the gay rights movement, after all, tried to free the sexes from the construct of gender, with its antiquated notions of masculinity and femininity, to accept all women for who they are, whether tomboy, girly girl or butch dyke. To undo all this is to lose hard-won ground for women — and for men, too. – Pamela Paul

But women are not the enemy here. Consider that in the real world, most violence against trans men and women is committed by men but, in the online world and in the academy, most of the ire at those who balk at this new gender ideology seems to be directed at women.Pamela Paul

Tolerance for one group need not mean intolerance for another. We can respect transgender women without castigating females who point out that biological women still constitute a category of their own — with their own specific needs and prerogatives.

If only women’s voices were routinely welcomed and respected on these issues. But whether Trumpist or traditionalist, fringe left activist or academic ideologue, misogynists from both extremes of the political spectrum relish equally the power to shut women up. – Pamela Paul

Combatting stereotypical thinking is not assisted by pretending that there is no difference between the present and the past.Chris Trotter

How are young people supposed to understand the racism and sexism of their grandparents’ generation if they’re never allowed to see it depicted on the screen, or read about it in novels? How will their grasp of how far women have travelled toward equality be assisted by recasting Jim as Jackie Hawkins, and installing our diversity-affirming heroine, now a thirteen-year-old girl, on a schooner crewed by cut-throats?

All Dame Lynley is guilty of is delighting generations of Kiwi kids. A much lesser crime, I would have thought, than telling lies about the past to placate the woke censors of the present. – Chris Trotter

Is it fair to actively seek out a relationship knowing full well a potential partner might find themselves dealing with my cancer, chemo and all the other unpleasant things that go with it? . . .

I’ve asked around and, whilst I’d originally thought I’d be selfish to do so, the resounding answer has consistently been YES. Dive in and test the waters. Go for it. What have you got to lose? If a potential partner can’t handle your uncertain future, then they probably aren’t right for you anyway.

Ultimately, none of us know what’s around the corner in any relationship. So why deny myself opportunities to meet someone who might be willingly all-in to support me through whatever life might have in store? Even when I know it’s highly unlikely we will end up growing old together.

So I’ll dip a toe back in. I know I’ll be OK on my own but who knows who is out there and what adventures might be had.

Because we all deserve a chance at love – no matter how long that might last… right?

Life is short – wish me luck. – Kelly Hutton

The state housing waiting list had increased to more than 27,000, up 500 per cent, since Davis’ government took office, and more than 4500 children now live in taxpayer-funded motels.

The total motel bill so far has topped $1 billion. Won’t be too long and it will exceed the $1.6 billion value of the free-trade agreement the PM signed in Europe last week. – Peter Jackson 

How exactly is it an achievement to concede that national superannuation is insufficient to enable goodness knows how many pensioners to keep warm over winter, without a top up?

How is it an achievement to concede that more than two million of us, earning less than $70,000 a year, which until recently was the threshold for the top income tax bracket, are unable to feed themselves and their families without extra help (over and above Working for Families, which supposedly makes the tax system fair)?

And how, exactly, is $27 a week for three months going to solve that problem?Peter Jackson 

The only people who seem to be thriving are those who work for the Government, and that seems to be most of us these days. And why shouldn’t they be buoyant? They are well paid, secure in their employment (at least until the next election), and now they can aspire to very senior positions in the civil service without even having to produce a CV. Good times indeed.

For the rest of us, this country is rapidly becoming a cot case, and it is galling to hear senior members of the administration, who have done to this to us, boasting about what they have achieved. Forgive us, Kelvin, if some of us are struggling to get into party mood. Apart from those who might have been hanging out for an extra $27 a week for three months, there doesn’t seem to be much to celebrate, let alone cause for congratulations. – Peter Jackson 

It used to be that if Jim Bolger, Helen Clark or John Key spoke, we tended to believe what they were saying. Today, Beehive press conferences are laced with spin and half-truths.

We even have a Prime Minister who says things like “we have a mandate to do this” despite never having mentioned what “this” was during the election campaign. – Bruce Cotterill

We seem to have empowered a group of politicians, at both national and local government levels, to do things we don’t want them to do. And yet their so-called “mandate” sees them driving major constitutional change irrespective of what the people might think or say.

Because we don’t say much really, do we? Compared to most countries, we have tended to be a society that does not stage massive protests. – Bruce Cotterill

I suspect that part of the reason has been that we are relatively happy with our lot. And until the past few years, we have been broadly trusting of those in positions of power and authority. We have traditionally respected our leaders, and expected them to do the right thing.

However, we’re not like that at the moment. To me, it feels as though we are more divided than we have ever been. Many of us are certainly more openly critical of the government or the direction the country is taking.

In the opinion of the many people I speak to, a Government majority does not authorise that Government to do whatever it wants to do. No, in theory that right should only extend to the policies and initiatives they campaigned on.

Those policies did not include the centralisation of education or healthcare, changes to governmental governance structures, Three Waters or ute taxes. – Bruce Cotterill

So mistrust creeps in. We find it difficult to believe what we are being told. So they tell us again, this time with more selective detail. So the spin increases. We disrespect the source. Trust is lost. It’s a vicious circle. – Bruce Cotterill

In the meantime, our Prime Minister goes to the United States, supposedly to promote New Zealand business. However, on her two major platforms — a prime-time TV audience and a high-profile university lecture — she speaks of gun control and social media.

There is no doubt in my mind that she is travelling the globe promoting herself, not New Zealand.

As an aside, you have to laugh at the PM telling the Yanks how successful our post-massacre gun control initiatives have been while we’re in the middle of our worst spate of gun violence that I can recall. –Bruce Cotterill

I believe the outcomes of the task forces, the working groups, the government reviews and the inquiries will see the Government and their co-conspirators cleared of any blame or wrong-doing.

But the behaviours are more common. And those behaviours should make us ask questions. We ask questions because we don’t believe what we’re hearing any more. As a result, trust is lost. The lack of trust turns into scepticism. And if they can get away with it, maybe we can, too. It’s a slippery slope.

We can accuse our leaders of misrepresenting the truth, deliberately misleading us or even telling porkies. The language doesn’t matter. What does matter is where such behaviours lead. – Bruce Cotterill

We were told we would have the most transparent Government ever. It turned out to be the opposite. So, we have to start calling this stuff out now. The trouble with corruption is that it creeps up on you over time. You don’t want to start getting used to it.

You have to stop it before it becomes commonplace or acceptable and we become desensitised to it. If we don’t, it becomes very difficult to turn around. – Bruce Cotterill

A strident coalition of housing advocacy groups, the left-leaning Auckland Council and motivated journalists melted into the background after the 2017 election as quickly as they had arisen, confident their work was done and sanity restored.

Flash forward five years and it’s hard to believe how horrendous the situation now is. The $12m on motel accommodation has become $1.2 billion. Whole streets of motels like Ulster St in Hamilton and Fenton St in Rotorua have become permanent emergency housing suburbs.

The waiting list for social housing has risen five-fold to a massive 27,000 and this week, despite all the extra investment in wrap-around services, a woman died while living in her car. How did things get so bad? And if all this was a crisis five years ago, what is it now? Steven Joyce

Sepuloni should look closer to home. Her Government has made three big policy changes that have made the house rental market immeasurably worse for society’s most vulnerable, and they can’t even claim ignorance. Each time they were warned about the impact of the changes, and on they went.

First, they made the private rental market hugely less attractive for people to invest in. . . .

Second, the Government stopped asking people to move on when they no longer needed the support of Government-owned social housing. People sitting in houses often too big for them, regardless of their circumstances, and until the end of their lives, means fewer houses for those who need them.

Third, they placed all their bets for expanding social housing supply on one provider, Kāinga Ora, the latest incarnation of the old Housing New Zealand. This is purely ideological.

While in this post-socialism age nearly everybody would be happy with a warm, dry house in preference to a motel unit, the Labour Party believes it will somehow be better if it is a warm, dry government-owned house. – Steven Joyce

The situation is making people desperate. It is no surprise our inner cities are being blighted with crime and an assertive and growing gang culture.

Being forced into living in long-term temporary accommodation with no hope and no plan to move elsewhere can do that to people.Steven Joyce

We need to correct course and mobilise all our resources to get these kids into a real house, quickly. That means recruiting private investors and community housing providers, as well as Kāinga Ora.

This is no time for ideological blinkers. – Steven Joyce

An excellent challenge was thrown out in Sydney yesterday to immigration authorities — to think more like a recruitment agency than a police force. – Fran O’Sullivan

The primary sector faces big headwinds — Covid-19, the war in Ukraine, inflation, labour markets, export markets and coping with major regulatory change.

The sector is the engine room of the economy. But the notion that it can easily diversify away from China is fanciful. China takes 37 per cent of NZ’s agricultural exports. The US takes 10 per cent, Australia 8 per cent, the UK 8 per cent and the EU 2 per cent.

Even while we have two new free trade agreements — and in the UK’s case will get a decent deal for our dairy over time — that won’t happen with the EU.

Some $52.2 billion was brought in through agricultural export receipts in the past year. This is 81.8 per cent of our overall trade. It just does not make sense to trivialise the sector’s call to relax rules. – Fran O’Sullivan

If a civilization is dying or has died, however, who is to blame or what is to account for it? Do civilizations, or parts of civilizations, die of their own accord, by a natural process akin to the apoptosis of a living cell, or are they killed either by neglect or design?

The old always blame the young for what they dislike in them—for example, their taste for crude and vulgar music—but they do so as if they bear no responsibility whatever for what they think undesirable in the younger generation. If the taste for the almost miraculous artistic achievements of the past has been all but extinguished, and is now but the secret garden of a tiny and insignificant number, no doubt of the highly privileged, must not this be because the older generation has signally failed to instill any love for it in their own children?

Why didn’t they? Therein lies the rub. – Theodore Dalrymple

With legions of Kiwis set to leave the country – and the hospitality, education and healthcare sectors crying out for workers, why is it the Government seems to have no trouble in staffing the Wellington bureaucracy?Andrea Vance

It seems there is no problem so intractable that it can’t be outsourced. Labour has a record of refusing to make the hard decisions of governance, happy to let ‘experts’ and zombie policy managers take over.

In 2010, then-Prime Minister John Key decried the growth of the industrial-bureaucratic complex. New Zealand’s state service was too large for a country this size, he argued. Since then, the bureaucracy has expanded to meet the needs of the expanded bureaucracy (to paraphrase Oscar Wilde).- Andrea Vance

The ‘core business’ of the sector is to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of New Zealanders. Will the Ministry for Disabled People have any significant impact on the difficulties faced by the people it purports to represent? If we look to Te Puni Kōkiri, Ministry for Pacific Peoples, the Ministry for Women, the Office for Seniors or the Children’s Commissioner, then likely not.

Will the new health agencies be staffed with street-level bureaucrats: the doctors, nurses, and other professions responsible for actual care? Experience suggests we can instead expect an overpaid legion of pen-pushers drawing power into an ever-growing administrative vortex. – Andrea Vance

 A strength of New Zealand farming has always been the willingness to get the job done no matter the obstacles, and to share ideas and information. Gatekeeping is a foreign concept to most Kiwi farmers, and the rise of social media platforms like Twitter and TikTok have only accelerated the pace at which we are exposed to new ideas and methods of farming. –   Craig Hickman

Despite the huge diversity in farming, we are all bound by some very common things: we are in it for the long haul, and we look to make incremental gains season on season over a very long period of time. We rarely gamble on big changes that might revolutionise the farm because we simply cannot afford the consequences if it goes wrong. We are planners and incrementalist by necessity, not disruptors.

As a group we also find it very hard to articulate our thoughts. We’ve never had to in the past and the rise of social media makes it easier to blurt those emotions out without being able to articulate the reasoning behind it, and unfortunately those social media posts are very easy to mock.Craig Hickman

The classic Kiwi farmer is no longer Dagg or Footrot or even Crump. Farmers have always been willing to change, albeit slowly, and the massive growth of the industry in the past two decades only served to hasten the change at a pace more than a few found uncomfortable.

The Hiluxes Barry Crump used to drive in those old TV commercials are now classics simply by virtue of having been around for more than 20 years, and I think that’s a fitting way to classify the new generation of classic Kiwi farmers; we’ve been in the game long enough to know what we’re doing but we’ve not been in it so long that we’re constrained by ties to the past. – Craig Hickman

It just doesn’t feel right. Whatever your view on assisted dying, I don’t think anybody would support that system, where you’ve got a free choice to die, or an expensive service to live.Dr Catherine D’Souza

The Ministry of Health has six full-time workers dedicated to euthanasia; none dedicated to palliative care.

The fear is that it’s not a free choice at all between euthanasia and palliative care when the odds are so heavily stacked against dying patients accessing the sort of palliative care they deserve. – Tracy Watkins

This was my fear in 2020 when the euthanasia laws were being debated; that we hadn’t earned the right to euthanasia so long as we continued to do palliative care on the cheap.

Clearly nothing has changed since then. If anything, the situation has worsened.

Shame on us. We need to do better. – Tracy Watkins

We will never fix truancy while schools are paid for the number of pupils they enrol, not the number they teach. Make funding dependent on attendance. Stopping truancy will then be every school’s priority. – Richard Prebble

It is time for the Government to admit that believing it can build houses better than the private or community sector is a failed hypothesis. And for the electorate to stop believing Labour when it says it does. Brigitte Morten

Those of us authentically comfortable with Māori language and culture can take a more balanced view. Like many of the chiefs at Waitangi, we understand that both worlds have their strengths and weaknesses.

We understand that liberal democracy, the idea that one person should have one vote, and every human being is born alike in dignity, is the best system of government humans have discovered, period. –  David Seymour

New Zealanders have literally fought for these values because the alternative is apartheid, oppression, violence and hate. There is no good reason to think New Zealand is uniquely immune to human reality. Treating people differently based on race is not just misguided, but dangerous.David Seymour

That our country has been prepared to look back 180 years for injustices and breaches of property rights, and offer redress where possible, is a triumph. In some cases, rather than giving back land fee simple, an interest in governing the asset has been offered.

The co-governance of Auckland’s volcanic cones is an example of that. It was an appropriate way to recognise a specific loss.

Wholesale co-governance of councils, healthcare, Three Waters infrastructure, and resource consenting decisions is quite different. There is no historic grievance, such a grievance is impossible. – David Seymour

These modern public institutions were created in a democracy, post-Treaty. They should be governed democratically. Co-governing them means that Māori have inherently different political rights, rather than the same rights to their property as everyone else.

Proponents of that view want a “tiriti-centric Aotearoa”, with “tangata whenua” (land people), here by right and “tangata tiriti” (Treaty people), here by permission. Assigning different races different rights is racist.

Dame Anne Salmond has forcefully argued that the corporatist conception of the Treaty as a partnership between two races is a product of a time and place. Namely the judiciary in the 1980s. It is not consistent with the events surrounding the Treaty’s signing, or the way New Zealand society has evolved since.

A better conception of the Treaty is that it means what it says. It grants nga tikanga katoa rite tahi, the same rights and duties, to all. It guarantees tino rangatiratanga or self-determination over all your land and property.David Seymour

Our best future is a modern, multi-ethnic, liberal democracy. Each of those words matters. We should be a leading society with an equal place for all, no matter a person’s background.

Nobody should be born special, nobody should be born a second-class citizen. It’s a sad sign of the times that you can have a regular column in the country’s largest paper, and think such beliefs are “racist”. – David Seymour

A  government   which began with a  show  of  capability,  if  not in a  blaze  of  glory, is  now finding  that  almost everything  it  touches   fades  into  ashes  so  quickly that   there  is  nothing, or  very little, to see.

Ministers  are  exceptionally  good  with  announcements but  not  with  achievements.  Instead of improved general wellbeing, we have raging inflation,  soaring  food prices, and rising mortgage  rates. – Point of Order

As a country, we’ve just flunked that test psychologists set for small children, offering them one marshmallow now, or two if they wait five minutes.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern decided delayed gratification wasn’t the right strategy for the much-anticipated European Union free-trade agreement (FTA) and returned from her travels with just the one marshmallow. – Jane Clifton

The trouble with settling for the bird in the hand in international trade is that it leaves all the other, plumper birds in the bush for one’s competitors.Jane Clifton

In folding its hand on greater access for this country’s biggest export earners, meat and dairy, the Government has made several problems worse for itself. The most serious is, it no longer has the same trade and political leverage with China and the United States. The Government is rapidly recalibrating relationships with the superpowers, including by trying to reduce trade dependency on China.

Acceptance of this FTA betrays how little alternative our economy now has. A country this size has little enough to bargain with, but while the potential existed that the EU might make us a better deal than either the US or China, there was an unseen poker hand. Each superpower wants New Zealand more on-side with it than the other, for geopolitical and reputational reasons first, with trade a secondary consideration.

Now, unless some genius negotiator can get us an “in” with the notoriously FTA-shy India – a feat with similar odds as peace in the Middle East – we have no alternative big-daddy trading partner. We’re now firmly wedged in the Sino-US crevice, hoping that our biggest customer, China, doesn’t collapse our export market, or that our American buddy will give us greater export entry if, or preferably before, China starts pulling the rug out. – Jane Clifton

It’s possible Europe, now probably more protectionist than ever, would never have given us a better deal, and that what one economist described as the “chicken feed” of this FTA is better than nothing.

But this is one of those “marshmallow” times, when waiting in hope is at least better politics than getting a disappointing answer straight away. That’s certainly how the farm sector sees it, regarding the FTA as a sell-out. – Jane Clifton

The Government’s relationship with agriculture is at an especially tetchy juncture. Farmers are waiting to see if it will accept the recommendations from the primary-sector climate-action partnership He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) on a pollution-charging regime. A furious minority are against the proposed measures, and this FTA let-down may further reduce support. However, the HWEN plan is a vital truce among vested interests facing peril.
Mutual hostility between farmers and Labour is an ancient fact of our politics, but climate change and food security make that enmity a cynical luxury.

New Zealand will struggle to meet its emissions targets without farmers’ HWEN-style goodwill. The alternative – the government forcing some production out of business with less carefully calibrated charging – would simply export emissions and make the country considerably poorer. Never mind emissions reduction: that would be a vote killer. – Jane Clifton

Meanwhile, the government’s decision to fold on the FTA remains a puzzle. It can’t have been just for some skitey photo ops to tickle up the sagging polling at home. The deal has inevitably been greeted as the trade equivalent of getting socks and undies for Christmas – no, really, you shouldn’t have! Expectations had been doused, so few would have been disappointed to see Ardern come back empty-handed, since this may be the toughest environment ever for trade negotiations. Food security – once something for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to nag about but not of immediate concern to the EU’s mostly wealthy countries – has rocketed to the top of the worry list, thanks to the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Were logic to apply, this would be the ideal time for New Zealand, which produces high-quality protein more sustainably than any competitor, to receive greater market access. Instead, EU countries are looking towards more self-sustainability – aka, greater protectionism.Jane Clifton

From here, it’s a race to see whether this protectionist cycle will end before China goes DIY with food – something it’s gearing up for – or whether New Zealand will be left with ever greener produce and ever fewer customers. The memory of that first marshmallow may be rendered somewhat bittersweet. – Jane Clifton

Jacinda Ardern has lost touch with her voters, lost touch with the country, lost touch with the healthcare sector and, actually, has lost touch with herself.

This was a leader – a once great leader – who purported to model her leadership on kindness, on empathy. She told us she was a different kind of politician. – Tova O’Brien

We are so desperate for nurses, to have them in the country, in the job, for even a couple of years – we’ll take it. Our crisis is now. And our Prime Minister is too proud to admit it. Pride can’t care for our elderly like that aged care nurse who’s leaving us for Australia can. – Tova O’Brien

Belief systems are about as varied as the languages that are spoken all over the world. And sometimes – in fact, often – this means the beliefs of one group clash with the beliefs of another. It is inevitable.Ani O’Brien

It isn’t a viewpoint I like, but I understand that despite the laws governing the secular institution of marriage now extending to same-sex couples, the Christian concept of marriage as connected to their spiritual belief system is a strictly one-bloke, one-lady situation. – Ani O’Brien

I urge strong caution when it comes to encroaching on the rights of religious people and organisations. – Ani O’Brien

While of course in some people’s version of utopia we would all share the same beliefs and values, in our wonderfully messy reality of multicultural, religiously diverse societies, this is simply never going to be the case.

In a truly liberal and democratic society, we tolerate things that we don’t like, don’t agree with, and which might hurt our feelings, because history shows the alternative is the violent, authoritarian ways of the past where homogeneous beliefs were imposed by violence.

Our laws and policy should reflect equal rights and responsibilities and homosexual law reform and equal marriage rights show we have come a long way towards achieving this. – Ani O’Brien

Nonetheless, to say that no one can hold a position that is different to anything in New Zealand law would be tyrannical and would stop all debate on any matters already legislated in their tracks.Ani O’Brien

Regardless of my own scepticism about the Christian God, and any of the others, it would be wrong of me to seek to encroach on the rights in law and policy of religious people who deeply hold beliefs I disagree with.

Likewise, it would be wrong of those religious people to seek to prevent me from speaking about my disagreement with their beliefs. – Ani O’Brien

We must insist that everyone obeys the laws that govern us, but the application of particular religious beliefs and restrictions to the spiritual lives of individuals and congregations must be respected … or at least tolerated.Ani O’Brien

Being gay is still tough for many New Zealanders; we still face homophobia at times. However, we won the battle of public opinion through free speech.

How can we rob others of that now? The majority of the population understands we simply want to lust, love, and create family units just like everyone else.

We want to be whole parts of society and being part of a functioning, secular, democracy means tolerating the (lawful) ideas and beliefs of others that we consider bad or hurtful. – Ani O’Brien

You talk about Jacinda Ardern caring, but it’s not really caring, is it…it’s performative caring. It’s all about seeming to be good rather than doing good, and I think people, finally, in New Zealand, are starting to see through that.

It took them a while and they have got some of the most putrid media in the world in New Zealand, where they’re just fanboys and girls of the current Prime Minister, so there’s very little in the way of scrutiny and criticism. But the New Zealand people are living through those radical changes that Winston Peters mentioned this week, and a lot of them are feeling pain. She’s not delivering on her core promises and this is something that people in Australia don’t seem to realise.

She had these bold housing plans – nothing’s come of it, she’s got nowhere near what she said she was going to do. And, again, you can’t just keep making promises, not fulfilling them, and expect to get re-elected over and over again. – Rita Pahani

The problem, of course, is that listening to the people can get a government into all kinds of trouble. It is also extremely difficult to sustain. It requires a very special political talent to recognise the voting public as the country’s most important interest group, especially when everybody else in the circle of power is telling you that it’s the business community, Treasury, the Reserve Bank, academic experts, the news media.

Turned out Ardern simply didn’t have enough of that special talent. Turned out 2020 was a fluke. Six months of genuine kindness was the most “Jacinda” could summon forth. And when she could no longer make it, she faked it.

Sadly, “performative caring” sums up Jacinda Ardern and her Labour Government all too well. – Chris Trotter

Values like free speech, liberal democracy, the rule of law, self-determination, free trade, the rules-based multilateral system and even no first use of nuclear weapons are broadly shared in the South Pacific, southeast Asia, parts of northeast Asia, North America and Europe.

They aren’t shared by Moscow and Beijing, never have been and probably never will be.

Why not just say so? –  Matthew Hooton

Big areas are not covered, or there are long waits, and more vulnerable areas are under-serviced.

This leads to a much higher need for secondary services down the track. This is one of the main complaints.  Primary care right across the country needs to work better. –  Dr Anthea Prentcie

A lot of times we have a lot of chitchat going on in our heads … flowers take you away from that and they keep you rooted in the now.”

“They’re a way to recalibrate your happiness meter.Natalie Tolchard

It’s as if journalists are happy to find a Māori who will talk on any and all subjects if he is handed the mic. Pakeha journalists from across all sectors of the media – and a few Māori ones as well – have rushed to Tukaki to seek comment on all things Māori. – Aaron Smale

There’s a tendency to try and find that definitive Māori voice who can provide quick quotes when some national issue requires a soundbite to drop into the “Māori say” slot. Tukaki has become a convenient go-to.

The problem is, no-one speaks on behalf of Māori. I doubt even King Tuheitia would make such a claim. There are a few Māori leaders who might be able to pull together a coalition of Māori voices to speak with unity on some kaupapa of the moment, but Māori have a jealous tendency to always retain the right to speak on their own behalf. Even a kuia of Whina Cooper’s mana struggled to hold together the coalition of Māori interests that swung in behind the Land March of 1975. What is so hard to grasp about this – Māori are as diverse in thought and opinion as any other group of people.Aaron Smale

It’s time to tell the truth. For too long, politicians have been telling us that we can have it all: have your cake and eat it. And I’m here to tell you that is not true. It never has been. There are always tough choices in life and in politics. No free lunches, no tax cuts without limits on government spending, and a stronger defence without a slimmer state. Governing involves trade-offs, and we need to start being honest about thatKemi Badenoch

The scale of the challenge we face means we can’t run away from the truth. Inflation has made the cost-of-living crisis acute, but the problems go back way further. We’ve had a poor decade for living standards. We have overburdened our economy. There’s too much unproductive public spending, consuming taxpayers’ hard-earned money. And there are too many well-meaning regulations slowing growth and clogging up the arteries of the economy. Too many policies like net-zero targets set up with no thought to the effects on industries in the poorer parts of this country. And the consequence is simply to displace the emissions of other countries. Unilateral economic disarmament. That is why we need change.Kemi Badenoch

The underlying economic problems we face have been exacerbated by Covid and by war. But what makes the situation worse is that the answers to our problems, conservative answers, haven’t been articulated or delivered in a way appropriate to the modern age. We have been in the grip of an underlying economic, social, cultural and intellectual malaise. The right has lost its confidence and courage and ability to defend the free market as the fairest way of helping people prosper. It has been undermined by a willingness to embrace protectionism for special interests. It’s been undermined by retreating in the face of the Ben and Jerry’s tendency, those who say a business’s main priority is social justice, not productivity and profits, and it’s been undermined by the actions of crony capitalists, who collude with big bureaucracy to rig the system in favour of incumbents against entrepreneurs. The truth that limited government – doing less for better – is the best way to restore faith in government has been forgotten, as we’ve piled into pressure groups and caved in to every campaigner with a moving message. And that has made the government agenda into a shopping list of disconnected, unworkable and unsustainable policies.

The knowledge that the nation state – our democratic nation state – is the best way for people to live in harmony and enjoy prosperity has been overridden by the noisy demands of those who want to delegitimise, decolonise and denigrate. And if we don’t stand up for our shared institutions – for free speech, due process and the rule of law – then we end up with a zero-sum game of identity politics, which only increases divisions when we need to come together.

So free markets, limited government, a strong nation state. Those are the conservative principles we need to beat back protectionism, populism and polarisation, and to prepare us for the challenges ahead.- Kemi Badenoch

You can only deliver lower taxes if you stop pretending that the state continues to do everything for your country. It’s not just a matter of doing the same with less. We need to focus on the essential. We need to be straight with people. The idea we can simply say ‘efficiency savings’, click our heels twenty times and they’ll materialise is for the birds. It’s the scale and structure of government that drives the inefficiencies.  – Kemi Badenoch

By reducing what government tries to do, we not only reduce the cost of government, we not only focus and focus government on the people’s priorities, we allow the space for individuals, employers and entrepreneurs to solve problems. And only then do we create the opportunity to cut taxes.  – Kemi Badenoch

There is almost nobody who actually hates trans people. Almost no one actually wishes them harm. Ours is a very live-and-let live society, and if people want to dress or present one way or another then that´s hardly new. New York alone must count as the most colorful society anywhere on earth.

Yet repeatedly activists pretend that to even discuss this area is to commit a terrible harm. They pretend not only that the evidence around “gender dysphoria” is completely clear, but that it has zero consequences. The trans extremists try to pretend, for instance, that there is no tension at all between some trans rights and some women’s rights. Despite the fact that such tensions — and worse — keep emerging everywhere from college sports to the nation’s jails. – Douglas Murray

What exactly is a “trans kid”? Does anybody really know? Our society pretends to be radically certain and knowledgeable about this. But in fact we know almost nothing about it.

We have almost no idea why some people believe they are born in the wrong body. We have very little idea of when this is a passing feeling and when it might be a permanent one. And we have almost no understanding at all about the extent to which claims by children that they are trans are in fact a demonstration of “social contagion,” where one kid in a school comes out as trans and a whole bunch of others start to follow suit.Douglas Murray

Are there questions marks to be raised? You bet. Considering that the consequences of getting this question wrong means the medical neutering of children and their physical mutilation I would say that the question marks are very real indeed. – Douglas Murray

Of course this is all a modern form of Jesuitical nonsense. “Trans men” who are still capable of pregnancy are still biological women. Nobody really knows what “non-binary” means, other than “look at me.” But anyone identifying themselves as “non-binary” who is also capable of becoming pregnant is also in fact still — wait for the big reveal — a woman. – Douglas Murray

All of America is being told to shut up and just get with the trans program. Otherwise we are killing people. Or making them kill themselves, or something.

What a way to have a debate. Or rather what a way to shut one down. And what an appalling way to approach an issue which — as American parents know — we have the right to think about and discuss. – Douglas Murray

The lockdowns would never have worked without our buy-in. That’s the mistake people continue to make even now, assuming that it was all only achieved by Government proclamation.

But there was an implied contract with the Government in return that it would use that time well to prepare us for the inevitable wave once it hit our shores.

Two years on it’s obvious to anyone that our day of reckoning with Covid was merely delayed, not avoided.Tracy Watkins

GP shortages, perilously low nursing levels and critical shortages in ICU capacity have all been paid lip service over the last two years – the very reasons, in fact, that we went into lock down in the first place, to avoid overwhelming the very same hospitals that are now in crisis.

Meanwhile, the Government spent two years keeping out tens of thousands of Kiwis, many of them with the skills we desperately need in our health system – and not just our health system, but in many other industries as well where workers are scarce – all in the name of keeping out the virus which is now widespread among us.

We can see now who’s carrying the burden of those failures – the doctors and nurses and other staff who’ve been sounding warnings for the last two years, and who deserved a lot better. – Tracy Watkins

The politicians would tell us that New Zealand is heading into a high-tech global 22nd century future. But the numbers tell a different story – we are spending more on superannuation than we do on education. As a country, we are effectively investing more in our past than our future.Kevin Norquay

Does the education sector really suit the 21st Century economy, or are we stuck in the 20th? Truancy is becoming really problematic, and we have been thinking around the edges, opposed to asking some really hard questions,” he says.

There needs to be a sense of urgency in that. My personal opinion is teachers, like nurses, are seriously underpaid. – Cameron Bagrie 

New Zealand has a short-term, she’ll be right attitude, rather than long-term thinking.

The infrastructure deficit is ultimately an issue of long-term thinking, the ongoing debate about what is a bicultural, multicultural New Zealand, there’s a difference of having a complex conversation, an open and difficult conversation over many decades. Sir Peter Gluckman 

Why has the loss of mental and subjective well-being doubled or tripled in the last 15 years? That is a far deeper systems question.

We need to ask why, after decades, do we continue to have intergenerational disadvantage, not just for Māori but for other groups in the community as well. How do we break that? – Sir Peter Gluckman 

These are complex multidimensional issues, which require more than shallow, political or partisan argument. And that’s what we’re not good at. 

The reality of it is, the world is in a dangerous place at the moment, conflict, climate change, biodiversity loss, supply line problems, fractured geostrategic issues – it’s a very unstable place. And you know, even in the issues of the moment, we’re not really having a particularly sophisticated conversation. – Sir Peter Gluckman 

We’ve got ideology driven decision-making as opposed to quantitative driven decision-making, and that’s coming through in a whole lot of areas, not just in regard to health.

I do not believe for one instant that the Government’s splatter-gun approach to Government finances is the right solution, nor do I believe that going out there and giving people tax cuts is the right solution. – Cameron Bagrie

What we are seeing over a few years is Jandal Economics, so you get Flip Flops – in some periods we are investing massively in capital, in the other years it’s as lean as. – 

You’ve got to have quality people making quality decisions, and getting quality advice. We have quite a dearth of (political) talent compared to what we had 20 years ago. …it’s a global issue.

Business has got to stop pointing the finger at government, the business sector needs to take some responsibility here in regard to some of the healing that needs to take place. – Cameron Bagrie

We are all growing empathy by being in some form of hardship. The amazing whakataukī (Māori proverb) ‘he waka eke noa’ (we’re all in the same boat), that’s not quite true.

We’re on the same ocean right now, which gives us a great broad understanding, but we’re in different boats. Some of us have little holey row boats, and some of us are on big cruise ships, but we all understand that the ocean is rough.Taimi Allen

Within New Zealand, which is now quite a melting pot, we have some very diverse views. We have a historical set of situations, we have an evolving situation, and somehow we have to find a consensual way through. And that’s not easy.

“But if we take some of the deep issues that we’re now confronted with, and keep on putting them aside they will just compound over time. There are some green shoots out there, green shoots don’t work unless they’re watered. – Sir Peter Gluckman 

The inflation figures were in all of our calendars, but the impromptu Sunday announcement was not – and had the Government not had something further in place when the bad news came out it would have looked ill-equipped, inadequately prepared and knee-jerk.

As it stands, and unfortunately for the Government despite its best, hurried, last-minute efforts it still looks ill-equipped, inadequately prepared and knee-jerk.

And gosh nothing quite like 7.3 percent inflation makes an announcement that you’re just doing the same thing as before but for a little bit longer look… well… ill-equipped, inadequately prepared and knee-jerk.  – Tova O’Brien

Is anyone else tiring of all this green hysteria over the heatwave? There is something medieval about it. There is something creepily pre-modern in the idea that sinful mankind has brought heat and fire and floods upon himself with his wicked, hubristic behaviour. What next – plagues of locusts as a punishment for our failure to recycle? The unhinged eco-dread over the heatwave exposes how millenarian environmentalism has become. Climate-change activism is less and less about coming up with practical solutions to the problem of pollution and more about demonising mankind as a plague on a planet, a pox on Mother Earth. – Brendan O’Neill

The Associate Local Government Minister seems to think losing our assets will be offset by councils not having to front up and pay that $185 billion he says is needed to get our drinking water, wastewater and stormwater up to scratch.

But I don’t buy that for a minute. And, as far as concerned, this announcement by the Government that it’s going to give money to councils to help them implement these water reforms, is just adding insult to injury.

The Government says it’s support but in my book when you pay someone to do something they don’t want to do, it’s bribery.John MacDonald

The solution to our mental health crisis is not throwing more money at it. The issue concerns leadership, creating a shared vision, and being accountable.

This Government is great at making announcements but utterly incapable of delivering improved outcomes. – Matt Doocey

Te Pāti Māori’s overarching position is that there has been quite enough immigration since whalers, sealers and missionaries started arriving in the late 1700s. Matthew Hooton

Here’s the good news: on this one question at least, our two main parties are offering policy based on competing economic models rather than converging wherever the focus groups drive them.

Whatever happens, we should know by election day the answer to this old, important but hitherto unresolved argument between labour-market economists.

The answer will determine whether Labour leads us into a lovely new world where artificially raising wages delivers higher productivity — or whether we have to do it the old-fashioned way under National, by working smarter and producing more from less, in order for wage earners to enjoy the higher sustainable incomes both parties promise.

Place your bets. – Matthew Hooton

The chickens of negligence have come home to roost – but they’re not welcome in the Henhouse of Education. – Michael Johnston

There are many pressing problems facing New Zealand, but none more urgent than the decay of our once great education system. Every time a young person leaves school without basic literacy and numeracy, it is a travesty. As democratic citizens we must all shoulder a share of the responsibility for that. We must demand much better and demand it loudly. –Michael Johnston

We need to know the facts of our own history. This enables us to separate reality from mythology. It also forces us to acknowledge that reality, rather than creating a story by revising the facts to fulfil and perpetuate the social and political ideologies of those who promulgate them. – Bruce Moon 

New Zealand is a small country, and whether it’s journalists, politicians or businesses, there’s a sense that you don’t want to speak out or have a different view because you might see that person again and you’ll have hurt their feelings.

I’m not saying be cowboys, but if we had a bit more boldness from time to time we would perhaps have a more vibrant, exciting and dare I say it, successful country. – Simon Bridges

I think there is a deep strain within Māoridom that is rooted in conservatism,.

Everyone likes to lay claim to the greats, you know like Āpirana Ngata, but it’s clear, in their speeches and thoughts. People forget that National held the Māori seats, until quite recent history – that’s why you get guys like Tau Henare who were able, with a straight face, to join National. – Simon Bridges

What I’ve worked out is, you can have every bit as much influence and some serious fun outside of politics. I think a lot of politicians make the mistake of thinking it’s the be-all and end-all of everything. – Simon Bridges

With the La Niña weather pattern presently turning the country into a quagmire, the nation’s mood is bogged down in a morass of its own.

A slew of reports out this week confirmed what we were already grappling with; rising levels of concern about the cost of living, which is, in turn, making us stressed and unhappy. Turns out we’re more worried than any other country on the planetJanet Wilson

And while the Government ploughs on with its reform programme, spending $11 billion on changing the health system with the Three Waters programme having already cost $2 billion without a water pipe renewed, it’s easy to see how Labour has become part of inflation’s problem and not its solution.

Just as you don’t go on a diet by eating all the pies and cakes, you can’t  hope to reduce inflation by throwing more money around.

Not unless you want inflation to bed in and lead to what seems now to be almost inevitable. Recession. – Janet Wilson

Instead of pulling together and being a team of five million, it increasingly feels that the distance between some New Zealanders is more like a canyon. There are more and more people who have lost hope, don’t believe in the values that used to bind all of us and/or just truly think that they don’t have to work for a living.Paula Bennett

The Prime Minister, or one of her ministers, blames employers for not paying enough. Hospitality, construction and other sectors have responded to the tight labour market with improved wages and conditions but still 105,000 people are on benefit instead of in work. The benefits of work are more than monetary – although if money is the motivator then I say to beneficiaries, “Get a job, prove your worth and seek a higher wage.”

In other words, you have to start somewhere and that has to be in paid work. The other benefits include a healthier, more social life and a sense of meaning and purpose. I get that there are people who don’t think they should have to “sell out” to big business or do “menial” work. I believe in free choice – I just don’t think that taxpayers should have to pay for it. – Paula Bennett

You can say a lot of disparaging things about Nanaia Mahuta but what you have concede is that when it comes to really applying herself to undermining democracy she can be very strategic and clever.Heather du Plessis-Allan

Jacinda Ardern oozes self-satisfaction, whether swanning about at Davos or lecturing the world on climate change and the importance of “wellbeing”. At first this young PM became the darling of the progressive world – many admired the feminist credentials, sensitive handling of the Christchurch mosque attack and zero-Covid strategy. But the carefully constructed façade is wearing thin. Ardern is on track to lose the next election, with the latest opinion polls indicating a 10 percentage point drop over the last six months. No amount of positive global press coverage can disguise the lacklustre economic situation in New Zealand, the growing list of broken promises and mounting unpopularity at home. – Matthew Lesh

The New Zealand imagined by the international press is about as fictional as Middle Earth. The country is struggling. Lacking the capacity to address the numerous challenges facing her nation, the Ardern gloss has faded. In the end, standing ovations at international conferences will not make up for a loss of confidence at home.Matthew Lesh

Mike Yardley, Jamie Mckay, Robert MacCulloch, Keith Woodford, Tracy Watkins, Grant Nelson, Kevin Norquay, Cameron Bagrie, Duncan Field, David Farrar, Jim Rose, Bjorn Lomborg, Claire Trevett, Brent Edwards, Simon Bridges, Erica Stanford, Pamela Paul, Chris Trotter, Kelly Hutton, Peter Jackson, Bruce Cotterill, Fran O’Sullivan, Andrea Vance, Craig Hickman, Dr Catherine D’Souza, Richard Prebble, Tracy Watkins, Brigitte Morten, David Seymour, Jane Clifton, Tova O’Brien, Rita Pahani, Matthew Hooton, Kemi Badenoch, Aaron Smale, Dr Anthea Prentice, Douglas Murray, Sir Peter Gluckman, Taimi Allen, Brendan O’Neill, John MacDonald, Matt Doocey, Dr Michael Johnston, Bruce Moon, Paula Bennett, Simon Bridgres, Janet Wilson, Matthew Lesh,


Quotes of the month

01/06/2022

The provocation of fragility requires a bureaucracy of defenders to alleviate its consequences. The more fragile people become, the more they will run to the authorities for protection, as children run to their parents when they imagine witches at the window. A fragile population requires protectors, for the fragile by definition are incapable of protecting themselves, for example by confronting or moving away from a starer, but the would-be protectors themselves are cowards who prefer imaginary enemies to real and dangerous ones: thus is the dialectic between fragility and public employment on futile tasks created and maintained. – Theodore Dalrymple 

We in the anglosphere have become so used to conducting our business affairs in a “marketplace” that we take it for granted and if we give it any thought at all we ignore how fundamental it is to our way of life, preservation of our liberties, and to the health of our democracy. It is no accident that those who seek to destroy those liberties and democracy must first destroy the market economy by either state ownership on the Lenin model or an ersatz market place on the Russian and Chinese models. But what do we know about the history of this phenomena. Anthony Willy

This means of organising society by allowing the untrammelled myriad daily personal decisions of the market place fulfils our most basic needs of food and shelter leading to the intellectual drive involved in the rise of science and the arts in what we call our civilised society. Above all it contributed to what may be mankind’s greatest achievement; the flowering of democracy which for many years we have taken for granted. However all is not well in the free market garden. Until recently the law was clear that any trader incorporated as a company with shareholders and a board of directors, (and that is most of the larger traders) the directors owed duties solely to their shareholders, and their only function was to maximise the profits of the company for the benefit of the shareholders with whose money they had  been entrusted. Increasingly this is no longer the case and there is a growing tendency for governments and pressure groups to require the directors to be influenced in their decision making  by extraneous matters such as global warming and gender politics. The Human Resources departments of many of New Zealand companies have responded enthusiastically to these demands with the result that the company is no longer able to trade freely and maximise the returns to the shareholders. In some cases this has resulted in the company ceasing hitherto profitable ventures with the loss of autonomy that entails.  Over the longer term nothing could be more destructive to the survival of free markets particularly as these are not constraints suffered by competitors in the totalitarian economies with whom we do business. In addition to these self imposed fetters there are of course ever present and more malign alternatives.   Anthony Willy

That Marx’s prescription for substituting a system of state control for the free market is contrary to human nature has been amply borne out by the experience of those despots who have tried to impose it. The reason is simple, nowhere in the world has it flourished by the voluntary acceptance of the people. All such despots have failed sooner or later and will continue to do so, including those, such as the Peoples Republic of China and Russia who have attempted a bit of both by allowing a “market economy” to operate but only with the consent of the state and without democracy. The toll in human suffering when the state snuffs out private enterprise has been incalculable. Anthony Willy

The other alternative to democracy and the free-market system and one gaining a lot of airtime among the “intelligentsia” in New Zealand is that of tribal control of the means of production and exchange whereby each tribe owns and controls its own assets and, human nature being what it is defends them from the covetous eyes of its neighbours. This alternative to free markets and communism was that practised by Maori tribes in New Zealand before the arrival of the Europeans, and it no doubt worked throughout their uninterrupted occupation of the country. It has shortcomings however as a means of maximising the wealth of society not least of which are: nobody owns anything and therefore cannot prosper from their labours (no pumpkin man), it invites tribal warfare if one tribe is being seen to do better than the neighbour, it creates no enduring “wealth” and causes envy and disaffection when eyes are cast  over the fence at those tribes enjoying the fruits of their labours. – Anthony Willy

There is nothing exceptional about this course of events, it is to be found in the remaining tribal societies mostly in Africa. It is always accompanied  by horrendous violence such as the genocide that occurred in Rwanda and to a lesser extent Kenya. Unsurprisingly after the bloodletting this is now in the past as most African countries have rejected communism and tribalism and have embraced free markets and democracy (albeit a bit dodgy at times). But astonishingly in New Zealand with a record of a settled and prosperous society second to none separate Maori tribal representatives, egged on by other worldly academics are promoting a tribal take over of our hitherto democratically elected institutions based solely on race.  –  Anthony Willy

Languages exist for one reason only — to communicate meaning. To this end they evolve with time and what is useful endures and what is not withers. And that’s it. That’s the inevitable, immutable, blind process, and nothing we say or do will alter it. Languages cheerfully borrow from each another. English has adopted hundreds of Maori words, largely to describe things that exist here and nowhere else — pukeko, rimu, mana and so on. And Maori has taken on board no end of words from English to describe the materials and ideas that settlers brought. But having borrowed them a language makes them its own. It fits them into its own structure. So while there is some overlap of vocabulary between te reo and English, there is none of grammar or syntax. The languages remain grammatically distinct.

The RNZ National announcer appeared to be speaking a new and hybrid tongue, part te reo, part English. In reality she was speaking English — the language she used to convey meaning — and she was dropping in chunks of te reo for a moral or political purpose. And language evolution scoffs at moral or political purposes.

In short, she was wasting her time. In doing so she was alienating Ms Plum, educating noone, patronising Maoridom and barking up a barren linguistic plum tree.- Joe Bennett

One of the most witless, inane and paradoxically evil ideas to contaminate contemporary culture in recent years is kindness, or, as what amounts to a campaign slogan says, ‘Be Kind’. On the surface, what could possibly be wrong with being kind to each other? Only brutes and criminals would find something wrong with such an obviously decent notion. The problem, though, is that beneath its beautiful and superficially moral surface, kindness, in its contemporary iteration, is surreptitiously ideological and smuggles into everyday life entirely new ideas of metaphysics, logic and epistemology, ones that have profoundly negative consequences for liberal democracy, freedom of speech and freedom of conscience.Roger Franklin

We’ve established that kindness per se is not a sufficient condition for decent behaviour because political ideologies determine who can be treated with kindness and who can be treated with cruelty. This gets to the crux of the present situation because underpinning the current notion of kindness is the contemporary moral and ethical system of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), which has been introduced into almost every institution in Western liberal democracies. The HR department in your workplace, and workers’ rights legislation in your state or country, will almost certainly be infused with this ideology.

The problem, though, is that the politics of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion — wokeness, in other words — establishes a hierarchy of the saved and the dammed through the postmodern notion of identity. Where you sit on the hierarchy of marginalised groups, or whether you are intersectionally oppressed — perhaps doubly, triply or multiply oppressed — determines your saintly status. Individual rights, then, are no longer the sine qua non of liberal democracy. What we have, essentially, is irrationalism as a new metaphysics. – Roger Franklin

How are individual rights being supplanted by group rights, which are the modus operandi of all authoritarian regimes? How has this occurred in a liberal democratic political system where debate is a constituent part of its philosophy? It’s simple: institutional capture. Individual rights have been hollowed out from the inside by ideologues. What’s most depressing, though, is that the whole unedifying spectacle has been performed in the plain sight of our governing elites, who, while often hard-working and honest, are seldom intellectually sophisticated. Roger Franklin

While kindness is the slogan, the Trojan Horse of the ideology is the triple strategy of equivocating speech with violence, subjectivism and the weaponising of mental health. It’s a tapestry of confusion where all the threads fit together.

Conflating speech with violence means that hurt feelings, rather than damaged bodies, are utilised as a weapon of the ‘oppressed’. Hurting someone’s feelings — subjectivism, in other words — is viewed as violence. This is important because liberal democracy, at its core, rejects violence. Violence, as any civilised person should know, is always the last resort in adjudicating conflict. Consequently, indulging in violence, especially towards a disadvantaged person or an identity group, is the very definition of discrimination.

Modern subjectivism is based on the postmodern claim that truth is a fiction — bizarrely, even logical and scientific truths. – Roger Franklin

“Truth”, in its modern iteration, is defined as the epistemology of straight white males, who are viewed as the purveyors of all that is destructive in modern history. According to postmodernists and intersectional feminists, though, there are other ways of understanding the world, amongst them the ‘lived experience’ of identity groups , which are presented as equally valid. Feminists, for example, have claimed for decades that witchcraft and alternative medicine have been ‘marginalised’ by male ways of knowing, and that these epistemologies are as legitimate as the scientific method. That this is nonsense needs to be stressed because the idea that all opinions are valid has become a constituent narrative of contemporary culture. The irony is that postmodernists could not flourish if they followed their own philosophy, because irrational people live sub-optimal lives or simply die.Roger Franklin

The expansion of mental health psychology into areas that, until recently, were considered the existential and ordinary facts of life, is not coincidental. The phenomenon runs parallel and in conjunction with the rise of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Feelings are now the gold standard of whether one is suffering from a mental health problem, not an imprudent lifestyle choice or any of the dreadful psychological conditions that make life a misery for people whose minds or brains are not working in a functional way.

The three strategies are equally important to the ideology, and they shift, twist, intertwine and turn depending on the situation. Put them all together and a comprehensive strategy exists to curtail freedom of speech, individual conscience and, inevitably, liberal democracy. – Roger Franklin

What DEI means in practice is not what its proponents advertise to the world. In practical terms the ideology works in the following way: Diversity stresses a plurality of group identity and not a plurality of opinion. Equity is an impossible dream which can only be enacted, with dreadful consequences, by force. And inclusion, by definition, welcomes different identity groups without criticism, and no-one else. Remember that, according to the theory, subjective feelings, which are denied validity by individuals and society lead to mental health issues, while truth itself is grounded in the identities of race, sex, class and gender. Everything must be affirmed rather than rejected or criticised because words which offend are construed as violence or are damaging to a person whose “identity” is questioned or criticised.

This is why statues are being pulled down around the world; why people with what were, until about five years ago, moderate views are called bigots; why supporters of free speech are called Nazis; why J.K. Rowling is called transphobic; why bad works of art by minority figures are replacing Beethoven, Shakespeare and Renoir (or, at the very least, how they are presented in concert halls, theatres and art galleries). It’s why those who offend are hounded from their jobs and see their reputations and livelihoods ruined. And all this is being perpetrated by ideologues with a fanatical zeal and, ironically, not a shred of kindness.Roger Franklin

Nothing solid survives this pernicious attack on everything of value, and it’s why the cult of kindness and its three subordinate strategies — equating speech with violence, subjectivism and weaponising mental health — undermine the entire edifice of liberal democracy, which is a form of government based on individualism and the robust claims of negative rights. Two things define liberal democratic philosophy: don’t do this, and you’ve a right to offend. In straightforward terms, you can be an absolute bastard if you don’t commit a crime or perpetrate violence on your fellow citizens. That’s about all people can ask for or expect.

The rest of the noise about rights is virtue-signalling nonsense, money-making scams, or snake-oil drenched in false morality. Sometimes you need to be cruel to be kind. And sometimes you just need to be kind. Woke kindness is the inverse of the normal conception of kindness and it is toxic to individual rights. Don’t fall for the nonsense, linguistic equivocation is one of the oldest tricks in the book. – Roger Franklin

Just because you are Māori does not make you an expert in anything except being Māori. The government, in their determination to divide this nation racially, are mixing too many things together and hoping you won’t notice.

Clean water is one thing, and we all want it. Hijacking democracy for ideological purposes around race, we don’t.

This fight is far from over, and as such Friday’s update changes nothing. – Mike Hosking

Some defenders of Three Waters argue that the regional representation groups made up of iwi and council representatives are so removed from the day-to-day control of the water assets that anyone asserting iwi will play a significant role as co-governors can only be intent on making mischief. But if that argument is correct, Mahuta should have no trouble at all in dropping iwi members from her proposed set-up.

The fact the minister shows no sign of bending on co-governance — no matter how intense and overwhelming the opposition — will only convince increasing numbers of voters that the whole point of Three Waters is to function as a Trojan horse to hand unelected iwi members control over billions of dollars’ worth of community assets.Graham Adams 

The belief that free speech is a “Right-wing conservative” ideal reveals a very limited knowledge of history. In different generations, the Left and the Right have both advocated for and opposed free speech. That’s why free speech is not a Left-Right issue; it’s a liberty-orientated vs authoritarian issue. – Jonathan Ayling

Now, that word “racist”. I believe a racist is someone who thinks certain races are inherently superior to others and therefore entitled to rights not available to supposedly “inferior” races. That’s a meaning we can all agree on. But the moment you stretch the definition beyond that, the word can mean anything the user wants it to mean. In the contemporary New Zealand context, that means it can be applied to anyone who disagrees with you – for example, on issues such as 50-50 co-governance with iwi. But the people who throw the term “racist” around don’t realise that they have stripped the word of its potency. “Racist” should be the most offensive epithet imaginable, placing the accused person on a par with Adolf Hitler or the Ku Klux Klan. But the word is so overused as to have become meaningless, so Shelley’s wasting her breath there.Karl du Fresne

There is a unique record of co-operation, harmony and goodwill between the two main racial groups. That’s manifested in the history of inter-marriage which today ensures that every person who identifies as Maori must also own up to some European blood, which means their supposed oppressors included their own white forebears. I’ve yet to see anyone reconcile those awkward truths. If we’re to move forward as a society we need to acknowledge that all our forebears did bad things in the distant past and then put them behind us. We have too much in common to risk fracturing a society that the rest of the world has long seen as exemplary.

Where we run into trouble is where the Maori activist agenda collides with democracy. Democracy isn’t a white supremacist invention imposed to keep minority groups firmly under the heel of their oppressor. On the contrary, it’s a system whereby every citizen’s vote – Maori, Pakeha, Pasifika, Chinese, Indian, whatever – carries the same weight. I believe absolutely in democracy because ultimately, everyone benefits from it and everyone has a say. It is the basis of every free and fair society in the world, and those who undermine it need to think very carefully about what form of government might replace it. I can’t think of any that would appeal to me – certainly not one that grants special rights, privileges and entitlements on the basis of ancestry. We have a name for that: feudalism. We were smart enough to abandon it several centuries ago.

To finish, I am Tangata Tiriti and proud to be so. Like all Pakeha New Zealanders I’m here by right of the Treaty, a point often overlooked by Treaty activists who talk as if it grants rights only to Maori. My forebears came here in the 1870s and 1890s and New Zealand, therefore, is my turangawaewae. The thing is, we’re all beneficiaries of the Treaty and we need to think very long and hard before unravelling the many threads that bind us.- Karl du Fresne

The real tragedy of the wage rises of that size is that they are, of course, adding to the very problem they are trying to solve. If you are paying more because you are making more, selling more, and getting higher returns that’s good. But if you are paying more merely to hold talent so you don’t go bankrupt then that serves no one well in the long run. – Mike Hosking

If you are offering work to all who want it through expansion, and as a result of expansion everyone shares in the success with wage increases, that’s your economic sweet spot.

But if you are in a country that doesn’t let people in, has an economy that’s stalled because growth is not possible due to lack of staff, but those staff get paid more anyway, then you have a pending disaster.

It’s grinding to a halt. It isn’t good for anyone. And when your jobless rate doesn’t go down even when there are jobs galore and no one coming in to take them, that is a seriously large red flag. – Mike Hosking

Ultimately what counts most in a democracy is what the public thinks and why people vote the way they do, and there can be few people more poorly qualified to assess the public mood than press gallery journalists. The narrow world they’re exposed to is simply not the world most New Zealanders live in.

It would be a useful grounding exercise for them to listen to talkback radio for an hour or so each day. I wouldn’t pretend that’s the key to understanding what real New Zealanders are thinking, but it would expose press gallery reporters to a more authentic world than the one they inhabit, which largely consists of fellow members of the political class. (Of course it wouldn’t happen, because the typical political journalist probably regards talkback callers as the untermenschen.)Karl du Fresne

If this seems a rather sweeping condemnation of the entire gallery, I plead guilty. I acknowledge there are capable political journalists who make an honest attempt to do the job well. It’s just unfortunate that they are tainted by association with others who come across as self-absorbed, over-confident and, dare I say it, sometimes not very bright.  – Karl du Fresne

In my fairly long experience as a doctor, I discovered that many were those who willfully, knowingly, and unnecessarily sought misery. They did things that they knew in advance would end disastrously, often in short order. I also discovered that the ways of self-destruction were infinite: One could never enumerate or come to the end of them.

Among the proofs that we were not made for happiness but on the contrary often seek out its opposite is the fact that so many of us follow the news closely, though we know it will make us wretched to do so. We pretend that we have a need to be informed and are shocked when we meet someone who hasn’t the faintest idea of what is going on in the world. How can he bear to be so ignorant, how can he be so indifferent? It is our duty as citizens of a democracy to be informed, or to inform ourselves, even at the cost of our own misery; because, of course, news rarely gives us reasons to rejoice.Theodore Dalrymple

To observe happiness in others and to think of misery is, of course, the sign of an unhappy or discontented life. There are those who would look at the Taj Mahal and think only of how absurd it was, how unjust to the toiling multitudes, that the wife of an emperor should be memorialized in this extravagant fashion when all she had was the accident of beauty and the luck to be beloved of an emperor; these are sour people who would prefer the perfect justice of universal ugliness to an unevenly and unjustly spread beauty. – Theodore Dalrymple

It is clear that Ardern’s government plans to produce a document which sets out a future plan for Maori only, at the expense of parliamentary democracy and the civil and human rights of 84% of the New Zealand population. They are following exactly the same strategy they have in imposing “co-governance’ and compulsory acculturation of the New Zealand population throughout the public service, education system, health, welfare and justice, plus the enforced establishment of Maori wards in local authorities.Henry Armstrong

The Declaration Plan feedback document contains many proposals which will effectively establish a race-based,  separatist Apartheid structure in New Zealand. Mainstream media have deliberately downplayed the huge adverse implications for New Zealand going forward and have purposely contributed to the Ardern government’s ongoing strategy of deception, untruths and misinformation.

If we believe Ardern (who has a habit of reneging on her previous statements, such as taxes), the NZ public will be “consulted” sometime this year, with no guarantee that this “consultation” process will in any way affect the Plan, once decided upon, for to do so would mean Ardern and co are themselves racist – and we cannot of course have that, can we?

And you thought Putin is evil?  – Henry Armstrong

Do not let low unemployment fool you into thinking everything is fine. It might well be the opposite .- Oliver Hartwich

Bad rules and regulations are more common than you think. Although the worst offenders eventually prompt action, it’s the costly (but not too costly) rules that accumulate over time that kill an economy by sclerosis Sam Dumitriu

Anyone who asks the question “what is a woman?” is thereby revealing that they have the intelligence of your average garden slug. This is why we shouldn’t trust these so-called “archaeologists” who claim to be able to determine whether those ancient skeletons they’ve uncovered are “male” or “female”. This is pure pseudo-science. Next they’ll be telling us they can work out their pronouns by measuring the femurs.

Let me settle this matter once and for all. A woman is anyone who says she is a woman. A woman is a feeling, a shimmering nimbus of possibility, an echo of distant dreams reverberating gingerly through a winter’s gloaming. She is a mewling constellation, a bagful of semi-felched pixies, the enchanted stardust that pirouettes luminously on the spindle of time.

It’s got absolutely nothing to do with tits. – Titania McGrath

 It shouldn’t come as a surprise that so few people are familiar with Maori. For all the current chatter and virtue-signalling, the language is not taught as a compulsory subject in a public school system where young Maori kids, especially boys, already leave early in disproportionately high numbers.

If Ardern’s government really wanted to make a difference, it could do more to encourage deprived Maori kids to stay on in education. As it is, it seems more content to change road signs and baffle visitors with startling name changes.David Cohen

I find it unacceptable that despite our feedback over several decades, the government are still coercing the Pakeha identity on New Zealanders with European ancestry and am sure other ethnic groups have a similar frustration. – John Franklin

In this day and age where a boy is permitted to change his gender identity to female on the way to school at a whim, why are we being forced to assign to an identity we clearly don’t want?

The truth is that no one else’s opinion matters regarding our identity, we don’t need anyone’s permission, we don’t need a team of language experts, we don’t need a hui, it’s 100% our choice so all we need to do is to make a decision and then demand that our rights are respected.John Franklin

There will always be those who will throw out their hate anchors to stop New Zealand from healing and moving forward but we can’t let them divide us further with their racist policies in the guise of indigenous rights.

Anything that undermines every New Zealander’s right to be treated equally or gives extra rights based on ethnicity is racist, it’s wrong and will have bad consequences. Don’t be fooled by the twisted use of the equity philosophy employed by those who want to justify their special privilege, only equality can be the foundation of our rights and freedoms. If the UN thinks the answer to divisive history is to elevate the rights of one ethnic group above the others, then they are just meddling fools that should be ignored as that undermines the foundation of equality which in turn undermines the rights and freedoms that are built on it. – John Franklin

The “woke” always surprise me with their high boredom threshold, for one would have thought that nothing could be more boring than always looking at the world through the narrow distorting lens of race, gender, and so forth and always coming to the same conclusion about it.

However, one has to give it to the woke: Just as you think that their idiocies can go no further, they come up with something new. They display a kind of malign inventiveness in finding new ways to provoke people of more sensible dispositions. The woke manage to be inventive and boring at the same time (as Marxists used to be); and while it’s boring to have to argue constantly against bores, it’s necessary to do so, because otherwise the undecided will come to think that the arguments of the woke are unanswered because they’re unanswerable. – Theodore Dalrymple

I think rather that wokedom is analogous to diseases such as Kuru and Creutzfeldt-Jakob in humans and scrapie in sheep, caused by particles called prions that infect the brain and cause it to degenerate, resulting in strange and disturbed behavior ending in death. Unless a remedy is found, what will die, however, isn’t an individual human being, but ultimately a culture and a civilization.Theodore Dalrymple

The problem with being a social justice advocate in a progressive liberal democracy is that there isn’t always enough overt sexism and racism from which to draw the requisite amounts of indignation. – Damien Grant

This country can stand rightly proud on what we have achieved when it comes to equality and diversity, even if serious mahi needs to be done in some areas.Damien Grant

Investing with the disreputable Simon Henry provided an eight-times better return than with Companion of the NZ Order of Merit recipient and My Food Bag co-founder, Theresa Gattung.

This will be a surprise to no one who understands commerce, but to those who think EBITDArefers to a new grouping of intersectional identity, this result will have come as a bit of a shock. – Damien Grant

In years to come some government agency may run a slide-rule over similar comments to assess if they breach beefed-up hate-speech laws, but for the moment the only consequences are public scorn and the associated commercial risk of having said something objectively awful.

This is appropriate. Free speech isn’t speech without consequences. In a free-market, people can choose who they do business with, who they work for, and who they associate with. – Damien Grant

While many in the media were content to report and comment on what Henry said, others decided that they are guardians of a new morality.

It isn’t enough that sunlight be applied to Henry’s choice of language. There isn’t any point in being a Social Justice Warrior if you don’t occasionally bayonet the wounded. – Damien Grant

Is it possible that the search for outrage is inadvertently manufacturing it?Damien Grant

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is widely misinterpreted as an effect where the observer changes what is occurring by their observation. It is possible that, through the manner in which the fourth estate has covered this event, they have created the very thing upon which they now breathlessly report on. – Damien Grant

Being a member of Parliament can bring out the best and the worst in people. You have to be slightly bonkers and have a high degree of confidence just to want to be an MP – unfortunately, that can click into arrogance really easily when you get there if not kept in check. I should point out that this arrogance is not the domain of just one political party. – Paula Bennett

I can’t believe that just three weeks ago Poto was denying there is a gang problem in NZ. But the PM has probably consoled herself that it’s not arrogance but incompetence and, as we see daily, that is acceptable in her Cabinet. – Paula Bennett

What should increasingly be worrying the PM is the arrogance of Trevor Mallard and the damage this is doing her. From badly handling the actual Parliament protest and then badly handling the aftermath by trespassing ex MPs and unforgivably giving Winston Peters a platform to crow from to generally running the debating chamber with ridiculous rulings that mean people can’t actually debate, it is time for him to bow out.Paula Bennett

It is high time we stopped using History as a weapon, and started relying upon it as a guide. – Chris Trotter

Before we all became mesmerised by the internet, humans spent much of their time in a little place called the real world. Here, people tended to interact with each other face to face, in the flesh, and as such, one could get a good sense of a person’s character by observing their behaviour.

This all changed with the rise of social media. The transition from a world in which people interact in person to one in which people interact through text led to a shift in the way we define and judge people. With little visibility of a person’s deeds, we had to focus on their words. And so we began to define people primarily by their opinions.

Since opinions are now the basis of public interaction and identity, there’s a new pressure to have a point of view. If you don’t have a perspective on the thing everyone else is talking about, it becomes difficult to socialise—you basically don’t exist. The result is that people feel compelled to take a stance on everything. – Gurwinder

Research suggests that when humans are pressured to have an opinion on an issue they know little about, they’ll often just hastily make one up, ad-libbing without regard to facts or logic, rather than admitting they don’t know. To compound the problem, people dislike changing their opinions (as it requires admitting they were wrong), so their impromptu views, which they cobbled together from whim and half-remembered hearsay, will often become their new hills to die on.

Essentially, the pressure to have an opinion in the digital age can cause people to resort to believing, or professing to believe, babble. – Gurwinder

Since people are now defined chiefly by their opinions, there’s not just pressure to have an opinion, there’s pressure to have the best opinion—the smartest, most sophisticated, most high-status. Digital society has become a beauty contest for beliefs, an opinion pageant.

Clearly, if people are simply improvising their opinions, they’re not going to have good opinions, let alone the best ones. So people will often employ a different strategy: copying the opinions of others.

They typically do this by outsourcing their thinking to professional commentators, who offer prepackaged “designer opinions” that people can wear like haute couture to become the envy of their friends.Gurwinder

However, just because a commentator is offering their opinions for sale, doesn’t mean their opinions are good. On the contrary, opinion-sellers often sell poorly considered opinions, because not only are they under the same pressure as everyone else to take stances on issues they know little about, but they must do so quickly. For a professional commentator, being the first one to think of a take is everything. As such, opinion-sellers will often rush their opinions out, and then, since they can’t change their view without looking bad, they’re forced to stick with it. – Gurwinder

Opinion-sellers make life easier for themselves and their customers by selling not just isolated opinions, but “opinion packages”. These are simplistic worldviews from which a set of consistent opinions on almost anything can be easily computed, equipping the bearer to opine on virtually any matter that comes up in conversation.

Arguably the most fashionable opinion package in the West today is what some refer to as “wokeness”. This is a kind of conspiracy theory that uses a lexicon of dubious concepts, such as “white fragility” and “toxic masculinity”, to portray Western society as “systemically” racist, misogynistic, and transphobic, and to scapegoat such problems on white people generally, and on straight white men specifically.Gurwinder

Woke opinions are popular for several reasons. For a start, they lift a great burden from the brain; there’s no need to understand a complex world if you can just blame everything on bigotry. But arguably the most important advantage of woke opinions is their success in the opinion pageant. They’re an effective way to improve one’s social standing, because constantly calling out bigotry makes one look unbigoted, compassionate, and socially aware—all values with high social capital.

The social capital offered by wokeness makes it an indispensable opinion package in image-oriented industries like media, academia, Hollywood, and public relations, which may be why wokeness is most dominant in these spheres. – Gurwinder

But the trouble with opinions is that one cannot know for sure whether or not they’re sincerely held, which leads to another problem of the opinion pageant: fraud. Just as designer clothes can be counterfeited, so can designer opinions. Except opinions cost nothing to fake.

Ersatz beliefs are now common in the business world. Savvy corporations have realised that in the opinion pageant, they must take a political stance to secure relevance, and since wokeness is the most high status suite of opinions, they almost exclusively subscribe to that package.Gurwinder

Wokeness offers corporations, celebrities, and other status-conscious entities the most prestigious package of views in the opinion pageant, but it’s increasingly having to contend with competitors. Perhaps the most notable of these is the “based” worldview. This opinion package is often sold by conservatives, but it’s less defined by what it’s for than what it’s against. And what it’s against is the reigning champion of the pageant, wokeness. – Gurwinder

The division of people into based, woke, and other competing worldviews has had an unfortunate side effect. It’s created a culture war between the various customer bases, a war that’s phony because most of the combatants are fighting for beliefs they haven’t properly considered, since they idly plagiarised them instead of concluding them through careful reasoning.

But the worst thing about the culture war is that it perpetuates the opinion pageant. When people become divided into factions, there becomes even more pressure to pick a side and have an opinion, or else one risks being known as a fence-sitter, a coward, or even worse, an enemy (“silence is violence!”, say the woke). The result is that even more people take a stance on issues they know little about.

The end result of the opinion pageant is a fraudulent world, a world where most people’s opinions are not their own. It’s a world of puppets being ventriloquised by strangers—strangers who are likely themselves puppets. In such a world, where words matter more than deeds, and opinions matter more than character, being “smart” requires no gift for thought, only a gift for mimicry, and being “good” requires no heart of gold, only a silver tongue & brazen nature. – Gurwinder

In the end, opinions are a hopeless way to define people, because, like designer clothing, they’re both faddish and easily counterfeited. If you want to know someone’s true nature, look beyond their words, and scrutinise the one aspect of their character that’s costly to fake—their actions. – Gurwinder

While news from Ukraine has mainly been about infrastructure destruction, a small miracle is taking place in the war-torn country. As Putin’s forces continue to bombard their cities, Ukrainian authorities have already begun reconstruction. . .

The road holes where the shells exploded have been repaired. Water and electricity are back on.

Amazingly, even large pieces of infrastructure have been rebuilt. Among them were road and rail bridges that were destroyed by the Russians in the first weeks of the war.

Irpin’s main bridge is now replaced with a temporary bridge measuring nine meters wide and 245 meters long. It took five days of uninterrupted work to complete it. – Oliver Hartwich

So let’s send Waka Kotahi to Ukraine. And if they find Ukraine’s infrastructure secret, we may allow them to return to New Zealand Oliver Hartwich

It is well known in all agricultural circles that the nitrogen fertilisers are the major contributor to lifting the third world out of poverty and why now, obesity is a bigger world-wide issue than malnutrition. And the peasant farmer getting richer is why the third world birthrate is dropping. But the watermelon Malthusians don’t want that.. You can’t establish a centrally planned world order in that environment. – Chris Morris

Bureaucrats sitting in Wellington are invariably highly skilled and the Ministry has some of the brightest public health advisors on staff too.

But I still feel they fail to realise the true impacts of the decisions they make on the lives of New Zealanders. – Merepeka Raukawa-Tait

Governments always talk about solutions being developed and decided closer to where the problems exist.

I couldn’t agree more. Communities do know what’s best for them. But with health that appears to be a “no go” area.

Communities are not trusted enough to be given the opportunity to have real input into planning and designing services.

They know the difference between primary and secondary healthcare and they know where they can make a meaningful contribution. – Merepeka Raukawa-Tait

We are in a warped world now, where work of minimal use and skill is better paid than what you might call a profession.

A world where reward comes from closed borders and a determination to limit the labour supply.

This is the recipe for economic ruin. It’s why today’s Budget will be in deficit, why the debt will be higher, and why the growth numbers will be anaemic if not non-existent.

A nurse starts at $53,000, a teacher $52,000, a dental assistant $46,000 and a lollipop person? $46,000.

You’ve got to be kidding me.Mike Hosking

They have corrupted a crusade to save the planet into sleazy pork barrel politics. Labour and the Greens new climate change policies are just vote buying.

The climate change policies announced this week will not bring New Zealand one day closer to net zero emissions but will fund, to name one policy, changes to school curriculum and NCEA so we “embed an understanding of the collective nature of our wellbeing.” Our schools will be teaching socialist dogma.

It just proves we cannot trust politicians with our money; they will spend it on buying votes. – Richard Prebble 

Even those schemes that will reduce emissions will not alter the country’s path to net zero emissions. The path is already in place. The ETS requires all carbon producers to buy credits equal to their emissions. The total amount of emissions is capped and will decline to net zero by 2050.

The policies announced this week will not alter this path. Under the ETS scheme every unit saved from say switching to an electric vehicle frees up a unit for some other activity such as driving an eight-cylinder gas guzzler.

All these new policies will do is enrich some at the expense of others. Many, such as corporations, who will be feeding at the pork barrel, can finance their own route to zero emissions.Richard Prebble 

A carbon credit from New Zealand forests has the same effect on the planet as a credit created from a tropical forest in the Solomon Islands.

It matters. While New Zealand is the world’s most efficient producer of milk we will never be the most efficient at growing forests to absorb carbon. An equivalent tropical forest absorbs four times more carbon.

New Zealand should be assisting poor countries like the Solomon Islands to regrow their tropical forests and earn ETS credits. Instead international investment funds are buying up productive New Zealand farms and turning them into inefficient carbon sinks.

Climate change in one country means the spot price of New Zealand carbon credits is $76.50. The world price is just US$20.81 – Richard Prebble 

Market price signals – not politicians – should decide the best way to allocate the carbon credits.

No marketplace would ever fund a “cash for clunkers” scheme. Everywhere it has been tried the scheme has proved a very expensive rort. When my daughter was training to be a teacher and needed a car to get to her rural school on section, I bought her an old clunker. Under this scheme she could trade that old clunker, get the $10 thousand subsidy, plus help from me, and buy a new car. I could drive the new car and let her drive my old car. She no longer has that car but you can see how easy the scheme is to rort.

Similar criticisms can be made of every one of the announced initiatives.

It is old fashioned centralized planning. Saving the planet is no reason to bring back failed socialist central planning. Combating climate change is so vital it is essential we use the most powerful and successful economic tool, the free market.Richard Prebble 

When one surveys the various idiocies pursued by Western governments of late years, one cannot help but marvel at the stupidity of this branch of the human race, without immodestly guaranteeing that one would have done better than the buffoons and poltroons had we been in charge.

One of the reasons we could not guarantee this is that a condition of attaining power in modern democracies (other than insensate ambition and inner emptiness) is that those who seek power must promise six impossible things before breakfast to their credulous electorates. They must promise to square the circle, to part the Red Sea, to turn back the waves, to reconcile the irreconcilable. Afterward, they are trapped by their own rhetoric. When the circle refuses to be squared, the person who promised it becomes a figure of hate, ridicule, or contempt. It goes without saying that no electorate ever blames itself, any more than any fly blames itself for being a nuisance. –

For many years, the policy of several Western governments has been, by various subterfuges, to live beyond their means, to spread largesse they do not have, to put off the reckoning to another day, to deceive the electorate into thinking that what cannot continue will nevertheless continue, and moreover continue forever. No doubt it is economically primitive of me (by comparison, say, with the new monetary theorists), but I believe that the greatest economist who ever lived, or at least lived in a certain sense, was Mr. Micawber:Theodore Dalrymple

To be frank, climate change is not high on my list of prioritise personally. I’m not a denier, I just don’t care terribly.

So, I’m not unhappy about this announcement today, because I feel like I’ve dodged a cost bullet again.

But I do wonder what the heck they’ve been up to if it’s taken them this long to pull together a plan that has no plan in it.  – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Since Grant Robertson became minister of finance, government spending has gone up 68 percent. With all of the growth forecasts slashed and most of the increased tax revenues spent, there is little in the Budget that shows the government is doing anything to stop the country from going backwards.

Granting everybody’s wishes may be fun, but it is unsustainable.Brigette Morten

Labour’s failure to order the Covid vaccine on time looks to have cost the average Kiwi household around $7000. Don’t worry. That average household has already forked out around $5500 in extra taxes to help pay for it. We’ll pay the rest later. – Matthew Hooton

In Auckland in particular, the preventable lockdown also drove more family businesses broke, ruined a second school year for tens of thousands of students and worsened already fragile mental health.

Yet no one in the Beehive or the bureaucracy has even apologised for the failure to begin our mass vaccination programme six months earlier.Matthew Hooton

The vaccine fiasco underlines that it is more often managerial competence than the amount of your money ministers boast they are spending that determines the efficacy of government programmes. Government didn’t ignore Pfizer’s 2020 offer because it was underfunded but because it was gormless.

Yesterday, Robertson boasted that he plans to spend more money than any of his predecessors. For 2022/23 alone, core Crown spending is now picked to be $127.1b, up another $6.9b over what was estimated as recently as December, already factoring in Robertson’s planned $6b of extra spending. This is not a sign of success but of failure, or at least that things are going wrong.

The increase over the December forecast is an extra $3500 per household. In 2022/23, Robertson now expects to spend $35.9b more than he and his predecessor Steven Joyce did in 2017/18. That is a 45 per cent increase, or nearly $20,000 per household.

To pay for it, Robertson estimates he will collect over $14,000 more per household in tax than he and Joyce did together in 2017/18. By the middle of next year, each household will carry over $50,000 more in net core Crown debt than when Robertson took the job — and debt will grow again in 2023/24. – Matthew Hooton

But if ministers, the media and the public continue to see increased government spending as a sign of success, not failure, then future finance ministers should do nothing. Demographics alone will allow them to boast big increases in spending, yet with no improvement in access, services or outcomes. – Matthew Hooton

The lesson from the 45 per cent increase in spending over which Robertson has presided is that the Government is taxing and borrowing quite enough. It has more than enough money to do a reasonable job at providing the services and support expected of it. But none of those services and support will in fact get better until the conversation turns to competence — and where governments at least apologise for things like unnecessary multibillion-dollar lockdowns. – Matthew Hooton

Here I am with my pronouns – Cactus Kate NPUWYWS (not putting up with your woke shit). Bite that as a pronoun.Cactus Kate

Government spending has increased by 66 per cent since Labour came into Government. That means that they are spending $51 billion more than in 2017. I really want to repeat that. $51 billion. The Labour Government won’t be worried that I repeated that number, because most of you don’t think in billions and so you won’t be too bothered because the number is so big it is unrecognisable to the average person.

So let’s make it relatable. That is $10,000 per New Zealander. Yes, you have paid $10,000. So far. Well actually they have borrowed most of that, so your kids and grandkids will have to pay that back. When people say that spending $145 million on consultants at our transport agency Waka Kotahi is chump change, you’re the chump. – Paula Bennett

There are a whole lot of things going up under this Government. The number of kids not regularly attending school has gone up. Not your problem as you’re a good parent who can afford to read Premium? Well, it is as those kids are disengaged from society, some illiterate as they haven’t learnt the basics, they are going to be problems in the future. At best they will spend a lot of time on welfare, at worst they will join the growing crime spree as they feel they have nothing to lose.Paula Bennett

Pattrick knows how to include her research so that it’s a background wash rather than a foreground blob. – David Hill

Yes this inflation is not temporary, it is not “transitory”. New Zealand will NOT be achieving its agreed inflation target, not even remotely, over the “medium term”. My question is: since when can a Finance Minister and a Reserve Bank Governor put their signatures to an “agreed” course of action, then willfully ignore it? In monetary economics, we call it a loss of credibility.Robert MacCulloch

Democracy fails when a government is not honest about what it believes are the issues, why they want change and what they propose to do.

Honesty in the issues is a vital first step.

Instead, the Government leapfrogs this and moves straight into expensive and incoherent advertising spending.

Without a clear idea of what the Government wants to say, the ads vary from childish through unbelievable to what a load of rubbish. – Hilary Calvert

The truth however is that many of the waters of New Zealand are fine. There are some that are below standard, and the Government has made rules for local government to require the levels to be lifted so that all reach the required standards. For the areas where there are issues of the local populations not being able to afford the changes required, the Government can provide money to improve the water, with or without oversight or control of how the money is spent.

We are left wondering what the problem is the Government sees which makes them think the answer is an opaque multi-level bureaucracy replacing local control of water. – Hilary Calvert

When we ask the next question around how and why this will lead to better water, the responses suggest that the top level involvement of our tangata whenua is a pivotal part of the proposal. How this relates to the sparkliness remains unclear.

This lack of honesty is particularly dangerous to democracy.

We need to talk about the role of Maori in our government structures. We need to be mindful of our obligations under the Treaty. And it would be great to clarify what people feel comfortable with before the local government reforms.

Our way forward with all New Zealand paddling in roughly the same direction in our unique fleet of waka will be pivotal to our wellbeing and achievements as a nation in the future. – Hilary Calvert

The Government was prepared to work on what it described as a high-trust model for Covid funding. Yet somehow it is extremely coy about trusting us with information about fundamental changes to the governance and control of our entire country.

The Government not coming clean about its agenda is a danger to democracy.

These conversations are important to have.

There is no right outcome, only an outcome which comes through proper democratic processes.

We need to abandon attempts at persuasion through propaganda thinly disguised as factual information.Hilary Calvert

The Government is silent about how democracy can work with co-governance with no inbuilt majority process.

If we don’t understand the basis of the issue we can’t contribute thoughtfully to talk of solutions and we risk confusion and stupid outcomes.

We can do better. We can and should defend democracy. We are still a smart and reasonably educated people.

We should be trusted with the facts and the ability to work through possible outcomes.

New Zealand is too small to be stupid. – Hilary Calvert

The energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine disabused many politicians of the notion that the world could make a swift transition to green energy powered by solar, wind and wishful thinking. As food prices skyrocket and the conflict threatens a global food crisis, we need to face another unpopular reality: Organic farming is ineffective, land hungry and very expensive, and it would leave billions hungry if it were embraced world-wide. 

The rise in food prices—buoyed by increased fertilizer, energy and transport costs—amid the conflict in Ukraine has exposed inherent flaws in the argument for organic farming. Because organic agriculture shirks many of the scientific advancements that have allowed farmers to increase crop yields, it’s inherently less efficient than conventional farming. – Bjorn Lomborg

A small country depends on our ability to sell stuff to the world with clear rules that everyone follows. The alternative is a trading world tilted to the powerful, where we’re forced to take sides and we survive by transferring wealth to our economic masters. – Josie Pagani

The explosion in trade mirrored almost exactly an unprecedented decline in extreme global poverty.

Despite record levels of international trade last year, that pace of growth is slowing. Slower growth in globalisation has coincided with slower progress in reducing poverty.

While we welcome the US commitment to security in the Pacific, there is a gaping lack of a real trade and economic agenda.

Without market access, the US cannot hope to counter Chinese influence in the region. – Josie Pagani

There is nothing a strong government likes more than a weak people; and therefore, whether consciously or not, everything is done to render the people ever feebler. Not physically, of course, we are raising up giants of a size and strength never before seen, as can be seen on any sports field, but psychologically—which is why psychology is the handmaiden of soft authoritarianism, it teaches people their vulnerability.

The more vulnerable people can be induced to believe themselves to be, the more they need assistance to keep themselves going. Such assistance (which is self-justifying, though never sufficient, or indeed even partially effective) requires a vast legal and other infrastructure, put in place and regulated by the government. The government is the pastor, the people are the sheep.Theodore Dalrymple

Are men now like sugar that dissolves in the slightest moisture? It seems so. Surely at one time men could have withstood or laughed off an insult or two without bursting into tears or seeking compensation for the terrible trauma to their ego that such an insult did. Of course, where a perceived harm is actionable at law, more such harm will be perceived. It is an established fact that in countries in which whiplash injuries as a result of car collisions are not legally actionable, people do not suffer from the kind of whiplash injuries that they experience when there is the possibility of compensation. The real cause of whiplash, then, is not accident but tort law, and it is the lawyers whom the sufferers from it should be suing, not the people who ran into the back of their cars. – Theodore Dalrymple

The more lawyers we train, the worse things get. As the French Revolution amply proved, underemployed and disgruntled lawyers are a very dangerous class, and they therefore have to be employed somehow. What better way of doing so than by promulgating a constant deluge of ever-changing regulations and ensuring that a population is made of eggshells? The proliferation of helplines (most of which are exceptionally busy today, that is to say whenever you ring them) indicates this.Theodore Dalrymple

Better a society of cheats than one of informers. The fact is that informers are not thinking of the betterment of society but of settling scores with those they inform upon, or they take a malicious pleasure from inflicting discomfiture on others. – Theodore Dalrymple

Such qualities as resilience and fortitude are the deadliest enemies of any modern government bureaucracy.Theodore Dalrymple

In the city, you’ve got consistency, convenience and control,” says Lim. “When we lived in Auckland, we got My Food Bag delivered, or you could pop out to the shops and get something when you felt like it and very quickly. Down here, it’s the complete opposite. Nature dictates when you’re going to have it and how much you are going to have. There isn’t any consistency. You just have to work with what you’ve got. – Nadia Lim

 I didn’t necessarily want to be on a big farm, I would have been quite happy on a lifestyle block, but Carlos wanted to do the proper farming thing.

“And I always felt, more so probably in the past five years, this overwhelming sense of responsibility to not only be part of the process of preparing food – teaching people how to cook and use these ingredients – but to also be part of the process of how the ingredients get to your plate. How you grow your food, how you raise it . . . I want to complete the full cycle.Nadia Lim

There is no black and white. I don’t buy into the idea of people saying farmers should do things this way, or that way. There are far too many variables and there are pros and cons to all systems, whether they be conventional or organic or spray-free or regenerative.

“People watch documentaries or read an article, and of course humans like things to be made simple . . . I can 100 per cent put my heart on the line and tell you it’s not. – Nadia Lim

When it comes to growing food, to me it is the most simple, natural thing in the world – there is no such thing as an ecosystem that does not have plants AND animals in it. It’s not as simple as ‘livestock bad, plant good’. It comes down to who is helping curate the balance of the two.Nadia Lim

Our leaders need to stand up, back our police and give them all the support and resource they need to keep us safe. It does not help when leaders like our current mayor reportedly state that there is a perception that our city isn’t safe. It is not a perception, Mayor Goff, that is insulting to the woman cowering in her own lounge as bullets explode around her property.

The violence can no longer be ignored by the Government and by us. It is no longer something that is happening among them – it is happening to us. – Paula Bennett

I worry when my kids are in town, I hate them going in there. They tell me town was OK, “only about 3 fights,” that they witnessed.

So just the 20 bullet holes, the 3 fights (that we know of), and the suburbs filled with opportunists hitting people up for cash.

Welcome to Auckland – what a cool place to live.Kate Hawkesby

As I’ve been pointing out now for a couple of years, the obvious gap in the plans of our betters for a carbon-free “net zero” energy future is the problem of massive-scale energy storage. How exactly is New York City (for example) going to provide its citizens with power for a long and dark full-week period in the winter, with calm winds, long nights, and overcast days, after everyone has been required to change over to electric heat and electric cars — and all the electricity is supposed to come from the wind and sun, which are neither blowing nor shining for these extended periods? Can someone please calculate how much energy storage will be needed to cover a worst-case solar/wind drought, what it will consist of, how long it has to last, how much it will cost, and whether it is economically feasible? Nearly all descriptions by advocates of the supposed path to “net zero” — including the ambitious plans of the states of New York and California — completely gloss over this issue and/or deal with it in a way demonstrating total incompetence and failure to comprehend the problem. – Francis Menton

Bottom line: I’m not trusting anybody’s so-called “model” to prove that this gigantic energy transformation is going to work. Show me the demonstration project that actually works.

They won’t. Indeed, there is not even an attempt to put such a thing together, even as we hurtle down the road to “net zero” without any idea how it is going to work.Francis Menton

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is backfiring for Russia on every front. For now, it has given the EU an advantage. How Brussels will use it may be a different matter.- Oliver Hartwich

Win $2 million in Lotto and you’re celebrated. Earn $2 million busting your arse to help other people and you’re criticised. Welcome to New Zealand.Lani Fogelberg

Someone could be busting their arse in a business capacity and the good they’ve done won’t be celebrated. There will be an undertone that encourages people to envy them or ask why they should have $2m? But they may have worked hard and gone through quite a lot to have a genuine contribution. – Lani Fogelberg

The tall poppy syndrome here is worse than in Australia. The responses are pretty aggressive and it’s getting worse. If you’re successful in business, people treat you well to your face but behind your back, it’s different. They don’t want to be associated with successful people; rather than being celebrated, they’re viewed as someone not to hang out with.Lani Fogelberg

A lot of New Zealanders think the only way you can be successful is using other poor people, walking over them for their own profitability and benefit, that’s the mindset of this country because we’re taught everyone must be equal. – Lani Fogelberg

My God! The amount of shit you get for owning a Ferrari. I’m a petrolhead. It’s no different to a woman being passionate about fashion.Lani Fogelberg

In the Great Game of the 21st century, face-to-face diplomacy is perhaps the single most valuable tool – as Australia’s Penny Wong and China’s Wang Yi successfully demonstrated over the past week. The global geopolitical temperature is steadily rising. New Zealand needs to ensure it can withstand the heat. – Geoffrey Miller

 Humanism valorizes the individual—and with good reason; we are each the hero of our own story. Not only is one’s individual sovereignty more essential to the humanist project than one’s group affiliation, but fighting for individual freedom—which includes freedom of conscience, speech, and inquiry—is part of the writ-large agenda of humanism. It unleashes creativity and grants us the breathing space to be agents in our own lives.

Or at least that idea used to be at the core of humanism.

Today, there is a subpart of humanists, identitarians, who are suspicious of individuals and their freedoms. They do not want a free society if it means some people will use their freedom to express ideas with which they disagree. They see everything through a narrow affiliative lens of race, gender, ethnicity, or other demographic category and seek to shield groups that they see as marginalized by ostensible psychic harms inflicted by the speech of others.Robyn E. Blumner

 Rather than lifting up individuals and imbuing them with autonomy and all the extraordinary uniqueness that flows from it, identitarians would divide us all into racial,  ethnic,  and  gender-based groups and make that group affiliation our defining characteristic. This has the distorting effect of obliterating personal agency, rewarding group victimhood, and incentivizing competition to be seen as the most oppressed.

In addition to being inherently divisive, this is self-reinforcing defeatism. It results in extreme examples, such as a draft plan in California to deemphasize calculus as a response to persistent racial gaps in math achievement.2 Suddenly a subject as racially neutral as math has become a flashpoint for identitarians set on ensuring equality of outcomes for certain groups rather than the far-more just standard of equality of opportunity. In this freighted environment, reducing the need for rigor and eliminating challenging standards becomes a feasible solution. The notion of individual merit or recognition that some students are better at math than others becomes racially tinged and suspect.

Not only does the truth suffer under this assault on common sense, but we start to live in a Harrison Bergeron world where one’s natural skills are necessarily sacrificed on the altar of equality or, in today’s parlance, equity. – Robyn E. Blumner

But nobody should be under any illusion: the Government’s ongoing stimulatory fiscal policy is contributing to the need for the Reserve Bank to increase interest rates, something which the Treasury warned the Minister just weeks before the Budget when the Minister decided he wanted to dole out some cash sweeteners to help low income New Zealanders with the cost of living.

It’s like a car being driven with one foot on the brake and the other on the accelerator – the more the Government stimulates the economy with fiscal policy, the harder the Reserve Bank will need to apply the brakes of higher interest rates.Don Brash 


Takers or makers

24/05/2022

This is a government of takers.

They took away our freedom and while the first Covid-19 lockdown was excusable, subsequent ones that were due to the delay in the vaccination rollout were not.

Matthew Hooton writes of the cost of last year’s extended Auckland lockdown:

. . .Then, in late August, our still largely unvaccinated population was hit by Delta. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had no choice but to order what became the long lockdown of 2021/22. It contributed to yesterday’s Budget Economic and Fiscal Update (BEFU) estimating Robertson will end up spending $128.4b to get us through 2021/22.

That’s $13.7b more, or over $7000 for each of New Zealand’s estimated 1.9 million households. The “good news” is that Robertson expects to collect an extra $10.6b in tax this financial year compared with the forecast a year ago, or around $5500 more per household.

Inflation is one reason why, fuelled by both monetary and fiscal stimulus being needed for much longer than if we had been vaccinated before Delta arrived.

That, of course, is only the start of the cost. In Auckland in particular, the preventable lockdown also drove more family businesses broke, ruined a second school year for tens of thousands of students and worsened already fragile mental health.

Yet no one in the Beehive or the bureaucracy has even apologised for the failure to begin our mass vaccination programme six months earlier. . . 

The late rollout also took some of the freedoms we were promised over summer, people without vaccine passes were barred from a lot of places, numbers were restricted for weddings, funerals and other events; and we were all still supposed to sign in.

And let’s not forget taking the freedom to come and go from New Zealand that grounded so many Kiwis overseas, kept others here,  locked out families and friends, is still keeping some migrant families apart and restricting employers ability to get migrant workers.

Then there’s Three Waters and the very real threat that they’ll take away both the assets and control from local authorities and rural water schemes.

And the biggest take away is money  in higher taxes, higher costs through more regulations, and worst of all the loss we’re all having to bear because of inflation that’s adding to the cost of everything and eroding the real value of savings.

Not content with that the government is looking at how to take more from the wealthy, in spite of a promise there would be no new taxes and no wealth tax.

Just think how much better off we’d all be, individually and collectively if they put as much thought in how they could help us to make more instead of how they could take more.

This is a government of takers. The country desperately needs one that understands and supports makers.


Quotes of the month

01/04/2022

The absolute low point of the past three years was the public’s passive acceptance of the imposed nanny state. The “Team of five million” and “Be Kind” mantras belong in kindergartens. For me they were unbelievable. I was ashamed to be a New Zealander as common sense went out the window. The Be Kind childishness was particularly outrageous given the unbelievably cruel, unnecessary and illegal prohibition on thousands of Kiwis prevented from returning home, in numerous cases to farewell dying family members. – Sir Bob Jones

 Ardern is not a communist and its pretty stupid to argue that she is. In the continuum of recent Labour Party leaders I would see her as governing in the Norman Kirk/David Lange tradition … full of well meaning but half baked ideas but totally bereft of any understanding of how the economy actually works … and that will be her downfall along with her embrace of of separatist agenda laid out in He Puapua.The Veteran

The most important lesson from the invasion of Ukraine is that we have to be willing to defend our freedom. If we are not, no one else will do it for us. – Richard Prebble

The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride – President Volodymyr Zelensky  

We are the people who can run the economy well … but I also want them to understand we care deeply about people. – Christopher Luxon

In the midst of war, what an uplifting week it’s been in terms of a world that, despite all its many worries, can still largely unite and offer hope. 

Never in my lifetime have I seen such a coordinated, effective, and immediate response to a crisis.  – Mike Hosking

This country should have, could have done more. Two million dollars for aid. As Mark Mitchell said Wednesday, the mongrel mob got more. God forbid, we should be like Australia and fund weaponry. Why help save a country when you can give them blankets when they are displaced?

But most of the world got it, and did something good about it. Thus, proving that in the right time and for the right reasons, we are all still on each other’s side.  – Mike Hosking

After the current price spike caused by bureaucratic incompetence, RATs will soon be ordinary low-cost supermarket items found alongside the Panadol, Tampax, Gillette and Rexona in the toiletries aisle.

As with everything else, Foodstuffs, Countdown and The Warehouse will do an incomparably better job than the Ministry of Health and MBIE at making sure stocks don’t run out. Matthew Hooton

Even were New Zealand at its peak today, we should assume the new normal involves thousands of new daily infections and dozens of people with Covid in hospital for the foreseeable future. But very few will die, even if the authorities continue to count people who are murdered, killed in car crashes or are diagnosed with stage four lung cancer as Covid deaths because they test positive posthumously. – Matthew Hooton

There will be a hangover in the form of inflation, higher interest rates and rising unemployment. The silver lining is that inflation will reduce the value of the $60 billion Grant Robertson borrowed over the past two years, even as the nominal cost of servicing rises.

Consequently, expect governments and central banks to let inflation go higher and stick around for longer than they currently pretend. It’s politically safer to invisibly tax the poor with inflation and the middle class with bracket creep than to transparently raise marginal rates. – Matthew Hooton

For ALMOST two years, we – the press and the population – have been almost hypnotically preoccupied with the authorities’ daily coronatal. THE CONSTANT mental alertness has worn out tremendously on all of us. That is why we – the press – must also take stock of our own efforts. And we have failed.Brian Weichardt

WE HAVE NOT been vigilant enough at the garden gate when the authorities were required to answer what it actually meant that people are hospitalized with corona and not because of corona. Because it makes a difference. A big difference. Exactly, the official hospitalization numbers have been shown to be 27 percent higher than the actual figure for how many there are in the hospital, simply because they have corona. We only know that now.

OF COURSE, it is first and foremost the authorities who are responsible for informing the population correctly, accurately and honestly. The figures for how many are sick and died of corona should, for obvious reasons, have been published long ago. – Brian Weichardt

There is no more weaselly expression in the modern lexicon than “identifies as,” which inherently emphasizes feelings over facts. I can identify as a nice person, but that does not mean that I am a nice person. Indeed, if most people who meet me abominate me, my self-identification as a nice person means nothing except (if I truly believe it) that I am deluded.

Asking people what they identify as is the natural consequence of what might be called the psychology and philosophy of the real me. The real me has nothing to do with the merely external me, the me that other people perceive through my conduct, manners, conversation, etc. The real me is a kind of homunculus who lives inside the merely apparent me, who preserves his innocence no matter what the apparent me may say or do. This is a very liberating psychological and philosophical conception of human life, because it means that a person can retain his belief in his essential goodness while behaving appallingly—as most of us would be naturally inclined to do from time to time.Theodore Dalrymple

Multiculturalism—as an ideology, not as a fact—is another promoter, excuser, and rationalization of bad behavior. All you have to say to excuse your bad behavior is that it is part of your culture. Since there is no way to rank cultures, all being equal, your behavior is placed beyond criticism. And of course, if you must uncritically accept the cultures of other people, other people must accept uncritically what you claim to be your culture.

Everyone knows that cultures change, but almost any mass behavior soon falls under the rubric of culture. I was once the de facto vulgarity correspondent of a British newspaper that was not itself totally foreign to the charms of vulgarity, but which simultaneously thundered against vulgarity in others. The newspaper would send me to wherever young British people were gathering and behaving in vulgar fashion, so it was spoiled for choice, the British being not merely vulgar, but militantly vulgar, as if vulgarity were an ideology. – Theodore Dalrymple

That is why licentiousness and puritanism coexist in our societies, not so much in equilibrium as in a violently seesawing manner. We reprobate pedophilia and sexualize children from an early age. We demand that everyone watches his tongue while the vilest abuse is the common language of discussion and dispute. I demand the freedom to express myself, but that you shut up if what you say offends me.

“Identifying as” is an expression that would be used only in a society of mass egotism, in which the self is an object of auto-idolatry.Theodore Dalrymple

Our obsession with ideological causes, in the absence of clear supporting (multivariate – and multidisciplinary) evidence, and our willingness to sacrifice the needs of higher achievers in order to equalize educational outcomes, guarantee the progressive erosion of educational standards… if you cannot lift achievement at the bottom, then lower it at the top.  The deleterious effect of this on higher achieving students, on education at large, and its ultimate effect on our economy, are considered worthy sacrifices if greater social cohesion is the end result. The fact that it makes us all materially poorer seems of little consequence.  Social cohesion remains elusive due to systemic denial of the real causes of social breakdown and dysfunction. – Caleb Anderson

In this time of distress, that’s the light, the human spirit that is so much alive. Nir Zohar

Finally and while Russia will win the war they will lose the peace. 43,192.122 Ukrainians will never forget or forgive while, for much of the world, Russia will become a pariah state whose word is never to be trusted. The madman Putin has much to answer for … not the least to his own people. – The Veteran

Science has a hard time keeping up with the data. Nature reports results of a large trial on RATs. Plus side: they seem pretty accurate. Downside: data’s all from the first half of 2021, on a variant that’s no longer prevalent, with little sense of whether the results hold with Omicron. Omicron seems to express in saliva before nasal passages, and the RATs generally take nasal swabs. Remember how, when I used to think there was some point in trying to help get to better policy on Covid, I’d rabbit on about trialling different testing methods side-by-side in MIQ as horseraces? We could totally have known, right now, relative performance of a bucket of different RATs against both swab and saliva PCR, for Omicron. Government is just so hopeless. Eric Crampton

As Prime Minister in a pandemic, she ultimately decides just about everything we can do. She can decide to shut shops, close schools, cancel events, keep us confined to home. She even decides what is best for our health. But she doesn’t get to decide what defines us. Not all of us. – John Roughan 

When a Prime Minister on half a million dollars a year tells people on less than 10 per cent of that there isn’t a crisis, the “let them eat cake ” cloak of arrogance is draped ominously on her shoulders.

There is no doubt, we have a cost-of-living crisis, we live it every day.Mike Hosking

The ANZ this week is forecasting inflation to peak at 7.5 per cent. Are wages going to rise at anywhere close to that level? Of course not.

We are going backwards at a rate of knots, if you hear different from this government they are either fudging figures or straight-up misleading you. – Mike Hosking

Non-tradeable inflation, that’s the stuff we create locally, is the second-highest in the world, they can’t hide from that.

Their spending, their borrowing, their scattergun distribution of cash they never had around the non-productive parts of the economy, is now coming back to haunt them.Mike Hosking

National, with tax cuts on offer, will let you decide more of your own economic outlook, while Ardern and Robertson will tell you they know better.

With one speech and one line, in less than a week, Luxon can sit out his self isolation knowing he has turned the tide on his election chances. He has policy alternatives, and he has a government looking removed and out of touch, with a leader pretending what’s in front of every single one of us isn’t real. – Mike Hosking

 It is clear now that the issues around vaccination were but the catalyst for the expression of a deeper sense of grievance and anger that has been building up over recent years. That is what needs to be addressed to prevent similar events breaking out in the future. But that argument will not be won by telling those who oppose vaccination and mandates that they are part of an ill-informed minority rabble, any more than putting a wall around Parliament will stop other protests in the future.Peter Dunne

 There is a significant group of people who feel left out, and increasingly shut out, of what is happening in our country. This runs deeper than just those politically opposed to the present government. Rather, it is a group that feels out of step with all governments, whatever their political complexion.

We need urgently to depolarise politics. That does not mean diminishing the strength of political convictions, but rather, softening the intolerant fervour that increasingly seems to accompany them. – Peter Dunne

Telling people that their views are crackpot and ill-informed, not shared by the mainstream of the population, and refusing to engage with the protest leaders merely fuels their discontent. Likewise, dismissing those who called for a more reasoned approach as basically supporters of the protestors was as incendiary as the petrol and gas heaped on Parliament’s playground last week.

It should be no surprise at all that people who think their backs are being pushed unreasonably against a wall eventually react. And the greater the perceived pressure, the greater the reaction. What is surprising is the belief that telling them they are plain wrong and should therefore go home, will lead to their meekly doing so. Such moral sanctity in a society that likes to parade its diversity when it suits is just humbug.Peter Dunne

The right to dissent must always be upheld in a free society, and, alongside that, the right to promote minority viewpoints protected, as long they are not in defiance of the law or encouraging lawlessness. That should be an absolute given, not the contestable debating point it is seen to be today.

When I was at school a valuable principle was ingrained in me – I have the right to be right, and the right to be wrong. It seems to me that until that principle is more universally applied and accepted, whatever the issue, or however strongly it may be felt, we have no guarantee that the abhorrent events that came to a head last week in Wellington will not occur again. – Peter Dunne

Since this government has come to power, despite all the lovely words and jawboning, on home ownership the average price is up $350,000. Rents are up $7,300 on the same house you were renting four years ago and in state housing we have a four-fold increase, up to 25,000. Last night we had 4,500 kids in motels and emergency accommodations. We’ve got challenges.”

“This government hasn’t managed the housing situation at all, they’ve made it worse. By a dramatic amount, in every aspect, they’ve made it worse. We live in a country the size of Great Britain or Japan, with far fewer people and much higher house prices. This is a problem completely of our own making.Christopher Luxon

The world is taking off big time. Some countries have come through Covid and are looking at how to put the afterburners on. They are thinking quite intently and purposefully about the country they want to see emerge. Others have become so obsessed with Covid, as we have, and haven’t got a sense of direction, of where we’re going. And to be honest, there is no reason to come here at the moment. It’s not an attractive place, you know. The world is moving on and we are playing a very fearful, very small, very inward game. – Christopher Luxon

In short, real freedom is fettered freedom. Your freedom to swing your fist must end before it hits my nose. The reduction or removal of the government mandate would not end the fetters.  – Bryce Wilkinson

One question New Zealanders might ask is what position the country would be in regarding oil and gas supply if the Ardern Government hadn’t stopped enabling new exploration of oil and gas in 2017.  Removing this ban today would have no effect, as it takes years to invest, explore and gain any results, but had it happened in 2017, then there might have been a contribution to global supply. The Ardern Government has deliberately decided to constrain supply of oil and gas, not on economic grounds, not even considering national security, but to virtue signal. – Liberty Scott

My view has always been that there are several reasons for our high inflation, but big government spending in an overheating economy is certainly one of them, and the one the Government can most quickly bring under control.

We should provide tax relief to New Zealanders on the way through, whilst also reining in government spending through a focus on discipline and quality investment.Simon Bridges

The Dunedin and Christchurch studies suggest children are remarkably resilient if faced with one or two life challenges in their first two decades. What causes permanent harm is the so-called cocktail of disadvantage. That means children in stable homes and good schools should cope, but Covid will be the last nip in the shaker for the less privileged. – Matthew Hooton

Turns out that dealing with Covid is difficult when you can’t just throw up the borders, keep it out and let life continue basically normally here. People get tired of changing rules, restrictions and just Covid more generally. In focus groups, there have been niggles over various things for several months. Luke Malpass

In fact, it turns out that the “this” in “let’s do this” was not the communism her more deranged opponents claim, but – from the perspective of the under 30s who backed her so strongly in 2017 – something along the political spectrum closer towards kleptocracy. As a small example, I have personally gained more, tax-free, under Ardern’s Government, without having to work for it, than under any New Zealand Government before. – Matthew Hooton

Yet even as all of this happens, we need to ask ourselves how we got into this situation. How we arrived in a world in which defending people from supposedly offensive words is considered more important than defending our borders. In which we seem to have so little need for the virtue of ‘strength’ that we’re willing to blacklist the word itself for being gendered and stereotypical. This is where the Ukraine war really confronts us. It interrupts, violently, our post-Cold War conceits. It upends our belief that history, in Europe at least, is largely settled, and now we can concern ourselves with petty things like pronouns and sexual identity or with purposely overblown, mission-creating projects for the technocratic elite, like the ‘climate emergency’. This conceit has impacted on almost every facet of public life in recent decades, nurturing the delusion that ours is a post-war, post-borders, post-everything continent, in which the highest aim of public life is either to manage the public or validate individual identities. Those bombs in Ukraine have shattered this Western arrogance and decadence by reminding us that history lives.Brendan O’Neill

As well as living in an age of emotionalism, we live in a time of tribal politics. And these are a strange sort of tribal politics. They are no longer about left versus right, but more about feeling versus reason, of fashionable causes that earn you peer approval versus unfashionable causes that don’t. – Patrick West

To put it crudely, on one side today we have those who channel their feelings, instincts and fear into their worldview, and those who are circumspect and rational – and we are damned for it.Patrick West

 Is Jacinda Ardern a megalomaniac?

Whatever the answer, we know that not only does New Zealand’s Prime Minister have what has been described as libido dominandi, a desire for power, she is also presiding over the most incompetent, destructive government in our history. Its thoroughly anti-democratic attacks on that vital principle of equality for all, under the law, show no sign of diminishing. – Amy Brooke

New Zealanders are suffering under a government viewed as further to the left of socialism and financially incompetent, with Ardern regarded as sly and evasive when it comes to answering questions she dislikes. In spite of her charm offensive, more media are risking her displeasure by voicing concern about the inappropriateness of so many of the control policies widely imposed. Only now reversed, for example, is forcing fully-vaccinated, well people from overseas to enter expensive quarantine facilities while Omicron rampages throughout the country!

The Ardern government’s provision of superior, unprecedented rights for part-Maori who belong to powerful, immensely wealthy, neo-tribal corporations was a factor bringing so many to protest at Parliament recently. Although it was pilloried as run by anti-vaxxers and others against vaccination mandates, the majority of the crowd – apart from an inevitable mob element – was there to protest against the loss of so many of our freedoms. – Amy Brooke

So much for the constant invoking of kindness and well-being, falling so readily from the lips of our leader. One thing was constantly obvious – Arden’s antipathy to those worried enough to voice their concerns. She simply told them to go away. And now our power-wedded leader is thinking of extending the confusing traffic light control system over the country – to cope with the possible emergence of flu this winter. New Zealanders have only just begun to protest. – Amy Brooke

We can all bring sweetness and goodness into our world, even small things like a smile to a passerby, feeding the birds, care for thirsty trees and drooping plants,  a bowl of water by the gate for thirsty dogs and other creatures, acknowledgement of the careful pattern on top of our freshly made coffee to the barista, these tiny things can mean a quality of life, actions which can bring softness into the harsh times in which we find ourselves. Small happinesses which we can give to others, usually make us happy too. And the light of gratitude we feel when we recognise the beauty and bountifulness of nature and the world  – these are the  things that can uplift us –  remind us of the miracle of life which can overcome fear, depression or anxiety.Valerie Davies

It was dear old Samwise in Lord of The Rings who said,
“But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.  Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer”.
Let us hope so. Even the shattered ruins of Leningrad have been transformed into the golden glory of St Petersburg with the passing of time. Let us hope that the devastation we see now will be healed in a real peace between nations whose people do not want to fight – that this Will pass and a new day Will come. And the light of the sun will shine on us all. – Valerie Davies

Jacinda Ardern “rejects” so much these days that New Zealanders are in danger of forgetting what she stands for. Fran O’Sullivan

One of the problems with Western society that has made it not only appear to be, but actually to be decadent, is what might be called its umbilicism, the habit of navel-gazing as if there were no world exterior to itself. Only navel-gazers could imagine that questions raised by transgenderism are serious. The West pretends to multiculturalism but has no real interest in developments outside its own borders. Like spoiled children growing up in the lap of luxury, it can’t imagine a world that doesn’t respond to its whims, let alone that threatens it, and this despite its catastrophic history almost within living memory. The failure of the imagination is almost total.

When authoritarian leaders of powerful countries see statues erected to a man merely because he was killed by a policeman and sanctified though he had led a thoroughly bad and indeed vicious life, they must surely think that the West is an overripe fruit that needs only a little shake to drop from the tree, incapable as it appears to be of distinguishing between a minor event and a major threat. For them, a serious country is one that can lock up thousands if not millions of its citizens with impunity, control access to information, and arm itself to the teeth, with or without impoverishing the entire nation.

Our challenge is to prove them wrong. For all our faults, our weaknesses, our foolishness, our dishonesties, our willful blindness, our errors, our self-indulgence, our way of life is incomparably superior, at least for us, to theirs, and must be defended. The verdict on whether we have the resolve to do so is not yet in, but not all the auguries are good. – Theodore Dalrymple

So having talked myself into a corner, I have to resolve to make the place where I stand the kindest, purest, most honest and most decent place possible. I can only love my corner of the world and try to share love to add to the goodness in the world, and not get bogged down in the pain of the world.

 Philosopher Martin Buber said,”You can rake the muck this way, rake the muck that way …. In the time I am brooding over it, I could be stringing pearls for the delight of Heaven”. He’s right. Yes, brooding is a waste of time, so I will try to string pearls instead of futile brooding over the tragedy of Ukraine – pearls of love and kindness and a little laughter.Valerie Davies

When the opposition is seen as more economically competent the government always loses the election. – Richard Prebble

Inflation is deadly because the solution to inflation is even higher prices, and increased interest rates.

No prudent government lets inflation get established.Richard Prebble

Reducing the excise tax on petrol just transfers the revenue raising to a less efficient tax. There is no Covid fund. It is an accounting fiction. The roads still have to be paid for from taxes or borrowing.

More worrying is the subsidy on public transport. The advice of the OECD regarding subsidies is “do not do it”.

Subsidies are poorly targeted. The winter energy payment goes to millionaires. Those who can afford to take a bus are being subsidised by those who cannot. Subsidies once on are very hard to withdraw. There has never been a social or economic justification for subsidising Gold Card holders’ ferry trips to Waiheke Island. – Richard Prebble

We will discover we are connected to events such as a probable Russian default in ways we cannot imagine. The double-digit food price inflation is just the beginning.

What could cause the price of petrol to fall is a worldwide recession, now a real possibility.Richard Prebble

In politics, it is always later than you think. Labour has just 18 months of effective government before the next election. The way to solve inflation was a year ago, starting with increasing interest rates, 18 months ago to stop printing money, five years ago not to ban off-shore exploring for oil and gas.

Interest rates have to rise but it will not be in time to bring inflation under control before Labour faces the electorate.

The effect of interest rate rises on the mortgage belt electorates will be devastating. The Auckland median house price is $1.2 million. Last year with a 20 per cent deposit, monthly repayments on the loan at 2.50 per cent would be $3793. By election year at 5.25 per cent the repayment will be $5301.

Three months’ fuel tax relief and public transport subsidies is not going to save Labour. – Richard Prebble

To become citizens in a democracy, young people must be taught how to think rather than what to think. – Michael Johnston

What is clear though, is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to discuss contentious topics openly. To present a viewpoint at odds with those fashionable can draw opprobrium, censure and even ostracism.  –Michael Johnston

In a democracy, political ideas must not only be contestable but must actually be contested. For democracy to remain healthy, diverse viewpoints must be included and welcomed in public debate.Michael Johnston

In political discourse, the ability to make a sound argument is necessary, but it isn’t, on its own, enough to make a strong contribution to political debate. Certain dispositions are also important. Perhaps foremost amongst these is humility.

Humility entails assuming that there’s something to learn from those we disagree with. It means being open-minded and willing to alter our opinions in the light of new information. It is a quality that seems to be lacking in much of our current political discourse. Adopting a humbler stance when contesting ideas would do much to counteract our increasingly censorious and polarised political culture. – Michael Johnston

Intellectual humility needs to be modelled rather than taught explicitly. If children observe adults practising respectful, attentive and open-minded disagreement, they’re more likely to adopt that way of arguing themselves.

In a democracy, argument has a higher purpose than humiliating our opponents. That kind of argument does nothing to improve our ideas. If instead, we argue in good faith, we can discover things that we would not or could not have discovered alone. Facts, reason, humility and respect are the best guidelines for teachers interested in preserving and enhancing democracy.Michael Johnston

This has gloriously given us insight into the new merciless standards of the puritanical woke.

They would eat their own if they weren’t all vegan. – Martin Bradbury

“Co-governance” in practice is a mechanism for stealing resources that belong to all of us, irrespective of race, in order to satisfy some primeval tribal goal that rackets through the minds of the undemocratically-selected Maori partner. The message is that whenever “co-governance” is proposed, it should be met with fierce resistance. There is no desirable alternative to democracy, majority rule, unless we all want to set off down the road towards an authoritarian, unaccountable tribal world.Michael Bassett

Talking to a friend yesterday, his indifference to Ardern has mushroomed into a visceral loathing. His bristling is palpable. He is sick of being treated like a child, talked to as if he is an idiot. His words.

And when you think about it, living under Ardern has been like being back at school. Where most teachers preached conformity for your own good, or for the greater good, or for the sake of the school community.

Yet anyone who spent a moment reflecting knew that ultimately, you are on your own. You make your own way in the world. You love and look after friends and family, as they do you. But we are each an island. A self-contained intellectual entity. – Lindsay Mitchell

But the spark of human individuality cannot be suppressed indefinitely. Like the lad who mentioned the naked emperor’s actual state. Or the exceedingly brave Russian broadcaster who momentarily yelled to the tv cameras that it’s all propaganda.

Maybe, just maybe, the silver lining from the last two bewildering and stultifying years will be a re-emergence of individual independence – freedom of action, freedom of thought and freedom from fools.Lindsay Mitchell

 No-one should feel unsafe or unable to express their thoughts. That is what New Zealand had become. That place.- Lindsay Mitchell

This is New Zealand’s most conservative government of recent times. Not so much in terms of its political ideology, but more in the way it does things. Its policy prescription, admittedly constrained by New Zealand First’s negativism in the first term, and the persistence of the pandemic so far in the second, has not been at all radical or innovative. And, with half the current Parliamentary term almost over, the prospects of its being able to devise and introduce radical and innovative solutions before the next election seem very slim. Wherever possible the current government has harkened back to earlier solutions belonging to governments of the past to deal with the issues it confronts today.- Peter Dunne

 Labour’s solution to the poor performance of the District Health Board structure it created when last in office is to go back to the system that preceded it. Labour had set up the District Health Boards in 2000 to replace National’s centralised Health Funding Agency and four Regional Health Authorities. It said then it wanted to restore local democracy to health service delivery and get away from centralised decision-making. But now this Labour government is proposing to replace the elected District Health Boards with its own centralised, unelected Health New Zealand entity, supported by a Māori Health Authority and four local commissioning authorities, in a model that, but for the name changes, is virtually the same as the system it got rid of over 20 years ago.Peter Dunne

And yet more progress could have been achieved had Labour involved private-sector construction companies in its plans from the outset, as the first Labour government had done with Sir James Fletcher. But the current government was too focused on KiwiBuild houses being seen as government-built, and therefore solely to its credit, to do so. It was an early sign that the promise of transformation really meant a return to the big central government of the 1960s and 1970s. – Peter Dunne

However, the scale of borrowing to do so has been far more substantial and riskier, especially at a time of rising inflation and interest rates worldwide. Yet the government has seemed content to rely on the tactics of the Muldoon government and its predecessors and pass the repayment of the debt – about $60 billion so far – to future generations to repay. More innovative solutions could have been expected from a government committed to foundational change, let alone transformation. – Peter Dunne

The overall impression is of a very conservative and cautious government, risk averse, wary, and unwilling to devolve any responsibility to local communities or the private sector. It is determined to govern from the centre in the benign “we know best” way governments half a century ago and earlier did, overlooking that New Zealand has changed considerably since then. We are a far more pluralistic and diverse society today, unlikely to take comfortably to a return of stifling, all knowing, big central government.

The problem this has created for Labour, which the polls are starting to reflect, is among those of its supporters who genuinely believed in or were enthused by the prospect of a government of aspiration and transformation. They are now becoming disillusioned that while its rhetoric may be bold, in practice this government is no different from those that went before it. Moreover, by centralising everything again it has put itself in the position where only it can be blamed when things go wrong, or do not live up to what was promised. All that means is many of its erstwhile supporters may not be as nearly as inclined to vote for it again in 2023, as they were in 2017 and 2020. – Peter Dunne

It turns out not to be true that, at heart, all people desire only peace and will respond reasonably if you speak reason to them. The invasion of Ukraine has been, among other things, a lesson in the possibilities of human nature. The surprising thing, perhaps, is that, in Europe of all places, it is a lesson that had to be taught.Theodore Dalrymple

Be that as it may, the Russian invasion of Ukraine purportedly acted on Europe (and the United States) much as the electric current acted on the corpse of Frankenstein’s monster: it brought it back to life. Suddenly, the cobbled-together body of the west began to act as a real organism, and a powerful one at that. There is nothing like an enemy at the gates to give a bit of backbone to a weakling. The speeches of the Ukrainian president, after all, moved everyone in a way that very few speeches by contemporary politicians move anyone. The west had revealed itself to be not so feeble as supposed. – Theodore Dalrymple

While western politicians have appealed to the best in human nature, an appeal that, however insincere or hypocritical, places constraints upon them, Putin has always exploited, so far successfully (if one measures success by survival in power), the worst in it.  – Theodore Dalrymple

Blame for the failure to prepare must lie with the Ministry of Health and the Health Minister. There was no decision to urgently hire or train more staff, and no rapid move to create temporary facilities. “Plans” to upgrade hospitals to cope with Covid patients were announced just three months ago. A pronouncement six weeks ago that the Ministry was “about to start” recruiting offshore for ICU nurses was rightly ridiculed.

These failures are emblematic of the Government’s ponderous approach to almost every aspect of the health response. Provision of PPE, vaccines, RAT tests and new medications have all been very slow, and served with a diet of dissembling and obfuscation.

The ministry and the Government have been way too reliant on the generosity of New Zealanders in accepting restrictions on their freedoms to “avoid putting pressure on the health system”, where too often it has really been about avoiding pressure on themselves. – Steven Joyce

There is nothing you can point to that will improve patient care, nor even a funding formula. Just lots of shallow statements about “fixing the health system”. Oh, and a half-billion-dollar-and-counting price tag.

It was ever thus. Incessant rounds of reforms at the top of the system end up leaving the same people in charge and no plan to improve patient care. – Steven Joyce

I’m all in favour of a greater range of health providers including Māori health providers, who often do a better job of reaching their communities. But it doesn’t make sense that a health provider with the country’s largest number of Māori and Pacific people enrolled gets paid less per patient than one which is Māori-owned. Funding according to the ownership of the supplier means patients miss out.

Similarly we shouldn’t be prioritising provision through government-owned suppliers as we did in the early stages of vaccine rollout, when GP’s in private practice and pharmacists were left on the sidelines. How was that good for patients? – Steven Joyce

Changes are needed in health to make the sector more robust so it can deliver more to New Zealanders. Reform that provides more patient-centred care and a larger workforce will make a difference. Reform with a big price tag that just rearranges the bureaucracy won’t. Unfortunately, the Government is serving up the latter. Steven Joyce

We voters only care about the short term. And our politicians only care about keeping us happy. They’re not nimble or urgent. They’re cowardly.

But ask yourself this: regardless of your political stripes, wouldn’t you prefer a government to be led by its principles than by the polls?

A society deserves the leaders it elects. Once again, Jacinda Ardern’s Government has shown it’s more interested in doing what is popular than what is right.  – Jack Tame

The line between fact and fiction has become thin. In their second term, Labour has become adept at downplaying their mistakes, discrediting those who criticise, encouraging misinformation and diverting attention from bad news, while wrapping themselves in meaningless cultural signals.Andrea Vance 

Politicians are enabled to gaslight us because of the torrent of information in our digital age. Who has time to fact-check every statement? And at a time when every press conference or speech is live-streamed, most of these confident assertions go unchecked.

We shrug off the lies because in a post-Trump world we no longer expect truthfulness, integrity or decency. The most pressing problems: hardship, climate change, the viability of our health systems, are too big to contemplate, so we happily accept slogans over real solutions.

All this gaslighting is enough to make you feel slightly insane. Which, I suppose, is the point. But the insanity would be in continuing to tolerate it. – Andrea Vance 

Media freedom is one of the crucial defining differences between a liberal democratic state and a totalitarian one. Put simply, it can be described as the right to know. It’s arguably at least as important as the right to vote, since a vote is pointless if it’s not an informed one.Karl du Fresne

But here’s the extraordinary thing. In 2022 the independence of the New Zealand media is jeopardised not by threats or coercion emanating from the state, but by the media’s own behaviour. In this respect we may be unique.

Journalistic bias is rampant and overt. It’s evident not just in how the media report things, but just as crucially in what is not reported at all. New Zealanders wanting to be fully informed on matters of consequence need to monitor online news platforms such as Kiwiblog, the BFD and Muriel Newman’s Breaking Views – to name just three – that cover the issues the mainstream media ignore. – Karl du Fresne

Generally speaking, news that reflects unfavourably on the government tends to be played down or ignored. Bias is apparent too in the lack of rigour in holding government politicians to account. – Karl du Fresne

After a lifetime as a journalist, I’m in the unfamiliar position of no longer trusting the New Zealand media to report matters of public interest fully, fairly, accurately and truthfully. This situation hasn’t arisen because of pressure from government communications czars or threats of imprisonment, as in authoritarian regimes such as Russia’s. It’s far more subtle than that.

The Labour government doesn’t have to tell the media what to report, or how, because most journalists, and especially those covering politics and important areas of public policy, are ideologically on board.  They are sympathetic with the government and want it to stay in power. It doesn’t seem to matter to them that this means relinquishing the impartial status on which they depend for their credibility.  – Karl du Fresne

Nonetheless I wonder whether the editors and publishers who lined up to accept the government’s tainted money stopped to consider the full implications. While they indignantly reject claims that they are ethically compromised, they appear not to understand that the public is entitled to suspect that the acceptance of state money has influenced reportage and media comment even when it hasn’t. The public perception of media independence has been irreparably harmed.

To put this another way, in Russia the media can’t be trusted because they are controlled by the state, but in New Zealand the media have spared the government the trouble.  – Karl du Fresne

In other words, of our headline inflation rate, LESS THAN HALF is due to inflation in tradeables. However, if you listen to government spin you’d think the whole of our inflation problem was imported. Yes, President Putin is way less to blame than our domestic policies.

Like what? Like our supermarket duopoly. Like weak competition in our building industry, where some huge companies wield immense market power. Like our Reserve Bank’s bungled $60 billion money printing program which flooded our markets with liquidity AT THE SAME TIME the Finance Minister was boasting how low was our unemployment rate. Alternatively one could partly blame our extreme closed border policies which have led to exploding shortages in skilled & unskilled labour. One could also blame high government spending, financed by borrowing, which PM Ardern “absolutely refutes”.

Can’t Labour just tell a story as it is for once? That would help the country to better address the root of its problems rather than pretending everything is perfect. – Robert MacCulloch

It seems that the Government has to resort to a reactive approach instead of being proactive because it lacks any real underpinning vision about where it wants to take the country. To have direction, political leaders need to have policy, values, and be embedded in a milieu of critical thinking and innovation.

This is traditionally what a political party is. It’s a big think tank of on-the-ground policy development based on a vision of a particular sort of world that it wants to create. The problem for Ardern and her colleague is that this is entirely lacking for them. There is no mass membership party feeding ideas and policies up from its base. In fact, the last Labour Party annual conference showed that the party barely has any debate at all, and certainly no real decision making powers like it used to.

Without a useful anchor in society, the Labour Government is now just floating around, lost at sea, only reacting to events as they arise. It means the party and government have little chance of taking the country anywhere, and voters will eventually tire of its managerial approach. To sell itself based on its competence during the Covid crisis is not going to work again at the next election – especially since much of that competence has been more questionable since 2020. – Bryce Edwards

The Government can jettison the more unpopular parts of its reform programme – especially things like its hate speech law reforms, and perhaps Three Waters – but what will these be replaced with? When a party lacks connection to its voter base, and has no strong ideological underpinnings, it is forced to make up policies as it goes, reacting to opinion polls. It means that badly formulated policies like KiwiBuild are quickly dreamt up, and just as quickly discarded when they become embarrassing. Cycling bridges are announced and then un-announced, again all in reaction to polls.

The even bigger problem is that Labour has forgotten its own traditional voter base. This is observable in the fact that they have overseen a massive transfer of wealth to the rich, while the poor have simply got poorer. – Bryce Edwards

This is why transformation is not possible under Labour at the moment, and why the party has become a conservative one. It’s been cut adrift from its original principles and support bases. This makes it more likely to lose power at the next election. Ultimately Labour needs to find a way to reconnect with some of its original working class constituents and ideologies. That’s the political soul of the Labour Party, and something that seems sorely missing at the moment.Bryce Edwards

Why on earth a government can’t do its job and actually govern, make a decision and announce it – and then stand by it – is beyond most of us.

Is it about power or just plain incompetence? – Barry Soper

There is much about our COVID response that must be put under a microscope.

The Levels, Stages and Traffic Light System. The botched vaccine rollout. The legality and morality of a vaccine mandate that saw New Zealanders lose their jobs – and their minds. A clinical, archaic MIQ system that left Kiwi citizens stranded all over the world. The economic impact of never-ending lockdowns, a two-year border closure (and counting), the multi-billion dollar spend, and a failure to engage or listen to the private sector. And that’s just scratching the surface.Rachel Smalley

What divides democracy and dictatorship? Public accountability.

And all of us need answers. – Rachel Smalley

Farming in New Zealand is under threat and overlooking the cost of fuel on-farm is yet another straw.

There have certainly been suggestions that a change in the way that farmers operate would allow them to remain in business, but none of the suggestions, whether organic, regenerative, veganism or synthetics (vat fermentation) get away from the use of fossil fuel – usually more than is required by pasture-based agriculture and resulting in food at a greater price to the consumer. Jacqueline Rowarth

n this sense, Wellington’s distaste for economists can be understood. Because the profession is not characterized by knee-jerk big-government types, its’ members have become ideologically unacceptable to Kiwi politicians and bureaucrats who thrive on red-tape, centralization, moneyprinting, higher taxes and less competition in the welfare state. – Robert Maculloch

We replaced whale oil as a fuel source a century ago, not because we wanted to save the whales, but because we discovered a much cheaper and more abundant fuel – oil. Now we have to do the same to oil: double down on making the alternative cheaper and abundant.Josie Pagani

We replaced whale oil as a fuel source a century ago, not because we wanted to save the whales, but because we discovered a much cheaper and more abundant fuel – oil. Now we have to do the same to oil: double down on making the alternative cheaper and abundant.

And we should follow the science. Look closely at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) latest report assessing the impacts of climate change and you will see the world has made progress towards limiting impacts. Cool heads, not hot takes, make for better responses. – Josie Pagani

The Bank of America has found that globally, achieving net-zero will cost $150 trillion over 30 years. In a new study, the international consultancy firm McKinsey finds most of the poorest nations in Africa would have to pay more than 10 per cent of their total national incomes every year toward climate policy. This is more than these nations combined spend on education and health.

This is not only implausible but also immoral on a continent where almost half a billion people still live in abject poverty. – Josie Pagani

The answer to the PM’s dilemma is relatively simple. They made too many mistakes, they didn’t admit those mistakes, and they certainly didn’t apologise. They relied far too heavily on ministry wonks who let them down and who also didn’t admit mistakes and apologise. – Mike Hosking

From the very beginning it has been haphazard … the PPE that never turned up for the nurses and doctors, the flu jab last year that got botched, the nurses that weren’t recruited until it was too late, the absurd mess around ICU beds and how you count them, the behind-the-scenes Machiavellian madness of the Ministry of Health refusing any number of Official Information Act requests on detail the media inquired about, the astonishingly cruel MIQ rulings where DJs got clearance and family members of dying people didn’t – the list, if you sit and think about it long enough, is exhausting and really provides the Prime Minister with all the material she needs to see why so many of us didn’t go along for the ride.Mike Hosking

It’s a combination of their inexperience, reliance on officials, arrogance and passion for spin that has led them here.

I don’t know whether the PM knows this and just says she doesn’t, or whether she is genuinely confused. If it’s the latter then they’re in more trouble than I already thought they were. – Mike Hosking

They didn’t take more of us with them because they told us they knew better when they didn’t, they didn’t tell enough truth when they needed to, fundamentally they weren’t up to it from the start. They are “B” teamers handed a crisis, who were exposed for lack of talent and acumen.

A government that got famous early for lack of delivery, did the same with Covid as they did with KiwiBuild or light rail. It’s not hard to understand unless you don’t want to, or you don’t have the wherewithal to get it in the first place.Mike Hosking

Labour’s obsession with the Maori language is destroying trust in the public service as official communications are increasingly being produced in pidgin English, which inhibits understanding, erodes accuracy, and damages public confidence in Government institutions.- Muriel Newman

All up, it’s hard to see those policy changes as anything but a cynical vote grab. They aren’t targeted at reducing costs or increasing incomes for those who truly need it. They’re undoing an otherwise positive effect of high fuel prices on carbon emissions. And they’re unlikely to have a positive effect (and may even be counter-productive) in terms of public transport patronage. Possibly, the government is hoping that the voting public has the same low level of economic literacy that they do. Things may not be that bad, yet. On the plus side, the government now seems to recognise that an excise is a tax.Michael Cameron

#4 In human affairs, there is no perfection.
In one’s own life, there are times when one feels broken or cracked, or fragmented or even malformed.
Like the world dropped you on your head.

But one may choose to address those circumstances and reach for one’s inner super glue – one’s history of healing – one’s memory of recovery on another and better day – one’s capacity to know the difference between an inconvenience and a real problem – one’s capacity to get up and go on, no matter what.
I may choose. The super glue is in my attitude and memory. – Robert Fulghum

 But New Zealand’s economic situation is now overtaking the virus, politically. On one estimate, over 1.7 million New Zealanders either has had or has Covid-19 now. That isn’t to say it is trivial, but the chance of getting it is now just a daily reality for everyone.

But while Covid for most means a sick week or so at home, that light-fingered inflation will be peeking into wallets every week. And ASB’s $150 per week prediction will be scarier to a lot of voters than Omicron.Luke Malpass

The gap between what we have and what we need is widening. We have the fact we waste money at a spectacular rate when we do build stuff. We have the fact that when something starts it doesn’t end on time or on budget. We have the fact things cost more than they need to.  – Mike Hosking

Then you have the ideology of the bike lanes, the bus lanes, and the coloured planter pots. All cost a fortune, aren’t used, and add nothing to the economy. All in the vein of hoping that people will take to them on their new bicycles in city centres they no longer come to town to work in. Mike Hosking

But really, what this country appears to do well is write reports outlining why so much stuff doesn’t work or live up to expectation. This week we’ve had the infrastructure report and the mental health report. $1.9 billion they cried, and for what? Well, the report tells us not much.

The Auckland report. Dysfunction that’s led to the place being the way it is. The literacy report where nearly half kids don’t go to school regularly, and 20 percent of 15-year-olds can’t even read.

It’s a shockingly poor state of affairs.

No one gets it perfect, obviously, but in a single week we have a shelf full of reminders that who we should be is not even close to the reality of what we are. – Mike Hosking

ACADEMIC FREEDOM is one of those “public goods” that most people seldom question. Even in New Zealand, a country not especially hospitable to intellectuals of any sort, academics are seldom identified as persons in need of official restraint. New Zealanders prefer to joke about the otherworldliness and impracticality of academic research – especially in the social sciences and liberal arts. That is to say, they used to joke about it. Over the last few years academics have given ordinary New Zealanders small cause for laughter.

Indeed, it has become increasingly clear to the Free Speech Union, along with many other advocates of freedom of expression, that the place where academic freedom is most at risk is, paradoxically, academia itself. – Chris Trotter

While paying lip-service to the principle of academic freedom, New Zealand’s university authorities have begun to hedge it around with all manner of restrictions. The pursuit of research subjects and/or the articulation of ideas capable of inflicting “harm” on other staff and students has become decidedly “career-limiting”. – Chris Trotter

The simple truth of the matter is that freedom is always and everywhere indivisible. Suppress it in our universities and its suppression elsewhere will soon follow. Those who do not subscribe to freedom have no place in our halls of learning – or anywhere else enlightened human values are cherished.Chris Trotter

And the problem is that, aside from Covid, it feels like things have got harder under them.

All the unresolved disappointments of the last election are still here. And then despite there being a global pandemic, last year house prices still went up 23.8 per cent. It looks like I won’t be able to take the Auckland rail link until after I hit menopause. And now there’s a cost of living crisis. It’s a grim day when houses, petrol and broccoli all start to look unaffordable. – Verity Johnson

I know with inflation and Ukraine it’s not entirely their fault. But they can’t ignore the fact that they ascended to the Beehive trumpeting their emphasis on wellbeing, like archangels with organic body-oil side hustles. They filled us with hope about wellness budgets and affordable living … and now this.

And refusing to call it a crisis just looks like they’re trying to gloss over this, so they don’t look so guilty. Not to mention it’s especially galling to have your frustration ignored by a Government who has been hammering on about kindness like a Care Bear with a jackhammer.

So now, as we come out of Covid, we’re looking to peacetime governance. And we’re faced with the underwhelming choice of staying in a loveless marriage – or cheating with Luxon. This is about as grim as $4.50 for one piece of broccoli.

But it’s true, you can’t stay in a relationship out of gratitude for the past. You have to actually have hope and faith in their future. And I don’t know if I do any more with Labour. – Verity Johnson

 As an intensive care doctor of 20 years I considered the concept of an intensive care to be immutable but now this turned out to not be so.

The inconvenient truth of their scarcity could be at least partially addressed by altering the definition.

A bed is a piece of furniture, incapable of providing any form of care, never mind intensively. To do so it needs a specialist intensive care nurse standing next to it 24 hours a day. This requires five to six intensive care nurses per bed as, inconveniently, they also want to sleep, have families, and not live in a hospital.

Caring intensively also requires equipment, drugs, doctors, a large array of allied health professionals (physiotherapists, pharmacists, radiographers etc) cleaners and administration staff. It costs around NZ$1.5m (£750,000) a year to keep one intensive care bed open, with the availability of intensive care nurses being the rate-limiting step. As the world realised we didn’t have enough, they became one of the most valuable (but not valued) people in healthcare. By necessity, at wave peak, their expertise was diluted. Rather than the optimal 1:1 ratio of critically ill patients to expert nurses, team structures “allowed” them to supervise others with little or no intensive care experience (with an entirely predictable effect on mortality). This may be politically appealing but, as a professor of intensive care medicine at Cambridge University commented, “no one sane would suggest this was the appropriate planning strategy for Covid if you had the opportunity to do otherwise”. – Alex Psirides

The accusation of bullying therefore left me confused but then a light went on in my head.

Of course! Bullying is when you say something with which someone else disagrees. Gavin Ellis

I have been the recipient of a clear message that what I had to say has no value because it did not accord with the views of (I am led to assume) a majority, and I was out of touch with ‘reality’ because I conformed to unacceptable stereotypes. If that was insufficient to establish my unworthiness, I was also deemed to no longer be “a working journalist”.

Those stereotypes were based on assumptions that those over a certain age were stuck in the past, that being Pākeha (“white”) imbues an unassailable sense of social and cultural superiority, and that males are inherently domineering and dismissive. No longer being part of a newsroom assumed I knew nothing of “today’s journalism”.- Gavin Ellis

It is naive to think that the past has no relevance to what we do today. As for journalism, it is downright dangerous to think that the digital age – in which the stereotypers grew up – swept away all that went before and reinvented it.

Yes, there are aspects of journalism that are a moving feast. They reflect society’s own changes and are carried along by them. Take language: Although we have been converting nouns to verbs for centuries, ‘to medal’ or ‘to podium’ would have had the sub-editors of my youth in a state of life-threatening apoplexy.Gavin Ellis

What worried me was the willingness to bring down a shutter on discussion that interfered with a particular world view.

That isn’t a generational phenomenon limited to millennials and Gen Zers. It is a current affliction that spans all demographics and many socio-political beliefs.  – Gavin Ellis

Journalists should have no part of that sort of thinking. Yet I fear this generation of journalists is complicit in some of it.

Matters dealing with race, gender (old men excepted), image and identity are handled with kid gloves. Debate on some subjects – such as the mātauranga Māori letter to the Listener signed by seven scientists – has become one-sided. ‘Old-fashioned’ views have no validity. We can only guess at what subjects get no exposure at all.Gavin Ellis

Limits of space and time and the testing of stories against sets of (often uncodified) news values have always determined that some stories make in into print or on air and others do not.

There are also limits to what the New York Times’ masthead describes as “all the news that’s fit to print”. Outside those limits are such things as hate speech but some sections of the boundary must be contestable in order to prevent their use to stifle legitimate debate. Nevertheless, any redrawing of that boundary must be done collectively, carefully, and conservatively if society is to preserve a meaningful public sphere. Without a shadow of doubt, it should not be an amorphous and arbitrary process but I fear it is heading that way. – Gavin Ellis

Journalists should not use perceived majority views as some sort of selection yardstick. To do so risks falling into what German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann called a “spiral of silence” that stifles alternative opinion. The centrifugal force which accelerates the spiral of silence is fear of isolation and I wonder whether the prospect of falling victim to ‘cancel culture’ leads journalists – perhaps unconsciously – to become party to it.

We will be in trouble if journalists or media organisations start to condition their approach to the news by avoiding those things that might isolate them. It is a form of self-censorship that is little better than imposed constraints. And it, too, is a downward spiral. –  Gavin Ellis

 Populist authoritarian governments in eastern Europe, for example, use various coercive levers to keep media in line. It is another thing entirely to fall into line simply because one social trope or another determines the acceptability of a subject and limits or eliminates criticism of ‘protected’ topics.

Such acquiescence runs counter to what journalism should stand for and, in a perverse way, it takes us back almost 400 years to a time when presses were licenced to constrain what could be published. – Gavin Ellis

 I was not sure what to think of the pandemic when it struck, and am still not quite sure. Like many, I suspect, I find myself veering, or careening, from one opinion to another. Sometimes, I think that it is not so much the illness but the response to it that is the more damaging. At other times, I think that governments had little choice but to act as they did. On this subject, I lack fixed convictions. – Theodore Dalrymple

Where uncertainty is inevitable but the stakes are high, tempers are likely to flare and people to claim insights into the nature of things that they do not have. Humankind, said T. S. Eliot, cannot bear too much reality, but it also cannot bear too much uncertainty: humans then turn to conspiracy theories or cults to alleviate their sense of helplessness. That is why discussions of Covid so quickly become arguments: most people who are not sure of their ground make up for it by dogmatism. – Theodore Dalrymple

Where uncertainty is inevitable but the stakes are high, tempers are likely to flare and people to claim insights into the nature of things that they do not have. Humankind, said T. S. Eliot, cannot bear too much reality, but it also cannot bear too much uncertainty: humans then turn to conspiracy theories or cults to alleviate their sense of helplessness. That is why discussions of Covid so quickly become arguments: most people who are not sure of their ground make up for it by dogmatism. – Theodore Dalrymple

The disrespectful dialogue is reflective of real-life politics. Insults have replaced arguments in debate.Andrea Vance

Politics has always been a nasty sport. But today it seems brutish. And what does all this toxicity achieve – apart from more ad dollars in the bank accounts of tech moguls? – Andrea Vance

Mainstream political reporting thrives on conflict. Protesting in dramatic and disruptive ways captures attention. There is no incentive to break out of incivility, to recalibrate politics. To be nice.Andrea Vance

Personally, I believe you don’t need two systems to deliver public services, you need a single system that has enough innovation to target for people on the basis of need. – Christopher Luxon

Wherever you sit on fair pay agreements, if you support them or not, the timing of this legislation is wrong.  – Rachel Smalley

The government hasn’t read the room, and commentators who criticise the likes of Ardern and Robertson and say they don’t have real-world experience, will now throw their hands in the air and say “see? what did I tell you?! They are out of step with business.” – Rachel Smalley

Here are some of the questions the government should have asked… Will this improve wages? Will it drive productivity? Or, will the prospect of unions knocking on the door, potential arbitration… Will it drive already stretched businesses to the edge? Will it trigger job losses, a collapse in productivity, and will some of our SMEs fall over after two years of hanging on by their fingertips, trying to stay afloat and stay on top of the government’s requirements as it responded to COVID?

Did the government think about how businesses might perceive this? What it signals to me – and I’m sure it will be the same for many business owners – is that the government doesn’t trust kiwi businesses to do the right thing. The government doesn’t believe, without regulation, that businesses will look out for their employees.Rachel Smalley

If you want to improve wages, the government needs to create an environment in which companies can be confident to invest. Confident to grow. Confident to employ people and reward performance. Confident that the government of the day understands that economies – more than ever right now – must be flexible and responsible, not heavily regulated.

Throughout the later part of our COVID response, businesses have struggled with the shackles of political over-reach and control. – Rachel Smalley

What’s happening to democracy in this country, let alone the promised transparency of this Government?

Labour is abusing its absolute power and it seems those opposing it are powerless to do anything about it because majority rules.Barry Soper 

This goes beyond simply controlling the message. Like they say, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. – Barry Soper 

Unions are always likely to have a place as long as there are exploitative employers. But the business model will have to adapt to explicitly choose to be an ideological movement or be an employment services provider. Needing the Government to prop you up with enabling legislation, like the fair pay agreements, is not sustainable and makes you very susceptible to changes in Government. – Brigitte Morten 

 Unions will have a place in the future if they resist their collective urge to just cause labour shortages and instead focus on delivering policies that serve the country as a whole rather than those that are the lowest-performing. – Brigitte Morten 

With almost no debate, Labour has adopted a radical reinterpretation of the Treaty as a partnership to justify co-governance. With co-governance, there is no democratic accountability when half the power is held by those who do not have to answer to the electorate.

Co-governance was not in Labour’s manifesto. Labour ministers hid from its coalition partner He Puapua – a report that could result in co-governance being extended. Work on this radical document is continuing.Richard Prebble

We do not need a new Treaty. The Treaty is fine as it was written in 1840. [In the English text version] there are just three articles: “Cede to Her Majesty the Queen of England absolutely and without reservation all the rights and powers of Sovereignty”; “guarantees … the full exclusive and undisturbed possession of their Lands and Estates, Forests, Fisheries and other properties”; and grants “all the Rights and Privileges of British Subjects”.

There is nothing about partnerships or being “a multi-ethnic-liberal democracy”.

As David Lange put it: “Did Queen Victoria for a moment think of forming a partnership with a number of thumb prints and 500 people?” – Richard Prebble

What the Treaty does say is still important today.

Sovereignty was ceded. Sovereignty is indivisible. The Crown is everyone as represented by the executive and the courts.

Property rights are guaranteed.

Citizenship grants the rights from the Magna Carta – no arbitrary taxation and the right to a fair trial with a jury.

Parliament is responsible for the present reinterpretation, and only Parliament can fix it.

Parliament has included in a number of laws the phrase “the principles of the Treaty”, without saying what those principles are. No MP thought that a court might say that a Treaty principle was a partnership. No court has.Richard Prebble

Where Māori have a valid property claim, such as to some of our national parks, then co-governance is a pragmatic solution. It recognises the Māori property interest while maintaining the public interest in preserving the parks.

Labour ministers are now promoting co-governance on the basis that the Treaty is a partnership even where Māori have no property claim.

Māori interest in having access to health is the same as everyone.

As far as water is concerned, Māori only have an ownership interest as ratepayers in the dams, pipes, pumping stations and sewage plants. There is no case for co-governance. – Richard Prebble

Instead of a referendum, Act should campaign that Parliament legislate that the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi are those in the Treaty: namely, the Crown has sovereignty, the Crown guarantees property rights and everyone has the same rights of New Zealand citizenship.

When Parliament does that we can again repeat Governor Hobson’s words: “He iwi kotahi tātou: now we are one people”.Richard Prebble

Will Smith walloping Chris Rock across the face live on international television was not a departure from Hollywood norms. In fact, the act was simply the entitlement and privilege of celebrity made manifest.  – Ani O’Brien

These, by and large, are people who are paid insane amounts of money to play dress up and pretend. Many of them have spent more time in rehab than they did at high school and yet they have the audacity to lecture the rest of us about life. 

The problem is that the echo chamber they are ensconced in is completely divorced from reality. Famous and wealthy, they buy into their own mythology. They forget that they are a mirage, a veneer. They are the sum of their most well-known characters to those who adore them and adulation as a result of fictional performance does not qualify someone to instruct the population on politics and morality.  – Ani O’Brien

Acting is without a doubt an art form – when done well. It is a skill and the very best actors should be acknowledged for their talent. But it is high time we stopped allowing actors to pretend they have the authority to ‘educate’ us on matters of importance.

Living in gated communities and with security entourages, many celebrities espouse social policies that they will never have to suffer the consequences of. Their pseudo-moralistic stances are profoundly ill-informed and deeply out of touch. – Ani O’Brien

Overpaid hired clowns do not know more about life than a single mother working as a nurse or a man who delivers packages and stacks shelves. Their bank balance does not qualify them to lecture on the environment, politics, and morality. Nor does the fact that people like to take photos with them.

At what point do we, those they may as well see as dollar signs, refuse to accept their fake profundity? If we all stop paying attention to their grandstanding will they stop? Does a celebrity preaching in a forest, with no one there to hear them, make a sound? – Ani O’Brien

History is a profoundly important subject, as well as being something that can provide an individual with an interest that endures over a lifetime. I read historical fiction and non-fiction for pleasure. Understanding where we come from and how we got here matters. – Damien Grant

Heading up the ministry’s document on the new curriculum is the statement: “If we want to shape Aotearoa New Zealand’s future, start with the past.” Damien Grant

I congratulate the ministry on the transparency of their agenda, although the inclusion of this statement is more likely an indication of the author’s lack of anything approaching a classical education.

The programme shockingly misrepresents our nation’s past and is disturbingly one-dimensional.

In the document outlying the new curriculum, the local population is depicted living in some form of a bucolic harmony with each other and their natural environment, before the catastrophic and violent arrival of the Europeans. – Damien Grant

If we want to get students to seriously engage with our history, teach them about the battles, bloodshed and bravery, not “the ways different groups of people have lived and worked in this rohe have changed over time”.Damien Grant

Because the ministry wants to use the past to shape the future, they are stripping everything from our history that has value and killing any prospect that our children will retain an interest in the topic.

There is no more evidence as to the banality of this interpretation of history that it excludes Te Rauparaha and includes Georgina Beyer.

Beyer is a significant historical figure in her own right and deserves a place in our collective history. She is magnificent and her story inspirational.

But if you are going to memory-hole a military leader who was compared by his contemporaries to Napoleon, well, you are not conducting history, you are re-inventing it. – Damien Grant

The most remarkable aspect of this version of New Zealand’s history is the exclusion of almost any topic that does not impact Māori. Everything is seen through this lens. What happened to Richard Pearse, Charles Upham and General Bernard Freyberg?Damien Grant

There is a strong argument that we do not properly acknowledge the appalling treatment of the indigenous population of these islands by the colonial authorities.

I am in favour of bringing this failure to the attention to the next generation. It is a shameful aspect of our past and the consequences of it live with us today.

If the state wishes to address this by incorporating it into the national school curriculum, that is fine with me. I can get behind a bit of nation building.

But we should be honest about what is being done here. This is not, as the Prime Minister claims, our history. It is a selective part of it, and it appears to be driven by a desire to control how we move into the future. – Damien Grant

Our history has its roots in the migration from Hawaiki and the traditions and people who came on that journey.

It includes the cruelty and crimes committed by the colonial authorities against their treaty partners in the decades after 1840. But our history is more than that.

The New Zealand of today can also be traced to debates in the agoras of ancient Athens, in the marshlands of Wessex, the fields around Hastings in 1066 and the failings of King John.

We are a successor state to a remarkable empire and a proud sovereign nation with, inexplicably, the Union Jack still affixed to our flag.

This new history teaches our children none of that. It is not history at all. It is social engineering.Damien Grant

Yet there are reasons for the decline in trust that should be blindingly obvious to anyone who is not suffering institutional capture from actually working for the mainstream media (or being entirely sympathetic to its approach to journalism).

The most obvious failure is that the mass media’s journalists and editors too often seem to not understand they need to reflect the important debates that are actually happening in society — including on social media — rather than only the ones they approve of. Or if they do cover contentious issues, not to present only one, approved side of the debate. – Graham Adams

As far as I can tell, no one in the media here has reported Lord Sebastian Coe’s warning that “gender cannot trump biology” when deciding whether transgender athletes should be allowed to compete alongside female contestants. Yet Lord Coe is eminently quotable as an influential two-time Olympic gold medallist and President of World Athletics.Graham Adams

So here we are in 2022, in a liberal democracy, with a senior lawyer worrying that a court case of constitutional importance might not be covered in the media because journalists are afraid of being called racist or because they don’t want to offend the Government. – Graham Adams

It doesn’t help the mainstream media one little bit, of course, that the Government’s Public Interest Journalism Fund is providing $55 million over three years for a variety of projects and editorial staff positions — all under an agreement that successful applicants will commit to “Te Tiriti o Waitangi and to Māori as a Te Tiriti partner”. Consequently, any failure to comprehensively cover the Water Users’ Group case will be widely interpreted as evidence the media has been bought.

Given that public money with such strings attached is now firmly embedded throughout the mainstream media, the only way it can shrug off that widespread perception is to show that it is, indeed, reporting “without fear or favour”.

Otherwise, its apparent partisanship will kill it, as social media and alternative news sites continue eating its lunch in great bites.Graham Adams


Quotes of the month

05/03/2022

This is February’s quotes, a few days late.

Over the past two years we’ve heard it ad nauseam. We’re a team of five million. We are constantly reminded to be kind to each other. And yes, the messages have come from the self-appointed team leader, Jacinda Ardern.

Many of us retired from the team shortly after it was created and it now grates to still be described as members of it.Barry Soper

New Zealand’s universities are at a defining crossroads. Do we remain a universitas, a community of scholars developing knowledge according to the universal principles and methods of science or do we continue down the path of a racialised ideology? – Elizabeth Rata

Unfounded accusations of racism or other silencing strategies muzzle discussion about what is happening in our universities and schools. There are many layers needing discussion – the difference between science and culture, between cultural safety and intellectual risk-taking, between universalism and parochialism. However intense and heated the discussion may be it must take place. Too much is at stake to pretend that all is well. – Elizabeth Rata

University students from all racial and cultural groups tend to come from knowledge-rich schools which provide a solid foundation for university study. These are often the children of the professional class who have benefited from such knowledge in their own lives and insist that schools provide it for their children.

It is access to the abstract quality of academic knowledge and language, its very remoteness from everyday experience, and its formality – science in other words – that is necessary for success. Tragically this knowledge is miscast as ‘euro-centric’. The aim of the decolonisation and re-indigenisation of New Zealand education is to replace this knowledge with the cultural knowledge of experience.

But science is not euro-centric or western. It is universal. This is recognised in the International Science Council’s definition of science as “rationally explicable, tested against reality, logic, and the scrutiny of peers this is a special form of knowledge”. It includes the arts, humanities and social sciences as human endeavours which may, along with the physical and natural sciences, use such a formalised approach. The very children who need this knowledge the most, now receive less.

The science-ideology discussion matters for many reasons – the university’s future, the country’s reputation for science and education, and the quality of education in primary and secondary schools. But at its heart it is about democracy. Science can only thrive when democracy thrives. – Elizabeth Rata

To be clear, I was and consider myself very lucky to be adopted into a loving, caring family. For reasons outlined in this article below I am grateful for the life I’ve had considering the one that was offered to me at birth.  – Dan Bidois

I learned many things from this process. Above all, is that you’re not defined by the circumstances of your birth but by the environment you grow up in. And finally, identity or whakapapa is an important part of one’s confidence, wellbeing, and purpose in life.

Understanding one’s past provides the fuel needed for a happier and more fulfilling life in the future. – Dan Bidois

This whole thing has a Groundhog Day vibe about it. I mean, how come we’re still, as we go into our third year of this pandemic, still being reactive and responding on the hoof.

It beggars belief that lessons have not been learned, plans have not been made, preparations have not gotten into full swing.

We are behind on RAT kits, way behind, it’s woeful, it’s the vaccine rollout all over again. We have no greater ICU capacity than when we started, in fact suggestions are we even have fewer ICU beds than when we started. We have not bolstered our health workforce, we have not advanced our tragic and cruel MIQ system, we have not boosted enough people or jabbed enough children, because again, we were too slow with our vaccine rollout.  – Kate Hawkesby

Why can’t they learn the lesson? Why is the Government so slow on the uptake? Why’d they take an elongated holiday when they should’ve been planning and sorting and preparing?

Why are they so allergic to the private sector and reticent to include them more? Are they afraid of the private sector? Or are they just so arrogant now they think they know best, better than any established business?

Most importantly, why are we still asking these questions? How can all the same mistakes still be made? If you hear from the Government, when they’ve bothered rolling back into the office from the beach, they’ll tell you they’re world leading.

They’re faultless, blameless, it’s all perfect, we should be so proud of them. The fact they’re still peddling this crap and still in self-congratulatory mode also worries me.

It’s delusional. They’re backwards focused.Kate Hawkesby

How many businesses look at KPI’s or performance reviews and go, “Oh well it’s a bit of a mess at the moment but two years ago was really good.”

No one does that, because it’s not real. It’s not relevant, it’s not honest. So why should we be expected to buy into that tosh from our government?

Our Rapid Antigen Testing situation is embarrassing, our MIQ lottery is embarrassing, our hermit mentality is embarrassing, our lack of vaccination coverage for children and booster coverage is embarrassing. Our Covid response looks antiquated and fear driven, and stale. But if you listen to this Government and it’s cheerleaders, we should be over the moon about it.

The disconnect here is actually beyond embarrassing, it’s tragic.Kate Hawkesby

And that’s the tragedy of all this. Have a platform, make a song and dance, get a result. Surely the only message here is that unless you’re going to really publicly and internationally discredit and embarrass the Government, you’re not going to get a spot.  – Kate Hawkesby

A free society needs more than the incentives provided by the rule of law and the discipline of profit and loss. Both are underpinned by and help to reinforce a set of virtues – prudence chief among them. The prudence to buy low and sell high. And the prudence “to trade rather than invade, to calculate the consequences, to pursue the good with competence.”

Prudence matters. – Eric Crampton

The government had been imprudently late in ordering the tests that it ultimately decided were needed for the public health effort.

But no matter. The government had set itself a call option. It could simply take the results of others’ prudential efforts.

When the prudent expect predation, expect less prudence. Expect as well that many businesses will have cancelled remaining test kit orders rather than wait for them to be stolen by a predatory state.

McCloskey emphasised the prudence of trading rather than invading and stealing; of calculating the consequences of actions; and of pursuing the good with competence.

It is hard to see much evidence of prudence in this government. Prudent and imprudent alike will bear the cost.Eric Crampton

At the end of an interview recently, I was asked whether people should express their emotions. I replied that it rather depended on the emotions that they had and their mode of expression. There were some emotions that were best kept to oneself, and some ways of expressing them that were disgusting.Theodore Dalrymple

It seems to me (though I may be mistaken) that, at least in Anglophone countries, there has been a tendency of late years for ever more extravagant public expressions of emotion, which is something that I do not welcome. It leads not to the palace of wisdom, but to crudity of apprehension, and to an unfortunate positive feedback loop: if you want to show how much you feel, you have to indulge in ever more extravagant such demonstrations. – Theodore Dalrymple

This development favours the explicit over the implicit and the bogus over the genuine. Indeed, it reduces people’s capacity to distinguish between the two, or even to understand that there is a distinction between the real and the bogus. No one would now say, as did an old patient of mine upon whom fate had piled undeserved tragedy upon undeserved tragedy, that she would not cry in public because it might embarrass other people and her grief was her own: people would now accuse her of mere unfeelingness.Theodore Dalrymple

The very notion of dignity and seemliness is destroyed by incontinent emotional expression. I haven’t tried the experiment, but I doubt that many people could or would now even attach a meaning to the word seemliness: but seemliness is to self-respect what incontinent expression is to self-esteem, and the difference between self-respect and self-esteem is of great importance. The first is demanding, effortful and social, the second is undemanding, egotistical and akin to an inalienable human right that survives any amount of bad behaviour. – Theodore Dalrymple

There are other advantages to negative emotions: insofar as they are far easier to stoke, can last much longer than positive emotions—joy is rarely more than fleeting—and are usually more intense, they are, in the long run, more rewarding, especially when, as in the present day, the locus of people’s moral concern is political rather than personal. It is surely almost self-evident that the strongest political emotions are negative: for example, the rich are hated much more than the poor are loved.

In such circumstances, expressions of hatred are often mistaken for expressions of love. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down the life of another for some class of person whom he favours in the abstract. Thus vehemence of expression comes to be taken as strength of feeling, and the greater one’s vehemence, the greater one’s strength of feeling and therefore of one’s virtue—virtue now being a matter almost entirely of the opinions one holds. Extreme expression of hatred becomes a virtue. – Theodore Dalrymple

As with so many things, the proper public expression of emotion is a matter of judgment rather than of doctrine or predetermined principle. It is also a question of good taste. . . If I had to choose between them (which of course I do not) I would choose emotional constipation rather than emotional diarrhoea. At least the former can give rise to powerful drama, whereas the latter gives rise to crude soap opera at best. Concealment is more interesting than revelation, and often ultimately more revealing into the bargain.    – Theodore Dalrymple

The government’s response to Omicron over the summer break has had too little method and too much madness. – Eric Crampton

But it is difficult to reconcile the tightening up of test-to-travel restrictions, to reduce risk, with the subsequent move to allow rapid antigen tests instead of PCR tests before travel. If the government considered rapid antigen tests to be safe enough because travellers were entering MIQ, why tighten the window for PCR tests in the first place? –  Eric Crampton

Education, the ladder out of poverty, has been kicked away. In the English-speaking world, New Zealand pupils are worst at maths, science and literacy. Last year, 44 per cent of Auckland students did not turn up for NCEA exams. Richard Prebble

Covid is not responsible for the growth in inequality. Covid infects the rich and the poor.

The growing inequality is the result of government policies and galloping inflation.  – Richard Prebble

The Government is becoming Muldoonist. Like Muldoon, Labour calculates huge “think big” spending is electorally more popular than the pain of tackling inflation.Richard Prebble

Studies reveal that urban rail schemes never come in on budget or on time and rarely meet passenger projections. Worldwide, 75 per cent of urban rail projects have cost escalations of at least 33 per cent. A quarter have cost escalations of 60 per cent or more. The cost of light rail will escalate from the estimate of $15b to over $20b.

Here is another way to think about the cost. For less taxpayers’ money, every passenger could have a free Uber ride in an electric car to where they actually want to go. – Richard Prebble

The Reserve Bank is seeking a soft option. Returning “inflation to target too quickly would result in unnecessary instability”. Now inflation is established, there are no soft options. All that printed money is debt. The bank is yet to tell us how it is going to reduce its bond holdings.

While the Reserve Bank procrastinates, the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.  – Richard Prebble

This Government has become like a can of CRC, oiling every irritating squeak which has become a deafening cacophony in recent weeks.  – Barry Soper

I’m not sure if it was the word “loyal” or the long-simmering anger towards the nation of my birth coming to a head, but I suddenly didn’t want to honour New Zealand by choosing a song by one of its legends.

I’m angry at Jacinda Ardern, I’m angry at her parochial and uber-protective policies and I’m angry that I’m banned from the place where – more than any other – I felt I belonged. It’s fair to say I’ve lost faith in the country I once loved and revered.Angela Mollard

The cumulative stories about the human impact of the border policies have sullied New Zealand’s reputation as a fair and decent place.

All countries care about their reputations but it is more important to small countries because they do not hold economic or military power. Being a good international citizen, being an honest broker, doing the right thing has been important to New Zealand. – Audrey Young

The damage to New Zealand is exacerbated by the fact that Arderns’s reputation and New Zealand’s are one and the same. Her international brand, through leadership after the Christchurch massacre, is a caring leader.

Damage to New Zealand reflects badly on her; and damage to her reflects badly on New Zealand. . . She was rightly applauded internationally for the initial response to Covid-19. Now, for the most part, she is rightly being criticised.Audrey Young

This is the insanity of what we’re dealing with. This is a rigged lottery. And I’m talking personally, not as Move Logistics executive director, when I say this: Can we have respect for a system where, basically, citizens are told, you can’t come home?

Non-citizens are told, if you’re an essential worker, whatever that description might be on a particular day. Or if you’re pregnant, and you’re in a third world country, you’re allowed in or not allowed in. So the rules are being made up as people go along. – Chris Dunphy

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the Bellis Embarrassment to understand is what on earth possessed those writing the rules to erect even the smallest obstacles to pregnant New Zealand women returning to their homeland to give birth. For most older New Zealanders, the rule has always been: “Women and children first – and pregnant women before everyone!” We were raised on the tragic example of the doomed “Titanic” – where men gave up their places in the lifeboats for the bearers of the next generation.

What does it say about the current crop of public servants that they were able to create a labyrinth of rules and regulations that made it possible for a British deejay to be welcomed into this country, while denying re-entry to a stranded Kiwi woman and her unborn child?More to the point, what does it say about the current crop of Labour ministers – Chris Hipkins in particular – that they did not intervene, with righteous wrath, to put an end to this unconscionable rejection of that most basic human instinct: the urge to protect, at any cost, mothers and their children?Chris Trotter

But where is the “kindness” in the treatment of Charlotte Bellis, and scores of other pregnant New Zealander women aching to get home? If this desperate, pregnant, Kiwi journalist, stranded in starving Afghanistan, does not deserve kindness – then who does? – Chris Trotter

The risk for Robertson isn’t quite voter revolt – not yet. But the Government did just make it far easier for New Zealanders who spent the past two years in the country to think about moving overseas. Cheaper rent and better pay might not have been much of a draw in 2020 or 2021, when it was paired with longer lockdowns, more Covid-19, and no easy way home if you changed your mind. That won’t be true for 2022. – Henry Cooke

If travel broadens the mind, then perhaps the reverse might also be true.

We have become a more insular country since Covid started, and it is very unattractive. The social media vitriol and judgment directed at journalist Charlotte Bellis for daring to speak out about her predicament last week reflects badly on all who indulged. – Steven Joyce

It was Ms Bellis who was let down by her own country. Forget all the whataboutisms. When she needed to come home, when she needed a safe haven where she could be pregnant and give birth to her child, her country said no. That was simply appalling. It has never been who we are.

It was not just appalling for Ms Bellis. She was simply the human straw that broke the camel’s back. In being rebuffed by the bureaucratic monster that is our managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) system, she joins thousands and thousands before her over the past two years who have had their spirits broken in their time of need. – Steven Joyce

There are too many stories to count where a heartless decision-maker showed no empathy, no ability to walk a mile in the shoes of desperate Kiwis overseas, no willingness to make things right.

Somehow, the Government’s sudden ability to find an MIQ slot for Ms Bellis under the public spotlight of the world’s media made an appalling situation even shoddier. It was a brazen attempt at damage control by ministers, presumably breaking the rules their own officials had been zealously upholding. There was no apology for those who had come before, no acceptance that the policy had been wrong, just cold, naked politics at its worst. – Steven Joyce

Special treatment for those prepared to beg publicly is also not our country. What about all those who didn’t want to make waves, who suffered through their life events in silence, hurt by the intransigence of their own countrymen and women?

It is one of the most basic human rights that people be allowed to come home. The Government knows that. That’s why they maintained the legal fig leaf that the border wasn’t closed. It’s just that you have not been allowed to buy a ticket to come here without an MIQ slot. Which you couldn’t get. George Orwell would have been proud. – Steven Joyce

You can argue that in extremis a country can close its borders for short periods in a pandemic to protect the population. The case can be made that stopping the flow of people while a plan is worked on and new health measures are put in place is justifiable.

But not two years, and not while you sit on your hands and do nothing during that period to allow for more people to exercise their fundamental right to come home.

We passed up building more MIQ places, we passed up home isolation, we passed up privately run MIQ facilities, saliva testing, more hospital capacity, a decent booking system, a timely vaccination programme, or even filling the MIQ places we had … we passed up a lot of things that would have reduced the pain and uncertainty of so many Kiwi families. – Steven Joyce

We were a country of voyagers. Striking out to see the world and seek our fortune. We took Dr Seuss’ The Places You’ll Go! to heart. Travel was a rite of passage, which for some turned into careers offshore, with partners and families. We took pride in their success, basking as New Zealand metaphorically punched above its weight on the world stage.

There’s around a million of us who live offshore now — but always able to come home, to see grandparents, siblings, and reconnect.

Until the past two years.

In those two years we have had to stand in line, often behind DJs, children’s characters, performers, sportspeople and Government MPs, all of whom seemed able to win the MIQ lottery while more deserving cases didn’t. Let alone the people whose skills we need to help run our economy, our schools and our hospitals. Good job, some would chortle in their insular way. We don’t need all those bright young foreigners helping to make New Zealand a better place. – Steven Joyce

A wise friend of mine said at the outset of all this that it is much easier to close things down and encourage people to hide away than it will be to open it all up again. And so it seems. Once people have become fearful of the outside world, it’s hard to move beyond that fear.

Yet we must. We must get out and embrace that world again, let our young people take it on, prove themselves, have adventures and live their lives. We must invite people into our home and conquer our virulent insularity.

Let this be the last time we turn our backs on our own people. There must be a better way to protect ourselves in future that doesn’t involve simply barricading the doors.

We should never stop our own citizens coming home to see their dying relatives, or giving birth here. That’s not selfless and kind. That’s not who we are. – Steven Joyce

But open government appears to be on the wane. This is partly because of the growth in the “communications industrial complex”, where vast battalions of people now work to deflect and avoid, or answer in the most oblique manner possible. We journalists are vastly outnumbered by spin doctors.

And it is partly because of the very tight media ship captained by Jacinda Ardern. The prime minister has won plaudits the world over for her empathetic and straightforward communication style. – Anna Fifield

When I was writing about New Zealand’s response to the pandemic for The Washington Post, almost every minister or ministry I contacted for an interview responded with a variation on: I’ll need to check with the prime minister’s office.

Since coming home, I’ve been surprised by the lack of access to ministers outside carefully choreographed press conferences. – Anna Fifield

Perhaps the most alarming, and certainly the most prevalent, trend I’ve noticed is the almost complete refusal of government departments and agencies to allow journalists to speak to subject experts.

Like, you know, the people who are actually implementing complicated reforms and know what they are talking about. – Anna Fifield

We often just get insufficient answers written in bureaucratese.

There is no opportunity to get them to put their words in a more digestible form. There’s no opportunity to ask them to explain the background to a decision.

There’s certainly no chance to ask them anything like a probing question. That, of course, is the whole point of this stonewalling. – Anna Fifield

This obfuscation and obstruction is bad for our society for two key reasons.

One: It’s in everyone’s interest to have journalists understand the complicated subjects they’re writing about. We need to ask questions. We can’t explain things we don’t understand.

Two: It’s called the public service for a reason. They work for the public, aka you. It is the job of the Fourth Estate to hold the powerful to account. So we should be able to ask reasonable questions – like “When will the $1.25 billion Transmission Gully motorway open?” – and expect something that at least resembles an answer. – Anna Fifield

To be clear, our country is free and open compared to many other parts of the world. But I’m not comparing us to Iran (where I used to ask pointed questions at foreign ministry press conferences all the time) or China (ditto).

I’m comparing us to other proudly open and democratic societies. And I’m comparing us to the us we used to be. Where a journalist could ask a straight question and get a straight answer and deliver it to you – straight. – Anna Fifield

But my favourite must be this supremely arrogant line from the Ministry of Health, asked about releasing data during an Omicron wave: “We will release additional information if it is determined that there is a need to do so.”Anna Fifield

I make two further predictions. First, the Ardern government will be utterly decimated in a landslide defeat next year and second, that in the course of time given some perspective, it will be recorded as the most incompetent by a country mile in our post-war history. – Bob Jones

Politicians bright-side scientific advice when they report it accurately, but selectively. They emphasise the politically helpful parts of this advice but omit the careful but politically-awkward provisos that scientists pair with their advice.Nicholas Agar

While there has been little Covid death, the Government’s stance has exacted a price: mental health issues; the interruption of children’s education; the too-long separation of families due to MIQ restrictions; struggling “hospo” and tourism businesses; the inability to source much-needed staff from offshore; and mounting government debt among them. – Fran O’Sullivan

It is too easy to get on and stay on welfare in New Zealand. Labour have enhanced that ease by reducing the use of sanctions to impose work obligations. They recently shifted thousands of jobseekers onto the sole parent benefit because they no longer had to look for a job. The policy settings changed. It is now OK to keep adding children to a benefit to avoid work. That is not a “well-functioning” welfare system.Lindsay Mitchell

Why anyone, however, would trust the Local Government Minister or the Prime Minister to deal with them in good faith after their sustained deception about mandating Three Waters remains a mystery. – Graham Adams

This is a vengeful government, it’s a nasty government, it’s the exact opposite of a kind government, and it’s exact opposite of an open, honest, and transparent government. Mike Hosking

Because here’s a fact we need to accept: no matter how important climate change is to people, it is hardly ever more important than being able to pay your bills or keep your job. Most people will vote for jobs and a warm house before they vote for the climate.

Governments should – and obviously do – bear that in mind. – Heather du Plessis Allan

Scientific studies show that singing has positive effects on mental health. People who sing are more inclined to be content with life.
Group singing seems to induce the production of oxytocin – the binding hormone that can reduce stress and anxiety, and decrease a sense of loneliness.
Singing heals pain and sorrow and increases a sense of well-being. –
Robert Fulghum

A government that allows trespassers to unlawfully occupy and obstruct the entrances to the land and buildings symbolising its authority, and to block the main streets of its capital city, raises questions about whether it is truly sovereign.

Everyone has a right to go to Parliament’s grounds and protest, but everyone else has a right to visit those grounds and drive around Wellington. In more than three decades of watching students, teachers, farmers, unions, environmentalists, Māori and activists on both sides of social issues march on Parliament, none has behaved as disgracefully as the mob who turned up on Tuesday and refused to leave. – Matthew Hooton

Many are so caught up in conspiracism that their problems appear more medical than legal.

Yet the Wellington political, bureaucratic and media establishments should not kid themselves that only a deranged fringe is feeling enraged by the current situation. Two years of pandemic and the long and preventable Auckland lockdown have fuelled a seething anger towards the Government from a much larger and more reasonable segment of the population, even if its source may be difficult to pinpoint. Matthew Hooton

But more is based on legitimate irritation with a Beehive communications strategy seemingly targeted towards children rather than voting adults, and which cannot admit the slightest fault or setback for fear of undermining Ardern’s global brand as Covid vanquisher. – Matthew Hooton

For its part, the Wellington bureaucracy is under so much pressure from its political masters to support the Beehive narrative that it increasingly provides information that is radically incomplete, contradictory or just plain wrong. – Matthew Hooton

The incoherence in the Government’s Omicron strategy means public co-operation is radically declining, including for tracking and testing. The Beehive may think a few more earnest homilies from the podium of truth will turn that around, but the public isn’t stupid. – Matthew Hooton

This is sneaky reform. Three Waters is designed to relieve smaller communities of the inordinate costs of compliance with an excessive regulatory regime already enacted in law. I doubt it will make beaches and rivers one jot cleaner than current regional council efforts can achieve.

All we stand to get is another fungal outgrowth of government, four super-regional agencies, each with floors of box-ticking bureaucrats making work for contractors, consultants, researchers and publicity staff to comfort you and me, the disenfranchised suckers paying for it.  – John Roughan

Just 53 people have died here from Covid, and our prime minister has been lavished with praise as a result. For much of the pandemic, the team of five million went about their lives pretty much as normal, working maskless, travelling domestically and attending large outdoor gatherings in sunny weather, going home in the evenings to wade through tear-soaked emails from contacts abroad marvelling at our apparent Covid success.

But there has always been another team milling in the shadows, the team of one million, the expatriate Kiwis stranded abroad who have paid a heavy price for their home country’s Covid elimination strategy. – David Cohen

Jacinda Ardern’s plummeting popularity indicates a country questioning not only her racist white-anting of our democracy, but the hypocrisy of her kindness and well-being mantras. Her repeated emphasis on ‘well-being’ on which she stressed her intent to focus, instead of on GDP – when introducing her budget in 2019 – is apparently an important part of the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s ‘Great Reset’ agenda.

New Zealanders have been sold a pup. The economic, mental and emotional well-being of New Zealanders has been far from prioritised by her Labour coalition doing extraordinary damage – and determined on more of the same, judging from the controversial legislation it continues to ram through. – Amy Brooke

The European Commission has tried, so far unsuccessfully, to direct its staff not to refer to Christmas, as if mere mention of the word would act on atheists, animists, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Hindus, and no doubt others, much as garlic flowers or crucifixes acted on Dracula (at least as portrayed by Christopher Lee).

Oddly enough in these times of multiculturalism, mere words provoke apoplexy, at least metaphorically, as never before. Euphemism, evasion and renaming flourish — supposedly in the name of tolerance, but really as exercises of power.  – Theodore Dalrymple

The academics, intellectuals and sub-editors of university presses who use the new style evidently believe that the world is populated by people of extreme psychological fragility, and whose self-esteem, which can be shattered by the mere usage of BC and AD, it is their duty to protect.

Thus does condescension and sentimentality unite with megalomania to produce absurd circumlocutions.Theodore Dalrymple

And this is where cancel culture is eating itself. It’s so inane and ridiculous that you now cannot even enjoy being the gender you are, for fear it upsets those who don’t believe in gender.  – Kate Hawkesby

Where is all this going? What’s the end game here? Why do we all have to be the same? And why do we have to bend and change ourselves constantly to fit in with whoever the latest person or group to be offended is? Surely that’s a bottomless pit?  

There will be no individuality left at all, if we go down that track. I mean the Tweeters that are outraged that she’s apparently confused teenagers by saying she loves being a woman, what about the teenagers who’re seeing this bullying backlash against a woman for saying she likes being a woman? What message is that sending them?  – Kate Hawkesby

Whether you agree or not with the people protesting on parliament grounds is not the debate anymore. What this government, that proclaimed it would govern for all New Zealanders, has done is turn its back on a good number of its people.

How hard can it be to at least front up and talk to the people assembled on parliament grounds?

The final straw for me, and what prompted me to go public, is the way government is treating these people – turning the sprinklers on them knowing there was a storm coming, and playing loud music at night so as to not let them sleep and make them feel miserable. No farmer would treat animals like that!

Although this protest has a different focus to Groundswell NZ, we support their right to be heard and cannot understand or agree with the Government’s actions. What is becoming of our once united and proud country? – Bryce McKenzie

Trevor Mallard has officially lost the plot. . . He’s done it under the guise of protection of course – appointing himself as some overarching protector of all – whether they want or need to be protected or not. 

It’s an old school ‘I know best’ approach that reeks of patriarchy and has no place here in the modern world. But what the Government’s tried to do here – and failed in my opinion, is grab the narrative on this protest and shut it down. Problem is they’ve only made things worse. – Kate Hawkesby

Refusing to speak to the protestors, writing them all off as wacko conspiracy theorists, and rabid far-right anti-vaxxers is a big mistake – and has only served to gaslight the situation. Media who’ve ignored Mallard’s instructions, have managed to gauge a large diversity of views from a raft of other people there too – yes there are your fringe nutters, but actually, the anger runs deep and there’re some genuinely aggrieved people out there too.

Only a fool would dismiss them and hope they go away.

Yet that’s what Mallard, Robertson and Ardern are trying to do. Robertson’s rolled out the usual sneering condescending frown down the nose rhetoric which is so popular in the left-leaning sandpit of Twitter.. just writing them off as dangerous rabid crazies. Mallard has taken it next level – he’s stooped to childish antics of pulling dumb – as someone pointed out “boomer” stunts -– like sticking hoses on them and playing them the Macarena. –Kate Hawkesby

Not even the Police support his actions and have distanced themselves from that stupidity. And why give it this much attention if the government line is supposed to be ignore them? Ardern on the other hand has done what she does best – head in sand, fingers in ears – vanish. She’s invisible. But when put on the spot to address it, she joins the Robertson ‘write them off’ camp.

But it’s not working, the protest is only swelling in number, not even a cyclone diminished their enthusiasm.

The other problem for the government is the hypocrisy on display here. Let’s not forget all these MP’s decrying the protest were all proud protestors themselves back in the day. So they support free speech, and your right to protest.. but only if it aligns with their views. I’m not on the side of the protestors here by the way – they’ve blown this by a long shot – it’s a disorganised shambolic out of control mess.Kate Hawkesby

But I wouldn’t be so arrogant as to write them all off as anti-vaxxers and far-right conspirators. There is genuine anger that runs deep in this now very divided country, over mandates and the campaign of control and fear.

So to just write off those protesting without even hearing them, is a dangerous move I think, by a government increasingly out of its depth. –Kate Hawkesby

Although the protestors aren’t necessarily many people’s cup of tea in terms of approach, demeanour and attitude – the general consensus seems to be that they in their own way represent a wider frustration, if not anger, among many of us. 

That’s why there isn’t a leader or a point of contact or a specific cause. hat’s why it’s been a mistake to call them an anti-vax protest or an anti-mandate group. It’s been a mistake to suggest it’s a mistake that they didn’t have a singular point.

That’s the point, about the lack of a point. They represent all of us that right now have a sense that things aren’t right.Mike Hosking

But it is an outpouring of emotion and I admire people who want to give up a lot of time and effort to travel and hunker down and presumably get a sense of some sort of accomplishment.

Which is why Trevor Mallard specifically, and the Government more generally, have misread this so badly. As a tiny collective they can be, and have been, dismissed but that’s to fail to see that they represent a wider mood.

The Government and Mallard in particular are on the wrong side of this. When you start turning sprinklers on, start playing loud, bad music at them, start pumping out covid-19 ads – you’re being obtuse. – Mike Hosking

Telling the media not to talk to protestors is anti-democratic. Opening your Speaker’s Balcony and telling media to look down on the protestors is also anti-democratic, authoritarian and controlling, not to mention the height of arrogance.

The fact so many of the media acquiesced is of deep concern and probably plays into the protestors beliefs that too much of the media is controlled. It’s certainly not open honest and transparent as Labour so often wanted us to believe they are. 

If the protestors need to be moved that is the job of the police, not a jumped bureaucrat with a puffed-up view of their own entitlement. There are no winners in this. But the more the Mallards of this world look to decry, misinform and bully, the sympathy will build behind those who just want to have their say.   – Mike Hosking

New Zealand’s secular liberal saint, Jacinda Ardern, seems to be losing a little of her previously strong odor of sanctity.  – Theodore Dalrymple

In typical bureaucratic fashion, the rules were interpreted strictly, and made no allowance for the fact that to be stranded pregnant in Afghanistan is a good deal more worrying than to be stranded, middle-aged, non-pregnant, and prosperous, in, say, Switzerland. No doubt the bureaucracy wanted to avoid charges of favoritism—one rule for the prominent and another for the unknown—but it did Ardern’s popularity no good that Bellis felt constrained to turn to those well-known feminist humanitarians, the Taliban, for assistance. They seem to have done the trick: Bellis has now been allowed to return to New Zealand; but in the process, Ardern’s government, not long ago praised as the model for all civilized countries to follow, has been made to look stupid, cruel, and weak.Theodore Dalrymple

The bad news is that each time we’ve made the right decision to buy more time, we’ve made it late and with insufficient planning in place. The strategy has served us well, but the execution much less so.

When the Prime Minister spoke to the nation for the first time this year on 20 January, she repeated stressed that ‘every day counts’ and it was urgent to prepare for Omicron, before going on to tell us that over the summer the government and its agencies had done… sod all.

One example: A new testing regime and the introduction of rapid antigen testing was announced, not with the information that the test were in the country and ready to go, but that they were on order, and in insufficient quantities. – Tim Watkin

Government hesitancy or poor management have been as consistent as the ‘buy time’ tactic. The initial lockdown was a week or two late, the testing at the border got into gear weeks after it was meant to, security at MIQs was only sorted after a number of escapes, more ICU beds were only announced 22 months into the pandemic, and – crucially – the move to order the vaccine and roll out a programme was slow, for all its eventual effectiveness. And we’re paying the price for that slowness now, cutting the gap between second and third doses and less widely boosted than we could have been.

The urgent language Ardern has used since 20 January was also needed before Christmas and over summer. National’s Covid-19 Response spokesman Chris Bishop on 30 December issued a statement headed “Govt must act on boosters, kids vaccines and rapid tests”. –Tim Watkin

Time and again we’ve done the right thing, but late and lackadaisically. And time and again we’ve got lucky. Or, the rightness of the decision has bought us the time to play catch-up. That, for me, has been the defining story of our Covid response and our consistent ‘buy time’ tactics.

But now we face a new phase for New Zealand. Covid-19 has begun entering the community at a level we’ve never seen before. I give thanks to all that is holy that we have bought time and we are facing this now – informed, vaccinated, prepared, up against a less deadly variant – and not at any other time over the past two years, like so much of the rest of the world. – Tim Watkin

Critics have repeatedly – for the best part of two years – insisted that the government’s tactics have run their course and it needs to change. And they’re repeatedly been shown up. But now we truly are at the end of the ‘buy time’ era. We’ve bought all the time we could and the wave is upon us. Two years in and the government will need to pivot and take a new approach. Let’s hope their decision-making is as sound, but their execution improves. Because the thing about waves is that they keep on coming.Tim Watkin

Critics have repeatedly – for the best part of two years – insisted that the government’s tactics have run their course and it needs to change. And they’re repeatedly been shown up. But now we truly are at the end of the ‘buy time’ era. We’ve bought all the time we could and the wave is upon us. Two years in and the government will need to pivot and take a new approach. Let’s hope their decision-making is as sound, but their execution improves. Because the thing about waves is that they keep on coming.Tim Watkin

The day a Speaker dictates to the media on how a story can be told would be a dark day for democracy.

It fits with the current Beehive though: a government by remote control, refusing to engage with those on the ground who don’t fit their mould and that’s most certainly unwise if not unkind. – Barry Soper

We’re fighting all these regulations and restrictions to keep operating, to keep job security going.. . It’s just decimating and it’s so hard for businesses to figure this out when the rules are constantly changing, we’re just tired of all these changes and restrictions. If it was simple – if it was like just RAT tests, clear, come to work, that’d be great, but it’s not, we’ve got all these minefields to work through.Simon Berry

Our besotted would-be train-spotters seriously oversell the benefits of “light” rail, such as the downtown-airport link. Who would want to trundle along in a train, stopping and starting at 18 stations en route, when an express bus using dedicated bus lanes can get you there in 35 minutes, as it often got me there pre-Covid? – Tim Hazledine

Even without the patently loony proposal to dig a long tunnel under Sandringham Rd, we have here a proposed “light” rail project that will cost New Zealand’s three million taxpayers between three and five thousand dollars each. This for the benefit of about 30,000 Auckland commuters, to improve their access to the higher-paid jobs in the CBD, if that’s still what they want to do. Tim Hazledine

THE NEW ZEALAND liberal or woke left, most of it directly connected to the Labour Party or supportive of it, has lost its mind. How else can you explain its maniacal pursuit of ‘right wing extremists’, ‘Nazis’ and ‘white supremacists’ within the several hundred people dancing to Bob Marley on Parliament grounds? When Rob Muldoon used to be mocked by Labourites for looking for ‘reds under the bed’, today’s Labourites are worthy of our derision as they hunt for Nazis in every occupation tent.  – Against the Current

What the liberal left has been demonstrating is something other than liberalism. It instead owes much to the scourge of identity politics. It has displayed a toxic politics that’s profoundly anti-working class and which has jettisoned tolerance and free debate for  shaming, threats and intimidation. While the folk at the occupation have been remarkably optimistic and good humoured in the circumstances, the liberal left has been petulant, joyless, trivial and status quo-perpetuating. Against the Current

More disturbingly though, the liberal left has displayed a willingness to unleash state violence against dissenters. The mask has come off to reveal something very ugly.  – Against the Current

The liberal left has indeed lost its mind. What we have seen on display for the past eight or so days is a motley rabble of cowardly keyboard warriors who are seeking to extinguish an emerging independent working class politics that owes no allegiance to the political status quo that the woke left benefits from. This is the real ‘crime’ of the Wellington occupation. Against the Current

Shoot me now!  New Zealand’s system of science education continues to go down the toilet (along with Donald Trump’s papers, I guess) as everyone from government officials to secondary school teachers to university professors pushes to make Mātauranga Māori (“MM”) or Māori “ways of knowing” coequal with science, to be taught as science in science classes. All of them intend for this mixture of legend, superstition, theology, morality, philosophy and, yes, some “practical knowledge” to be given equal billing with science, and presumably not to be denigrated as “inferior” to real science. (That, after all, would be racism.) It’s one thing to teach the indigenous ways of knowing as sociology or anthropology (and but of course “ways of knowing” differ all over the world); it’s another entirely to say that they’re coincident with modern science.

The equation of “ways of knowing” like MM with modern science is, of course, part of the Woke Program to “decolonize science”. The problem, of course, is we have a big conflict—one between a “way of knowing that really works“, which is science, and on the other side a reverence for the oppressed and their culture, embodied in MM.  The result is, of course, that the oppressed win, and all over the Anglophonic world science is being watered down, downgraded, pushed aside, or tarred with adjectives like “white supremacist” and “colonialist.” – Jerry Coyne

The purpose of education, at least as I see it, is to impart generally accepted knowledge to students, and to teach them how to think and how to defend and analyze their views. This is precisely the opposite of MM, which is a kind of theology that cannot be questioned or falsified. Under my construal, education is indeed for everyone, but for those groups who have spiritual/religious/moral values that differ from those of other groups, they have to get those things reinforced on their own time.Jerry Coyne

People of Aotearoa: rise up against this nonsense! Do you want your science education to become the laughingstock of the world? For that is what will happen if the benighted keep barrelling along that dual carriageway of science and nescience. – Jerry Coyne

his country survives on trading, often in markets at the other side of the world.

The fact that our standard of living is rated amongst the richest countries on the planet is solely dependent on our exporters having a better product to sell and being able to market it better than our competitors. It follows that the more you sell at these prices, the more we can afford to deliver higher living standards to the whole population of New Zealand. More and better schools and health services. More aged care and handicapped facilities. Better infrastructure, sporting, and leisure facilities.

As the economy grows, we all benefit.Clive Bibby

It says something about the time we are in that politicians cannot state they are listening to a group without it being assumed they are therefore part of that group.- Brigitte Morten

It is unlikely the protestors, now emboldened by seven days in horrible weather, blasting music, and overflowing portaloos, will be easily mollified. But it is clear that the government’s decision to dismiss their views has validated these citizen’s argument that they do not have a voice.Brigitte Morten

Irrespective of where you sit in the mandated vaccination debate, it is an extreme level of government coercion. Some of us will roll with it. In fact, close to 90% of the eligible population has done what the government has asked of it. But enforced coercion must be proportionate to the level of risk to public health and this is where the case for the mandated vaccination enters murky ground for those who gathered outside Parliament. The vaccine will stop our hospital system being swamped, but it doesn’t stop transmission.

You have both removed a citizen’s right to choose what is injected into their bloodstream and you have told them they will also get the virus. Are we really that surprised people have taken to the streets to oppose mandated vaccination? Has New Zealand society ever been this divided and this angry?  – Rachel Smalley

As I write this, the government hasn’t met with any of the protestors. Sure, some of the behaviour has been appalling and there are security issues, but few, if any, of the protestors would describe themselves as feeling recognised and free from prejudice. I don’t agree with their argument, but I support their right to be heard. And if you refuse to listen, the mob just keeps yelling.  Rachel Smalley

Two years into this pandemic, the government and many of its agencies are still heavily distracted by Covid. The focus remains laser-like on the virus, but the protests have shown us what happens when a government loses its peripheral vision across all of society. New Zealand is turning on itself. . . The government is throwing everything at containing the Covid monster but, in doing so, it has run the risk of fuelling another monster that is far, far harder to contain.   – Rachel Smalley

The fight is far from over. Trans activists wield an enormous amount of cultural power, and their ideology is far from discredited in the eyes of progressive politicians, delusional academics, and their media microphones. Many still insist that without sex change surgeries and life-long dependence on drugs, gender dysphoric children will kill themselves—and this threat packs potent power. Yet, from the British Isles to the Continent to the Nordic nations, people are beginning to wake up. Major medical institutions are beginning to put research over ideology. Each time this happens, trans activists lose power that they can never recover. And as the ugly and irreversible consequences of their delusional experiment become clearer, we can begin to hope that their narrative will implode sooner than seemed possible only a short time ago.

For the sake of the children being inducted into lives of perpetual medicalization, I desperately hope so.  – Jonathon Van Maren 

Truth is never absolute. We should be inherently wary of those who proclaim a particular viewpoint – political, religious, or otherwise – with a ferocity that tolerates no possibility of an alternative view, let alone that it may contain some points of validity.

Unfortunately, we live in circumstances where not only has truth become absolute, but also where virtually any actions in defence of that new absolute are considered acceptable. In nearly every aspect of today’s society, reason and considered debate are giving way to uncompromising absolutes, with little room for the traditional middle ground between them. – Peter Dunne

 There is a new vehemence abroad that accepts no good in any contrary view and no acceptable justification in any stand or action taken to promote that view. Because the particular view being expressed is considered to be wrong, all those who hold or even dally with it are mercilessly scorned and vigorously condemned.

The bigger picture, beyond this protest, and beyond Covid-19, is far more disturbing. Something is seriously wrong when protestors can see threatening to execute politicians and journalists because they disagree with them as legitimate. Equally, when political leaders can justify not being willing to engage in any form of dialogue with the protestors simply because they do not like the views they are expressing smacks of high-handed intolerance. It suggests our capacity for rational discourse and reasoned debate about a controversial issue has broken down completely. More worryingly, the vehemence of expression on both sides of the argument makes it difficult to see how differences of this type can ever be resolved constructively while such polarised positions and mistrust endure. – Peter Dunne

Having tasted attention and notoriety this way, the mob will not be easily dissuaded from similar action the next time an issue that riles them arises. We need to redefine the rules of social engagement in such circumstances, in a way that brings respect, reason and debate, rather than abusive slogans and haranguing, back to the forefront of public discourse. However unacceptable or offensive they may consider the views of the protestors, political leaders cannot remain haughtily detached, hiding behind civil authorities such as the police.

At its heart good leadership is about engagement – hearing from and listening to the disparate views of the community at large and then acting in a considered way in response. Good leadership is not simply telling people what to do and expecting unquestioning compliance. It also means having the courage to acknowledge the diversity of public opinion and its right to be expressed.

Personally distasteful it may feel, our political leaders across the spectrum need to initiate some form of dialogue with protest leaders to ease tensions and limit future recurrences. Otherwise, like Covid-19 itself, the new intolerance now emerging will, to our collective detriment, quickly become endemic. Peter Dunne

The transfer of sympathy from the victims of crime to the criminal has been going on for a long time. This transfer is now taken as a sign of broadmindedness and moral generosity, marking out the intellectual from the general run of prejudiced, thoughtless or censorious persons. – Theodore Dalrymple

It is hardly surprising criminals take advantage of a tendency among the educated to view them as the victims of their own conduct. The criminals may be ignorant, ill-educated and foolish, but they are not therefore stupid. They know the emotional and intellectual weaknesses of their enemies or opponents and are prepared to exploit them.Theodore Dalrymple

The root cause of crime is the decision to commit it: indeed, without such a decision, there is, or ought to be, no crime to answer. Of course, human decisions are affected by many factors, among them (but not exclusively) the likely adverse legal consequences for the people who make them. – Theodore Dalrymple

A fascinating political and sociological fault line has opened up – one that defies the normal understanding of New Zealand’s political dynamics. People at the bottom of the heap, as political scientist Bryce Edwards describes them – many of them working-class and provincial, with no formal organisational structure – have risen up in defiance of the all-powerful political class, the urban elites who are accustomed to calling the shots and controlling political discourse. I would guess most of the protesters outside Parliament have not previously been politically active and may not feel allegiance to any particular party. They appear to be angry about a number of things.  Covid-19 and the vaccination mandate galvanised them into action, but it’s possible there are deeper, less easily articulated grievances – such as perceptions of powerlessness and exclusion – simmering beneath the surface. – Karl du Fresne

 Most commentators in the mainstream media are framing the occupation of the parliamentary lawn as being orchestrated by sinister right-wing extremists, and therefore devoid of any legitimacy. How paper-thin their tolerance of the right to dissent has proved to be. The clear implication (where it’s not explicitly stated) is that the occupation is not a legitimate expression of the right to protest by sincerely motivated New Zealanders who present no threat to anyone, but an alarming phenomenon driven by alt-right agitators with an ulterior agenda. But there’s a very marked discrepancy between reports from people who have actually been on the ground at Molesworth St, who generally describe the event as peaceful and good-natured, and those who make judgments from afar and take refuge in simplistic stereotypes about the type of people who are protesting. – Karl du Fresne

I get the distinct impression that politicians from all the parties in Parliament, even ACT, feel threatened by this sudden gesture of assertiveness by the great unwashed and don’t know how to handle it. MPs have done themselves no favours by refusing to engage with the protesters. For one thing, it looks cowardly; for another, it reinforces the perception that the politicians prefer to remain isolated in their bubble rather than sully themselves by talking to a bunch of scruffs who dared to challenge the political consensus. Unusually, this protest is a rebuke to the entire political establishment, which the politicians probably find unsettling because it’s outside their realm of experience.  But they need to get off their high horse; the people standing in the mud outside Parliament are New Zealanders, after all. – Karl du Fresne

As part of the Parliament protest there are conspiracy theorists trying to take advantage to sell their wares, offensive signs, threatening language, destruction of property, and abuse of bystanders and local business.  None of this is okay.

Some use these reasons to treat protestors like they are deplorables; to argue that because some of the group are like this, none of the group should be listened to. But, as we saw in Trump’s America, the deplorables have a vote just like the intellectuals. And they have some valid grievances.Brigitte Morten

No politicians, from any party, have met with the protestors. They are too scared of media reporting contact by them with protestors as if it signified anti-vax sentiment. That is not fanciful. It says something about the time we are in that politicians cannot state they are listening to a group without it being assumed they are therefore part of that group. – Brigitte Morten

There is no such thing as a ‘right to protest’. In our Bill of Rights there are rights to free speech and freedom of assembly. But not explicitly to protest. There is no unfettered right for the protestors to camp on the lawns or increasingly block more roads in the Wellington CBD.

In the same way the government was not able to hold Aucklanders in lockdown as long as they wanted because people simply would not comply; the protestors will also lose empathy for their cause if they continue their hinderance of Wellingtonians for too long. You cannot argue the government mandates unfairly treated destroyed your livelihood while destroying the livelihoods of the businesses surrounding Parliament. The social contract goes both ways. – Brigitte Morten

Those calling for the Police to forcibly remove people from Parliament grounds underestimate how difficult this will be. If the current protesters are violently suppressed, the conspiracy claims of far right inspiration will become real. Thousands of previously apolitical New Zealanders will have seen that our democracy has no place for them, and the language of force is all that is left if they are not to be oppressed indefinitely. – Brigitte Morten

It is unlikely the protestors, now emboldened by seven days in horrible weather, blasting music, and overflowing portaloos, will be easily mollified.

But it is clear that the government’s decision to dismiss their views has validated these citizen’s argument that they do not have a voice.Brigitte Morten

 What are the building blocks of democracy? As “anti-mandate” protesters camp on Parliament grounds and images of police versus protesters fill our newsfeeds, it’s a timely reminder that trust, transparency, informed debate and respect for our civil institutions underpin a healthy democracy.

Beyond the many humanitarian and economic costs due to Covid, we cannot afford democracy and social cohesion to become casualties. – Sir Peter Gluckman

Trust in the political process has progressively fallen, the manipulation of information, the emergence of alternative facts, the blatant loss of transparency and respect for the truth are all features of many so-called democracies. Sir Peter Gluckman

Democracy has always depended on the integrity of both policy and political institutions and transparency in policymaking and knowledge. It requires ideas and policy to be contested civilly both through an informed and empowered opposition and an engaged civil society with the assistance of a robust fourth estate. From Plato’s thinking onwards, an honest and well-informed electorate has been central to effective democracy. – Sir Peter Gluckman

Arguably, there have been other costs, including democracy as an institution itself. There is a sense that decisions have been made without the deep oversight of Parliament and the plurality of external voices that makes for a quality democracy. Issues over Covid testing date well over a year now, including severe criticism from the Auditor-General over contracts, and now the availability of rapid antigen tests. There remains uncertainty about the rationale behind those decisions.

Crisis management is always best served by contesting ideas and approaches before decisions are made. In the private sector and military, “red teams” are commonly used to explore alternatives and ask frank questions of those managing the response. The furore about the role of the private sector and how its operational expertise could be of value has been evident since early in the pandemic and the next phase of the pandemic will be even more complex.Sir Peter Gluckman

Sustaining trust and cohesion is hard and requires real efforts to reinforce transparency and promote open discussion on difficult matters. This involves respecting the value of diverse inputs and avoiding any sense of Government abdicating accountability through confusing language. An informed electorate, open discourse, empowered citizens, and respect for the institutions of civic society are some of the greatest assets New Zealand could have. – Sir Peter Gluckman

Prognostication’s a curse. You can see the train wreck coming, you can shout about it, but you just can’t convince an utterly useless government to do a damned thing about it. 

Bit of a shame that the Herald piece didn’t mention that all of this was entirely predictable, was predicted, and could have been avoided by contracting for more capacity with a testing lab that wasn’t running pooled samples. Eric Crampton

Dismissive arrogance towards the protesters at Parliament is making the situation worse.

That’s not just Parliament’s high-handed approach. Opinion pieces and public sentiment that mock and sneer at people’s sincerely held beliefs serves to isolate those in our community who reckon the Government has got it wrong. – David Fisher

These are just some of the chisels placed in cracks in our civil society. And then the pandemic came along, bringing anxiety, fear and uncertainty and smashed them like a sledgehammer. It caused industries to collapse, businesses and jobs to go, people’s dreams and hopes to disappear. Across our society, there is tension and, among many, the vacuum of despair.

That’s the hole dis/misinformation filled. That’s how it became possible for some people to self-radicalise and how it led to the protest at Parliament.David Fisher

With such absolute surety on both sides, arguing over who is right and who is wrong is pointless. Rational argument and discussion has little place here. Those who have committed to their respective positions will not shift.

To dismiss those people – as the Prime Minister does by citing our 95 per cent vaccination rate – is wrong. To mock those people, as some in Parliament have done, is worse. Isolation is a classic part of the radicalisation process. The further and harder you push people away, the more fixed they become. – David Fisher

For every person that did make the journey, there are many others who wished they were there. They are people who stayed home and expected when they came out it would be over, who got their jabs and then thought that would be it, who had children stuck overseas, who knew someone who couldn’t go to their mother’s funeral, who lost their house when they lost their job. – David Fisher

The way out of the protest is not through the protest but with the protest. Rather than dismiss the protesters, recognise that the views they hold are genuine and hard-earned. Recognise they dedicated considerable thought to their views and adopted a stance that is honest and principled.

Having done so, recognise too that it is the one thing on which we disagree that is making it difficult to see what we like about each other. Finding a circuit-breaker to do that is hard but necessary.

Ultimately, most of those on Parliament’s forecourt want the same thing as those inside Parliament’s walls – for New Zealand to be a free and open democracy in which we are able to live our lives in the best way possible, subject to the freedoms enjoyed by each other.- David Fisher

For me, that’s been one of the interesting little hypocrisies in this whole episode. On one hand, politicians wanted to take a moralistic high ground by refusing to meet with protesters. How dare anyone dignify them with a response?! Only the moralistic high ground apparently didn’t apply to the Speaker, his sprinklers, and his irritating playlist.

Trevor Mallard’s efforts can only have served to antagonise the protesters. And every bit of scorn and hate hurled upon them only reinforces their self-image. The team of five million? Ha. This rabble, confused, misled, and deluded as they may be, felt well and truly left out of the team of five million. They joined together to protest precisely because they felt like outsiders. They felt ostracised. Very little from the past 10 days will have changed their minds. – Jack Tame

Yes, there were terrible, hateful, threatening messages. As far as I’m concerned, anyone making death threats should have been arrested immediately. But in this morass of different grievances and complaints are some very reasonable and articulate concerns around extraordinary state mandates. Personally, I don’t know why any right-thinking person who was only protesting the mandates would choose to stay and be associated
with someone making death threats. But the mandate issue is worthy of protest. I don’t agree with the protesters, but they do have a right to be heard. – Jack Tame

Hindsight is a very effective strategist, but there is one moment police may look back upon as the lost opportunity to nip the anti-mandate protests at Parliament in the bud.

That was on the afternoon of the first day the protesters arrived – Tuesday nearly two weeks ago. Claire Trevett

The poor old police in particular have been made to look like laughing stocks. They appear to have severely underestimated the size and intent of the protest group, despite the social media that prefaced it.

There have been moments that have begged to be lampooned. High among them was Police Commissioner Andrew Coster’s so-called towing crackdown.

Coster did not front publicly until Tuesday – a week after the protesters arrived. He said the protest was now “untenable” and put protesters on notice that if they did not move their cars, the towing would begin the next day. He also admitted they could not find towies to do the job, and the Army didn’t have the right equipment.

The next day the only car that was actually towed was a police car, which had a flat tyre. – Claire Trevett

The protesters have not made serious attempts to storm Parliament, beyond a brief flurry at the very start. Coster’s “de-escalation” strategy appears to be police-speak for hoping like hell the protesters stay that way. Claire Trevett

But the protest has long gone past the point at which police could simply wade into it and break it up. Coster has set out why: moving in with force at this point would be very ugly indeed.

Consent – the consent of the protesters rather than the wider public – is pretty much the only option left. – Claire Trevett

There is a danger the inhabitants of the parliamentary precinct have spent the week missing the wood for the trees. In focusing on the protesters directly in front of them, they seem oblivious to a much bigger mood shift that’s going on around the country.

What if what they are seeing is just the tip of the iceberg?Steven Joyce

There is, however, a large and growing group of New Zealanders who have had their lives severely disrupted by the Government’s actions “for the greater good”, who are sick of having their plight ignored.

And there is a big bunch more who have had a gutsful of the ever-changing rules and restrictions in the face of what they see as a very mild strain of Covid-19. It is these larger groups the Government should be most worried about.

The evidence of discontent and disagreement is growing all around us. – Steven Joyce

 The Covid response has created many losers. We’ve rightly talked a lot about the people caught on the wrong side of the border. But they are not the only ones.

Anyone who owns or works in a hospitality business or a small retail shop is another. People working in tourism or international education have been in a world of woe. Young people have had their education disrupted and their sporting dreams curtailed.

There are people living in pain because their elective surgery or cancer treatment has been postponed to the never-never. They have all been stopped from doing things which were previously part of normal life. Covid has whipped the rug out from under them.

It is perhaps not surprising when so many have had their lives turned upside down through no fault of their own, that a few will turn to conspiracy theories and the like.Steven Joyce

The Government certainly didn’t create the pandemic, but some of their actions have made it much worse than it needed to be. The vaccination delays, the inexplicable obstinacy against new forms of testing, the failure to increase hospital capacity, the layers upon layers of levels, traffic lights and stages which make people’s heads spin. – Steven Joyce

Then there are all the other tone-deaf announcements that heap insult on injury. What planet would you have to be on to think that whacking small businesses with a 6 per cent minimum wage increase and a new social insurance tax, plus the spectre of centralised wage negotiations, were good ideas now?

Why would you think that announcing a $15 billion light rail project for a privileged few in Auckland makes any sense when you are racking up debt all over the place that the next generation is going to be lumbered with? And at the same time as there is a real question mark over the future of commuting as we knew it?

And why would you be consulting on tighter immigration, visitor and student controls when your biggest problem after some pretty shoddy treatment amid two years of closed borders will be persuading enough people to come here?Steven Joyce

The Government’s dogmatic determination to continue with a policy programme made instantly out of date by the pandemic indicates the same lack of flexible thinking apparent in their Covid response. They expect everyone else to adjust and cope but they intend to sail on, determined to do things they thought of six or seven years ago irrespective of current circumstances.

And their blind loyalty to the Ministry of Health and its Director-General is a sight to behold. Dr Bloomfield has been politically dissembling at best about his organisation’s confiscation of RAT test orders. In any other Government he would have been carpeted and there would be talk of resignation. – Steven Joyce

The country’s mood is darkening, and in dismissing the protesters and their motivations, the Prime Minister and her MPs are giving the appearance that they are dismissing all the concerns people are raising, or even just quietly thinking about.

I can’t tell the Government how to get the protesters to go home, although firing Trevor Mallard would probably help. I suspect in the meantime the numbers will only grow.

Ministers need to lift their sights and focus on the wider discontent among the public outside Wellington and outside the Bowen triangle.

If ministers showed a willingness to genuinely listen, adjust their policy response, and convince Kiwis they both care about and will mitigate the disruption in people’s lives, then they can right the ship. At that point the protest will also probably peter out. If they don’t, then a few hundred assorted protesters and conspiracy theorists camped on the lawn at Parliament will be the least of their problems.Steven Joyce

I would say there’s probably a three-tier mandate. So the hairy shirt level is employment and losing your job, the next level down is the irritation level of not being able to do stuff you want to do, and then the third level down, which I think to be perfectly honest probably shouldn’t have been there in the first place, is a kind of mandate creep where we’ve been trying to really encourage secondary school students in that 12 to 17 year old age group to step up and get their doses which they have,” McIntyre said.

But schools have overinterpreted that and are imposing all these unnecessary restrictions on kids in that age group, not being able to play sport, not being able to go and participate in school activities, and it’s all because of their parents’ decisions which they are being punished for,” he said.

And let’s face it, you know, even if they are vaccinated, they are mixing with a whole group of other kids who are very low risk and they’re incredibly low risk now they’ve had their two doses, so I think particularly that third group, the kind of mandate that should never have been there in the first place, so I think that’s really an important one to tackle first. – Peter McIntyre

Why has a school been denied tests whilst it seeks to protect the health & safety of its own students & parents? Why has the government interfered with the contract? Our politicians and public officials would tell you that it has to do with things like MedSafe Approval – that health & safety red-tape is necessary when importing medical-related products.

However, that’s just one half of the truth. The other half is that our government has a very strong ideological problem with private sector involvement in the health-care sector.Robert MacCulloch

Yes, the government doesn’t want buyers & sellers which it doesn’t control coming together to do deals together in the health-sector. Although they say its about public health, it’s equally as much about ideology. Labour has an anti-privatization philosophy. At present, in the context of virus-testing, that philosophy has just become a health hazard. – Robert MacCulloch

Largely Covid-free, New Zealand has been viewed as a paradise for much of the last two years. Jacinda Ardern, already considered by many the Mother Teresa of the Antipodes, excelled in the early stages, acting decisively and with compassion. Appealing to the population to act as one, her “Team of Five Million” approach did wonders for national unity at a time when most other leaders were floundering and failing. No wonder I voted for her – twice.

But times have changed. Once saintly, Jacinda now appears merely silly, having led New Zealand to a place that looks more like a smug cul-de-sac than a nation wholly reliant on overseas tourism and trade. Then again, long-term strategic thinking was never a feature of her government’s Covid response, with “elimination” taking precedence over vaccination for much of 2021.   – Joanna Grochowicz

Not that anyone in New Zealand is really focusing on what she got wrong. Ardern’s $55 million (£27m) sweetener in the form of the Public Interest Journalism Fund has enabled her government to exert tremendous influence over private sector media outlets, as well as tightly control-messaging through state media channels. So much so that any coverage critical of Ardern now originates from pundits in Australia or Britain. Most recently, opposition leader David Seymour had to turn to the Daily Mail to get an opinion piece printed. This is when silly starts looking sinister.

If democracy is built on the ability to question those in power and hold them to account, then the Kiwi media are wholly complicit in Ardern’s swing from immaculate heart to autocrat. The major opposition party National have only made their job easier by offering nothing more headline-grabbing than leadership squabbles. Then again, the opposition’s perceived infighting might just be the PM’s grand media bribe in action. Gosh, she’s good!  – Joanna Grochowicz

Nobody can see the silent assassin at work next door; nor the mental health crisis her government’s Covid response has unleashed on New Zealand, where youth suicide rates are already the highest in the developed world. It certainly doesn’t fit the image of the leader I voted for – the young woman breastfeeding her new born at the UN General Assembly, the compassionate leader who offered succour to survivors of 2019’s Christchurch massacre. Here was a rare thing! A leader who understood both grand gestures and nuance.

Of course, there is nothing nuanced about Ardern’s shameless Covid scare tactics. They’ve worked a treat, keeping the public vehemently opposed to opening the country’s borders, and compliant in the face of tyrannical restrictions even as the rest of the world is emerging from crisis. Especially when combined with the bread of endlessly extended wage subsidies; and circuses in the form of a parade of overseas DJs, sports teams and stage shows that have breezed in without needing to enter the dreaded MIQ lottery.Joanna Grochowicz

Her latest diversion has worked. Terrifying the Team of Five Million, and focusing their fear and loathing on outsiders importing pestilence into paradise, is a highly effective strategy – if a little lacking in originality. Despots for thousands of years have deployed such methods to distract their subjects from something infinitely more damaging to long-term wellbeing – an unchallenged leader.

Ardern’s lack of transparency runs deep. One example, the He Puapua report currently before her Cabinet, was hidden from former coalition partner, New Zealand First. Finally outed as a result of an Official Information Act request, the report recommends a raft of co-governance structures along racial lines. – Joanna Grochowicz

Already, we are witnessing the corrosive impact of these policies and plans on national unity; and yet these issues and many others are being decided behind closed doors, with no regard for democratic process. Governments do this all the time, right? At least, oppressive regimes do.

What’s particularly galling for me is the mind control Ardern has exerted over the population. Coming back here, I’m shocked at how few have lost their faith, and baffled by the self-congratulatory mood that pervades the country. After two years of sermonising from Ardern and nowhere to drink other than from the government fountainhead, New Zealanders have turned into a nation of self-congratulatory, cavorting maenads.

Mea culpa. In voting for Mother Teresa, I unwittingly ushered Caligula into office. The parallels are there: noble and moderate for a period, admired all over the world “from the rising to the setting sun”. Our esteemed leader has become self-absorbed, cruel and dangerous. Where’s it all leading? I’d love to know, but getting to the truth in New Zealand is a tricky business nowadays. I prefer my chances at the London bacchanal – there at least I can be assured in vino veritas!Joanna Grochowicz

There are, of course, complaints and complaints. Some are purely individual or egotistical, but some point to general problems that affect many other people or the whole of society itself. A complaint is then emblematic of something beyond itself and may even become socially useful or necessary. Complaint that is merely about oneself is often akin to whining, and often serves to justify descent into the psychological swamp of resentful self-pity. – Theodore Dalrymple

There is thus an asymmetry between complaint and gratitude: one complains when things don’t work as they should, but one feels no gratitude when they do. There is a similar asymmetry where human rights are concerned: you complain when they are violated but are not grateful for receiving your due.

Perhaps this explains why people seem so angry all the time despite the unprecedented physical ease of their lives. As we grow ever more technically sophisticated as a society, but individually dependent upon mechanisms of whose workings we have not the faintest idea, we come to expect life to proceed like a hot knife proceeds through butter. When things go wrong – the computer crashes, the train is late, the car won’t start, the gutter is blocked, the bank’s website has a temporary problem, the promised delivery doesn’t arrive – we feel a quite disproportionate despair because of our expectations, though the inconvenience we suffer as a result is trivial by comparison with the kind of problems and deprivations that our forebears had to endure even within living memory, and did so with more equanimity than we can muster.Theodore Dalrymple

It is now almost impossible to remain out of range of those with whom we would rather have no contact. Future generations will never know the joys of being incommunicado. The world is too much with us, wrote Wordsworth getting and spending – and that was in 1802! It is not too much with us now; it is with us perpetually, all the time. – Theodore Dalrymple

On the other hand, recognition of what is and is not within our control is an important manifestation of maturity. How far that control extends was the most important intellectual quarrel of the twentieth century, with extremists arguing either that nothing in a man’s life, or alternatively that everything, was under his control. The extreme positions obviate the need for judgment of individual cases, which Hippocrates told us (in the medical context) is difficult. However, that something is difficult does not go to show that it can or ought to be dispensed with. Life is not the passage of a hot knife through butter. – Theodore Dalrymple

Those MPs who are refusing to even meet with the protesters, seem to have forgotten that they were elected to listen to the concerns of constituents and represent their views in Parliament.

Not only have our political elite shown themselves to be tone deaf about the protest, they also appear to be equally uninformed about Omicron, which is now sweeping through the country at a great rate of knots. – Muriel Newman

The political elite in Wellington have misjudged the situation by maligning and dismissing the protesters. Their misrepresentation of those who are standing up for what they believe, will simply harden their resolve, and result in more good Kiwis like Sir Russell Coutts going to Wellington to support a movement that is aimed at ending forced vaccinations and restoring human rights, dignity, and the freedom of choice for New Zealanders. Muriel Newman

We live in a community. Obligations to one another flow from that. At the same time, obligations must be checked by individual freedoms because it is almost impossible for an individual to opt out. The law follows you to the boundaries of the State. Civilised societies try to find the right balance between communal obligations and individual freedoms. People tend to gravitate to societies which are relatively skewed towards individual freedoms. Migration flows speak to that. Empirically, such societies are also the most prosperous. Individual freedoms and prosperity move in sync. – Peter Smith

There is no opposition among the major political parties on combatting the virus, as there isn’t any more on combatting so-called “climate change.” In such circumstances despotism flourishes.

Media today verses yesterday: For sure, much more leftness, greenness, feminisation and callowness; but, dwarfing all of these pernicious trends is a precipitous fall in questioning curiosity, objectivity and common sense. Shows no signs of reversing. – Peter Smith

There’s something symbiotic about the protestors outside Parliament Buildings and the ministers inside who won’t talk to them. Both are motley, arrogant and short-sighted; they radiate confusion and specialize in messaging that is hard to understand. Virtually everything ministers have promised over the last four and a half years has crumpled in their hands, from building 100,000 new houses, abolishing homelessness, lifting people out of poverty, improving education, fixing the country’s creaking infrastructure, and enhancing race relations that have never been in a worse state. – Michael Bassett

The protestors are similarly confused on everything from a clear purpose through to whether they even want to talk to those who don’t want to talk to them. Most in this diverse assemblage of New Zealand’s modern underclass are engaged in a rumble with an “up you” message to the rest of us. As well, there’s a thin layer of brighter ideologues who are worried about the creeping shroud of authoritarianism that Jacinda Ardern is encasing us in. But, for the most part the IQ level on both sides is about equal. Some protestors would have happily joined Trump’s January 2021 Capitol riot; others are drawing welfare rather than having any work obligations. Both sides are mostly on the public payroll. The current ministers have similarly impoverished educational backgrounds and narrow life experience. Both sides seem ill-equipped to talk to produce a constructive dialogue, even if anyone wanted to.Michael Bassett

The Prime Ministerial complaint appears to be that anti-mandate protests are acceptable, but anti-vaccine protesters were beyond some imaginary red line and thus were not to be tolerated.

But – and I realise this will come to as a shock to a few in the Beehive and those who pander to them – our political elites do not get to define the boundaries of legitimate dissent. –  Damien Grant

What the prime minister meant, I suspect, is it isn’t how she and her cohort of performance revolutionaries choose to conduct themselves, where the object was to get the Instagram photo and move on somewhere comfortable for a soy latte and vegan muffin. Getting mud on your designer clothing was to be avoided and being arrested was definitely not on the cards. Thank you very much.Damien Grant

There is a qualitative difference between the theatre of protest and the real thing. Those who marched in Auckland in support of Black Lives Matter or against Donald Trump in the Women’s March after his election, were engaging in performative protest.

Their lives were not impacted, they had no expectation of effecting change, and the wrong being committed was happening in another country. This isn’t to diminish the significance of the issues or the genuine feelings of those who turned out, but we should not confuse these marchers with those who stood in the field at Rugby Park in Hamilton wearing helmets. – Damien Grant

Yet we understand that florid language is the last recourse of the powerless, a final act of impotent defiance against the relentless power of the state. To point at the weakest member of our community, whose pitiful status is the result of your policies, and feign outrage as he scribbles pathetically in chalk is a weak moral position.

It makes sense that Trevor Mallard put on the sprinklers and played bad music at the crowd, because such a strategy would have deterred him and his parliamentary colleagues. Demonstrations were to be done only in fine weather and during gentlemen’s hours.Damien Grant

Those who refuse the vaccines do so for a variety of complex reasons, but if you are willing to lose your career rather than take the jab, then we need to acknowledge that this belief is genuine, if mistaken. But then, many believe all sorts of things are bad for them, from religion to a liking for craft beer.

If you believe that mRNA is going to rewire your genetics, you are not going to take the vaccine no matter how drastic the consequences, despite the fact that you, like me, have no idea what mRNA is.

The solution for most of us, when faced with the mandates, is to submit, whether we want it or not; but not everyone is built this way. Throughout history, we see examples of people taking strange ideological positions and being willing to suffer great hardship rather than compromise. – Damien Grant

But within the makeup of humanity, there is a small percentage willing to die for their beliefs and a larger cohort willing to stand in solidarity in the rain and muck of the parliamentary grounds to defy these mandates.

The prime minister is stuck. She cannot negotiate. She cannot back down. She needs to look upon those on the lawn and despair – for those rabble are the captains now. For as long as they can remain in place, they are the story.Damien Grant

Rather than hailing the achievements of the Labour-led government’s management of the covid crisis, this left should have been decrying the government’s lack of an economic programme for those hurting due to the exacerbation of poverty and inequality. – John A.Z. Moore

What I’ve seen at Ministry of Health level borders on incompetent, and no one is taking advice that in any way shifts their thinking.Ian Taylor

The emergency legislation in response to Covid-19 giving our Government the right to control our freedom of movement is no longer demonstrably justified in removing the fundamental rights to which New Zealanders are entitled.  –  Lady Deborah Chambers

However, section 5 in operation appears to be interpreted as broad enough to drive several trucks through. Our Government has removed our fundamental freedom of movement in a way that no other previous government has done. If the Government’s actions are justified under section 5, then that section needs to be narrowed and strengthened. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

The incessant and futile attempts to impose Covid-19 zero strategies will continue to fall away against the inevitable path towards endemic Covid-19. The never-ending onslaught of emergency powers and inane rules should be replaced now with sensible precautions, encouraged but not legislated by the Government, with an ongoing concentration of treatments, vaccinations, and health resourcing.

Instead, our Government has continued – against international trends – to impose even more draconian measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

It is not justified to restrict the fundamental rights of other New Zealanders when we know that it is only a particular group in our community who are vulnerable to a low risk of death from this disease. The better approach in terms of human rights is that citizens who are vulnerable be more cautious and aware. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

The average age of Covid deaths is still higher than the average life expectancy. We do not need a government to talk to us like we are 5-year-olds over these risk factors. New Zealanders know them. New Zealanders know whether they are part of a vulnerable group and should be trusted to act accordingly and take that into account in the decisions they make about their lives without having the Government use that as an excuse to become authoritarian. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

Thirdly, the emergency regulations taking away our freedom of movement fail to properly balance social, educational, economic, and even other medical damage in favour of an obsessive focus on Covid-19 to the exclusion of all else. This is why health bureaucrats and epidemiologists should only ever have been a key source of advice, not dictators of Government policy.

I do not doubt that the Government genuinely thinks it is taking these extreme measures for all the right reasons, but the Government’s rulemaking is no longer proportionate to the risk and does not meet the requirements of the section 5 exemption. The “nanny knows best routine” is no longer justified.

Fourthly, to those who say that our Government’s refrain that they are entitled to claim credit for “keeping people safe” and go even further and demand a continuation of this protection pretense, I say this: It is not the Government’s role to attempt to prevent all death at any cost. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

Part of the reason large elements of the public are entranced by the unachievable goal of permanent insulation from Covid-19 is that our politicians have raised expectations that our Government cannot meet by using paranoia and political one-upmanship.

Some New Zealanders will not be happy until they ruin another school year or chalk up another $60 billion in debt and ruin the early careers of so many young people weighing them down with taxation for decades to come. Those views are not a justification for overriding the fundamental rights of other New Zealanders.

If you are very risk-averse, then the answer is simple: you choose to take the steps you wish to take to avoid infection. The answer is not that our Government removes fundamental freedoms by emergency regulations when we are now in a very different position from when we first faced Covid-19 without vaccines, little knowledge, and a much stronger variant.

Our leaders assure us we are no longer in elimination mode. They urged us to get vaccinated so we could dispense with the restrictions on our fundamental freedoms, but still, we are overwhelmed with onerous and illogical rules and restrictions. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

Most media are addicted to Covid-19 catastrophism, down-playing or ignoring the social and economic costs. Fear is even better than sex at selling newspapers. Oppositions have been too timid to call it out, preferring to profit from outrage and trepidation, preferring to complain about a bungled vaccination rollout when we have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world and one of the lowest fatality rates.

It is time we elevated civil rights as a key component to decision-making. So far, the influence of the Bill of Rights has been zip.  – Lady Deborah Chambers

The pandemic has provided a stress test for the freedom of movement guaranteed to us and the results are not pretty.

The most common way people give up their rights is by thinking that they do not have any. New Zealanders should be justifiably proud and be prepared to defend the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. It is time we did.

Nothing strengthens authoritarianism so much as silence. – Lady Deborah Chambers

The rule of law needs to be respected and upheld. Should people reach the view they are not bound by it and the right to protest is unlimited, chaos would eventually descend upon us. It is a slippery slope. . . 

While the Bill of Rights reinforces the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of association and freedom of movement, none of these rights is absolute.Sir Geoffrey Palmer

When Labour governments run out of ideas they have usually resorted to centralisation and more controls. In its final term, Peter Fraser’s ministry that had been one of the most creative in New Zealand’s history, centralised as tired ministers hoped their trusted bureaucrats would keep Labour’s faltering show on the road. The ministries of Walter Nash, Norman Kirk and Bill Rowling followed similar paths. Jacinda Ardern’s government, you’ll recall, had very little policy to start with. So little in fact that when it came to office in 2017 it had to set up more than two hundred committees and inquiries to tell it what to think and do. The results were pitiful. Almost no Kiwibuild houses were constructed, homeless numbers increased, poverty figures rose rather than declined, educational achievement standards kept slipping against other countries, and major infrastructure construction fell well behind schedule. Whenever criticised, rookie ministers blamed the previous government, and then Covid. Message? Centralising everything can’t compensate for the absence of carefully-thought-through policy. – Michael Bassett

Despite their lack of specific policies, they had ever-so-itchy fingers. They engaged across a wide front tinkering with everything in sight, thinking some ancient Labour dogma overlaid with a big dose of special privilege for Maori would fix things. The public hospital structure had been set in place by Helen Clark’s ministry. It is only twenty years old, but it is now being turned on its head for no good reason except that a more centralized system makes it easier to favour Maori. Health Department officials who have been under huge stress coping with Covid are also having to restructure a hospital system that wasn’t broken. Nor is there anything so wrong with water and drainage services nationally that they require Nanaia Mahuta’s Three Waters in the form set out in her current proposals. Her centralizing scheme seems to have only one over-arching purpose: control by Maori. Meanwhile, the school history curriculum is being restructured with one special purpose in mind: teaching a bogus version of New Zealand history to school kids about the Treaty of Waitangi. Making Labour’s centralisation work certainly keeps officials busy. Wellington has become a gigantic Lego-fest.Michael Bassett

Over the years, the best ideas behind successful government schemes have always taken time to germinate. If they are specific to places or regions there has to be buy-in from locals who will benefit. And the best way to test the extent of that buy-in is to expect the same locals to own the project and pay the lion’s share. Centralizing everything always means bureaucracy and waste. But then, Jacinda’s ministry is so other worldly that they don’t know these stark realities. Her government is too expensive to indulge any further. – Michael Bassett 

Compulsory wokeness, for example, has had limited success in healing division; while classifying people by what they say, rather than what they do, has not promoted much virtue.

State management of the economy to reduce instability and help the weak now threatens long-run productivity growth.  Meanwhile, support for decarbonisation evaporates as life-changing costs become transparent.   

And the taking by the state of ever-wider powers to regulate our lives to make us better people increasingly creates more problems than it solves. Oblivious of how it looks, we find the most ardent defenders of civil liberties yearning for extraordinary powers.Point of Order

There’s an unmistakeable note of panic in the posturing of the woke Left. They suddenly realise they no longer control the public debate and are wildly lashing out at the scruffy mob that usurped their right to make a nuisance of themselves. How dare they! – Karl du Fresne

The level of condescension and intellectual snobbery on display from people who think of themselves as liberal has been breathtaking. The tone has alternated between sneering at this supposedly feral underclass and alarm at their sudden, forceful presence on the national stage – a stage the wokeists are accustomed to hogging for themselves.Karl du Fresne

Oddly enough, we never hear experts on Morning Report expressing alarm about people being radicalised by the extreme Left, although it’s been happening for decades at the taxpayers’ expense and has succeeded in transforming New Zealand into a country that some of us barely recognise.

Similarly, we should conclude that ideological manipulation is a problem if it’s practised on an ignorant lumpenproletariat, but not when it happens to gullible middle-class students in university lecture theatres, where it flourishes unchallenged. – Karl du Fresne

What we can infer from this barrage of anti-Camp Freedom propaganda is that the woke Left is terrified of losing the initiative in the culture wars. It’s desperate to reclaim its sole right to lecture the rest of us and wants to do so without the distraction of an unruly mob that has the effrontery to adopt the Left’s own tactics.

The irony here is that having spent most of their lives kicking against the establishment, the wokeists are the establishment. They have won the big ideological wars and are on the same side as all the institutions of power and influence: the government, the bureaucracy, the media, academia, the arts and even the craven business sector.

The dissenters, disrupters and challengers of the status quo – in other words the people protesting outside Parliament – are the new radicals. This requires the moralisers of the Left to recalibrate their political thinking, and I get the impression it’s more than some of them can cope with.Karl du Fresne

An unprovoked attack on a peaceful, democratic neighbour has not happened in Europe since World War II. It is a barbaric act that could take us into a dark age. It shakes the foundations of the international order and the world economy.

With the fall of Communism, there was hope for a new, liberal world order. Globalisation was spreading, as was democracy. There was a peace dividend in the form of reduced military spending and less need for autarky, especially in energy. It was the supposed ‘end of history’. – Oliver Hartwich

If the West needed a final wake-up call, this is it. If those who believe in liberal democracy, civil liberties, free markets and the rule of law still care about their values, this is the time to defend them.

Talk of solidarity with Ukraine is good, but it can only be hollow. There is no way to come to Ukraine’s military defence without provoking an even bigger war.

What the free and democratic world must do urgently is to reconnect with its own fundamental values. That requires a reality check. – Oliver Hartwich

We must rediscover the cultural and political foundations of our civilisation. It is the Enlightenment values of freedom and peace that we must defend against illiberalism, both at home and abroad.

It is a historic moment. But it is our choice how to respond to it.Oliver Hartwich

They say having a baby changes what you value and it’s true. I want more for our country now. Nine months ago, a politician could’ve convinced me with a tax break. But now, I want to know that politician has a plan to keep New Zealand as wonderful as it was for us to grow up in. I want to know that our schools are world-class, that our jobs pay well and that our cities are good places to live. I want this boy to want to live here, in the same country as his mum and dad, and never leave for a better lifestyle in Sydney and London and New York. I want things that benefit all Kiwis, because what is good for all Kiwis is good for him. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

A commonality of skin color and associated facial features is as nothing compared to the fact that human beings of all races share the faculty of reason. The former may allow for an interesting group photo once in a while.

The latter is what underlies the accumulation and application of knowledge and gives to the members of all races the ability to produce the goods and services that the members of all races need and desire. – George Reisman


Quotes of the month

01/02/2022

It has two sides, like day and night. The night part is dark, it has pain, it has sadness, I’m not free from that. At the same time, the night gives hope that soon it is going to be over and the sun is going to come out. – Farid Ahmed 

Everyone has that capacity to forgive, it is just a choice. If we decide with our own willpower that we want to choose love, then it is easy. Farid Ahmed 

You might be forgiven for wondering who won the Cold War, so prevalent have Stalinist and even Maoist ideas and procedures become in the West, especially in the academy and among intellectuals. It seems almost as if we are reliving the 1930s, when similar groups of people, in response to the economic crisis and dislocation of the times, were captivated by the supposed charms of totalitarianism. – Theodore Dalrymple

We become, if we are white, not born-again Christians, but born-again anti-racists, though whether we shall ever be forgiven is doubtful, for there is the small matter of original sin and pre-destination to consider. – Theodore Dalrymple

By accident of birth, we are racist (if we are white), no matter what we do or whatever position we occupy; by accident of birth we are victims of racism (if we are non-white) whatever we do or whatever position we occupy. So change is both necessary and impossible, a perfect recipe for permanent political agitation, guilt on the part of whites and resentment on the part of non-whites.

Happily, there will always be work for the “experts” in diversity and inclusion to do. Now and forever—Amen. – Theodore Dalrymple

It isn’t difficult for them to find racism, of course, because it is everywhere; by definition it is present wherever and whenever it is perceived, by whomsoever it is perceived. A person accused of racism is guilty of racism by virtue of having been accused of it: there can be no such thing as misunderstanding, let alone malice, by accusers. – Theodore Dalrymple

No need, then, for such irrelevancies as evidence, or for the objective correlatives of an accusation. As guilt in communist countries derived from the class ancestry of an accused, so in the authors’ brave new world of racial justice it derives from the racial ancestry of an accused.

The underlying condescension and indeed racism of this should be obvious: persons of color who accuse do not rise to the level of true human beings because they are incapable of such human possibilities as misunderstanding, exaggeration, and lying. They are inanimate truth-telling machines without true consciousness. – Theodore Dalrymple

It is boring to have to argue against this intimidatory drivel, but not to do so is to let it spread unopposed, fungus-like, through both institutions and minds until it is too late to stop it.Theodore Dalrymple

There is thought for people’s welfare overseas but here it seems like it is only important that the system is being upheld without a thought for the people in it. – Vincent Rall

The rallying call, ‘transwomen are women’ is simply not true. Rowling is right – sex does matter – but it is also the clear distinction between transwomen (who are male) and women (who are female). People can claim to be whoever they like – I might fancy being the King of Siam – but male and female are not the same.Debbie Hayton

Misinformation risks people’s lives. It’s highly likely that people became seriously ill and died because of vaccine misinformation.

Some of this misinformation came intentionally from individuals against vaccinations, and others came from the unintentional effects of comments from politicians. Let’s just say that comments made in mainland Europe affected people in Africa. – Professor Sir Andrew Pollard

Like many of the significant shifts we have seen in education and NCEA over the last few decades, the current debate is underpinned by slogans and little if any evidence. . . 

By the way, the slogan underpinning this declining performance in mathematics is “we (NZ) teach knowledge with understanding and they (everyone else) teach rote learning”. Evidently we don’t teach much at all, while other nations give their children life skills.Gaven Martin

The current slogan for the NCEA changes appears to be, “Many Māori are disengaged from science because they don’t see their culture reflected in it”.

There is no evidence that such a claim has any bearing on education success rates. The issue is not about groups or individuals seeing themselves in the curriculum. It’s about the way our children are tau​ght, and the knowledge and skills teachers bring into the classroom. – Gaven Martin

This policy, however, will reduce welfare (wellbeing would be more politically correct), increase unemployment, increase the duration of unemployment, reduce income, increase inequality, and lead to higher inflation. This outcome is robust and well-known in the field of macro-labour economics.Dennis Wesselbaum

In conclusion, you will be paying higher income taxes, have lower income, and pay higher prices such that the Government can implement a policy which will be harmful for the economy in many ways and reduces welfare – which this Government claims to be its raison d’être.

This reform is against every lesson economists have learned.

In my opinion, this shows the Labour Government does not care about designing useful economic reforms that would lead to better outcomes, but rather does whatever is required to transform Aotearoa into a socialist welfare state with a central government controlling all aspects of life. – Dennis Wesselbaum

Your job as a support person is not to cheer people up. It’s to acknowledge that it sucks right now, and their pain exists. Megan Devine

There is a sneaking suspicion that lower speed limits are the favoured tool of the anti-car lobby, who may perhaps not be happy until we are back to cars travelling at walking speed with a little man in front waving a red flag. – Steven Joyce

 We need to get on with building a safer, more fit for purpose, regional roading system. We’ve already wasted four years, let’s not waste more. – Steven Joyce

Ninety percent of women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer couldn’t name a single symptom before they were diagnosed.

It’s a crisis in women’s health and we need to talk about it, and we need to act on it. – Jane Ludemann

As long as I’m still living from this cancer, I will keep fighting for changes to improve women’s outcomes and to grow the organisation so it can be strong when I’m not here. – Jane Ludemann

It would be amazing if I could live my life and focus on me, but if I did that, nothing would happen. – Jane Ludemann

Ordinary working New Zealanders, busy raising families and paying off mortgages, have little chance of countering the influence of the highly motivated, publicly funded ideologues who increasingly shape public policy. Karl du Fresne

It seems obvious to me that no statue should be erected to him. Victimhood is no virtue and can’t redeem a crime. To erect statues to him is nothing short of disgraceful and to turn him into a hero is—or ought to be considered—an insult to black people everywhere.

However, feeling as I do about this doesn’t entitle me to pull the statues down where they’ve been erected legally. I can argue against them, campaign and start petitions for their removal, and so forth, but I can’t take the law into my own hands.

Moreover, even if I succeeded in my campaign, I should be inclined to preserve the statues somewhere or other rather than to destroy them—as monuments to human folly and moral confusion. It’s always timely to be reminded of human folly and moral confusion. – Theodore Dalrymple

In particular, New Zealand cannot afford to destroy its pastoral industries, with these alone earning $NZ30 billion of foreign exchange per annum.  But strategies for emission reduction will be needed, and there are ways that this can be achieved.

I am hugely frustrated that most of the urban community, and many of the politicians, do not understand that it is food and fibre exports that provide the overseas funds that allow New Zealand to purchase the fuel, vehicles, machinery, computers, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals that make our lifestyles sustainable.  They simply do not ‘get it’.

Just tonight, I heard for the umpteenth time on television how ‘agriculture has to pay its way’.  The idea was that agriculture has to contract. I could only sigh and shake my head, because there was no point in screaming at the box that food and fibre is how all of New Zealand ‘pays it way’.Keith Woodford

At some stage the rest of the world is likely to question the economic sustainability of New Zealand. If that occurs then the exchange rate will crash.

If the exchange rate crashes, then that will be very bad for most New Zealanders. The exception will be for those New Zealanders who produce products for export.

A significant decline in the exchange rate may be what is needed to convince New Zealanders that export industries lie at the heart of our national well-being. – Keith Woodford

The harder the elitists, the media and the academics push for the adoption of Māori language, Māori ownership, Māori control, the adoption of ill-defined terms, the incorporation of Māori factors into science and, particularly, if the courts continue down the path of judicial activism by embracing ethnic and cultural values into judgements and judicial process the greater the problems will become.Owen Jennings

The problem is there is no clear definition of many of the terms and concepts that the conceited want to impose.  They cannot even agree among themselves.  Because they are revisionists they will force the most extreme position.   – Owen Jennings

Uncertainty halts process.  Progress ends.  Investment stops, decisions get deferred or just not made, wrangles emerge, division and antipathy grow.  Instead of a nation of “one people” we are being cleaved down the middle – the totalitarian elitists on one side and the hoi polloi on the other.  The arrogant writing their own cheques on the back of those who have no claims, no acceptable blood. The anger is now evident.  The push is too far, too fast.  The future looks bleak, even bloody. Owen Jennings

This uncertainty, confusion and growing unresolved claims plays havoc in the business world.  It kills entrepreneurship, smothers risk taking and investment and jobs go.  The low paid jobs go first.  The crème le crème are not affected.  When their bloated salaries are insufficient they sell their over-rated service under contract and double their income.  They become a consultant and double it again. – Owen Jennings

What to do?  Can paradise be regained?  Ultimately power lies with the people.  It may take a decade, it may take a century but eventually the masses prevail.  If we do not want a split nation, a fully totalitarian state, a country of even greater ‘haves and have-nots’, a basket case economy where long proven values of free speech, freedom of association, freedom from state control are lost, we need to take action now.  We either do it now by talk and the ballot box or we do it later by more dramatic means. – Owen Jennings

The Great Awokening has not crowded out Millennial Socialism. It has absorbed it. (Or maybe it was the other way around – I am not quite sure, and it makes little difference.) This new Woke Socialism uses the methods of the Culture War, and applies them to economic discourse. Being branded a ‘Thatcherite’ now seems to be almost on a par with being branded a ‘transphobe’, a ‘racist’, or an ‘Islamophobe’.

Thus, the Culture War is by no means ‘beyond economics’. Instead, economics has become a major front in the Culture War. – Kristian Niemietz 

New Zealanders of all stripes have been very accepting of the need to redress historical wrongs perpetrated towards Maori. For the most part, these wrongs have been redressed by way of monetary and property settlements to the present-day Maori tribal authorities. But New Zealanders have become concerned as these claims have become more outlandish, encouraged in part by poorly-drafted legislation that has become the enabler for spurious claims for possession of everything from water resources to the entire coastline of New Zealand. But even these claims pale against the agenda that was outlined in a document that the current New Zealand Government tried to keep secret – the report known as He Puapua [PDF download].Kiwiwit

I believe most New Zealanders want to accommodate Maori aspirations for self-determination, but few will be prepared to accept the imposition of new constitutional arrangements that have the effect of making non-Maori second-class citizens in their own country. A government that sets itself against the will of its people cannot last – or at least, not as a democratic government. We need a genuinely open debate on how New Zealand is to be governed in future without anyone who expresses a contrary view being labeled racist. I have always thought the most important clause in the Treaty of Waitangi was Article 3, which envisaged that we would all be British subjects – in modern parlance, equal citizens. That is the aspiration that should drive all consideration of how New Zealand is to be governed in future. – Kiwiwit

More than anything, losing them taught me that life is so precious and you have only got the one life. I just don’t want to find myself languishing,Lucy Hone

Resilience psychology is about working out how you get through whatever you’re facing, examining and being aware of your thinking patterns and whether they are helping you or harming you towards your goal. – Lucy Hone

I really encourage women to believe in themselves physically and not let other people’s opinions or what they’ve done as they’ve grown up, their family norm, establish what is right for them,” says Hone.

And to take on a challenge that intrigues them because the growth you get from doing those hard things is fantastic and massive and we can do hard things – even though it’s sometimes not fun and involves tears.Lucy Hone

In my experience, the best way to achieve fiscal control is to actually solve the problems of the people who are driving the spend. Bureaucracies are very reluctant to admit that what they’re doing is not working … but we shouldn’t pretend when we know we’re failing. – Bill English

The first thing for governments to do is admit what they’re not good at,. And what they’re not good at is complexity – that is, people who need multiple services, and don’t fit the boxes. So those people are all getting little doses of commodity services that usually wear them out rather than have any impactBill English

[Identity politics is] saying that who you are determines what you will be; and, of course, that’s the kind of thing a lazy universal system would say. – Bill English

People on middle-class incomes … have no idea what it’s like to be enmeshed in 10 different systems (of payments) … these people are worn out … and we give them bad service.Bill English

 A person develops learned helplessness when he is subjected to unpleasant situations that he can do nothing to avert. He generalizes his helplessness to unpleasant situations about which he can do something, such that he acts as if he were helpless when he is not.

I would like to extend this observation to a condition of learned stupidity, that is to say the stupidity of people who are by no means lacking in intelligence but who nevertheless make stupid decisions that people of lesser or even much lesser intelligence can see at once are stupid. Learned stupidity explains how and why highly intelligent people, faced with a choice, repeatedly choose a stupid, if not the most stupid, option, time after time.

In order for people to learn to be stupid in this sense, they must both undergo a prolonged education or training and be obliged to perform acts or carry out procedures that do not engage their intelligence and may even be repugnant to it, while simultaneously being under surveillance for compliance and conformity. Politicians generally fulfill these conditions. They are not alone in this, far from it: A good swathe of the general population also fulfills these conditions. People who are selected for intelligence and then denied the use of it are particularly apt to become stupid.

Politicians are denied, or deny themselves, the use of their intelligence by their need to curry favor, not necessarily of the majority, but of at least the most vocal minorities. It is a human propensity to come to believe what one is obliged, either by self-interest or by virtue of one’s subordination in a hierarchy, to say. That is why, in my professional life, I’ve heard so many intelligent people arguing passionately for the most evident absurdities, with all the appearance of believing in them.Theodore Dalrymple

It is difficult to see how a system of government permitting 15 percent of the population to determine the fate of the remaining 85 percent can end anything other than badly. Pretty early on in the piece, the Māori nationalists, like the Pakeha liberals of the 1980s and 90s, will also be forced to choose:

Do we preserve our ideological victory and defend our hard won political supremacy by force – or not?- Chris Trotter

 Ministers have been treating good news about Covid as political, and failures (such as border testing) as let-downs by public servants, for the past two years. Ben Thomas

There is no doubt Omicron will be swift as it makes its way through the community, but at the end, along with our high vaccination rates, there will be potentially additional widespread herd immunity. This may in fact, if we are lucky, put brakes on the pandemic. It could draw the threat of Covid-19 to a close. Covid-19 will not go away, though; it will still circulate, it will be just less dangerous.

My prediction is that the pandemic will end in six to 12 months, and we will be living in our new normal. Covid-19 will still be with us – that’s a given – but we can all play a part in helping to slow the spread of the virus in our communities.- Dr Bryan Betty

 Two years since the option to go home – a human right, and a lifeline for expats – was ripped away from most Kiwis. Jacinda Ardern spent press conferences referring to those back home as the “team of five million” and urging people to “be kind”, while the one million New Zealanders who live overseas looked on in desperation, the message clear: you are not welcome here.Molly Codyre

 It’s been two years since most overseas Kiwis have been able to hug their families. It’s hard to express the mental toll that takes on a person – the constant uncertainty, the tearful FaceTime calls, the human desire to simply be near the people that you love. – Molly Codyre

Except in the worst-case scenario, you may not be able to get home. The Facebook group Grounded Kiwis recently obtained government data under the Official Information Act outlining how many emergency allocation spots had been approved in the period 1 July 2021 to 6 September 2021: just 7 per cent of applications for those suffering the death of a close relative were approved; only 10 per cent of people with a terminal illness themselves were allowed to go home. –  Molly Codyre

For the second Christmas in a row, just four of our five family members will be able to be together. This time, I’m the odd one out. The concept of hugging them all in February was getting me through. Now I just feel spent. I’m sick of shouting about how angry I am, I’m sick of writing articles and letters and telling the devastating stories of those who have been locked out of their country for months and years. I’m sick of watching athletes, pop stars and international DJs get coveted spaces over the average citizen.

I want to hug my family and be near the people I love. I just want to go home.- Molly Codyre

The innocent words “principles of the Treaty of Waitangi” were included in the SOE Act only because Lange’s then attorney-general (Geoff Palmer) assured the cabinet the phrase was meaningless.  Thanks to some judicial musing, this initial phrase became loosely associated with “partnership”.  About 30 years on, this link was subtly extended to the “principles of partnership”. Then that meaningless phrase was gradually manipulated into a linkage with co-governance. Now we have He Puapua working on converting that link into a string of “principles of co-governance”.

Thankfully, most New Zealanders see through the word games. They know that the big constitutional issues that affecting their lives and well-being can only be determined by their formal votes, and not by merely manipulating the language.- Barry Brill

First, my qualified and supremely trained heterosexual white male graduate students (and I’ve had many others, by the way) face a negligible chance of being offered university research positions, despite stellar scientific dossiers. This is partly because of Diversity, Inclusivity and Equity mandates (my preferred acronym: DIE). These have been imposed universally in academia, despite the fact that university hiring committees had already done everything reasonable for all the years of my career, and then some, to ensure that no qualified “minority” candidates were ever overlooked. My students are also partly unacceptable precisely because they are my students. I am academic persona non grata, because of my unacceptable philosophical positions. And this isn’t just some inconvenience. These facts rendered my job morally untenable. How can I accept prospective researchers and train them in good conscience knowing their employment prospects to be minimal? – Jordan Peterson

We are now at the point where race, ethnicity, “gender,” or sexual preference is first, accepted as the fundamental characteristic defining each person (just as the radical leftists were hoping) and second, is now treated as the most important qualification for study, research and employment. – Jordan Peterson

How can accusing your employees of racism etc. sufficient to require re-training (particularly in relationship to those who are working in good faith to overcome whatever bias they might still, in these modern, liberal times, manifest) be anything other than insulting, annoying, invasive, high-handed, moralizing, inappropriate, ill-considered, counterproductive, and otherwise unjustifiable? – Jordan Peterson

And if you think DIE is bad, wait until you get a load of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) scores . Purporting to assess corporate moral responsibility, these scores, which can dramatically affect an enterprise’s financial viability, are nothing less than the equivalent of China’s damnable social credit system, applied to the entrepreneurial and financial world. CEOs: what in the world is wrong with you? Can’t you see that the ideologues who push such appalling nonsense are driven by an agenda that is not only absolutely antithetical to your free-market enterprise, as such, but precisely targeted at the freedoms that made your success possible? Can’t you see that by going along, sheep-like (just as the professors are doing; just as the artists and writers are doing) that you are generating a veritable fifth column within your businesses? Are you really so blind, cowed and cowardly? With all your so-called privilege? Jordan Peterson

And it’s not just the universities. And the professional colleges. And Hollywood. And the corporate world. Diversity, Inclusivity and Equity — that radical leftist Trinity — is destroying us. Wondering about the divisiveness that is currently besetting us? Look no farther than DIE. Wondering — more specifically — about the attractiveness of Trump? Look no farther than DIE. When does the left go too far? When they worship at the altar of DIE, and insist that the rest of us, who mostly want to be left alone, do so as well. Enough already. Enough. Enough. – Jordan Peterson

The reluctance to let the public in on its thinking as it is developing, to engage in public debate and test ideas, to challenge the views of the favoured experts with the views of other experts, here and abroad, has been a sad hallmark of the government’s approach throughout the pandemic.

This prevailing mood of secrecy, dressed up as an “abundance of caution” has been a major contributor to the uncertainty and fear that has gripped the community, and frustrated businesses and cost jobs over the last two years. The Prime Minister’s comments so far this year suggest this approach is set to continue. – Peter Dunne

The point that arises from all this, fuelled by the government’s unwillingness to be completely open with us all and the steadily negative and therefore unrealistic utterances from its public health advisers, is that our whole approach looks more and more like putting a finger in the dyke every time a crack appears, rather than working out how to live with the problem.

While that approach was understandable, even justifiable, in the early days of the pandemic, when knowledge and science were developing, it is no longer the case. It is unrealistic for New Zealand to expect that it can suppress the virus here in a way that no other country has been able to do, unless of course the intention is we really do become the hermit kingdom some have feared. – Peter Dunne

While Jacinda Ardern claims she runs an open and transparent government, we now know that is a lie. Her election-night promise to govern for all New Zealanders, was also a lie. Without any public mandate, she has taken away democratic rights from communities and freedoms from individuals.

Not only has she embedded the radical socialist agendas of the United Nations and the World Economic Forum into our legal and regulatory framework, she is now attempting to replace one of the world’s oldest democracies with tribal rule. These are the actions of a totalitarian regime.Muriel Newman

So being Maori is about understanding all of your heritage, not just a portion of your heritage, and that includes my European side as well and having respect for both.

And that’s why I think that inclusiveness is really, really important because I don’t like being told I have to either be a racist and a colonist or be a Maori. – Nicole McKee

So it’s more really about the here and now and what we are able to do for the country, and those that are stuck in the past will always remain stuck in the past. But we can’t go backwards. We can only go forwards. – Nicole McKee

We think that if you can offer better opportunities for mental health, better opportunities for education, then it’s better opportunities full stop.

If you look at the Maori that go over to Australia and get in the mines, they do so incredibly well. “And I know that we all have the ability to do incredibly well. It’s just we shouldn’t have to leave the country to do it.

And I think a big part of that is they don’t have any incentive to do well because they can be handed everything on a plate, whereas my mother brought us up to get educated and get out there and make a difference. – Nicole McKee

This is going to be a busy and difficult year for Government. It is planning major changes to the health system, tertiary education, local government (the “Three Waters”), environmental rules and wage-setting arrangements – while also struggling with Covid and the disaster that is housing policy.

None of these initiatives looks well thought through. All are being justified on the basis of good intentions. The established formula is: “this is a problem, something must be done, our policy proposal is something, therefore it must be done”. The Government’s contentious and divisive proposals for Three Waters epitomise this approach.

Unfortunately, good intentions are not good enough. Particularly when it comes to public policy. There are always unintended and undesired consequences. Responses to a misdiagnosed problem will often make things worse, not better. – Bryce Wilkinson

The situation smacks of the final years of the Muldoon era where every policy was pulling against at least one other policy. The policy contradictions mount until they overwhelm an administration. It took the succeeding Lange government years to extricate the country from the policy mess.  – Bryce Wilkinson

Removing commercial assets like water infrastructure from council balance sheets could ease the infrastructure funding problem. But this could be done without imposing the convoluted governance arrangements the government proposes for the three waters.

Unhappily, the Government’s proposed Natural and Built Environment Bill promises to pull in the opposite direction by making “the environment” more important than housing. – Bryce Wilkinson

The ban in 2018 on offshore gas and oil exploration is another example of incoherent policy. Under New Zealand’s Emission Trading Scheme, the ban can make no difference to New Zealand’s net greenhouse gas emissions to 2050 and beyond.

It is effectively a subsidy for imported coal to produce electricity. Environmentalists groan, while an eliminated industry moans and other investors wonder who will be next. The unprincipled removal of interest deductibility for landlords answered that question.  – Bryce Wilkinson

Why is rigorous official analysis of policy proposals so uncommon? The only answer can be that decent analysis is dangerous for constituency politics. If enough people knew what outcomes could really be expected, they might thwart the policy.

Politicians are then forced to pretend that the inclusive overall public interest is at the centre of what they propose, even when the proposal might really be partisan.  – Bryce Wilkinson

But ultimately it is results that count. As mental health professionals have been pointing out since the 2019 Budget, pledging to spend a lot more money because it looks caring is one thing. Making a real difference is another.

Nor is Treasury above professing good intentions. For years now it has beaten its chest about its supposedly world-leading Living Standards Framework. It asserts that our wellbeing is at the centre of everything it does. Yet no framework for policy analysis has emerged from this effort. The tangible output is a dashboard of indicators. They have nothing to say about whether government policies are making New Zealanders better off or worse off.

Absent a policy framework, the risk is that the discrepancies they inevitably reveal as between aggregate categories of people will trigger yet more of the “something must be done” impulse to ill-considered policy action. – Bryce Wilkinson

Policy analysis is set to get worse. A new form of collectivism is in the ascendancy. Its narrative is that groups whose economic and health outcomes are worse than the population average must be ‘disadvantaged’ by others. The “oppressors” may glibly be the likes of foreign investors, capitalism, white colonisation, and the better off who are, by presumption, guilty of unconscious bias. Glib presumption displaces problem diagnosis. Individuals have no individuality.

The polarising focus on the collective or group, as if it is a homogenous whole with sharp boundaries, undermines horizontal equity. This is the notion that those in equal (needy) circumstances deserve equal treatment, even if they do not belong to a ‘disadvantaged’ group. More broadly, the focus on group membership undermines the importance of individual dignity, values, choice, liberty, initiative, work ethic and enterprise. Social cohesion becomes at risk. – Bryce Wilkinson

The Government faces a tough year in good part because it is locked into promoting major changes whose public interest justification is thin and whose nature is polarising. Worthy aspirations and fine intentions do not answer hard questions about likely effects.

For opposition parties, this is an opportunity. For those who care about public policy, it is a train wreck. – Bryce Wilkinson

Finally, businesses receive approval to bring RATs into the country and they have been operating very well. Until, the ministry decides to play catch up and has consolidated orders into this country. They call it consolidate, others say, requisition.

Even if there was a problem, what in the name of all that is holy makes the Ministry of Health think it can rollout Rapid Antigen Tests? Show me the evidence that the ministry could in fact see a problem and solve it.

It has shown itself to be inept when it comes to the distribution of PPE, and worse than that, it refused to listen to the pleas from the people on the ground who are most at risk in that first wave of COVID, who said there isn’t enough PPE. They utterly refused to listen to the people on the ground, so not just inept, but cruel.  – Kerre McIvor

This is yet another egregious example of an incompetent, shambolic ministry that was in utter disarray for many years. They are showing that they are out of their depth and playing catch up yet again and sensible, proactive, nimble New Zealanders who have foresight and preparedness are the ones who pay the price. – Kerre McIvor

It was tardiness of a different kind that caught the Government out on Wednesday. After repeatedly talking down the importance of rapid antigen tests (which were – to be fair, less useful during the Delta outbreak), and blocking their import, the Government quietly changed its mind and began diverting orders intended for businesses into its own stocks.

Well, that’s what the Government said. Distributors were slightly more blunt, arguing the tests were “seconded” “requisitioned” – many versions of “nicked”, essentially.

Politics is, at its heart, a language game. Control of language is a good proxy for political control, but it is difficult not to squirm a little at the notion there’s nothing smelly about the Government “consolidating” something that belongs to someone else and that it alone will choose when that person gets what they originally ordered.

Theft by any other name smells as foul. – Thomas Coughlan

After months of talking down RATS and blocking their import, the Government then over-restricted their use, while faffing its own order. Now, it appears the Government wants millions of the things, and instead of getting its own, it’s “consolidating” them from the businesses that it was blocking from receiving the tests just months ago.

And on that “consolidation” malarky – at least some distributors are concerned the Government applied its significant market pressure to force manufacturers to drop smaller orders in favour of the Government’s large order.  – Thomas Coughlan

The Government seems convinced the clear benevolence of the Covid response is an excuse for common thuggery – it is not.

Gangs seize the goods they want – Governments procure them. Ends do not justify means, especially not now. Don’t be surprised if the Auditor-General decides to go sniffing. – Thomas Coughlan

Unlike the early stage of the pandemic, when a bit of chaos could be excused by the fact the Government was responding quickly to a challenge that no one fully understood, this latest incident appears to show a Government covering its back having failed to act quickly enough to procure tests it should have acquired a long time ago.

The fact the Government’s silence on its procurement pivot appears to have something to do with the embarrassment it faces belatedly adopting a form of testing the opposition has been calling for since last year only adds to that embarrassment. – Thomas Coughlan

It takes a special kind of gall, and/or arrogance, for a government to turn up last week having been literally invisible for a month during a pandemic and announce without even the slightest hint of embarrassment, that one, you haven’t been off skiving, and two, you actually have a Covid plan for the year. When, as it inevitably turns out, no such plan exists. – Mike Hosking

As we enter the third year of Covid, we have had various forms of lockdowns, then levels (various forms), then lights (various colours), and now we have phases or stages.

Stage 1 for Omicron is the “stamp it out” stage … surely the most farcical of all the ideas so far. Mike Hosking

At every step along this torturous journey, as well as being hopelessly ill-prepared, the Government has insisted things that can never happen will somehow magically happen here. – Mike Hosking

But the part that infuriates me most is not the incompetence of the Government, that’s now well established. No, the inexplicable part is the rationale of those who still believe all of this is somehow acceptable.

To expect and accept so little is an indictment on a country that once aspired to so much better. – Mike Hosking

The recent spike in the afforestation of sheep and beef farms is not the result of consumer driven demand, but heavy-handed and short-term Government policies designed to incentivize more trees, regardless of whether or not they are the right tree in the right place. – William Beetham

Overseas Investors can simply plant pine trees, claim the credits, sell them and take the huge profits overseas, while New Zealanders carry the consequences now and into the future. – William Beetham

Quite simply, those wanting to use land to continue farming for the future prosperity of Aotearoa New Zealand are being out-bid. There is little benefit but a huge cost to future generations. – William Beetham

In addition to teaching the knowledge associated with specific academic disciplines, it is the mission of universities to prepare students to think critically.

Critical thinking requires us to engage with ideas we find disagreeable, difficult and even offensive, and to learn to bring to bear reason and evidence, rather than emotion, when we respond to them. One of the core principles that have historically enabled universities to fulfil this mission is academic freedom. – Dr Michael Johnston, Dr James Kierstead,  Dr David Lillis, Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger, Professor Lindsey White, Professor Brian Boyd

Academic freedom – and the benefits to human knowledge it brings – requires the tolerance to hear and engage with ideas to which one objects. To be sure, such tolerance often doesn’t come naturally, which is why academics must model it to students.

But the importance of this kind of tolerance goes beyond the academy. The free and open society we, perhaps, take too much for granted depends on the willingness of its citizens to tolerate the expression of rival opinions. – Dr Michael Johnston, Dr James Kierstead,  Dr David Lillis, Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger, Professor Lindsey White, Professor Brian Boyd

The Ministry of Education is currently reviewing the achievement standards for NCEA science, in large part to infuse them with understandings from mātauranga Māori. It seems essential that scientists, philosophers and experts in mātauranga Māori should be able to conduct an open, public debate to inform that review. If we get it wrong, it may harm both sources of knowledge.                                         

One of the things that defines scientific inquiry is that it brooks no sacred claims. True science is never ‘settled’. Even when theories seem to explain observed phenomena perfectly, new information and fresh insights may throw everything up in the air once more. – Dr Michael Johnston, Dr James Kierstead,  Dr David Lillis, Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger, Professor Lindsey White, Professor Brian Boyd                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In science, ideas must be tested against evidence, never against what we would prefer to believe. For example, religious conviction does not provide a valid basis for objection to a scientific idea. Neither is it ever legitimate in science to allow personalised attacks to substitute for reasoned, evidence-based argument.    – Dr Michael Johnston, Dr James Kierstead,  Dr David Lillis, Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger, Professor Lindsey White, Professor Brian Boyd

 I am a researcher and former academic. I have been involved in many robust debates over my career. Inevitably these will hurt the feelings of various groups or individuals including those whose theories are being challenged. Its not a reason to shy away from such discussions. If avoiding upsetting some people becomes a key feature of universities we may as well close them down now. – Paul Callister

At what point do we begin to demand better from our Government? At what point do we stop accepting mediocrity? At what point do we start demanding a Government that delivers results? A Government that is proactive, forward-thinking, and delivers meaningful solutions rather than half-baked ideas delivered through a web of PR nothingness? – Nick Mowbray

I reflect on our Covid response, and we are not learning any lessons. Frighteningly we borrowed more money per capita than any other country in the world outside the US in 2020 and 2021. This was despite us being least affected by Covid due to our geographic location (ease of shutting borders) and low population density. – Nick Mowbray

And what do we have to show for the doubling of our national debt? Better hospitals? No. More ICU beds? No. More nurses? No. Wasn’t this the Covid fund? Two years later and even the most simplistic initiatives have not been executed. The learnings we’ve been able to witness internationally from our less fortunate geographic neighbours have not been integrated into our Covid response, common sense and basic strategic thought has not been applied, and consequently, the most basic of infrastructure has not been integrated into our short, medium or long-term plans.

We should demand better than this. – Nick Mowbray

The problem is now that we are more than 90 per cent vaccinated and we are still not getting on with life. Whatever way the Government wants to spin it, the reality is we are now, and will continue to live with a variant that has a very low hospitalisation rate and even lower death rate. Yet, because we have not improved anything over the past two years, we are having to live in fear that our public health system is not ready. – Nick Mowbray

What is truly worrying is the absence of research undertaken by our Government to learn from the actions taken by other countries. New Zealand was perfectly positioned to closely monitor the strengths and weaknesses of respective global efforts to tailor the best possible localised plan, proactively. It was clear a year ago Rapid Antigen Tests were going to be key to living with Covid, yet the Government has seemly spent its time communicating efforts around an idyllic, unrealistic elimination strategy rather than proactively securing supplies that will ultimately enable New Zealanders to get on with their lives. Every other country has had them available widely for well over a year. Like with everything we have been the slow to react and seems not learnt our lessons from our vaccination roll out. – Nick Mowbray

Our economy is high on a sugar rush from the past two years, but that will soon wear off. Inflation is running rampant, the cost of living is soaring, house prices are up 45 per cent. Companies and businesses like our own cannot get out into the world. How long can this go on for?

In Australia, 86 per cent of people now cite their biggest concern as the cost of living. Consumer spending in the US is down 27 per cent Q3 vs. Q1 – the flow-on effect of this is going to be monumental, and it’s only just getting started. At what price do we stop and say enough is enough? At what point do we demand better of our Government?

Surely that moment is now. – Nick Mowbray

Let’s start by being charitable. If the Government wanted to spread Omicron through the community as fast as possible, its actions over the last six weeks have been exemplary. Matthew Hooton

A government wanting to stop spread would have cancelled major events like the three-day Soundsplash music festival in Hamilton. Instead, the Ardern Government — which since September has had a weirdly specific fixation on ensuring music festivals proceed — stood by, deciding only after the festival that Omicron was spreading in the community sufficiently to justify moving to red. The release of information about Soundsplash-linked cases was delayed. – Matthew Hooton

 Again, to be charitable, what would a government do if it wanted Omicron to spread through the community as fast as possible? It would encourage 8000 teenagers and early-20s from all around the North Island to gather at a music festival, thrash about together in mosh pits and sleeping bags, just before returning home to start school. 

If spread was the goal, the Government deserves a gold star. New Omicron cases have risen more than five-fold over the last four days, at least as fast as in Australia in December. – Matthew Hooton

The Ministry of Health, having finally decided it wanted as many RATs as possible, moved to stop their distribution to organisations which had ordered them as part of their business continuity plans. The ministry will instead ensure RATs get to the “right” businesses, as if health bureaucrats really understand which organisations are essential to maintaining basic infrastructure and food distribution as hundreds of thousands of us get sick with Omicron in the coming weeks. – Matthew Hooton

 The Government stands accused of laziness, negligence, incompetence, panicked authoritarianism and opacity over its response to Omicron. It is far too charitable to think it planned any of this. The wheels have come off its spin machine. Matthew Hooton

Wouldn’t you love a government that lived within its means as you and I are trying to do? Wouldn’t you love a government that was fully accountable for it’s decisions as you and I are in our lives?

Those of us that work really hard just to afford a moderate life with the odd bit of fun, continue to be used as human ATMs for ministers of the crown who appear to think that hard work equates to hard times in the debating chamber.  –  Roman Travers

When the Taliban offers you – a pregnant, unmarried woman – safe haven, you know your situation is messed up.Charlotte Bellis

My lawyer has taken MIQ to court eight times on behalf of rejected, pregnant Kiwis. Just before the case, every time, MIQ miraculously finds them a room. It’s an effective way to quash a case and avoid setting a legal precedent that would find that MIQ does in fact breach New Zealand’s Bill of Rights. – Charlotte Bellis

The decision of who should get an emergency MIQ spot is not made on a level playing field, lacks ethical reasoning and pits our most vulnerable against each other. MIQ has set aside hundreds of emergency rooms for evacuating Afghan citizens, and I was told maybe, as a tax-paying, rates-paying New Zealander, I can get home on their allotment. Is this the Hunger Games? Pitting desperate NZ citizens against terrified Afghan allies for access to safety? Who is more important – let’s let MIQ decide. Charlotte Bellis

I am writing this because I believe in transparency and I believe that we as a country are better than this. Jacinda Ardern is better than this. I am writing this to find solutions for MIQ so that New Zealanders both at home and abroad are safe and protected. I write this for the people who send me messages every day: I need treatment, my father has months to live, I missed my loved one’s funeral, I’m in danger, or my visa has expired, I have nowhere to go…
…and I’ve been rejected. I do not have a pathway home.

Our story is unique in context, but not in desperation.

The morning we were rejected, I sobbed in my window overlooking Kabul’s snow-covered rooftops. I wasn’t triggered by the disappointment and uncertainty, but by the breach of trust. That in my time of need, the New Zealand Government said you’re not welcome here. It feels surreal to even write that. And so, I cried. I thought, I hope this never happens again. I thought, we are so much better than this. I thought back to August, and how brutally ironic it was, that I had asked the Taliban what they would do to ensure the rights of women and girls. And now, I am asking the same question of my own Government. – Charlotte Bellis

Jacinda Ardern recently told an American television host that she finds it ‘slightly offensive’ when outsiders assume every other New Zealander starred in Lord of the Rings. Quite so. New Zealand has only one real film star in 2022, and that’s the Prime Minister herself. But the way things are heading, she might best suit an adaptation of Lord of the Flies.  – David Cohen

Most striking of all, though, is the question of how any political leader this side of China could do all this without so much as the mildest challenge from what passes for the local media and scientific establishment, much less the culture at large. – David Cohen

Kiwis are not politically screamy like the Americans, still less given to kicking back against bureaucracy like the British. Shortly after arriving in New Zealand from London in the late 1930s, Karl Popper marvelled over what appeared to him to be ‘the most easily governed’ people on the face of the earth. The champion of open societies did not mean this as an un-alloyed compliment. David Cohen

Racial minorities are no different from other human beings, in that we do not appreciate being spoken for or told how to think. The fetishization of identity politics is a superficial solution that rewards its believers with self-righteousness but won’t actually eradicate racism. I hear frequently from non-white individuals in my audience who do not believe their race is the most important thing about them, who are tired of being lectured by woke white people. – Debra Soh

At the heart of the RATs issue lies two problems; this Government’s failure to plan, first with the slow roll-out of the vaccination programme and now the failure to purchase enough RATs in time for Omicron, and then its increasing insistence on applying the draconian powers it has at its disposal under the Covid-19 Response Act.

The fact that the hand of Big Government is still being utilised, when the prime minister and Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins talk about Kiwis taking ‘personal responsibility’ in regard to Omicron, only highlights the pervasive role Big Government now has in our lives.

It’s the same reason the Ministry of Health and the Government initially rejected saliva testing. It wasn’t accurate enough, they cried. What it really meant was that saliva testing gave people a degree of autonomy and allowed them to take on the responsibility which only now the Government is asking us to do.Janet Wilson

This week the prime minister was at it again, saying that RATs “have a large variation in accuracy rates – some as low as 30 per cent”. It’s a case of if your own lack of performance is in the spotlight, throw doubt on the effectiveness of the product. What the Government seems to have completely forgotten is that personal responsibility flies out the window when you can’t get tested. – Janet Wilson

What the RAT issue epitomises is that while this Government wants us to prepare for the wave of Omicron that will reach our shores, it hasn’t done enough preparation of its own. If it isn’t prepared, how can all of us be assured that we’ll cope? Without access to cheap, easily available rapid antigen testing, how can we know if we’ve got Omicron in the first place? We can’t. Janet Wilson

Picture this; as we face this next phase of the pandemic, with thousands of cases sweeping through communities a day and PCR testing overwhelmed, rapid antigen testing will be a vital tool to help us negotiate Omicron’s vicissitudes, as it has in the UK, the USA and Canada. Except you won’t be able to purchase it easily. Instead, it’ll be a man from the ministry who decides whether you get it or not.

It might make for a plotline from House of Cards but what it simply does is rob us of responsibility and self-determination – qualities we’ll all need in the coming months. – Janet Wilson

 I don’t think it takes rocket science to know that New Zealand and Afghanistan do not have equivalent healthcare. – Charlotte Bellis

The number of stories I could tell you about maternity care in Afghanistan…The UN said just recently they expect an extra 50,000 women to die over the next three years, giving birth here.

That takes the total up to 70,000 women, which is unfathomable in itself. But for the [New Zealand] Government to say ‘no stay in Kabul, I’m sure the healthcare there will be just fine’ – shows complete disregard for the wellbeing of your citizen. – Charlotte Bellis

They just need to use their brains and their hearts and think, ‘this person is a New Zealand citizen’.

At what point did we get so bogged down in these rules we’ve come up with that we can’t see that she’s a Kiwi in need of help and she needs to come home?Charlotte Bellis

After that blissful summer break, how disappointing to find ourselves in exactly the same position we found ourselves at the end of last year.

Once again, authorities appear completely unprepared for something we could all see coming: Omicron.

That’s the real reason for the Government taking rapid antigen tests (RATs) off private businesses. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

It’s hard to fathom what basic errors were made at Government level. Did ministry staffers take too long off for summer? Did they not consider the possibility Omicron would arrive so soon in New Zealand? Had they not looked overseas and seen how important RATs had become to various countries’ Covid responses?

Either way, they were unprepared. And so they took the RATs away from those businesses that had prepared.

Businesses are extremely angry at this, and rightly so. They are being forced to risk their ability to remain operational because health officials and their government bosses dropped the ball. Again. This is the vaccine roll-out all over again: something obviously necessary left to the last minute, ultimately requiring a panicked scramble.Heather du Plessis-Allan

This debacle will do nothing to repair the already-strained relationship between Cabinet and business. It will also do little to improve the reputation of health officials, who increasingly look like a department full of candidates for the cast of any future remake of “Yes Minister”.

Apart from the RATs debacle, the Government is quite obviously unprepared on many other fronts as well.

Two medications meant to reduce the need for hospitalisation if taken early in a Covid infection haven’t yet been approved in NZ. Both molnupiravir and paxlovid are already available in the UK, the US and Australia. By last count, we now have fewer ICU beds than we did at the start of the pandemic.The Prime Minister’s three stage plan for Omicron is so vague it’s clearly a case of Cabinet making it up as they go along. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Uncertainty is bad for people and bad for business. Businesses need certainty. They need to know that they can open their doors and that customers can come to visit them. They need to know that product will arrive when it’s meant to and that orders can be filled. They need to know what their bankers and landlords expect of them.

Caution does not come naturally to the spirited business owner. – Bruce Cotterill

Alongside the inevitable and ongoing questions about our Covid response, we now have to consider inflation, interest rates, debt levels and an out of control housing market that must surely come to a sudden halt soon.

The troubles with the global shipping cycle leave a small isolated country at the bottom of the world vulnerable in terms of supply of necessary goods.

We’re short of talented people too, and the good news is that there are a heap of those overseas waiting to come home. But we won’t let them. And then there’s the fact that while we’re distracted by this stuff, a government that seems intent on socially re-engineering the country gets on with the job of dismantling our democracy. – Bruce Cotterill

This week’s fiasco around the confiscation of privately imported rapid antigen testing kits reflects a government more intent on controlling the pace of our response, than the effectiveness of it.

That desire for control is one area where they have made progress over the last year. I refer to the gradual threat to democracy. Last year saw the early stages of the implementation of the Three Waters legislation, the installation of unelected representatives onto local authority councils and related boards, and the establishment of government bodies that are not representative of the population at large. – Bruce Cotterill

Not to have to talk to anybody for two days, what a luxury! An even greater luxury was not having to listen to what anyone said. Silence, blessed silence! Most talk, after all, is pure bilge, verbiage to fill the gaps in time. This applies as much to ourselves as to others, if only we stopped to listen to ourselves. A couple of days of silence is like a detoxification of the mind, much as hypochondriacs undergo detoxification of their bodies by enemas and starvation diets—except that detoxification of the mind is much more necessary than that of the bowel. – Theodore Dalrymple

But now, as Omicron gently settles there, Ardern’s New Zealand has lost any remaining halo of Covid superiority. It looks neither ‘compassionate’, nor even ‘tough’ or ‘hardline’ but completely pathological. Mad. Bonkers. Pitiable. And not without a whiff of totalitarianism.

You might think that a lefty as vocally committed to social justice and human rights as Ardern would shy away from draconian curbs based on a chimaera (zero covid). In the absence of a credible threat, it is a strategy whose main effect would be to destroy people’s livelihoods and will to live.

In fact, those who purport, like Ardern, to be the most virtuous and “inclusive”, the keenest on helping the marginalised, are often all too comfortable playing fast and loose with the little people’s lives: and the keenest on controlling everyone. They love power – so long as it’s in their hands – and Covid has provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for grabbing it. – Zoe Strimpel

Ardern’s obsession with iron-fisted power is the only explanation for an escalation in restrictions that, in January 2022, makes no sense whatsoever.

To the increasing horror of trapped New Zealanders, Omicron-affected NZ households must now isolate for up to 24 days, while gatherings are capped at 100 in hospitality venues (25 if vaccine passports aren’t being used). But home-testing has effectively been outlawed: only ‘trained testers’ or medical staff can perform Covid tests, and the import of rapid antigen tests, such as those we in Britain rely on by the bucketload to keep life going, could end up in prison.Zoe Strimpel

But the most chilling aspect of Ardern’s monomaniacal leadership is the complete lack of respect for borders – not their inviolability (she has shown that aspect of them to be firmly intact) but their prison-like oppressiveness.

Previously, it was possible to enter New Zealand, by winning a coveted slot in a quarantine hotel, where you would be watched over by military personnel throughout. But since the Omicron Nine, the country has now closed itself to all travellers. Tourism was once New Zealand’s biggest export, but too bad: the Dear Leader’s obsession with total control comes first. – Zoe Strimpel

Saint Jacinda, so woke, so feminist, so unimpeachable, has blinded the world with her virtue, and in so doing has made controlling Covid not a balance of risks, but an iron-fisted moral mission. Within that context, almost any amount of masochism can be justified.

Yes, New Zealanders may be “safer” from Omicron than any other population on earth, but, thanks to Ardern, they are being robbed of the freedoms that make life worth living, with no end in sight. – Zoe Strimpel

We care deeply about people. That’s why we’re here…It’s not caring and it’s not kind to people…just to write them off. – Christopher Luxon

 


Quotes of the year

01/01/2022

How do we prevent child abuse? First, we have to stop racism. That message has lately invaded the child-welfare system. The triumph of today’s fashionable ideological nonsense in this particular field carries exceptionally high costs — and abused kids will pay them. – Naomi Schaefer Riley

Kindness is as kindness does. And the one thing kindness cannot do is force people to be kind. – Chris Trotter

Of course, to assume that her missive would be engaged with in the spirit in which it was intended, is to make the mistake of imagining that the identitarian left is broadly committed to secular, rational discourse. It is not. Its activist component has transmogrified into a religious movement, which brooks no opposition and no discussion. You must agree with every tenet or else you’re a racist, sexist, transphobic bigot, etc. Because its followers are fanatics, Rowling is being subjected to an extraordinary level of abuse. – Petra Bueskens

The norms of civil discourse are being eroded, as we increasingly inhabit individualised media ecosystems, designed to addict, distract, absorb, outrage, manipulate and incite us. These internecine culture wars damage us all. – Petra Bueskens

If you deal primarily in subjective experience and impulse-driven reaction, under the assumption that you occupy the undisputed moral high ground, and you’ve been incited by fake news and want to signal your allegiances to your social media friends, then you can’t engage in rational discussion with your opponent. Your stock in trade will be unsubstantiated accusations and social shaming. – Petra Bueskens

Trans women are women is not an engaged reply. It is a mere arrangement of words, which presupposes a faith that cannot be questioned. To question it, we are told, causes harm—an assertion that transforms discussion into a thought crime. If questioning this orthodoxy is tantamount to abuse, then feminists and other dissenters have been gaslit out of the discussion before they can even enter it. This is especially pernicious because feminists in the west have been fighting patriarchy for several hundred years and we do not intend our cause to be derailed at the eleventh hour by an infinitesimal number of natal males, who have decided that they are women. Now, we are told, trans women are women, but natal females are menstruators. I can’t imagine what the suffragists would have made of this patently absurd turn of events. – Petra Bueskens

COVID has shown us that voters will excuse an astronomical level of incompetence, excused by collective amnesia, and the subsequent human toll as long as they believe they’re being kept safe. Fear really is the opiate of the masses. – Gemma Tognini 

We want a simplistic story sometimes – big naughty chicken companies are ripping us off – but it’s more complicated than that. It’s biosecurity, it’s iconic birds, it’s minimum wage and animal rights, which are all things the public support – Tim Morris

It should not be controversial to centre victims in discussions about crime and justice. In fact, it isn’t. The real world doesn’t play out like a Twitter timeline. For most New Zealanders the abolition of prisons is utterly insane and our government would be wise to remember that. – Ani O’Brien

 In the desire for an easy prey, hunters and journalists are the same.Theodore Dalrymple

Ideology is what all this ‘ethics’ crap is about – it has nothing to do with ethics as I understand the term. ‘Ethics’ has become a smokescreen for ideological vetting of research proposals and keeping findings that may not square with PC doctrine out of the academic literature. – Barend Vlaardingerbroek

So far I have lived—stayed safe, if you like—through predicted global cooling, global warming, mass famine, nuclear winter, asteroidal collision, and viral and prion-disease epidemics. . . Just because no catastrophe has yet touched me, then, it does not mean that none in the future will ever do so. That is why anxiety springs eternal in the human breast.Theodore Dalrypmple

And far too few of those who make the laws and regulations governing our lives will get anywhere near a farm, let alone develop a deep understanding of how agriculture works. If they did understand, there’d be much less chance they’d make laws that didn’t account for something as fundamental and unalterable as the changing of seasons. – Stephen Barnard

But “mother” is a fundamental biological, emotional, familial reality. It captures the irreplaceable bond between a baby and the woman who bore her in her womb. That others can be excellent guardians — a fact no one disputes — can’t justify extirpating Mom from our vocabulary. (For that matter, the political erasure of “dad” is also dehumanizing, because it ­entails the loss of our capacity to describe relationships that define what it means to be fully human.) – Abigail Shrier

By all means, call people what they prefer. But language in the law, by definition, ushers words into action. Words grant rights or take them away. Words can enhance or diminish status, placing people and concepts beyond the bounds of legal protection. . . That’s where we’re headed, isn’t it? Erasing “mothers,” and “women,” because the concepts are insufficiently inclusive to gender ideologues. The rights women struggled to win become undone, paradoxically, in the name of ­inclusion. – Abigail Shrier

The problem we have online is that an algorithm decides what we want to see, which ends up creating a simplistic, binary view of society. It becomes a case of either you’re with us or against us. And if you’re against us, you deserve to be ‘cancelled’.

It’s important that we’re exposed to a wide spectrum of opinion, but what we have now is the digital equivalent of the medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn. So it is scary for anyone who’s a victim of that mob and it fills me with fear about the future.Rowan Atkinson

Tarrases, on the other hand, are rare and getting rarer. Tarras with its tiny store and its tinier school. Tarras with its searing summers and its biting winters. Tarras with its bleached grasses, its merinos, its huge stations, its distilled New Zealandness. Leave it alone, you greedsters. Do you hear me? Leave it bloody well alone. – Joe Bennett

We all sense something is wrong. Our money is worth nothing to the banks. There is a rush to convert cash into assets. Houses selling as soon as they list. Those who cannot buy assets are just spending their cash. Every credit-fuelled recovery has ended in a recession. Richard Prebble

We are not allowing people to come into Scotland now without an essential purpose, which would apply to him, just as it applies to everybody else. Coming to play golf is not what I would consider an essential purpose. – Nicola Sturgeon

Rock-bottom mortgage rates, comparatively low unemployment, and our freedoms from Covid restrictions are there to be relished this summer, but perhaps not taken for granted. – Tom Pullar-Strecker

Of course, any tax is popular with the people who won’t have to pay it and who think the proceeds will be spent on, or at least trickle down to, them; but given human nature, the main attraction of the tax is probably more that of the certainty of inflicting pain on others than of the hope of benefiting oneself. – Theodore Dalrymple

The purpose of the wealth tax is only tangentially to raise money at a particularly difficult time . . . The purpose behind it is thus social reform, not the meeting of an economic necessity. The crisis is an opportunity: to advance the centralization of power and the permanent boosting of government powers vis-à-vis the population.

There is, however, one small potential fly in the ointment of my argument, namely that I haven’t fully worked out an alternative. But whatever the problem, incipient totalitarianism isn’t the solution. Theodore Dalrymple

Until a few months ago, American elections were the model for the world: fair, transparent and the results implemented. That reputation was undermined tonight, when armed protestors targeted elected representatives and tried to stop the ‘sacred ritual’, as it was described by President-elect Joe Biden, of confirming the election result.

That we are witnessing such scenes speaks to the extent that President Trump has degraded his office – and our politics. And I write this as a lifelong Republican. His behaviour since the election has not been for the benefit of the American people, but for the ego of a man who cannot bear to lose. His narcissism and obsession with winning cost the GOP two Senate seats in Georgia last night, handing full control of Congress to the Democrats. Today, it cost all of us our deepest privilege of being citizens of a country where ballots cast do not result in bullets shot. – Kate Andrews

This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic — not our democratic republic. I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election. – President George W. Bush

Note that I say the politics of race rather than race relations, because relationships between people of different ethnicities in New Zealand – including Maori and Pakeha – remain overwhelmingly respectful and harmonious. But how long this will continue, when ideologically driven agitators are doing their best to create grievance and division, is a moot point. – Karl du Fresne

There are environmental impacts associated with the production of food, period. The dairy industry does have an environmental impact, but if you look at it in the context of the entire U.S. enterprise, it’s fairly minimal. Associated with that minimal impact is a very substantial provision of high quality, digestible, and well-balanced nutrients for human consumption. Robin White

I always advocate for higher wages but there is a Catch-22, when the minimum wage is increased we see workers’ hours cut, or they lose their jobs. – Chloe Ann-King

Whether you are individualistic or collectivist, liberal or conservative, politics is not a culture war, it is about electing governments to act on our behalf to better people’s lives. It’s not just about one person’s outsized ego, it is about voters and their aspirations. That is democracy’s strength — and why it will endure. – Steven Joyce

So not insubstantial sums from Pharmac’s budget are already being spent for training when they should be used for medines. For Maori and anybody else who needs them. – Lindsay Mitchell 

And while, despite my best sewing efforts, little bits of shame still peek through sometimes, I can comfortably say that that’s not my, or other disabled people’s shame to carry.

There is nothing wrong with having a body that looks or works differently.

Our bodies are beautiful, just as they are.

We are worthy of love, just as we are.Erin Gough

Thus literal-mindedness is the enemy of freedom of expression, and represents also a disturbing loss of mental sophistication. But in any case, attachment to freedom of expression as an ideal seems to have lost much of its salience in the western world, having been replaced as a desideratum by that of virtue, moreover virtue of a peculiar but easily achievable kind, not that of acting well, but that of thinking and expressing the right thoughts. The certifiably right thoughts, which can change in an instant, are those that are in conformity with the moral enthusiasms of the moment. –Theodore Dalrymple

Antipathy, dislike, ridicule, and insult are, of course, normal phenomena of human expression, and furthermore are often justified. Without them expressions of more favourable attitudes would probably not be possible either, for they would mean nothing without the possibility of expression of their opposites. Even to contemplate outlawing such normal human reactions displays an alarmingly totalitarian mindset, all the more so in combination with the Scottish government’s desire that people should report so-called hate crime to the police. Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia seem to be its models. –  Theodore Dalrymple

Trying to eliminate antipathy, dislike, ridicule, and insult from the human heart and mind is a task to make that of Sisyphus seem like an afternoon stroll: precisely the type of task that authoritarian governments love, for it gives them the locus standi to interfere ever more intimately with the lives of their subjects. Hatred is hydra-headed, the task is never done, it grows with its very elimination, or rather the attempts by government at its elimination. Failure is the greatest success, since it requires ever more of the same, namely control over society. – Theodore Dalrymple

Nations rely on institutions: political institutions, the public service, universities, companies, churches, families. These all have different roles and duties that serve the societies that encompass them. And part of their purpose is to mould the individuals that pass through them, imbuing them with values that ensure they serve their institution and community instead of just themselves. Simon Bridges

The people who occupy our institutions increasingly understand those institutions not as moulds that ought to shape their behavior and character but as platforms that allow them greater individual exposure and enable them to hone their personal brands. – Yuval Levin

I emerged from what could have been an ordeal, with the knowledge instead, that goodness, kindness, courage, and laughter are as much part of our world as all the misery we read of in the media. I had been reminded that these are the things that keep the world turning, not politics and mayhem. Happy memories and gratitude and the knowledge of the goodness of life, are the lasting after- effects of another profound experience with which life has gifted me. In that alternative universe where goodness triumphs, all is well  and all manner of things are well, as Mother Julian reminded us.Valerie Davies

Coarse speech is as old as language. What has changed is that the decline in manners and the decline of religious observance – two phenomena that are probably connected – has obliterated the distinction between the vulgar and the polite. Language once considered unacceptable in public is now the norm, especially if it’s about sex or religion. Television has blazed a trail here. ‘Your’ ABC, for instance, never tires of having its ‘comedians’ or characters in its tedious attempts at drama refer to God or Christ in some expletive-tainted phrase. The ABC is scrupulous, when anything supposedly offensive to Aborigines is coming up, in interpolating an unctuously-voiced ‘warning,’, but never feels obliged to warn Christians when a torrent of blasphemy is on the way. – Christopher Akehurst

Statistics and everyday observation show that the future of Christianity in Australia is far from rosy. Christians are more liable to be mocked than respected. Semi-pagan beliefs about Gaia are filling the vacuum of faith. We can already see that, along with our belief in our religion, we have lost our belief and our pride in the uniqueness and, yes, superiority of our culture. That way lies extinction. Thanks for 2021? Not specially.Christopher Akehurst

What this all means is that bleeding heart versions of our history (Australia’s John Howard called it “black armband history”) need to be treated with great caution. Those who push the line that everything was lovely in Aotearoa until the colonists arrived, and that they were responsible for depriving Maori of their ancestral lands, are telling selected and often misleading bits of our story.  In reality, Maori society was in a parlous state when colonists arrived in significant numbers in the 1840s and 1850s. Yes, governors, politicians and settlers wanted access to Maori land. Some cut corners acquiring it. But even the most scrupulous land purchasers found many parts of Maori society a minefield of ancient hostilities and were worn down by conflicting assertions about historical ownership. It needs to be remembered that while the wars of the 1860s did terrible damage to what remained of the Maori economy, much damage had already been done to it by other Maori before the colonists arrived. –   Michael Bassett

Teaching a fair and accurate version of New Zealand history won’t be easy unless the Ministry of Education seizes control of the process and ensures that it doesn’t become the preserve of single-minded fanatics claiming to be historians but with axes to grind. They have the potential to stir unwarranted racial animosity in a country which, for much of its existence, tried to be fair to all people according to the norms of the day. – Michael Bassett

 Believers in conspiracy, however, would rather be the victims of a plot than of chance because plots make the world seem pliable to human will, whereas chance by definition escapes human control. A world pliable to human will, even where malign, is more understandable, and therefore less ontologically frightening, than one in which things happen that no human ever intended to happen. – Theodore Dalrymple

ns, none of them pleasant. And we do not live in times of social resignation or passivity. We have already gone through the revolution of rising expectations and reached that of rising, or risen, entitlements. When something to which one believes oneself entitled is not forthcoming, one is more aggrieved than by living at a far lower level without such entitlements. –Theodore Dalrymple

In summary we may say that unfunded government and personal expenditure, which creates the illusion of wealth and social security, necessitates low interest rates, low interest rates favour asset inflation, asset inflation favours the already possessing classes, which in turn leads to social rigidity and frustration down below in the lower reaches of society. Social classes rigidify into castes, and many people become fatalistic without contentment. But fatalism without contentment can undergo a sudden change, the emotional equivalent of a gestalt-switch, and become insensate rage. – Theodore Dalrymple

Taking full advantage of free education, being ambitious to enjoy a full life, making sacrifices for the long term pay-off; all obvious actions totally lacking in the no-hoper sector in our varyingly soft western societies. Thus, at the cost to the majority, governments insist on doing for these failures what they make no effort to do for themselves.Sir Bob Jones

Why did one have to switch energy providers and set a mobile phone alert for bin day, only to find out you can not set an alert because your phone storage is full, so you decide to pay for more storage (until you die), only to find you don’t know your password. By the time you retrieve your password you are sixty-five and howling into the abyss. – Susie Steiner

This cannot end well.  With the New Zealand economy shut in its bubble, Covid-19 ravaging all our international trading partners, local business suffering and unemployment rising, the market is propped up solely by the historically low interest rates upon which all profit projections are based.  But even a small change to those interest rates could prove devastating to many of my new clients.  There may be no greater fools left.  Because in 2021 all the shoe shine boys have become property developers … – Guest Poster at Kiwiblog

Simply put, the opening of the border does not depend on anything that happens in New Zealand but on the virus being brought under control globally. Like every other multilateral issue from climate change to free trade, that has little to do with what happens in Wellington and everything to do with decisions and operational competence in the likes of Washington, Beijing, Brussels, Brasilia and New Delhi. On the border, we are ultimately a policy taker, not a policy maker. – Matthew Hooton

But under the Ardern government, old-fashioned notions about property rights, due process and the rule of law are susceptible to being overturned when protesters can wave the Treaty of Waitangi and toss words like “colonialism” and “stolen” into their rhetoric. – Bob Edlin

I don’t think people realise the intergenerational commitment they’re making, in terms of totally removing choice over the land in the future, unless some other magic [CO2 sequestration] technology springs up. – Dave Frame

From the New Zealand perspective, there is not enough land to plant forests that would be equivalent to the amount of emissions that we’re emitting. – David Hall

History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity. We can see each other, not as adversaries, but as neighbours. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos. This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward. – Joe Biden

Let’s begin to listen to one another again. Hear one another. See one another. Show respect to one another. Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated, and even manufactured. – Joe Biden

But the answer is not to turn inward, to retreat into competing factions, distrusting those who don’t look like — look like you or worship the way you do or don’t get their news from the same source as you do. We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus — rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.

If we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we are willing to stand in the other person’s shoes — as my mom would say — just for a moment, stand in their shoes. Because here’s the thing about life: there’s no accounting for what fate will deal you. Some days, when you need a hand. There are other days when we’re called to lend a hand. That’s how it has to be. That’s what we do for one another. – Joe Biden

I used to think the PM so loved her position and the cheers of the adoring crowd that she would not do anything that risked losing or lessening her position at the pinnacle of admiration. I have now moved away from that to the much less charitable view that she doesn’t know what to do. She has no real vision of what she wants New Zealand to be like, beyond the usual clichés. – John Bishop

She is the Eva Peron of New Zealand politics: warm, compassionate, caring, kind, smiling, seemingly ever good-humoured, but her Government is piecemeal, fragmented, without an overall direction and seemingly without coherent analysis of issues and a strong strategy. – John Bishop

Her champions in the media, and there are many of them, are sycophants, excuse makers, processors of handouts evidencing uncritical laziness – and that’s without going into those who are openly biased in the left’s favour. John Bishop

What has happened to us? Why do we find noise a necessity? Why do we create soundtracks for our every move? Why does a lady walk past my house at 10.30pm every other night with her phone on speaker, tuned into the radio? Why, twice a week, does a guy wander past around midnight, shouting into his phone, his voice ringing out through the dark as he does circuits of the streets around my home? Why can’t we just be with the world, and listen to the music being made around us every day by the natural inhabitants of the earth? –  Michelle Langstone

The paradox, of course, is that to achieve “equity” you have to first take away equality for individuals who were born in the wrong identity group. Equity means treating individuals unequally so that groups are equal. – Andrew Sullivan

Take the trans question. Most decent people support laws that protect transgender people from discrimination — which, after the Bostock decision, is already the law of the land. But this is not enough for Biden. He takes the view that the law should go further and insist that trans women are absolutely indistinguishable from biological women — which erases any means of enforcing laws that defend biological women as a class. If your sex is merely what you say it is, without any reference to biological reality, then it is no longer sex at all. It’s gender, period. It’s socially constructed all the way down. – Andrew Sullivan

You don’t get to unite the country by dividing it along these deep and inflammatory issues of identity. And you don’t achieve equality of opportunity by enforcing its antithesis. – Andrew Sullivan

Even the very rich now feel a psychological or social pressure to do something for money, even without any economic imperative. I leave it to others to decide whether the disappearance of a leisure class is a good or a bad thing, though viscerally I feel that, overall, it is bad, inasmuch as a leisure class is able in theory to devote itself to the higher activities of a civilization. When the rich (of whom there are more than ever) involve themselves nowadays in conspicuous consumption, it is usually in bad taste. Good taste requires discipline and knowledge, which few are either able or prepared to exercise or acquire. – Theodore Dalrymple

 …the more that activities, particularly managerial, are professionalized, the more amateurs—that is to say, people who do things for their own sake, for the sheer enjoyment of them, or for the public good—are decried and, even more, feared. People whose career depends on doing nothing useful for high pay have much to fear from those who do something useful for nothing. – Theodore Dalrymple

Is this obstructionism a manifestation of stupidity or malice (of course, the two are not strictly incompatible, malice often lending a certain cunning to stupidity)? I have every respect for the stupidity of British—as of other—bureaucrats, but I think stupidity alone does not quite cover the case. The fact is that, at some level of consciousness, the bureaucracy realizes that a vast national campaign using volunteers is an existential threat to their careers. If much can be achieved for nothing, why is so little so often achieved for so much? Who knows where things might end if voluntarism were allowed to achieve something? Social solidarity might increase without the intermediary of the state to inhibit it, and that would be a terrible disaster that has at all costs to be headed off. – Theodore Dalrymple

Be that as it may, the fact is that even if an intelligent person in authority were to try to do something to put an end to the idiocy, he would soon be defeated by the unintelligent, for in any large bureaucracy it is unintelligence, at least in the absence of an end other than the very institutional survival that protects careers and guarantees pensions, that emerges triumphant. Stupidity multiplies unnecessary procedure, intelligence decreases it; therefore stupidity is the more functional from the bureaucratic point of view. One way of defeating intelligence and benevolent intention was long ago discovered and summarized by the Spanish colonial administrator who received his orders from Madrid: Obedezco, pero no cumplo. I obey, but I do not fulfill.Theodore Dalrymple

If you happened to be lucky enough to have a house 20 years ago, you’re living in clover. You didn’t? You’re screwed – absolutely screwed. The Government doesn’t even want to fix it. The biggest single issue facing the country is we’ve got an underclass [with] not a dog’s chance of moving into their own home, they cannot live comfortably on the current [average] income… it’s a serious problem. – Don Brash

In brutal terms, there are votes to be won in a broken housing market. And this week is the first week of the 2023 election campaign. – Jonathan Milne

It’s easy to laugh about the latest fads of the woke, and to cheer as smug Guardianistas disappear up their own purity spirals, but the assault on reality from transgender extremists is serious. The public have a right to know the truth about crime, and accurate sentencing and reporting is necessary for a cohesive and functioning democracy. One has to question why the feelings of trans offenders matter more than the rights of their victims. – Jo Bartosch

We can still have social media, just as we still have railways and energy companies. However, they must be equitable, accountable, competitive and pay their dues (be they taxes or fees to reuse material others have paid to create). In other words they must be safe vehicles we are happy to have on our roads.Gavin Ellis

This in turn brings us to the value that we place on human life. We live in an age, after all, in which we hope to wage war without losing a single soldier. In a sense, this must represent a moral advance over a time when generals could send thousands, even tens of thousands, of young men to their deaths for the sake of a military advance of not more than ten yards of muddy ground. And the fact the lives saved by strict sanitary measures that are destructive of everyday life will be mostly those of over eighty will not be allowed to enter into the public debate because to allow it to do so would be to devalue the lives of the old: even if, in our hearts and our daily life, we do not really value them. – Theodore Dalrymple

Too often, National has talked about its economic priorities as if these are the end goals in and of themselves – bigger economy, fewer regulations, smaller government, stronger businesses.  On their own, these things aren’t what is really important. They are only important because they are what ultimately drives prosperity, creates jobs and lifts incomes. Judith Collins

A strong economy means more opportunities for New Zealanders. A strong economy is what will ultimately help lift children out of poverty. A strong economy means more money to invest in our health system. A strong economy will help our kids into their first job and give them the chance to do things and be things we’ve never even dreamed of.  That’s what matters – the things that a strong economy allows us to do. That is why a strong economy matters. –Judith Collins

The old media had needed happy customers. The goal of post-journalism, according to Mir, is to “produce angry citizens.” – Martin Gurri

The intent of post-journalism was never to represent reality or inform the public but to arouse enough political fervor in readers that they wished to enter the paywall in support of the cause. This was ideology by the numbers—and the numbers were striking. – Martin Gurri

The history-reframing mission is now in the hands of a deeply self-righteous group that has trouble discerning the many human stopping places between true and false, good and evil, objective and subjective. Martin Gurri

To be sure, producing and burning coal and oil have significant environmental impacts. But what goes unmentioned are the extensive benefits of affordable, reliable energy provided by coal and oil to make cheap electricity, power cars and underpin a modern economy.

The ironic kicker is that economic wealth allows a nation to regulate and clean up the environment: its air, soil, water and emissions. Coal and oil are not green, but the wealth they create cleans up the environment. And, only wealthy nations such as the U.S., U.K. and Germany have been able to afford to begin to transition beyond coal for power generation.  –  Scott Tinker

So why not just switch from dirty coal and oil to clean and renewable solar and wind? Two reasons: They are not renewable and they are not clean. Sure, during non-cloudy days and windy times, the wind and the sun can be captured and turned into electricity. But because the amount of energy is not “dense,” it takes scads of land and collectors — solar panels and wind turbines — to capture it.  

It also takes oodles of batteries to back up intermittent solar and wind so that everything keeps running uninterrupted. There is also replacement. The panels, turbines and batteries wear out after 10 to 20 years, and the metals, chemicals and toxic materials required to make them must be constantly mined, manufactured and disposed of in landfills. Coupled with some carbon dioxide emissions associated with those processes, solar and wind are neither renewable nor clean.  – Scott Tinker

All Maori children have mixed ethnicity. But before they are Maori/Pakeha/Pacific/Asian/other they are tiny human beings. Tiny human beings whose best interest the grown-ups should be able to agree upon free from political agendas. – Lindsay Mitchell

But “racial equity” is emphatically not the same as treating every person as of equal value regardless of their ethnicity. It does not mean, in the words of Martin Luther King (who must surely be turning in his grave, not least by being given a shout-out in that Biden speech) judging someone by the content of their character rather than by the colour of their skin. It is the precise opposite. It is a doctrine which holds that white people are intrinsically racist; that the west is therefore intrinsically racist; and that therefore black people in the west should be privileged over white.Melanie Phillips

There is more than a modicum of truth in the old joke that the definition of a ‘racist’ is anyone who is winning an argument with a leftist.  When a woke leftist’s evidence and logic don’t stack up, a bit of name-calling (‘racist’, ‘bigot’, ‘deplorable’, etc.) will enable them to seize the presumed moral high ground and thereby claim victory, at least to their own satisfaction.  Moral one-upmanship is the woke leftist’s go-to position: ‘I’m good, you’re bad, so just shut-up’. If you’re of the Left, it’s the all-purpose, not-so-sotto-voce debate clincher.  – Phil Shannon

For those of us in the media, there’s a real challenge to confront: a wave of censorship that seeks to silence conversation, to stifle debate, to ultimately stop individuals and societies from realizing their potential. This rigidly enforced conformity, aided and abetted by so-called social media, is a straitjacket on sensibility. Too many people have fought too hard in too many places for freedom of speech to be suppressed by this awful woke orthodoxy. – Rupert Murdoch

I firmly believe that government needs to be as responsible with your funds as you are, and it seems to me that Covid has been used as a cover for a plethora of other projects and spending initiatives that we are not able to cover through tax revenue. – Michael Woodhouse

The events of this week should lead to permanent improvements in MIQ and if nothing else, wipe away the smugness for a while. – Audrey Young

My child’s right to see the Wiggles doesn’t trump anyone’s right to say a final goodbye to a loved one. – Vera Alves

But nonetheless it is interesting to see how quickly the local NZ narrative might be shifting from congratulation at a job well done towards fear of being left behind. New Zealand’s political decision makers are surely aware that this is a race, with no prizes for mediocre performance. – Point of Order

Those people who won’t gave a vaccine or don’t believe Covid is real they so are dumb right?  Some of them will die because of their beliefs, some of them will infect others because of them. Science, ‘big pharma’, ‘jews,’ the government is lying to them. These people with little understanding of virology or epidemiology know better than those who have devoted their lives to studying these subjects..

But should any of us be surprised that when Covid is happening before our eyes, some people choose to close theirs ? Other kinds of anti-science arguments are now part of our culture and are now considered not only acceptable but “radical”. – Suzanne Moore

So if biological reality does not exist (biological essentialism), or indeed science which sees us as mammals (we are mammals not slugs or fish or is this now controversial to say so ?) then  we are to understand that sex is not binary and that we are not a sexually dimorphic species.  If women don’t exist really what is feminism for?  Apparently it’s for everyone . Except obviously woman like me.Suzanne Moore

 I’d be worried about the humanity of an individual who didn’t consider the ethics involved; so let me share my perspective. For a start, sanctions do not work. No tyrant has moderated his behaviour once they were imposed. Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and dozens of African kleptocrats provide a mountain of evidence for the thesis that tyrants are impervious to external economic forces. Governments that are subject to political and economic pressures at home can be bullied into behaving better domestically. South Africa is the most obvious example but there are others. Such niceties are utterly ineffective against true dictatorships such as Cuba, North Korea and China. – Damien Grant

If sanctions worked imposing a short-term economic harm on ourselves to help free an oppressed people would be the right thing to do. But they don’t. They impoverish the civilian population, sometimes resulting in their death, for no material advantage. – Damien Grant

Today, the super-power of human rights abuses is China and the outgoing American Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, declared that China was committing a genocide against the Uyghur. Surely if we are ever to draw the line, it must be at genocide?  To understand why the answer is no, consider that we do not trade with a nation. We trade with firms, individuals, collectives or whatever enterprise has been established to undertake commerce.  To refuse to trade with the factories, farms and supermarkets in China because of the crimes committed by those running the Communist Party is to engage in collective responsibility and punishment. We are harming one person for the crimes of another and doing nothing to assist the victims while the perpetrators live in undiminished luxury. – Damien Grant

While threats of economic pain for their citizens do not deter dictatorships, those running these regimes have demonstrated a desire for respectability. China in particular appears highly sensitive to criticism. We may be economically impotent but our voice carries a heavy moral weight. We should use it.

If Beijing elects to retaliate that is beyond our control; but while I believe we should trade with China, we should not become a vassal state in the process.Damien Grant

In 2021 numbers in the underclass continue to accelerate. And they will keep on doing so do until parents are held to account for raising the children they bring into the world. But of course this solution doesn’t have a good political ring to it in 2021 any more than it did in 2008. Those children, however, are usually the ones who never get a good education, whose health is more often neglected, and who are more likely to end up at the bottom of the heap, and consequently unlikely to enjoy equal opportunities, let alone have any chance of an equal outcome from life. – Michael Bassett

Myths are welcome comforters, but have never been a sure guide for the future. The second Ardern government passed its 100 days this week. It seems to be propagating a new myth: that kindness is enough. But if you are a child at the bottom of the heap, kindness can be rare indeed. – Michael Bassett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can see we’re slowly moving into the post-kindness phase, where instead of being a team of five million, we are hearing that people just need to be compliant, But the danger I see is that if we are forcing people to be compliant, then what does that look like when the vaccine rollout happens and half the community refuse, because it’s being forced on them. So we’ve got to be careful how we communicate things. – Fa’anana Efeso Collins

These new language codes and norms are mandating us to adopt doublespeak. Why do I need to describe myself as a ‘cis woman’? I am a woman; that is it — enough. I am not a uterus holder, nor a person with a vagina nor a chestfeeder. These are linguistic abominations, but they are not harmless. Ultimately, these body part descriptions demean women and are a linguistic assault on the notion that biological sex exists at all. – Baroness Claire Fox

Something very different has taken hold within a few short years when it comes to thinking about what it means to be a woman. We have stopped thinking. The trans movement has decreed that ­biology is no determinant of womanhood. Many within this ­social justice movement assert that there is no room for debate, and that if we dare to try to discuss it, or challenge their diktats, we should expect the same vitriol, abuse and public shaming heaped on JK Rowling last year.

What is unfolding is the antithesis of inclusivity and tolerance. Worse, it marks a disturbing detour from progress. Surely, our ­desire to support trans men and women need not be done by eliminating the reality of women’s biological identities? – Janet Albrechtsen

If men advocated for the erasure of female biology from laws, policies and other official forms of language to suit them, most women would be screaming to high heaven about the misogyny of that project. But when a small group of trans activists call for the elimination of ­female biology from language, laws and sport, there is cowering silence.

Do we understand what is at stake? The move to eliminate the biological woman from the English language is worse than book burning. It is more damaging than toppling statues, censoring art, cleansing words from The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn and removing dialogue from our TV screens’ clips of Fawlty Towers.

It is altogether different from adding “Ms” to the list of titles for women or swapping “chairman” with “chairperson”. Language has always adapted to new times. We have moved on from the language of Beowulf and Chaucer.  – Janet Albrechtsen

Expunging female biology from our language is the state-sanctioned humiliation of women. When carried over into laws, it makes it harder for women to be safe in public toilets and prisons, and impossible for women to compete fairly in sport.

We women talk among ourselves about being mentally “undressed” by men. Now we face something worse being done, not to a single woman, but en masse: all biological females, tiny tots included, are being told by parliaments and bureaucracies that our female biology is to be stripped away from us, treated as a matter of inconsequence in the eyes of ­bureaucracies and the law. Stamping out our intrinsic biological identity is an abomination akin to stripping the sexual identity from gays or the religious identity from Christians or Muslims or Sikhs. – Janet Albrechtsen

But what if it is not a fleeting moment of nonsense? What if the project to decouple women from their biology is more long-term? When we agree to demands to ­dehumanise half the population by stripping away their biology, we dehumanise the whole of society.

It will make it easier to strip other groups from the essence of their beings. Isn’t that the lesson of slavery, of apartheid, and of ­ongoing racism? – Janet Albrechtsen

If we, as women, cannot defend our biological being, what will become of women? If we, as adults, cannot talk openly about the ­explosion of gender dysphoria among children, how can we know we are doing the right thing by children? We at risk of conducting a giant social experiment without enough careful analysis of what is happening.

The darkest side to the project to kill off a woman’s biological self is not what has happened to date. The most dangerous part put about by many within the trans movement is that there is no space for women to defend their biology, and no room for debate when it comes to gender dysphoria.

It signals a form of ideological tyranny that, in light of recent history, those living in the 21st century ought to be well equipped to recognise and resist. – Janet Albrechtsen

If farmers are to face a price for their agricultural emissions, it’s only fair they get credit for their action already taken to date on greenhouse gas emissions, such as reductions and sequestration. Sam McIvor

Two months in, third breach. Second lockdown in February. We don’t have this, it’s not eliminated. Our response isn’t good, the attitude is all wrong. This is a lazy, complacent government, whose major energy expenditure involves defending their ineptitude and trying to explain why things keep going wrong. Mike Hosking

Actually, if we are to assign blame, I blame the ineptitude of the Ministry of Health. The handling of this latest cluster has been a shambles. It’s been bungle after bungle. Slack contact tracing, ineffective communication, this ‘high trust’ model they keep running has been shown up for what it is – a disaster. High trust, low enforcement- which seems this governments mantra for everything these days, has proven detrimental and extremely costly to every New Zealander. We are in lockdown because of someone ignoring the rules, yes, but it’s the Ministry who’ve dropped the ball here. And they know it.Kate Hawkesby

We didn’t hustle hard enough to get to the front of the vaccine line, we are not vaccinating fast enough, our contact tracing is not gold standard – emailing people who don’t respond and waiting for them to spread the virus further before acting is not a proficient way to handle anything. We have fiddled while Rome burns. All we are left with when leaderships sit on their hands is knee jerk reactions, waiting until the horse bolts before trying to fix anything. It’s an incompetent way to run things, and now each and every one of us is paying the price for that. Kate Hawkesby

Being kind to someone who has a test, is told to stay home, has the symptoms and goes to the gym, I’m sorry but how is that being kind to everyone else. – Judith Collins

I’m sorry but by Jacinda Ardern’s own standards she has done ‘the worst thing’ for the economy. The government cannot take the glory when they get things right but deflect the blame others when they get things wrong. They got this wrong and this lockdown is a result of their own mistake. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

How then should the “Left” respond to the radical programme of social and cultural reforms about to be imposed upon the population from above by institutions of the New Zealand state? It is at least arguable that the changes planned by the Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Education are analogous to the economic reforms formulated by Treasury and Reserve Bank officials in the early-1980s. As with those measures, there is next to no evidence of ordinary voters clamouring for the changes proposed. In 2021, those calling for restrictions on free speech, or compulsory “Unmake Racism” courses for schoolchildren, are as few and far between as working-class voters calling on Labour to embrace Thatcherism in 1984. – Chris Trotter

Let’s stop being grateful for lockdowns. They’re not a sign of success. They’re a sign that things are getting too hard for the Government to handle. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

A population that hesitates not to cry in public is likely to be also a population of many frauds, of many actors and actresses, and of many liars. More dangerously, it will be a population without the capacity for real self-examination; many will no longer be able to distinguish between minor inconvenience and real tragedy, between slight loss and real grief, not only in others but in themselves. It will be a society in which tears will be not only an argument, but a conclusive one; and the more tears the more conclusive. – Theodore Dalrymple

People think empathy is that thing where you feel everything that someone else is feeling. It’s not. It’s when you take what somebody else is feeling, you hold space for it, and then you give it back to them. It just means you hold space for them, and that can look like holding your tongue, because you don’t know their life or their experience. Withholding judgement or opinion, making space for their life, because it’s different from yours. – Jackie Clark

Our rich Kiwi culture that once-upon-a-time encouraged personal responsibility, educational success, and financial independence, is being replaced with a culture of feel-good collectivism that has over the years resulted in social and economic decline.Muriel Newman

The problem is not the people. It’s the system. Blaming the people is a sly way to avoid responsibility. A well-designed system understands that people make mistakes. Understands why the rules get broken, then creates incentives to comply. – Josie Pagani

We’re hearing calls to punish the people that the system is failing. We should focus on the people who are making the system fail. – Josie Pagani

All Kiwis should accept there is still some negative flow on from the previous colonial era.  None of these challenges should be beyond the wit of governments.  However, they should stop naively entrenching iwi powers in statutes, because that will end badly one way or the other, and New Zealand will lose its credibility as a quality democracy, with the same rights for all.  It’s democracy or partnership – we cannot have both. – Barrie Saunders

The mills of political correctness grind exceeding fine, though unlike those of God or justice, they also grind rather fast. Nothing is too small or insignificant for them, nothing can hide from them for long. – Theodore Dalrymple

Pregnant people? What kind of people? Women, surely? But it seems than the word women, at least in certain contexts, has become some kind of insult, as strenuously to be avoided as another well-known insulting epithet. – Theodore Dalrymple

The lie is that there is no biological difference between men and women, a lie that has been adopted in the most cowardly possible fashion because of the activity of a very small but ruthless pressure group. In Britain, people (not only pregnant people) may change their sex on their birth certificates, a revision of history at which even Stalin might have balked. – Theodore Dalrymple

To abandon the locution ladies and gentlemen because there are no ladies and no gentlemen any more, in the sense that we have all become unmannerly brutes, is different from abandoning it because there might be a transexual in the building, or rather (since transsexuals want to be ladies or gentlemen), a person of the many indeterminate genders that have recently been discovered or acknowledged to exist. – Theodore Dalrymple

And thus, before long, we shall all call pregnant women people who are pregnant, and adopt whatever other absurd and sinister locution the pressure group du jour dreams up, until no one can tell the truth any more because the very concept of truth will be despised. – Theodore Dalrymple

Basically, they — like many — want the Prime Minister to get beyond the current flannel and sloganising and ensure in-depth detail is put in public so that business can make strategies and fall-back plans for keeping their firms moving forward during and after this pandemic. – Fran O’Sullivan

Underlying there is a suspicion — based on the revelations of bureaucratic incompetence exposed in the Simpson Roche report, that sensible strategies are not in place. – Fran O’Sullivan

Here’s the thing. Councils are elected to represent the interests of all citizens. They are required to follow processes laid down in law to ensure fair and equal treatment. Once they start going outside those processes to humour a privileged interest group – whether it’s one based on ethnicity or any other characteristic – then they invite public contempt and distrust. It’s not how democracy is supposed to work. – Karl du Fresne

The thing with the pantomime of politics is that your facts are only as strong as your ability to get the information across to the people. And there is a growing disconnect between the sentiment of the people and what the Government is trying to say. – Damien Venuto 

Any entertainer who has lost the audience will tell you that you need to tweak the script if you want to get their eyeballs back on you. Failing to do so just leads to a growing stream of people heading for the exit door – and most of them won’t bother to look back to offer a loving nod acknowledging how good the show once was. – Damien Venuto

It is a stain on New Zealand’s otherwise very good international reputation for the standards of our parliamentary democracy. – Nick Smith

This legislation is a solution in search of a problem. There is simply no problem with party defections in New Zealand. – Elizabeth McLeay

The Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Act 2018, is a convenience for some of the living. It betrays the dead, who put in place democratic safeguards for us, at some great cost in some cases. – John Anderson

But here’s the key fact: per capita income in New Zealand is a mere three-quarters of the level in Australia. And over a very long time, there has been no significant narrowing of this gap. – Judith Sloan

But let’s face it, four-fifths of two-thirds of nothing is nothing. And that’s the level of interest the world is generally taking in New Zealand’s self-destructive climate actions – Judith Sloan

Ignoring the value of natural fibre carpet is an example of not seeing the wool for the trees. – Jacqueline Rowarth

We should be very suspicious of the word “safety” when used in this type of context. It has become another cover for the Stalinist authoritarianism that infects public discourse and seeks to silence and marginalise dissenters. “Unsafe” used to apply to situations where one’s health or physical wellbeing was at risk. Generations of New Zealanders grew up being told that it wasn’t safe to play with matches or go too close to the water. Then we started hearing the phrase “cultural safety”, especially in the context of health care. An invention of neo-Marxism, it broadened the definition far beyond its traditional and accepted meaning.  – Karl du Fresne 

At the dawn of the Internet era, we were encouraged to think of social media platforms as anarchic and liberating. They were supposed to free us from the shackles of the “old” media, where editors (who were routinely caricatured as old, conservative white men) served as gatekeepers controlling the dissemination of news and comment. That promise now stands exposed as fraudulent; a giant con. Many social media platforms have turned out to be far more controlling and authoritarian than the despised “legacy” media they displaced, which were committed to principles of fairness, accuracy and balance. – Karl du Fresne

Don’t be fooled by seductive talk of the government wanting to subsidise “public interest” journalism. Any journalism that provides citizens with “the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies and their governments”* is, by definition, public interest journalism.  But when used by left-wing academics in journalism schools, the phrase has a much narrower and more ideological meaning. In that context, “public interest journalism” is code for journalism that attacks power structures – that “comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable”, to use a definition much favoured by those who see journalism principally as a form of activism, and who believe the only journalism worth supporting is that which has an ideological purpose. – Karl du Fresne

The media needs more balance in coverage and a wider range of viewpoints represented in every newsroom, at every level and in each position. – Kari Lake 

I don’t really want to dictate to my kids what they should be, but if there’s anything I could encourage in them it’s just to be a good, loving person.  Yeah, just love. That’s the most important thing to me. – Te Moananui-ā-Kiwa Goddard

There’s all this ‘real boys don’t cry’ bullshit, who can drink more beer at the pub, disrespect women, sleep with as many as you can. I tell them the strongest warrior is the one that loves his mum, because they will fight for her till the end. – Reweti Arapere

I’m not just there to pay the bills, to make sure my kids have what they need. I’m there to provide an example to them that they can take to their children, and the generations to come that I may not even meet. Lyall Te Ohu

I want my kids to know it doesn’t really matter where you go or what you do, as long as you’re conscious of people, and you treat them with respect. Have your mana intact. And when I say mana, I mean pride. I mean, resilience, I mean, always being who you are. – Te Moananui-ā-Kiwa Goddard

You know, in our diversity, we could probably see each other’s beauty, if we only just paid attention.  There’s beauty everywhere. As long as you’re looking. – Te Moananui-ā-Kiwa Goddard

The Prince of Sighs and the Duchess of Self Delusion have committed their ultimate act of folly. They should have remembered the saying “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”. And boy, has their house turned out to be glass of the least durable kind Petronella Wyatt

The woman believes herself to be a swan among swans, the physical, moral and intellectual peer of such great figures as Emmeline Pankhurst, Audrey Hepburn and Mother Teresa. Where self-knowledge should be is a hole so large it could be filled by a new galaxy – Petronella Wyatt

But when you’re on top of a mountain you’ve only done half the job, getting down is the other, so you have to remain focused on the job and don’t let yourself get too carried away with the situation. –Don French

There is some incredulity within Government circles about how much good publicity New Zealand’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout has generated. Behind the scenes, the feeling is, it is not warranted. In reality, it is a secretive, sluggish spin-fest. – Andrea Vance.

It seems another 1000 families have lost their livelihoods because health authorities weren’t able to show Case M pictures of cases A-L and ask, “Do you know any of this lot?”It seems another 1000 families have lost their livelihoods because health authorities weren’t able to show Case M pictures of cases A-L and ask, “Do you know any of this lot?”  Matthew Hooton

Revealed since has been a communications and perhaps operational shambles in South Auckland. The sick, the possibly sick and the general population have been given inconsistent or inaccurate information by government and health officials, using language and channels more suitable for multiply-degreed, upper-income, monocultural Wellington bureaucrats than the glorious ethnic, linguistic, educational and socio-economic diversity of South Auckland. – Matthew Hooton

It’s a tricky scenario, she should be up for it. Any Prime Minister should be up for it. As a publicly elected official you are asked to be held to account. So, it stands to reason you, at least, put yourself up, even if you don’t enjoy it or at times struggle with the complexity or detail of the question line. It speaks to a lack of backbone that she would want to bail and run. It also speaks to an increasingly apparent trait; they don’t handle pressure well.Mike Hosking

Being held to account is not something a politician can take or leave.  – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Think about it, Jacinda Ardern’s the accidental Prime Minister.  This rookie leader, plucked from obscurity in the lead-up to the 2017 election, was appointed by Winston Peters simply because she gave him much more than what Bill English was prepared to wear.  Barry Soper

She’s the master of soft, flattering interviews and television chat shows, blanching at tough questions.  She’s commanded the Covid pulpit to such an extent that the virus has become her security blanket; without it, she’d be forced to face the reality that her Government has been moribund. The Prime Minister’s press conferences usually begin with a sermon – it took eight minutes for her to get to the fact that she was moving the country down an alert level last Friday.  When it comes to question time her forearm stiffens and her hand flicks to those, she’ll take a question from.  Some of us are left barking from the side lines. –  Barry Soper

I feel like we’re witnessing a new normal these days when it comes to the media landscape and how people in positions of power are held to account. The new normal is to choose when to be held to account, and by who. – Kate Hawkesby

Forget the messenger, and whether you like them or not, politicians owe voters answers. They have to be heard across a wide spectrum of outlets, not just those who’ll favour their political view. – Kate Hawkesby

Hello? Anyone at home? You and I pay for this place. The government runs it and at no point the Prime Minister dictating terms to what I thought was still claiming to be an independent operator draws attention? Are the media literally asleep? Or just so compliant, and apologetic to Labour, that this is their dream scenario?Mike Hosking

Like her or don’t like her, like me or don’t like me. That’s not the point. The point is to be Prime Minister, you have to be up for it. You have to be willing to be up for it. You have to defend your corner. You have to argue your corner. You have to know your facts. You have to deal with people like me.Mike Hosking

But there’s something else going on, too, something that goes far beyond Harry falling out with his dad or Meghan vs Kate. More fundamentally we’re witnessing a culture clash. A conflict between the contemporary cults of victimhood and identity politics, as now keenly represented by Harry and Meghan, and the older ideals of duty, self-sacrifice, stoicism and keeping your shit together, as embodied by the queen, and as aspired to by most Brits in recent decades. Brendan O’Neill

That’s the great irony of Harry and Meghan juxtaposing themselves to the monarchy, and being witlessly cheered on by the left for doing so: these two behave in a far more old-world monarchical fashion than the queen does. Their punishment of the disobedient media; their conviction that they must instruct the rest of us on how to live, how to travel, how many kids to have; their eye-wateringly arrogant mission of ‘building compassion around the world’ – they make the actual British monarchy, politically neutered by centuries of political progress, seem positively meek in comparison. – Brendan O’Neill

Power today often comes wrapped in claims of suffering. Publicly professed weakness is a precursor to dictating to everyone else that they must open up, change their attitudes, become more ‘aware’. Victimhood is the soapbox from which the new elites, whether lip-trembling politicians or ‘suffering’ celebs, presume to instruct society at large about the right way to think, emote, feel, be. – Brendan O’Neill

Even a republican like me can see there is nothing progressive in the current rage against the palace. That there is nothing to celebrate in the shift from a world of self-control and stoicism to one of incessant self-revelation, and from a democratic era in which the power of monarchy had largely been curbed to a new, woke feudalism in which a select few wield extraordinary cultural influence over the rest of us. These developments harm the freedom of the mind and our sense of moral autonomy, by always cajoling us to bow down to the cult of emotionalism, and they shrink the space for open, democratic debate by investing so much power in the woke feudalists of Big Tech, NGOs, the Oprah set, and so on. Harry and Meghan aren’t fighting the establishment; they are the establishment now. Meet the new aristocrats, even worse than the old. – Brendan O’Neill

Individual autonomy should prevail. We should each person – each adult – look at the book and decide. – Juliet Moses

If we cannot sympathise or empathise with anyone who is not identical to ourselves, even in merely outward physical characteristics, then there is no hope of a country committed to any culture other than its own. Indeed, no country could tolerate difference within itself: it would be obliged to split itself into various Bantustans, to use an expression from the bygone age of apartheid. – Theodore Dalrymple

The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan. The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.Queen Elizabeth II

Reform should be about getting housing/land markets functional again, partly compensating some of the losers, and making housing once again something that young people don’t need to worry much about, all without messing up access to finance.  It is about fixing injustice now, and rooting out the systematic disadvantage, working against the young and the poor, that governments themselves created. – Michael Reddell

A wokester is someone who identifies with the wokeness of other woke folk and is likely involved in woketivism, principally through Woke Twitter. The wokest of the woke is a wokeflake who may take on the role of wokesperson for the purposes of wokescolding the woke-thirsty, who are those more interested in appearing woke than actually being woke. – James Elliott

Liberals don’t really know what to do because the most high profile complainant is Nicola Willis. As a National MP she is not, according to at least some libs, to be treated as a full member of the female gender in good standing. On the other hand, the sense of fear and unease she reports is ofte shared by women who are not National MPs (with whom it is okay to sympathise). Then there is the overlay of whether it is racially problematic for women to feel unsafe due to an increase presence of homelessness.The internal contradictions of modern liberalism make it impossible for libs to work through these issues and come to a coherent position. – Liam Hehir

Where politicians only speak to audiences close to them, there will be no tough questions, no hard talk and little to learn. And where journalists only interview politicians they like, they are in danger of becoming acolytes. – Oliver Hartwich

Fringe media promote fringe views. And fringe views create fringe politicians. Thus, the polarisation will jump from the media into politics. It does not have to happen this way. But to prevent this dystopian and polarised future, we must stop cancelling each other. As a nation, through and in our media, we should be talking to ourselves. – Oliver Hartwich

This Government can only hide behind Covid for so long before it must confront the real issues facing this country – the very issues it said it would resolve if it was elected.Kerre McIvor

One of the most important but least acknowledged psychological factors that affects a person’s way of being in the world is his conception of history. It can make one glad to be alive, or bitter and resentful against all that exists. These days, bitterness and resentment are usually taken as signs of enlightenment. – Theodore Dalrymple

Those who, for political reasons, keep past oppression or crime constantly before the mind of the descendants of the victims (that is to say, descendants of the victim group, not necessarily of the individual victims) help to foment and foster a deep mistrust or resentment that is no longer justified, but which can lead people in effect to cut off their noses to spite their faces.

This is to the great advantage of political entrepreneurs who surf resentment as surfers ride waves in Hawaii; and such resentment, the most damaging of all emotions, can easily become a self-reinforcing loop. It is not that past oppression or crime should be forgotten, much less denied, but that past achievements and change for the better must also be recognised, lest oppression and crime come to occupy minds entirely and distort decisions.

It is the same with injustice. It is important to oppose injustice, but just as important not to see it everywhere. To ascribe everything that you think undesirable to injustice may blind you to its real causes.  – Theodore Dalrymple

While the Government may – out of kindness – be handing over millions of dollars a day in emergency funding to families in need of accommodation assistance, it’s not doing anything that will materially affect the number of people who claim the payment. – Thomas Coughlan

Ardern herself is undoubtedly a kind person, but how hard has she tried to be kind in government? She’s gambled precious little of her popularity on measures that might make a meaningfully significant – not just statistically significant – difference to people’s lives. Holding on to that popularity isn’t just unkind, it’s selfish.Thomas Coughlan

I want us to reject ideology and blame in favour of a relentless focus on science and fact. I want us to choose constructive dialogue over condemnation. It’s my hope that one day, New Zealanders will once again appreciate and, in fact, be proud of our farmers and the contribution that we make to an innovative, thriving, sustainable economy and environment. That is my “why”. – Nicola Grigg

 Our economic growth must be export-led, and that includes the export of innovation. So let’s dare to build an export empire of intellectual property. Let’s sell to the world our clean-tech and our green-tech. The economic and social impact of the pandemic means we must dare to make some difficult decisions in the next decade. But first, let’s dare to stop deceiving ourselves that Governments can find solutions to every problem, or that throwing public money at a problem will make it go away. Nicola Grigg

The thing the public most wants from its Government is competence. When it does regulate, or when this House legislates, we should be drawing on the expertise already out there on the ground. If a Government truly wants to make it easier to earn a living, to address environmental problems, or to increase our exports, it needs to listen. – Nicola Grigg

 Innovation will require us to stop this close-minded mentality where we shut ourselves off from foreign investors and foreign capital. We must open our borders and open ourselves up to the world again. We need trade, we need investment, we need immigration, and we need the growth that these will bring. We need to go all out to attract the best and brightest from other countries to come here and make a contribution to New Zealand. This “fortress New Zealand” mentality will only continue to mire us in mediocrity, and it must stop. Mediocrity is the virus that we should be protecting our country against.Nicola Grigg

Health and education can’t be siloed from our country’s economic performance, our strategy for affordable housing, or the importance of providing a self-worth for our citizens. It’s all linked, and these challenges need action to sort out not only just the symptoms but the root cause of these issues. – Simon Watts

I was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic at the age of 21 months old. I’ve had a lifetime association with a system that is blessed with passionate professionals yet plagued by broken decision making. It is time to fix that. We must fix that. We have the people; we undoubtedly have the resources. We must put individuals, families, and communities at the heart of decision making, not existing government structures and ways of doing things.Simon Watts

The importance of decisive, informed decision making was hammered home to me then, and that experience is with me now. And that experience resonates with the economic challenges that I see in my electorate and as a country as a whole, as we seek a path beyond COVID. An economic rebound that leaves the most disadvantaged behind and that locks young people out of work and home ownership is a mirage. It might look good in the business pages, but if it fails where it counts, in our homes and in our communities, then it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. – Simon Watts

Sitting on these benches isn’t an opportunity to indulge in our particular and individual interests. Being in Government is about getting the important stuff done and not being distracted from that task. Many, many people throughout this country are capable of making their own decisions. What they want from us is action on the things they can’t influence. Limited government creates laws; it builds frameworks and structures of better governance to support our communities; it is focused on the incentives that will enable the private sector to thrive and generate jobs; and, it takes a leadership role on protecting our environment. 

A better Government will focus on a bold, long-term infrastructure plan, ensuring Government spending is not wasteful, spelling out the returns to a nation of that investment, creating an environment that encourages local and foreign investment and ensures incentives align with the outcomes we want as a country. Let’s take on these challenges with the vision and teamwork to drive positive change beyond the next election. Our lives are not governed by three-year intervals, so why is our decision making? New Zealanders expect more of this House than that. We need to put in place the ideas today that will guide this country to 2040 not 2024.Simon Watts

Today the faith is spread not by preachers, or even teachers, but through the institutions that wield the most power in the 21st century; corporations, and their Human Resources departments. For the practitioners of what is generally known as “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” are teaching nothing less than a modern form of political Calvinism, one that paints a pessimistic picture of humanity destined to be damned. And their strength is growing. – Ed West

There is also the difference between the totalitarian mind and the liberal mind; for the former, everything is about politics. What you do in your spare time has political implications, and so no area of life is free of political discussion. The traditional English cultural taboo about not discussing religion or politics in the pub reflected a deep-seated aversion to fanaticism; the idea that workplaces might be settings for political instruction would once have struck people here as positively demented. – Ed West

Universities are particularly vulnerable to this sort of activism, because by nature they are political. Many privately despair, including academics who aren’t especially right-wing; whatever your politics, conformism can become intolerable in a workplace. Talking about politics all the time is tedious. And activists can be disagreeable people. – Ed West

The companies hiring diversity consultants probably aren’t improving people’s lives, and they aren’t encouraging tolerance, let alone “diversity”; quite the opposite. They’re doing what people in positions of power have done since the first states were formed, ensuring that their gods and saints are the ones being revered by the subjects they rule. As for the individuals who do not believe in the new faith, they do what people in totalitarian societies have always done – they keep quiet and retreat to an inner world where the intolerance and conformity of the powers-that-be cannot reach them.Ed West

I started teaching in 1991. It is an incredibly frustrating system to be a part of – despite many, many good people being involved and some good intentions. The best analogy I can think of is that the system acts like a human with a pea sized brain, virtually no nervous system to communicate to the organs and limbs as well as being addicted to heroin and always looking for the next quick fix for political expediency. –Alwyn Poole

When the world moves quickly and dramatically, policy has to be nimble. The costs of policy being less than perfect were rather smaller than the costs of failing to act.  But too much of policy since then has continued on that same near-wartime footing. It is an approach that will not serve us well. – Eric Crampton

A government preferring to take advice from political advisers within the party – within their own echo chamber – over expert and objective official advice, is a warning sign that it’s not all beer and skittles in the current corridors of power. It appears that this is a policy informed by internal Labour politics, not sound economics. – Claire Robinson

Labour seems to think it can invent new euphemisms for breaking promises, and cross its fingers these will be swallowed whole by the public. Asked why he said in September that there would be no extension to the brightline test, Robertson claims he had been “too definitive” back then. How is anyone to believe anything he says from now on if he admits that sometimes he doesn’t tell the whole truth? This is dangerous territory for a finance minister, in whom the markets and credit agencies must have trust in if the entire economy is to be trusted. – Claire Robinson

I was a child in the 1980s, when the Labour Government embarked on a radical programme of restructuring the economy. Change was needed, but I can tell this House that change needs to be managed carefully. Those changes in the 1980s had a huge impact on many lives of people in the rural sector, with many farmers losing their farms or experiencing significant hardship. My stepfather worked on farms, but lost his job during that period and struggled to find more work. I recall my family going hungry during those times, and I remember days on end when we had no food to eat and going to the river to look for blackberries for food.

For a variety of reasons, my younger brother and I chose to leave home when I was 11 and he was nine. We’d planned to travel from Hawke’s Bay to the goldfields in Central Otago, live in old mining huts, and make a living panning for gold. We managed to get to Wellington, but we were stymied by Cook Strait, and ended up living for a bit over a week on the streets of Wellington, huddling together for warmth on cold, rainy nights in flax bushes, trying to figure out a way to get across that Cook Strait. Let me tell you that Wellington is a cold, hard place when you’re a child living on its streets. I remember this every day when I come to this House, and it serves to remind me that while I’m here, I need to do my best to ensure the policies that go through this House do not have unintended consequences that hurt our country’s children. – Joseph Mooney

 I strongly believe that the narrative of hard work and self-responsibility being the surest path to success is vital for the future of our country. We all need to do our bit to grow the pie, rather than trying to divide it into ever-smaller pieces. I know from my life experience that if parents don’t have jobs, kids go hungry. So it is one of the key responsibilities of Government to create a policy framework that empowers businesses, that empowers employers, and that empowers employees.Joseph Mooney

A strong and successful country depends on strong and successful communities, and those strong and successful communities in turn depend on strong and successful families, however those are constituted, which in turn depend on strong and successful individuals. The State is not an end in itself, but is a means of helping people achieve their own goals. – Joseph Mooney

 Let us be a nation that comes together and looks to its abundance of land and resources and enables our people to solve their own housing needs by building many more warm and healthy homes. Let us be one of the most productive and effective nations, and encourage and celebrate the people, the businesses, and the policies that can make that a reality. Let us be a people who rejoice in our great fortune to be fellow travellers under these southern skies, to celebrate our great collective heart and our practical, pragmatic minds, to treasure and celebrate the achievements of our people. For there’s more that binds us together than divides us in this land. Joseph Mooney

It seems it has become acceptable to stereotype those who have a Christian faith in public life as being extreme, so I will say a little about my Christian faith. It has anchored me, given my life purpose, and shaped my values, and it puts me in the context of something bigger than myself. My faith has a strong influence on who I am and how I relate to people. I see Jesus showing compassion, tolerance, and care for others. He doesn’t judge, discriminate, or reject people. He loves unconditionally.

Through history, we have seen Christians making a huge difference by entering public life. Christian abolitionists fought against slavery. Others educated the poor and challenged the rich to share their wealth and help others less fortunate. The world is a better place for Christians like William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King, and Kate Sheppard contributing to public life.

My faith is personal to me. It is not in itself a political agenda. I believe no religion should dictate to the State, and no politician should use the political platform they have to force their beliefs on others. As MPs, we serve the common cause of all New Zealanders—not one religion, not one group, not one interest. A person should not be elected because of their faith, nor should they be rejected because of it. Democracy thrives on diverse thinking and different world views. – Christopher Luxon

It’s not good enough saying you’re going to lower greenhouse gas emissions but not doing it. It’s not good enough saying you’re going to reduce child poverty but not actually doing it. Talking about it gets you a headline, but doing it makes a difference. I’ve entered politics because I want to make a difference, I want to solve problems, and I want to get things done.

New Zealand’s ability to become more prosperous and to enjoy a higher quality of life as a nation depends on the size and output of our economic engine. Just as growing Air New Zealand provided the opportunity for all staff to benefit, I believe that it’s growing New Zealand’s economy that will provide the opportunity for all New Zealanders to benefit. However, I believe that right now, New Zealand’s economic engine needs major modifications and serious upgrading.  – Christopher Luxon

I believe in tackling inequality and working hard to find that balance between encouraging hard work and innovation while always ensuring there is social mobility and a safety net. Every New Zealander who cares about other New Zealanders knows what that means. No matter your situation, I believe in a New Zealand that backs Kiwis to work hard, to convert opportunities, and to create prosperity for themselves, their families, their communities, and our country, because that is how we will make our country stronger. But I also believe that Governments must make powerful and targeted interventions on behalf of those with the most complex and challenged lives. With the right resources at the right time in the right place, the State can help people make positive and sustained changes that enable them to rise up and to realise their own potential.

Regardless of the different political that views we hold in this House, New Zealanders can all agree that we are incredibly fortunate to live in this place, and I believe, more than ever, if we make the right decisions, New Zealand has a great future ahead of us. We can do better and we can be more prosperous and more ambitious if we think strategically, solve problems, deliver results, and get things done. I don’t want to settle for mediocrity, and I don’t believe other New Zealanders want it either.  – Christopher Luxon

 I understand that the choices that every New Zealand family has at such times are constrained by their circumstances. I’ve come to politics because I want those choices to be better for New Zealand families. It’s by being more successful as a country that we can ensure that those kitchen table decisions include wider choices and better options for all New Zealanders.

The choices we all have are never made in isolation. The resilience and wealth of a student flat, a family home, a small business, a large corporate are all affected by how New Zealand is doing as a country. It’s my absolute belief that New Zealand can do better, and when it does, New Zealanders will do better, too.  We will all ultimately get the country—the economy, society, the environment—that we deserve, and I think we deserve the very, very best.Christopher Luxon

The one element that stood us apart from most of the community was our oldest sibling being intellectually handicapped as a result of decisions made during a difficult birth. This extended our world into the families, institutions, and bureaucracy of dealing with disabilities. This has continued for our family with the birth of our youngest daughter, Briony, who is Down’s syndrome.

Apart from that, my upbringing was pretty standard fare in a Southland rural community. We were neither wealthy nor poor. We understood the need to work hard but also to support those who needed it. We immersed ourselves in the community through school, sport, music, church and social activities. We learnt the value of family and community engagement and support. – Penny Simmonds

I also looked to our Southland rural sector. The economic bedrock of Invercargill and Southland’s wealth and prosperity, which survived the reforms of the 1980s and pulled itself back to a powerhouse, once more ensuring that Southland punches well above its weight, consistently contributing around 15 percent to New Zealand’s GDP, with less than 1.2 percent of New Zealand’s population. The South’s rural sector is justifiably proud of its long history of economic success. But our rural sector is facing significant threats that seem to ignore or not understand the unique climatic and geographic challenges to the southern farmer and that give no credit to the incredible progress already being made by farmers working together with scientists to improve environmental outcomes.

And I look to the threat of SIT—the organisation I had the privilege to lead—losing its autonomy and innovation, being swallowed up in the ideological mega-merger of institutes of technology and polytechnics.

While there may be better alternatives to the status quo in each of these industries, I know that the decisions must be driven by Southlanders to ensure the benefits stay in the South. The decisions must also be pragmatic and science, technology, and engineering – based; not reacting to emotive sound bites from people who don’t understand either economics or science.  – Penny Simmonds

I will be driven in this new role as the member of Parliament for Invercargill to continue my advocacy for the people, industries, and organisations of the Invercargill electorate. I come to the role with the experience of a farmer’s daughter and a farmer’s wife, a mother and a grandmother, an educationalist and a soldier for several years in the Territorials, a businesswoman, a community leader, and a sportsperson. But most of all, I come as a passionate Southlander who will not stand by and allow the place that I proudly call my home to be adversely impacted upon by poor political decisions. Our rural communities, farmers, SIT, our productive land, fresh water, and clean energy are worth standing up for. – Penny Simmonds

We all have the same goals with the environment, to look after our land and to be constantly improving. –  Kate Acland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When the history of New Zealand’s management of Covid-19 comes to be written, it will record that almost every government action to protect the country happened too late, and then only after politicians and officials were forced into action because a sceptical journalist (there are still a handful, thank God) or alert opposition MP (not a lot