Quotes of the day


Many governments in the Western world have committed to “net zero” emissions of carbon in the near future. The US and UK both say they will deliver by 2050. It’s widely believed that wind and solar power can achieve this. This belief has led the US and British governments, among others, to promote and heavily subsidise wind and solar.
These plans have a single, fatal flaw: they are reliant on the pipe-dream that there is some affordable way to store surplus electricity at scale.

In the real world a wind farm’s output often drops below 10 per cent of its rated “capacity” for days at a time. Solar power disappears completely every night and drops by 50 per cent or more during cloudy days. “Capacity” being a largely meaningless figure for a wind or solar plant, about 3000 megawatts (MW) of wind and solar capacity is needed to replace a 1000 MW conventional power station in terms of energy over time: and in fact, as we shall see, the conventional power station or something very like it will still be needed frequently once the wind and solar are online.
The governments of countries with a considerable amount of wind and solar generation have developed an expectation that they can simply continue to build more until net zero is achieved. The reality is that many of them have kept the lights on only by using existing fossil fired stations as backup for periods of low wind and sun. This brings with it a new operating regime where stations that were designed to operate continuously have to follow unpredictable fluctuations in wind and solar power. As a result operating and maintenance costs have increased and many stations have had to be shut down. – Bryan Leyland

Under net-zero plans, all nations will need to generate many times more electricity than they now can, as the large majority of our energy use today is delivered by burning fossil fuels directly. Neighbouring regions will be unable to provide the backup power needed; emissions from open cycle gas turbines (or new coal powerplants, as in the case of Germany at the moment) will become unacceptable; more existing base load stations will be forced to shut down by surges in renewables; more and more wind and solar power will have to be expensively dumped when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing.
Power prices will soar, making more or less everything more expensive, and there will be frequent blackouts.

None of this is difficult to work out. Building even more renewables capacity will not help: even ten or 100 times the nominally-necessary “capacity” could never do the job on a cold, windless evening.
Only one thing can save the day for the renewables plan. Reasonable cost, large scale energy storage, sufficient to keep the lights on for several days at a minimum, would solve the problem. – 
Bryan Leyland

The conclusion is simple. Barring some sort of miracle, there is no possibility that a suitable storage technology will be developed in the needed time frame. The present policies of just forcing wind and solar into the market and hoping for a miracle have been memorably and correctly likened to “jumping out of an aeroplane without a parachute and hoping that the parachute will be invented, delivered and strapped on in mid air in time to save you before you hit the ground.”

Wind and solar need to be backed up, close to 100 per cent, by some other means of power generation. If that backup is provided by open-cycle gas or worse, coal, net zero will never be achieved: nor anything very close to it.
There is one technology that can provide a cheap and reliable supply of low-emissions electricity: nuclear power. Interest in nuclear power is increasing as more and more people realise that it is safe and reliable. If regulators and the public could be persuaded that modern stations are inherently safe and that low levels of nuclear radiation are not dangerous, nuclear power could provide all the low cost, low emissions electricity the world needs for hundreds or thousands of years.

But if we had 100 per cent nuclear backup for solar and wind, we wouldn’t need the wind and solar plants at all.
Wind and solar are, in fact, completely pointless. – Bryan Leyland

The carbon market has come back to bite the Government in the bum.

As part of their fiscal update this week we’ve seen that the last carbon auction produced nothing and cost the Government $1.2 billion, which simply adds to their ever-growing deficit.

I asked at the time whether this was bad news. They told us it was the market working as markets do.

The trouble with the answer was, although technically that is true, it was in fact a direct reaction, or reflection, of the lack of faith in the Government’s climate change polices.Mike Hosking

You have a number of competing  factors here. On one hand the commission wants to send us all broke because they are obsessed with carbon emissions. You have a Government that can’t live with their zealousness because they actually want to get re-elected.

But, you also have a Government that has made climate their nuclear moment and are now being caught out as being fraudulent when it comes to delivery on the rhetoric.

Somewhere in the middle is the carbon market, which is an invented rort, designed to raise money from polluters who are forced to offset their emissions by buying credits, with the money raised goes to climate positive projects.

Trouble is when the auction is held. The question is asked – why would I spend money on something I don’t believe is going to come to pass?

So they don’t.

Hence the auction fails, nothing is sold and all those credits get shifted to the next auction. So that means double supply, but how much demand? – Mike Hosking

The carbon market is a mess because the Government are a mess. The Climate Commission look increasingly out of touch and radical, offering up theories no one is taking up

And slowly but surely, the reality of crazy ideas invented to address issues that don’t have full buy in are exposed for all to see.

A failed auction, a court case and over a billion dollar not realised.

What a shambles.Mike Hosking

When you can find the courage to condemn a tie as a symbol of past colonisation, but lack it to condemn Russia for abducting children and ethnic cleansing, I suggest it is time to reset your moral compass.

Putin’s war is an old-fashioned colonial grab, and as the world waits for the Ukrainian counter-offensive to begin, we should be clear what side we are on, not just in the past, but in the present. – Josie Pagani 

Victories for freedom of speech are rare and therefore worth acknowledging. Cherry is keen to see the event proceed, which is good news too. There are two opportunities created by this episode that, if taken with good will and an open mind, could be very beneficial. The first is the setting of an example for other organisations. Bowing to the clamour for cancellation and censorship may seem like the fastest route to an easy life but it is more likely to open you up to legal problems. You can’t discriminate against a woman for knowing what a woman is and being willing to say so out loud. 

Political debate is sometimes uncomfortable. That’s the way of it in a free country. The way to deal with it is not to shut down discussion but to have more and better discussion. Ideas, values, disagreements: these are not threats to a liberal society, they are its very lifeblood. 

The other opportunity that arises from this is one for Joanna Cherry’s critics. There is a demographic out there that has convinced itself that Cherry is a froth-flecked, beyond-the-pale bigot, a conclusion most of them seem to have reached without ever hearing a word she has said. We can be sure of this because however hard you strain to hear the worst in Cherry’s contribution to the women’s rights and gender identity debate, you will pick up nothing more than an old-fashioned feminist of the liberal-left. 

But Cherry, like so many other women who hold her views, has been Rowlinged: an entire vocabulary of hatred has been put in her mouth that she has never spoken. Ask one of her detractors to quote a single example of her expressing or encouraging hatred, as those terms are generally understood, and you will be met with suspicion, then frustration and finally inarticulate rage. Cherry is vilified not for anything she has said but because of what her critics say about her. A postmodern ideology of feels and vibes cannot withstand the demanding precision of reasoned debate.Stephen Daisley

It’s comforting to caricature and dismiss your opponents, to protect yourself from the seeds of doubt they threaten to sow in your thoughts. Approach them instead with an open mind, a tolerant ear and a graceful heart and they might just surprise you.  – Stephen Daisley

Ten years ago, John Humphrys made a documentary about the welfare state for BBC2. When he was growing up in Cardiff, he said, hardly anyone was on benefits. Now, vast numbers are. Why? What had gone wrong? A good question – but, as he found out, a suicidally dangerous one for any BBC journalist to ask. He was hauled in front of a BBC star chamber, accused of supporting Tory policy, then found guilty of breaching guidelines on impartiality and accuracy. I spoke to him about it afterwards: his lesson, he said, was never to do something like that again.

He had run up against a new trend of our time: political correction. If you engage in frank discussions about certain topics – climate change, jihadi finance, immigration, transgenderism – then you can expect the equivalent of a lawsuit. A breed of investigators or self-appointed fact-checkers will swoop, posing as judges of the truth – even if they often get it wrong. What was intended as a test of objectivity, a remedy to “fake news”, has ended up becoming a new form of bias. – Fraser Nelson

The BBC’s own team of truth-deciders, modestly called “Reality Check”, are rather selective in the realities they check. When David Attenborough’s excellent Wild Isles documentary claimed that “60 per cent of our flying insects have vanished”, it was a starting claim – but one the fact-checkers let slide. It can be tracked down to an amateur study asking motorists to count splats on their number plates. Had Attenborough said that more people die each year from cold than from heat, he’d face outcry and a full Nigel Lawson-style inquisition. The former chancellor faced a three-month investigation by a press regulator for making precisely this claim.

Some facts are seen to be too exciting to check. When the French economist Thomas Piketty claimed that inequality was certain to rise because of his formula r>g (ie: that the return on assets exceeded the rate of economic growth), it was hailed worldwide as a breakthrough. Time to tax the rich! But when the IMF produced a study showing Piketty’s claim to be nonsense, this seemed to generate no interest at all.Fraser Nelson

The rise of fact-checking is powerful and helpful in many ways, but is most needed in areas where there is a fashionable and unchallenged consensus. Whenever all parties agree (as they did on lockdown, and still do on net zero and international aid), the biggest policy errors are most likely to creep in. So it’s more important than ever that the major claims are held up to scrutiny. When fact-checkers instead target those who go against the grain, it serves to enforce groupthink.

The Swedes have a word for it: the “opinion corridor”. If you step outside it, you can expect investigation, harassment or to be flattened. The digital era has put rocket boosters on all this as offending articles are more easily shared by activists. There are now professional campaigners who spend all day referring opponents to fact-checkers, regulators or university authorities. And not just for facts. It can be for hate speech or an offence against hazily defined “community standards”. In this way, the political correction phenomenon can multiply, ending up embedded into algorithms. –

The most controversial questions defy black-or-white answers. The vaccines were good for stopping the spread of earlier variants, but not later ones. Channel Four fact-checkers ask if university tuition fees are “progressive” which is, of course, a matter of opinion. Much of this seems to stem from a technocratic view of the world: that it’s possible to burrow away, find facts and come up with an objective answer. But such questions are almost always a matter for debate: hence, politics.

The Online Safety Bill, now going through the Lords, will make all this far worse by threatening huge fines for Silicon Valley firms that publish anything deemed to be “harmful” and visible to children. What does this mean? It’s unclear: so the censorship bots will work overdrive just to be safe.  – Fraser Nelson

A decade after John Humphrys documentary, the question still hangs unanswered: what went so wrong with welfare? But given what happened to him, it may be quite a while before anyone makes a television documentary asking the question again. It would be tragic if, as the digital world opens ever-more possibilities, the opinion corridor ends up narrower than ever. – Fraser Nelson

Quotes of the day


Here’s a small observation from travel to major cities over the last few weeks – cops work.

Visible police on the street, work.

I never felt unsafe in London and I never felt unsafe in New York.

New York has the most crazies, they have a lot of homeless and they make a lot of noise and come across as aggressive at times.

But there is a cop on every corner.

There is a patrol car, a series of patrol cars, seemingly permanently parked wherever you are.

They wander the street, they arrive in minutes and their sirens are too loud and too permanent. But you can’t argue they don’t make you feel safe.   – Mike Hosking

I can’t remember the last time I saw a police officer on the streets of this country, plus their cars are hard enough to spot.

Somewhere along the line someone decided walking the beat wasn’t good policing any more. They talk of community policing but I just don’t see it.

Further, I am convinced of the power of imagery. Get a cop with a stab-proof vest and an arsenal of weaponry, whether it be a baton, handcuffs, pepper spray or a gun, and you send a message. As I’ve told you before, the flash shops in San Francisco have guards with guns and dogs.

God forbid we ever end up there. But I’m still reading about the ram raids and the daylight attacks here. I didn’t read about them in New York or London and I didn’t, I suspect, because a cop was never far away.

At some point, someone has to add up the cost of all the crime and insurance and repair work and fear we have these days, versus the cost of actually getting some more police on the street.

The model is there to be seen. Visibility works.

I wouldn’t have thought it was that hard. BMike Hosking

With only a few exceptions, nothing has the capacity to leave us with a lasting feeling of warmth and gratitude for having had the privilege of being there when it happened.

That is why I find the writing and performance of music is one of those rare human qualities that will have a lasting influence on how we adjust to the pressures of daily living.

It is the solace that can, even fleetingly, take us out of ourselves to a place where we feel no pain.

Without that opportunity and, given the state of the world, we might as well all go mad.   – Clive Bibby

The EV subsidies going to brand-new Teslas alone total $80 million. Every dollar subsidising the world’s richest toddler, Bubba Musk, is a dollar that hasn’t been spent on, say, hiring more bus drivers and paying them well. Or buying a train track inspection.

Reporters this week established that the recipients of EV subsidies live almost exclusively in leafy suburbs. People who live in struggle street do not buy brand new $80,000 motors, or even relatively affordable brand new Toyotas.

And it is not just an $8000 handout to buy a new Tesla. They also get an ongoing $2000 a year top-up bonus of unpaid road user taxes. EVs still use the roads, don’t they? Josie Pagani 

The commission does a good job of setting carbon budgets and holding government to account on whether it’s reaching them.

Then we get to its menu of ideas for how to reduce emissions, which are a bit zany.

Its manifesto reads like it’s been put together by people who spend their mornings glueing themselves to motorways: Bans, subsidies, nothing measured to find the most efficient.

It instructs that ‘mindsets’ and the “values of businesses and consumers” must be ‘redefined’. I have been around the far left for much of my life, and I have previously seen the movie that tries to persuade us we are living in false consciousness. I won’t spoil the ending for you. – Josie Pagani 

The commission encourages us towards ‘active transport’, formerly known as ‘walking’. Not popular among voters who live 20 kilometres from work and do night shifts. They should buy new Teslas.Josie Pagani 

Greenpeace suggests the Climate Change Commission should run the ETS. But the commission wants something more revolutionary than the ETS, and we prefer elections when deciding how to run our economy.

I would take its policy advice role away: It should stick to setting budgets and pronouncements on whether we are meeting them.

You will never get the majority of people to support a clean energy transition that makes them pay more for less. Better to spend the EV subsidy on working out how to make electric vehicles cheaper than petrol cars. Only then will most of us switch.

It is hard to have a debate about which climate policies work best without being called a ‘climate delayer’, as if doing the wrong thing quickly is better than doing the right thing more carefully. But let’s at least have a debate about who pays.

If donating to the rich to save the planet works, I only ask that Teslas give way to me at intersections. – Josie Pagani 

The most amusing language abuse by these lefty types is “activist” usually applied to protesters lying about in groups, holding signs complaining about this or that. Their major characteristic is inactivity.

The current fashionable ludicrously dishonest term these losers use to smother their now unfashionable “socialism” is “progressive”. Nothing could be more inaccurate. Collectivists are literally the very opposite of progressive; rather they’re ultra regressive, seeking to resurrect tried and failed big government statist policies of yesteryear.   – Bob Jones

If I could wave a wand and solve just one of these problems, it would be teacher training. High-quality teaching is the most important determinant of learning – and high-quality teaching depends on high-quality training.

Most teachers do the best they can with the training they had. They are not to blame for their inadequate preparation. It is the fault of a system that gives universities an effective monopoly on teacher training. – Michael Johnson

I recently visited one of very few non-university providers of initial teacher education, New Zealand Graduate School of Education (NZGSE). I saw there an exemplary model of how we should prepare new teachers for the profession.

Teachers-in-training at NZGSE spend the bulk of their time in classrooms, gaining practice at being teachers. NZGSE teacher educators observe them frequently, provide coaching and feedback, and assess them against a long list of things that competent teachers can do. When teachers-in-training can do all of those things to the required standard, fluently and consistently, they can graduate.

But providers like NZGSE have a problem. Postgraduate qualifications are desirable to prospective teachers. And it is difficult for non-university providers to have these qualifications approved. It is expected that postgraduate qualifications will be taught by research-active academics.

It does not take academics to train teachers. What it does take, are people who know how children learn, and can impart that knowledge to teachers-in-training.  – Michael Johnson

We should relieve university lecturers involved in teacher training from any expectation to be ‘research-active’. That would make it easier for institutions that don’t have research-active staff to have postgraduate teaching qualifications approved.

To improve the quality of teacher training, we must break the universities’ near-monopoly on initial teacher education and open the door to competition from providers like NZGSE. – Michael Johnson

Sex education has changed. Long gone are the days when an embarrassed teacher fumbled his way through a couple of lessons on the facts of life. As recent reports have highlighted, puberty, periods and pregnancy barely warrant a mention nowadays. Instead, anal sex, fisting, rough sex and polyamory are the order of the day. Classes involve children ‘stepping away from heteronormative and monogamy-based assumptions’ in order to appreciate that ‘there are a variety of sexual preferences and practices’. On top of this, many children are also being taught that they have a gender identity that may be different from their biological sex.Joanna Williams

The assumption that even the youngest children have a sexuality leads UNESCO to claim they have ‘sexual rights’. The SSAUK review spells out what this means: ‘The child is considered to have a right to sexual “pleasure” and the same sexual knowledge as adults.’ Here UNESCO is eroding the boundaries between childhood and adulthood. This has the potential to expose children to serious harm.

For sexuality education to be considered fully ‘comprehensive’, it must cover gender identity. The SSAUK review explains that UNESCO and the WHO promote ‘the social construct of gender identity over and above the physical reality of biological sex and propose the medicalisation of children as a necessary response’. Clearly, UNESCO and the WHO are engaged in political activism masquerading as scholarship. No thought is given to the damage transitioning can do to children.

The SSAUK review argues that comprehensive sexuality education has sexualised children and undermined child safeguarding. The counter-argument repeated time and again by the WHO and UNESCO is that sexuality education empowers children. They claim that giving children a vocabulary to describe bodies and sexual behaviours enables them to speak out about sexual abuse. But, as the SSAUK authors point out, this shifts the burden of responsibility away from adult abusers and on to child victims. The onus is placed on children to say no. This shift in emphasis is compounded by UNESCO’s framing of age-of-consent laws as ‘restrictive’.

Comprehensive sexuality education teaches that consent is key to all decisions around sex. In the context of lessons normalising a wide range of sexual practices, this implies that the young can consent to behaviours far beyond their comprehension. Children are similarly trusted to declare their own gender identities, even though it is impossible for them to comprehend the long-term repercussions of this. As the SSAUK review notes, adult judgements and responsibilities are being pushed on to children.

SSAUK shows the extent to which the policies shaping sex education in UK schools are intended to undermine parental authority. According to UNESCO and the WHO, parents are not just lacking in knowledge – they also pose a threat to their own children. The WHO asserts that shame associated with sexual activity is often the result of ‘family background’ and ‘moral development’. Rather than leaving childrearing to parents, these global organisations want to shape the personality and behaviour of every child.

Safe Schools Alliance is absolutely right to describe comprehensive sexuality education as ‘an exercise in global social engineering… that pays no regard to child safeguarding’. We need to kick these pernicious lessons out of schools. – Joanna Williams

No one, neither king nor pauper, should surrender to the jealous god of identity politics.Brendan O’Neill

There are a fair few things I’d like to see King Charles apologise for. Those meddlesome ‘spidery letters’ he wrote to government ministers. His green doom and gloom. Prince Harry. But slavery? The British Empire? No. Never. Charles should utter not one word of contrition for those historical events. For if even he, the literal king, were to cave to the woke insistence that ‘the privileged’ must self-flagellate for the crimes of their forefathers, it would set a terrible precedent. It would represent the final victory of that jealous god of identity politics, with disastrous consequences for democracy. – Brendan O’Neill

The first weird thing about the recent explosion of angst over Charles’ shady ancestors is how surprised everyone sounds. Magazines publish breathless pieces on how Charles ‘descends from rulers who waged wars, built empires and extracted wealth from colonies’. Yes, we know – he’s the king. Kings and queens were bastards. They chopped off heads, imprisoned princes, taxed people to within an inch of their lives, conquered countries, put down rebellions. That Charles’s family tree is pock-marked with iffy people is literally the least startling thing about him.

But he still shouldn’t apologise for any of that stuff. For one simple reason: he didn’t do it. Charles has never owned a slave, sent ships in search of booty, put a wife on the chopping block. It is nearly 3,000 years since Ezekiel said, ‘The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father’. Now the noisy identitarians of the 21st century want to reverse all that. They far prefer God’s implacable rage in the Book of Exodus, in which He seethed: ‘[I] am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.’ That the woke are so infused with Old Testament fury, with such a severe urge to punish even the descendants of wrongdoers, confirms what a menacing and regressive movement theirs is.Brendan O’Neill

The identitarians don’t seem to realise that the thing they want – the king weeping for old wrongs – would be a new form of colonialism. Emotional colonialism. Where once monarchs sought to deliver foreigners from ignorance, now they’d deliver them from PTSD.

Elite empowerment is a key part of the showy penitence of the modern era. This is why so many political actors, from Tony Blair to the Vatican, enthusiastically seize every opportunity to let their lip wobble. Blair expressed remorse for the Irish Famine. Pope Francis begged for forgiveness for ‘the offences of the church’ in the colonial era. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa was essentially institutionalised contrition. Australia holds an annual National Sorry Day in which everyone’s expected to quietly atone for the mistreatment of Aboriginal peoples. All of these things are best understood not as genuine expressions of sorrow, but as arrogant displays of emotional literacy; as declarations that one has ascended to the plane of therapeutic correctness, and is thus fit to rule in the era of emotion.

Yet while the cult of contrition might be helpful to elites looking for new ways to justify their rule, it’s a disaster for the rest of us. It is divisive and anti-democratic. The woke rehabilitation of God’s jealous visitation of the crimes of the father on to the son is utterly destructive of public life. It is a form of racial collective guilt – and racial collective pain. All whites come to be seen as the morally stained sons and daughters of ancient crime, and all black, brown and Indigenous people are reduced to the morally scarred sons and daughters of those crimes. This depressing, deterministic creed turns us from equal citizens into either ‘the privileged’ or ‘the oppressed’, where the former must forever repent to the latter. – Brendan O’Neill

Such a debased spectacle would not be a challenge to monarchy at all. On the contrary, it would represent a kind of Battle of the Bloodlines, where two different versions of historically determined authority would be fighting it out for control of society – the historically determined divine right of King Charles vs the historically determined divine pain of the woke. My turn to apologise: sorry, but I prefer equality and democracy to the rule of any given identity. – Brendan O’Neill

Male athlete Austin Killips has won the “Tour of Gila’”women’s road cycling race in New Mexico. After an overwhelming reaction by the public and female athletes alike, the UCI (International Cycling Union) is reconsidering its policy of allowing trans-identified men to compete in women’s cycling competitions. It says it will undertake further consultation and reach a decision in August. What consultation could possibly be necessary to understand that men competing against women in road cycling, or any other sport, is unfair to those women? It is cruel to female athletes, and every sporting body representing women should call an immediate halt. It is the ultimate act of patriarchal entitlement to steal something from a woman, just because you can.  – Jean Hatchet

 Adult men have secured advantages over women in their muscle development, lung capacity, bone density, the Q angle of the hips, and the ratio of fat to muscle, to name but a few areas. When Killips uttered the magic words “I am a woman”, he was not able to hand back these advantages in exchange for a packet of female hormones. They are banked, baked in, going nowhere. As he marches with the women’s prize money to the bank, female competitors feel the searing injustice. 

Startlingly, the outcry this time has included many commentators suggesting women themselves should boycott their own sports teams to prevent men who identify as women from competing in them. This is an unsuitable suggestion for many reasons, not least because some of the people suggesting such a tactic seem to have little understanding of the incredible work being done by campaigners on this issue such as the Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies and the tennis legend Martina Navratilova. These women have sacrificed their reputations and faced incredible backlash, including being smeared as bigots and “transphobes”, in order to speak out on behalf of younger female athletes who simply want the right to fair competition. 

If the women themselves speak out, they risk even worse. Jean Hatchet

Asking women to leave the sporting field so that men have women’s competitions to themselves is grossly unfair. Many elite sportswomen began their sporting career as young girls. They have faced and overcome numerous barriers to compete at the higher levels of their chosen sport, including the financial risk which comes with prioritising sport over a more typical career path. Many elite sportswomen must find employment to fit alongside their rigorous training routines to ensure they can afford to compete. Lucrative sponsorship deals, available to elite sportsmen by contrast, ensure that their male counterparts are not required to do the same.

When cycling competitions are available to women, the attention they receive is often minimal, races not televised and prize money often significantly lower. The Tour of Britain, a men’s road cycling race, is covered live by ITV4, Eurosport and GCN. It achieves an International audience. Its partner race for women, “Women’s Tour” has just been cancelled due to lack of commercial support, despite a fundraising appeal to “rescue” it. Women can’t walk away from events that don’t even take place. By asking women to boycott the sports events they work hard to compete in and establish, you’re asking women themselves to ensure that there will be no more sporting events for them to compete in.  – Jean Hatchet

When women first began to cycle in the late 19th century, men raised concerns that there might be health risks including exhaustion but also, quite ludicrously, dysentery. Men were outraged that women might experience sexual arousal, and so bicycles for women featured cut out saddles but also pedals which ensured that women rode side saddle. No woman would ever have been able to climb mountains in a race like the “Tour De France Femmes” with these ridiculous impediments to free cycling. Women have come a long way since those days, and modern men know it, just as certainly as the men who hung an effigy of a woman on a bike out of a window at Oxford University in 1900 in order to object to the “new woman” gaining a full degree.  Jean Hatchet

Women made space for themselves in the world with their demands and their feminist activism. They gained the right to vote, the right to own property and the right to divorce men. They forced laws that prevented men they were married to from raping them. They created refuges to escape men who were hurting them. They managed to secure public toilets they could use, which freed them from the urinary leash of their time allowed out in public. Time and women marched on, and some women’s rights were taken for granted. Sporting women made some obvious achievements, women circumventing the imposed stereotypes of femininity by becoming more physically powerful and competing with each other.  – Jean Hatchet

If Dworkin was right, a few men see these advancements as a threat. Being told that there are some areas of women’s lives that men cannot access, being told no, is an affront to these men. When men are able to declare they are women, they can reverse some of these annoying exclusions they face. These men found a solution to pesky feminism. As a result, all too frequently, women are being forced into spaces with these men, who can now enter women’s domestic abuse refuges, become the CEO of a rape crisis centre for women, rape women and still demand to be placed in prison with women. Men can enter women’s toilets and changing rooms and force women to go home again to change or urinate. Men can enter women’s sporting competitions and win them. They can take the prize money and demolish women’s boundaries. 

Outrageously, at the same time, these men will demand public sympathy. – Jean Hatchet

How do you win when you aren’t good enough to win as a man? Go and beat the women, take the money and cry victim when called a cheat. How do you erase feminist gains for women? Say you are one.

Too few elite sportsmen have stood up for the women being cheated out of fair competition. Imagine what would happen if male cyclists refused to get on their bikes for just one stage of the Tour De France this year? What would happen if just for one Saturday, men refused to play Premiership Football? Imagine if the men playing in America’s Superbowl walked off the field for just ten minutes? There would be outrage from sponsors and fans alike, and the financial toll would be too much to bear. It would take just one day or ten minutes. The power to give women back their sport is at the fingertips of sporting men, and they should use it swiftly before it is too late.

No, women will not get off our bikes, out of the pool or off the pitch. Sport is a form of freedom and independence for us. We will not return to our homes or to the past. We will play on.  – Jean Hatchet

First a minister decided she would leave, giving scant reason. Clearly the new PM didn’t command enough respect (from Whaitiri at least) to be given any sort of warning.

It also makes Labour looks like a party and Government fraying at the edges. The sheen provided by the Hipkins ascendancy is quickly wearing off as politics roars on into the election. There is no doubt that the intensity of the past few years has left Labour looking like a Government that has held the treasury benches for significantly longer than its six years.Luke Malpass

The other question left open is the extent to which National or ACT thinks about framing up its election campaign as: a vote for Labour is a vote for the Greens, a vote for Labour is a vote for the Greens and Te Pāti Māori.

Leaning on the idea that the tail might wag the dog (as it certainly has in every government Peters has been a part of) can be a powerful message for voters unsure which way to fall, perhaps liking National but unsure about Christopher Luxon. – Luke Malpass

It’s been a while since National had been handed such an opportunity. Under former PM Jacinda Ardern, Labour had mostly resisted taking potshots at National when it was in strife – apart from Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s occasional speeches in Parliament.

If Labour had thought that would earn it some reciprocation, it can think again.

It’s an election year. It’s Hipkins instead of Ardern and Hipkins has taken no vow of kindness.

The polls are even – and as far as National is concerned, that clearly means the gloves are off. The Act Party never had them on.

For Hipkins, the job now is to try not to give them any more ammo. He will be hoping Labour’s patch of turbulence was just that – a patch, rather than the first few rocks before a landslide.Claire Trevett

Right decision


National Party leader Christopher Luxon has ruled out working with the Maori Party after the election:

. . . National’s leader says the two parties have strongly different policies and visions for New Zealand.

Luxon told Mike Hosking Te Pāti Māori wants a separate Parliament and voting rights and doesn’t accept Treaty settlements as full and final.

“We have strong beliefs around equal citizenship, one person, one vote and no co-governance of public services and those two sets of positions are just not workable or can be put together.”

This is the right decision for National and the country.

The current government has fuelled racial division. We need a government that not only believes in equal citizenship but whose policies are based on that.

Voters now have a very clear choice – between a National-led government and a Labour-Green-TPM mess.

Quotes of the day


What a sordid, sloppy mess, eh?

Meka Whaitiri is off, we still don’t know why and, somehow, she escapes the party hopping laws, so gets to stay on as an MP.

Does that, or does that not, sum up the malaise and general mess with which this country is currently run? – Mike Hosking

How can you have a senior player in your party and have literally no idea they are bailing and, when they do bail, no idea why?

It speaks very poorly of Whaitiri. Not telling anyone is the height of rudeness.

The fact Kiri Allen was dispatched to try and get some details, and failed, tells you that must have been one spectacularly dysfunctional relationship.

What does it say about Chris Hipkins leadership that he didn’t have a clue?

What does it say about Whaitiri’s mindset that she didn’t think it necessary to offer any explanation to anyone?Mike Hosking

Then we have the so-called party hopping laws. I thought we had dealt with this? I thought Winston Peters had railed endlessly about the shabby way some MP’s treat the system?

And yet all these years after Turia and Alamein Kopu, here we are still watching them watch their back, feather their nests, protect their interests and collect the taxpayer’s money.

From a broader point of view this is a Government in its death throes.

The economy is shot, the previous leader has run for the hills, the imagery around their promises and delivery is laughable and now another minister has up and scarpered.

In a way, they must be secretly longing for October 14 to be put out of their misery. – Mike Hosking

In a free and open democracy politicians people feel are subpar end up on toilet seats and the like. I had an extremely unflattering Piggy Muldoon Piggy Bank as a kid. The real story here, which it will be left for me to write, is why are so many wanker journalists want to protect society’s most powerful by enforcing appropriate etiquette towards them from ordinary citizens?

One of the superpowers of the West is our freedom to tease and ridicule those in power. I’m talking political cartoons, the comedy of McPhail and Gadsby, impersonators, online memes, and, yes, cardboard masks being attached to toilet seats. Such ridicule worked a treat on organised religion, loosening its shackles on power and forcing many groups to progress, though some in society seem intent to walk that back now. The exact same deeply conservative impulse drives outrage over this toilet seat.Dane Giraud

When a politician is considered saintly, to the point their image can’t be tarnished by satire or even the lowest forms of comedy, this says people are caught up in a brand and not the leader’s substance. You could argue Ardern’s protectors are the ones dehumanising her, as well as straying into misogynistic attitudes around the need for greater decorum towards female leaders. – Dane Giraud

The mask on the toilet seat scandal is an example of the wealth class trying to impose its sectarian imperatives on the general population. The goal is to make the parameters of how people criticise their preferred leaders so narrow, that it becomes near impossible to make meaningful attacks. But politicians need criticism – ferocious criticism – and to be ridiculed, otherwise, they have no reason to do the right thing.

Why a responsible media would seek to protect the powerful from low-level offense is beyond me. But this co-president announcing an investigation makes him a massive, if not the key part of this problem. And what would this ‘investigation’ look like, anyway? Will he be calling in Hercules Poiret??

I’d flush this silly co-president pronto because he’s thrown his club under the bus. My official statement (if the thunderous wind didn’t suffice) would’ve been “There’s not a politician, living or dead, whose face doesn’t belong on a toilet seat”. And then I’d commission a run of framed embroideries displaying the same maxim, which I’d gift to every media outlet to hang in their newsrooms. – Dane Giraud

Everyone who contributes to traffic congestion already pays for it in about the worst way possible: through their time, and through excess wear and tear on – and emissions from – vehicles idling in stop-and-go traffic.

Shifting to congestion charging would help ensure freer-flowing traffic. It would make buses run more reliably, unhindered by peak-time congestion. Achieving net-zero climate goals would be less costly with fewer congestion-related emissions.

And by shifting some travel to times when the roads are otherwise less used, it would encourage better use of existing road capacity. The roading system could handle more trips, overall, with less need to add new lanes. If a movie theatre is full at peak times when ticket prices are zero, it makes a lot more sense to start charging for tickets than to build more screens. – Eric Crampton

I speak English, not American. To me, a republican is someone who wants to abolish the monarchy, not a supporter of a transatlantic political party. As for ‘neoliberal’, I’m blowed if I can see how something can be both itself and its opposite at the same time (neolib/neocons presumably being opposite). What I do know is that I am a man of the Enlightenment who believes in silly things like freedom of speech – a classical liberal, which is a conservative position today; but in Amurrican quasi-English, liberal is the antithesis of conservative, meaning, amongst other things, support for PC totalitarianism in which conservatives have no freedom of speech. – Barend Vlaardingerbroek

We are still left with a quandary: it is perfectly possible to be a conservative and a liberal (in British English) at the same time. Indeed as I have noted above, this is the position of the classical liberal today. A mistake we should not make is confusing conservatism with stick-in-the-mud-ism. I have always remembered something Margaret Thatcher said to a radio reporter in 1985: “A modern conservative is someone who looks at what we have from the past and holds on to what is good” (a paraphrase as I cannot find the quote on the web). Conservatives can be sticks in the mud (as can so-called radicals) but they can also be progressive, looking for better ways of going about governance. But they do not believe in change for change’s sake.Barend Vlaardingerbroek

The meanings of terms such as ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ have been changing over the past few decades. Their definitions have not quite settled down, although I fear that the American language pandemic is doing the redefining other than for true-blue stalwarts like yours truly who will always be true to the real thing (they can’t even get the colours right – blue being Democrat!). In the meantime, when you come across these words in print or speech, it does pay to enquire as to exactly what the writer or speaker means. It might also pay to ask yourself exactly what you mean by them – you may be surprised at the answer. – Barend Vlaardingerbroek

What to make of the Bud Light boycott? What was a few weeks ago dismissed as a conservative tantrum that would go nowhere and soon calm down has turned out to be the most successful consumer boycott of recent years. And in our culture-warring era, in which even booze and ice-cream brands feel compelled to lecture the rest of us about how to think and live, that really is saying something. – Tom Slater

On 1 April, America’s formerly beloved watery beer brand unveiled a new ambassador: transgender TikTok influencer Dylan Mulvaney. As part of a ‘March Madness’ promotion, Mulvaney was given a ton of money and a personalised Bud Light can in exchange for a short promotional social-media video, sporting his trademark ditsy shtick.

The backlash was swift. Prominent anti-wokesters called for a boycott as reports began to surface of punters snubbing Bud Light en masse. Naturally, the great and good dismissed all this as a big, fat nothingburger. Until now.

According to trade figures, Bud Light’s sales outside of hospitality venues fell by a whopping 26 per cent in the week ending 22 April, compared with the same week last year. – Tom Slater

Inevitably, this has all been chalked up to the alleged transphobic bigotry of beer drinkers. ‘They [are] upset because Mulvaney is transgender’, is the oh-so-nuanced take from Vox.

But to suggest that people have stopped drinking Bud Light because Mulvaney is trans is like suggesting liberal rich people who stopped vacationing at Mar-a-Lago post-2016 did so because Donald Trump is white. The point is not how Dylan Mulvaney identifies, but what he says and represents.

Mulvaney has essentially become America’s most prominent trans activist – proclaiming to the teeming masses of TikTok that women can have penises, and going to see President Biden to ensure he’s fully onboard with subjecting gender-confused teens to irreversible and discredited medical interventions.Tom Slater

What people object to about Mulvaney’s sudden ubiquity – his celebration in the media and his portfolio of lucrative endorsement deals – is not Mulvaney per se, but the creep of this secular, sexist, biology-denying religion. A religion which they resent being pushed on them and their family. Especially when they’re just trying to relax, watch the game and have a beer. – Tom Slater

The left-liberals currently mocking this sudden politicisation of consumer brands should remember that the boycotters are not the ones who started this. For years now, corporates have taken it upon themselves to lecture their customers about social and political issues. A pushback of one kind or another was inevitable.Tom Slater

Now, as various commentators have pointed out, consumer boycotts rarely work and even fewer last. There’s every reason to believe this one will peter out, too. Not least because most people have bigger things to worry about. The Very Online right-wingers hailing the Bud Light boycott like it’s the new Boston Tea Party really need to get out more.

But there’s something undoubtedly positive about this quiet revolt against woke capitalism; against the creep of identitarian activism into every sphere of life; against all the imperious corporations that want to impose their values on everyone else. Long may the pushback continue. – Tom Slater

It took a lot of hard work for Key’s National government to drag our immunisation stats up from the woeful depths they reached under the Clark administration, to levels expected of a Developed Nation – or First World Nation if you prefer.

And now look at it. Look when the drop started, 2017.Tom Hunter 

Quotes of the day


Half of it [inflation] can be explained through oil prices, the Ukraine war, Covid supply chain shortages that will go up and down, [and] will sort itself out over time. But half of it is purely domestic, purely domestic, because we’ve had a government spending a billion dollars extra … each and every week. – Christopher Luxon 

We’re six months to the day from October’s election and the latest economic forecast from Infometrics paints a bleak picture for Labour’s strategists. 

Infometrics is forecasting high inflation will persist, stuck at 6.6% at the end of this year with a return to a one-to-three percent target not forecast until mid-2025.Jack Tame 

The curious thing about the Infometrics forecast is that it underscores a growing sense that New Zealand’s inflation battle is diverging from comparable countries.

CPI data in the U.S this week has a year-on-year rate of 5%, way down from the post-Covid high of 9.1%. The Eurozone went from 8.5% in February to 6.9% in March. And the head economist of Australia’s biggest bank is flirting with the possibility of mortgage rate cuts later this year.

Meanwhile, Infometrics is forecasting New Zealand’s inflation will remain stubbornly high, and the cash rate could be raised another 50 basis points in the next few months. What’s more, the speed with which mortgage rates have risen will not be matched by the speed of cuts when we do reach the other side.   – Jack Tame 

We’re hardly the only developed democracy with a cost-of-living crisis. But if New Zealand lags behind comparable countries in bringing inflation down, voters’ patience with that argument will deteriorate quickly.  

The government knows this. There is a reason Three Waters is now called the Affordable Water Reforms, even though it delivers fewer savings and is less affordable from a ratepayer perspective than the previous model. There’s a reason we’ll hear “bread-and-butter” over and over again. But slogans and branding will only help so much, and for now Grant Robertson is still planning a significant operating allowance in the budget next month.  

The Infometrics forecast make it crystal clear. Forget co-governance or education, climate change, mental health, or the All Blacks prospects at the World Cup, six months today the 2023 general election will be decided by voters with an intense focus on their back pockets. And if New Zealand isn’t making meaningful progress on taming inflation and other countries are, it’ll be that much tougher for Labour to win a third term. Jack Tame 

The question for our esteemed Finance Minister Grant Robertson is, how long can he keep saying with a straight face that “we are well placed” to deal with what is an increasingly obvious economic calamity.

The 50 basis point official case rate increase from Adrian Orr last week pretty much blew whatever credibility was left out of the water. New Zealand is now into outlier territory.- Mike Hosking

It also seems pretty much certain we are in a recession or, if per chance we aren’t, we are about to be. There is too much economic evidence piling up for us to avoid the so-called “hard landing”. The Government’s tax take is coming in now under budget. The cost of the government’s debt is rising. The size of that debt as a percentage of GDP is going up. The ratings agencies are now publicly commenting on it and talking of possible downgrades.

The trade deficit is at record levels, we are not selling enough to the world to offset what we are bringing in. The main foreign exchange earners of tourism and dairy are now problems for the economy. Tourism is back at 50 per cent of what it was, and the speed of the resurgence post the borders opening is now slowing. When it’s slowing and you are still only at 50 per cent you have issues.

Dairy has demand issues, and the auction numbers of late look increasingly worrying.

While all that is going on, the Government continues to spend beyond its means. The previous Saturday 1.4 million of us got more money, not because we did anything to earn it, but simply because the cost of everything was rising.

Think about that, the Government borrowed yet more money to hand out to people who need yet more money to pay for things, because the cost of everything is going up. That is called a wage/price spiral: one feeds the other.

The fact no one made anything to earn that money is the red flag; the Government didn’t have the money either, it borrowed it. Mike Hosking

That is the one bright part of the economy. Everyone has work.

But they have work because we haven’t let enough people into the country to avoid the wage-price spiral that’s been engineered.

I say engineered because there can be no other reason for keeping the immigration settings the way they have been, other than to drive prices and wages up in an artificial fashion. – Mike Hosking

So along with Australia, we can now almost certainly add Britain, most of Europe and indeed the US, to the list of countries that appear to be avoiding recession. They appear to be managing a soft landing to their economic circumstances.

And while we know why we aren’t able to achieve the same feat, the real question is how come? How is it we have got this so spectacularly wrong? Benefit of hindsight is always useful but the mistakes seem increasingly obvious.

Too much printed money. Too much of that money spent on things that had nothing to do with Covid. Not enough questions and rigour around where the money was spent and what value, if any, it was adding. A funding for lending programme for banks that had no rules around it. An immigration setting that fuelled wage spikes. An immigration setting that because of delays, led people to choose other countries. And an increasingly frustrated Reserve Bank governor who asked the government to rein it in, as well as telling the public to cool their jets. Both parties ignored him, because the Government loves debt, and we all had pay rises.

Like a slow-moving train wreck, this is all coming back to haunt us. The tragedy of it all is we are increasingly seeing places where it isn’t as bad.

Grant Robertson likes to say it’s not a game of comparisons: actually, it is. And we lose.Mike Hosking

A big education announcement from the Government- they’re reducing class sizes for primary and intermediate schools.

Classes will drop from 29 to 28. You cannot make this stuff up. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Let’s be realistic about what that’s going to do, it’s going to give the 28 remaining kids in the class an extra 6 seconds an hour with the teacher.

No parent believes that’s enough to, as the Education Minister reckons, turn around our decline in reading writing and maths. 

Really the saddest thing about today’s announcement, apart from the lack of ambition is that this is a recycled promise from Labour.Heather du Plessis-Allan

This is not even an announcement worth making. You have to question the political wisdom of hauling the PM out to announce this.

This just opens Labour up to ridicule for thinking it’s worth announcing class size reduction of one student, and it reminds voters that previous promises were more ambitious- and never delivered on.

Few should be impressed by this and few should expect it to happen.  – Heather du Plessis-Allan

The  problems  don’t end in the households in the cities. Farmers on  whom  the country depends  for  most of the countries’ export income have been hard hit by  inflation, as  well as  by the climate warriors who are calling on the government to cut herd  numbers (and methane emissions)  just  when  the nation  needs every cent  it can earn from export receipts.

So  the  issues are piling up on the government.  And  even if  Hipkins can solve them  all, will the average punter think  he deserves  another term, as government debts pile up to be paid at a later date?Point of Order

Well, I’ve got some good news for those at the upper end of income earning who may have been wondering when the tax axe was about to fall, forcing them to haemorrhage more.

It turns out, our tax system is pretty fair and equitable after all.

A new study completed for tax consultancy firm  OliverShaw concludes that the wealthy in New Zealand pay most of the tax collected.  OliverShaw is headed by the former deputy commissioner at IRD, Robin Oliver.

Oliver says that the higher their income, the more they pay. Those earning lower incomes end up paying less tax because of the various tax credits, and other payments they’re eligible to receive.   – Roman Travers

By the way, there are no plans for tax reform before the election.

The big concern I have is that this government is spending money as if it grows on trees, but their expenditure is now too high compared to the taxation system we currently use.  

The outcome of the study, maybe reassuring for those with salubrious incomes, but it still leaves one big question unanswered: where do we go to get the money required to lift New Zealand out of the quagmire? 

Even though the outcome of the study is quite clear, do you really trust any government not to tinker with the taxation dials once the election is won? Roman Travers


Quotes of the day


A one-day submission process on legislation granting incredibly broad powers to the Minister over an extended period is repugnant. It is offensive to New Zealand’s constitutional traditions unless one wishes to wind the clock back to the reign of King Henry VIII. – Eric Crampton

We would urge that the legislation be withdrawn, and that whoever suggested this process revisits the basics of civics with regard to due parliamentary process and open and transparent government.Eric Crampton

Further, we believe this to be a shameful episode in the history of New Zealand’s parliamentary democracy.
1.10 We do not request an opportunity to provide an oral submission; the process is a disgrace. – Eric Crampton

I miss the grown-ups.

I’m desperate for some grown-ups, or just someone informed and engaged to be running this country, instead of the malaise and fly by night experience we’re currently having.

Like many of you, yesterday I despaired as I listened to Chris Hipkins on the Mike Hosking Breakfast. It was cringe worthy. He literally could not answer a single question, was so ill informed, offered nothing by way of answers on anything, it was depressing.  – Kate Hawkesby

He admitted he doesn’t watch the news. I mean I get it, I wouldn’t either if I didn’t have to.. it’s tedious, but that’s my job – I have to.

Which begs the question, why isn’t it his job too? Why is the Prime Minister of our country not wanting to be informed? How does he not know what’s going on inside his own government?  – Kate Hawkesby

But what’s increasingly common from politicians these days, as the bar has gotten lower and lower, is they say ‘it’s complex’ or they don’t have the stats right in front of them right now, or they need to look into that, or they’ll have to come back to you. 

Fewer and fewer of them have any answers or information at their fingertips, fewer and fewer of them know anything about their portfolios, fewer and fewer of them have watched the news, read the paper, gotten across news stories at all.

And if you get to the very bottom of that lowered bar you get Marama Davidson, who just makes it up on the hoof and says what she likes, bugger the facts or the accuracy.  – Kate Hawkesby

Maybe I’m old school in expecting politicians to be interested and informed, maybe the reason the polls are so wacky at the moment reflects the mood and malaise of not just the politicians but the public too. Maybe none of us care anymore? Maybe we’re all just sleepwalking around the place oblivious and unbothered?

I don’t know what it is, but it feels like we’re sinking into an abyss of low bars, and low expectations, and I just hope for the sake of this country, that we all snap out of it, at least by October. – Kate Hawkesby

Chris Hipkins, who must be by now regretting ever agreeing to step into the job in place of the hapless Jacinda Ardern in that gerrymandered deal late last year, claims that although the information on Nash was known by the Prime Minister’s office, because of an official information process, somehow the Prime Minister or those close to her were never told.


A cabinet minister breaking rules, rules that Chris Hipkins very clearly stated was a reason and a reason all on its own for a sacking, was known by the office of Jacinda Ardern and no one who knew thought that telling someone else in that office was a good idea?

Why would they not do that? Are they thick?

Are they thick beyond words?

Or are they so Machiavellian that they owned it all by themselves and thought if they said nothing and the Prime Minister remained untouched and unscathed, they could save her? –Mike Hosking

What we know for a fact is that Nash’s activities with donors via email;

1) Breached cabinet rules,

2) Was known by the office of the Prime Minister and,

3) Cost him his job, because the breach all by itself is a sackable offence.

If it was sackable this week, why wasn’t it sackable then?

You’ll note the theme of this. There seem many questions but very few answers.

Dare I raise the issue of the most honest, open and transparent Government at this stage?

Or is the hole so deep they’ve dug for themselves that it’s become such a farce that it’s not even worth the reminder?Mike Hosking

There is not a dairy on that road that hasn’t been at the barrel of a gun or the tipping point of a knife in the last three months. There will only be one dairy left on that road very shortly … they’ve all shut down.

Aggravated crime is up in our location despite what people say, and it’s quite in your face. – Tama Potaka 

Look at the median Māori income, it’s significantly lower than the average general income. The cost of living is really jamming the lives of Māori, iwi, whānau, and it’s really hurting and making life difficult.

Maybe 25 percent of Māori own their own homes, that’s a shocking statistic, plus you’ve got rental challenges and people in social housing – it’s really tough out there. – Tama Potaka 

We’ve been very firm and clear about what we believe in, but you’ll find if you listen to debates in the House, there’s an absolute fever within the Labour Government to drive co-governance arrangements through lots of different things, and we’ve had to respond to that. – Tama Potaka 

A question — if the only people allowed to play trans characters are trans folk, then are we also suggesting the only people trans folk can play are trans characters? Surely that will limit your career as an actor? Isn’t the point of an actor to be able play anyone outside your own world? – Guy Pearce *

* This was a tweet which has now been deleted with the following explanation:

Quotes of the day


National knew – or should have, since its own research said so – that Christopher Luxon would beat Jacinda Ardern in a policy-free popularity contest.

By the time she quit, enough voters had worked out that, when it came to running a government rather than emoting, she was a complete flake. – Matthew Hooton

The good news is National has finally worked out that it can’t win a beauty contest between the two. Perhaps by necessity, it delivered yesterday what pundits and voters say we want, which is meaningful policy.

If a government ditching its prime minister and main policies is unorthodox, an opposition releasing serious policy is more so, especially so early in an election year. It hasn’t happened this century.

Luxon may be irritated with speculation that his education spokesperson Erica Stanford is a leadership contender, along with his deputy and finance spokesperson Nicola Willis. But New Zealand’s last two important prime ministers, Jim Bolger and Helen Clark, endured speculation throughout their times as opposition leader about Winston Peters, Ruth Richardson, Doug Graham, Michael Cullen and Phil Goff.

Luxon can take comfort that such talk at least suggests a deep bench. That’s not something National has been accused of since John Key, Bill English and Steven Joyce left. – Matthew Hooton

 Education doesn’t make the top issues concerning voters, according to National’s pollsters, Curia. It’s a lowly 11th in Ipsos’ New Zealand Issues Monitor.

Moreover, the policy itself is genuinely statesmanlike, being concerned with outcomes that will fully bear fruit only once Luxon, Willis and Stanford are retired. It doesn’t read as if it was bashed out on Wednesday night after some focus groups. It may even be, as claimed, the outcome of Luxon and Stanford’s personal research over the last year, including in Asia and Europe.

There are no handouts cynically targeted at the median voter, although taxpayers will bear the $10 million annual cost of teacher registration fees rather than teachers themselves. – Matthew Hooton

In a world where we hope each generation will be better than the one before, the data National has obtained reveals that the average 13-year-old in 2019 was actually worse at both maths and science than in 1995. Performance will continue deteriorating as Ardern’s and Hipkins’ Covid kids reach intermediate and secondary school.

But the policy doesn’t brainlessly promise vast billions to fix this. It recognises that far-left education theory, not money, is the problem. As Luxon points out, Grant Robertson has increased education spending by 46 per cent since 2017, from $11.1 billion to $16.2b. The extra $5.1b has had similar results to Robertson’s $1.9b more for mental health.

Nor is head office restructuring and rebranding promised, as Labour focuses on, or changes to school management or teacher payment methods, as right-wing economists might prefer. Instead, the policy is about the nuts and bolts of curriculum reform, initial and ongoing teacher training, new classroom materials and resources, and assessment.Matthew Hooton

The policy can’t help but be popular with parents and ordinary teachers.

It is also detailed and substantial enough to deserve a serious response from Labour and the Greens, plus Te Pāti Māori, which polls currently identify as king-maker.

But, politically, Labour dare not steal National’s policy because its focus on measurability is anathema to the teacher union bosses and ultra-left education theorists who control the bureaucracy and university education departments, and who easily trump students, parents and regular teachers as the education stakeholders Labour most cares about. – Matthew Hooton

Just as National strategists initially had no idea how to respond to Labour’s unorthodox leadership change and policy bonfires, it can be assured no one in the Beehive has any idea what to do if an opposition suddenly starts taking policy seriously. At the very least, National’s bold strike yesterday promises to mix things up a bit – and hopefully avoid Te Pāti Māori deciding whether or not any of it will happen.Matthew Hooton

The “culture wars” are set to be a defining issue in the 2023 election.

Just take a look at what has dominated headlines this week. It’s not been the cost of living, the Federal Reserve’s decision to hike interest rates amid banking turmoil, nor the confirmation by the Treasury and our Reserve Bank that New Zealand will tip into a technical recession this year (it will hurt nevertheless).

Incongruously, while scientists were delivering their final warning on the climate crisis, debate in New Zealand was instead focused on the danger presented by a pint-sized female Brit coming here on her “Let Women Speak” tour. – Fran O’Sullivan 

There is an argument that things have moved too far.

This was underlined by the decision by World Athletics that it will exclude from female competition male-to-female transgender athletes who have gone through male puberty.

World Athletics president Lord Coe said: “We have also taken decisive action to protect the female category in our sport, and to do so by restricting the participation of transgender and DSD [differences of sexual development] athletes.”

So we are entering a vexed time.Fran O’Sullivan 

Just one piece of news in the last week was enough to give the impression that the Government’s great policy bonfire is really smoke and mirrors.

The gobsmacking announcement that the already gold-plated Lake Onslow electricity project has nearly quadrupled in cost yet the Government will forge ahead anyway, confirmed two things. This is the most economically reckless Government since Rob Muldoon, and it has no plans to rein in its own budget to something more appropriate for a country of our size and stage. – Steven Joyce

Burning coal for electricity is an embarrassing feature of this Government’s current energy policy. The decision to ban gas exploration back when climate change was this generation’s nuclear-free moment has made us more dependent on coal-fired electricity generation than we otherwise would be. Gas creates about half the emissions of burning coal, but no matter.

There are plenty of lower-cost, low-emissions solutions to the country’s electricity problems that energy companies would supply if the Government got out of the way and let them get on with it. There are proposed new geothermal schemes, new technologies providing sophisticated demand management tools for industrial users, smaller and cheaper run-of-river hydro schemes, the option of greater storage in existing hydro lakes, and carbon capture and storage technologies which would allow us to keep using natural gas while providing near-zero emissions.

Many of these options would be willingly funded by banks and investors if the Government wasn’t standing over them with a huge taxpayer chequebook threatening to spend $16b and more, and making their investments redundant. For full disclosure, I work with two companies which have technology options which could help bridge a shortfall in hydroelectricity, but there are dozens. In a genuine market of ideas, the best options would get funded but this is not a market of ideas, it’s all about the minister’s preference.Steven Joyce

Even the proposer of the project, the well-meaning Earl Bardsley from the University of Waikato, admits the business case for it won’t stack up unless a “very wide view” is taken of the economic benefits of the scheme. That’s code for including lots of things that aren’t attributable directly to the scheme to make it look better.

Minister Woods is infamous in Wellington circles for her Muldoonist tendencies. Lake Onslow is her version of Muldoon’s “Think Big” energy schemes which almost sent the country broke in the early eighties. The minister likes to decide a preference very early and then defend it to the death despite any evidence to the contrary. Critics are all dismissed as “vested interests” and cost is no barrier to her preferred policy solution. – Steven Joyce

Those supporting Lake Onslow have no money at stake in their advocacy, while those against are clearly prepared to invest and put their money where their mouths are. We used to have a saying in Cabinet that if the only investor in a “commercial” project is the government, it isn’t a viable project.

It is also ironic that the environmentalists and Greenpeace supporting it are the same people who would have laid in front of the bulldozers protesting the scheme in times past.

Lake Onslow is just another of those white elephant ideas that have been kicking around Wellington for 20 years in search of a sponsor gullible enough to take it forward. Light rail is another, and a bike bridge across the Waitematā was yet another. This Government has probably been the most taken with unworkable populist ideas that we’ve seen for decades, which would be amusing except that we churn through hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars proving what was already obvious at a cursory glance.Steven Joyce

And as for the PM, he missed a trick. A revelation that Minister Woods’ pet project had blown out in cost from $4b to $16b was an ideal time to add it to the “policy bonfire”. It would have shown the Government was perhaps serious about fiscal restraint and tackling the cost of living crisis. That he didn’t gives the impression the great policy re-set is a charade, and that some ministers are not for turning, by anybody. – Steven Joyce

What is “woke”? With origins in cultural Marxism, the general view is that it’s a movement that seeks social and political redress for wrongs derived from social injustice and discrimination.

Like the Black Lives Matter crusade in the United States, which attributed police violence to systemic racism, the woke movement embraces ‘Identity Politics’ with its focus on the so-called ‘oppressed’ groups in society including those centred on gender, race, and sexuality.

In their struggle for social justice these groups claim they have been the victims of systemic oppression, and they demand preferential treatment to address the wrongs.

What is particularly sinister is their propensity to attack and ‘cancel’ anyone with a dissenting voice. Muriel Newman

The words of novelist JK Rowling, who opposes all forms of woke repression are particularly appropriate: “If you seek the removal of freedoms from an opponent simply on the grounds that they have offended you, you have crossed a line to stand alongside tyrants who imprison, torture and kill on exactly the same justifications.”

While a desire to address social injustice and discrimination is admirable, and something few would argue against, the problem arises when the cause of the “wrongs” is fabricated to suit the political interests of those driving the agenda.

And unfortunately, our politicians seem all too willing to promote such false narratives in order to ingratiate themselves with those activist groups. – Muriel Newman

In really simple terms this country and our education system is shocking. And we know it’s shocking because it didn’t used to be that way.

We have, and continue to, go backwards. Now, that shouldn’t be news to anyone, but when you book mark it the way he did it’s an eye opener

The teachers, largely, are not to blame. It is the way we teach, the work load they are expected to undertake, the lack of confidence they have in the first place and the expectation of a Government or ministry that has completely skewed what is important.

Essentially what National are advocating in their policy is nothing exceptional. It’s simply going back to what we once did, which is basic competency in basic subjects. Mike Hosking

There is no magic. Just, sadly, an appalling hijacking of a system by wonks in Wellington that for some reason have been allowed to run rampant.

What we have by way of an education outcome for so many kids is inexcusable and indefensible.

If you watched Luxon prosecute that yesterday you’d see a bloke who gets it and, more importantly, wants to do something about it.

As more New Zealanders see more of that they will see why the election is nowhere near as close as the polls might suggest. – Mike Hosking

A final thought. Critics of trans peoples’ fantasies are labelled trans-phobic, typical of their ignorance re language. Phobic means fear. The critics are not fearful in the least of these sexually confused folk, rather, specially in the case of male trans for example, women don’t want them in their toilets or with their physical advantages, competing with them in sport. Otherwise it’s entirely their business if they believe they’re born in the wrong body and are really a zebra, Napoleon or the opposite sex Sir Bob Jones

Ours is not an age of acute aesthetic judgment, except in the culinary field. Here there is no question that food (especially for the middle classes in the Anglo-Saxon world) has improved out of all recognition in the last decades. When I look back on my childhood, I recall food that was almost comically bad: it took skill and determination of a kind to render food so unappetising, at least from our current perspective, though we ate it because there was nothing else and perhaps because we knew no better. There was an almost puritanical vendetta by cooks (or rather, those who cooked) against flavour, one which was for the most part successful. I remember dry grey roast meat with vegetables reduced to a mush by overcooking, served carelessly with some of the water in which they had been cooked seemingly for hours, if not for days, as a kind of punishment for those who displayed the human weakness known as hunger. No doubt such crimes against the culinary art are still committed in places, but something better is now to be found even in the smallest towns.

On the other hand (there is always another hand), the fashion in restaurants in which the much better food than formerly is served also tells us something disquieting about modern forms of sociability. In many of the best places—best from the culinary point of view—it is not possible to have a quiet conversation. All sound-absorbing materials have been removed from the décor, and frequently one has to raise one’s voice, even shout, to make oneself heard to the person across the table. Talking thus becomes a physical effort, where it is not an actual impossibility, and is certainly not a pleasure; one leaves the restaurant both exhausted and exasperated. – Theodore Dalrymple

This is in accordance with a world of psychobabble, in which people talk endlessly about themselves while revealing nothing. In such a world, conversation becomes ersatz, at best a series of monologues whose end everyone awaits in order to proceed with his own, only tangentially related to what has gone before. Speech is audible tattooing. Theodore Dalrymple

Human beings are both social creatures and blessed (or cursed) with individuality. They feel the need both to fit in and stand out. Advertisers, who are sincere in their cynicism, are fully aware of this seeming contradiction. They constantly suggest that people should stand out by buying exactly what they hope to sell to as large a number of people as possible. And what, after all, are graffiti of the kind that deface whole areas of cities nowadays but an attempt by young people both to conform and stand out, by imposing themselves on a townscape by doing precisely what so many others do?

Hideous though their efforts are, yet the perpetrators retain some aesthetic sense, if only unconsciously or subliminally.  – Theodore Dalrymple

Few things reveal a man more than his aesthetic judgments, which is why so much art and architectural criticism, at least of contemporary art and architecture, fails to make any. A whole vocabulary is employed to avoid them: they are as much to be avoided as rude remarks at a garden party. Which of the desiderata of truth, beauty and goodness remains standing after the postmodernist assault?Theodore Dalrymple

Indeed, transgender rights has become a totemic issue for the left – an unassailable article of faith. This explains why some of the highest profile victims of the debate have been feminists themselves, the most notable being the writer J.K. Rowling who enraged the transgender community with her tweet in 2020, “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

Despite facing savage attacks, Rowling has remained steadfast and continues to be a prominent advocate for women. – Thomas Cranmer

Having the ability to present my maiden speech. Because what that did is give some insight into the drivers or the values, the tikanga in my life. It’s not that I got here because I did something. I got here with the support of hundreds of people and the values and protocols and principles they instilled in me are now brought to bear in the house… What a marvellous job!Tama Potaka

Quotes of the day


As an antidote to the morning news. I wanted to be in the company of those who care enough about the common welfare to make a difference.
I wanted to be with those who don’t get mired in the hopelessness of “Ain’t it awful!” but get up and do something about the welfare of their corner of the world.

That’s as much a reality as the news of the disasters of the day.

They represent the truth that there is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t mind who gets the credit.
They know that if all you think of is what you want and need, there is never enough.
They know that if you also think of what other people need, there is always enough.

There are more things to admire in people than there are to despise.

I’m not an optimist – not a pessimist – I’m a realist.
There is more good going on in the world than bad – or else we could not have survived and prevailed this long.
Altruism is alive and well and at work.
That’s also the news of the day.
Don’t miss it. – Robert Fulghum

A particularly significant problem is that the concept of mauri, meaning life force, was inserted directly into the basic chemistry curriculum. Please google the phrase “Mauri is present in all matter. All particles have their own mauri” — this is the language that NCEA used in their pilot Chemistry standards in 2022.

Unfortunately, the concept of ‘life force’ is a well-known pseudoscience, known as vitalism. Vitalism was experimentally debunked by chemists in the 1800s. Having a government agency force it back into the chemistry curriculum by political fiat — while steamrolling the vehement and informed objections of science teachers — is a huge problem. Vitalism is a pseudoscientific error on the same level as asserting that the Earth is flat, or that the world is only 6,000 years old. If vitalism is right, then all of chemistry and biochemistry is wrong.Nick Matzke

Clearly, all is not well at the Ministry of Education, if such radical shifts in claims about basic chemistry (which has been established for 100+ years, and is the same in all countries) are occurring.

And, despite the change, the “mauri is present in all matter” pseudoscience is still on the NCEA Chemistry/Biology website in numerous places, right now! – Nick Matzke

So, once again, in a Matt Hancock-type revelation we learn that during the Covid years the Government considered handing us all $5,000.

$5,000 for everyone. It’s like Oprah: “you get a car, you get a car, you get $5000”.Mike Hosking

They thought the way to stave off a recession was to close the borders, and in doing so, strangle the economy but flood it with cash. Cash they never had anyway.

Another part of the plan was to do it Prezzy card style. The only thing that stopped them was they couldn’t get the plastic in from China quick enough. Think about that.

New Zealand, the eco-warriors in the middle of our nuclear moment, changing the world for the better through well thought-out climate policy, wanted to import tonnes of good old Chinese plastic to toss money we didn’t have at a country closed down. – Mike Hosking

All this came about because despite what the Reserve Bank was doing, printing money to the tune of $100 billion and handing it to banks to throw at us anyway they wanted, the fear was that wouldn’t be enough.

Once again, given the state of the economy we sit in this morning, can you imagine how much worse it would be today if these idiots had actually gone ahead with it?

What was needed, and this is perhaps the most important lesson out of Covid and general crisis management, was experience and expertise and, above all, great leadership. And they didn’t have it.

We have amateurs from unions and university and people who had barely any experience of Government. – Mike Hosking

The danger of buffoons running the place cannot be overstated.

We were a bad idea away from catastrophe – and the other bad ideas landed us in the current mess.

I suppose the ironic good news is it could have been worse.

But what a gobsmackingly horrifying thought that is. – Mike Hosking

Here’s a radical suggestion. Anti-Vietnam War protesters in the 1960s used the slogan “Suppose they gave a war and nobody came”. The same idea could be applied to speaking tours by people the woke Left dislike. They could just ignore them. But of course that would deny the woke Left a chance to parade their outrage in the front of the TV cameras. Publicity opportunities like that are just too good to pass up, especially when sympathetic media are always keen to frame the confrontations as a fight against the dark forces of the far Right.

From a broader perspective, the denial of a visa or speaking venues to Keen-Minshull would again signal to the enemies of free speech, as with Southern and Molyneux, that they can shut down people they don’t like simply by threatening disruption. What could be simpler than to orchestrate a confrontation with the other side and then blame them for any unpleasantness that eventuates? In the meantime, freedom of speech has taken another hit – which of course is the objective.Karl du Fresne 

Now, one more radical idea. LGBTQIA+ activists bombard us constantly via the media with their breast-beating laments about how oppressed they are. They are endlessly inventive in creating new definitions of sexuality or minority status – QTBIPOC, MVPFAFF, BBIPOC – that no one previously knew existed. I have even read one activist complain – seriously – that there are not enough terms to capture all the variants of sexuality that queer people might identify with.

A tiny but very vocal minority have succeeded in capturing the institutions of power with their bullying diversity agenda. They have done this so effectively that they have co-opted mainstream society whether we want it or not.

But here’s the thing: I don’t think most New Zealanders give a toss about how their fellow citizens identify sexually. They rightly regard it as none of their business. – Karl du Fresne 

This, apparently, is not good enough for the activists. It’s not sufficient that the rest of us consider it their right to adopt whatever identity and lifestyle they choose and just get on with it – preferably quietly, as sexual minorities did in the past. They insist on being noticed.

Call it exhibitionism, attention-seeking, whatever. “Look at me – I’m different.” Ultimately, that’s what a lot of the activism over sexual identity seems to be about. – Karl du Fresne 

Culture is important; we would all agree I’m sure. I’m sure we’re all very proud of our own culture, whatever it is.

But surely a child’s safety and wellbeing is more important. I think we’re doing things wrong.

I’m very sad about this news. If this is what Section 7AA does to little kids, then putting it in there was a mistake and it needs to be removed from the law. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Too much of today’s debate is about worthy and, ultimately, pointless exercises – far reaching never-never sort of discussions that, in theory, are interesting or important or transformational but will, in reality, go nowhere.

The current Government bailing on the clunker car scheme is your classic example. When it was launched it was saving the planet and the importance could not be more profound.

By the time it was dumped last week it was too complicated to put in place and really wouldn’t have made much of a difference anyway.

Political discourse, locally and nationally, is filled with this sort of time-wasting nonsense. – Mike Hosking

Quotes of the day


One of the justifications of great wealth and the inequality necessary for it to be possessed is that it can be used to adorn the world, to the benefit of everyone including future generations. This is something to which people at a more basic economic level cannot easily aspire.

The question, then, is: Why is it that in our age, everywhere in the world, the very rich are incapable of adorning the world, unless it be by preservation of the monuments of the past? The artists and architects who serve them cannot do it either. If beauty is one of the proper goals of life (the others being truth and goodness), humanity has lost its way—at least in this respect. – Theodore Dalrymple

So they promised 15% and delivered 1.5%.

If there was a gold medal for under-achievement,  Govt would win it. They don’t miss their targets by 2% or 5% oe even 10% but by 90%. They’re currently sitting at 1.6% of their  target!David Farrar

New Zealand is currently living through another top-down revolution. Though far from complete, it has already captured control of the commanding heights of the public service, the schools and universities, the funding mechanisms of cultural production, and big chunks of the mainstream news media.

The ideology driving this revolution is not neoliberalism, it’s ethnonationalism. A potent amalgam of indigenous mysticism and neo-tribal capitalism has captured the imagination of the professional and managerial class and is relying on the latter’s administrative power and influence to drive through a revolutionary transformation of New Zealand society under the battle-flags of “indigenisation” and “decolonisation”. The glue which holds this alliance of Māori and Non-Māori elites together is Pakeha guilt. – Chris Trotter

Only one more strategic victory is required to complete the Māori nationalist revolution: Pakeha pride in their past and in their culture has to be undermined. The men and women once celebrated as nation-builders have to be recast as colonial oppressors. The country famed for being “the social laboratory of the world” has to be re-presented as just another sordid collection of white supremacist, treaty-breaking, killers and thieves.

Māori, too, are in need of a complete makeover: from slave-owning warrior-cannibals, to peace-loving caretakers of Te Ao Māori – a world to which they are bound by deep and mystical bonds. Inheritors of a culture that sanctioned genocidal conquest and environmental destruction, how can the Pakeha hope to lead Aotearoa towards a just future? As in the 1980s, the Twenty-First Century journey requires revolutionary Māori to lead, and guilty Pakeha to follow. And those guilty Pakeha in a position to make it happen appear only too happy to oblige.

Which is why, in March 2023, New Zealand has an educational curriculum dedicated to condemning colonisation and uplifting the indigenous Māori. Why Māori cultural traditions and ways of knowing are elevated above the achievements of Western culture and science. Why representatives of local iwi and hapu wield decisive influence over private and public development plans, as well as the credo and content of media reporting and university courses.

The Māori nationalist revolution is not yet complete – but it has, most certainly, begun. – Chris Trotter

Surely the large swathes of the media in these past five years are living proof that you can pretend to be neutral until the excitement over a late arrival from Mt Albert sees you swooning just a little bit embarrassingly.

So, instead of a job for life, what about the best person for the job for a public service appointment?

And as the job changes, as it always does with Governments, the same way it does as one chief executive leaves and a new one arrives, you appoint the people most aligned with the thinking, and therefore the greater desire to get it done.

‘Yes Minister’ and ‘Yes Prime Minister’ had the reality of the public service worked out – and that was 40 years ago.   – Mike Hosking

When Kelvin Davis addressed a conference of indigenous Australians yesterday it is doubtful whether the Minister for Maori Crown Relations intended to damage the credibility of his government’s Maori policies, but that’s what he did. If the New Zealand Herald is to be believed, first, he used an incorrect translation of the Treaty of Waitangi instead of the Sir Hugh Kawharu translation that the previous Labour government celebrated at the 150th anniversary of its signing in 1990. Davis claimed that Article Three of the Treaty guaranteed Maori “the same rights and privileges of British subjects”. In fact, Article Three guarantees Maori “the same rights and duties of citizenship”. Small difference in wording, I agree, but the mention of “duties” is significant when it comes to Maori rights. These days all too many Maori spokespeople prefer to interpret the Treaty as promising Maori an armchair ride to prosperity rather than something they have to work for, like other New Zealanders. Michael Bassett

Davis is telling Maori that they can continue to produce babies outside stable family environments; have disproportionally high numbers of fetal-alcohol syndrome babies; fail to vaccinate them; make less use of free medical services for children; smoke more than Pakeha; have high “Did Not Show” statistics for specialist appointments at public hospitals; continue to tolerate a world where more than 50% of Maori children truant from school each day; and be over-represented amongst the ram-raiders and the Hawke’s Bay burglars; and still get ahead. Despite evidence of manifold failures to avail themselves of the opportunities available to them, Davis’ government will “focus on equity of outcomes, not just equality”. I suspect that Ngata, Buck and Pomare would swiftly tell him he was on a hiding to nowhere, and that Maori leaders like him who fail to stress the need for effort and hard work are guilty of gross dereliction of duty. And they’d be right. Kelvin Davis is deliberately misleading his people. In fact, life wasn’t meant to be easy; everyone needs to put in effort.

Where has Davis got the notion from that it is possible to guarantee any people “equity of outcomes” no matter what choices they personally make in life? No other country has such a policy for the very basic reason that it just can’t work. – Michael Bassett

Sadly, Davis is one of the blunter knives in this government’s drawer. By continuing to recite that unattainable mantra he also calls into question his ministry’s preoccupation with promoting co-governance. How can our country recover the ground lost in the pandemic and in the storms if significant numbers of the decision-makers’ only qualification to be in charge is their ethnic make-up? We know of course that many Maori have made an effort and have succeeded in life. Good. That means they can qualify for roles in governance on the grounds of their ability, not their ethnicity. Then in governing roles they are just as accountable to the wider public as non-Maori. Just what Article Three of the Treaty envisaged. – Michael Bassett

A stronger relationship between local and central government, as well as officials more willing to listen to outsiders, is needed if New Zealand is to live up to its claims of a “world-class” public sector, former public servants and politicians say. – Sam Sachdeva

The public sector has … a huge focus on planning, which is appropriate – it’s something we do need to do – but it all seems to fall to pieces when it comes to the delivery.Anne Tolley

Those two are not even aligned so that when local government comes to do its 10-year plan, it knows what the three-year funding commitment from Waka Kotahi is – how on earth can you plan infrastructure? – Anne Tolley

There seems to be a lack of creative tension: people are so busy being polite to each other, they don’t argue much anymore, it seems, whereas the public service I remember was actually a pretty hard school.Graham Scott

The conclusion we can draw from this is don’t look to the Courts to redress unfair laws – it’s just false hope and a waste of money.

This highlights a gaping problem with our democracy. The public has no legal protections against a Parliamentary majority that abuses the rights of others.

Thank you, Justice Mellon, for reminding us of that alarming reality and exposing the need for laws to protect the sovereignty of the individual against 61 members of Parliament. – Frank Newman

What Christopher Luxon got right in his state of the nation speech was severalfold.

You have to accept that Governments lose elections and the current Government will lose this election in October because of some of the stuff Luxon outlined yesterday.

It is hopeless at delivering stuff and the stuff it did deliver very few wanted, or even asked for.

It’s easy pickings for an opposition to outline a litany of failure and it will serve them well if they keep reminding voters just how bad it has gotten —from the MIQ debacle to the vaccine roll out, to the Kiwibuild shambles, to the light rail waste to the cycle bridge— and Luxon spent a decent amount of time on wastage, of which there is mountains. – Mike Hosking

But the bits that will really resonate is the message of hope and aspiration.

This country, not so long ago, was winning. It had a rock star economy and a spring in its step and was a can-do country.

In five and a half years it’s been trashed. Those who want better have been side-lined for those who don’t care or can’t be bothered.

It’s a very good example of how hard it is to do well but how easy it is to give up and let it all slip.

This is a country riddled with malaise, there has been an avalanche of working groups and committees that have twiddled and tinkered and thought-bubbled – and come up with next to nothing. –

In some respects the pressure is on National. Not only is the victory there for the taking, it’s just how large the thrashing is going to be.

But the trick is to keep reminding us what a mess it is and keep telling us how much better it used to be – and will be again. –  Mike Hosking

The economic stimulus during Covid from extra government spending and monetary policy was even greater as a proportion of the economy than elsewhere. The restrictions on the border were more disruptive to the labour market than in other countries, and the desire to crank nominal wages for political reasons more intense.

Since this Government came into office, the minimum wage has risen by a vast 44 per cent.

Ministers also hiked the effective minimum wage for migrants much higher, and both flowed through to increased labour costs. We were in a pro-inflationary environment long before the rest of the world.- Steven Joyce

Government spending these days is more than 40per cent of economic activity. Restraining it would help reduce inflationary pressure on the economy. Restrain it enough and it would be possible to provide some tax relief to struggling families as well.

But restraint is the key. If the Government just borrows more to increase public spending or to give handouts to families, that will push inflation up further.

The good new is that there is huge capacity to cut public spending. Government expenditure has increased by an unbelievable 65 per cent since 2017. Some of it was for the pandemic, but that should be winding out by now. Blind Freddie can see we have a bloated public sector which has gorged itself on free money.

People have made much this week of consultancy spending, but however big that is, it’s small beer. The real problem is a general looseness with the public purse, and the hare-brained schemes ministers have been spending all the money on. There has been virtually no fiscal discipline for five years. Every brain fart of an idea has been funded.Steven Joyce

You can be sure what we see is the tip of the iceberg. As one who’s been there, I can confidently predict billions and billions will be able to be wrung out of the current Government’s spending and nobody outside the Wellington vortex would notice.

There could easily be enough money to both restrain government spending overall to help control inflation, and give the long-suffering taxpayer a much-needed downpayment on tax reduction. As a result of tax increases and bracket creep, New Zealanders are collectively paying more than $40b more tax this year than they did six years ago. No wonder they are feeling the pain.

The Government’s problem is that their mismanagement of core public services like health and education means that, if anything, the public and people working in those sectors will be wanting to spend even more money there.  – Steven Joyce

To meet the reasonable aspirations of New Zealanders, this year’s Budget will need to be crafted with the sort of surgical discipline that we haven’t yet seen from this Finance Minister. He will need to spend money in the right places, slaughter great herds of sacred cows, and provide something to alleviate cost-of-living pressures, all without increasing borrowing. He will also need to demand accountability from the public sector for performance.

If he took a zero-based look at the gargantuan increases in spending on his watch, then with a lot of hard work all that should mostly be possible. If he doesn’t, then I think we are in for a bumpy ride.

High inflation, high tax, squeezed family budgets, teacher strikes, people turned away from emergency departments and highly visible wasteful spending, could all add up to a looming winter of discontent.Steven Joyce

Quotes of the day


I pray that somewhere in the departments that waste so much of our money, someone, somewhere, has the spine to stand up and tell the rest of the plonkers that what they are doing doesn’t work. – Mike Hosking

Reminding people about speed and seatbelts and driving drunk is only applicable to the sort of idiot who isn’t susceptible to being told what to do.

Those who are, are already doing it. I am sure deep within the ad agencies they genuinely believe their latest piece of creative genius is the one to crack the code.

And to be honest, if the Government were writing the sort of cheques they are, what fool turns that down?

Which is why we need leadership. Someone at the highest level needs to break the ideology that spending other people’s money for the sake of it makes some sort of difference, when it can be shown it doesn’t. Mike Hosking

If you rounded up the hundreds of millions, if not billions, that has been spent these past five years on nonsense, we wouldn’t be talking about a tax for the clean-up.

We are only short of money because we wasted it. – Mike Hosking

The puzzle of how we become what we are is insoluble. When I was young and callow and a hard-line determinist, I would simply say that we become what we are by the influence of heredity and environment, for what else could there be? Heredity and environment, and that was that.Theodore Dalrymple

Is it true that we act as we do because of how we are? This seems to me either false, or unfalsifiable. To take the latter possibility first, we estimate the rather loose idea of ‘who we are’ by the way we behave, the preferences we have, the habits we develop, and so forth. But then we go on to say that what is to be explained is the explanation of itself. We behave as we do because of how we are, and we know how we are because of how we behave. I have seen this argued in court by psychiatrists trying to exculpate a murderer and once (but only once) saw it work. Poor lambs, the murderers could not help what they did because they had the type of character that inclined them to go round murdering people. – Theodore Dalrymple

In short, saying that we do what we do because of how we are is either true by definition or it is false. If the former, it is unilluminating, and if the latter—well, it is just false.

Then we come to the question of whether we cannot help how we are which, roughly speaking, is our character. Can one decide to have a character other than the one that one has?

It is a matter of common agreement that habit becomes character. For example, I used to have a very bad temper, but realising that it was a bad thing to have, I made a conscious effort to control it, and before long there was nothing, or at least much less, to control.Theodore Dalrymple

I do not believe that anyone could live as if this were true, at least with regard to himself. Amongst other things, it would make consciousness redundant. Why have we developed powers of thought, which include those of considering alternatives and choosing between them, if those powers serve no purpose, by which I mean did not cause us to behave differently from how we would have done without it? We would all be what Descartes thought the lesser animals were, namely automata. We would have to believe that our own conscious thoughts were but epiphenomena and made no difference to anything, and I do not believe that anyone is capable of sincerely believing this. Not, of course, that by itself this would necessarily make it false: it is perfectly possible that, because of our very biological nature, we are incapable of believing something that is true. – Theodore Dalrymple

I do not have a full understanding of how people become themselves, or of how I became what I am myself. It is a mystery that passes my understanding, and I suspect (and hope) that it is a mystery that will always escape human beings: for if it ceased to be a mystery, it would cease only for some and not for others, and those for whom it ceased to be a mystery would almost certainly abuse their superior understanding to harm, exploit, or abuse the rest. Those who understood would be in the position of extra-terrestrials who landed on earth and, observing humans as entomologists observe ants, would be able to regard them as mere animated objects (not, as it happens, that we are very good at controlling ants, and if ever there is a final struggle between man and insect, it will be the insect that wins). But however much the extra-terrestrials thought they understood us, I do not think they would be able to understand themselves. They in turn would need beings who were alien to them to understand them fully; and those aliens in turn would not understand themselves.Theodore Dalrymple

But if we abandon the idea that crazy and ignorant people also need to be represented in Parliament and start setting entry tests on this stuff, well, I have a few proposals.

First up, any MP that can’t pass intermediate micro isn’t qualified. Give a basic tax incidence question, see if they follow the consensus of economists. If they don’t, kick them out. Same if they think rent control is a good idea – there’s a very clear expert consensus on this one.

Next, rules on genetic modification. Clear scientific consensus that GM crops are safe. The rules against them do a lot of harm. We’d kick out most of the Green Party on this one, if any were left after the rent control question. And that could be fine. They’d be replaced by pro-science greens. Don’t you like science? It would be better, right?

How about any MP who thinks that stadium and film subsidies provide net benefits? Both are in clear violation of the scientific consensus. We can retrospectively kick John Key out of Parliament. He loved stadium subsidies.

Kick out of Parliament, and out of the bureaus, anyone who demonstrates through their policy advocacy that they really really do not understand how an ETS with a binding cap works.  – Eric Crampton,

There’s a strange, Year Zero quality to pronouncements like these. They are so freighted with ideological jargon that it can be almost impossible to work out what they actually mean in practical terms. But what they do reveal, vividly, is that council bureaucracies have become highly politicised and detached from the pressing everyday concerns of ratepayers.  Karl du Fresne

Quotes of the day


Nicola Sturgeon may be on her way out – but after 16 years of SNP rule, Scottish schools are still places of indoctrination. This may sound like a hyperbolic thing to say, but that’s the only conclusion you can draw when you look at what Scottish educators and the Scottish government are saying themselves.   – Dr Stuart Waiton

Take the General Teaching Council for Scotland’s Standard for Headship, which sets out the professional framework for what a headteacher, teachers and schools should be all about.   

You would expect such a document to be all about imparting knowledge and aspiring to teach every child as much as possible. Instead, it is a horrifying mix of therapeutic new-speak that stresses the need for teachers and headteachers to focus on the matter of social justice.  

In the 16-page Standard for Headship report ‘social justice’ is mentioned seven times.  – Dr Stuart Waiton

The terms sustainable or sustainability appear 23 times in the document. This includes what some would see as a Malthusian demand for ‘respect for our natural world and its limited resources’ as well as a call for ‘learning for sustainability’, whatever that means.

This new doctrine is highly therapeutic, with the entire document grounded in a need to ‘promote health and wellbeing’ and ‘emotional intelligence’, which, as part of our culture of social justice, is ‘enabling’ and ‘empowering’ pupils to be ‘safe’ and ‘caring’.

This melding together of social justice moralising and therapeutic language permeates through the entirety of the Scottish education system. Education in Scotland is no longer viewed as a way of passing on vitally important knowledge to children, but rather as a way to ensure that ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ are embedded in our children’s minds.  – Dr Stuart Waiton

Elsewhere the Scottish government and Education Scotland have worked to ensure that teachers are ‘Embedding race equality in school’. This is not simply about treating people equally, quite the reverse in fact. Rather it is about the promotion of Critical Race Theory and the divisive and self-loathing idea of ‘white privilege’, which is endorsed by Education Scotland.  Dr Stuart Waiton

Perhaps worse of all is the Supporting Transgender Pupils in Schools guidance document, a policy that would fit comfortably on the shelves of the most extreme trans activist.

Schools, for example, have to ensure that children, ‘demonstrate an understanding of diversity in sexuality and gender identity’. From age 12 children can self-identify and receive support and validation from schools. The school will develop a ‘support plan for the transgender young person’, thus creating a ‘safe space for transgender young people to be themselves and have their identities respected’.

If parents don’t support this development it is implied that they are a wellbeing concern. But then, many parents will not even know that this gender fluid ideology is being adopted or that their child is being transitioned with the help of the school as, ‘it is best to not share information with parents or carers without considering and respecting the young person’s views’.    – Dr Stuart Waiton

It’s entirely fair for young adults to be able to debate the merits of Marx versus Malthus or the differences between critical race theory and colour-blind anti-racism. And we should be able to discuss transgender policies too – even though many universities appear to be uncomfortable with any debate on this issue.  

But this is school education we are talking about. Many of these ideas are not part of a debate, they are a dogma, a form of cultural engineering, where ideas and outlooks that the majority of the Scottish population oppose are forced onto children.

For those who are directing this process there is a clear attempt to ‘change the culture’ of Scottish society through the politicisation of the curriculum. Dr Stuart Waiton

The Scottish Union for Education will challenge these illiberal (and indeed illiterate) developments and aim to create a framework for ordinary parents, grandparents, teachers and communities to make their voices heard. It may appear to be a tough ask, but I am convinced that the majority are on our side and for the sake of our liberal and democratic society, something must be done.   – Dr Stuart Waiton

Quite so, kids love naughty. Part of the whole process of testing boundaries. So, and therefore, kids must not be allowed to test the boundaries of the current orthodoxy for who knows what Emperor’s clothes moments might arise?

That fear in itself showing the weakness of the current orthodoxy, of course.Tim Worstall

I really do believe [these books are] of their time and they should be left alone. Roald Dahl was a great satirist, apart from anything else. It’s disgraceful.

It’s this kind of form of McCarthyism, this woke culture, which is absolutely wanting to reinterpret everything and redesign and say,’oh, that didn’t exist’.

Well. it did exist. We have to acknowledge our history. – Brian Cox

If we start down the path of trying to correct for perceived slights instead of allowing readers to receive and react to books as written, we risk distorting the work of great authors and clouding the essential lens that literature offers on society. – Suzanne Nossel 

The editors at Puffin should be ashamed of the botched surgery they’ve carried out on some of the finest children’s literature in Britain.

As for me, I’ll be carefully stowing away my old, original copies of Dahl’s stories, so that one day my children can enjoy them in their full, nasty, colourful glory. – Laura Hackett

‘This is truly extraordinary. This is the reading list of anyone who wants a civilised, liberal, cultured education. It includes some of the greatest works in the Western canon and in some cases – such as Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent – powerful critiques of terrorism. Burke, Huxley, Orwell and Tolkien were all anti-totalitarian writers.Andrew Roberts

A number of books are singled out, the possession or reading of which could point to severe wrongthink and therefore potential radicalisation… It seems that RICU is so far off-track that it believes that books identifying the problem that it was itself set up to tackle are in fact a part of the problem. – Douglas Murray

It almost seems like a joke. House Of Cards was actually a satirical view of Right-wing politics. This list includes more or less the entire classical canon of literature and some of the very best British television programmes ever made. – Andrew Davies

No-one was closer to the former PM than Grant Robertson, a career politician despite his protestations, with Prime Ministerial ambitions. Grant is a clever bugger and knows only too well the government will be massacred this October. He also knows, as our post-war history shows, that following a heavy defeat, better to let some-one else be the fall-guy then move on him or her a year before the next election, or in good times (which won’t be the case in the next few years), let two successive election fall-guys cop it, as we saw with Labour following Key’s 2008 succes.

The incoming National government will  face a mountain of problems so it’s my pick Grant will make his move in early 2026 when a victory could be feasible. – Sir Bob Jones

You’ve got to look after the people you love and just do whatever you have to do at the time. – Ethan Cross

Labour have worked hard to say that attendance started declining in 2015 and therefore National is to blame. That is – by and large – a myth.

Labour – under former Minister of Hipkins – have driven this off a cliff.Alwyn Poole

We have 120,000 chronically absent, over 10,000 enrolled nowhere, she says average full attendance up to 46% – but their main is 84 more officers. Nothing about improving schools, improving teaching standards.

When high decile State school students (low Equity Index Number in the new parlance) are not seeing the point of going to school as they are finding more efficient ways of learning – the system is shot. – Alwyn Poole

It is widely accepted by those who follow such matters that the Waitangi Tribunal has become wildly activist.

It is now, without question, a brilliant example of a decent idea gone horribly awry. – Mike Hosking

Ironically, history increasingly shows the Government’s that have made the most progress have been National ones.

Chris Finlayson of late and Doug Graham before him made major inroads into settlements, whereas the current Labour Government, like so much of what they do, amounts to little. – Mike Hosking

Anyway, the tribunal in their latest report tells the Crown off for not funding Māori adequately so they can make their claims.

What makes the tribunal so activist is this sort of statement and the thinking behind it is par for the course. What is adequate?

And given the system is invented, you have always needed a quid pro quo approach. What is a just settlement? Is it money, is it an apology, is it land or is it all three?

Every case is individual.

But somewhere along the way it’s spiralled out of control. It’s become an industry as individual lawyers have made millions. The tribunal seems intent on being here forever dealing with historic claims despite, if you remember, under Jim Bolger’s Government there was an attempt to put a timeline on it all.Mike Hosking

Surely at some point the historic claims should be registered and settled. Just how long do you need to want to rectify something you argue went wrong over 180 years ago?

How many lawyers, how much research, how much funding?

The path to ratification has been open since the mid 70’s and we are still scrapping over funding for claims. Surely boundaries have to be drawn and timelines have to be put in place? – Mike Hosking

Good intention is one thing.  A runaway train is another. – Mike Hosking

Good bad & ugly


A crisis brings out the best in some people.

Among the examples are the work of the emergency services, people helping others in big ways and small and the three men who saved dozens of people.

A crisis also brings out the worst.

Police are seeing an increase in family harm incidents in areas affected by Cyclone Gabrielle.

Generators are being stolen – some from cell phone towers which compromise communication.

There’s also been looting of homes and businesses, intimidation from gang members and abuse of roadworkers.


It is probable that not all incidents are being reported because there are still lots of areas without access to phones and internet.

Anger is a normal reaction to fear and grief but that doesn’t excuse intimidation, threats, violence or other despicable or illegal behaviour.

The good, bad and ugly are evident during a crisis, just like they are in ordinary times but a crisis requires an extraordinary response to the bad and ugly.

That means something more than talking from the Police Minister:

. . . Grilled by Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB this morning, Nash was asked whether he thought the gangs would actually “pull their heads in” after the minister had made the plea to do so. “My plea … no, not my plea … my request is pull your bloody head in, get your animals off the streets and out of their cars. They have whanau and family affected as well. Get out and start helping them,” Nash told Hosking.

Referencing Nash’s comment about it not being the right time to commit crime, Hosking asked the minister when was the right time.

“There is no right time,” Nash responded.

Nash said that the criminal behaviour by gangs in Hawkes Bay was totally unacceptable.

”Police are onto this and, as a community, we won’t stand for such behaviour by gangs.”

Nash said gangs had a very strict hierarchy, with leaders and then men who go out on the streets.

”I ask them to take control of these men because their families are also impacted.”

Nash said it was not the right time especially when the city was in distress and people had no communication.

”We don’t want gangs. I called gang leaders and told them to get this under control, they call themselves community leaders so this is the time to show that leadership.”

He didn’t say what the response was to his plea and request but gang members who show no respect for the law are unlikely to respect the minister.

The region had got 120 additional frontline police staff in the wake of the cyclone and an extra 25 were coming on top of 770 already there, Nash said.

”Eagle helicopter has also come down from Auckland.”

Gang response units were also on the way and army personnel were also in the region, he said. . . 

Those sound like big numbers but is it enough for the large areas and small, isolated communities and households who have fear of being victims of crime added to the devastation Cyclone Gabrielle has caused?

Can the police do it by themselves or do they need the help of the army?

That is covered by legislation which enables the army to to provide assistance to the civil power in time of emergency.

When locals are manning road blocks to keep looters out it sounds like there are not enough police and that they, and the people and property at risk, need the help of the defence force.

Quotes of the day


I’ve followed Rowling’s saga from the beginning, and have read her supposedly “transphobic” tweets and her account of “reasons for speaking out on sex and gender issues.”  I’ve also seen the social-media mob go after her to the extent of some of the offended burning Harry Potter books! And it won’t be news to you that in this issue I’m pretty much on Rowling’s side.

I have seen nothing “transphobic” from her: no hatred of trans people at all. What she’s demonized for is insisting that transsexual women, while deserving of the compassion that should accrue to all humans, are not identical in every respect to biological women. She does not agree in the literal sense with the mantra “trans women are women”, and has explained why. She is navigating a tortuous path between the rights of biological women and those of transsexual women, and has been attacked because she sometimes uses sarcasm and humor to make her point.

But one thing I haven’t seen in her is a fear or hatred of transsexual people. What I have seen are bravery, persistence and compassion in the face of “Rowlingphobia” (now she’s being called a “Nazi”), but also her fierce conviction that some trans activists are trying to infringe on the rights of biological women, rights that are not 100% in synch with the rights of transsexual women. – Jerry Coyne

This campaign against Rowling is as dangerous as it is absurd. The brutal stabbing of Salman Rushdie last summer is a forceful reminder of what can happen when writers are demonized. And in Rowling’s case, the characterization of her as a transphobe doesn’t square with her actual views.

So why would anyone accuse her of transphobia? Surely, Rowling must have played some part, you might think.

The answer is straightforward: Because she has asserted the right to spaces for biological women only, such as domestic abuse shelters and sex-segregated prisons. Because she has insisted that when it comes to determining a person’s legal gender status, self-declared gender identity is insufficient. Because she has expressed skepticism about phrases like “people who menstruate” in reference to biological women. Because she has defended herself and, far more important, supported others, including detransitioners and feminist scholars, who have come under attack from trans activists. And because she followed on Twitter and praised some of the work of Magdalen Berns, a lesbian feminist who had made incendiary comments about transgender people.

You might disagree — perhaps strongly — with Rowling’s views and actions here. You may believe that the prevalence of violence against transgender people means that airing any views contrary to those of vocal trans activists will aggravate animus toward a vulnerable population.

But nothing Rowling has said qualifies as transphobic. She is not disputing the existence of gender dysphoria. She has never voiced opposition to allowing people to transition under evidence-based therapeutic and medical care. She is not denying transgender people equal pay or housing. There is no evidence that she is putting trans people “in danger,” as has been claimed, nor is she denying their right to exist.Pamela Paul

Rowling could have just stayed in bed. She could have taken refuge in her wealth and fandom. In her “Harry Potter” universe, heroes are marked by courage and compassion. Her best characters learn to stand up to bullies and expose false accusations. And that even when it seems the world is set against you, you have to stand firm in your core beliefs in what’s right.

Defending those who have been scorned isn’t easy, especially for young people. It’s scary to stand up to bullies, as any “Harry Potter” reader knows. Let the grown-ups in the room lead the way. If more people stood up for J.K. Rowling, they would not only be doing right by her; they’d also be standing up for human rights, specifically women’s rights, gay rights and, yes, transgender rights. They’d also be standing up for the truth. – Pamela Paul

Of course, some children really are trans — and benefit hugely from getting help with transitioning. Ironically, they have now lost a clinic designed to assist them, thanks to the stupidity and short-sightedness of ideologues.

We are now approaching — albeit cautiously — a place where politicians and professionals should at the very least be able to question certain practices without being dismissed as bigots.

That said, as we have seen from the recent debate around Nicola Sturgeon’s ill-thought-out self-identification legislation, a lot of people are still afraid of tackling the gender ideologues. And understandably so: the activists are very powerful and some are very persuasive.

They dominate social media, targeting the young and impressionable, casting themselves as the enemies of old-fashioned and outdated values; pioneers of a newer, more progressive age of self-expression and tolerance.

Some present themselves as harmless entertainers. Others have a more direct agenda, proffering gender reassignment as an easy, fun and, in some cases, lucrative lifestyle choice.

Provided no one challenges them, they are all sweetness and light. Express even a bat-squeak of concern, however, and they can be utterly vicious. Witness the recent ‘decapitate Terfs’ placards at pro-Sturgeon rallies in Scotland. – Sarah Vine

Terf — or trans-exclusionary radical feminist — is the trans fanatic’s (misogynistic) preferred acronym for anyone, be they concerned parent or cautious professional, who dares question the wisdom of not merely allowing but, like the Tavistock, actively assisting young and vulnerable children to start altering their gender.

By demonising all opposition, trans ideologues have, over the years, skilfully and successfully shut down almost any debate on the issue. – Sarah Vine

All this amounts to a scandal on a truly titanic scale, one that affects not just the lives of individuals such as Keira Bell, who will have to suffer for ever from the after-effects of the treatment she underwent, but also for everyone who has ever been made to feel like a bigot in this toxic debate.

Because this is not just a catastrophic betrayal of thousands of vulnerable children and their families by a taxpayer-funded institution that allowed itself to be infiltrated and influenced by a highly politicised ideological agenda.

It’s also an example of what happens when all debate is stifled, and of the harms that occur when free speech is shut down and legitimate questioning of motives and methods is sacrificed on the altar of wokeness. – Sarah Vine

History teaches us that wherever good people are silenced, bad things happen. I have no doubt that in years to come, when we look back on what happened at the Tavistock and at the whole situation surrounding the trans debate in general — such as convicted rapists being allowed to declare themselves female and serve jail time in women’s prisons — people will shake their heads in disbelief that such things were ever allowed to happen.

But happen they did, and not because no one saw what was going on.

They took place because the rest of the world was too busy covering its own sorry backside — too busy being woke, too busy painting pointless rainbows on pedestrian crossings, too busy organising ‘inclusivity seminars’ and paying trans activists to teach primary-school children that biological sex is a ‘construct’ — to see that many vulnerable children were being consigned, like Bell, to a lifetime of ill-health and regret.

In short, too busy paying lip service to a bunch of politically correct bullies, while ignoring those who really need society’s protection. It is, I’m afraid, the story of our times; and, as many of us warned and Hannah Barnes’s book shows, it’s a shameful one. – Sarah Vine

What an extraordinary week.

I’m not just talking about the devastation, the tragedy and the heroism, although all that was remarkable enough.

What was also exceptional was the manner in which the country responded. Cyclone Gabrielle gave us a tantalising glimpse of a New Zealand that most of us grew up in and recognised – a country where people set aside real or imagined differences and pulled together in the face of a common crisis.Karl du Fresne

We have been through a sustained and bruising period of division and polarisation, the purpose of which seemed to be to pull us in different directions based on race, gender, sexual identity and other markers of “otherness”.

But in recent days we have witnessed the re-emergence of the old New Zealand: a country in which people recognise that all of us – urban and rural, male and female, Maori and Pakeha, young and old, queers and heterosexuals, immigrants and those born here – are bound by common interests, values and aspirations and need to pull together when our national wellbeing is threatened.

We have seen the very best of New Zealand in the way communities rallied and turned to their own resources, and in the way emergency services personnel, many of whom were themselves directly affected by flood damage, selflessly responded to the urgent needs of others, often at great personal risk – and in two cases, with fatal consequences.

We have seen an outpouring of public support for the thousands of people whose properties have been destroyed and who must now set about trying to rebuild their lives. Farmers, horticulturists and orchardists are some of the worst affected and it’s possible the disaster will have a positive outcome in the form of a greater public appreciation of the rural sector and its importance to the rest of us.

We have been reassured and impressed by the performance of community leaders, sector representatives and local politicians who suddenly found themselves thrust into situations for which there was no chance to rehearse.  – Karl du Fresne

We have been generally well served by the media, especially the broadcast media, who were tested to the limit. In the first two days the mayhem was so widespread and fast-moving that it was hard for news outlets to keep up. Just as reporters were getting to grips with one major development, another story broke somewhere else. I can’t recall any other crisis when the media focus kept shifting at such a dizzying pace – from Muriwai to Tairawhiti, Northland to Hawke’s Bay. Power failures and communication breakdowns made the job even harder, but reporters rose to the challenge.

Radio in particular came into its own. It’s unique in its ability to keep on top of a fast-moving and fluid (forgive the pun) situation. Radio reporters are highly mobile and can phone in their reports from wherever things are happening. Programme schedules aren’t rigid, unlike TV, and can be interrupted whenever news breaks. Moreover, you can listen to the radio pretty much wherever you go and whatever you’re doing.

The crisis also served as a striking reminder of the limitations of digital technology. When a smart phone is useless because cell phone towers are out or the phone can’t be charged, a battered transistor radio – as one farmer marooned in a remote area of Northland attested this morning on RNZ – can be a lifeline. – Karl du Fresne

To summarise, in the worst of circumstances we have glimpsed the best of New Zealand – a New Zealand many of us feared was changing beyond recognition.

For five days, ideological agendas and their vociferous, mischievous champions have been sidelined. The constant discordant static of division has been silenced. New Zealanders have had far more pressing issues to focus on – practical issues of survival and recovery.

They have been given a vivid reminder of the importance of social solidarity at a time when it was never more desperately needed. The question now is whether this spirit can be sustained once the immediate crisis has passed. – Karl du Fresne

Newly-minted Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has had some sort of road, excuse the pun, to Damascus experience by announcing we need to “get real” about our roading

He says some of them will need to be moved to be more resilient. No kidding Chris, you road-hater from the political party of road-hating.

The political party that killed any number of significant roading projects that would see major state highway improvements. They jettisoned them so we could have bus lanes, cycleways and light rail that is $70 million deep on consultants without a millimetre of track laid two years after it was supposed to finish.Mike Hosking

I am praying at some point most New Zealanders wake up to this fraud, if you haven’t already.

This from Chris “I-have-a-truancy-announcement-to-make” Hipkins, despite the fact, as Education Minister, he ignored the issue for years. ‘But I can’t make that this week because I have an emergency to deal with as Prime Minister.’

‘And as Prime Minister I have seen roading in a state that it shouldn’t be, despite the fact I sat in cabinet for the past five years promoting e-bikes and buses that don’t turn up, because we have no drivers, because my Minister for Auckland, who is also Minister for Immigration, doesn’t let anyone into the country.

You can’t make this stuff up. This guy is the biggest, bewildered wonk we have seen out of Wellington in many a long year. – Mike Hosking

Chris at least is about the place. But the problem with that is in an emergency you see the real “them” and the frightening part of the real Hipkins is it seems he’s never left Wellington and when he did he couldn’t believe what he saw.

The rest of us have lived it for five years and he didn’t quite get the message.

So, Chris – the roads are an issue are they? Who do you think has overseen that particular disaster?Mike Hosking

Quotes of the day


The full economic and financial cost will take some time to realise. We know the biggest economic costs are going to be in the form of lost capital and lost economic opportunity. – Caralee McLiesh

What we are talking about is inflation-adjusting tax thresholds which we think is just entirely fair, done in many countries around the world and is a completely reasonable thing to be able to do to give people more of their own money to navigate a cost of living crisis which is the other big challenge we’ve got.

What we have got to make sure is we do a proper assessment of what the damage actually is and what support is really needed and then we make sure we apply those funds with good economic responsibility and we are prudent economic managers because it is taxpayers dollars and most important is we actually get things done.Christopher Luxon

As a former CEO, who is used to spending money and making investments, it is about what you do with that money and how you get a return on that and how you get things done that deliver benefits for New Zealanders. –

The focus has to be on making sure Kiwis are safe, making sure we are supporting them, making sure we start the clean-up, and then obviously making the assessment of what is needed. –Christopher Luxon

Politicians want their positions more than anything else. If being pro-trans to this extent loses a significant politician her position then many other politicians will not be, stop being, pro-trans to this extent.

In more detail here there’s a very vocal part of the political class demanding many things for the trans cause. Among the general public not so much. And that’s the thing about this democracy kick – at some point the general public do get asked. – Tim Worstall

The British Government has a new policy around unemployment and it’s the old carrot and stick.

There isn’t anything new around employment thinking. It’s a combination of rules and incentives, the state of the market place in terms of jobs and the mix of attitude of those looking for work and the amount of assistance the state Government is prepared to offer.

In Britain they are cracking down, so you need to meet your welfare officer or get penalised or apply for jobs or get penalised. If you don’t play ball you will lose your benefit.

Here, it’s the opposite – if you don’t want to work no one seems to care.Mike Hosking

Thousands upon thousands of young people are not only without work, they are not in training, not looking to improve themselves and aren’t in education looking to add to their CV’s.

They are literally doing nothing and for that we support them financially in some cases for years on end.

The great crime in that is, 1) they are young and therefore you are robbing them of a future that could be vastly different, and, 2) it comes at a time of extraordinary amounts of work.

It would be nice to think you could sort yourself out, that you are self-motivated or someone around you is there to help you on your way. But for clearly too many, that simply isn’t their reality. – Mike Hosking

This all resonates with me because the age group we are dealing with are the 15-24-year-olds. That’s the age of all five of our kids.

They are all doing their own thing but what we told them as parents was you could do whatever you want, as long as it wasn’t nothing. – Mike Hosking

Although we vote for polices that affect us our sense of the economy, health waiting lists etc, tell me how you can vote for a Government that for five years has allowed that number to get where it is, at a time when answers have been so plentiful?

If it’s irresponsible as a parent, then surely it’s as bad for a Government.

What Government can justify writing off the next generation by literally doing nothing except handing out money with no expectation of social, moral or economic improvement? – Mike Hosking

British writer Samuel Johnson quipped: “When a man knows he is to be hanged… it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”

Eighteenth-century gallows humour is obviously just as apt in the twenty-first as we watch Chris Hipkins make a show of jettisoning many of Labour’s policies he apparently backed just a month ago.

The prospect of his party being hanged at October’s election has obviously concentrated our new Prime Minister’s mind to such a marked extent he has lost the sense of embarrassment most political leaders would feel about extravagantly ducking and diving to get away from what have clearly been highly effective Opposition attacks.Graham Adams

For its election slogan, the Labour Party might consider adapting Groucho Marx’s famous line to read: “If you don’t like our principles, don’t worry, we’ve got others (and any or all of them may be abandoned at short notice!)”

What must really be confounding to the Opposition is that Hipkins is being hailed as stunning and brave on account of his dramatic retreat while questions are being asked about his opponents’ performance — with Luxon in particular under fire.

Some in the media have seized on a handful of polls taken while Hipkins still enjoys the novelty factor of being the nation’s new Prime Minister and have decided that Luxon is a lacklustre leader and that National has lost direction.

This despite the fact Luxon — aided by David Seymour — has just seen off Jacinda Ardern, a celebrity politician who even a year ago was a very popular Prime Minister, and has forced her successor to retreat swiftly on several fronts.

Journalists seem to have fallen for Hipkins’ implausible impersonation of a new broom — which can only be said to be true inasmuch as he has lifted a corner of the Labour government’s tattered carpet and is busily sweeping as much contentious policy under it as possible so it is firmly out of sight before the election. – Graham Adams

As National leader Christopher Luxon put it: “Chris Hipkins has been part of this Labour Government and been part of that engine room with Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson driving all of this agenda.

“It’s rather disingenuous — and some clever Jedi mind trick really — if you say, ‘I have got nothing to do with that and now I believe this… I actually think it could be all about the economy.’

“Well, where have you been for the last 15 months?”

Why would anyone imagine Hipkins is deeply dedicated to reforming Labour policy — especially co-governance — rather than superficially reacting to polls that had been plummeting?

And why would anyone imagine that the very same policies Hipkins is now jettisoning won’t be resuscitated if Labour finds itself in a position to form a government in October? – Graham Adams

The initial signs are not promising. He has — without a trace of embarrassment or awareness of public sentiment — suggested that rebranding co-governance as “mahi tahi” (“work as one”) might be helpful. In fact, he has been reported as saying he “loves the phrase mahi tahi”.

Does Hipkins really have such a low opinion of those opposing co-governance that he thinks that will do the trick? Does he have no idea how much resentment exists already to renaming government departments and government policy with Māori names? – Graham Adams

For a Prime Minister to pass off widespread opposition to a reshaping of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements as fear-mongering should be beneath him.

It appears not to have crossed Hipkins’ mind that many New Zealanders object to co-governance because of fundamental concerns around the erosion of democracy.

Their “fear” is that principles of “one person, one vote, of equal value” — and policy being based on need not race — are being overturned in favour of a society where ancestry can confer rights denied to everyone else. – Graham Adams

Perhaps New Zealanders’ fierce attachment to democratic principles is something that Hipkins — like his immediate predecessor, Jacinda Ardern — simply doesn’t understand.

What is particularly hilarious is that Hipkins is pretending that once the public understand more about co-governance they will fall in love with it.

In fact, the real danger for Hipkins is that the mainstream media will actually do its job and voters will get to see clearly what the government has planned for them via the notion of “partnership” — and its offspring “co-governance” — which under this government has been intricately laced through official policy from health and education to Three Waters and the rejigged RMA legislation. – Graham Adams

Hipkins will be hoping fervently the public doesn’t suddenly grasp the scale of the revolutionary changes that have taken place under the government he has served in for five years — and that have been imposed without any specific public mandate.

If they do, their fury will see Labour crushed in October — no matter how much Hipkins likes to posture as the fresh-faced new boy suddenly dedicated to “bread-and-butter” issues. – Graham Adams

January 2023. It all started so well.
A 5% jump in the polls just for becoming PM – nothing else.

This probably reflected the return of borderline reasonable ex-Labour voters desperately hoping the party would revert to its traditional core policy of just trashing the economy, rather than democracy as a whole. An outpouring of relief that Jacinda’s minority-obsessed, divisive and authoritarian rule was apparently over, rather than faith in Chippy’s abilities to run the country.
Nevertheless, trying to maintain the momentum, he pushed forward. That’s when the cracks began to show.  – Derek Mackie

But….. and this is where Chris revealed his true Left-wing, woke credentials. He only postponed the hugely expensive Unemployment Insurance Scheme, a direct tax by any other name, which would see families paying another 3% of their earnings to keep redundant workers on the couch watching Netflix on 80% of their former salaries for up to 7 months.

And, the anti-free speech and divisive Hate Speech legislation was referred to the lefty lawyers at the Law Commission for review. In other words, wait until after the election then magically revive it.

Then he made his really big mistake. He actually promised to fix the economy, crime, health and education….well, eventually! Not that he really thought there was much wrong with the last three, particularly crime and education, which he felt he had presided splendidly over.

And, he pledged to concentrate on the bread-and-butter issues and get rid of all the woke nonsense. Although, any mention of winding back Labour’s separatist co-governance agenda was conspicuous by its absence or hidden in a smokescreen of “mati tahi”, Chippy’s new favourite Maori phrase.

However, he did promise to explain better to the public how he was going to turn NZ into a two-tier, tribal-ruled, apartheid state. Gee, thanks mate for the clarification! Derek Mackie

Quotes of the day


However, one of the more unsavoury aspects of the Covid19 response, and the determination to centrally manage the dissemination of information to the public, was the suspension of Parliament for several weeks, despite the availability of communication systems that would have enabled it to continue meeting on a virtual basis. The intention then was to shut down any avenue for critical scrutiny of the government’s actions, lest the exercise of that accountability expose cracks in both the veracity and substance of the “single source of truth”.

It was a state of control of public discourse unmatched since the emergency regulations promulgated during the 1951 Waterfront lockout, which made it illegal at that time to publish material critical of the government’s actions, or supportive of the locked-out watersiders. – Peter Dunne

Parliament was due to resume this week, but in an eerie reminder of what happened in 2020, the government quickly deferred that until next week, curiously with the support of the National Party this time. It means, as in 2020, for the critical period of the initial response to the crisis, the government will escape the scrutiny of Parliament for its actions. And, as in 2020, without Parliament sitting, the Opposition has been deprived of its best forum to hold the government to account for what is happening.

By the time Parliament does resume next week, the immediacy of the current crisis will have passed. In the meantime, though, the government, through monotonous, regular media conferences and interviews, will have been able to establish the legitimacy of its narrative as the one true version of events. And any divergence from that line from any of the local authorities, emergency agencies, or the thousands of directly affected citizens will be able to be dismissed as mischievous and inaccurate.Peter Dunne

It was wrong for the government to suspend Parliament in 2020, and it was wrong for it to do so again this week, especially when, as it turned out, most MPs, including the Prime Minister, were in Wellington. There was no threat to public health or safety, as could have been argued in 2020, and therefore no compelling argument why Parliament could not have met.

This smacks of the government seeking to control the flow of public information and limit its own exposure to criticism and accountability, just as it did in 2020. Unfortunately, that detracts from other positive aspects of the response to Cyclone Gabrielle, notably the unflinching, brave, and selfless work of the fire, emergency and urban search and rescue services.

However, it is not acceptable that in two of the three national states of emergency declared in our history, both times under Labour-led governments, Parliament has been so quickly pushed to one side as the response has unfolded. There needs to be urgent agreement between all the political parties that in future states of national emergency Parliament will not be suspended for the sake of the government’s convenience.

Hipkins was a senior Minister during the 2020 Covid19 response. He was frequently alongside the former Prime Minster at the “podium of truth” and directly knows the power of controlling the flow of information and the political dividend it can pay. He well remembers that in 2020 the government was teetering on the brink of defeat until Covid19 came along, and that skilful management of the response produced a landslide election win. Aspects of his response to Cyclone Gabrielle suggest he has his eye on producing a similar effect for this year’s election. – Peter Dunne

Kids haven’t been going to school now for years because we have created an environment where it doesn’t matter.

The good schools pull their hair out and spend far too much time and resource chasing kids. And for every minute they spend doing that they are distracted from teaching the kids who do turn up.

There is a malaise in this country that permeates most aspects of life now and school is just one part. It’s laziness, it’s a culture of excuse making be it Covid, cost of living crisis or the weather. –  Mike Hosking

Our education system, as measured by the testing around numeracy and literacy, is appalling. It’s embarrassingly appalling and it’s hard to learn if you aren’t at school.

The fact that crime has been allowed to grow under Hipkins’ watch, is yet another reminder of the farcical charade the Government are trying to create around his arrival.

Most of the crimes, whether economic or social, have been committed in the past five years by him being a senior member of the Jacinda Ardern clique or by him directly as minister.

He was Minister of Education; the truancy crisis was overseen by him.

It grew under him, he watched it and did nothing and now, magically, come election year an answer he had at his fingertips all along can somehow be produced.

It’s like the policy dumpster fire last week. It’s decent politics and it steals another opposition idea.

But the cynicism that drives it is sickening. – Mike Hosking

There’s no doubt about it we need to invest now very strongly in climate adaptation and infrastructure. 

We can’t go rebuilding roads that keep getting wiped out and then get wiped out at the next event. Christopher Luxon

It’s going to be a multi-decade effort starting from tomorrow of recovery and making sure that infrastructure is resilient.

It’s going to require bipartisan support because Government is going to come and go over those decades and it’s a very complex issue.

Who pays for a lot of the investment we’re going to need around insurance companies, ratepayers, taxpayers and central Government. – Christopher Luxon

It’s really about New Zealand at this point in time. When you think about the huge amount of suffering that you’re seeing with Kiwis that have been displaced from their homes, you think about all those communities that have been cut off. 

We’ve seen some incredibly heroic efforts from first responders. I was in the bunker in Wellington yesterday and there are 200 people that are working day and night to coordinate with local civil defence. So really it’s all about the New Zealand people and making sure they’re supported at this time. Christopher Luxon

The transition from Jacinda Ardern to Hipkins can be viewed in two ways. One that emphasises continuity with the Government in which Hipkins served for five years. Or one that sees Hipkins as heralding a change of direction.

As far as the New Zealand opposition is concerned, the facts are clear. To them, Hipkins is just another version of Ardern.

Indeed, Hipkins was one of the most senior ministers in Ardern’s cabinet. He served as minister of education, minister of police (for a period) and minister for the Covid response. Apart from Minister of Finance Grant Robertson, there is no-one else as closely linked to Ardern’s Government as Hipkins.

The opposition’s eagerness to cast Hipkins as the reincarnation of Ardern is a sign of the political liability she had become. – Dr Oliver Hartwich

The policy bonfire is likely to be Hipkins’ opening salvo. In the coming weeks, we might see more revisions of policies or their immediate abolition.

The result is a fundamental repositioning of Labour in New Zealand. Ardern’s hallmarks have been swept aside.

Instead, Hipkins seeks to connect with voters’ real concerns. Due to the Ardern Government’s ineffectiveness in virtually every policy area over the past five years, there are many.

The largest opposition party, National, will be tempted to underline that last aspect. They will say that Hipkins is only fixing what his party has broken over its time in office. Perhaps that is so. Whether voters will care is a different matter.

Alternatively, the public might reward a new Prime Minister who responds to public opinion and returns his Labour party to the political centre from which it had drifted under Ardern.

It has taken Hipkins less than a month to turn New Zealand politics upside down. He is not so much a new broom but a wrecking ball to the old Ardern Government. He is the antithesis to the Prime Minister National’s leader Chris Luxon had hoped to face in the election campaign.

The outcome of this year’s elections depends on the electorate’s view of the new leader – and the opposition’s response to him.Dr Oliver Hartwich

Cyclone Gabrielle did more than stretch emergency services to the limit (and sometimes beyond) of their capabilities. It also tested the depth and competence of the news media.

The mayhem was so widespread and so fast-moving that it was hard for news outlets to keep up. Just as reporters were getting to grips with one major development, another story broke somewhere else.

I can’t recall any other crisis in New Zealand when the media focus kept shifting at such a dizzying pace – from Muriwai to Tairawhiti (East Coast/Gisborne), Northland to Hawke’s Bay. This was not a story that lent itself to smooth, co-ordinated coverage; it was a chaotic situation that defied attempts to wrangle it into a coherent, controlled narrative. – Karl du Fresne

Even allowing for the acknowledged challenges of covering the crisis, these shortcomings are not easily excused. News is about more than what happened. It’s also about when, where, how and to whom.

Overall, it was hard to avoid the impression that reporters were constantly trailing far behind events and struggling to catch up. Editors appeared to be putting content online in a haphazard fashion with no context and often only vague and sometimes inaccurate factual detail.

Much of that online content appeared to have been provided not by trained journalists but by people on the scene. It showed that so-called citizen journalism – the presumption that anyone with a smartphone can become a reporter and news photographer – has its limitations.

Editing and fact-checking (if indeed there was any) was lamentably sloppy – a failing apparent in incorrect or imprecise geographical references.  – Karl du Fresne

Location matters, and never more so than in a story about floods. Do journalists ever consult a map? It’s not hard.

Most of these negative comments relate to media websites. On the plus side, most of the reportage I’ve seen on the Prime news bulletin at 5.30 – my TV news of choice – has been exemplary, although necessarily limited in scope by the 30-minute duration.

This evening, I still had the distinct feeling that a lot has gone unreported. Just as it will take days before essential services are restored, so it’s likely that the complete story of the damage and heartbreak caused by Cyclone Gabrielle will take time to emerge – if it ever does. We’ve seen the tip, but the iceberg has yet to be revealed. – Karl du Fresne

At the risk of being accused of pining for the good old days, I have no hesitation in saying the media of 20 or even 10 years ago would have made a far better job of reporting the calamity. To some extent deficiencies in coverage are inevitable when disaster occurs on such a large scale, but a crucial factor is that there are now far fewer reporters as a result of the redundancies – some might say purges – that stripped newsrooms of a vital body of knowledge and experience. (To be fair, some of those redundancies were forced on the industry; I suspect others were a matter of choice and convenience.) In an emergency such as Cyclone Gabrielle, an old-school chief reporter would have dispatched reporters to find out what was happening on the ground. Now journalists are far more likely to rely on press conferences and official statements from bureaucrats and politicians. These can be important, of course, but they’re no substitute for the first-hand accounts of people who have been caught up in the events. Karl du Fresne

News pictures are another telling reminder of the industry’s decline. The professional news photographer, at least in New Zealand, is now virtually extinct – another casualty of corporate folly. As a result, an arresting news photo on the front page has become a rarity. The skilled news photographer has an uncanny talent for seeking out great pictures and will do so with fierce determination. Now reporters are issued with smartphones and expected to take their own photos, which they tend to do when they happen across something obvious. There is a vast qualitative difference between a picture taken by reporter who’s principally concerned with getting a story and one obtained by a dedicated snapper (to use the British term) who’s after one thing only: a great shot. – Karl du Fresne

Old-fashioned radio came into its own during the past few days. It’s unique in its ability to keep on top of a fast-moving and fluid (forgive the pun) situation. Radio reporters are highly mobile and can phone in their reports from wherever things are happening. Programme schedules aren’t rigid, unlike TV, and can be interrupted whenever news breaks. Moreover, you can listen to the radio pretty much wherever you go and whatever you’re doing. Karl du Fresne

My yearning for the good old days wouldn’t be complete without reference to the New Zealand Press Association. Before this admirable organisation was killed off by the Australians who then controlled the New Zealand print media (essentially because sharing news wasn’t how they did things over there), newspapers all around the country would supply the NZPA headquarters in Wellington with stories about significant events in their regions. In the case of a major breaking story these would initially be sent out to member newspapers over the NZPA network in the form of rapid-fire instalments (“takes”) as the story developed and would later be skilfully collated, edited and refined into twice-daily wraps. In situations such as Cyclone Gabrielle, it was a reliable means of ensuring all New Zealanders were kept comprehensively informed about events of importance elsewhere in the country. Now national news coverage is a hit-and-miss affair and there are vast black spots: places that might as well not exist at all. We know far less about ourselves as a result. – Karl du Fresne

What do Climate Karanga, Podiatry NZ, and the Free Store Wellington have in common? Probably very little, apart from their common commitment to co-governance. They are among 50+ NGOs who signed an open letter, duly and dutifully amplified by media, urging the government to continue its work to implement the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights after Minister Willie Jackson signalled this work might be paused. It represents the emergence of a phenomenon known as the Blob—a gelatinous agglomeration of elite opinion that suffocates and skews public debate.Alex Penk

The open letter looks distinctly Blobby—NGOs, unions, academics, supportive media reporting, all lined up in favour of a position that is, at best, highly controversial. But what’s wrong with the Blob? Isn’t this just a group of public-spirited citizens and community-minded organisations sharing their sincere views on a matter of public importance? Isn’t this simply Democratic Deliberation and therefore an uncontrovertibly Good Thing? No. No, it isn’t.

The Blob is neither democratic nor deliberative. It creates a false consensus that sucks the oxygen out of dissenting opinions, overpowering them with the weight of apparent institutional authority. – Alex Penk

The Blob also skews the debate: here and in the UK, the Blob tends left. Can you imagine 50+ NGOs signing a right-leaning position on co-governance, or the media amplifying this uncritically? (Come to that, can you imagine 50+ right-leaning NGOs?) Some members of the Blob are also “sock puppets”. These are organisations that receive government funding and in turn lobby the government, for example the Citizens Advice Bureau, also named by RNZ as a “major” signatory to the open letter. Nor is the Blob representative. No-one selected these people to take a public position on co-governance; instead, they wield cultural power beyond their numbers, influence without accountability.

This would all be much less of a problem if the signatories had some kind of relevant expertise on the subject, as when a (much smaller) group of constitutional law academics signed an open letter against the Three Waters entrenchment provision. Alex Penk

It’s tempting to treat this as a bit of a joke, but this is how we end up with an elite consensus disconnected from, and dismissive of, the majority of us. To be clear, the key problem with the Blob isn’t that NGOs have a view—they’re fully entitled to do so and to express it. The issue is agglomeration amounting to groupthink and ideological capture of a series of society-shaping institutions and debates. By contrast, a single actor or handful of individuals or organisations can’t stifle or skew debate.

Our immediate response should be to see the Blob for what it is, and discount its influence accordingly. The second thing we should do is diversify the Blob, and this is much harder. This means doing the long, slow work of introducing a range of perspectives into civil society and giving them all a fair hearing. Effectively this means de-Blobbing the Blob because, as astute readers will realise, a diverse Blob is no longer truly a Blob. If we can do this and drain the Blob of its threat, perhaps then we’ll restore the public square to what it should be—not the monolithic imposition of a consensus position, but a genuine conversation among equals. – Alex Penk

This cyclone, much like the last storm that hit Auckland, has been a tale of two storms. 

Some parts have been absolutely hammered; others completely unscathed. Some lost power, homes, cars, roofs or trees, others barely felt it. Kate Hawkesby

So now as attention is turned to the clean-up, there’s the other sting in the tail; what’s this all going to cost? Billions to the economy and goodness knows how much for ratepayers.

What’s it going to mean for insurance premiums, for infrastructure around beach and coastal communities, what’s it going to mean for house sales.

I know people currently looking to buy a house whose primary concern was whether it had a garage for the car and a lawn for the kids to run around. Whether it’s fenced for the dog and has a good kitchen. That’s all now changed.

Their new and only concern now is drainage, whether it’s low-lying, and whether it was affected by any flooding. What sort of roof is on it? What sort of guttering? Is it in an area that could be cut off with only one access road? – Kate Hawkesby

From here we need well run planning on infrastructure. We need sound and considered responses on how and where we build, who oversees it and how it’s constructed. I’m hearing of people in brand new developments who’ve been flooded out of their homes in Hawkes Bay.

There is of course a balance to be struck with how this is executed. I don’t know how big built up cities like Auckland can really pull it off, but I just know it needs to happen.

Because if this is our new normal, then we have to do better with vulnerable communities in terms of infrastructure, drainage, and development.

And in many cases that’s not just whacking in rebuilds over the top of damaged areas, but rethinking exactly how, where and what gets built.   – Kate Hawkesby

Peter Dunne, Dr Oliver Hartwich,

Quotes of the day


As I’ve often written, Labour governments have commendably shaped modern New Zealand for the better, notwithstanding some inevitable blunders and excesses. But I have absolutely no doubt the current one, with the perspective of time, will be recorded as the most incompetent and socially and economically destructive in our history.

They leave a legacy of massive needless debt, a badly damaged economy with thousands of small businesses destroyed, a history of slap-dash financial irresponsibility and ironically, of an unknown but reportedly sizeable number of preventable deaths with the ceasure of life-saving operations following the closure of surgical activity for a lengthy period in 2021. But perhaps their greatest crime is their disgraceful attempt to abolish the most basic underlying principle of democracy, namely one vote per adult and not the 2% of the population who can claim 50% or more of Maori ethnicity receiving half of the management function of public institutions based on ethnicity. This they described as co-government which they endeavoured to justify on a totally bogus interpretation of the Treaty. – Sir Bob Jones

Those seeking to make hate speech illegal are relying, increasingly, on the concept of “stochastic terrorism” to justify their plans for extensive political censorship. Stochastic, in this context, is best explained as the problem of identifying precisely which one of the ten thousand antisemitic readers of an incendiary online posting is going to borrow his brother’s rifle and walk into the nearest synagogue.

The promoters of hate speech laws argue that it is enough to know that those contributing to the creation of a climate of hatred and prejudice will, eventually, succeed in provoking a deadly political reaction. Although it is virtually impossible for the authorities to identify exactly which one of these ten thousand potential terrorists will pick up a gun, the statistical certainly remains that someday, someone will.

Better, therefore, to legally prohibit extremists from building-up the sort of highly-charged political atmosphere that can only be earthed by a bolt of terrorist lightning. No antisemitic literature, no antisemitic movies, no antisemitic blogs and – Hey Presto! – no antisemitism!

Quite apart from the immense cultural wounds such an approach would inflict – no Merchant of Venice – it is far from certain that such extensive censorship would be effective.  – Chris Trotter

The hate speech legislation packed off to the Law Commission by Prime Minister Hipkins proposed to limit the extended protection of our human rights legislation to religious communities alone. This offered considerably less protection for “vulnerable groups” than had been promised in earlier recommendations, and yet, even when limited to religious belief, the potential for conflict remains high. The Bible and the Koran both contain passages that are, at least on their face, antisemitic. Should both holy books join Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice in the sin-bin? – Chris Trotter

Truth is a hard goddess to like – and even more difficult to serve – but among all the other gods she stands alone for keeping her promise to humanity. “I cannot shield you from the pain that comes with me,” she told us, “but I am your only sure protection against those who would have you believe that happiness is ignorant, and that lies can set you free.”

So we’ve not learned much from lockdowns have we? We still go crazy, we still panic, and supermarkets still can’t seem to plan ahead for that.- Kate Hawkesby 

Any doubts that the cost of living’s worst effects were starting to bite, and bite hard were confirmed this week when a group of health professionals urged the Government to expand its free lunch scheme to more schools.

Health Coalition Aotearoa, a group of more than 55 health academics and 65 medical organisations, said more children than ever needed the scheme, attributing the reason to soaring food prices and the recent Auckland floods. Janet Wilson

You may well ask how can half the country’s school-aged children need the state to provide them with food?

Implicit in that question is a judgement that researchers say is the problem that renders poverty invisible.

Yet while material hardship rates have decreased since the Global Financial Crisis, poverty for single-parent families remains above comparable countries in Europe and food insecurity is now beginning to become an issue in two-parent working families. – Janet Wilson

With food inflation at 10.1% for the year ended last October, its fastest rate in 14 years, food insecurity is silently rippling into Kiwi homes forcing parents to miss meals, so their children have enough to eat. Janet Wilson

With Stats NZ revealing that fruit and vegetables had increased by 17%, meat, poultry, and fish by 10% and grocery items by 9.7%, food insecurity is less about poor personal choices and more about the struggle to access nutritious food that’s stratospherically expensive.

So how can New Zealand be a land of plenty that produces enough food to feed 35 million people a year, yet one in five Kiwi kids experience food insecurity and have poor access to good food? –

The researchers contend that rather than attributing hunger to individual decision-making these narratives hide the more pressing realities of inadequate incomes, insecure work, high rents, and lack of access to suitable land for growing food.

As the number of food insecure families grow, simplistic narratives about individual responsibility and poor choices need to be replaced with more equal access to good, nutritional food.

Food in schools programmes, while well-intentioned, in effect masks the wider issue of why the food insecure can’t get access to good food. – Janet Wilson

So   was  it  really  a  bonfire  when  incoming Prime  Minister Chris Hipkins put a  match to  several of the Ardern government’s policies?

Certainly  his  supporters  (and some  within the  media commentariat) hailed the  move as  being bold, although  the ACT party argued that far from setting a bonfire of his own policies, “he has burned a little undergrowth and left a few weeds smouldering for the future”.

Critics   were   not  slow  to point out  that Hipkins  had done nothing to rectify  those  “achievements” in his own portfolio  of  falling standards of education and rising  truancy in primary schools, not to mention the disaster of the  polytechnics merger.

Even now  with  his avowed  focus on “bread-and-butter” issues,  the  decision to  raise the minimum wage rate by the largest aggregate amount since 1997 could push many of its beneficiaries  into a  higher tax  bracket, in effect recycling much of it back to the  government’s own coffers. – Point of Order

Who  cares if a huge deficit is  bequeathed to  the next administration?  Every previous  outgoing Labour government  has done so. Point of Order

The  trouble  for the Hipkins  team is  that the Ardern  government has wasted  so  many  millions  on projects like  the  proposed merger of  TVNZ  and  Radio NZ, now off the  table,  that  extra  funds have  to  be found  to keep those outfits functioning.Point of Order

With extreme events likely to become more common, we all have to think about the tradeoffs we might have to make to future-proof our homes and our cities and towns.

It’s lucky for us, however, that we have our other superpowers, like knowing when to look out for others, and being a helping hand for anyone who needs it. .

We’ll need to draw on that over the coming days.

Kia Kaha.Tracy Watkins

We understand that people are doing it really tough but the tough political decisions had to be made.

Here’s the question: What do you do for teachers? What do you do for police? What do you do for defence? Are you going to do it for everyone, Michael?

This… [is] the inflationary price/wage spiral that we’re going to get into that the Federal Reserve in America, that the Reserve Bank here is worried about. This Government isn’t worried about it but everybody knows it’s where we’re going to end up. – Erica Stanford

I’ve been reading about Three Waters over the weekend.

It’s a mess. We knew it was a mess but the headline grabbing aspect of the mess is around co-governance and how unpalatable that is to most of us.

Willie Jackson said as much last week. The argument has been lost, David Seymour and Christopher Luxon have successfully driven the discussion to a point where the Government doesn’t stand a chance.Mike Hosking

ut here’s your next big hurdle, and it’s what I think most of us haven’t understood, who is liable? You know, for the bill.

We haven’t understood because the question hasn’t been answered until now. But also, I suspect even if it had most of us haven’t wandered into the weeds of this thing and got our head around it.

Some of the local bodies have, hence they’ve never liked it. – Mike Hosking

The answer around liability is another crime in a series of crimes.

It’ll cost, by Government estimates, up to $180 billion. To borrow that you need some sort of assurance. And this is the rub – the Government wants to stick it on the ratepayer.

The Government covers none of it. Think about that.

The four water bodies simply tell lenders if it all goes wrong, we will use a property rating mechanism – in other words, you and me.

So the council have had their assets taken off them but the public are on the hook for the debt. And you wonder why councils don’t want a bar of it. –  Mike Hosking

What fool unilaterally has their investment and assets removed from them, handed over to a new body, partially or not, we are yet to see, run by Māori and then the debt liability is handed back to you. On top of the fact that the pricing of the project you have no control over.

And then you, as the council, are charged with collecting the money from the punter at a price agreed to with the water authority that may or may not suit you.

Have you ever seen a more bewildering one-sided cock up of an idea?

This alone is every reason you need to get rid of the Government. They’re insane. – Mike Hosking


Quotes of the day


Few of us who live in modern countries can see the stars at night, or more than a few at most. This is because of light pollution, the production of artificial light at night that is not strictly necessary (though what is not strictly necessary is probably itself incapable of strict definition—what is unnecessary for you is necessary for me). A recent article has suggested that 80 percent of Americans and 60 percent of Europeans never see the stars. – Theodore Dalrymple

The thought of our own insignificance when we look up at the stars is potentially a dangerous one, though I do not go so far as to say that it has actually been responsible in practice for any of the great crimes of mankind; for if we are totally insignificant, what does anything really matter? If nothing really matters, what does it matter how I behave? And if it does not matter how I behave, then I might as well do whatever I can to achieve my ends, to take maximum pleasure from my fleeting existence. If that involves harm to others, so be it; after all, nothing matters and everything will be the same in the end, indeed very soon by comparison with the age of the universe. Eat, drink, and rob and steal, then, for tomorrow I die.

Wrongdoers often turn philosopher as soon as they are accused of having done wrong. Their philosophizing is always post facto, but they may nevertheless by instinct have mastered rhetorical devices. For example, if accused of theft, they will immediately ask for what they have never asked for before, namely a defense or justification of the system of private property, so unequal in the distribution of its largesse. Since the person thus apostrophized has probably never considered the question himself, he suddenly finds himself at a disadvantage, in an awkward spot. He can only stutter an answer, which makes him look unsure of himself. Thus, the wrongdoer secures a rhetorical victory.

Anyhow, the fact, or supposed fact, that nothing matters is an excellent and reassuring excuse for those who would behave badly to secure an advantage to themselves. Looking up at the stars, then, if they were visible, might conduce to the spread of amoralism.

On the other hand, not being able to look up at the stars, thereby being made aware of how tiny we are, might conduce to self-importance and small-mindedness. Our own affairs then grow in significance and occupy the totality of our minds. We lose the habit, and therefore the ability, to judge the size of our concerns with anything else. We have no sense of the order of things, especially if, at the same time, we do not study history; and minor inconveniences then become for us tragedies of the first magnitude. Thus we become egotistical, self-obsessed, ill-tempered, self-absorbed, and trivial-minded.

As is so often the case, we need a happy medium, or rather the ability to hold two opposite things in our mind at the same time: We are everything and nothing. We are the only beings in the universe (so far as we know) who, or that, can assign importance or significance to anything; but at the same time, we are very small.Theodore Dalrymple

We are, of course, nothing by comparison with infinite magnitude and glory of God; yet we are of special and unique significance to that being infinitely greater than we, who has created us in His image. Hamlet expresses this perfectly:

What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! How infinite in capacity! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust!

The paragon of animals, the quintessence of dust: What a perfect summary of our existential situation!

And yet, for all its perfection as an understanding, Hamlet, as we all know, ended badly, as did all those who surrounded him. Man could be defined as the creature who is capable of making the worst of anything! In Russia, they say, all roads lead to disaster—but not only in Russia, perhaps. – Theodore Dalrymple

Thanks to PM Chris Hipkins’ reshuffle, transport minister Michael Wood is going places. Shame about the rest of us.

Transport in New Zealand – both public and private – is poked.

Commuter services (buses, trains and ferries) in our towns and cities are under huge strain, making life a misery for anyone trying to get to work or children to school. Or even a concert.

The road network is collapsing.

At the minor end of the scale, the country’s road surfaces are in desperate shape. No need for the Government to officially lower speed limits, the potholes are bone-shakingly effective judder bars.

More scary is that arterial routes are regularly compromised by slips and subsidence in severe weather.  Andrea Vance

Climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated all these problems. But most predate the virus.

In part, they are due to chronic under-investment (higher taxes and road tolls are not popular policies).

But also, the way transport and its infrastructure is delivered and maintained is fragmented and dysfunctional.

Waka Kotahi, the land transport agency for which Wood is responsible, is currently one of the Government’s most problematic departments.

It is under fire because the road network is in a mess, and it can’t seem to deliver major projects on time or on budget. – Andrea Vance

The agency also has a deserved reputation for being wasteful. From the $51 million squandered on the abandoned cycling and walking bridge project across Auckland’s Waitematā harbour, to the $70m-plus spent on the doomed light rail project.

Let’s Get Wellington Moving (which WK oversees with the local authorities) has spent $83 million – $47m on consultants – and delivered only a pedestrian crossing. In EIGHT YEARS. And the walkway cost an eye-watering $2.4m.

It also has one of the largest PR teams of a central government agency – at last count 88, more than three-quarters of which are earning more than $100,000. If only we paid bus drivers the same salaries as comms staff.Andrea Vance

Around $15m was allocated to an advertising campaign to make roads safer, but recently officials admitted their ‘zero’ target is unrealistic. It missed a target to build 100km of median barriers per year, managing just 13km last year. – Andrea Vance

Councils with large urban centres are driving climate change policies to get people out of their cars and onto public transport.

The trouble is they are neither responsible for the network (in the hands of regional councils, other agencies and private operators), nor have successive Governments funded, nor allowed them to raise money to build, new infrastructure. – Andrea Vance

Not all these problems are Wood’s fault – but they are his to solve. How then can he take on another, hefty job?

Climate change makes transport one of the most important portfolios. Resilience needs to be built into the system – and quickly – as storm events increase. Public transport is also one of the most important elements in the drive to build a net-zero emissions economy.

If the Auckland portfolio is to be anything more than symbolic (or a cynical move to soothe the city), it should command much of a minister’s attention.

The city deserves more than a part-timer, especially now.

And to get transport back on track, Wood can’t really afford to take his eyes off the road. – Andrea Vance

You’ll no doubt be familiar with the term “jumping the shark”. It was coined in 1985 by the American radio personality Jon Hein in response to a 1977 episode of the US sitcom Happy Days, in which The Fonz, played by Henry Winkler, jumps over a shark while on water-skis. It’s a creative – if pejorative – term to describe when something has dissolved into so much farce that it signals it is well past its best and in decline – if not on its way to oblivion. And it could not be a better descriptor for Nicola Sturgeon’s absurd political performance over the past few months.

In the aftermath of the UK Government vetoing her gender recognition law, Scotland’s First Minister has had her head in Jaws’s mouth for several weeks now thanks to her ludicrous stand on Adam Graham, the transgender double rapist.  – Camilla Tominey

In a victory not just for common sense but for women’s safety, the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) confirmed that all newly convicted transgender prisoners will initially be placed in a jail based on their birth sex until a wider review is completed. – Camilla Tominey

So what we have here is essentially a complete rejection of the founding principle of Ms Sturgeon’s hare-brained Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which stated that anyone over the age of 16 can self-declare their gender, without a medical diagnosis and with few or any legal protections.Camilla Tominey

I cannot be alone in thinking the world has gone stark, raving mad when a political leader, a supposedly highly educated person, cannot identify an adult human male double rapist when they see one.
Notwithstanding her own political fate, however, Sturgeon’s reality-defying obstinacy has actually done us all a favour.

For the complete implosion of her transgender policy must finally have opened millions of people’s eyes not only to what’s been going on in Scottish prisons, but also to the wider spread of extreme gender ideology in hospitals, schools and companies across the UK.

For far too long these organisations have unthinkingly pandered to the extremists at the fringes of this debate out of some politically correct quest not to hurt people’s feelings, with big corporations insisting that employees state their pronouns and NHS websites providing guidance on menstruation while omitting the word “girl”.
But as we have learnt with cases like Graham’s, feelings don’t matter more than facts.Camilla Tominey

We should, of course, show compassion to all human beings, whether they be male, female or indeed transgender. But that should not mean denying biological sex, or jeopardising the safety of other groups, including women. Transgender people have rights under the Equality Act – but then so do women, as several recent cases have clearly established.

It is the job of our politicians to ensure that these rights are balanced and that the interests of one group are not allowed to trump another.

Not that the extreme gender ideology crowd think like that. It’s a scandal that the “if-you-stand-up-for-women-you’re-a-Terf” brigade of illiberal progressives won’t acknowledge the truth of this matter.
It’s even more outrageous that they portray those who do so as “transphobic” bigots when “biologically correct” would be a more apt description. And they have had some success in recent years in bullying or guilting people into going along with their agenda. – Camilla Tominey

And now, Sturgeon’s blundering policy failures have opened millions of people’s eyes to the fairy tales that they had been led to believe were true.

The only species thought to be able to change their biological sex, besides clownfish, are sharks, funnily enough. Some scientists believe that the big sharks change sex when they reach a certain size, with males becoming females. The switch may ensure survival by allowing the largest, most experienced sharks to give birth to young.

But humans aren’t fish and never have been – although some humans are undoubtedly clowns.

What should be a factual, calm debate has been turned into a theological question about whether you “believe” transwomen are women. In revealing the farcical nature of her flawed arguments, Nicola Sturgeon has given us the chance of a reformation. Camilla Tominey

A survey of Canadian opinion carried out for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute found that the majority of Canadians still think that prisons should remain segregated by sex: to which one is inclined to add, amen to that.

All surveys of opinion are subject to caveat, of course; one can rarely be sure that they’re representative of the population as a whole, or that respondents weren’t trying to please the inquirers, or that the wording of the question asked didn’t affect the outcome.

For me, however, the most significant finding of the survey was that 28 percent of respondents believed that male-bodied prisoners who identified as women should be imprisoned with women, 6 percent more than those who thought they should be imprisoned with men. The rest thought they should have separate facilities of their own.

The evolution of opinion is probably impossible to estimate with any certainty, though it’s possible to guess. The question was never asked 20 years ago, and indeed couldn’t have been asked, so bizarre would it have seemed. The answer probably would have been a laugh rather than a verbal answer, and the very fact that it wouldn’t or couldn’t have been asked 20 years ago is itself highly significant. The question wasn’t then even a question, at least not for the general public: and the year 2003 isn’t yet ancient history. – Theodore Dalrymple

My surmise is that they were younger and more educated than average or than the 72 percent of the people in the survey who thought that prisoners with male bodies should not be imprisoned with women. The sad fact is that, as George Orwell once remarked, it’s necessary to have a higher level of education than average to believe in a certain type of absurdity. This is even more the case today when so much of our education seems to fall into two stages: indoctrination by others followed by auto-indoctrination.

One might have thought that educated people in general, and intellectuals in particular, would be less susceptible to evident absurdity than the uneducated and the great mass of the population: But one would be mistaken. And there’s a good reason for this.

The status of intellectual requires that one has thoughts that aren’t those of the great mass, or at any rate the majority, of mankind (and even with the massification of the intelligentsia as a result of the expansion of tertiary education, the intelligentsia remains a minority). For the modern intellectual, the search for truth becomes the search for rationalizations for whatever strange beliefs distinguish the intellectual from the hoi polloi. Ideology is to the intelligentsia what superstition is to the mass of mankind; and not to have opinions that clash with those of the majority is, for an intellectual, to lose caste, like a Brahmin who crosses the sea. What’s the point of being an intellectual, after all, if you come to a conclusion that everyone already believes to be the case?

The majority isn’t always right or intellectuals always wrong. What was regarded as perfectly normal, acceptable, or even virtuous in one age is regarded as self-evidently monstrous by another, often as a result of the efforts of intellectuals to alert the population or powers that be to the moral monstrosity of what they accept without question.  – Theodore Dalrymple

 It’s the undoubted fact that the majority has often unthinkingly subscribed to a horrible or vile morality that gives the intellectuals their opportunity to promote destructive certainties. A false syllogism goes something like this:

The majority thinks that prisoners with male bodies who identify as women shouldn’t be sent to women’s prisons. The majority is often wrong. Therefore, prisoners with male bodies who identify as women ought to be sent to women’s prisons.

What’s surprising, perhaps, and deeply significant, is that a proportion of the population that’s far from tiny—more than a quarter, if the survey I have quoted is accurate—can be brought to believe something so counterintuitive in so historically short a time. A view that not very long before would have been considered absurd and even unthinkable has become almost an orthodoxy for a certain proportion of the population.

And while it rests a minority view for the moment, it’s the view of what in the long run is the most important part of the population, the intelligentsia: for democracy notwithstanding, the vote of the intellectual has at least quadruple the weight of that of the average citizen, who will either follow him in the end or have his views imposed upon him. – Theodore Dalrymple

Instead of admitting that the Treaty was a contract that established the Queen as our Sovereign, protected private property rights, and gave Maori the same rights and privileges of British citizenship as every other New Zealander, the tribal elite are undermining democracy by promoting the lie that Maori are in a ‘Treaty partnership’ with the Crown to elevate themselves into a ‘power-sharing’ ruling aristocracy.

As an ardent disciple of Marxism and identity politics, Jacinda Ardern’s ignorance about the true meaning of the Treaty led our former Prime Minister to embrace the tribal elite’s agenda, dividing New Zealanders by race and introducing Apartheid into the delivery of public services.

Former Labour Prime Ministers did not allow themselves to be ‘captured’ in this way. Dr Muriel Newman

Even though the Treaty is clear that Maori ceded sovereignty to the Queen – and that it is constitutionally impossible for a partnership to exist between the sovereign and the governed – the ‘Treaty partnership’ fabrication has flourished under Labour.

Critical public services are now controlled by Maori. As a consequence of the health system being under the influence of the tribal elite, we now face the intolerable situation where health care is no longer being prioritised on the basis of clinical need, but by race. Indeed, warnings are now emerging from those working within the sector that some areas are in such a mess, they are in danger of collapse.

Then there’s the universally hated Three Waters scheme that not only confiscates services and infrastructure from councils, to put control firmly into the hands of Maori, but it forces ratepayers to underwrite the massive debts that these new mega agencies are expected to accumulate.

As a result, Chris Hipkins needs to understand that it’s not just co-governance that should be scrapped, but the whole scheme – including the devious Te Mana o te Wai provisions, which effectively give local Maori full authority over the management of water in each catchment area.

New Zealanders need to reject any cosmetic changes the PM is likely to introduce, and strengthen the call for Nanaia Mahuta’s entire scheme to be thrown out. Dr Muriel Newman

In true Orwellian style, iwi leaders have the audacity to claim that those who want every New Zealander treated as equals are racists, while those who want the country divided by race, are not!

For most people, the concept of their skin colour being used to determine their rights, is utterly abhorrent. Kiwis have never wanted to be divided by race, which is why the on-going attempts by separatists to establish Maori seats in local government, failed in almost every referendum.

It is therefore unsurprising that the public is now objecting to enforced racial categorisation. And that’s the bottom line: Kiwis want to be treated as equals, united as one people under one flag, with New Zealand, one nation – a country of equal citizens, not a collection of competing tribes.

This is what Chris Hipkins needs to recognise if he is to succeed as our country’s leader. He must govern for all New Zealanders, if his party is to regain the confidence of middle New Zealand. Tinkering with policies will not be enough.

And that’s also what Christopher Luxon – and his National Party – needs to realise if he is to have any hope of one day becoming our Prime Minister. Governing for all New Zealanders is the only way to build a successful future.  – Dr Muriel Newman

What drives most of us is convenience. It’s why you should never trust polls on matters where the question involves any form of fanciful theory.

What we say and what we do are two different things, not always, but generally.

It’s why the public transport fans have failed so miserably. On a whiteboard it sounds plausible but on any given busy day it’s not real, it never has been real and it never will be. – Mike Hosking

The theory was we would use EV’s and batteries and solar and wind and sunflower seeds. But the reality is none of those things are reliable enough or available enough.

As they currently stand, they aren’t actual answers. They are alternatives of a temporary nature and, given that, there is no point in getting all angsty about profits and wanting to put a windfall tax on them that is talked about.

That gesture is driven by our own anger and frustration at being wrong about the future and wrong about our overall intent.

It’s not BP‘s fault the war started and it’s not BP’s fault we all want to use more and more oil. They are only doing what they have always done, which is supply a demand.

That is why the whole model hasn’t worked – we keep demanding more.Mike Hosking

The zealots are asking us to do something we won’t do, which is go backwards.

Farmers know this. The way to reduce emissions is reduce cows, make less money, eat less meat and do less farming.

The oil zealots want us to catch buses that don’t go where we want to go, even if they turn up in the first place.

We will not do it and we are not doing it.

Our reality, and its smooth operation, will trump ideology every time. – Mike Hosking

The 2022 New Zealand Honours acknowledged and recognised around 200 citizens who had made meaningful contributions to the well-being of our country. 

On reading, I could only identify two or three  who had contributed directly to creating the wealth which fuels our society’s ability to address well-being. 

The list lacked diversity.

New Zealand as an entity is no different than the corner dairy. Its survival and growth depend upon customers purchasing products and services that more or less fall within the general categories of Food, Fibre, or Fun (tourism). New Zealand produces these products and services very well and, in many cases, we lead the world in design, quality, sustainability and reliability. John Wren

So just like the corner dairy, it is only the profit from “New Zealand Inc” that can possibly create the rewards we need to fuel what we refer to as “well-being”.  The government and their supporting bureaucrats appear to be  to how fundamental this is – as we can clearly see in their selection of the heroes who were honoured at the New Year.

The heroes we should recognise are those, who through their commitment, passion and personal risk, have built businesses that contribute to enhancing the well-being of every New Zealander.

Unfortunately, this government and its advisers don’t understand that diversity must be all-encompassing – recognising not only social, ethnic and gender but also productive wealth creation. – John Wren

The government is increasing the minimum wage from $21.20 to $22.70 from 1 April next year. At the headline level this is a 7% increase, which is roughly the CPI increase in the past year. So this is an inflation adjustment, in real terms people on the minimum wage will stay exactly where they were.

But is that true? We know from the EMTR series that the abatement rates are a problem. We also know that the minimum wage is getting awfully close to the 30% tax rate, so bracket creep may mean that we’re not getting full inflation compensation.

Who is really getting the bulk of the minimum wage increase. Spoiler alert – for many of those most in need, the government will be pocketing 80% of the minimum wage increase. They’re asking businesses to pay more, but the lion’s share of that money is going directly into government coffers, not to the people they would profess to be helping.- Paul L.

The bigger problem is when we get into people who are receiving any government support – a partial benefit, accommodation supplement, or working for families tax credits.

Consider someone who is a sole parent with two children, one between 3 and 5 years old, and one over 5 years. Because the youngest child isn’t in school yet they’re working 20 hours a week. Their household income before the minimum wage change was $869.14. After the minimum wage change their income is $874.14, an increase of $5 per week. Their $30 pay rise has mostly been clawed back by the government in abatements. While their pay went up 7% (the inflation rate), their household income has only increased 0.6%. They are 6.4% worse off in real terms, or $55 a week worse off than before the inflation and minimum wage increase. That would be a big impact on a household with two young children.Paul L.

I’m not suggesting that there shouldn’t be a minimum wage increase. What I’m saying is that when the government claims it’s compensating the lowest paid for inflation, they’re not. Many of these people are worse off, whether because of bracket creep or because of abatements on government programmes. The people who aren’t worse off are the people with no other income, and who are working part time – i.e. students living at home, second income earners in a high income household. The poorest and those most in need are worst off. – Paul L.

  1. People think that inflation hurts rich people. It doesn’t. Inflation has a major impact on poor people for exactly these reasons. Even with a very significant minimum wage increase many poor people are still much worse off. This is why the right wing, and economists in general, think inflation is bad. Not because they’re evil and hate the poor. Because they know it hurts the poor
  2. Every generation seems to need to learn again that inflation is bad. It’s been 30 years since we had serious inflation, most people in power have forgotten about it. There’s still plenty around who know – Helen Clark, Don Brash, Richard Prebble, Jenny Shipley would all be able to articulate why we should have been careful about our monetary policy. We weren’t, we have a mess, and now it’s going to hurt a lot of low income people. We can’t change that now, but we can learn.
  3. Inflation adjusting the minimum wage is better than nothing – I’m in no way arguing we shouldn’t have done it. These people would be worse off without that change.
  4. Actually compensating these people for the cost of living pressure requires changing more than just the minimum wage – all these abatement rates/thresholds need to be touched, and the benefit rates will need to be changed. When inflation is only 2% you can get by with doing it every couple of years. At 7% it’s too big an impact – it will need to be done soon.
  5. When the Labour government claims that they’ve inflation adjusted the minimum wage and it’s fine, realise that that’s not true. And when the media or people on twitter claim that these people are now OK for cost of living pressure, that’s also not true. And it’s especially not true for those most in need – sole parents with kids, people living on their own – those people receiving support from other government programmes.Paul L.

I do not think about or write about aging. I do not think of myself as old – don’t look or act or dress old – and don’t think of myself as a senior citizen. I’m not in denial, I just have more vital things to do and think about and be. I’ve long been at ease with the thought that there was a time when I did not exist, and the time will come when I will not be again. It’s the Way of all Life.
The ticket I got coming in is for a round trip.
OK with me. – Robert Fulghum

If and when the new Prime Minister gets around to his bread and butter reset, the work he has to do on Three Waters is going to be something to behold.

That’s a genuinely complex issue that either most of us don’t get, or don’t want to – or a combination of the two.

And it’s the co-governance aspect of it that kills it.

Co-governance is not the way forward in this country, or indeed any country. The line they are now using is the one where we apparently misunderstand what it is.

So that’s the part I am most looking forward to – what part of us handing over a chunk of the running of our water, or an entity, or the country, don’t we understand? –  MIke Hosking

And that’s why, for all the ground we have made, we have still gone backwards.

Because in trying to address past wrongs we have opened ourselves up to the inevitable mission creep.

The tribunal is now so activist it’s absurd. The only upside is we never gave them actual power outside of recommendation.

And the likes of the Human Rights Commissioner have drunk so much Kool Aid they’ve ended up blurting out a volume of extremism we can only laugh or sigh at in dismay.

We either move forward or we don’t and Hipkins now has the task of explaining why this level of extremism is; 1) remotely acceptable and, 2) more importantly for him, electorally viable. – MIke Hosking

We’ve just seen a prime minister cancel a huge amount of projects that have been a stupendous waste of time, energy and money for New Zealand … it’s quite incredible to me.

It’s been ‘let’s do this’, and then ‘let’s not do this’. – Christopher Luxon

We can do well by doing good … I believe that, you know, deeply.Christopher Luxon

Brad Olsen was on the show late in the Business Hour yesterday arguing the Government had to hike the minimum wage by a full $1.50 yesterday.

Because it had to be in line with the annual inflation rate.

If you look at the minimum wage in the isolation of one year, yes that’s an easy trap to fall into.

But you have to look at the minimum wage over the duration of the last six years of this Government.

It has gone from $15.75 to $22.70.

That’s a $7 increase in six years. That’s 44 percent.

Hands up, who else got a 44 percent pay rise in the last six years? – Heather du Plessis-Allan

So now, what we have is reportedly one of the highest minimum wage rates in the world in an economy that has among the lowest productivity in the developed world.

This doesn’t make sense.

It doesn’t make sense to keep bumping up the pay of teenagers so they’ve got heaps to blow on new sneakers.

While making it harder for their employers, who might be parents running a small business, to square the books.Heather du Plessis-Allan

SUPPOSE THEY MADE A REVOLUTION, and nobody noticed. Suppose the “Cabinet Office” ordered the nation’s public servants to implement an unmandated revolutionary transformation of New Zealand, and they complied. Suppose one of the leading authorities on Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Dame Claudia Orange, confirmed that this revolution was, in fact, a done deal. – Chris Trotter

Now, forgive me, but my understanding of revolutionary change is that it does not, and cannot, take place without the “general public” being aware. The active participation of the people in replacing a regime that has, in their eyes, lost all political legitimacy, is pretty much the definition of a revolution. The idea that not only could such a profound upheaval have taken place, but also gone past the point of no return, without the people either noticing it, or sanctioning it, is, quite simply, absurd.

So what should we call a programme initiated by the “Cabinet Office” (Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet?) with the ultimate intention of transforming the nation’s constitutional arrangements in such a way that the “consent of the governed” need not be confirmed by democratic means?

Given that New Zealanders have lived through such a transformation before, when the programme of ruthless economic “reforms” known as “Rogernomics” was unleashed upon them without warning, and without an electoral mandate, between 1984 and 1987, then it seems only fitting that this latest attempt to impose transformational change from the top down be described in the same manner. What New Zealanders have been experiencing since 2019 is a “bureaucratic coup d’état”.Chris Trotter

Were the recommendations of “Matike Mai Aotearoa” and “He Puapua” to be followed, the manner in which New Zealanders are governed, and the rights and privileges they are heir to, would indeed be transformed – out of all recognition.

Race Relations Commissioner, Meng Foon, has responded to the reports by committing himself to the long-term goal of “Eliminat[ing] racism in Aotearoa in all forms, in all organisations whether it’s government, non-government organisations, businesses, amongst our communities.”

New Zealanders anxious to learn how this elimination might be accomplished – especially given the Human Rights Commission’s acceptance that racism and white supremacy are baked-in to New Zealand society – should probably study the “re-education” centres established by the Chinese Government in Xinxiang to eliminate radical Islamist ideology from all mosques, schools, organisations, businesses and communities of the Uighur people.

It is difficult to believe that Labour could be contemplating a bureaucratic coup-d’état even more destructive than Rogernomics. If they are, then – this time – they will provoke a real revolution. – Chris Trotter

If we are going to change our constitutional arrangements in a fundamental way, this needs to be done in a coherent, planned manner, with wide community support, not by Te Puni Kokiri mission creep, or the stumbling we have witnessed so far, where nobody professes to know what’s going on.

We have the longest continuous universally franchised parliament in the world, from 1893 and counting. The Bill of Rights Act reinforces that position, with section 12 stating that elections to the House of Representatives shall be by universal suffrage and by secret ballot. So it should be with all subordinate public decision-making authorities.

Labour’s constitution also states that the natural resources of New Zealand belong to all the people yet, with regard to perhaps our greatest natural resource, the current Three Waters proposal offers equal governance authority to 84% of the population on the one hand and 16% on the other.

There is nothing in the Treaty, our primary source document, that provides for that inequality. It is just plain wrong (and unpopular).

Mana whenua definitely need to be involved in resource management. Co-management under a democratically elected authority is definitely better than co-governance.

Squaring the circle won’t be easy, but a proper, formal process is guaranteed to produce a better result than the slow motion drift to the destruction of democratic accountability. – Sir Kerry Burke

Hipkins is doing a reasonable job of selling the nonsense that burning these bad ideas will help alleviate the cost of living crisis. Of course it won’t. Killing off the merger won’t put food on your table. Saving the $330m it would cost is chump change in the Government’s annual budget.

The truth is, the bonfire just increases Hipkins’ chances at the next election. It means he doesn’t have to waste time and political capital constantly trying to convince voters that these bad ideas are good ideas. Listening to Ardern’s double-speak about all these policies was part of what led to her popularity falling in the end. – Heather du Plessis Allan

Cutting Three Waters will probably be the biggest test of Hipkins’ political management skills. He needs to go far enough to convince voters to accept it, while convincing the Māori caucus to swallow that dead rat. Then he needs to unwind a law already passed.

Time is not on his side. He can’t dawdle so long that he loses the momentum of the current sense of change. Sooner is better so that he can stop looking backwards and start looking forwards.  – Heather du Plessis Allan

Once he’s finished telling us what his Labour Government will not do, he’s going to have to start telling us what they will do.

The list of gripes voters have is long. Retail crime. Potholes. Falling house prices. Rising mortgage rates. Grocery bills. Warnings of winter power outages. Truancy in schools. Falling literacy and numeracy rates. Looming winter strain on a badly stretched health system. More kids sitting on the dole. Traffic congestion in major cities.

Somehow he’s going to have to sell his plan for fixing all of that, while convincing voters that this plan will actually fix those things, unlike Ardern’s plan that didn’t fix any of them. – Heather du Plessis Allan

Even going on just the last couple of weeks, New Zealand’s creaking education system seems uniquely unsuited to dealing with these sorts of disruptive challenges. The idea that its hapless top-down, one-size-fits-all culture could respond quickly and effectively to take advantage of new technologies is laughable.

The latest unsettling evidence of the ridiculous rigidity within education was the debacle that was Auckland’s return to school this year. On the back of the freak rainfall event on Anniversary Weekend, the lumbering Wellington-based education ministry decided on Monday it should close every school in Auckland for the first week of the school year. All 600-odd, plus another 1200 or so pre-schools.

There were some that needed to be closed as a result of flooding, or slips in the vicinity.Steven Joyce

In a sign the bureaucrats are still drunk on the power they took for themselves during the pandemic, they decided individual principals and boards of trustees could not be trusted to make the decision about when it was safe to open their doors. And this despite the fact that these same people are nominally in charge of the education of hundreds of children every day.

The ministry panicked and pulled the pin just as schools were looking forward to their first non-disrupted year since 2019. Once again we demonstrated to a generation of impressionable school-age children that, despite our protestations to the contrary, schooling isn’t really that important. No wonder they can’t be bothered going.

It got worse. About a day later, the officials were apparently having second thoughts. Maybe early childcare centres could open, and then possibly some schools. And then yes, they should open on the Thursday, except for those that couldn’t. It was appalling and cringeworthy. Principals, teachers and parents suffered daily whiplash as bureaucrats and their political masters in Wellington micro-managed Auckland’s schools to within an inch of their lives, trusting no one but themselves despite their all too obvious limitations. –

 The public health wallahs we became so heartily sick of during the pandemic were back to tell us that fully half of all schools should be given government-provided school lunches, and eating a government-provided lunch should be compulsory at those schools so as to not offend anyone.

The airwaves immediately filled with stories about unappetising government-supplied lunches, huge wastage, and parents affronted that only officials in Wellington can tell them what is healthy for their kids. Arguments raged over the lack of choice in government-sanctioned menus.

The contrast is apposite. The bureaucratic machine takes more and more power from schools and parents at the same time as a new piece of technology threatens to literally eat their lunch. We have poorer and poorer academic results in our schools, students are staying away in droves and out-of-control officialdom is busy dumbing us down even further, taking responsibility for the food our kids eat and deciding whether it is safe to open the gates. – Steven Joyce

Health officials in Wellington took decisions to leave hospitals empty for long stretches during the pandemic and in doing so created the longest waiting lists of unnecessarily suffering people of all time. They are apparently going to solve this mess by taking even more power for themselves to micro-manage every public hospital in the country.

Our politicians need to lift their sights. Squashing an ill-advised merger of old-media companies is all very well, but they are missing the main game.

Centralised monopolistic public services have surely reached their limits. Its time to de-power the civil service in Wellington and encourage innovation, experimentation and great teaching in our education system. Yes, even pay more for top performance. Where is the fresh thinking from both sides of politics about how we can get away from the bureaucratic dead hand that is stifling us?

Clever new technologies like ChatGPT are more evidence the revolution is coming. The question is whether our kids will be ready to participate in it, or will even more of them be passed by in the interests of an overweening bureaucracy?Steven Joyce

Amazing what happens when you are staring down the barrel of defeat. All the principles that PM Hipkins had purported to hold over the past five and a half years have just flown out the window. Or have they?- Paula Bennett

To be fair most people weren’t listening too closely to what they wanted to do because they didn’t believe they could actually deliver anything. It was a waste of time listening because the reality of it actually happening was slim to none. Except then the media and opposition started doing their job and asking questions about costs and consultants. The numbers were staggering.

Not many people cared about the RNZ/TVNZ merger until they heard that tens of millions had already been spent and it would then cost another $350 million. The wasted money on investigating the harbour bridge cycleway and light rail was already over $100m. They may not be able to deliver but they sure can spend money on nothing.

Hipkins was one of the three designers of the Government’s policy agenda. He wasn’t a spectator who just did as Jacinda Ardern wanted as he now wants you to believe. He was an integral part of policy development and design. His backtrack this week on a few initiatives is cynical politics at its best.

He helped design bad policies that they failed to sell to the public. They wasted millions of dollars in consultancy fees and public service time. He believes in these policy initiatives that he cancelled this week and has only postponed them because polling told him they are unpopular. He believes in social unemployment insurance and the RNZ/TVNZ merger. As such, you have to believe that these are on hold and not cancelled. You cannot trust that these policies will not be back on the Government’s agenda if they are back in government post-election.  Paula Bennett



Quotes of the day


I’ve been saying it, new leader same Labour, same outcomes and essentially no real progress and a Government that I think just haven’t got the balance or the approach right. – Christopher Luxon

Douglas’ reforms were labelled “pro-market” due to the following features:

    1. Reserve Bank independence with an inflation target
    2. Floating the Kiwi dollar
    3. Introducing Goods and Services Tax
    4. Cutting the top rate of income tax
    5. Privatization of State Owned Corporations
    6. Elimination of Subsidies to Farmers
    7. Deregulation, including the likes of import licenses

Dismantling the welfare state, or social safety net, that exists mainly to help low & middle earners was not part of it. To the contrary, it was richer types, like farm owners, for whom Douglas ended government support. He argued such subsidies gave them “privileges”.

Since Labour’s success at the polls relies on associated welfare cuts with “the right”, expect Hipkins to stay silent on correcting these mistakes in the NCEA text book. – Professor Robert MacCulloch

While the cost-of-living Crisis has deepened, the Labour Government has been spending up a storm, distracted by ideological pet projects and ploughing taxpayer cash into wasteful policies that do not reflect New Zealanders’ priorities. Yesterday’s announcement confirms Labour’s waste machine will just keep cranking.“Mr Hipkins should have dumped the wrong-headed income insurance policy and the Jobs Tax needed to fund it. He should be repealing Three Waters and stopping hate speech work in its tracks.

Instead, Mr Hipkins is so worried about losing the election, he’s put Labour’s pet political projects on life support so he can resurrect them at an unstated future date.

How else can he explain supporting these projects wholeheartedly as a key member of Jacinda Ardern’s inner circle but then shelving them? – Nicola WIllis

Labour must account for the ongoing cost of the policy advisors, consultants and spin-merchants attached to these failed policies.

New Zealanders are doing it tough. They should not be expected to pay for Labour’s ongoing efforts to keep these policies going quietly in the background until such time as it’s politically convenient to talk about them again.

The bill for Labour’s waste machine was already eye-wateringly high. Many millions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted on the TVNZ-RNZ merger, on designing the Jobs Tax and on trying to convince councils that confiscating their water assets is a good idea.Nicola WIllis

If Mr Hipkins is truly serious about the cost-of-living crisis he must stop this burning of taxpayer cash and put a halt to all work on these policies.

The sad reality is he won’t because, despite a new Leader, nothing has really changed and Labour’s addiction to spending remains.

National would stop the wasteful spending and kill off Labour’s zombie policies once and for all. Our priority is letting Kiwis keep more of what they earn by delivering a programme of income tax reduction.

Meanwhile, Mr Hipkins seems intent on moving Labour’s waste machine into top gear. He simply cannot be trusted to deliver for New Zealanders. – Nicola WIllis

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins is aiming to pull off a change of government within a government. He hopes this will stave off any need for that to happen at this year’s election. To succeed, his policy reset had to do more than just take presently unpopular items off the government’s agenda. It had also to reassure wavering voters that Hipkins is leading a genuinely different government from that which preceded it.

To achieve that, Hipkins had to convince voters his reset was a genuine, substantive policy shift, not just shifting some difficult issues off the immediate agenda, and that they will not resurface after the election, albeit under different guises.

Hipkins’ biggest problem remains convincing a sceptical public that the same Ministers who have promoted the government’s unpopular policies, can now be trusted to not only withdraw them, but also not to restore them, in the event they win the election. After all, these are the same Ministers who championed and staunchly defended the government’s unpopular policies, many of which were their pet projects, until he became Prime Minister. They are also the Ministers who airily dismissed public criticism of what they were doing as simply ill-informed. Peter Dunne

Hipkins has always said his prime focus is on the reducing the cost-of-living burden on New Zealand households. He says the reset was about giving the government the space to do so. For the foreseeable future, though, the canning of the RNZ/TVNZ merger, the indefinite postponement of income insurance, and the sideways shift of hate speech law will have no discernible impact on household budgets, although they do remove some awkward items from the government’s political agenda. – Peter Dunne

By far the most controversial issue facing the government at present is Three Waters. Many were hoping the Prime Minister, having dropped Nanaia Mahuta as Local Government Minister, would have dropped Three Waters altogether. While that was never going to happen, Hipkins’ announcements regarding Three Waters’ future were vague and ambivalent. Yes, it needed changes, he said, but things could not go on as they are, so he has asked the new Minister of Local Government to look at ways Three Waters could be modified, and further announcements could be expected later on. That is hardly likely to satisfy Three Waters’ most vehement critics. Nor will it persuade more moderate doubters that the government really understands, or is even interested in, the strength of local feeling there is in preserving local control of water assets.

Hipkins has said there will be more policy refinements over coming weeks, but that this tranche represents the most significant ones. Given that, yesterday’s announcements are more a tinkering of existing policies than a bold reset. With the exception of the RNZ/TVNZ merger, most seem to set to resurface if Labour is re-elected in October. Hipkins’ assurances that dropping them gives the government the space it needs to address the cost-of-living pressures New Zealand households are facing currently is all very well. But in the absence of specific policies to do so, that claim is just a convenient excuse.

What is now clear is that this reset was really about giving the new Prime Minister an excuse to push some of the government’s more unpopular policies away into the back room until later.

Since 2017 the Labour government has consistently been better at selling its plans than achieving them. Nothing much seems to have changed so far under Hipkins. Like so much of the government’s programme, his policy reset promised far more than it delivered. Peter Dunne

Journalism’s brief period of objectivity was an interregnum between the rough-and-tumble newspaper class wars of the early 20th century and whatever you want to call the pantomime hellscape of today. Now, that period of objectivity is officially dead and buried. It is clear from Downie’s article that the industry has been wholly captured. What used to be thought of as a workman-like job, in which you dug up facts and presented them to your readership, has been taken over by an elite clique of pampered millennials. Members of this clique went to all the same schools and have all the same opinions. Their sworn mission is to make sure their shrinking readership knows how ideologically pure they are. Factual reality – once the king of the newsroom – doesn’t come into the equation. The king is dead. Long live the king. – Jenny Holland

The Prime Minister yesterday put out a number of political fires by deferring or cancelling a series of Ardern Government initiatives.

But while he was doing that, a new blaze was starting in a Select Committee as submitter after submitter came along to attack the Resource Management Act  (RMA) replacement, the Natural and Built Environments Bill (NABE).

Most ominous was the submission from local government, which claimed the legislation would fundamentally change the relationship that local communities have with those that make decisions.

Once again the Government will be reminded that “all politics is local.” – Richard Harman

The bigger picture here for us is that this reform doesn’t match in line and well with the future for local government discussion.

We’re going to end up with another set of boundaries set up for communities to try and understand and get their heads around.

It’s another whole set of relationships that needs to be formed between government agencies and local government and communities.

The reform also fundamentally changes the relationship that local communities have with those that make decisions. “And moves the decision-makers one more step removed from local communities and the accountability that elected members currently have in this space. – Sam Broughton

Parliament’s environment select committee has a critical job.

Just how well or badly it does will help determine the future development of New Zealand. If it gets it right, it will confirm there is room for both development and protection of the environment.

Get it wrong and much-needed developments might be stymied with no appreciable improvement in the state of the country’s natural habitat.Brent Edwards 

Thirty-odd years on and there is general agreement the RMA did not achieve its lofty purpose.

Now it is being split into two pieces of legislation – with the third Bill a consequence of the growing impact of climate change – with the same lofty ideals of making the planning process simpler and easier, while at the same time protecting the environment.

Advocates on all sides – developers, local councils, farmers and environmentalists – agree the RMA has achieved neither of those aims.

More worryingly most do not believe the Government’s two new Bills – currently before Parliament – will achieve those aims either, unless they are substantially rewritten. – Brent Edwards 

As with all new legislation it contains new language – some of it not so precise – and many worry about how the courts will interpret it or, indeed, whether they will be able to define what it means.

They argue that in the end the new law might be even more problematic than the RMA.

That is why the select committee’s task is so vital. If it can navigate its way through the politics of planning law and make the substantive changes many critics say is needed then the Government’s reform of the RMA could achieve much, if not all, of what it set out to do.

In that event by about 2050 housing will be more affordable, our natural environment will be in a better state, children will be swimming in the country’s rivers and lakes and the economy will not be held up by unnecessary roadblocks.

If not, then 30 years from now a future Parliament might have to go through the same process to clarify law that was designed for all the right reasons, but ended up doing almost the opposite of what it was set up to do. – Brent Edwards 

Co-governance is not the way forward in this country, or indeed any country. The line they are now using is the one where we apparently misunderstand what it is.

So that’s the part I am most looking forward to – what part of us handing over a chunk of the running of our water, or an entity, or the country, don’t we understand?Mike Hosking

The Waitangi Tribunal, well in excess of 45-years-old now, put out a report into Northland and suggested, among other things, that all crown land in the region be handed back.

I am assuming that’s quite a bit of land.

And that’s why, for all the ground we have made, we have still gone backwards.

Because in trying to address past wrongs we have opened ourselves up to the inevitable mission creep.

The tribunal is now so activist it’s absurd. The only upside is we never gave them actual power outside of recommendation.

And the likes of the Human Rights Commissioner have drunk so much Kool Aid they’ve ended up blurting out a volume of extremism we can only laugh or sigh at in dismay.

We either move forward or we don’t and Hipkins now has the task of explaining why this level of extremism is; 1) remotely acceptable and, 2) more importantly for him, electorally viable. – Mike Hosking

We believe in small, good, consistent increases to minimum wage. Let’s be clear, with inflation at 7 percent and growth of the minimum wage at 7 percent no one is getting ahead. It is not making them better off. We have a fundamental problem that we are not dealing with the underlying causes of inflation. Christopher Luxon 

The reality is that none of these policies worked. If Labour wanted to look at their work slate, they’ll find more policies they can dump like the clean car standard which taxes tradies to provide discounts for people buying Teslas. – David Seymour

If Hipkins does keep dumping Labour’s policies, what happens next? Well, Labour would be back to where they started in 2017, with big problems, big promises, and no solutions.David Seymour

If you don’t think politics can be brutal, imagine how Hipkins’ good, loyal mate Grant Robertson must have felt about his baby, his key policy legacy, getting kicked so far down the road you could mistake it for a pebble. Robertson will be furious he’s been asked (nay, told) to sacrifice this one. But hey, the subtext here is “You could have had the big job Grant and had the policy to go with it. But you didn’t want it enough, so this is the price of politics”. It’s telling that in this axing and the axing of the biofuel mandate, Hipkins really wanted us to hear how much he really, truly cares about business costs. Because in a few minutes he was about to not care very much about business costs at all.

“We hear from a lot of people these are good ideas… but these are not the times to press ahead with them.”

This is what you say to those who actually liked the ideas you’ve just canned. It’s a plea, “don’t hate us”, a way of saying some of these could come back if you will only re-elect us. –  Tim Watkin

So a few minutes ago he was stressing how he didn’t want to place additional costs on business. Now he’s, um, placing additional costs on business. Politics is a game of give-and-take after all. That includes giving something to your base. Keeping the votes you’ve got is almost as important as winning over new votes, And now that he’s auctioned his sunnies and cap, he’s got to do something to remind people he’s the working class boy from the Hutt, right? That the party of Ardern hasn’t lost all its kindness.

“[On Three Waters] We’ll work through those options carefully and that is likely to take a few more weeks.”

What does that mean in Chipp-ese:?Stalemate. For now. Cabinet still doesn’t have consensus on what to do next with this most snake-like of policies (slippery and likely to bite you). The likely interpretation of that sentence is “the Maori caucus hate this and are kicking up no end”.

“These are the first and most significant set of decisions we’re taking to refocus the government’s agenda.”

In case you missed it, this is the line that highlights that he’s listening. Really listening. As in, ‘it’s an election year and he’s willing to do what it takes’. These are the first, but if the polls don’t shift enough and the people want more, hey, we’re willing to do more.

And if you’re sceptical about that interpretation, he more or less repeated it.

“All ministers will continue to review their work programmes to see if there’s further tightening work that we can do.”

 In other words, if you don’t like this, we can give you more. Less. Whatever you want! There’s still nine months to go until election day and in case you missed it, this government really, really wants you to like it. – Tim Watkin

Wednesday’s changes were not the only policies the Government intends to refocus into oblivion. Hipkins said they were the “most significant”, but other policies are still up for debate.

This places almost all of the Government’s policy agenda in limbo until Hipkins is able to draw a line under the refocusing and move forward. This needs to happen sooner rather than later. It’s not tenable for there to be question marks hovering over everything from light rail, to the fuel tax review, to the Lake Onslow hydro scheme, to the future of local government review.

This is especially true of infrastructure projects, where the sector has long complained of the stop-start uncertainty of New Zealand’s short electoral cycle. Uncertainty hanging over these policies could be both toxic and costly.

At some point, the Government must shift the conversation from what it will not do to what it will do. – Thomas Coughlan

The minimum wage increase, which will reassure Labour voters that this is still a left-wing government, pushes those earning the minimum wage full time perilously close to the 30 per cent tax threshold, meaning if they take on extra work a sliver of their income will be taxed at 30 per cent. 

Bracket creep is slowly flattening the tax system and making a mockery of progressive income tax rates. Labour doesn’t need to cut taxes for high earners, but eventually it will need to address the fact that people on low incomes are paying too much in tax.

The third problem is that voters may not believe that these policies are truly dead.

This is partly true; only the TVNZ-RNZ merger has been completely killed, the others simply have one foot in the proverbial grave.

If Hipkins isn’t careful, the election could turn into a referendum on these half-binned policies. If the Government is convinced they are truly harmful to its electoral prospects, it may be forced to bin them entirely.Thomas Coughlan

There’s a bit in there for everyone, at a superficial level at least. It shows that Hipkins is prepared to be a bit ruthless and have a red-hot crack at getting back into Government come October.

He has framed this as Labour reprioritising towards bread and butter. But is it really? – Luke Malpass

Media stories tend to get above-the-odds coverage by newsrooms, given the self-interest present in the subject. The biofuel mandate is also just dead.

The rest of the policy changes will have the National party licking its lips. That’s because most things haven’t been cancelled – its just been kicked into the long grass. That still makes it potent territory for National to campaign on. The jobs tax? Could be next term. Hate speech? More consultation.

Three Waters? It is clearly going to be, ahem, watered down, in some way, but we won’t know how much for a couple of weeks. How Hipkins handles the co-governance bit of it will be the most interesting aspect to watch. – Luke Malpass

For the Hipkins’ ascendancy to have the desired effect for Labour, he not only needs to be making the right noises, he needs to be following up with changes. Labour needs to not only look different, but to be different. And somehow square that with its core beliefs.

Put another way, the phone might be back on the hook for many swing voters, but they are still unsure if they want to take the call. Talk is cheap, actually changing direction is another thing. –

The announcements on Wednesday are not about tightening the purse strings. Not about resetting the economy agenda and not even about yanking Government in a different direction. They are about taking unpopular policies off ministers’ plates and getting them out of the news.

The effect of this will focus ministers’ minds on what matters, but it won’t fix what in many Labour figures consider has been a communication problem. Yes communications have been poor – far more so in Three Waters than in other areas – but some of these policies are either genuinely contested territory or were bad ideas.Luke Malpass

Professor Robert MacCulloch, Nicola Willis, Peter Dunne, Jenny Holland, Sam Broughton, Brent Edwards, David Seymour, Tim Watkin, Thomas Coughlan, Luke Malpass,

Quotes of the day


There is nothing that says an inquiry means politicians can suddenly take the fifth and avoid responsibility for the duration of the investigation.

There is no right to remain silent for politicians and officials. – Tova O’Brien 

There was Dame Annette King, a political mother to Ardern and Hipkins from their earlier years. Now the High Commissioner in Australia, she stood among the media enjoying the show while Hipkins was speaking – occasionally offering her own running commentary on questions. At one point, he was asked what advice she had given him. “Heaps,” she said, not quite beneath her breath.

Hipkins’ start has meant he has not yet had time to invest in the wardrobe for such events – so she might want to advise him to invest in a tidier pair of shoes.Claire Trevett

So another Waitangi weekend done and dusted.. and what did we learn?

Well, not much. I think part of the disconnect around it these days is the coverage of it. Why does it always have to get so petty?

What we learned was – who spoke with notes and who didn’t, who spoke te reo and who didn’t, who attended what and who didn’t. How is that taking us anywhere or telling us anything or bringing us closer as a nation?

We are not being well served here when we let the sneerers on the sidelines get news headlines out of their pettiness. – Kate Hawkesby

One of the arguments around our National Day is how we engage and involve people more in it and I’m not sure scaring them away from participating by judging everyone on how they participate is the answer. 

I personally could not care less who spoke from notes and who didn’t, I’m not sure off the cuff speeches are necessarily any better than ones with notes. Off the cuff speeches can get rambly and long winded.. and if you’re someone with a message to get across and want to make your points well, then having the foresight to prep and make notes on that seems like the right thing to do. 

So another day of petty point scoring and judging and in that is the lesson as to why Waitangi Day is something many people are choosing to ignore, rather than participate in. – Kate Hawkesby

Chris Hipkins is, at his best, a genial, funny and laid-back leader with strong relationships with the Parliamentary press gallery. He was often touted by the media as a “fixer” for the Ardern government, tasked with handling difficult and sensitive ministerial portfolios. As is so often the case with politics, however, the reality is different. – Liam Hehir

It is unlikely that this track record will really hurt Hipkins. As a new prime minister, voters will give him the benefit of the doubt. The press gallery also seems in no mood to apply the blowtorch to the man they affectionately call “Chippy”.

Hipkins has talked a big game in terms of reorienting Labour away from controversy and towards everyday concerns.

If he can deliver on lower inflation without increased unemployment then Hipkins may well be set for two terms (or more). But if not, then that will be something voters will not forgive.

But if past is prologue, his ministerial career is not encouraging.Liam Hehir

It is now Islamophobic to talk about anti-Semitism. Dare to comment on anti-Jewish racism and you risk being called a racist yourself.- Brendan O’Neill

The women who spoke at the Glasgow rally are not just a wee a bit miffed about this – they are burning with righteous rage. This anger has made them effective and eloquent mouthpieces for an emerging women’s movement – a worldwide campaign against men who treat female bodies as fetish-wear. Representative of every sector of society, Standing for Women supporters are not moaning about ‘manspreading’ or penning articles in Gender Studies journals, they are demanding the rights back that the trans lobby has taken from them. – Jo Bartosch

It was hard to escape the impression that these were well-intentioned young people looking for a worthy counter-cultural cause. Inadvertently, they had somehow found themselves dancing on the side of both the establishment and of convicted sex offenders.Jo Bartosch

It’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that New Zealand is rapidly approaching a crisis point.

There are now two fundamentally different views of our future and there is no way to reconcile them.

On the one hand, we have the view implicit in the Government’s programme: that New Zealand is not a single country with citizens having equal rights irrespective of when they or their ancestors arrived in New Zealand, but rather a country with two classes of citizen. In one class are those who chance to have one or more Maori ancestors, always now with ancestors of other ethnicities, often indeed with those other ethnicities being in the majority. In the other class are all the other New Zealanders. And those with one or more Maori ancestors have, by virtue of that ancestry, inherently superior rights. – Don Brash

That ignorance has been fostered by the partisan advocacy of the Waitangi Tribunal which, contrary to the long-agreed interpretation of what happened when the Treaty was signed in 1840, has recently taken to asserting against all the evidence (of the speeches made by the chiefs who signed the Treaty and again subsequently at the Kohimarama conference in 1860) that the Treaty did not involve Maori ceding sovereignty to the Queen. Don Brash

It is certainly true that turning back will be incredibly difficult. The notion that Maori chiefs did not cede sovereignty in 1840, with all the dangerous implications of that, has become deeply imbedded in the public sector – in our schools and universities, in local government (at least in Local Government New Zealand), in the taxpayer-funded media, and in government departments. In this view, those with Maori ancestors have a fundamentally superior right in the governance of the country. It is a view which is, of course, totally inconsistent with any notion of democracy.

But despite the assertions of what might be called the “anti-democrats” there are still those who believe in a society where every adult citizen has the same political rights. Indeed, I suspect that numerically they are in the substantial majority. 

Apirana Ngata, perhaps the greatest Maori leader we have seen since 1840, asserted in 1940 on the centenary of the signing of the Treaty that “Clause 1 of the Treaty handed over the mana and the sovereignty of New Zealand to Queen Victoria and her descendants forever, that is the outstanding fact today.  – Don Brash

David Lange gave a seminal speech in 2000 in which he said “democratic government can accommodate Maori political aspiration in many ways. It can allocate resources in ways which reflect the particular interests of Maori people. It can delegate authority, and allow the exercise of degrees of Maori autonomy. What it cannot do is acknowledge the existence of a separate sovereignty. As soon as it does that, it isn’t a democracy. We can have a democratic form of government or we can have indigenous sovereignty. They can’t coexist and we can’t have them both.”

In his valedictory speech on leaving Parliament in December 2000, Simon Upton said “I must express grave misgivings about those who would attempt to build a constitutional debate around an assertion that the Treaty involves a partnership. Not only is that not what the Treaty says. The idea perpetuates a fiction that we can solve our differences through negotiations between Maori and an abstract entity called the Crown.”

In a major speech in 2002, Bill English asserted that “the Treaty created one sovereignty and so one common citizenship.”   – Don Brash

It would be nice to imagine we can gloss over the chasm between those who believe the Treaty provided for co-governance and those believe in a democratic society where every citizen has equal rights by translating co-governance as “mahi tahi” (working together). We can’t. It is simply not possible to believe that the Treaty created a partnership between those with some Maori ancestry and the rest of us, and simultaneously believe in democracy. The two are fundamentally inconsistent.

In my view, the meaning of the Treaty is very clear: it involved chiefs ceding sovereignty to the Crown, having their property rights protected, and being guaranteed the same rights and responsibilities as the citizens of England. It was an extraordinarily enlightened document for its time – indeed, for any time. Nothing like it happened in Australia, or North America.

And for the most part, we have all behaved as if this is what the Treaty meant – Maori New Zealanders have served in the Army and in the Police, have gone overseas with passports issued by the government of New Zealand, have accepted social security benefits from the New Zealand state, and have voted in general elections for more than 150 years.

If it could be shown that the Treaty did not provide for equal citizenship, we would have to abandon it: there is no future for New Zealand – none at all – if some citizens are accorded superior rights based on their ancestry.  – Don Brash

Former Covid minister Chris Hipkins’s prolonged public argument with, and humiliation of, pregnant journalist Charlotte Bellis, stranded in Afghanistan, the land of the Taliban, is one of my most ghastly memories of the debacle which was the Covid response. Wendy Geus

Hipkins cornered proves to be a very dangerous animal who reverts to lying, obfuscation and personal attack (note his latest comment to Luxon over Three Waters), as he did also with the two women who went, it turned out, legitimately, to Northland but were labelled by his Government as “prostitutes breaking the law”.

For him ‘sorry’ really was the hardest word, and he didn’t issue an apology until legal action (by Bellis) forced him to. Dozens of other women also wanted to come home to have their babies, but Hipkins and his Labour Government viewed, for example, 66 DJs’ reasons to enter NZ as more legitimate than vulnerable NZ citizens, and there are many other heartbreaking stories of families kept apart during bereavements, sickness and milestones such as weddings and birthdays by this Government’s cruel, twisted policy.

Targetting a vulnerable woman stranded in a war-torn and dangerous country in such a blatantly public way surely was misogynistic of Hipkins. However for Labour and the media the ends justify the means for their victims and there was no mention that this could be misogyny. – Wendy Geus

I bring up the subject of misogyny as the media have been reverting to it a lot in an attempt to protect the reputation of Ardern, who resigned, basically, because she had screwed up big time and knew ‘it was time’ to resign (before she was pushed or lost the next election).

According to media she attracted such criticism and hatred due to her sex. They prefer to ignore the reasons behind it. They are determined to turn her into a martyr and label any criticism of her as misogynistic in order to shut down conversation; they conveniently ignore her egregious behaviour, not least her lack of success in all public service delivery areas and being the first PM to introduce He Puapua – a separatist regime based on race and driving division in our society, and then denying or ignoring its existence. Hipkins is leaving it bubbling away in plain sight and behind the scenes whilst he does a sleight of hand to try to fool us he is dealing with it.Wendy Geus

Then there was former National leader Judith Collins who got regular, cruel, vicious cartoons and nasty comments on her demise: no kindness there based on her female status. She bravely, correctly, called out He Puapua’s racist, separatist intent early in the piece, but was abused and called ‘racist’. (Of course!) This was misogynistic, but condoned by most too scared to speak out. – Wendy Geus

Censorship definitely exists in NZ with a small incestuous cabal of bought and paid for news media deciding what is acceptable, funded by the former PM’s PIJ scheme and dependent on their acceptance of her Government’s radical interpretation of the Treaty.

Totalitarianism. Not misogyny.

I am hopeful that Christopher Luxon attempts again to state his views calmly and clearly in the incendiary environment of the Waitangi celebration. Expect the word ‘racist’ to be freely tossed about by those who have no legitimate argument to counter his words.

He might be a bit ‘vanilla’ (compared to the departed ‘media star’ PM), but his calm, composed, temperament worked well at Ratana and is an advantage in standing up to the bully media. Labour is led by a new leader who is already reverting to personal attacks on Luxon in the absence of a good argument to counteract National’s simple need not race approach to the delivery of public services – an approach which puts all New Zealanders on a similar footing.

Sounds fair to me.Wendy Geus

One of the things that may be revealed out of the weather mess is the fact we are woefully underinsured as a country.

It’s these sorts of things that mark you as first world, or otherwise. – Mike Hosking

It is overdue for us to make some big calls around building and location.

We live next to rivers and hear the tale of despair on the news of the person who hired a rug doctor for the sixth time. Why live there?

If we can’t get the basics right, and clearly we can’t, what hope do we have in making big, bold, futuristic calls on things like build quality, location, planning and insurance.

Maybe we will focus a bit more clearly when the insurance premiums arrive and we are shelling out for our lack of foresight. Mind you, you can only focus on that if you get a bill.

And that, as we have seen and will see, is a major part of the problem. – Mike Hosking

“Is he a racist like you” asked my seven year old moko.

We were watching a CNN news item about President Biden.

Shocked, I asked “Why do you say that?”

“Is the President of America white?” he said. “White people are racist”.

I explained President Biden is white but he is not a racist. Our discussion revealed my grandson has no idea what is a racist. Perhaps he heard Mr. Tuku Morgan of the Iwi Leaders Forum on TV saying “the attack dogs of the National party and Act as they fan the flames of racism and anti-Māori sentiments”.

The Prime Minister had the opportunity to distance himself from Mr. Morgan’s statement. Instead Chris Hipkins said:

“People can form their own judgments about that but I certainly think the opposition, National and Act have, as they’ve done in the past, they’ve used uncertainty to try and stoke fear.

The selection of Mr. Tama Potaka for Hamilton West is evidence of Mr. Luxon’s desire for National to represent all New Zealanders.

David Seymour is proud of his whakapapa. He leads a caucus with three Maori MPs.

Chris Hipkins knows that neither Christopher Luxon nor David Seymour is a racist. – Richard Prebble

Co-government arises from Labour’s decision to put a radical revisionist version of the treaty at the heart of all its decisions. The revisionists claim the treaty is an agreement between Queen Victoria and 500 or so native chiefs to govern in partnership forever.

To meet this revisionist treaty Labour is establishing co-government with unelected, unaccountable, self- selected, hereditary tribal elites. It is the opposite of everything Labour used to stand for – Richard Prebble

Here is the heart of the issue. New Zealand has been since 1853 a Westminster parliamentary democracy. Those who rule us are under the rule of law and accountable to us, the electorate.

Parliamentary democracy is fundamentally at odds with being governed in partnership by hereditary tribal leaders. It does not matter whether the Prime Minister calls it a partnership, co-governance or mahi tahi,(working together); it is incompatible with democracy.

New Zealand is not a democracy when one partner is accountable to the electorate and the other partner is not.

Even if the revisionists are right and some chiefs misunderstood the treaty they were signing, it is not a reason to abandon 170 years of parliamentary democracy.

The treaty granted rights not just to the chiefs but to all Maori. Article three of the treaty grants Maori full citizenship rights. Maori have had voting rights from the first election in 1853. To reinterpret the treaty as a partnership is to reduce everyone’s citizenship rights, including the citizenship rights granted to Maori.

No doubt it was galling to some chiefs to discover that the treaty means every Maori has an equal vote. The treaty is why no New Zealand court has ever upheld slavery. While it did not happen immediately, the treaty freed Maori who were slaves and gave them full citizenship including the right to vote. – Richard Prebble

Good on Chris Hipkins for holding a review of Labour’s policies. A top priority must be to decide whether Labour stands for democracy.

Here is my thought. No wonder my seven year old moko thinks white people are racist when our government judges him on his race.

Why not a New Zealand where what is most important about my moko and I is not our different tribes, which is no business of the government, but us as individuals?

It is a powerful message to send to all seven year olds. One person, one vote, values us all equally. – Richard Prebble


Quotes of the week


Auckland’s floods are not our Chernobyl disaster. But they are a devastating disaster nonetheless. We will have to reckon with billions of dollars of property damage, disrupted lives and, worst of all, the loss of irreplaceable human lives.

And while the bureaucracy did not cause the flood, it does seem that a bureaucratic mindset impeded swift decision making and an effective response to protect the public. Which is no surprise because that is the deadening effect that bureacracy and officialdom has on leadership. – Liam Hehir

Bureaucratic structures, like the ones that failed Auckland so badly, are characterised by hierarchical structures, set rules and procedures the and division of responsibility. People with a rationalist mindset love these structures because they think they deliver efficiency and accountability to government operations. In practice, however, they create a diffusion of responsibility through impersonal forces, leading to people refusing to take accountability.

One of the major issues with bureaucracy is that it can create a culture in which people are more concerned with following rules and procedures rather than taking immediate action to address a problem or situation. After all, you can’t be criticised for following the rules. Because responsibility is shared, with no responsibility for the outcome, a sense of detachment sets in even in the midst of suffering.Liam Hehir

Populists often campaign on promises to shake up the status quo and disrupt entrenched bureaucracy, but once they attain power, they often find the comforts and excuse making of bureaucracy too easy to hide behind. This is particularly true in situations where difficult decisions must be made and accountability is required. – Liam Hehir

How much confidence should the public have in authorities managing natural disasters? Not much, judging by the farcical way in which the civil defence emergence in Auckland has played out.

The way authorities dealt with Auckland’s extreme weather on Friday illustrated how hit-and-miss our civil defence emergency system is. In particular, the communications failures made the crisis much worse than it needed to be. – Bryce Edwards

Although the mayor, as well as the emergency systems and authorities, obviously didn’t create the disaster, they had a responsibility to mitigate its worse effects, which they did not do. Lives have been lost, the public has faced significant disruption, and there have been billions of dollars of damage to property. The failures of authorities mean that these consequences have potentially been much worse than they needed to be.Bryce Edwards

Jacinda Ardern quitting seems like a long time ago now given all the news we’ve had since. But I can tell you my first thought was not – oh dear, misogyny forced her out. The true reason of course was the polls, the research, the divisiveness, the polarisation, the fact Labour was on a hiding to nothing with her at the helm.

Epic failures to deliver on so much, the arrogance that had crept in, the fact she clearly couldn’t stand the reality of not being popular anymore. Those jumping to assert that it was misogyny only discredit all women in leadership positions. We’ve had female leaders in this country for years, they hold their own, they don’t need coddling and defending and protecting.

Ardern just didn’t like the idea of losing. She wasn’t up for the grind of election year on the hustings with people giving her a hard time. And fair enough, that’s on her. I don’t begrudge her wanting to pull the pin on her ‘team of 5 million’ when it didn’t suit her. But even she didn’t want the misogyny defence. Even she argued that wasn’t a factor. She just didn’t want to do it anymore. Fair cop.

Although the whole thing did remind me of an Air B&B guest who trashes the place, in our case the country, then leaves without cleaning up. It was not – as may’ve been inferred – some late summer holiday revelation she had either. We now know it was all planned and arranged back before Christmas.   – Kate Hawkesby

Canny and clever of the Labour party? Or Machiavellian? It doesn’t really matter, the point is she’s gone, and somehow the media got sucked into thinking that a new leader means a whole fresh new Labour. 

How? It’s the same old government with the same old policies with the same spending habits and dysfunction that we’ve seen all along. Nothing’s changed. The guy who wouldn’t listen to dairy owners over ram raids, or fix the Police portfolio when he had it, or improve our woeful education or sort our Covid response in a way that didn’t divide the entire country, is now in charge. Kate Hawkesby

 Well last night’s two polls tell us it may be better optics for voters – who also seem sucked into the fiction that a new leader means a whole new approach to governing.

So a honeymoon bump? Or can Chippy turn it around for the party? I mean he doesn’t grate the average Kiwi the same way Jacinda Ardern did, but he’s still Labour, and they’re still useless.

So, my biggest surprise over the holidays was not Ardern quitting or Hipkins coming in, but the sycophantic response to it where he’s been painted as some kind of Messiah, and her as a dearly departed Saint. – Kate Hawkesby

The good news is there is no need to worry about Co-Governance anymore! Co-Governance is a thing of the past now!

The bad news is, we are now entering the stage of governance according to the Maori world view, and that is governance according to Te Ao Maori.

Te Ao Maori means respect and acknowledgement of Maori customs and protocols, it means embracing the Maori story and identity and recognising what that means, not just for Maori, but for all New Zealanders. – John Porter

New Zealand’s education is already in a perilous state. Why are we installing the vision of a minority at the centre of New Zealand’s secondary education system? This, without formal approval from the public, can only be described as a radical step with far-reaching and long-term consequences. – John Porter

If you want to influence and change thoughts or actions, where do you start? In education of course. In particular, the most impressionable: the younger generation.

Using education to influence and change thoughts or actions can be described as employing soft power.

Power is the ability to affect others to get the outcomes one prefers or desires. That can be accomplished by coercion and payment or attraction and persuasion.

Soft power employs persuasion and attraction to obtain the preferred outcomes. John Porter

Very quietly and with no public debate (I can’t find any record of public debate), we see rollout starts in 2023.

To me, this simply continues Labour’s sponsorship of the Maori caucus and activists’ coup-by-stealth strategy.

Say nothing or very little and, lo and behold, we have governance according to Te Ao Maori! – John Porter

And so — pouff! — five and a half years after that interview, Ardern reached the end of the political road as Prime Minister of New Zealand (or “Aotearoa New Zealand” as she prefers to call the country).

Her sudden political irrelevancy was confirmed by polling taken after her resignation. It’s what anyone quitting a job, or a relationship, secretly fears most — that their colleagues or lover will be much, much happier without them.

That appears to be the case for Ardern. Two polls on Monday evening had Labour rocketing up the charts.Graham Adams

Yesterday’s darling, Jacinda Ardern, plummeted to just five per cent — a figure presumably composed of loyal voters who either hadn’t heard she had resigned as prime minister or didn’t want to believe the terrible news, in much the same way the bereaved sometimes can’t believe their loved one is no longer going to walk in the door again.

Despite the brutal confirmation that she had become a liability to her party, and that voters prefer a Labour government without her at the helm, few doubt that Ardern will fall on her feet.

In fact, Ardern’s resignation and political death has undoubtedly been sensible in terms of her future — bringing to mind US writer Gore Vidal’s quip about the death of his literary rival Truman Capote as “a wise career move”.  – Graham Adams

Ardern prudently jumped ship before what promises to be a messy and possibly incendiary election campaign year kicks off in earnest.

And one that would have likely been humiliating for her as well given the intense animosity towards her had already prevented her from campaigning publicly in the Hamilton West by-election in December, which saw the Labour candidate win only 30 per cent of the vote.

By leaping for the lifeboats before the election wrangling gets properly under way, she has at least protected her battered reputation from further damage. – Graham Adams

Curiously, commentators — both here and overseas — have told us that Ardern left “on her own terms”. This is a new and interesting use of the phrase given the polls for both Labour and her personally had previously been in freefall.

In fact, for a Prime Minister faced with a bruising and bitter election campaign when the peculiar diet of empathy and kindness she had recommended as a panacea for the nation’s ills had mostly made things worse, her choice of whether to continue in high office must have seemed to her to have been devised by Hobson himself.

Very few commentators have been unkind enough to point out that Ardern had become Prime Minister in name only — as the entrenchment debacle last November showed.

Has there been a more pitiful sight than a Prime Minister abasing herself by claiming a late-night deal stitched up between her own Minister of Local Government and a senior Green MP to entrench an anti-privatisation clause in Three Waters legislation was a ”team” mistake?

It was painfully obvious that Ardern had to prostrate herself before Queen Nanaia, who remained entirely unrepentant about the humiliation she had visited on her boss (and her new boss, Chris Hipkins, as well, who was obliged to go along with the charade).

Everyone could see who held the whip hand — and it certainly wasn’t Ardern. – Graham Adams

The good news for Ardern is that much of the wider world doesn’t view her as the liability she had become for the Labour Party in New Zealand.

There has long been talk that, as Prime Minister, she was always conducting herself with one eye on the possibility of a plum job at the UN to take up post-politics, but she undoubtedly has other lucrative options as well.Graham Adams

Ardern’s “values” will make her a shoo-in for addressing any “progressive” organisation keen, like her, on crimping free speech, and for those in favour of a “tweaked” democracy where the principle of “one person, one vote of equal value” is seen as “overly simplistic” — as she told Jack Tame on TVNZ’s Q&A last July.

And she will be prized by any organisation, of course, that wants to hear paeans to kindness and empathy, or jeremiads about misinformation and disinformation.

New Zealand has clearly had enough of all that, but the world will soon be Ardern’s glistening oyster. – Graham Adams

Somehow or other we need to rub together and live lives which are productive, where we co-operate with each other, where we compete with each other but we don’t do terrible things to each other. Judge John Brandts-Giesen

There is no point in you playing the colonisation card and saying that it’s all being caused by other people.

Ultimately you make your own luck. – Judge John Brandts-Giesen

Economists write about the “wealth effect”, how rising house prices make us feel wealthy. The average Auckland household has been amazed to discover they are millionaires. Of course, it is only on paper unless they sell their house.

But the wealth effect is real. People feel wealthier; they are more willing to invest and spend.

The poverty effect is just as real. Many Aucklanders have lost 20 per cent of their wealth in the last year. Despite Mayor Brown’s cost-cutting, the Auckland Council faces huge costs. The weekend’s rain event confirms that the city’s infrastructure deficit is enormous.Richard Prebble 

One of the advantages of our housing market is the willingness of Kiwis to move home. It makes for a flexible labour market. Downsizing in retirement means our housing stock is better utilised. A slowing housing market slows the whole economy.

For those forced to sell in a declining market, such as a divorce settlement, the house sale could be a life-changing loss in wealth.

As house prices have fallen all over the country, the poverty effect is countrywide.

There is nothing Hipkins can do about the poverty effect. Every month as the price of houses fall, home owners will feel poorer. Those with mortgages will have a double whammy, higher mortgage costs and a house that has lost value.

No matter how skilfully managed, it is events that overwhelm governments. – Richard Prebble 

The Cabinet reshuffle yesterday was all the confirmation we needed, as I said yesterday, that this is the same old government doing the same old stuff. 

Which is to be expected because they were never going to be able to just bring in fresh new experienced faces to shake everything up, because they don’t have any.Kate Hawkesby

But here’s the biggest scandal in the whole thing, the most absurd, bizarre and inexplicable thing out of yesterday – well actually there’s two. But let’s start with the first one, the main one.

Michael Wood being made Minister for Auckland.

On what planet did Chris Hipkins look at the what Michael Wood’s been doing and go.. you know what? Awesome for Auckland. Let’s give him that.

I mean, come on, this is the guy that Aucklanders hate. And I mean loathe. And it smacks of a Wellington-based politician not to know that and be so disconnected from the real Auckland that he went so far as to put this guy in charge of it.

This is the guy whose genius idea was to build a cycle way across the Harbour bridge, which could not have attracted more protest and fall out before it got so unceremoniously canned. He’s also the guy who wants to lower the speed limits on all our roads. Thus grinding to a halt any productivity left in Auckland at all.

He’s also the guy wanting to dig up Auckland for light rail. As Transport Minister he’s done absolutely nothing about the woeful state of the roads, the potholes, the public transport, all of it’s a shambles.

Not only that – to make matters even worse, he’s also Immigration Minister. The very guy who has kept workers that very sector has been crying out for out of this country. Same guy.

The greatest irony of all was Hipkins comment on it which bordered on farce when he said, “When Auckland succeeds the country succeeds.” And yet, inexplicably, he thinks the guy who can help make that happen is the biggest impediment to success and productivity that Auckland’s ever seen. It beggars belief, doesn’t it?  – Kate Hawkesby

What is Hipkins seeing in these guys that we are not? Or is it, as I said at the start, that the Labour party just doesn’t have any talent and that’s now been laid bare for us all to see.Kate Hawkesby

In a cost of living crisis, does none of this not concern us?

Are there not better uses for the money? Is it not a lesson in working out what you want to do, how you want to do it and how determined you are to actually deliver, before you open the wallet filled with money you don’t actually have anyway?

I just don’t see how a bloke, and they are all blokes, can take a job that doesn’t exist, in an entity that may never exist, accepting tax payers dollars – to twiddle your thumbs in a transition group going potentially nowhere. – Mike Hosking

Events has also taught us another lesson, a potentially dangerous one for a consumer society that requires for its functioning the constant renewal of desire: namely that a great deal of what we covet, desire or think necessary for our happiness is of very marginal or no importance at all to our well-being. But this, too, is a lesson that is likely to be soon forgotten: for if we had truly understood it, we should not have needed to be taught it in the first place. Normal shallowness will be resumed as soon as possible, as power is restored after a brief interruption.Theodore Dalrymple

The emotion caused by an intimation of mortality is difficult to disentangle completely from sorrow in itself at the death of someone whom one has known and esteemed. So long as they lived, I could deceive myself, at least partially, into believing that nothing fundamentally had changed since retirement: that life would go on for ever and that age could not wither us. It can, it does, and it must. – Theodore Dalrymple

The mental picture when that legislation was passed was of someone who would not cause any upset in a women-only changing room, toilet, ward or prison, because everyone would just accept he was a woman. Events of the last few days should have made it vivid to everybody that that is not the cohort we are dealing with now. The trans umbrella is now taken to include people . . . who cross-dress for erotic purposes. Naomi Cunningham

The proof in the pudding that if you hand out free stuff people become addicted, is to be found in the already alarming concerns being expressed as to how life will continue at the end of this month, and then again, at the end of March when the fuel subsidies come off.

The warning is already out from the transport people over the price of everything that’s transported, which is, well, basically everything.

Costs will have to be passed on – it’s the phrase of the age.

It was always going to be that way even though petrol is cheaper now than it has been – oil is at $85 or so a barrel.- Mike Hosking

We do of course still have a cost of living crisis, which the subsidy was supposed to offset.

But as the figures have shown at 7.2 percent, it is clear we don’t have the slightest idea how to reduce inflation and giving out subsidised stuff so that costs can be passed on only leads to more and more inflation. Which leads to us asking for pay rises, which leads to more inflation and so it goes.

The only way out of inflation is to bite the bullet and soak up some pain.

But Governments aren’t into that, especially in election year, and we aren’t into it any year. Especially if we can simply cry that we are poor and we’ll pass the cost on anyway.

False economics aren’t hard to understand, but they are dangerous to dabble in and almost impossible to get out of.Mike Hosking

You can’t understand the economy unless you understand human nature and human circumstance.

The conversations that resonate with me are when I meet with families, and I talk to them about the sacrifices they’re having to make in order to make their mortgage payments; when I talk to small businesses and I understand what their priorities are and what’s driving them nuts and what would actually help them turn the dial.

And you have those conversations when you’re on the ground and when you’re talking to people.

And so I think the hours I spend talking to mums and dads on the doorstep, talking to educators, talking to small business owners will be crucially important and making sure I’m in touch with the real economy. – Nicola Willis

We believe that we are not getting enough value out of the spending that’s currently occurring.

And we put that down to a lack of discipline and the way that that public service has been both instructed and held to account for performance.

We want to have a return to targets, clear, measurable, specific targets that both give clarity of where performance is, but also being encouraging collaboration and encouraging a focus on single issues.

We think this Government’s had a tendency to throw the kitchen sink at public agencies, and they are left wondering which bit to pick up and which bit to relax, and the result is that not enough gets done.

So we want to bring back targets in focus and more discipline and getting execution out of money. – Nicola Willis

There is no question that New Zealand, in order to be able to afford the living standards New Zealanders rightly expect, like the continued progress in improvement in frontline education and health services, then we will need to grow our capacity to pay for those things.

I think the best way to do that is by growing the productive capacity of the economy, and that’s where we have stood historically as a party; that if you want better services, you want to be able to afford the things that we all want, you grow your economy.

You have to back the productive sectors and businesses. – Nicola Willis

We think there are some things that are easily forgotten and that I fear the current administration is forgetting that are critical to growth and investment.

And they are business confidence, business certainty and a stable fiscal and regulatory environment, and by that, I mean some of the orthodoxies matter.

We think the Reserve Bank mandate measures should be focused on price stability.

We think having the willingness to review their performance with the amount of stimulus they did is really important.

We think that having a really laser focus on what is the cost of the regulatory burdens being imposed on our productive sector.  “We think it’s important that you have capital flows working so that people can access funding.

We think it’s important that people can access labour; I think there’s been a tendency to think that the current immigration challenges are short term, are momentary, but I tend to think that we’re going to see a medium term demographic pressure where the rest of the world will be competing for skilled workers.

And we in New Zealand are going to have to make sure we’ve got our citizens and our offering right if we’re to have the people needed to fuel productive growth.

And I do think this question of being disciplined about the way the Crown does its part of the economy, how it delivers outcomes is also important.Nicola Willis

I think New Zealand does get debt, and we are seeing now that a huge part of what’s driving our increase in costs are interest costs.

We are a small country; we are exposed.

We need to be prudent about debt but equally, and this is important; we do see the case for investment in productive infrastructure and infrastructure that supports good growth.

And we do need to make those long-term investments and consider New Zealand’s overall wealth position and not just not just the operating position.

And so those are the things that we’re weighing up.

But will we remain careful? Well, we remain fiscally orthodox. Yes, this is the National Party. – Nicola Willis

The extension is an extremely dumb economic policy; it gives three times as much support to those on the highest incomes who don’t need that much support, compared to those on the lowest incomes who need the support the most. Brad Olsen

New Zealand is the second least corrupt country on earth according to the latest Corruption Perception Index published yesterday by Transparency International. But how much does this reflect reality?

The problem with being continually feted for world-leading political integrity – which the Beehive and government departments love to boast about – is that it causes complacency about the existence of real corruption and shortcomings in our democracy.

For example, one of the biggest failings in New Zealand’s political system is our entirely unregulated system of corporate-political lobbying. Unlike similar countries, we have virtually no laws and regulations to keep the political power of vested interests and the wealthy in check. This means that the lobbying industry is booming, and corporate lobbyists are able to move back and forwards between senior government positions and private businesses with almost nothing to prevent conflicts of interest. – Bryce Edwards

Lobbyists running the Beehive have become quite a recurring theme since Labour came to power. When Jacinda Ardern became prime minister in 2017 she immediately got rid of her existing Chief of Staff, Neale Jones, who straight away became a lobbyist. She then employed another well-known lobbyist, GJ Thompson, who helped set the Government up, employed the staff, and then shifted straight back to the private sector to help corporates lobby the Beehive.

Yesterday we learned PM Chris Hipkins has hired another lobbyist to run the Beehive – Andrew Kirton. The new Labour prime minister has therefore followed Ardern’s democratically dangerous precedent of bringing in someone from the world of corporate power and influence, who is likely to eventually go back to lobbying afterwards. – Bryce Edwards

The conflicts of interest involved in having corporate lobbyists come in and run governments are immense. In other countries, it would be illegal. Here in New Zealand, unusually, there are no rules preventing lobbyists from coming in and out of top political rules.

While lots of media analysis is given to the ministers running the country, especially when there are reshuffles, there is a lack of acknowledgement that it is the unelected officials in the Beehive who often have much more power and influence over what happens.

Therefore, it is disappointing that Kirton’s appointment is not receiving much publicity or scrutiny. So far, the news items about his appointment don’t even mention that he is a lobbyist, and instead there is a vague mention of him being a “PR man”. – Bryce Edwards

It’s time to have some clear rules about ministerial jobs and the lobbying industry. Currently, there is nothing in the Cabinet Manual to prevent the likes of Kris Faafoi or the various lobbyists from moving in and out of the Beehive. And of course, once Kirton finishes his job as Chief of Staff, perhaps in October, he will be free to go straight back into the corporate world lobbying government again.

At the very least, when lobbyists come into positions of political power they should have to manage their conflicts of interest with full transparency. If lobbyists are to be allowed to take on jobs running the Beehive, a condition of employment should be the full public disclosure of the clients of their lobbying firm. But don’t expect to find out who Kirton’s Anacta worked for anytime soon. This isn’t the culture in the Beehive.

When she was prime minister Jacinda Ardern was frequently lampooned for the promise that her government would be the most transparent government ever. We are yet to see how transparent Chris Hipkins will be, and how much he is willing to allow decision-making to be tied up with vested interests. But he is off to a very poor start by giving his top position to a corporate lobbyist.Bryce Edwards

This Government, and the ministries that operate under it, have become far too comfortable with telling people to remain at home, and put their lives on hold.

Telling us to keep our kids out of school for a week is not a solution to a political problem.

It shows a frightening lack of critical thinking – an attribute that every senior leader should possess. – Rachel Smalley

You don’t stop kids in Otara from going to school because you want to clean up the streets in Herne Bay. Thankfully, the order to close has been lifted.

However, it also revealed just how reliant some of us have become on bureaucrats to tell us if our world is safe or not.

Know this. If you are a parent and you’re relying on a civil servant in an office in Wellington to tell you whether it’s safe for your child to go to school in Auckland, then you are doing it all wrong.

You, as a parent or caregiver, are your child’s first and last line of defence.  You decide. You do a risk assessment of your family’s circumstances, and you make the call. You know your child, you know your school, you know your suburb. It’s what we do as parents – we respond and react to the world and environment around us, to help our children learn and grow and negotiate life.

And at the same time, every day we place our trust in our child’s school. We trust them to make the right decisions. To protect them. To respond to a wide set of ever-changing circumstances and to ensure they are safe.  That’s why the Ministry should have passed the decision over to Principals to decide if their school could open or not.Rachel Smalley

Parent. Look around you. You know what to avoid and what to do to keep your child safe. And it may be, in your area, that the safest option is to keep your child at home. Or your school may choose to stay closed. But that’s because you, as a grown-up, have made informed decisions about your child and the situation you’re operating in. You’re not waiting for a government ministry or the local council to tell you how to think.

What else irks me about this? Decisions like a blanket closure teach our children to avoid adversity, and to shy away from any situation that, God forbid it might help them build resilience. We’re teaching them that if it’s a bit challenging outside, stay at home. If you come across a few roadblocks on the pathway of life, step back from them and wait for someone to clear them away for you. Don’t try and find a solution.

And we are also teaching children that they are not in control of their own destiny….that there is no such thing as self-determination, and if in doubt they should always look for an institution or an organisation that will tell them what to do.

Instead, we should be teaching our children that every problem provides an opportunity for a solution. Yes, it’s wet outside. Yes, there are slips and challenges. And yes, it might be a bit scary. But this is how we’re going to mitigate those risks and concerns. It’s called life. And sometimes, it ain’t easy.

Let’s stop living in a nanny state. This is New Zealand, for goodness sake. So if you think it’s safe and you have the means to do so, put some gumboots on your kids, and get them off to school. – Rachel Smalley

That New Zealand has not been out of the top two places for a decade is testament to our commitment to being a transparent and honest democracy.

However, I note that over the years, New Zealand’s score has declined from 91 to 87. It is also concerning that Transparency International has pointed to a ‘gradual decline’ in three of the eight indexes that contribute to our global ranking.Peter Boshier

We live in a world where opinion can pass as fact and misinformation can be easily spread. Now, more than ever, we need a public service, judiciary and government beyond reproach, – Peter Boshier

You can’t provide a clean car subsidy AND subsidise petrol at the same time.  That’s like David Lange banning nuclear warships, and at the same time he’s enriching uranium in Eketahuna.

Honestly, can anyone in our revenue and tax entities in Wellington think critically? Was there another solution? Can’t we support our most vulnerable kiwis in another way?

If you lower fuel prices, it will increase consumption and isn’t it extraordinary, that the same party who told us five years ago that climate change was our nuclear-free moment will now consider it a vote-winner to subsidise a fossil fuel.

If you believe in climate change, then live your truth people. You can’t yell at society to act on climate change, and then drink from a subsidised fuel pump.

There are better ways to provide targeted relief to kiwis – it just requires the Government to implement policy, instead of chasing populism. Rachel Smalley

Social discourse is the tool of social interaction that acts as a carrier of meanings, ideas and values in society.

Wrapped up in that are manners and etiquette.

Etiquette is the set of norms of personal behaviour in polite society, usually occurring in the form of an ethical code of the expected and accepted social behaviours that accord with the conventions and norms observed and practised by a society.

Manners are a way of behaving towards other people. – Steve Wyn-Harris 

I know I’m not alone in thinking that what seems like an old fashioned idea – that good manners are important – is still as relevant today as always.

I’m not religious but the Bible’s Golden Rule, “so in everything, do unto others what you would have them do to you …” (Matthew 7:12) is a sound principle. So sound that all other religions have similar rules of conduct.

I’ve been increasingly uncomfortable about the change in social discourse in recent years. Not just in this country but all around the world.

Social media is not the primary cause but it certainly allows keyboard warriors to express their outrage and nastiness, often behind anonymity.Steve Wyn-Harris 

When you hear that your prime minister – whoever that may be – has protection because of the number of death threats but, worse, so do her partner and four-year-old child, also because of threats, a rational and sane person has to believe that this is not the country we want it to be.

The threats need to be taken seriously because the mosque shootings show there are individuals even within this society who go beyond being keyboard warriors.

It’s not just the likes of politicians and journalists who have hate and unpleasantness directed at them in these times. – Steve Wyn-Harris 

None of us is ever going to agree with everyone else’s ideas or policies, and there are some people we may not particularly like.

But don’t we all want to live in a civil society that functions peacefully and where manners are important and other people aren’t threatening our own family members or directing public hatred in our direction?

Well, I do, and it may be a naïve position to take but we as a society should learn from this recent experience and as individuals do everything to discourage this behaviour.Steve Wyn-Harris 

But history will record the Ardern government as our most incompetent with a legacy of disastrous decisions. Not only was Hipkins a key player in those hugely damaging blunders but he lacks any leadership imagery and instead oozes an uninspiring scout-masterly zeal. – Sir Bob Jones

White privilege is a myth. There are white people who are dirt poor and white people who are filthy rich. The racism of the Oscars is a myth, too. Witness the recent stunning successes for Latino directorsKorean directors, black-themed movies. As for Riseborough’s ‘privilege’ – this brilliant, chameleon-like actress has now been brutally reduced to her skin colour alone and there is virtually nothing she can do to push back against that. If she protests, she’ll be accused of ‘white fragility’, of shedding ‘white tears’, of using her power as a ‘white woman’ to harm others. She has been racialised and silenced. Some privilege that is. It’s clear as anything now: the new elites use the shaming accusation of ‘privilege’ to protect and extend the true privilege they themselves enjoy.Brendan O’Neill

The great irony of the current political landscape is that without a viable centre party, Labour and National’s race towards the centre risks being undone by the parties to their extreme. – Thomas Coughlan

This week I see with horror a headline online ‘Three Waters appoints three CEOs’ and my worse fears were realized… Business as usual.

So, this was the kind of bread and butter stuff affecting struggling New Zealanders that Hipkins our new PM was referring to addressing? Fine words Chris, but behind the scenes nothing has changed.

Same circus different ring master – Wendy Geus

Through her great wit, expressed through her characters, Jane Austen offends everyone in her novels. She is the mistress of offence. That’s why we love her work. Students love her too.

But some academics still seem to think their students are snowflakes and need coddling. How often do we have to remind them, and university management, that students are adults? They must stop infantilising them.Professor Dennis Hayes

There are deep problems with “kindness” as a political philosophy. If kindness is the answer to all problems, then the problems must be caused by unkindness. And people who disagree with you must be unkind people. Obviously you don’t have to listen when unkind people try to tell you anything. And you certainly don’t have to offer them the same concern or compassion as other people. Their unkindness is their own fault. You don’t have to do anything for it, or for them. And so “kindness” ends up being without empathy, the opposite of inclusion. Adern’s inability to deal with people who disagreed with or were disadvantaged by her government’s policies was striking. She seldom even attempted to speak to them and seemed incapable of winning over anyone who opposed her. In the end, her promise was empty. When policy problems could not be solved by having good intentions or meaning well, she had little more to offer. About a month before Christmas she announced that from now on she was going to concentrate on the economy, which begs the question: what had she been doing before then? Once she felt the need to grapple directly with the issues that most other responsible politicians concentrate on and struggle to solve, it seems that her motivation ebbed away. A fairy tale is over. Let’s hope there is going to be a happy ending. – Ian Thorpe

Journalism hinges on words. Used properly, they are precision tools. But a generation of journalists has emerged which doesn’t hesitate to use ideologically loaded terms of denigration to discredit people they don’t approve of.

Some of this can be put down to sheer ignorance – the inevitable result of an education system that produces journalists with only a rudimentary grasp of the English language and which does little to encourage respect for the accurate use of words.

To read any newspaper, even some of the more reputable ones, is to gasp at the amateurish writing and the frequency of solecisms that would in the past have been intercepted and corrected by sub-editors. Karl du Fresne 

Ignorance, however, only goes so far as an explanation for the misuse of words.  A lot of it is attributable to prejudice and malice, most of it ideologically based. Hence the frequency with which we see the use of conveniently vague but disparaging terms such as far-right, alt-right, racist, fascist and misogynist – labels used to discredit any political position that doesn’t align with those of the political, bureaucratic, academic and media elites. (It’s another striking paradox that while we supposedly have a proliferation of malignant groups on the right, it’s almost unheard of for the media to describe any person, group or political party as “far left” – still less to suggest that anyone qualifying for that description could have less than wholly noble motives.)

The absurd and dangerous term “hate speech” should be seen in the same light. In the woke glossary adopted by the mainstream media, “hate speech” means any expression of opinion that upsets someone. But the term is used very selectively, because those pushing for the adoption of so-called hate speech laws are not remotely interested in protecting the feelings or opinions of people they dislike. On the contrary, they freely indulge in vile and repugnant invective against them. Hate speech laws are intended by their backers to run one way only: to shield people and ideas they approve of.  – Karl du Fresne 

Perhaps more to the point, the loaded phrase “hate speech” has been promoted with no regard for the real meaning of that word “hate”, which describes an emotion so extreme and intense that historically it has led to genocide and other atrocities. By applying the term to the expression of opinions that do no more than offend sensitive minority groups, the language activists have grossly misappropriated its meaning. But it serves the valuable purpose, for them, of providing a pretext for the outlawing of ideas they don’t like.

All this has implications for public trust in journalism. When readers can no longer rely on words being used with accuracy and respect for their established meaning, and when derogatory labels are used as lazy substitutes for accuracy and considered analysis, with not even a fig leaf of substantiation, journalism loses its moral authority. It risks being reduced to the level of propaganda, vilification and simplistic sloganeering.Karl du Fresne 

 It’s grimly ironic that the same techniques are now used in the Western media by people who smugly think of themselves as liberal. The “othering” of dissenters is an inevitable (and make no mistake, intended) consequence.

I wonder, do those impostor journalists who so freely use damning terms such as “misogynist” stop to think what the words actually mean? – Karl du Fresne 

That such accusations are self-evidently preposterous doesn’t stop those who make them. And the frightening thing is that this virulent bigotry appears to have permeated the highest levels of the news media, where editorial gatekeepers decide what stories to cover and which opinions New Zealanders should be exposed to.Karl du Fresne 

Inflation is high and the government says we’re in a cost-of-living crisis, with groceries and building materials front and centre. But those Korean companies’ roofing steel, along with galvanised wire from Malaysia and China, are hit with anti-dumping duties. So you’re protected from affordable building products. Doesn’t it warm your heart? Tariffs are love.  – Dr Eric Crampton

It is reasonable to wonder whether any conceivable harm to a few on hearing the occasional upsetting term outweighs the harm to everyone in suppressing speech. Or whether overcoming the relatively minor discomforts of an unintentional, insensitive or inept comment might help students develop the resilience necessary to surmount life’s considerably greater challenges — challenges that will are not likely to be mediated by college administrators after they graduate.

Rather than muzzle students, we should allow them to hear and be heard. Opportunities to engage and respond. It’s worth remembering how children once responded to schoolyard epithets: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me.” Narrow restrictions on putatively harmful speech leave young people distracted from and ill-prepared for the actual violence they’ll encounter in the real world.Pamela Paul 

Most important of all, though, is that the bill has made clear that deadly violence of this sort and words are all on the same spectrum. Making a joke about someone’s God, saying that there are only two sexes – there’s little, of course, to distinguish such things from terrorist atrocities.

This is crucial, since our society has previously been acting on the assumption that speech and violence are significantly different, and that it’s precisely our ability to discuss things that allows us to avoid ghastly violence.

What fools we were! – Dr James Kierstead

When violent crime has increased by nearly a third, ram raids are continuing largely unchecked, and when Kiwis continue to face unacceptably long delays in the courts, any sensible Justice Minister would focus on effective responses to those challenges.

Hate speech legislation by contrast is not needed, and it will unnecessarily narrow free speech and expression in our country.Paul Goldsmith

A fallacy that may have relevance this week is argumentum ad novitatem (‘appeal to novelty’). This fallacy is committed when a claim is made that a new thing is better than an old one, simply because it’s new.

Like other fallacies, the appeal to novelty has intuitive appeal. People like shiny new things and are biased towards thinking they’re better than old ones.

Two political polls were released last Monday evening. They were the first out since Chris Hipkins’ elevation to the Premiership. In both, the Labour government enjoyed increases in support of about five percentage points.

On Kiwiblog, pollster David Farrar listed the change in support for both major parties in the first poll following each leadership change since 1974. Following 17 of the 20 changes, the relevant party’s support rose. Yet only three of those new leaders went on to win the following election. –

Whether or not appeal-to-novelty has anything to do with this week’s poll results, Farrar’s data suggest that it often influences voters’ views of new leaders.

Democratic elections work most effectively if people cast their votes rationally. But the pattern of new leaders enjoying an initial rise in support only to go on to lose, is just one of many phenomena that challenge that assumption.

Even so, free elections entail the freedom to vote irrationally. And despite our all-too-human flaws, democracy has yielded the most prosperous societies in history. – Dr Michael Johnston

As a libertarian when a government cuts taxes I am pleased, even ones that are purportedly a user fee, because in fact so much of what is collected from those user fees is not directed to services consumed by the users – in this case fuel tax and road user charges.  It would, after all, be much better if the amount collected was what is needed to pay to maintain and upgrade the roads, rather than be directed to pet projects designed to “change behaviour” (subsidise transport modes you aren’t willing to pay to use),.

However, it reeks of hypocrisy, as the Ardern/Hipkins Government proceeds to undermine a land transport funding system that once was seen as a shining example in a world where political pork barrelling is so often the order of the day (see Australia and the United States).  It’s much more than that though. – Liberty Scott

So you have a Labour Government that says tax cuts (proposed by National and ACT) will threaten health and education…. but then implements tax cuts, completely blanking out the fact that this either means less money for other spending or it means more borrowing – for tax cuts.  How “sustainable” is that?

It says tax cuts will benefit the rich the most, and then implements tax cuts that do just that.

It says cutting fuel tax will jeopardise spending on transport, and then implements tax cuts on fuel.

Finally, it claims climate change is the great crisis that especially needs New Zealand, the country that emits 0.09% of global CO2 emissions  must radically change how it lives, by constraining private motoring, but then subsidises road use like no government in recent history.

Votes are much more precious that policy objectives though, as is leaving a fiscal bomb for the other side if the election is lost, although if it were up to me, the next government could think long and hard about whether it subsidises public transport and rail from general taxes anyway (assuming it wants to do that), and leaving fuel tax and RUC for roads only.Liberty Scott

In my experience, everyone supports the right to freedom of speech, as long as it’s their own speech or the speech of people they agree with. But most speech falls outside that category. Most people would ask: why support the right of people to say things you hate, or fear or that you regard as dangerous?

That’s an intuitively reasonable question. I like some of what some people say, am indifferent to a lot of what is said and think we’d all be better off if some of what is said was never said. – Ira Glasser

Why defend the right of people to express views when such people, if they gained the power to do so, would eliminate my views, and maybe eliminate me?

For me, the answer is strategic. I can never be certain who will have political power. I can never be certain that the only people who get elected will agree with me. I know – because it has happened many times – that people will gain political power who will, if they can, act to punish me or people I agree with, because of our views. So what I need is an insurance policy. I want insurance against the probability that people in power will suppress or punish me for my views.Ira Glasser

Sustainable energy, infrastructure, climate change mitigation and the continuation of modern life as we know it relies on mining,” Vidal says. “This is why the world is demanding more mining, not less, and certainly not bans on new mining or anti-mining rhetoric to politically play to a few.

“It would be concerning if by taking an anti-mining stance in this Bill, ideology isolated New Zealand from the rest of the world in the quest to resource a better future with minerals, responsibly mined in an employment environment that values worker health and safety, working conditions, and remuneration.

“The way we mine in New Zealand, within strict employment laws and stringent environmental rules and regulations is a benefit. It is not the case the world over. When people start looking at the provenance of their mined minerals, we are a country that stands out on the side of good. – Josie Vidal 

It’s been over a week, and it’s remarkable that Jacinda Ardern has simply disappeared from the politics of a country she exercised almost unprecedented levels of power over, for the previous few years. The (leftwing statist post-modernist identitarian) world has cried out “why”, and far too many have come to the conclusion that it’s no doubt sexism (in the country that gave her the greatest electoral mandate of any Prime Minister since 1951, and had previously had two female Prime Ministers).

However, Ardern’s resignation appears on the face of it to reflect two things:

  • Fatigue from someone who isn’t intellectually or emotionally able to handle the time and the stress of the position
  • Fear of an election campaign during which scrutiny will be its highest and the chance of defeat the strongest yet. – Liberty Scott

Of course in this neo-identitarian political age (a variation on classic chauvinistic identitarianism), Ardern’s age and sex were notable as an “achievement”, enhanced by her clearly being someone who never seemed to covet the role (which is now born out by her fatigability), made her a darling of international media.  The Anglosphere in particular is dominated by mono-linguistic types who pay little attention to the likes of Sanna Marin, the Finnish (young female) Prime Minister who chose to ignore the wrath of Vladimir Putin and seek Finland’s membership of NATO. – 

Ardern was notable for embracing an explicitly sympathetic and emotional image to leadership, and for declaring how kindness in government is a virtue. This is extraordinary from a politician who has led a government that, by and large, has sought to take more of people’s money, borrow more from future generations and to direct and centrally manage and control more intensely than any government since the Muldoon era.

I suppose Ardern will regard the generosity of her government with welfare benefits to be “kindness”, which of course is really kindness with other people’s money.  That “kindness” certainly will have relieved some poverty, but also contributes towards a dependency on other people’s money, and the labour shortage that has emerged since the end of Covid restrictions.Liberty Scott

New Zealand has both a critical skills shortage, a restrictive approach to immigration and is generous to those who don’t want to work, but Ardern can’t connect the dots.  At no point has this government noted that being too “kind” with other people’s money encourages people to be economically idle.

The reality of the “kindness” narrative is no joke to the victims of ramraid attacks, and the growth in crime, because the “kindness” is interpreted as there being an easy ride for perpetrators.  The fact so many of the victims are recent migrants who own businesses is a community that maybe sees less kindness in the rhetoric, particular the notion that the reason some young people drive cars to steal stuff is claimed to be poverty, rather than opportunistic nihilism.

Another group not feeling the kindness includes immigrants who invested time and money into New Zealand and have been told to fuck off back home leave.  – Liberty Scott

Ardern’s Government was kind to the “right” kind of people, such as people working in horse racing, international film producers, America’s Cup syndicate employees, minstrels performing and businesspeople with stands at the Dubai Expo.  Average New Zealanders don’t have that sort of “pull”.

Then there are the Afghans who helped New Zealand forces not getting automatic visas to move to NZ after the Taliban took over.  What could be less kind that for people who worked with foreign forces not being granted residency when their psychopathic totalitarian enemy takes over?  However, the Ardern Government’s attitude to foreign policy was more about signalling virtue than substance.  Calling for a ban on nuclear weapons is the sort of naive student politics that demeaned Ardern, as was calling climate change her generation’s “nuclear-free moment”. Then again if she meant New Zealand taking action that would have no impact on a global issue or problem (which is what the nuclear ban achieved) then she might have been right.

A lot of money has been spent by the Ardern Government, yet the performance of public services continues to be woeful, not least because the incentives of prioritising the interests of vocal professional unions are not on consumers of those services.  – Liberty Scott

The narrative now being conveniently trotted out about Ardern is the abuse she receives from critics, and certainly no one can justify threats of violence against her and her family.  Yet her main opponent in 2020 was Judith Collins, and abuse of her is largely brushed to one side, and of course many of those who decry abuse of Ardern are more than happy to tolerate abuse of male politicians as Graham Adams wrote in The Platform.  I’m old enough to remember the constant references to Robert Muldoon as “piggy”, and the idea that somehow people shouldn’t be able to throw pejoratives at women in power any less than men is rather chilling.  People have the right to call their leaders names and be rude about them, even if it is puerile and they don’t like it, what they don’t have the right to do is to threaten them. Ardern undoubtedly gets some nasty threats, and different ones from men because she is a woman, but it’s intellectually lazy polemics to claim that the country that granted Ardern a remarkable mandate in 2020 is also dripping misogynistic hatred of women in power (despite having also granting a mandate for Helen Clark to govern for nine years), when hatred of men in power is just brushed over as part of the game.

It’s good for Ardern to give up, nobody should be in the job if they find it too difficult, but just over a week on, and it is clear that Hipkins has just tweaked the dials, and done little other than give the impression he’s a bit less woke-authoritarian, and he’s more than willing to extend unfunded tax cuts (fuel tax/RUC discount) and say he’s “reviewing” policies that Ardern and her whole government were dead keen on hanging their hats on. – Liberty Scott

My observation of the week is a lot of people didn’t really perform the way they should have.
But as I have said several times this week, I wasn’t expecting them to.

This country has been littered over the years with various disasters that weren’t dealt to properly because the people who frequent the emergency and civil defence offices are fairly mediocre.

You can add the Ministry of Education in this time around. Blame Wayne all you want but their performance was spectacular in its level of incompetence. – Mike Hosking

Wayne is a cantankerous old sod who doesn’t suffer fools. But here’s the thing – we knew that.

I think I might have had the advantage over many who got all agitated, given I wasn’t expecting much from anyone, I wasn’t disappointed.

You see, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t ignore local body politics the way most people do and then get grumpy when they don’t perform, it’s a two-way street.Mike Hosking

Which brings us to the media. He doesn’t like the media and the media don’t like him.

Add also the fact the media in general take themselves too seriously. So when he calls them drongos, 1) he is right but, 2) they shouldn’t get so tetchy about it.

Wayne isn’t setting the world on fire but equally there is no doubt in my mind the media are out to get Wayne because they wanted Efeso Collins to win and they can’t believe the rest of the world doesn’t think like they do. – Mike Hosking

Which brings us back to the start of this – if we all actually participated in democracy a bit better this whole week might have been a lot different.Mike Hosking

Journalists fawned over Jacinda Ardern and never highlighted her well-documented capacity to say one thing (“He Puapua hasn’t been to Cabinet”) while her ministers were busy implementing its recommendations. When the change came, journalists were happy to accept Chris Hipkins and laud his past achievements without being too specific about what they were. It was left to others to point out that under his watch as Minister of Education 50% of Kiwi kids were now wagging school. – Michael Bassett

Nor has any media outlet that I’ve seen probed the new Prime Minister’s confusing early utterances on co-governance. Yes, journalists informed us that neither Ardern nor Hipkins seemed to know the three short clauses of the Treaty of Waitangi, something in itself I’d have thought warranted comment? Hipkins tells us that he thinks co-governance hasn’t been explained adequately to the wider public who find the concept confusing. One might therefore have expected journalists to delve into what, precisely, the government meant when ministers incorporated this “misunderstood” concept into lots of Acts of Parliament over recent years? It might well have carried different meanings in different Acts. How will we ever know?Michael Bassett

But of course, if the term “co-governance” can’t be adequately understood by the wider public, how on earth can “mahi tahi”? Constant use of improperly translated Maori words for everyday concepts in a world where only 3% of the overall population can speak Maori fluently lies near the heart of the public’s current unease with this government. The rush to re-name government departments, health facilities, universities with Maori names that almost nobody understands, not to mention the errors of fact that lie behind much of the New Zealand history curriculum signed off by Chris Hipkins as Minister of Education, and now taught in schools, is deeply worrying. People have a right to be able to comprehend the world in which they live and pay taxes. The nuts and bolts of co-governance must be spelled out by Labour’s ministers. – Michael Bassett

The longer this government is in power Maori demands keep ratcheting up. A clear explanation of co-governance is urgently needed. It is the responsibility of the Prime Minister to provide that. It shouldn’t be left to the unelected Judiciary. Nor can it be left to interested parties to provide their own versions.

What is becoming clear is that this Labour government is swimming out of its depth. In their determination to empower Maori with legislative authority and resources beyond what their population warrants, the wider public sees a growth of racial division throughout the land. Even if the new Prime Minister manages to redefine what he means by co-governance he won’t succeed in convincing 83% of the population of New Zealand that enhancing the rights of a small minority of the population over the rights of everyone else will do anything more than keep irritating the political scene. The reality is that Maori, Europeans, Pacific Islanders, Asians and those from other parts have equal rights if they are citizens of New Zealand. Article 3 of the Treaty that neither Ardern nor Hipkins seems to have read guarantees “the same rights and duties of citizenship” to all.

As they go about their jobs, media editors would be wise to remember that they owe a greater loyalty to the words of the Treaty than to the Labour government that is paying them out of the Public Interest Journalism Fund. It is public money, not a party political handout. Keep on behaving as you are and you guarantee that the PIJF will soon come to an end. Michael Bassett 

Note to trans activists: no amount of cosmetic surgery turns a man into a woman. – Brendan O’Neill 

Just when you thought the trans ideology couldn’t get any crankier, here comes the face reveal. This is when a man who’s becoming a woman, or thinks he’s becoming a woman, takes to social media to unveil his surgically ‘feminised’ face to the world. Gone is his square jaw and big nose, fleshy giveaways of maleness, and in their place is a thinner, more dinky nose and pert cheekbones. Behold my womanly visage! It’s like a woke version of PT Barnum’s museum of freaks. Barnum pulled back the curtain to reveal women with beards – the face reveal invites us to roll up, roll up and gawk at the man who turned into a lady.Brendan O’Neill 

The cult of the face reveal tells us a lot about the woke moment, none of it good. First, there’s the staggering and sexist double standards when it comes to cosmetic surgery. For decades now, the cultural elites have sneered at women who’ve gone under the knife to get a smaller nose or bigger breasts. Whether it was the Baywatch beauties of the Nineties getting silicone implants or even the Essex girls of the Noughties going for a less invasive vajazzle (Google it), the verdict was always the same: what shallow, self-obsessed broads! Yet now we’re meant to fawn over men who undergo insanely more meddlesome surgery in the mistaken belief that it will make them women. The same kind of talking heads who were aghast at vajazzles think a penectomy followed by vaginoplasty is absolutely fine (Google it. Actually, don’t.) – Brendan O’Neill 

The language our society uses changes dramatically when it comes to male-to-‘female’ surgery. Women’s cosmetic procedures are always jobs: ‘boob jobs’, ‘nose jobs’. Words like ‘plastic’ and ‘fake’ are bandied around. Magazines publish lists of celebs rumoured to have fake boobs. Trans surgery, in contrast, is ‘healthcare’. ‘Gender-affirming healthcare’, they call it. One outlet described Mulvaney’s FFS as a ‘trans-healthcare milestone’. It would be a brave soul who referred to a transwoman’s breasts as fake or plastic. They’d be cancelled in an instant. Which is ironic, because transwomen’s breasts are fake. The likes of Pamela Anderson are accentuating their real breasts when they have cosmetic surgery, whereas men who identify as women are basically giving themselves glorified moobs when they take ‘titty skittles’, as Grace Lavery refers to progesterone supplements.

These double standards expose one of the most sinister elements of the trans ideology: its belief that transwomen are not only actual, literal women but are better women than biological women. They’re the truest women. Embrace ‘your true self with gender-reassignment surgery’, surgeons say. We’re told that, through radical surgery, men who want to be women can ‘become their real self’ and find their ‘true identity’. Real, true – it’s about as far as you can get from the ‘fake tits’ discourse that swirls around women who have cosmetic procedures. The implication is that the body of the man who ‘becomes a woman’ is more authentic than the body of an actual woman, because he had to suffer so much to get it. His ‘femaleness’ is hard won, and thus holier.  – Brendan O’Neill 

The entire idea of FFS – as I will be calling it from now on – is misogynistic. It really does reduce womanhood to costume, to performance, a mask that can be pulled on by anyone, including those of us who have penises.  – Brendan O’Neill 

The belief that some hormones, a bit of face chiselling and a name change are all it takes to become a woman is profoundly chauvinistic. It robs womanhood of its biological, social and relational truths and makes it mere garb, to be donned by all who desireBrendan O’Neill 

This is trans activism summed up: the entire category of woman undemocratically reimagined and rebranded to make it inclusive of men. They really are happy to overthrow millennia’s worth of science and truth, especially the truth that women don’t have dicks, just to make themselves feel better when they’re strutting around the pool in a two-piece. –  Brendan O’Neill 

 Here’s the thing, though: Mulvaney is only a zanier expression of the sexist self-delusion that underpins the entire modern trans movement. Dylan, you raised Frankenstein, and now it falls to me to tell you that just as Frankenstein’s monster never became human, so people born male never become female. No matter how much FFS they have.Brendan O’Neill 

The policing of harmless language is becoming more ridiculous by the day.  –Simon Evans

The Associated Press (AP) had a good deal of oeuf on its mush last week, after one of its Twitter accounts warned journalists not to refer to the French as ‘the French’, as this could be dehumanising and offensive.Simon Evans

The French were not singled out by the AP as a sensitive, easily diminished race. They were in a list of categories, with whom equal caution was advised. Most of the others, however, would be more universally pitied or condemned, such as ‘the poor’, ‘the mentally ill’ and ‘the college-educated’. So you can see why the French got le hump. After the French embassy in the US mockingly changed its name to ‘the embassy of Frenchness’, the AP apologised and deleted its tweet.

The AP’s general idea is that when the definite article (‘the’) is used to, well, define articles, to create sets, it can feel restrictive and even narrow to those who find themselves inside those lines. They would like to think they have more to offer to the world than their shackles. And I do understand that. Especially when those words gesture to a stereotype. – Simon Evans

The AP’s view is that one should find softer terms that suggest any given category is just a shade or perhaps a footnote in a person’s life – almost an afterthought, rather than a hard outline. Rather than ‘the poor, the mentally ill and the college-educated’, we should say things like: ‘Those living without funds, those facing mental-health challenges and those burdened by delusions of competence, aka bleeding know-it-alls.’ The problem is that this is only a mincing step away from the knowingly ridiculous, absurdly genteel variations you sometimes hear, such as ‘animals of the canine persuasion’. Simon Evans

It’s all very depressing. And this, remember, is not some deluded student body or a small municipal committee that has been captured by the woke. This is the AP – by some distance the largest and most authoritative news agency in the English-speaking world, and the source of the default style guide to writing elegant journalese. This is the guide hacks resort to in order to avoid getting hacked up by the sub. This is going to affect the copy you read (elsewhere at least).

While it’s obviously delightful, as a rosbif, to see insinuations of Frenchitude treated as if they were as intrinsically insulting as a ‘your mum’ joke, there is a wider if rather joyless point that needs making here, too – about the pointlessness of policing language.

The reason this nonsense is ever coiling around our ankles is very similar to the reason that we have, every day now, some fresh outrage in the name of trans rights or diversity, equity and inclusion. It speaks to a determination to overthrow the tyranny of language. It arises from a suspicion that language itself is to blame for human behaviour – that language has not so much described the world, but has created it.

It is possible, of course, to dehumanise a group by focussing on one aspect of its character, whether it is a nationality or something morally freighted. But you are not going to stop people making assessments of people, and noticing how groups vary. Nor – within limits – should you. Pattern recognition is a key human trait. It’s part of what makes us so adorably goofy. – Simon Evans

It might be hoped that this little French embarrassment alerts the AP to the folly of its Grail quest of creating a more sensitive lingua franca. Every so often, I like to hope that institutions like this, when captured by some mutant form of political correctness, will one day catch sight of themselves in the mirror, and like B-movie zombies – sorry, people living with being dead – recoil with horror.  – Simon Evans

Comment on the merger of polytechnics and industry training boards was conspicuously hard to find when the virtues of new Prime Minister Chris Hipkins were laid out.

No doubt, Labour was keen to give minimal mention to the unwise changes and the costly and delayed transition that was taking place under Mr Hipkins’ watch as minister of education.

The media, in the traditional honeymoon period for new prime ministers, had other focuses. Mr Hipkins, at least for now, received a free pass.

But the merger, ill-thought-out from the start, has been a dog.

It has taken towards four years, has already built an expensive bureaucracy and it will do little to help those who really matter, the “learners”. The establishment budget from the Government to the end of last year was $121million (although costs also have been put at $200million), and a lot more is going to be needed. – ODT

The Government has told New Zealanders that the primary goal of the Three Waters reform is to deliver good water services and related infrastructure in an efficient and financially sustainable manner. And the Auckland floods have certainly underscored the importance of reliable water infrastructure (though whether it is advantageous to wrest the responsibility for stormwater away from local councils, where it sits rather logically alongside urban planning, and centralise it, is an open question). The problem is that next to nobody believes that the plan that’s on the table is going to do the trick.

The WSEs will be so encumbered by a toxic combination of debt and dictates and directives that there is a risk that good water services in New Zealand are never delivered at a reasonable cost. And moreover, there is also considerable risk that one or more of the entities staggers under its massive debt and falls foul of the attendant covenants while in the midst of a multibillion-dollar build programme (recall that the plan is for these WSEs to quickly shoulder debt that amounts to some 8x their Ebitda, a load which S&P describes as “highly leveraged”). – Kate MacNamara

The competencies on the boards will need to include mātauranga Māori, or traditional Māori knowledge. And it’s not hard to imagine how a contemporary interpretation of Māori knowledge might find itself in conflict with some of the other public goods the WSEs are supposed to pursue: efficiency for example or financial discipline.

And there’s more. All iwi and hapū in the area covered by each of the WSEs will have the right to formulate directives, known as “te mana o te wai statements”, for their respective WSE. The scope of these is very loose and could extend to anything from employment and investment goals to environmental protection. We have little idea of how these directives will be used, only that the cost of improving the skills of Māori to participate in guiding the delivery of water services is, according to the DIA, an uncalculated cost and one that it will be borne by the new WSEs and therefore paid by water ratepayers.

There are hundreds of iwi and hapū in each of the water services areas (with the possible exception of area D, the lower South Island), and there may be hundreds of such directives, possibly conflicting one with another or with Wellington’s Government Policy Statement for the entities, or with the strategic direction from the Regional Representative Groups, or with the priorities of local councils and ratepayers, or with the stipulations of either of the two water regulators (economic and water quality). – Kate MacNamara

Hipkins would need a powerful spell to get it past his Māori caucus, but it could earn him a new desk plaque. A cursory search of the internet’s novelty shops for options throws up: Suck less. It’s not much of an election slogan but in the age of aspirational goals in politics, it’s a start. – Kate MacNamara

Trust the Italians to know what a woman is. The land where the twin peaks of femininity are the mamma and the sex bomb has a separate jail exclusively for ‘transwomen’. Julie Burchill

In the current trans debate, both sides see their humanity and dignity disrespected by either of the options on offer (make people with penises use male facilities even if they answer to ‘Penelope’ / allow female facilities to be swamped in male genitalia). Yet whenever a third way is suggested, like the Italian prison solution, it’s notable that the trans activists get very cross indeed. This is telling. If they really fear male violence in public conveniences or other sex-segregated spaces as much as they claim, a third option would be perfectly acceptable to them. But if their desire is to gain access to women’s private spaces, then they will hold out for that option.

Only a very silly person indeed believes that transwomen are only ever shrinking violets who just want to press wild flowers and urinate sitting down. Many of them are dirty great bruisers who could easily work as bouncers if the bottom fell out of the sissy-porn market. Make no mistake, trans ‘rights’ is the first ‘liberation’ movement both inspired and fuelled by pornography. Various ages and trials of a woman’s life can be sexualised, from the trans predilection for dressing up as little girls to the ghastly fake babies (don’t ask), which allow men to ape gestation and childbirth. Lesbians, of course, are the most loved and hated targets of these autogynephiles, which is thoroughly in line with porn-scored desires. – Julie Burchill

Incarcerated women have been failed by society every step of the way. Now, to take their wretchedness to another level, they are asked to meekly submit to an experiment in which convicted rapists are placed among them.

The fact that privileged female MPs who call themselves feminists put the porn-fuelled desires of men, even of rapists, over the rights of the most vulnerable women in society is a very bad look indeed. –  Julie Burchill

A visitor to New Zealand who read the Natural and Built Environment and the Spatial Planning Bills would assume our country was populated largely by Māori tribes whose customs and traditional knowledge could solve resource management challenges. In reading the Bills in more depth she would infer the tribes were impeded in using their knowledge by a powerful, yet unhelpful entity termed “the Crown.” To her relief she would then “learn” that 183 years ago the tribes and Crown had signed a Treaty which stipulated principles and the Crown’s obligations in relation to Māori. Legislation based on these principles and obligations was being enacted to ensure Māori had adequate input into natural and built environment and spatial planning issues.  – Dr Peter Winsley

However, when reading the Bills in isolation she would not realise that self-identified Māori make up only about 16% of the New Zealand population, and almost all have some non-Māori blood. Furthermore, few live on tribal land or live in tribal ways. If our visitor then read the Treaty itself, she would learn that the Crown obligations and principles stated were not actually from the Treaty and had in fact been invented from the 1980s on by judicial, political, and tribal activists. She would be surprised to learn that the Bills largely ignored 84% of the New Zealand population.

However, the biggest surprise of all would be the argument legislators seemed to be making that resources are best managed using Māori tribal customs (tikanga) and traditional knowledge (mātauranga Māori) rather than modern scientific methods and disciplines such as ecology, geology, planning, surveying, architecture, building, infrastructure, and property and contract law. – Dr Peter Winsley

The Natural and Built Environment and the Spatial Planning Bills are part of a wave of New Zealand legislation that departs from the progressive arc of history and are regressive. These Bills create new race-based rights and privileges that further divide New Zealanders.

The 1986 New Zealand Constitution Act marked the point where the Crown’s role was reduced to the symbolic and procedural, and our democratically elected Parliament became sovereign in New Zealand. In a Parliamentary democracy power comes from people’s votes not out of the barrel of a gun, or from tribal, judicial or political activism. Authentic democracy can only function in an open and informed society where people have equal rights and exercise them. This is what we are rapidly losing.Dr Peter Winsley

Instead of treating all New Zealanders as equals regardless of race, this legislation confers extra rights on Māori. Despite some implausible Crown legal advice, the legislation seems to clearly breach section 19(1) of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 that ensures freedom from discrimination based on race.

Compared to the current Resource Management Act the proposed new system erodes democracy and accountability to voters. It shifts much decision making to non-elected tribal representatives who may wield power far beyond what their numbers justify. While many of these people will be knowledgeable, skilled and dedicated, the overall impact is to reduce the pool of available (non-Māori) expertise that can be brought to bear in natural environment protection and resource management.

Good law needs to use unambiguous language, be clear in intent, provide certainty, and be workable. That is, people must understand and be able to respond to it. Common law has been built up over many years as precedents have been established and shared understandings have been widely adopted.

Terms such as ‘tikanga’, ‘kaitiakitanga’ and ‘mātauranga Māori’ are core elements of the legislation. Precise definitions of these terms will be needed for the legal system to function effectively. – Dr Peter Winsley

Inevitably there will be conflicts between tikanga and mātauranga Māori assertions and evidence from modern, universal science. The former may depend on custom and authority and the latter on evidence, and it is evidence that must prevail in a modern, open and secular society.

The legislation seeks to make Māori custom or tikanga sources of law within New Zealand.Dr Peter Winsley

The resource management reforms are more about instituting a race-based system than creating a more efficient resource management system. It may be appropriate to intervene to overcome barriers to Māori engagement in resource management or any other such fields. However, the Bills do not remove barriers so much as create powerful new race-based institutions and regulatory processes that privilege Māori over all other New Zealanders.

The government would be wise to withdraw the proposed Bills and replace them with enabling legislation that does not discriminate on race lines. This legislation should vest decision-making in local communities and focus on improving the speed and lowering the cost of local decision-making processes. Decision-making must be accountable to affected communities, including but not limited to Māori. – Dr Peter Winsley

We’ve always considered ourselves a good society, and rightly so. But we’re struggling to maintain that position. The reality is that every aspect of a good and decent society requires serious improvement in our special little country. We may be sliding, but that slide is reversible.

You could say that this is merely a list of issues with little in the way of solutions. However, you can also read it as a list of aspirations or priorities. Aspirations to do better across a variety of areas where we’re currently not doing well. A shopping list for our future leaders if you like. Would you rather spend one billion dollars on helping overseas countries deal with climate change or on three new hospitals? – Bruce Cotterill


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