Quotes of the month

05/03/2022

This is February’s quotes, a few days late.

Over the past two years we’ve heard it ad nauseam. We’re a team of five million. We are constantly reminded to be kind to each other. And yes, the messages have come from the self-appointed team leader, Jacinda Ardern.

Many of us retired from the team shortly after it was created and it now grates to still be described as members of it.Barry Soper

New Zealand’s universities are at a defining crossroads. Do we remain a universitas, a community of scholars developing knowledge according to the universal principles and methods of science or do we continue down the path of a racialised ideology? – Elizabeth Rata

Unfounded accusations of racism or other silencing strategies muzzle discussion about what is happening in our universities and schools. There are many layers needing discussion – the difference between science and culture, between cultural safety and intellectual risk-taking, between universalism and parochialism. However intense and heated the discussion may be it must take place. Too much is at stake to pretend that all is well. – Elizabeth Rata

University students from all racial and cultural groups tend to come from knowledge-rich schools which provide a solid foundation for university study. These are often the children of the professional class who have benefited from such knowledge in their own lives and insist that schools provide it for their children.

It is access to the abstract quality of academic knowledge and language, its very remoteness from everyday experience, and its formality – science in other words – that is necessary for success. Tragically this knowledge is miscast as ‘euro-centric’. The aim of the decolonisation and re-indigenisation of New Zealand education is to replace this knowledge with the cultural knowledge of experience.

But science is not euro-centric or western. It is universal. This is recognised in the International Science Council’s definition of science as “rationally explicable, tested against reality, logic, and the scrutiny of peers this is a special form of knowledge”. It includes the arts, humanities and social sciences as human endeavours which may, along with the physical and natural sciences, use such a formalised approach. The very children who need this knowledge the most, now receive less.

The science-ideology discussion matters for many reasons – the university’s future, the country’s reputation for science and education, and the quality of education in primary and secondary schools. But at its heart it is about democracy. Science can only thrive when democracy thrives. – Elizabeth Rata

To be clear, I was and consider myself very lucky to be adopted into a loving, caring family. For reasons outlined in this article below I am grateful for the life I’ve had considering the one that was offered to me at birth.  – Dan Bidois

I learned many things from this process. Above all, is that you’re not defined by the circumstances of your birth but by the environment you grow up in. And finally, identity or whakapapa is an important part of one’s confidence, wellbeing, and purpose in life.

Understanding one’s past provides the fuel needed for a happier and more fulfilling life in the future. – Dan Bidois

This whole thing has a Groundhog Day vibe about it. I mean, how come we’re still, as we go into our third year of this pandemic, still being reactive and responding on the hoof.

It beggars belief that lessons have not been learned, plans have not been made, preparations have not gotten into full swing.

We are behind on RAT kits, way behind, it’s woeful, it’s the vaccine rollout all over again. We have no greater ICU capacity than when we started, in fact suggestions are we even have fewer ICU beds than when we started. We have not bolstered our health workforce, we have not advanced our tragic and cruel MIQ system, we have not boosted enough people or jabbed enough children, because again, we were too slow with our vaccine rollout.  – Kate Hawkesby

Why can’t they learn the lesson? Why is the Government so slow on the uptake? Why’d they take an elongated holiday when they should’ve been planning and sorting and preparing?

Why are they so allergic to the private sector and reticent to include them more? Are they afraid of the private sector? Or are they just so arrogant now they think they know best, better than any established business?

Most importantly, why are we still asking these questions? How can all the same mistakes still be made? If you hear from the Government, when they’ve bothered rolling back into the office from the beach, they’ll tell you they’re world leading.

They’re faultless, blameless, it’s all perfect, we should be so proud of them. The fact they’re still peddling this crap and still in self-congratulatory mode also worries me.

It’s delusional. They’re backwards focused.Kate Hawkesby

How many businesses look at KPI’s or performance reviews and go, “Oh well it’s a bit of a mess at the moment but two years ago was really good.”

No one does that, because it’s not real. It’s not relevant, it’s not honest. So why should we be expected to buy into that tosh from our government?

Our Rapid Antigen Testing situation is embarrassing, our MIQ lottery is embarrassing, our hermit mentality is embarrassing, our lack of vaccination coverage for children and booster coverage is embarrassing. Our Covid response looks antiquated and fear driven, and stale. But if you listen to this Government and it’s cheerleaders, we should be over the moon about it.

The disconnect here is actually beyond embarrassing, it’s tragic.Kate Hawkesby

And that’s the tragedy of all this. Have a platform, make a song and dance, get a result. Surely the only message here is that unless you’re going to really publicly and internationally discredit and embarrass the Government, you’re not going to get a spot.  – Kate Hawkesby

A free society needs more than the incentives provided by the rule of law and the discipline of profit and loss. Both are underpinned by and help to reinforce a set of virtues – prudence chief among them. The prudence to buy low and sell high. And the prudence “to trade rather than invade, to calculate the consequences, to pursue the good with competence.”

Prudence matters. – Eric Crampton

The government had been imprudently late in ordering the tests that it ultimately decided were needed for the public health effort.

But no matter. The government had set itself a call option. It could simply take the results of others’ prudential efforts.

When the prudent expect predation, expect less prudence. Expect as well that many businesses will have cancelled remaining test kit orders rather than wait for them to be stolen by a predatory state.

McCloskey emphasised the prudence of trading rather than invading and stealing; of calculating the consequences of actions; and of pursuing the good with competence.

It is hard to see much evidence of prudence in this government. Prudent and imprudent alike will bear the cost.Eric Crampton

At the end of an interview recently, I was asked whether people should express their emotions. I replied that it rather depended on the emotions that they had and their mode of expression. There were some emotions that were best kept to oneself, and some ways of expressing them that were disgusting.Theodore Dalrymple

It seems to me (though I may be mistaken) that, at least in Anglophone countries, there has been a tendency of late years for ever more extravagant public expressions of emotion, which is something that I do not welcome. It leads not to the palace of wisdom, but to crudity of apprehension, and to an unfortunate positive feedback loop: if you want to show how much you feel, you have to indulge in ever more extravagant such demonstrations. – Theodore Dalrymple

This development favours the explicit over the implicit and the bogus over the genuine. Indeed, it reduces people’s capacity to distinguish between the two, or even to understand that there is a distinction between the real and the bogus. No one would now say, as did an old patient of mine upon whom fate had piled undeserved tragedy upon undeserved tragedy, that she would not cry in public because it might embarrass other people and her grief was her own: people would now accuse her of mere unfeelingness.Theodore Dalrymple

The very notion of dignity and seemliness is destroyed by incontinent emotional expression. I haven’t tried the experiment, but I doubt that many people could or would now even attach a meaning to the word seemliness: but seemliness is to self-respect what incontinent expression is to self-esteem, and the difference between self-respect and self-esteem is of great importance. The first is demanding, effortful and social, the second is undemanding, egotistical and akin to an inalienable human right that survives any amount of bad behaviour. – Theodore Dalrymple

There are other advantages to negative emotions: insofar as they are far easier to stoke, can last much longer than positive emotions—joy is rarely more than fleeting—and are usually more intense, they are, in the long run, more rewarding, especially when, as in the present day, the locus of people’s moral concern is political rather than personal. It is surely almost self-evident that the strongest political emotions are negative: for example, the rich are hated much more than the poor are loved.

In such circumstances, expressions of hatred are often mistaken for expressions of love. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down the life of another for some class of person whom he favours in the abstract. Thus vehemence of expression comes to be taken as strength of feeling, and the greater one’s vehemence, the greater one’s strength of feeling and therefore of one’s virtue—virtue now being a matter almost entirely of the opinions one holds. Extreme expression of hatred becomes a virtue. – Theodore Dalrymple

As with so many things, the proper public expression of emotion is a matter of judgment rather than of doctrine or predetermined principle. It is also a question of good taste. . . If I had to choose between them (which of course I do not) I would choose emotional constipation rather than emotional diarrhoea. At least the former can give rise to powerful drama, whereas the latter gives rise to crude soap opera at best. Concealment is more interesting than revelation, and often ultimately more revealing into the bargain.    – Theodore Dalrymple

The government’s response to Omicron over the summer break has had too little method and too much madness. – Eric Crampton

But it is difficult to reconcile the tightening up of test-to-travel restrictions, to reduce risk, with the subsequent move to allow rapid antigen tests instead of PCR tests before travel. If the government considered rapid antigen tests to be safe enough because travellers were entering MIQ, why tighten the window for PCR tests in the first place? –  Eric Crampton

Education, the ladder out of poverty, has been kicked away. In the English-speaking world, New Zealand pupils are worst at maths, science and literacy. Last year, 44 per cent of Auckland students did not turn up for NCEA exams. Richard Prebble

Covid is not responsible for the growth in inequality. Covid infects the rich and the poor.

The growing inequality is the result of government policies and galloping inflation.  – Richard Prebble

The Government is becoming Muldoonist. Like Muldoon, Labour calculates huge “think big” spending is electorally more popular than the pain of tackling inflation.Richard Prebble

Studies reveal that urban rail schemes never come in on budget or on time and rarely meet passenger projections. Worldwide, 75 per cent of urban rail projects have cost escalations of at least 33 per cent. A quarter have cost escalations of 60 per cent or more. The cost of light rail will escalate from the estimate of $15b to over $20b.

Here is another way to think about the cost. For less taxpayers’ money, every passenger could have a free Uber ride in an electric car to where they actually want to go. – Richard Prebble

The Reserve Bank is seeking a soft option. Returning “inflation to target too quickly would result in unnecessary instability”. Now inflation is established, there are no soft options. All that printed money is debt. The bank is yet to tell us how it is going to reduce its bond holdings.

While the Reserve Bank procrastinates, the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.  – Richard Prebble

This Government has become like a can of CRC, oiling every irritating squeak which has become a deafening cacophony in recent weeks.  – Barry Soper

I’m not sure if it was the word “loyal” or the long-simmering anger towards the nation of my birth coming to a head, but I suddenly didn’t want to honour New Zealand by choosing a song by one of its legends.

I’m angry at Jacinda Ardern, I’m angry at her parochial and uber-protective policies and I’m angry that I’m banned from the place where – more than any other – I felt I belonged. It’s fair to say I’ve lost faith in the country I once loved and revered.Angela Mollard

The cumulative stories about the human impact of the border policies have sullied New Zealand’s reputation as a fair and decent place.

All countries care about their reputations but it is more important to small countries because they do not hold economic or military power. Being a good international citizen, being an honest broker, doing the right thing has been important to New Zealand. – Audrey Young

The damage to New Zealand is exacerbated by the fact that Arderns’s reputation and New Zealand’s are one and the same. Her international brand, through leadership after the Christchurch massacre, is a caring leader.

Damage to New Zealand reflects badly on her; and damage to her reflects badly on New Zealand. . . She was rightly applauded internationally for the initial response to Covid-19. Now, for the most part, she is rightly being criticised.Audrey Young

This is the insanity of what we’re dealing with. This is a rigged lottery. And I’m talking personally, not as Move Logistics executive director, when I say this: Can we have respect for a system where, basically, citizens are told, you can’t come home?

Non-citizens are told, if you’re an essential worker, whatever that description might be on a particular day. Or if you’re pregnant, and you’re in a third world country, you’re allowed in or not allowed in. So the rules are being made up as people go along. – Chris Dunphy

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the Bellis Embarrassment to understand is what on earth possessed those writing the rules to erect even the smallest obstacles to pregnant New Zealand women returning to their homeland to give birth. For most older New Zealanders, the rule has always been: “Women and children first – and pregnant women before everyone!” We were raised on the tragic example of the doomed “Titanic” – where men gave up their places in the lifeboats for the bearers of the next generation.

What does it say about the current crop of public servants that they were able to create a labyrinth of rules and regulations that made it possible for a British deejay to be welcomed into this country, while denying re-entry to a stranded Kiwi woman and her unborn child?More to the point, what does it say about the current crop of Labour ministers – Chris Hipkins in particular – that they did not intervene, with righteous wrath, to put an end to this unconscionable rejection of that most basic human instinct: the urge to protect, at any cost, mothers and their children?Chris Trotter

But where is the “kindness” in the treatment of Charlotte Bellis, and scores of other pregnant New Zealander women aching to get home? If this desperate, pregnant, Kiwi journalist, stranded in starving Afghanistan, does not deserve kindness – then who does? – Chris Trotter

The risk for Robertson isn’t quite voter revolt – not yet. But the Government did just make it far easier for New Zealanders who spent the past two years in the country to think about moving overseas. Cheaper rent and better pay might not have been much of a draw in 2020 or 2021, when it was paired with longer lockdowns, more Covid-19, and no easy way home if you changed your mind. That won’t be true for 2022. – Henry Cooke

If travel broadens the mind, then perhaps the reverse might also be true.

We have become a more insular country since Covid started, and it is very unattractive. The social media vitriol and judgment directed at journalist Charlotte Bellis for daring to speak out about her predicament last week reflects badly on all who indulged. – Steven Joyce

It was Ms Bellis who was let down by her own country. Forget all the whataboutisms. When she needed to come home, when she needed a safe haven where she could be pregnant and give birth to her child, her country said no. That was simply appalling. It has never been who we are.

It was not just appalling for Ms Bellis. She was simply the human straw that broke the camel’s back. In being rebuffed by the bureaucratic monster that is our managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) system, she joins thousands and thousands before her over the past two years who have had their spirits broken in their time of need. – Steven Joyce

There are too many stories to count where a heartless decision-maker showed no empathy, no ability to walk a mile in the shoes of desperate Kiwis overseas, no willingness to make things right.

Somehow, the Government’s sudden ability to find an MIQ slot for Ms Bellis under the public spotlight of the world’s media made an appalling situation even shoddier. It was a brazen attempt at damage control by ministers, presumably breaking the rules their own officials had been zealously upholding. There was no apology for those who had come before, no acceptance that the policy had been wrong, just cold, naked politics at its worst. – Steven Joyce

Special treatment for those prepared to beg publicly is also not our country. What about all those who didn’t want to make waves, who suffered through their life events in silence, hurt by the intransigence of their own countrymen and women?

It is one of the most basic human rights that people be allowed to come home. The Government knows that. That’s why they maintained the legal fig leaf that the border wasn’t closed. It’s just that you have not been allowed to buy a ticket to come here without an MIQ slot. Which you couldn’t get. George Orwell would have been proud. – Steven Joyce

You can argue that in extremis a country can close its borders for short periods in a pandemic to protect the population. The case can be made that stopping the flow of people while a plan is worked on and new health measures are put in place is justifiable.

But not two years, and not while you sit on your hands and do nothing during that period to allow for more people to exercise their fundamental right to come home.

We passed up building more MIQ places, we passed up home isolation, we passed up privately run MIQ facilities, saliva testing, more hospital capacity, a decent booking system, a timely vaccination programme, or even filling the MIQ places we had … we passed up a lot of things that would have reduced the pain and uncertainty of so many Kiwi families. – Steven Joyce

We were a country of voyagers. Striking out to see the world and seek our fortune. We took Dr Seuss’ The Places You’ll Go! to heart. Travel was a rite of passage, which for some turned into careers offshore, with partners and families. We took pride in their success, basking as New Zealand metaphorically punched above its weight on the world stage.

There’s around a million of us who live offshore now — but always able to come home, to see grandparents, siblings, and reconnect.

Until the past two years.

In those two years we have had to stand in line, often behind DJs, children’s characters, performers, sportspeople and Government MPs, all of whom seemed able to win the MIQ lottery while more deserving cases didn’t. Let alone the people whose skills we need to help run our economy, our schools and our hospitals. Good job, some would chortle in their insular way. We don’t need all those bright young foreigners helping to make New Zealand a better place. – Steven Joyce

A wise friend of mine said at the outset of all this that it is much easier to close things down and encourage people to hide away than it will be to open it all up again. And so it seems. Once people have become fearful of the outside world, it’s hard to move beyond that fear.

Yet we must. We must get out and embrace that world again, let our young people take it on, prove themselves, have adventures and live their lives. We must invite people into our home and conquer our virulent insularity.

Let this be the last time we turn our backs on our own people. There must be a better way to protect ourselves in future that doesn’t involve simply barricading the doors.

We should never stop our own citizens coming home to see their dying relatives, or giving birth here. That’s not selfless and kind. That’s not who we are. – Steven Joyce

But open government appears to be on the wane. This is partly because of the growth in the “communications industrial complex”, where vast battalions of people now work to deflect and avoid, or answer in the most oblique manner possible. We journalists are vastly outnumbered by spin doctors.

And it is partly because of the very tight media ship captained by Jacinda Ardern. The prime minister has won plaudits the world over for her empathetic and straightforward communication style. – Anna Fifield

When I was writing about New Zealand’s response to the pandemic for The Washington Post, almost every minister or ministry I contacted for an interview responded with a variation on: I’ll need to check with the prime minister’s office.

Since coming home, I’ve been surprised by the lack of access to ministers outside carefully choreographed press conferences. – Anna Fifield

Perhaps the most alarming, and certainly the most prevalent, trend I’ve noticed is the almost complete refusal of government departments and agencies to allow journalists to speak to subject experts.

Like, you know, the people who are actually implementing complicated reforms and know what they are talking about. – Anna Fifield

We often just get insufficient answers written in bureaucratese.

There is no opportunity to get them to put their words in a more digestible form. There’s no opportunity to ask them to explain the background to a decision.

There’s certainly no chance to ask them anything like a probing question. That, of course, is the whole point of this stonewalling. – Anna Fifield

This obfuscation and obstruction is bad for our society for two key reasons.

One: It’s in everyone’s interest to have journalists understand the complicated subjects they’re writing about. We need to ask questions. We can’t explain things we don’t understand.

Two: It’s called the public service for a reason. They work for the public, aka you. It is the job of the Fourth Estate to hold the powerful to account. So we should be able to ask reasonable questions – like “When will the $1.25 billion Transmission Gully motorway open?” – and expect something that at least resembles an answer. – Anna Fifield

To be clear, our country is free and open compared to many other parts of the world. But I’m not comparing us to Iran (where I used to ask pointed questions at foreign ministry press conferences all the time) or China (ditto).

I’m comparing us to other proudly open and democratic societies. And I’m comparing us to the us we used to be. Where a journalist could ask a straight question and get a straight answer and deliver it to you – straight. – Anna Fifield

But my favourite must be this supremely arrogant line from the Ministry of Health, asked about releasing data during an Omicron wave: “We will release additional information if it is determined that there is a need to do so.”Anna Fifield

I make two further predictions. First, the Ardern government will be utterly decimated in a landslide defeat next year and second, that in the course of time given some perspective, it will be recorded as the most incompetent by a country mile in our post-war history. – Bob Jones

Politicians bright-side scientific advice when they report it accurately, but selectively. They emphasise the politically helpful parts of this advice but omit the careful but politically-awkward provisos that scientists pair with their advice.Nicholas Agar

While there has been little Covid death, the Government’s stance has exacted a price: mental health issues; the interruption of children’s education; the too-long separation of families due to MIQ restrictions; struggling “hospo” and tourism businesses; the inability to source much-needed staff from offshore; and mounting government debt among them. – Fran O’Sullivan

It is too easy to get on and stay on welfare in New Zealand. Labour have enhanced that ease by reducing the use of sanctions to impose work obligations. They recently shifted thousands of jobseekers onto the sole parent benefit because they no longer had to look for a job. The policy settings changed. It is now OK to keep adding children to a benefit to avoid work. That is not a “well-functioning” welfare system.Lindsay Mitchell

Why anyone, however, would trust the Local Government Minister or the Prime Minister to deal with them in good faith after their sustained deception about mandating Three Waters remains a mystery. – Graham Adams

This is a vengeful government, it’s a nasty government, it’s the exact opposite of a kind government, and it’s exact opposite of an open, honest, and transparent government. Mike Hosking

Because here’s a fact we need to accept: no matter how important climate change is to people, it is hardly ever more important than being able to pay your bills or keep your job. Most people will vote for jobs and a warm house before they vote for the climate.

Governments should – and obviously do – bear that in mind. – Heather du Plessis Allan

Scientific studies show that singing has positive effects on mental health. People who sing are more inclined to be content with life.
Group singing seems to induce the production of oxytocin – the binding hormone that can reduce stress and anxiety, and decrease a sense of loneliness.
Singing heals pain and sorrow and increases a sense of well-being. –
Robert Fulghum

A government that allows trespassers to unlawfully occupy and obstruct the entrances to the land and buildings symbolising its authority, and to block the main streets of its capital city, raises questions about whether it is truly sovereign.

Everyone has a right to go to Parliament’s grounds and protest, but everyone else has a right to visit those grounds and drive around Wellington. In more than three decades of watching students, teachers, farmers, unions, environmentalists, Māori and activists on both sides of social issues march on Parliament, none has behaved as disgracefully as the mob who turned up on Tuesday and refused to leave. – Matthew Hooton

Many are so caught up in conspiracism that their problems appear more medical than legal.

Yet the Wellington political, bureaucratic and media establishments should not kid themselves that only a deranged fringe is feeling enraged by the current situation. Two years of pandemic and the long and preventable Auckland lockdown have fuelled a seething anger towards the Government from a much larger and more reasonable segment of the population, even if its source may be difficult to pinpoint. Matthew Hooton

But more is based on legitimate irritation with a Beehive communications strategy seemingly targeted towards children rather than voting adults, and which cannot admit the slightest fault or setback for fear of undermining Ardern’s global brand as Covid vanquisher. – Matthew Hooton

For its part, the Wellington bureaucracy is under so much pressure from its political masters to support the Beehive narrative that it increasingly provides information that is radically incomplete, contradictory or just plain wrong. – Matthew Hooton

The incoherence in the Government’s Omicron strategy means public co-operation is radically declining, including for tracking and testing. The Beehive may think a few more earnest homilies from the podium of truth will turn that around, but the public isn’t stupid. – Matthew Hooton

This is sneaky reform. Three Waters is designed to relieve smaller communities of the inordinate costs of compliance with an excessive regulatory regime already enacted in law. I doubt it will make beaches and rivers one jot cleaner than current regional council efforts can achieve.

All we stand to get is another fungal outgrowth of government, four super-regional agencies, each with floors of box-ticking bureaucrats making work for contractors, consultants, researchers and publicity staff to comfort you and me, the disenfranchised suckers paying for it.  – John Roughan

Just 53 people have died here from Covid, and our prime minister has been lavished with praise as a result. For much of the pandemic, the team of five million went about their lives pretty much as normal, working maskless, travelling domestically and attending large outdoor gatherings in sunny weather, going home in the evenings to wade through tear-soaked emails from contacts abroad marvelling at our apparent Covid success.

But there has always been another team milling in the shadows, the team of one million, the expatriate Kiwis stranded abroad who have paid a heavy price for their home country’s Covid elimination strategy. – David Cohen

Jacinda Ardern’s plummeting popularity indicates a country questioning not only her racist white-anting of our democracy, but the hypocrisy of her kindness and well-being mantras. Her repeated emphasis on ‘well-being’ on which she stressed her intent to focus, instead of on GDP – when introducing her budget in 2019 – is apparently an important part of the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s ‘Great Reset’ agenda.

New Zealanders have been sold a pup. The economic, mental and emotional well-being of New Zealanders has been far from prioritised by her Labour coalition doing extraordinary damage – and determined on more of the same, judging from the controversial legislation it continues to ram through. – Amy Brooke

The European Commission has tried, so far unsuccessfully, to direct its staff not to refer to Christmas, as if mere mention of the word would act on atheists, animists, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Hindus, and no doubt others, much as garlic flowers or crucifixes acted on Dracula (at least as portrayed by Christopher Lee).

Oddly enough in these times of multiculturalism, mere words provoke apoplexy, at least metaphorically, as never before. Euphemism, evasion and renaming flourish — supposedly in the name of tolerance, but really as exercises of power.  – Theodore Dalrymple

The academics, intellectuals and sub-editors of university presses who use the new style evidently believe that the world is populated by people of extreme psychological fragility, and whose self-esteem, which can be shattered by the mere usage of BC and AD, it is their duty to protect.

Thus does condescension and sentimentality unite with megalomania to produce absurd circumlocutions.Theodore Dalrymple

And this is where cancel culture is eating itself. It’s so inane and ridiculous that you now cannot even enjoy being the gender you are, for fear it upsets those who don’t believe in gender.  – Kate Hawkesby

Where is all this going? What’s the end game here? Why do we all have to be the same? And why do we have to bend and change ourselves constantly to fit in with whoever the latest person or group to be offended is? Surely that’s a bottomless pit?  

There will be no individuality left at all, if we go down that track. I mean the Tweeters that are outraged that she’s apparently confused teenagers by saying she loves being a woman, what about the teenagers who’re seeing this bullying backlash against a woman for saying she likes being a woman? What message is that sending them?  – Kate Hawkesby

Whether you agree or not with the people protesting on parliament grounds is not the debate anymore. What this government, that proclaimed it would govern for all New Zealanders, has done is turn its back on a good number of its people.

How hard can it be to at least front up and talk to the people assembled on parliament grounds?

The final straw for me, and what prompted me to go public, is the way government is treating these people – turning the sprinklers on them knowing there was a storm coming, and playing loud music at night so as to not let them sleep and make them feel miserable. No farmer would treat animals like that!

Although this protest has a different focus to Groundswell NZ, we support their right to be heard and cannot understand or agree with the Government’s actions. What is becoming of our once united and proud country? – Bryce McKenzie

Trevor Mallard has officially lost the plot. . . He’s done it under the guise of protection of course – appointing himself as some overarching protector of all – whether they want or need to be protected or not. 

It’s an old school ‘I know best’ approach that reeks of patriarchy and has no place here in the modern world. But what the Government’s tried to do here – and failed in my opinion, is grab the narrative on this protest and shut it down. Problem is they’ve only made things worse. – Kate Hawkesby

Refusing to speak to the protestors, writing them all off as wacko conspiracy theorists, and rabid far-right anti-vaxxers is a big mistake – and has only served to gaslight the situation. Media who’ve ignored Mallard’s instructions, have managed to gauge a large diversity of views from a raft of other people there too – yes there are your fringe nutters, but actually, the anger runs deep and there’re some genuinely aggrieved people out there too.

Only a fool would dismiss them and hope they go away.

Yet that’s what Mallard, Robertson and Ardern are trying to do. Robertson’s rolled out the usual sneering condescending frown down the nose rhetoric which is so popular in the left-leaning sandpit of Twitter.. just writing them off as dangerous rabid crazies. Mallard has taken it next level – he’s stooped to childish antics of pulling dumb – as someone pointed out “boomer” stunts -– like sticking hoses on them and playing them the Macarena. –Kate Hawkesby

Not even the Police support his actions and have distanced themselves from that stupidity. And why give it this much attention if the government line is supposed to be ignore them? Ardern on the other hand has done what she does best – head in sand, fingers in ears – vanish. She’s invisible. But when put on the spot to address it, she joins the Robertson ‘write them off’ camp.

But it’s not working, the protest is only swelling in number, not even a cyclone diminished their enthusiasm.

The other problem for the government is the hypocrisy on display here. Let’s not forget all these MP’s decrying the protest were all proud protestors themselves back in the day. So they support free speech, and your right to protest.. but only if it aligns with their views. I’m not on the side of the protestors here by the way – they’ve blown this by a long shot – it’s a disorganised shambolic out of control mess.Kate Hawkesby

But I wouldn’t be so arrogant as to write them all off as anti-vaxxers and far-right conspirators. There is genuine anger that runs deep in this now very divided country, over mandates and the campaign of control and fear.

So to just write off those protesting without even hearing them, is a dangerous move I think, by a government increasingly out of its depth. –Kate Hawkesby

Although the protestors aren’t necessarily many people’s cup of tea in terms of approach, demeanour and attitude – the general consensus seems to be that they in their own way represent a wider frustration, if not anger, among many of us. 

That’s why there isn’t a leader or a point of contact or a specific cause. hat’s why it’s been a mistake to call them an anti-vax protest or an anti-mandate group. It’s been a mistake to suggest it’s a mistake that they didn’t have a singular point.

That’s the point, about the lack of a point. They represent all of us that right now have a sense that things aren’t right.Mike Hosking

But it is an outpouring of emotion and I admire people who want to give up a lot of time and effort to travel and hunker down and presumably get a sense of some sort of accomplishment.

Which is why Trevor Mallard specifically, and the Government more generally, have misread this so badly. As a tiny collective they can be, and have been, dismissed but that’s to fail to see that they represent a wider mood.

The Government and Mallard in particular are on the wrong side of this. When you start turning sprinklers on, start playing loud, bad music at them, start pumping out covid-19 ads – you’re being obtuse. – Mike Hosking

Telling the media not to talk to protestors is anti-democratic. Opening your Speaker’s Balcony and telling media to look down on the protestors is also anti-democratic, authoritarian and controlling, not to mention the height of arrogance.

The fact so many of the media acquiesced is of deep concern and probably plays into the protestors beliefs that too much of the media is controlled. It’s certainly not open honest and transparent as Labour so often wanted us to believe they are. 

If the protestors need to be moved that is the job of the police, not a jumped bureaucrat with a puffed-up view of their own entitlement. There are no winners in this. But the more the Mallards of this world look to decry, misinform and bully, the sympathy will build behind those who just want to have their say.   – Mike Hosking

New Zealand’s secular liberal saint, Jacinda Ardern, seems to be losing a little of her previously strong odor of sanctity.  – Theodore Dalrymple

In typical bureaucratic fashion, the rules were interpreted strictly, and made no allowance for the fact that to be stranded pregnant in Afghanistan is a good deal more worrying than to be stranded, middle-aged, non-pregnant, and prosperous, in, say, Switzerland. No doubt the bureaucracy wanted to avoid charges of favoritism—one rule for the prominent and another for the unknown—but it did Ardern’s popularity no good that Bellis felt constrained to turn to those well-known feminist humanitarians, the Taliban, for assistance. They seem to have done the trick: Bellis has now been allowed to return to New Zealand; but in the process, Ardern’s government, not long ago praised as the model for all civilized countries to follow, has been made to look stupid, cruel, and weak.Theodore Dalrymple

The bad news is that each time we’ve made the right decision to buy more time, we’ve made it late and with insufficient planning in place. The strategy has served us well, but the execution much less so.

When the Prime Minister spoke to the nation for the first time this year on 20 January, she repeated stressed that ‘every day counts’ and it was urgent to prepare for Omicron, before going on to tell us that over the summer the government and its agencies had done… sod all.

One example: A new testing regime and the introduction of rapid antigen testing was announced, not with the information that the test were in the country and ready to go, but that they were on order, and in insufficient quantities. – Tim Watkin

Government hesitancy or poor management have been as consistent as the ‘buy time’ tactic. The initial lockdown was a week or two late, the testing at the border got into gear weeks after it was meant to, security at MIQs was only sorted after a number of escapes, more ICU beds were only announced 22 months into the pandemic, and – crucially – the move to order the vaccine and roll out a programme was slow, for all its eventual effectiveness. And we’re paying the price for that slowness now, cutting the gap between second and third doses and less widely boosted than we could have been.

The urgent language Ardern has used since 20 January was also needed before Christmas and over summer. National’s Covid-19 Response spokesman Chris Bishop on 30 December issued a statement headed “Govt must act on boosters, kids vaccines and rapid tests”. –Tim Watkin

Time and again we’ve done the right thing, but late and lackadaisically. And time and again we’ve got lucky. Or, the rightness of the decision has bought us the time to play catch-up. That, for me, has been the defining story of our Covid response and our consistent ‘buy time’ tactics.

But now we face a new phase for New Zealand. Covid-19 has begun entering the community at a level we’ve never seen before. I give thanks to all that is holy that we have bought time and we are facing this now – informed, vaccinated, prepared, up against a less deadly variant – and not at any other time over the past two years, like so much of the rest of the world. – Tim Watkin

Critics have repeatedly – for the best part of two years – insisted that the government’s tactics have run their course and it needs to change. And they’re repeatedly been shown up. But now we truly are at the end of the ‘buy time’ era. We’ve bought all the time we could and the wave is upon us. Two years in and the government will need to pivot and take a new approach. Let’s hope their decision-making is as sound, but their execution improves. Because the thing about waves is that they keep on coming.Tim Watkin

Critics have repeatedly – for the best part of two years – insisted that the government’s tactics have run their course and it needs to change. And they’re repeatedly been shown up. But now we truly are at the end of the ‘buy time’ era. We’ve bought all the time we could and the wave is upon us. Two years in and the government will need to pivot and take a new approach. Let’s hope their decision-making is as sound, but their execution improves. Because the thing about waves is that they keep on coming.Tim Watkin

The day a Speaker dictates to the media on how a story can be told would be a dark day for democracy.

It fits with the current Beehive though: a government by remote control, refusing to engage with those on the ground who don’t fit their mould and that’s most certainly unwise if not unkind. – Barry Soper

We’re fighting all these regulations and restrictions to keep operating, to keep job security going.. . It’s just decimating and it’s so hard for businesses to figure this out when the rules are constantly changing, we’re just tired of all these changes and restrictions. If it was simple – if it was like just RAT tests, clear, come to work, that’d be great, but it’s not, we’ve got all these minefields to work through.Simon Berry

Our besotted would-be train-spotters seriously oversell the benefits of “light” rail, such as the downtown-airport link. Who would want to trundle along in a train, stopping and starting at 18 stations en route, when an express bus using dedicated bus lanes can get you there in 35 minutes, as it often got me there pre-Covid? – Tim Hazledine

Even without the patently loony proposal to dig a long tunnel under Sandringham Rd, we have here a proposed “light” rail project that will cost New Zealand’s three million taxpayers between three and five thousand dollars each. This for the benefit of about 30,000 Auckland commuters, to improve their access to the higher-paid jobs in the CBD, if that’s still what they want to do. Tim Hazledine

THE NEW ZEALAND liberal or woke left, most of it directly connected to the Labour Party or supportive of it, has lost its mind. How else can you explain its maniacal pursuit of ‘right wing extremists’, ‘Nazis’ and ‘white supremacists’ within the several hundred people dancing to Bob Marley on Parliament grounds? When Rob Muldoon used to be mocked by Labourites for looking for ‘reds under the bed’, today’s Labourites are worthy of our derision as they hunt for Nazis in every occupation tent.  – Against the Current

What the liberal left has been demonstrating is something other than liberalism. It instead owes much to the scourge of identity politics. It has displayed a toxic politics that’s profoundly anti-working class and which has jettisoned tolerance and free debate for  shaming, threats and intimidation. While the folk at the occupation have been remarkably optimistic and good humoured in the circumstances, the liberal left has been petulant, joyless, trivial and status quo-perpetuating. Against the Current

More disturbingly though, the liberal left has displayed a willingness to unleash state violence against dissenters. The mask has come off to reveal something very ugly.  – Against the Current

The liberal left has indeed lost its mind. What we have seen on display for the past eight or so days is a motley rabble of cowardly keyboard warriors who are seeking to extinguish an emerging independent working class politics that owes no allegiance to the political status quo that the woke left benefits from. This is the real ‘crime’ of the Wellington occupation. Against the Current

Shoot me now!  New Zealand’s system of science education continues to go down the toilet (along with Donald Trump’s papers, I guess) as everyone from government officials to secondary school teachers to university professors pushes to make Mātauranga Māori (“MM”) or Māori “ways of knowing” coequal with science, to be taught as science in science classes. All of them intend for this mixture of legend, superstition, theology, morality, philosophy and, yes, some “practical knowledge” to be given equal billing with science, and presumably not to be denigrated as “inferior” to real science. (That, after all, would be racism.) It’s one thing to teach the indigenous ways of knowing as sociology or anthropology (and but of course “ways of knowing” differ all over the world); it’s another entirely to say that they’re coincident with modern science.

The equation of “ways of knowing” like MM with modern science is, of course, part of the Woke Program to “decolonize science”. The problem, of course, is we have a big conflict—one between a “way of knowing that really works“, which is science, and on the other side a reverence for the oppressed and their culture, embodied in MM.  The result is, of course, that the oppressed win, and all over the Anglophonic world science is being watered down, downgraded, pushed aside, or tarred with adjectives like “white supremacist” and “colonialist.” – Jerry Coyne

The purpose of education, at least as I see it, is to impart generally accepted knowledge to students, and to teach them how to think and how to defend and analyze their views. This is precisely the opposite of MM, which is a kind of theology that cannot be questioned or falsified. Under my construal, education is indeed for everyone, but for those groups who have spiritual/religious/moral values that differ from those of other groups, they have to get those things reinforced on their own time.Jerry Coyne

People of Aotearoa: rise up against this nonsense! Do you want your science education to become the laughingstock of the world? For that is what will happen if the benighted keep barrelling along that dual carriageway of science and nescience. – Jerry Coyne

his country survives on trading, often in markets at the other side of the world.

The fact that our standard of living is rated amongst the richest countries on the planet is solely dependent on our exporters having a better product to sell and being able to market it better than our competitors. It follows that the more you sell at these prices, the more we can afford to deliver higher living standards to the whole population of New Zealand. More and better schools and health services. More aged care and handicapped facilities. Better infrastructure, sporting, and leisure facilities.

As the economy grows, we all benefit.Clive Bibby

It says something about the time we are in that politicians cannot state they are listening to a group without it being assumed they are therefore part of that group.- Brigitte Morten

It is unlikely the protestors, now emboldened by seven days in horrible weather, blasting music, and overflowing portaloos, will be easily mollified. But it is clear that the government’s decision to dismiss their views has validated these citizen’s argument that they do not have a voice.Brigitte Morten

Irrespective of where you sit in the mandated vaccination debate, it is an extreme level of government coercion. Some of us will roll with it. In fact, close to 90% of the eligible population has done what the government has asked of it. But enforced coercion must be proportionate to the level of risk to public health and this is where the case for the mandated vaccination enters murky ground for those who gathered outside Parliament. The vaccine will stop our hospital system being swamped, but it doesn’t stop transmission.

You have both removed a citizen’s right to choose what is injected into their bloodstream and you have told them they will also get the virus. Are we really that surprised people have taken to the streets to oppose mandated vaccination? Has New Zealand society ever been this divided and this angry?  – Rachel Smalley

As I write this, the government hasn’t met with any of the protestors. Sure, some of the behaviour has been appalling and there are security issues, but few, if any, of the protestors would describe themselves as feeling recognised and free from prejudice. I don’t agree with their argument, but I support their right to be heard. And if you refuse to listen, the mob just keeps yelling.  Rachel Smalley

Two years into this pandemic, the government and many of its agencies are still heavily distracted by Covid. The focus remains laser-like on the virus, but the protests have shown us what happens when a government loses its peripheral vision across all of society. New Zealand is turning on itself. . . The government is throwing everything at containing the Covid monster but, in doing so, it has run the risk of fuelling another monster that is far, far harder to contain.   – Rachel Smalley

The fight is far from over. Trans activists wield an enormous amount of cultural power, and their ideology is far from discredited in the eyes of progressive politicians, delusional academics, and their media microphones. Many still insist that without sex change surgeries and life-long dependence on drugs, gender dysphoric children will kill themselves—and this threat packs potent power. Yet, from the British Isles to the Continent to the Nordic nations, people are beginning to wake up. Major medical institutions are beginning to put research over ideology. Each time this happens, trans activists lose power that they can never recover. And as the ugly and irreversible consequences of their delusional experiment become clearer, we can begin to hope that their narrative will implode sooner than seemed possible only a short time ago.

For the sake of the children being inducted into lives of perpetual medicalization, I desperately hope so.  – Jonathon Van Maren 

Truth is never absolute. We should be inherently wary of those who proclaim a particular viewpoint – political, religious, or otherwise – with a ferocity that tolerates no possibility of an alternative view, let alone that it may contain some points of validity.

Unfortunately, we live in circumstances where not only has truth become absolute, but also where virtually any actions in defence of that new absolute are considered acceptable. In nearly every aspect of today’s society, reason and considered debate are giving way to uncompromising absolutes, with little room for the traditional middle ground between them. – Peter Dunne

 There is a new vehemence abroad that accepts no good in any contrary view and no acceptable justification in any stand or action taken to promote that view. Because the particular view being expressed is considered to be wrong, all those who hold or even dally with it are mercilessly scorned and vigorously condemned.

The bigger picture, beyond this protest, and beyond Covid-19, is far more disturbing. Something is seriously wrong when protestors can see threatening to execute politicians and journalists because they disagree with them as legitimate. Equally, when political leaders can justify not being willing to engage in any form of dialogue with the protestors simply because they do not like the views they are expressing smacks of high-handed intolerance. It suggests our capacity for rational discourse and reasoned debate about a controversial issue has broken down completely. More worryingly, the vehemence of expression on both sides of the argument makes it difficult to see how differences of this type can ever be resolved constructively while such polarised positions and mistrust endure. – Peter Dunne

Having tasted attention and notoriety this way, the mob will not be easily dissuaded from similar action the next time an issue that riles them arises. We need to redefine the rules of social engagement in such circumstances, in a way that brings respect, reason and debate, rather than abusive slogans and haranguing, back to the forefront of public discourse. However unacceptable or offensive they may consider the views of the protestors, political leaders cannot remain haughtily detached, hiding behind civil authorities such as the police.

At its heart good leadership is about engagement – hearing from and listening to the disparate views of the community at large and then acting in a considered way in response. Good leadership is not simply telling people what to do and expecting unquestioning compliance. It also means having the courage to acknowledge the diversity of public opinion and its right to be expressed.

Personally distasteful it may feel, our political leaders across the spectrum need to initiate some form of dialogue with protest leaders to ease tensions and limit future recurrences. Otherwise, like Covid-19 itself, the new intolerance now emerging will, to our collective detriment, quickly become endemic. Peter Dunne

The transfer of sympathy from the victims of crime to the criminal has been going on for a long time. This transfer is now taken as a sign of broadmindedness and moral generosity, marking out the intellectual from the general run of prejudiced, thoughtless or censorious persons. – Theodore Dalrymple

It is hardly surprising criminals take advantage of a tendency among the educated to view them as the victims of their own conduct. The criminals may be ignorant, ill-educated and foolish, but they are not therefore stupid. They know the emotional and intellectual weaknesses of their enemies or opponents and are prepared to exploit them.Theodore Dalrymple

The root cause of crime is the decision to commit it: indeed, without such a decision, there is, or ought to be, no crime to answer. Of course, human decisions are affected by many factors, among them (but not exclusively) the likely adverse legal consequences for the people who make them. – Theodore Dalrymple

A fascinating political and sociological fault line has opened up – one that defies the normal understanding of New Zealand’s political dynamics. People at the bottom of the heap, as political scientist Bryce Edwards describes them – many of them working-class and provincial, with no formal organisational structure – have risen up in defiance of the all-powerful political class, the urban elites who are accustomed to calling the shots and controlling political discourse. I would guess most of the protesters outside Parliament have not previously been politically active and may not feel allegiance to any particular party. They appear to be angry about a number of things.  Covid-19 and the vaccination mandate galvanised them into action, but it’s possible there are deeper, less easily articulated grievances – such as perceptions of powerlessness and exclusion – simmering beneath the surface. – Karl du Fresne

 Most commentators in the mainstream media are framing the occupation of the parliamentary lawn as being orchestrated by sinister right-wing extremists, and therefore devoid of any legitimacy. How paper-thin their tolerance of the right to dissent has proved to be. The clear implication (where it’s not explicitly stated) is that the occupation is not a legitimate expression of the right to protest by sincerely motivated New Zealanders who present no threat to anyone, but an alarming phenomenon driven by alt-right agitators with an ulterior agenda. But there’s a very marked discrepancy between reports from people who have actually been on the ground at Molesworth St, who generally describe the event as peaceful and good-natured, and those who make judgments from afar and take refuge in simplistic stereotypes about the type of people who are protesting. – Karl du Fresne

I get the distinct impression that politicians from all the parties in Parliament, even ACT, feel threatened by this sudden gesture of assertiveness by the great unwashed and don’t know how to handle it. MPs have done themselves no favours by refusing to engage with the protesters. For one thing, it looks cowardly; for another, it reinforces the perception that the politicians prefer to remain isolated in their bubble rather than sully themselves by talking to a bunch of scruffs who dared to challenge the political consensus. Unusually, this protest is a rebuke to the entire political establishment, which the politicians probably find unsettling because it’s outside their realm of experience.  But they need to get off their high horse; the people standing in the mud outside Parliament are New Zealanders, after all. – Karl du Fresne

As part of the Parliament protest there are conspiracy theorists trying to take advantage to sell their wares, offensive signs, threatening language, destruction of property, and abuse of bystanders and local business.  None of this is okay.

Some use these reasons to treat protestors like they are deplorables; to argue that because some of the group are like this, none of the group should be listened to. But, as we saw in Trump’s America, the deplorables have a vote just like the intellectuals. And they have some valid grievances.Brigitte Morten

No politicians, from any party, have met with the protestors. They are too scared of media reporting contact by them with protestors as if it signified anti-vax sentiment. That is not fanciful. It says something about the time we are in that politicians cannot state they are listening to a group without it being assumed they are therefore part of that group. – Brigitte Morten

There is no such thing as a ‘right to protest’. In our Bill of Rights there are rights to free speech and freedom of assembly. But not explicitly to protest. There is no unfettered right for the protestors to camp on the lawns or increasingly block more roads in the Wellington CBD.

In the same way the government was not able to hold Aucklanders in lockdown as long as they wanted because people simply would not comply; the protestors will also lose empathy for their cause if they continue their hinderance of Wellingtonians for too long. You cannot argue the government mandates unfairly treated destroyed your livelihood while destroying the livelihoods of the businesses surrounding Parliament. The social contract goes both ways. – Brigitte Morten

Those calling for the Police to forcibly remove people from Parliament grounds underestimate how difficult this will be. If the current protesters are violently suppressed, the conspiracy claims of far right inspiration will become real. Thousands of previously apolitical New Zealanders will have seen that our democracy has no place for them, and the language of force is all that is left if they are not to be oppressed indefinitely. – Brigitte Morten

It is unlikely the protestors, now emboldened by seven days in horrible weather, blasting music, and overflowing portaloos, will be easily mollified.

But it is clear that the government’s decision to dismiss their views has validated these citizen’s argument that they do not have a voice.Brigitte Morten

 What are the building blocks of democracy? As “anti-mandate” protesters camp on Parliament grounds and images of police versus protesters fill our newsfeeds, it’s a timely reminder that trust, transparency, informed debate and respect for our civil institutions underpin a healthy democracy.

Beyond the many humanitarian and economic costs due to Covid, we cannot afford democracy and social cohesion to become casualties. – Sir Peter Gluckman

Trust in the political process has progressively fallen, the manipulation of information, the emergence of alternative facts, the blatant loss of transparency and respect for the truth are all features of many so-called democracies. Sir Peter Gluckman

Democracy has always depended on the integrity of both policy and political institutions and transparency in policymaking and knowledge. It requires ideas and policy to be contested civilly both through an informed and empowered opposition and an engaged civil society with the assistance of a robust fourth estate. From Plato’s thinking onwards, an honest and well-informed electorate has been central to effective democracy. – Sir Peter Gluckman

Arguably, there have been other costs, including democracy as an institution itself. There is a sense that decisions have been made without the deep oversight of Parliament and the plurality of external voices that makes for a quality democracy. Issues over Covid testing date well over a year now, including severe criticism from the Auditor-General over contracts, and now the availability of rapid antigen tests. There remains uncertainty about the rationale behind those decisions.

Crisis management is always best served by contesting ideas and approaches before decisions are made. In the private sector and military, “red teams” are commonly used to explore alternatives and ask frank questions of those managing the response. The furore about the role of the private sector and how its operational expertise could be of value has been evident since early in the pandemic and the next phase of the pandemic will be even more complex.Sir Peter Gluckman

Sustaining trust and cohesion is hard and requires real efforts to reinforce transparency and promote open discussion on difficult matters. This involves respecting the value of diverse inputs and avoiding any sense of Government abdicating accountability through confusing language. An informed electorate, open discourse, empowered citizens, and respect for the institutions of civic society are some of the greatest assets New Zealand could have. – Sir Peter Gluckman

Prognostication’s a curse. You can see the train wreck coming, you can shout about it, but you just can’t convince an utterly useless government to do a damned thing about it. 

Bit of a shame that the Herald piece didn’t mention that all of this was entirely predictable, was predicted, and could have been avoided by contracting for more capacity with a testing lab that wasn’t running pooled samples. Eric Crampton

Dismissive arrogance towards the protesters at Parliament is making the situation worse.

That’s not just Parliament’s high-handed approach. Opinion pieces and public sentiment that mock and sneer at people’s sincerely held beliefs serves to isolate those in our community who reckon the Government has got it wrong. – David Fisher

These are just some of the chisels placed in cracks in our civil society. And then the pandemic came along, bringing anxiety, fear and uncertainty and smashed them like a sledgehammer. It caused industries to collapse, businesses and jobs to go, people’s dreams and hopes to disappear. Across our society, there is tension and, among many, the vacuum of despair.

That’s the hole dis/misinformation filled. That’s how it became possible for some people to self-radicalise and how it led to the protest at Parliament.David Fisher

With such absolute surety on both sides, arguing over who is right and who is wrong is pointless. Rational argument and discussion has little place here. Those who have committed to their respective positions will not shift.

To dismiss those people – as the Prime Minister does by citing our 95 per cent vaccination rate – is wrong. To mock those people, as some in Parliament have done, is worse. Isolation is a classic part of the radicalisation process. The further and harder you push people away, the more fixed they become. – David Fisher

For every person that did make the journey, there are many others who wished they were there. They are people who stayed home and expected when they came out it would be over, who got their jabs and then thought that would be it, who had children stuck overseas, who knew someone who couldn’t go to their mother’s funeral, who lost their house when they lost their job. – David Fisher

The way out of the protest is not through the protest but with the protest. Rather than dismiss the protesters, recognise that the views they hold are genuine and hard-earned. Recognise they dedicated considerable thought to their views and adopted a stance that is honest and principled.

Having done so, recognise too that it is the one thing on which we disagree that is making it difficult to see what we like about each other. Finding a circuit-breaker to do that is hard but necessary.

Ultimately, most of those on Parliament’s forecourt want the same thing as those inside Parliament’s walls – for New Zealand to be a free and open democracy in which we are able to live our lives in the best way possible, subject to the freedoms enjoyed by each other.- David Fisher

For me, that’s been one of the interesting little hypocrisies in this whole episode. On one hand, politicians wanted to take a moralistic high ground by refusing to meet with protesters. How dare anyone dignify them with a response?! Only the moralistic high ground apparently didn’t apply to the Speaker, his sprinklers, and his irritating playlist.

Trevor Mallard’s efforts can only have served to antagonise the protesters. And every bit of scorn and hate hurled upon them only reinforces their self-image. The team of five million? Ha. This rabble, confused, misled, and deluded as they may be, felt well and truly left out of the team of five million. They joined together to protest precisely because they felt like outsiders. They felt ostracised. Very little from the past 10 days will have changed their minds. – Jack Tame

Yes, there were terrible, hateful, threatening messages. As far as I’m concerned, anyone making death threats should have been arrested immediately. But in this morass of different grievances and complaints are some very reasonable and articulate concerns around extraordinary state mandates. Personally, I don’t know why any right-thinking person who was only protesting the mandates would choose to stay and be associated
with someone making death threats. But the mandate issue is worthy of protest. I don’t agree with the protesters, but they do have a right to be heard. – Jack Tame

Hindsight is a very effective strategist, but there is one moment police may look back upon as the lost opportunity to nip the anti-mandate protests at Parliament in the bud.

That was on the afternoon of the first day the protesters arrived – Tuesday nearly two weeks ago. Claire Trevett

The poor old police in particular have been made to look like laughing stocks. They appear to have severely underestimated the size and intent of the protest group, despite the social media that prefaced it.

There have been moments that have begged to be lampooned. High among them was Police Commissioner Andrew Coster’s so-called towing crackdown.

Coster did not front publicly until Tuesday – a week after the protesters arrived. He said the protest was now “untenable” and put protesters on notice that if they did not move their cars, the towing would begin the next day. He also admitted they could not find towies to do the job, and the Army didn’t have the right equipment.

The next day the only car that was actually towed was a police car, which had a flat tyre. – Claire Trevett

The protesters have not made serious attempts to storm Parliament, beyond a brief flurry at the very start. Coster’s “de-escalation” strategy appears to be police-speak for hoping like hell the protesters stay that way. Claire Trevett

But the protest has long gone past the point at which police could simply wade into it and break it up. Coster has set out why: moving in with force at this point would be very ugly indeed.

Consent – the consent of the protesters rather than the wider public – is pretty much the only option left. – Claire Trevett

There is a danger the inhabitants of the parliamentary precinct have spent the week missing the wood for the trees. In focusing on the protesters directly in front of them, they seem oblivious to a much bigger mood shift that’s going on around the country.

What if what they are seeing is just the tip of the iceberg?Steven Joyce

There is, however, a large and growing group of New Zealanders who have had their lives severely disrupted by the Government’s actions “for the greater good”, who are sick of having their plight ignored.

And there is a big bunch more who have had a gutsful of the ever-changing rules and restrictions in the face of what they see as a very mild strain of Covid-19. It is these larger groups the Government should be most worried about.

The evidence of discontent and disagreement is growing all around us. – Steven Joyce

 The Covid response has created many losers. We’ve rightly talked a lot about the people caught on the wrong side of the border. But they are not the only ones.

Anyone who owns or works in a hospitality business or a small retail shop is another. People working in tourism or international education have been in a world of woe. Young people have had their education disrupted and their sporting dreams curtailed.

There are people living in pain because their elective surgery or cancer treatment has been postponed to the never-never. They have all been stopped from doing things which were previously part of normal life. Covid has whipped the rug out from under them.

It is perhaps not surprising when so many have had their lives turned upside down through no fault of their own, that a few will turn to conspiracy theories and the like.Steven Joyce

The Government certainly didn’t create the pandemic, but some of their actions have made it much worse than it needed to be. The vaccination delays, the inexplicable obstinacy against new forms of testing, the failure to increase hospital capacity, the layers upon layers of levels, traffic lights and stages which make people’s heads spin. – Steven Joyce

Then there are all the other tone-deaf announcements that heap insult on injury. What planet would you have to be on to think that whacking small businesses with a 6 per cent minimum wage increase and a new social insurance tax, plus the spectre of centralised wage negotiations, were good ideas now?

Why would you think that announcing a $15 billion light rail project for a privileged few in Auckland makes any sense when you are racking up debt all over the place that the next generation is going to be lumbered with? And at the same time as there is a real question mark over the future of commuting as we knew it?

And why would you be consulting on tighter immigration, visitor and student controls when your biggest problem after some pretty shoddy treatment amid two years of closed borders will be persuading enough people to come here?Steven Joyce

The Government’s dogmatic determination to continue with a policy programme made instantly out of date by the pandemic indicates the same lack of flexible thinking apparent in their Covid response. They expect everyone else to adjust and cope but they intend to sail on, determined to do things they thought of six or seven years ago irrespective of current circumstances.

And their blind loyalty to the Ministry of Health and its Director-General is a sight to behold. Dr Bloomfield has been politically dissembling at best about his organisation’s confiscation of RAT test orders. In any other Government he would have been carpeted and there would be talk of resignation. – Steven Joyce

The country’s mood is darkening, and in dismissing the protesters and their motivations, the Prime Minister and her MPs are giving the appearance that they are dismissing all the concerns people are raising, or even just quietly thinking about.

I can’t tell the Government how to get the protesters to go home, although firing Trevor Mallard would probably help. I suspect in the meantime the numbers will only grow.

Ministers need to lift their sights and focus on the wider discontent among the public outside Wellington and outside the Bowen triangle.

If ministers showed a willingness to genuinely listen, adjust their policy response, and convince Kiwis they both care about and will mitigate the disruption in people’s lives, then they can right the ship. At that point the protest will also probably peter out. If they don’t, then a few hundred assorted protesters and conspiracy theorists camped on the lawn at Parliament will be the least of their problems.Steven Joyce

I would say there’s probably a three-tier mandate. So the hairy shirt level is employment and losing your job, the next level down is the irritation level of not being able to do stuff you want to do, and then the third level down, which I think to be perfectly honest probably shouldn’t have been there in the first place, is a kind of mandate creep where we’ve been trying to really encourage secondary school students in that 12 to 17 year old age group to step up and get their doses which they have,” McIntyre said.

But schools have overinterpreted that and are imposing all these unnecessary restrictions on kids in that age group, not being able to play sport, not being able to go and participate in school activities, and it’s all because of their parents’ decisions which they are being punished for,” he said.

And let’s face it, you know, even if they are vaccinated, they are mixing with a whole group of other kids who are very low risk and they’re incredibly low risk now they’ve had their two doses, so I think particularly that third group, the kind of mandate that should never have been there in the first place, so I think that’s really an important one to tackle first. – Peter McIntyre

Why has a school been denied tests whilst it seeks to protect the health & safety of its own students & parents? Why has the government interfered with the contract? Our politicians and public officials would tell you that it has to do with things like MedSafe Approval – that health & safety red-tape is necessary when importing medical-related products.

However, that’s just one half of the truth. The other half is that our government has a very strong ideological problem with private sector involvement in the health-care sector.Robert MacCulloch

Yes, the government doesn’t want buyers & sellers which it doesn’t control coming together to do deals together in the health-sector. Although they say its about public health, it’s equally as much about ideology. Labour has an anti-privatization philosophy. At present, in the context of virus-testing, that philosophy has just become a health hazard. – Robert MacCulloch

Largely Covid-free, New Zealand has been viewed as a paradise for much of the last two years. Jacinda Ardern, already considered by many the Mother Teresa of the Antipodes, excelled in the early stages, acting decisively and with compassion. Appealing to the population to act as one, her “Team of Five Million” approach did wonders for national unity at a time when most other leaders were floundering and failing. No wonder I voted for her – twice.

But times have changed. Once saintly, Jacinda now appears merely silly, having led New Zealand to a place that looks more like a smug cul-de-sac than a nation wholly reliant on overseas tourism and trade. Then again, long-term strategic thinking was never a feature of her government’s Covid response, with “elimination” taking precedence over vaccination for much of 2021.   – Joanna Grochowicz

Not that anyone in New Zealand is really focusing on what she got wrong. Ardern’s $55 million (£27m) sweetener in the form of the Public Interest Journalism Fund has enabled her government to exert tremendous influence over private sector media outlets, as well as tightly control-messaging through state media channels. So much so that any coverage critical of Ardern now originates from pundits in Australia or Britain. Most recently, opposition leader David Seymour had to turn to the Daily Mail to get an opinion piece printed. This is when silly starts looking sinister.

If democracy is built on the ability to question those in power and hold them to account, then the Kiwi media are wholly complicit in Ardern’s swing from immaculate heart to autocrat. The major opposition party National have only made their job easier by offering nothing more headline-grabbing than leadership squabbles. Then again, the opposition’s perceived infighting might just be the PM’s grand media bribe in action. Gosh, she’s good!  – Joanna Grochowicz

Nobody can see the silent assassin at work next door; nor the mental health crisis her government’s Covid response has unleashed on New Zealand, where youth suicide rates are already the highest in the developed world. It certainly doesn’t fit the image of the leader I voted for – the young woman breastfeeding her new born at the UN General Assembly, the compassionate leader who offered succour to survivors of 2019’s Christchurch massacre. Here was a rare thing! A leader who understood both grand gestures and nuance.

Of course, there is nothing nuanced about Ardern’s shameless Covid scare tactics. They’ve worked a treat, keeping the public vehemently opposed to opening the country’s borders, and compliant in the face of tyrannical restrictions even as the rest of the world is emerging from crisis. Especially when combined with the bread of endlessly extended wage subsidies; and circuses in the form of a parade of overseas DJs, sports teams and stage shows that have breezed in without needing to enter the dreaded MIQ lottery.Joanna Grochowicz

Her latest diversion has worked. Terrifying the Team of Five Million, and focusing their fear and loathing on outsiders importing pestilence into paradise, is a highly effective strategy – if a little lacking in originality. Despots for thousands of years have deployed such methods to distract their subjects from something infinitely more damaging to long-term wellbeing – an unchallenged leader.

Ardern’s lack of transparency runs deep. One example, the He Puapua report currently before her Cabinet, was hidden from former coalition partner, New Zealand First. Finally outed as a result of an Official Information Act request, the report recommends a raft of co-governance structures along racial lines. – Joanna Grochowicz

Already, we are witnessing the corrosive impact of these policies and plans on national unity; and yet these issues and many others are being decided behind closed doors, with no regard for democratic process. Governments do this all the time, right? At least, oppressive regimes do.

What’s particularly galling for me is the mind control Ardern has exerted over the population. Coming back here, I’m shocked at how few have lost their faith, and baffled by the self-congratulatory mood that pervades the country. After two years of sermonising from Ardern and nowhere to drink other than from the government fountainhead, New Zealanders have turned into a nation of self-congratulatory, cavorting maenads.

Mea culpa. In voting for Mother Teresa, I unwittingly ushered Caligula into office. The parallels are there: noble and moderate for a period, admired all over the world “from the rising to the setting sun”. Our esteemed leader has become self-absorbed, cruel and dangerous. Where’s it all leading? I’d love to know, but getting to the truth in New Zealand is a tricky business nowadays. I prefer my chances at the London bacchanal – there at least I can be assured in vino veritas!Joanna Grochowicz

There are, of course, complaints and complaints. Some are purely individual or egotistical, but some point to general problems that affect many other people or the whole of society itself. A complaint is then emblematic of something beyond itself and may even become socially useful or necessary. Complaint that is merely about oneself is often akin to whining, and often serves to justify descent into the psychological swamp of resentful self-pity. – Theodore Dalrymple

There is thus an asymmetry between complaint and gratitude: one complains when things don’t work as they should, but one feels no gratitude when they do. There is a similar asymmetry where human rights are concerned: you complain when they are violated but are not grateful for receiving your due.

Perhaps this explains why people seem so angry all the time despite the unprecedented physical ease of their lives. As we grow ever more technically sophisticated as a society, but individually dependent upon mechanisms of whose workings we have not the faintest idea, we come to expect life to proceed like a hot knife proceeds through butter. When things go wrong – the computer crashes, the train is late, the car won’t start, the gutter is blocked, the bank’s website has a temporary problem, the promised delivery doesn’t arrive – we feel a quite disproportionate despair because of our expectations, though the inconvenience we suffer as a result is trivial by comparison with the kind of problems and deprivations that our forebears had to endure even within living memory, and did so with more equanimity than we can muster.Theodore Dalrymple

It is now almost impossible to remain out of range of those with whom we would rather have no contact. Future generations will never know the joys of being incommunicado. The world is too much with us, wrote Wordsworth getting and spending – and that was in 1802! It is not too much with us now; it is with us perpetually, all the time. – Theodore Dalrymple

On the other hand, recognition of what is and is not within our control is an important manifestation of maturity. How far that control extends was the most important intellectual quarrel of the twentieth century, with extremists arguing either that nothing in a man’s life, or alternatively that everything, was under his control. The extreme positions obviate the need for judgment of individual cases, which Hippocrates told us (in the medical context) is difficult. However, that something is difficult does not go to show that it can or ought to be dispensed with. Life is not the passage of a hot knife through butter. – Theodore Dalrymple

Those MPs who are refusing to even meet with the protesters, seem to have forgotten that they were elected to listen to the concerns of constituents and represent their views in Parliament.

Not only have our political elite shown themselves to be tone deaf about the protest, they also appear to be equally uninformed about Omicron, which is now sweeping through the country at a great rate of knots. – Muriel Newman

The political elite in Wellington have misjudged the situation by maligning and dismissing the protesters. Their misrepresentation of those who are standing up for what they believe, will simply harden their resolve, and result in more good Kiwis like Sir Russell Coutts going to Wellington to support a movement that is aimed at ending forced vaccinations and restoring human rights, dignity, and the freedom of choice for New Zealanders. Muriel Newman

We live in a community. Obligations to one another flow from that. At the same time, obligations must be checked by individual freedoms because it is almost impossible for an individual to opt out. The law follows you to the boundaries of the State. Civilised societies try to find the right balance between communal obligations and individual freedoms. People tend to gravitate to societies which are relatively skewed towards individual freedoms. Migration flows speak to that. Empirically, such societies are also the most prosperous. Individual freedoms and prosperity move in sync. – Peter Smith

There is no opposition among the major political parties on combatting the virus, as there isn’t any more on combatting so-called “climate change.” In such circumstances despotism flourishes.

Media today verses yesterday: For sure, much more leftness, greenness, feminisation and callowness; but, dwarfing all of these pernicious trends is a precipitous fall in questioning curiosity, objectivity and common sense. Shows no signs of reversing. – Peter Smith

There’s something symbiotic about the protestors outside Parliament Buildings and the ministers inside who won’t talk to them. Both are motley, arrogant and short-sighted; they radiate confusion and specialize in messaging that is hard to understand. Virtually everything ministers have promised over the last four and a half years has crumpled in their hands, from building 100,000 new houses, abolishing homelessness, lifting people out of poverty, improving education, fixing the country’s creaking infrastructure, and enhancing race relations that have never been in a worse state. – Michael Bassett

The protestors are similarly confused on everything from a clear purpose through to whether they even want to talk to those who don’t want to talk to them. Most in this diverse assemblage of New Zealand’s modern underclass are engaged in a rumble with an “up you” message to the rest of us. As well, there’s a thin layer of brighter ideologues who are worried about the creeping shroud of authoritarianism that Jacinda Ardern is encasing us in. But, for the most part the IQ level on both sides is about equal. Some protestors would have happily joined Trump’s January 2021 Capitol riot; others are drawing welfare rather than having any work obligations. Both sides are mostly on the public payroll. The current ministers have similarly impoverished educational backgrounds and narrow life experience. Both sides seem ill-equipped to talk to produce a constructive dialogue, even if anyone wanted to.Michael Bassett

The Prime Ministerial complaint appears to be that anti-mandate protests are acceptable, but anti-vaccine protesters were beyond some imaginary red line and thus were not to be tolerated.

But – and I realise this will come to as a shock to a few in the Beehive and those who pander to them – our political elites do not get to define the boundaries of legitimate dissent. –  Damien Grant

What the prime minister meant, I suspect, is it isn’t how she and her cohort of performance revolutionaries choose to conduct themselves, where the object was to get the Instagram photo and move on somewhere comfortable for a soy latte and vegan muffin. Getting mud on your designer clothing was to be avoided and being arrested was definitely not on the cards. Thank you very much.Damien Grant

There is a qualitative difference between the theatre of protest and the real thing. Those who marched in Auckland in support of Black Lives Matter or against Donald Trump in the Women’s March after his election, were engaging in performative protest.

Their lives were not impacted, they had no expectation of effecting change, and the wrong being committed was happening in another country. This isn’t to diminish the significance of the issues or the genuine feelings of those who turned out, but we should not confuse these marchers with those who stood in the field at Rugby Park in Hamilton wearing helmets. – Damien Grant

Yet we understand that florid language is the last recourse of the powerless, a final act of impotent defiance against the relentless power of the state. To point at the weakest member of our community, whose pitiful status is the result of your policies, and feign outrage as he scribbles pathetically in chalk is a weak moral position.

It makes sense that Trevor Mallard put on the sprinklers and played bad music at the crowd, because such a strategy would have deterred him and his parliamentary colleagues. Demonstrations were to be done only in fine weather and during gentlemen’s hours.Damien Grant

Those who refuse the vaccines do so for a variety of complex reasons, but if you are willing to lose your career rather than take the jab, then we need to acknowledge that this belief is genuine, if mistaken. But then, many believe all sorts of things are bad for them, from religion to a liking for craft beer.

If you believe that mRNA is going to rewire your genetics, you are not going to take the vaccine no matter how drastic the consequences, despite the fact that you, like me, have no idea what mRNA is.

The solution for most of us, when faced with the mandates, is to submit, whether we want it or not; but not everyone is built this way. Throughout history, we see examples of people taking strange ideological positions and being willing to suffer great hardship rather than compromise. – Damien Grant

But within the makeup of humanity, there is a small percentage willing to die for their beliefs and a larger cohort willing to stand in solidarity in the rain and muck of the parliamentary grounds to defy these mandates.

The prime minister is stuck. She cannot negotiate. She cannot back down. She needs to look upon those on the lawn and despair – for those rabble are the captains now. For as long as they can remain in place, they are the story.Damien Grant

Rather than hailing the achievements of the Labour-led government’s management of the covid crisis, this left should have been decrying the government’s lack of an economic programme for those hurting due to the exacerbation of poverty and inequality. – John A.Z. Moore

What I’ve seen at Ministry of Health level borders on incompetent, and no one is taking advice that in any way shifts their thinking.Ian Taylor

The emergency legislation in response to Covid-19 giving our Government the right to control our freedom of movement is no longer demonstrably justified in removing the fundamental rights to which New Zealanders are entitled.  –  Lady Deborah Chambers

However, section 5 in operation appears to be interpreted as broad enough to drive several trucks through. Our Government has removed our fundamental freedom of movement in a way that no other previous government has done. If the Government’s actions are justified under section 5, then that section needs to be narrowed and strengthened. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

The incessant and futile attempts to impose Covid-19 zero strategies will continue to fall away against the inevitable path towards endemic Covid-19. The never-ending onslaught of emergency powers and inane rules should be replaced now with sensible precautions, encouraged but not legislated by the Government, with an ongoing concentration of treatments, vaccinations, and health resourcing.

Instead, our Government has continued – against international trends – to impose even more draconian measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

It is not justified to restrict the fundamental rights of other New Zealanders when we know that it is only a particular group in our community who are vulnerable to a low risk of death from this disease. The better approach in terms of human rights is that citizens who are vulnerable be more cautious and aware. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

The average age of Covid deaths is still higher than the average life expectancy. We do not need a government to talk to us like we are 5-year-olds over these risk factors. New Zealanders know them. New Zealanders know whether they are part of a vulnerable group and should be trusted to act accordingly and take that into account in the decisions they make about their lives without having the Government use that as an excuse to become authoritarian. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

Thirdly, the emergency regulations taking away our freedom of movement fail to properly balance social, educational, economic, and even other medical damage in favour of an obsessive focus on Covid-19 to the exclusion of all else. This is why health bureaucrats and epidemiologists should only ever have been a key source of advice, not dictators of Government policy.

I do not doubt that the Government genuinely thinks it is taking these extreme measures for all the right reasons, but the Government’s rulemaking is no longer proportionate to the risk and does not meet the requirements of the section 5 exemption. The “nanny knows best routine” is no longer justified.

Fourthly, to those who say that our Government’s refrain that they are entitled to claim credit for “keeping people safe” and go even further and demand a continuation of this protection pretense, I say this: It is not the Government’s role to attempt to prevent all death at any cost. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

Part of the reason large elements of the public are entranced by the unachievable goal of permanent insulation from Covid-19 is that our politicians have raised expectations that our Government cannot meet by using paranoia and political one-upmanship.

Some New Zealanders will not be happy until they ruin another school year or chalk up another $60 billion in debt and ruin the early careers of so many young people weighing them down with taxation for decades to come. Those views are not a justification for overriding the fundamental rights of other New Zealanders.

If you are very risk-averse, then the answer is simple: you choose to take the steps you wish to take to avoid infection. The answer is not that our Government removes fundamental freedoms by emergency regulations when we are now in a very different position from when we first faced Covid-19 without vaccines, little knowledge, and a much stronger variant.

Our leaders assure us we are no longer in elimination mode. They urged us to get vaccinated so we could dispense with the restrictions on our fundamental freedoms, but still, we are overwhelmed with onerous and illogical rules and restrictions. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

Most media are addicted to Covid-19 catastrophism, down-playing or ignoring the social and economic costs. Fear is even better than sex at selling newspapers. Oppositions have been too timid to call it out, preferring to profit from outrage and trepidation, preferring to complain about a bungled vaccination rollout when we have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world and one of the lowest fatality rates.

It is time we elevated civil rights as a key component to decision-making. So far, the influence of the Bill of Rights has been zip.  – Lady Deborah Chambers

The pandemic has provided a stress test for the freedom of movement guaranteed to us and the results are not pretty.

The most common way people give up their rights is by thinking that they do not have any. New Zealanders should be justifiably proud and be prepared to defend the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. It is time we did.

Nothing strengthens authoritarianism so much as silence. – Lady Deborah Chambers

The rule of law needs to be respected and upheld. Should people reach the view they are not bound by it and the right to protest is unlimited, chaos would eventually descend upon us. It is a slippery slope. . . 

While the Bill of Rights reinforces the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of association and freedom of movement, none of these rights is absolute.Sir Geoffrey Palmer

When Labour governments run out of ideas they have usually resorted to centralisation and more controls. In its final term, Peter Fraser’s ministry that had been one of the most creative in New Zealand’s history, centralised as tired ministers hoped their trusted bureaucrats would keep Labour’s faltering show on the road. The ministries of Walter Nash, Norman Kirk and Bill Rowling followed similar paths. Jacinda Ardern’s government, you’ll recall, had very little policy to start with. So little in fact that when it came to office in 2017 it had to set up more than two hundred committees and inquiries to tell it what to think and do. The results were pitiful. Almost no Kiwibuild houses were constructed, homeless numbers increased, poverty figures rose rather than declined, educational achievement standards kept slipping against other countries, and major infrastructure construction fell well behind schedule. Whenever criticised, rookie ministers blamed the previous government, and then Covid. Message? Centralising everything can’t compensate for the absence of carefully-thought-through policy. – Michael Bassett

Despite their lack of specific policies, they had ever-so-itchy fingers. They engaged across a wide front tinkering with everything in sight, thinking some ancient Labour dogma overlaid with a big dose of special privilege for Maori would fix things. The public hospital structure had been set in place by Helen Clark’s ministry. It is only twenty years old, but it is now being turned on its head for no good reason except that a more centralized system makes it easier to favour Maori. Health Department officials who have been under huge stress coping with Covid are also having to restructure a hospital system that wasn’t broken. Nor is there anything so wrong with water and drainage services nationally that they require Nanaia Mahuta’s Three Waters in the form set out in her current proposals. Her centralizing scheme seems to have only one over-arching purpose: control by Maori. Meanwhile, the school history curriculum is being restructured with one special purpose in mind: teaching a bogus version of New Zealand history to school kids about the Treaty of Waitangi. Making Labour’s centralisation work certainly keeps officials busy. Wellington has become a gigantic Lego-fest.Michael Bassett

Over the years, the best ideas behind successful government schemes have always taken time to germinate. If they are specific to places or regions there has to be buy-in from locals who will benefit. And the best way to test the extent of that buy-in is to expect the same locals to own the project and pay the lion’s share. Centralizing everything always means bureaucracy and waste. But then, Jacinda’s ministry is so other worldly that they don’t know these stark realities. Her government is too expensive to indulge any further. – Michael Bassett 

Compulsory wokeness, for example, has had limited success in healing division; while classifying people by what they say, rather than what they do, has not promoted much virtue.

State management of the economy to reduce instability and help the weak now threatens long-run productivity growth.  Meanwhile, support for decarbonisation evaporates as life-changing costs become transparent.   

And the taking by the state of ever-wider powers to regulate our lives to make us better people increasingly creates more problems than it solves. Oblivious of how it looks, we find the most ardent defenders of civil liberties yearning for extraordinary powers.Point of Order

There’s an unmistakeable note of panic in the posturing of the woke Left. They suddenly realise they no longer control the public debate and are wildly lashing out at the scruffy mob that usurped their right to make a nuisance of themselves. How dare they! – Karl du Fresne

The level of condescension and intellectual snobbery on display from people who think of themselves as liberal has been breathtaking. The tone has alternated between sneering at this supposedly feral underclass and alarm at their sudden, forceful presence on the national stage – a stage the wokeists are accustomed to hogging for themselves.Karl du Fresne

Oddly enough, we never hear experts on Morning Report expressing alarm about people being radicalised by the extreme Left, although it’s been happening for decades at the taxpayers’ expense and has succeeded in transforming New Zealand into a country that some of us barely recognise.

Similarly, we should conclude that ideological manipulation is a problem if it’s practised on an ignorant lumpenproletariat, but not when it happens to gullible middle-class students in university lecture theatres, where it flourishes unchallenged. – Karl du Fresne

What we can infer from this barrage of anti-Camp Freedom propaganda is that the woke Left is terrified of losing the initiative in the culture wars. It’s desperate to reclaim its sole right to lecture the rest of us and wants to do so without the distraction of an unruly mob that has the effrontery to adopt the Left’s own tactics.

The irony here is that having spent most of their lives kicking against the establishment, the wokeists are the establishment. They have won the big ideological wars and are on the same side as all the institutions of power and influence: the government, the bureaucracy, the media, academia, the arts and even the craven business sector.

The dissenters, disrupters and challengers of the status quo – in other words the people protesting outside Parliament – are the new radicals. This requires the moralisers of the Left to recalibrate their political thinking, and I get the impression it’s more than some of them can cope with.Karl du Fresne

An unprovoked attack on a peaceful, democratic neighbour has not happened in Europe since World War II. It is a barbaric act that could take us into a dark age. It shakes the foundations of the international order and the world economy.

With the fall of Communism, there was hope for a new, liberal world order. Globalisation was spreading, as was democracy. There was a peace dividend in the form of reduced military spending and less need for autarky, especially in energy. It was the supposed ‘end of history’. – Oliver Hartwich

If the West needed a final wake-up call, this is it. If those who believe in liberal democracy, civil liberties, free markets and the rule of law still care about their values, this is the time to defend them.

Talk of solidarity with Ukraine is good, but it can only be hollow. There is no way to come to Ukraine’s military defence without provoking an even bigger war.

What the free and democratic world must do urgently is to reconnect with its own fundamental values. That requires a reality check. – Oliver Hartwich

We must rediscover the cultural and political foundations of our civilisation. It is the Enlightenment values of freedom and peace that we must defend against illiberalism, both at home and abroad.

It is a historic moment. But it is our choice how to respond to it.Oliver Hartwich

They say having a baby changes what you value and it’s true. I want more for our country now. Nine months ago, a politician could’ve convinced me with a tax break. But now, I want to know that politician has a plan to keep New Zealand as wonderful as it was for us to grow up in. I want to know that our schools are world-class, that our jobs pay well and that our cities are good places to live. I want this boy to want to live here, in the same country as his mum and dad, and never leave for a better lifestyle in Sydney and London and New York. I want things that benefit all Kiwis, because what is good for all Kiwis is good for him. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

A commonality of skin color and associated facial features is as nothing compared to the fact that human beings of all races share the faculty of reason. The former may allow for an interesting group photo once in a while.

The latter is what underlies the accumulation and application of knowledge and gives to the members of all races the ability to produce the goods and services that the members of all races need and desire. – George Reisman


Quotes of the month

01/02/2022

It has two sides, like day and night. The night part is dark, it has pain, it has sadness, I’m not free from that. At the same time, the night gives hope that soon it is going to be over and the sun is going to come out. – Farid Ahmed 

Everyone has that capacity to forgive, it is just a choice. If we decide with our own willpower that we want to choose love, then it is easy. Farid Ahmed 

You might be forgiven for wondering who won the Cold War, so prevalent have Stalinist and even Maoist ideas and procedures become in the West, especially in the academy and among intellectuals. It seems almost as if we are reliving the 1930s, when similar groups of people, in response to the economic crisis and dislocation of the times, were captivated by the supposed charms of totalitarianism. – Theodore Dalrymple

We become, if we are white, not born-again Christians, but born-again anti-racists, though whether we shall ever be forgiven is doubtful, for there is the small matter of original sin and pre-destination to consider. – Theodore Dalrymple

By accident of birth, we are racist (if we are white), no matter what we do or whatever position we occupy; by accident of birth we are victims of racism (if we are non-white) whatever we do or whatever position we occupy. So change is both necessary and impossible, a perfect recipe for permanent political agitation, guilt on the part of whites and resentment on the part of non-whites.

Happily, there will always be work for the “experts” in diversity and inclusion to do. Now and forever—Amen. – Theodore Dalrymple

It isn’t difficult for them to find racism, of course, because it is everywhere; by definition it is present wherever and whenever it is perceived, by whomsoever it is perceived. A person accused of racism is guilty of racism by virtue of having been accused of it: there can be no such thing as misunderstanding, let alone malice, by accusers. – Theodore Dalrymple

No need, then, for such irrelevancies as evidence, or for the objective correlatives of an accusation. As guilt in communist countries derived from the class ancestry of an accused, so in the authors’ brave new world of racial justice it derives from the racial ancestry of an accused.

The underlying condescension and indeed racism of this should be obvious: persons of color who accuse do not rise to the level of true human beings because they are incapable of such human possibilities as misunderstanding, exaggeration, and lying. They are inanimate truth-telling machines without true consciousness. – Theodore Dalrymple

It is boring to have to argue against this intimidatory drivel, but not to do so is to let it spread unopposed, fungus-like, through both institutions and minds until it is too late to stop it.Theodore Dalrymple

There is thought for people’s welfare overseas but here it seems like it is only important that the system is being upheld without a thought for the people in it. – Vincent Rall

The rallying call, ‘transwomen are women’ is simply not true. Rowling is right – sex does matter – but it is also the clear distinction between transwomen (who are male) and women (who are female). People can claim to be whoever they like – I might fancy being the King of Siam – but male and female are not the same.Debbie Hayton

Misinformation risks people’s lives. It’s highly likely that people became seriously ill and died because of vaccine misinformation.

Some of this misinformation came intentionally from individuals against vaccinations, and others came from the unintentional effects of comments from politicians. Let’s just say that comments made in mainland Europe affected people in Africa. – Professor Sir Andrew Pollard

Like many of the significant shifts we have seen in education and NCEA over the last few decades, the current debate is underpinned by slogans and little if any evidence. . . 

By the way, the slogan underpinning this declining performance in mathematics is “we (NZ) teach knowledge with understanding and they (everyone else) teach rote learning”. Evidently we don’t teach much at all, while other nations give their children life skills.Gaven Martin

The current slogan for the NCEA changes appears to be, “Many Māori are disengaged from science because they don’t see their culture reflected in it”.

There is no evidence that such a claim has any bearing on education success rates. The issue is not about groups or individuals seeing themselves in the curriculum. It’s about the way our children are tau​ght, and the knowledge and skills teachers bring into the classroom. – Gaven Martin

This policy, however, will reduce welfare (wellbeing would be more politically correct), increase unemployment, increase the duration of unemployment, reduce income, increase inequality, and lead to higher inflation. This outcome is robust and well-known in the field of macro-labour economics.Dennis Wesselbaum

In conclusion, you will be paying higher income taxes, have lower income, and pay higher prices such that the Government can implement a policy which will be harmful for the economy in many ways and reduces welfare – which this Government claims to be its raison d’être.

This reform is against every lesson economists have learned.

In my opinion, this shows the Labour Government does not care about designing useful economic reforms that would lead to better outcomes, but rather does whatever is required to transform Aotearoa into a socialist welfare state with a central government controlling all aspects of life. – Dennis Wesselbaum

Your job as a support person is not to cheer people up. It’s to acknowledge that it sucks right now, and their pain exists. Megan Devine

There is a sneaking suspicion that lower speed limits are the favoured tool of the anti-car lobby, who may perhaps not be happy until we are back to cars travelling at walking speed with a little man in front waving a red flag. – Steven Joyce

 We need to get on with building a safer, more fit for purpose, regional roading system. We’ve already wasted four years, let’s not waste more. – Steven Joyce

Ninety percent of women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer couldn’t name a single symptom before they were diagnosed.

It’s a crisis in women’s health and we need to talk about it, and we need to act on it. – Jane Ludemann

As long as I’m still living from this cancer, I will keep fighting for changes to improve women’s outcomes and to grow the organisation so it can be strong when I’m not here. – Jane Ludemann

It would be amazing if I could live my life and focus on me, but if I did that, nothing would happen. – Jane Ludemann

Ordinary working New Zealanders, busy raising families and paying off mortgages, have little chance of countering the influence of the highly motivated, publicly funded ideologues who increasingly shape public policy. Karl du Fresne

It seems obvious to me that no statue should be erected to him. Victimhood is no virtue and can’t redeem a crime. To erect statues to him is nothing short of disgraceful and to turn him into a hero is—or ought to be considered—an insult to black people everywhere.

However, feeling as I do about this doesn’t entitle me to pull the statues down where they’ve been erected legally. I can argue against them, campaign and start petitions for their removal, and so forth, but I can’t take the law into my own hands.

Moreover, even if I succeeded in my campaign, I should be inclined to preserve the statues somewhere or other rather than to destroy them—as monuments to human folly and moral confusion. It’s always timely to be reminded of human folly and moral confusion. – Theodore Dalrymple

In particular, New Zealand cannot afford to destroy its pastoral industries, with these alone earning $NZ30 billion of foreign exchange per annum.  But strategies for emission reduction will be needed, and there are ways that this can be achieved.

I am hugely frustrated that most of the urban community, and many of the politicians, do not understand that it is food and fibre exports that provide the overseas funds that allow New Zealand to purchase the fuel, vehicles, machinery, computers, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals that make our lifestyles sustainable.  They simply do not ‘get it’.

Just tonight, I heard for the umpteenth time on television how ‘agriculture has to pay its way’.  The idea was that agriculture has to contract. I could only sigh and shake my head, because there was no point in screaming at the box that food and fibre is how all of New Zealand ‘pays it way’.Keith Woodford

At some stage the rest of the world is likely to question the economic sustainability of New Zealand. If that occurs then the exchange rate will crash.

If the exchange rate crashes, then that will be very bad for most New Zealanders. The exception will be for those New Zealanders who produce products for export.

A significant decline in the exchange rate may be what is needed to convince New Zealanders that export industries lie at the heart of our national well-being. – Keith Woodford

The harder the elitists, the media and the academics push for the adoption of Māori language, Māori ownership, Māori control, the adoption of ill-defined terms, the incorporation of Māori factors into science and, particularly, if the courts continue down the path of judicial activism by embracing ethnic and cultural values into judgements and judicial process the greater the problems will become.Owen Jennings

The problem is there is no clear definition of many of the terms and concepts that the conceited want to impose.  They cannot even agree among themselves.  Because they are revisionists they will force the most extreme position.   – Owen Jennings

Uncertainty halts process.  Progress ends.  Investment stops, decisions get deferred or just not made, wrangles emerge, division and antipathy grow.  Instead of a nation of “one people” we are being cleaved down the middle – the totalitarian elitists on one side and the hoi polloi on the other.  The arrogant writing their own cheques on the back of those who have no claims, no acceptable blood. The anger is now evident.  The push is too far, too fast.  The future looks bleak, even bloody. Owen Jennings

This uncertainty, confusion and growing unresolved claims plays havoc in the business world.  It kills entrepreneurship, smothers risk taking and investment and jobs go.  The low paid jobs go first.  The crème le crème are not affected.  When their bloated salaries are insufficient they sell their over-rated service under contract and double their income.  They become a consultant and double it again. – Owen Jennings

What to do?  Can paradise be regained?  Ultimately power lies with the people.  It may take a decade, it may take a century but eventually the masses prevail.  If we do not want a split nation, a fully totalitarian state, a country of even greater ‘haves and have-nots’, a basket case economy where long proven values of free speech, freedom of association, freedom from state control are lost, we need to take action now.  We either do it now by talk and the ballot box or we do it later by more dramatic means. – Owen Jennings

The Great Awokening has not crowded out Millennial Socialism. It has absorbed it. (Or maybe it was the other way around – I am not quite sure, and it makes little difference.) This new Woke Socialism uses the methods of the Culture War, and applies them to economic discourse. Being branded a ‘Thatcherite’ now seems to be almost on a par with being branded a ‘transphobe’, a ‘racist’, or an ‘Islamophobe’.

Thus, the Culture War is by no means ‘beyond economics’. Instead, economics has become a major front in the Culture War. – Kristian Niemietz 

New Zealanders of all stripes have been very accepting of the need to redress historical wrongs perpetrated towards Maori. For the most part, these wrongs have been redressed by way of monetary and property settlements to the present-day Maori tribal authorities. But New Zealanders have become concerned as these claims have become more outlandish, encouraged in part by poorly-drafted legislation that has become the enabler for spurious claims for possession of everything from water resources to the entire coastline of New Zealand. But even these claims pale against the agenda that was outlined in a document that the current New Zealand Government tried to keep secret – the report known as He Puapua [PDF download].Kiwiwit

I believe most New Zealanders want to accommodate Maori aspirations for self-determination, but few will be prepared to accept the imposition of new constitutional arrangements that have the effect of making non-Maori second-class citizens in their own country. A government that sets itself against the will of its people cannot last – or at least, not as a democratic government. We need a genuinely open debate on how New Zealand is to be governed in future without anyone who expresses a contrary view being labeled racist. I have always thought the most important clause in the Treaty of Waitangi was Article 3, which envisaged that we would all be British subjects – in modern parlance, equal citizens. That is the aspiration that should drive all consideration of how New Zealand is to be governed in future. – Kiwiwit

More than anything, losing them taught me that life is so precious and you have only got the one life. I just don’t want to find myself languishing,Lucy Hone

Resilience psychology is about working out how you get through whatever you’re facing, examining and being aware of your thinking patterns and whether they are helping you or harming you towards your goal. – Lucy Hone

I really encourage women to believe in themselves physically and not let other people’s opinions or what they’ve done as they’ve grown up, their family norm, establish what is right for them,” says Hone.

And to take on a challenge that intrigues them because the growth you get from doing those hard things is fantastic and massive and we can do hard things – even though it’s sometimes not fun and involves tears.Lucy Hone

In my experience, the best way to achieve fiscal control is to actually solve the problems of the people who are driving the spend. Bureaucracies are very reluctant to admit that what they’re doing is not working … but we shouldn’t pretend when we know we’re failing. – Bill English

The first thing for governments to do is admit what they’re not good at,. And what they’re not good at is complexity – that is, people who need multiple services, and don’t fit the boxes. So those people are all getting little doses of commodity services that usually wear them out rather than have any impactBill English

[Identity politics is] saying that who you are determines what you will be; and, of course, that’s the kind of thing a lazy universal system would say. – Bill English

People on middle-class incomes … have no idea what it’s like to be enmeshed in 10 different systems (of payments) … these people are worn out … and we give them bad service.Bill English

 A person develops learned helplessness when he is subjected to unpleasant situations that he can do nothing to avert. He generalizes his helplessness to unpleasant situations about which he can do something, such that he acts as if he were helpless when he is not.

I would like to extend this observation to a condition of learned stupidity, that is to say the stupidity of people who are by no means lacking in intelligence but who nevertheless make stupid decisions that people of lesser or even much lesser intelligence can see at once are stupid. Learned stupidity explains how and why highly intelligent people, faced with a choice, repeatedly choose a stupid, if not the most stupid, option, time after time.

In order for people to learn to be stupid in this sense, they must both undergo a prolonged education or training and be obliged to perform acts or carry out procedures that do not engage their intelligence and may even be repugnant to it, while simultaneously being under surveillance for compliance and conformity. Politicians generally fulfill these conditions. They are not alone in this, far from it: A good swathe of the general population also fulfills these conditions. People who are selected for intelligence and then denied the use of it are particularly apt to become stupid.

Politicians are denied, or deny themselves, the use of their intelligence by their need to curry favor, not necessarily of the majority, but of at least the most vocal minorities. It is a human propensity to come to believe what one is obliged, either by self-interest or by virtue of one’s subordination in a hierarchy, to say. That is why, in my professional life, I’ve heard so many intelligent people arguing passionately for the most evident absurdities, with all the appearance of believing in them.Theodore Dalrymple

It is difficult to see how a system of government permitting 15 percent of the population to determine the fate of the remaining 85 percent can end anything other than badly. Pretty early on in the piece, the Māori nationalists, like the Pakeha liberals of the 1980s and 90s, will also be forced to choose:

Do we preserve our ideological victory and defend our hard won political supremacy by force – or not?- Chris Trotter

 Ministers have been treating good news about Covid as political, and failures (such as border testing) as let-downs by public servants, for the past two years. Ben Thomas

There is no doubt Omicron will be swift as it makes its way through the community, but at the end, along with our high vaccination rates, there will be potentially additional widespread herd immunity. This may in fact, if we are lucky, put brakes on the pandemic. It could draw the threat of Covid-19 to a close. Covid-19 will not go away, though; it will still circulate, it will be just less dangerous.

My prediction is that the pandemic will end in six to 12 months, and we will be living in our new normal. Covid-19 will still be with us – that’s a given – but we can all play a part in helping to slow the spread of the virus in our communities.- Dr Bryan Betty

 Two years since the option to go home – a human right, and a lifeline for expats – was ripped away from most Kiwis. Jacinda Ardern spent press conferences referring to those back home as the “team of five million” and urging people to “be kind”, while the one million New Zealanders who live overseas looked on in desperation, the message clear: you are not welcome here.Molly Codyre

 It’s been two years since most overseas Kiwis have been able to hug their families. It’s hard to express the mental toll that takes on a person – the constant uncertainty, the tearful FaceTime calls, the human desire to simply be near the people that you love. – Molly Codyre

Except in the worst-case scenario, you may not be able to get home. The Facebook group Grounded Kiwis recently obtained government data under the Official Information Act outlining how many emergency allocation spots had been approved in the period 1 July 2021 to 6 September 2021: just 7 per cent of applications for those suffering the death of a close relative were approved; only 10 per cent of people with a terminal illness themselves were allowed to go home. –  Molly Codyre

For the second Christmas in a row, just four of our five family members will be able to be together. This time, I’m the odd one out. The concept of hugging them all in February was getting me through. Now I just feel spent. I’m sick of shouting about how angry I am, I’m sick of writing articles and letters and telling the devastating stories of those who have been locked out of their country for months and years. I’m sick of watching athletes, pop stars and international DJs get coveted spaces over the average citizen.

I want to hug my family and be near the people I love. I just want to go home.- Molly Codyre

The innocent words “principles of the Treaty of Waitangi” were included in the SOE Act only because Lange’s then attorney-general (Geoff Palmer) assured the cabinet the phrase was meaningless.  Thanks to some judicial musing, this initial phrase became loosely associated with “partnership”.  About 30 years on, this link was subtly extended to the “principles of partnership”. Then that meaningless phrase was gradually manipulated into a linkage with co-governance. Now we have He Puapua working on converting that link into a string of “principles of co-governance”.

Thankfully, most New Zealanders see through the word games. They know that the big constitutional issues that affecting their lives and well-being can only be determined by their formal votes, and not by merely manipulating the language.- Barry Brill

First, my qualified and supremely trained heterosexual white male graduate students (and I’ve had many others, by the way) face a negligible chance of being offered university research positions, despite stellar scientific dossiers. This is partly because of Diversity, Inclusivity and Equity mandates (my preferred acronym: DIE). These have been imposed universally in academia, despite the fact that university hiring committees had already done everything reasonable for all the years of my career, and then some, to ensure that no qualified “minority” candidates were ever overlooked. My students are also partly unacceptable precisely because they are my students. I am academic persona non grata, because of my unacceptable philosophical positions. And this isn’t just some inconvenience. These facts rendered my job morally untenable. How can I accept prospective researchers and train them in good conscience knowing their employment prospects to be minimal? – Jordan Peterson

We are now at the point where race, ethnicity, “gender,” or sexual preference is first, accepted as the fundamental characteristic defining each person (just as the radical leftists were hoping) and second, is now treated as the most important qualification for study, research and employment. – Jordan Peterson

How can accusing your employees of racism etc. sufficient to require re-training (particularly in relationship to those who are working in good faith to overcome whatever bias they might still, in these modern, liberal times, manifest) be anything other than insulting, annoying, invasive, high-handed, moralizing, inappropriate, ill-considered, counterproductive, and otherwise unjustifiable? – Jordan Peterson

And if you think DIE is bad, wait until you get a load of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) scores . Purporting to assess corporate moral responsibility, these scores, which can dramatically affect an enterprise’s financial viability, are nothing less than the equivalent of China’s damnable social credit system, applied to the entrepreneurial and financial world. CEOs: what in the world is wrong with you? Can’t you see that the ideologues who push such appalling nonsense are driven by an agenda that is not only absolutely antithetical to your free-market enterprise, as such, but precisely targeted at the freedoms that made your success possible? Can’t you see that by going along, sheep-like (just as the professors are doing; just as the artists and writers are doing) that you are generating a veritable fifth column within your businesses? Are you really so blind, cowed and cowardly? With all your so-called privilege? Jordan Peterson

And it’s not just the universities. And the professional colleges. And Hollywood. And the corporate world. Diversity, Inclusivity and Equity — that radical leftist Trinity — is destroying us. Wondering about the divisiveness that is currently besetting us? Look no farther than DIE. Wondering — more specifically — about the attractiveness of Trump? Look no farther than DIE. When does the left go too far? When they worship at the altar of DIE, and insist that the rest of us, who mostly want to be left alone, do so as well. Enough already. Enough. Enough. – Jordan Peterson

The reluctance to let the public in on its thinking as it is developing, to engage in public debate and test ideas, to challenge the views of the favoured experts with the views of other experts, here and abroad, has been a sad hallmark of the government’s approach throughout the pandemic.

This prevailing mood of secrecy, dressed up as an “abundance of caution” has been a major contributor to the uncertainty and fear that has gripped the community, and frustrated businesses and cost jobs over the last two years. The Prime Minister’s comments so far this year suggest this approach is set to continue. – Peter Dunne

The point that arises from all this, fuelled by the government’s unwillingness to be completely open with us all and the steadily negative and therefore unrealistic utterances from its public health advisers, is that our whole approach looks more and more like putting a finger in the dyke every time a crack appears, rather than working out how to live with the problem.

While that approach was understandable, even justifiable, in the early days of the pandemic, when knowledge and science were developing, it is no longer the case. It is unrealistic for New Zealand to expect that it can suppress the virus here in a way that no other country has been able to do, unless of course the intention is we really do become the hermit kingdom some have feared. – Peter Dunne

While Jacinda Ardern claims she runs an open and transparent government, we now know that is a lie. Her election-night promise to govern for all New Zealanders, was also a lie. Without any public mandate, she has taken away democratic rights from communities and freedoms from individuals.

Not only has she embedded the radical socialist agendas of the United Nations and the World Economic Forum into our legal and regulatory framework, she is now attempting to replace one of the world’s oldest democracies with tribal rule. These are the actions of a totalitarian regime.Muriel Newman

So being Maori is about understanding all of your heritage, not just a portion of your heritage, and that includes my European side as well and having respect for both.

And that’s why I think that inclusiveness is really, really important because I don’t like being told I have to either be a racist and a colonist or be a Maori. – Nicole McKee

So it’s more really about the here and now and what we are able to do for the country, and those that are stuck in the past will always remain stuck in the past. But we can’t go backwards. We can only go forwards. – Nicole McKee

We think that if you can offer better opportunities for mental health, better opportunities for education, then it’s better opportunities full stop.

If you look at the Maori that go over to Australia and get in the mines, they do so incredibly well. “And I know that we all have the ability to do incredibly well. It’s just we shouldn’t have to leave the country to do it.

And I think a big part of that is they don’t have any incentive to do well because they can be handed everything on a plate, whereas my mother brought us up to get educated and get out there and make a difference. – Nicole McKee

This is going to be a busy and difficult year for Government. It is planning major changes to the health system, tertiary education, local government (the “Three Waters”), environmental rules and wage-setting arrangements – while also struggling with Covid and the disaster that is housing policy.

None of these initiatives looks well thought through. All are being justified on the basis of good intentions. The established formula is: “this is a problem, something must be done, our policy proposal is something, therefore it must be done”. The Government’s contentious and divisive proposals for Three Waters epitomise this approach.

Unfortunately, good intentions are not good enough. Particularly when it comes to public policy. There are always unintended and undesired consequences. Responses to a misdiagnosed problem will often make things worse, not better. – Bryce Wilkinson

The situation smacks of the final years of the Muldoon era where every policy was pulling against at least one other policy. The policy contradictions mount until they overwhelm an administration. It took the succeeding Lange government years to extricate the country from the policy mess.  – Bryce Wilkinson

Removing commercial assets like water infrastructure from council balance sheets could ease the infrastructure funding problem. But this could be done without imposing the convoluted governance arrangements the government proposes for the three waters.

Unhappily, the Government’s proposed Natural and Built Environment Bill promises to pull in the opposite direction by making “the environment” more important than housing. – Bryce Wilkinson

The ban in 2018 on offshore gas and oil exploration is another example of incoherent policy. Under New Zealand’s Emission Trading Scheme, the ban can make no difference to New Zealand’s net greenhouse gas emissions to 2050 and beyond.

It is effectively a subsidy for imported coal to produce electricity. Environmentalists groan, while an eliminated industry moans and other investors wonder who will be next. The unprincipled removal of interest deductibility for landlords answered that question.  – Bryce Wilkinson

Why is rigorous official analysis of policy proposals so uncommon? The only answer can be that decent analysis is dangerous for constituency politics. If enough people knew what outcomes could really be expected, they might thwart the policy.

Politicians are then forced to pretend that the inclusive overall public interest is at the centre of what they propose, even when the proposal might really be partisan.  – Bryce Wilkinson

But ultimately it is results that count. As mental health professionals have been pointing out since the 2019 Budget, pledging to spend a lot more money because it looks caring is one thing. Making a real difference is another.

Nor is Treasury above professing good intentions. For years now it has beaten its chest about its supposedly world-leading Living Standards Framework. It asserts that our wellbeing is at the centre of everything it does. Yet no framework for policy analysis has emerged from this effort. The tangible output is a dashboard of indicators. They have nothing to say about whether government policies are making New Zealanders better off or worse off.

Absent a policy framework, the risk is that the discrepancies they inevitably reveal as between aggregate categories of people will trigger yet more of the “something must be done” impulse to ill-considered policy action. – Bryce Wilkinson

Policy analysis is set to get worse. A new form of collectivism is in the ascendancy. Its narrative is that groups whose economic and health outcomes are worse than the population average must be ‘disadvantaged’ by others. The “oppressors” may glibly be the likes of foreign investors, capitalism, white colonisation, and the better off who are, by presumption, guilty of unconscious bias. Glib presumption displaces problem diagnosis. Individuals have no individuality.

The polarising focus on the collective or group, as if it is a homogenous whole with sharp boundaries, undermines horizontal equity. This is the notion that those in equal (needy) circumstances deserve equal treatment, even if they do not belong to a ‘disadvantaged’ group. More broadly, the focus on group membership undermines the importance of individual dignity, values, choice, liberty, initiative, work ethic and enterprise. Social cohesion becomes at risk. – Bryce Wilkinson

The Government faces a tough year in good part because it is locked into promoting major changes whose public interest justification is thin and whose nature is polarising. Worthy aspirations and fine intentions do not answer hard questions about likely effects.

For opposition parties, this is an opportunity. For those who care about public policy, it is a train wreck. – Bryce Wilkinson

Finally, businesses receive approval to bring RATs into the country and they have been operating very well. Until, the ministry decides to play catch up and has consolidated orders into this country. They call it consolidate, others say, requisition.

Even if there was a problem, what in the name of all that is holy makes the Ministry of Health think it can rollout Rapid Antigen Tests? Show me the evidence that the ministry could in fact see a problem and solve it.

It has shown itself to be inept when it comes to the distribution of PPE, and worse than that, it refused to listen to the pleas from the people on the ground who are most at risk in that first wave of COVID, who said there isn’t enough PPE. They utterly refused to listen to the people on the ground, so not just inept, but cruel.  – Kerre McIvor

This is yet another egregious example of an incompetent, shambolic ministry that was in utter disarray for many years. They are showing that they are out of their depth and playing catch up yet again and sensible, proactive, nimble New Zealanders who have foresight and preparedness are the ones who pay the price. – Kerre McIvor

It was tardiness of a different kind that caught the Government out on Wednesday. After repeatedly talking down the importance of rapid antigen tests (which were – to be fair, less useful during the Delta outbreak), and blocking their import, the Government quietly changed its mind and began diverting orders intended for businesses into its own stocks.

Well, that’s what the Government said. Distributors were slightly more blunt, arguing the tests were “seconded” “requisitioned” – many versions of “nicked”, essentially.

Politics is, at its heart, a language game. Control of language is a good proxy for political control, but it is difficult not to squirm a little at the notion there’s nothing smelly about the Government “consolidating” something that belongs to someone else and that it alone will choose when that person gets what they originally ordered.

Theft by any other name smells as foul. – Thomas Coughlan

After months of talking down RATS and blocking their import, the Government then over-restricted their use, while faffing its own order. Now, it appears the Government wants millions of the things, and instead of getting its own, it’s “consolidating” them from the businesses that it was blocking from receiving the tests just months ago.

And on that “consolidation” malarky – at least some distributors are concerned the Government applied its significant market pressure to force manufacturers to drop smaller orders in favour of the Government’s large order.  – Thomas Coughlan

The Government seems convinced the clear benevolence of the Covid response is an excuse for common thuggery – it is not.

Gangs seize the goods they want – Governments procure them. Ends do not justify means, especially not now. Don’t be surprised if the Auditor-General decides to go sniffing. – Thomas Coughlan

Unlike the early stage of the pandemic, when a bit of chaos could be excused by the fact the Government was responding quickly to a challenge that no one fully understood, this latest incident appears to show a Government covering its back having failed to act quickly enough to procure tests it should have acquired a long time ago.

The fact the Government’s silence on its procurement pivot appears to have something to do with the embarrassment it faces belatedly adopting a form of testing the opposition has been calling for since last year only adds to that embarrassment. – Thomas Coughlan

It takes a special kind of gall, and/or arrogance, for a government to turn up last week having been literally invisible for a month during a pandemic and announce without even the slightest hint of embarrassment, that one, you haven’t been off skiving, and two, you actually have a Covid plan for the year. When, as it inevitably turns out, no such plan exists. – Mike Hosking

As we enter the third year of Covid, we have had various forms of lockdowns, then levels (various forms), then lights (various colours), and now we have phases or stages.

Stage 1 for Omicron is the “stamp it out” stage … surely the most farcical of all the ideas so far. Mike Hosking

At every step along this torturous journey, as well as being hopelessly ill-prepared, the Government has insisted things that can never happen will somehow magically happen here. – Mike Hosking

But the part that infuriates me most is not the incompetence of the Government, that’s now well established. No, the inexplicable part is the rationale of those who still believe all of this is somehow acceptable.

To expect and accept so little is an indictment on a country that once aspired to so much better. – Mike Hosking

The recent spike in the afforestation of sheep and beef farms is not the result of consumer driven demand, but heavy-handed and short-term Government policies designed to incentivize more trees, regardless of whether or not they are the right tree in the right place. – William Beetham

Overseas Investors can simply plant pine trees, claim the credits, sell them and take the huge profits overseas, while New Zealanders carry the consequences now and into the future. – William Beetham

Quite simply, those wanting to use land to continue farming for the future prosperity of Aotearoa New Zealand are being out-bid. There is little benefit but a huge cost to future generations. – William Beetham

In addition to teaching the knowledge associated with specific academic disciplines, it is the mission of universities to prepare students to think critically.

Critical thinking requires us to engage with ideas we find disagreeable, difficult and even offensive, and to learn to bring to bear reason and evidence, rather than emotion, when we respond to them. One of the core principles that have historically enabled universities to fulfil this mission is academic freedom. – Dr Michael Johnston, Dr James Kierstead,  Dr David Lillis, Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger, Professor Lindsey White, Professor Brian Boyd

Academic freedom – and the benefits to human knowledge it brings – requires the tolerance to hear and engage with ideas to which one objects. To be sure, such tolerance often doesn’t come naturally, which is why academics must model it to students.

But the importance of this kind of tolerance goes beyond the academy. The free and open society we, perhaps, take too much for granted depends on the willingness of its citizens to tolerate the expression of rival opinions. – Dr Michael Johnston, Dr James Kierstead,  Dr David Lillis, Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger, Professor Lindsey White, Professor Brian Boyd

The Ministry of Education is currently reviewing the achievement standards for NCEA science, in large part to infuse them with understandings from mātauranga Māori. It seems essential that scientists, philosophers and experts in mātauranga Māori should be able to conduct an open, public debate to inform that review. If we get it wrong, it may harm both sources of knowledge.                                         

One of the things that defines scientific inquiry is that it brooks no sacred claims. True science is never ‘settled’. Even when theories seem to explain observed phenomena perfectly, new information and fresh insights may throw everything up in the air once more. – Dr Michael Johnston, Dr James Kierstead,  Dr David Lillis, Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger, Professor Lindsey White, Professor Brian Boyd                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In science, ideas must be tested against evidence, never against what we would prefer to believe. For example, religious conviction does not provide a valid basis for objection to a scientific idea. Neither is it ever legitimate in science to allow personalised attacks to substitute for reasoned, evidence-based argument.    – Dr Michael Johnston, Dr James Kierstead,  Dr David Lillis, Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger, Professor Lindsey White, Professor Brian Boyd

 I am a researcher and former academic. I have been involved in many robust debates over my career. Inevitably these will hurt the feelings of various groups or individuals including those whose theories are being challenged. Its not a reason to shy away from such discussions. If avoiding upsetting some people becomes a key feature of universities we may as well close them down now. – Paul Callister

At what point do we begin to demand better from our Government? At what point do we stop accepting mediocrity? At what point do we start demanding a Government that delivers results? A Government that is proactive, forward-thinking, and delivers meaningful solutions rather than half-baked ideas delivered through a web of PR nothingness? – Nick Mowbray

I reflect on our Covid response, and we are not learning any lessons. Frighteningly we borrowed more money per capita than any other country in the world outside the US in 2020 and 2021. This was despite us being least affected by Covid due to our geographic location (ease of shutting borders) and low population density. – Nick Mowbray

And what do we have to show for the doubling of our national debt? Better hospitals? No. More ICU beds? No. More nurses? No. Wasn’t this the Covid fund? Two years later and even the most simplistic initiatives have not been executed. The learnings we’ve been able to witness internationally from our less fortunate geographic neighbours have not been integrated into our Covid response, common sense and basic strategic thought has not been applied, and consequently, the most basic of infrastructure has not been integrated into our short, medium or long-term plans.

We should demand better than this. – Nick Mowbray

The problem is now that we are more than 90 per cent vaccinated and we are still not getting on with life. Whatever way the Government wants to spin it, the reality is we are now, and will continue to live with a variant that has a very low hospitalisation rate and even lower death rate. Yet, because we have not improved anything over the past two years, we are having to live in fear that our public health system is not ready. – Nick Mowbray

What is truly worrying is the absence of research undertaken by our Government to learn from the actions taken by other countries. New Zealand was perfectly positioned to closely monitor the strengths and weaknesses of respective global efforts to tailor the best possible localised plan, proactively. It was clear a year ago Rapid Antigen Tests were going to be key to living with Covid, yet the Government has seemly spent its time communicating efforts around an idyllic, unrealistic elimination strategy rather than proactively securing supplies that will ultimately enable New Zealanders to get on with their lives. Every other country has had them available widely for well over a year. Like with everything we have been the slow to react and seems not learnt our lessons from our vaccination roll out. – Nick Mowbray

Our economy is high on a sugar rush from the past two years, but that will soon wear off. Inflation is running rampant, the cost of living is soaring, house prices are up 45 per cent. Companies and businesses like our own cannot get out into the world. How long can this go on for?

In Australia, 86 per cent of people now cite their biggest concern as the cost of living. Consumer spending in the US is down 27 per cent Q3 vs. Q1 – the flow-on effect of this is going to be monumental, and it’s only just getting started. At what price do we stop and say enough is enough? At what point do we demand better of our Government?

Surely that moment is now. – Nick Mowbray

Let’s start by being charitable. If the Government wanted to spread Omicron through the community as fast as possible, its actions over the last six weeks have been exemplary. Matthew Hooton

A government wanting to stop spread would have cancelled major events like the three-day Soundsplash music festival in Hamilton. Instead, the Ardern Government — which since September has had a weirdly specific fixation on ensuring music festivals proceed — stood by, deciding only after the festival that Omicron was spreading in the community sufficiently to justify moving to red. The release of information about Soundsplash-linked cases was delayed. – Matthew Hooton

 Again, to be charitable, what would a government do if it wanted Omicron to spread through the community as fast as possible? It would encourage 8000 teenagers and early-20s from all around the North Island to gather at a music festival, thrash about together in mosh pits and sleeping bags, just before returning home to start school. 

If spread was the goal, the Government deserves a gold star. New Omicron cases have risen more than five-fold over the last four days, at least as fast as in Australia in December. – Matthew Hooton

The Ministry of Health, having finally decided it wanted as many RATs as possible, moved to stop their distribution to organisations which had ordered them as part of their business continuity plans. The ministry will instead ensure RATs get to the “right” businesses, as if health bureaucrats really understand which organisations are essential to maintaining basic infrastructure and food distribution as hundreds of thousands of us get sick with Omicron in the coming weeks. – Matthew Hooton

 The Government stands accused of laziness, negligence, incompetence, panicked authoritarianism and opacity over its response to Omicron. It is far too charitable to think it planned any of this. The wheels have come off its spin machine. Matthew Hooton

Wouldn’t you love a government that lived within its means as you and I are trying to do? Wouldn’t you love a government that was fully accountable for it’s decisions as you and I are in our lives?

Those of us that work really hard just to afford a moderate life with the odd bit of fun, continue to be used as human ATMs for ministers of the crown who appear to think that hard work equates to hard times in the debating chamber.  –  Roman Travers

When the Taliban offers you – a pregnant, unmarried woman – safe haven, you know your situation is messed up.Charlotte Bellis

My lawyer has taken MIQ to court eight times on behalf of rejected, pregnant Kiwis. Just before the case, every time, MIQ miraculously finds them a room. It’s an effective way to quash a case and avoid setting a legal precedent that would find that MIQ does in fact breach New Zealand’s Bill of Rights. – Charlotte Bellis

The decision of who should get an emergency MIQ spot is not made on a level playing field, lacks ethical reasoning and pits our most vulnerable against each other. MIQ has set aside hundreds of emergency rooms for evacuating Afghan citizens, and I was told maybe, as a tax-paying, rates-paying New Zealander, I can get home on their allotment. Is this the Hunger Games? Pitting desperate NZ citizens against terrified Afghan allies for access to safety? Who is more important – let’s let MIQ decide. Charlotte Bellis

I am writing this because I believe in transparency and I believe that we as a country are better than this. Jacinda Ardern is better than this. I am writing this to find solutions for MIQ so that New Zealanders both at home and abroad are safe and protected. I write this for the people who send me messages every day: I need treatment, my father has months to live, I missed my loved one’s funeral, I’m in danger, or my visa has expired, I have nowhere to go…
…and I’ve been rejected. I do not have a pathway home.

Our story is unique in context, but not in desperation.

The morning we were rejected, I sobbed in my window overlooking Kabul’s snow-covered rooftops. I wasn’t triggered by the disappointment and uncertainty, but by the breach of trust. That in my time of need, the New Zealand Government said you’re not welcome here. It feels surreal to even write that. And so, I cried. I thought, I hope this never happens again. I thought, we are so much better than this. I thought back to August, and how brutally ironic it was, that I had asked the Taliban what they would do to ensure the rights of women and girls. And now, I am asking the same question of my own Government. – Charlotte Bellis

Jacinda Ardern recently told an American television host that she finds it ‘slightly offensive’ when outsiders assume every other New Zealander starred in Lord of the Rings. Quite so. New Zealand has only one real film star in 2022, and that’s the Prime Minister herself. But the way things are heading, she might best suit an adaptation of Lord of the Flies.  – David Cohen

Most striking of all, though, is the question of how any political leader this side of China could do all this without so much as the mildest challenge from what passes for the local media and scientific establishment, much less the culture at large. – David Cohen

Kiwis are not politically screamy like the Americans, still less given to kicking back against bureaucracy like the British. Shortly after arriving in New Zealand from London in the late 1930s, Karl Popper marvelled over what appeared to him to be ‘the most easily governed’ people on the face of the earth. The champion of open societies did not mean this as an un-alloyed compliment. David Cohen

Racial minorities are no different from other human beings, in that we do not appreciate being spoken for or told how to think. The fetishization of identity politics is a superficial solution that rewards its believers with self-righteousness but won’t actually eradicate racism. I hear frequently from non-white individuals in my audience who do not believe their race is the most important thing about them, who are tired of being lectured by woke white people. – Debra Soh

At the heart of the RATs issue lies two problems; this Government’s failure to plan, first with the slow roll-out of the vaccination programme and now the failure to purchase enough RATs in time for Omicron, and then its increasing insistence on applying the draconian powers it has at its disposal under the Covid-19 Response Act.

The fact that the hand of Big Government is still being utilised, when the prime minister and Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins talk about Kiwis taking ‘personal responsibility’ in regard to Omicron, only highlights the pervasive role Big Government now has in our lives.

It’s the same reason the Ministry of Health and the Government initially rejected saliva testing. It wasn’t accurate enough, they cried. What it really meant was that saliva testing gave people a degree of autonomy and allowed them to take on the responsibility which only now the Government is asking us to do.Janet Wilson

This week the prime minister was at it again, saying that RATs “have a large variation in accuracy rates – some as low as 30 per cent”. It’s a case of if your own lack of performance is in the spotlight, throw doubt on the effectiveness of the product. What the Government seems to have completely forgotten is that personal responsibility flies out the window when you can’t get tested. – Janet Wilson

What the RAT issue epitomises is that while this Government wants us to prepare for the wave of Omicron that will reach our shores, it hasn’t done enough preparation of its own. If it isn’t prepared, how can all of us be assured that we’ll cope? Without access to cheap, easily available rapid antigen testing, how can we know if we’ve got Omicron in the first place? We can’t. Janet Wilson

Picture this; as we face this next phase of the pandemic, with thousands of cases sweeping through communities a day and PCR testing overwhelmed, rapid antigen testing will be a vital tool to help us negotiate Omicron’s vicissitudes, as it has in the UK, the USA and Canada. Except you won’t be able to purchase it easily. Instead, it’ll be a man from the ministry who decides whether you get it or not.

It might make for a plotline from House of Cards but what it simply does is rob us of responsibility and self-determination – qualities we’ll all need in the coming months. – Janet Wilson

 I don’t think it takes rocket science to know that New Zealand and Afghanistan do not have equivalent healthcare. – Charlotte Bellis

The number of stories I could tell you about maternity care in Afghanistan…The UN said just recently they expect an extra 50,000 women to die over the next three years, giving birth here.

That takes the total up to 70,000 women, which is unfathomable in itself. But for the [New Zealand] Government to say ‘no stay in Kabul, I’m sure the healthcare there will be just fine’ – shows complete disregard for the wellbeing of your citizen. – Charlotte Bellis

They just need to use their brains and their hearts and think, ‘this person is a New Zealand citizen’.

At what point did we get so bogged down in these rules we’ve come up with that we can’t see that she’s a Kiwi in need of help and she needs to come home?Charlotte Bellis

After that blissful summer break, how disappointing to find ourselves in exactly the same position we found ourselves at the end of last year.

Once again, authorities appear completely unprepared for something we could all see coming: Omicron.

That’s the real reason for the Government taking rapid antigen tests (RATs) off private businesses. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

It’s hard to fathom what basic errors were made at Government level. Did ministry staffers take too long off for summer? Did they not consider the possibility Omicron would arrive so soon in New Zealand? Had they not looked overseas and seen how important RATs had become to various countries’ Covid responses?

Either way, they were unprepared. And so they took the RATs away from those businesses that had prepared.

Businesses are extremely angry at this, and rightly so. They are being forced to risk their ability to remain operational because health officials and their government bosses dropped the ball. Again. This is the vaccine roll-out all over again: something obviously necessary left to the last minute, ultimately requiring a panicked scramble.Heather du Plessis-Allan

This debacle will do nothing to repair the already-strained relationship between Cabinet and business. It will also do little to improve the reputation of health officials, who increasingly look like a department full of candidates for the cast of any future remake of “Yes Minister”.

Apart from the RATs debacle, the Government is quite obviously unprepared on many other fronts as well.

Two medications meant to reduce the need for hospitalisation if taken early in a Covid infection haven’t yet been approved in NZ. Both molnupiravir and paxlovid are already available in the UK, the US and Australia. By last count, we now have fewer ICU beds than we did at the start of the pandemic.The Prime Minister’s three stage plan for Omicron is so vague it’s clearly a case of Cabinet making it up as they go along. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Uncertainty is bad for people and bad for business. Businesses need certainty. They need to know that they can open their doors and that customers can come to visit them. They need to know that product will arrive when it’s meant to and that orders can be filled. They need to know what their bankers and landlords expect of them.

Caution does not come naturally to the spirited business owner. – Bruce Cotterill

Alongside the inevitable and ongoing questions about our Covid response, we now have to consider inflation, interest rates, debt levels and an out of control housing market that must surely come to a sudden halt soon.

The troubles with the global shipping cycle leave a small isolated country at the bottom of the world vulnerable in terms of supply of necessary goods.

We’re short of talented people too, and the good news is that there are a heap of those overseas waiting to come home. But we won’t let them. And then there’s the fact that while we’re distracted by this stuff, a government that seems intent on socially re-engineering the country gets on with the job of dismantling our democracy. – Bruce Cotterill

This week’s fiasco around the confiscation of privately imported rapid antigen testing kits reflects a government more intent on controlling the pace of our response, than the effectiveness of it.

That desire for control is one area where they have made progress over the last year. I refer to the gradual threat to democracy. Last year saw the early stages of the implementation of the Three Waters legislation, the installation of unelected representatives onto local authority councils and related boards, and the establishment of government bodies that are not representative of the population at large. – Bruce Cotterill

Not to have to talk to anybody for two days, what a luxury! An even greater luxury was not having to listen to what anyone said. Silence, blessed silence! Most talk, after all, is pure bilge, verbiage to fill the gaps in time. This applies as much to ourselves as to others, if only we stopped to listen to ourselves. A couple of days of silence is like a detoxification of the mind, much as hypochondriacs undergo detoxification of their bodies by enemas and starvation diets—except that detoxification of the mind is much more necessary than that of the bowel. – Theodore Dalrymple

But now, as Omicron gently settles there, Ardern’s New Zealand has lost any remaining halo of Covid superiority. It looks neither ‘compassionate’, nor even ‘tough’ or ‘hardline’ but completely pathological. Mad. Bonkers. Pitiable. And not without a whiff of totalitarianism.

You might think that a lefty as vocally committed to social justice and human rights as Ardern would shy away from draconian curbs based on a chimaera (zero covid). In the absence of a credible threat, it is a strategy whose main effect would be to destroy people’s livelihoods and will to live.

In fact, those who purport, like Ardern, to be the most virtuous and “inclusive”, the keenest on helping the marginalised, are often all too comfortable playing fast and loose with the little people’s lives: and the keenest on controlling everyone. They love power – so long as it’s in their hands – and Covid has provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for grabbing it. – Zoe Strimpel

Ardern’s obsession with iron-fisted power is the only explanation for an escalation in restrictions that, in January 2022, makes no sense whatsoever.

To the increasing horror of trapped New Zealanders, Omicron-affected NZ households must now isolate for up to 24 days, while gatherings are capped at 100 in hospitality venues (25 if vaccine passports aren’t being used). But home-testing has effectively been outlawed: only ‘trained testers’ or medical staff can perform Covid tests, and the import of rapid antigen tests, such as those we in Britain rely on by the bucketload to keep life going, could end up in prison.Zoe Strimpel

But the most chilling aspect of Ardern’s monomaniacal leadership is the complete lack of respect for borders – not their inviolability (she has shown that aspect of them to be firmly intact) but their prison-like oppressiveness.

Previously, it was possible to enter New Zealand, by winning a coveted slot in a quarantine hotel, where you would be watched over by military personnel throughout. But since the Omicron Nine, the country has now closed itself to all travellers. Tourism was once New Zealand’s biggest export, but too bad: the Dear Leader’s obsession with total control comes first. – Zoe Strimpel

Saint Jacinda, so woke, so feminist, so unimpeachable, has blinded the world with her virtue, and in so doing has made controlling Covid not a balance of risks, but an iron-fisted moral mission. Within that context, almost any amount of masochism can be justified.

Yes, New Zealanders may be “safer” from Omicron than any other population on earth, but, thanks to Ardern, they are being robbed of the freedoms that make life worth living, with no end in sight. – Zoe Strimpel

We care deeply about people. That’s why we’re here…It’s not caring and it’s not kind to people…just to write them off. – Christopher Luxon

 


Court rules against marches

06/06/2020

In Australia police went to court to stop protests over the death of George Floyd:

The court heard NSW Police opposed the protest, which was expected to attract close to 5000 people, not only because it breached restrictions imposed to stop the spread of COVID-19 but because of the risk of violence.

In a hearing that stretched for more than four hours, NSW Supreme Court Justice Desmond Fagan said the social distancing measures imposed to date have been “the key element” in stopping the spread of COVID-19, and allowing the protest to go ahead at this time was “an unreasonable proposition”.

An affidavit by NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant was tendered in court in support of the police application.

Justice Fagan did not make an order prohibiting the protest, but refused an order allowing it to go ahead, which had the same legal effect. Protesters may still attend the event, as organisers have foreshadowed, but may be exposed to criminal sanctions for doing so. . .

Politicians and Australia’s chief medical officer have also spoken out against the marches because of the risk of a second wave of Covid-19 infections.

Contrast that with the deafening silence from politicians, police and health officials before the marches for the same cause here.

Muriel Newman says, the marches show the Covid-19 restrictions have become a farce:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is now looking foolish after thousands of people took to the streets in protest action on Monday, thumbing their nose at her Level 2 lockdown rules, while the Police watched on doing nothing. Nor was there any talk of prosecutions, despite the event being heavily broadcast on social media.

Penalties for breaching the Level 2 rules, which restrict public gatherings to 100 and private gatherings to 10, include six months in jail or a fine of up to $4,000.

The official non-response is typical of our politicians and their agencies, talking tough but when confronted, their authority often dissolving into nothing.

What the protesters have done is highlight the farcical nature of the current lockdown restrictions. Everyone knows it – apart from government politicians. The country needs to immediately go into level 1. Next week is another week too long. It’s another week of businesses bleeding money and laying off staff as they follow ridiculous rules. The restrictions killing small businesses are the same ones the protesters totally ignored and suffered no consequences whatsoever for doing so. . . 

The marchers all around the world not only show a total disregard for the health risks and sacrifices so many have made to stop the spread of Covid-19, they show a total complete lack of imagination.

New Zealanders managed to observe Anzac Day while adhering to social distancing requirements, there are myriad ways people could protest about George Floyd’s death without risking the health of themselves and others.

 


Make census important for NZers

27/02/2013

Statistics Minister Maurice Williamson says the census is important for all communities.

It is.

It’s just a pity that one of those communities – New Zealanders – is an afterthought in the ethnicity category.

The NZ Centre for Political Research has a poll asking people if New Zealander should be an option in the census.

Muriel Newman explains that a change in the ethnicity questions in the 1980s means that the number of Maori is exaggerated.

I don’t know if she is correct. My concern is that the current choices are discriminatory.

What message does having European New Zealander at the top of the list of choices and having to tick other send to people who consider themselves New Zealanders but happen to be of Maori, Pacific Island, Indian, Chinese, Malaysian, African . . . or any other descent?

If statisticians want to know about race, that is what the question should ask. If they really want to know about ethnicity then New Zealander ought to be an option.

 

 

 


MMP emasculates

03/11/2008

The Electoral Finance Act has rightly received much of the blame for a dull campaign but Muriel Newman also points the finger at MMP:

The MMP system itself is also responsible for emasculating the campaign. Parties have turned a blind eye to the radical policies being promoted by some, lest they offend those who may become bedfellows after the election. As a result, policies are not being exposed to public scrutiny and the radical agendas of some parties are largely unknown to voters.

MMP also threatens good government and the democratic process by allowing minor parties to exert influence far beyond their electoral support. This is particularly true of the Maori party which only attracts the support of mainly activist Maori (about 2 percent of the population) yet is likely to win around 5 percent of the seats in Parliament through the racially based Maori seats.

. . . Former Labour Prime Minister Mike Moore puts it this way: “No major party dare question the Maori party because they know they will have to do a deal, best save that until later. But what some Maori party leaders have said should be reason for some tough media questions. For example, when a leader says they want equal representation in a government because it’s not about numbers, it’s a partnership, what does that mean?  Sorry, democracy is about numbers.

One of the strengths of the adversarial nature of parliament is the scrutiny opposing parties subject each other to. However attacks are sometimes blunted under MMP because MPs know their party might need the support of other parties and therefore they pull their punches.

At best this means policies and actions don’t get the rigorous examination they ought to have. At worst it could allow corruption to go unchecked and we had an indication of how that might happen in Labour’s refusal to accept the Privileges Committee censure motion of Winston Peters.


Maori Party not Maori Seats give Maori Voice

04/07/2008

Tariana Turia  said on Agenda that Maori have only had a dedicated Maori voice since the Maori Party has been in parliament.

I think what our people are starting to realise though is that when they voted Maori people into Labour they never got a Maori voice, they got a Labour voice and that was the difference, and they’ve only begun to realise it since the Maori Party came into parliament, because it is the first time that they have heard significant Maori issues raised on a daily basis.

In other words it’s not the Maori seats which give Maori people a voice it’s the Maori Party.

Hold that thought for a moment and consider what might happen if a future government decided that the rural people weren’t being represented adequately and created special rural seats.  A Country Party then forms and takes all the seats but gets only a small percentage of the party vote which creates a two or three seat overhang and gives them the balance of power. When urban people complain and want the seats removed, the country people say that would be for them to decide.

Would that be fair or right? No and for the same reasons it is neither fair nor right to have Maori seats nor to leave the decision on their existance up to Maori.

 It has nothing to do with race, the Treaty, or rights of indigenous people, it’s about democracy in which one group of people should not have the right to make a decision on something which affects everyone.

The Maori seats impact on us all in two ways: the potential for overhang distorts the proportionality of parliament which is one of the merits of MMP; and if Maori seats were disbanded there could be more general seats so electorates would be smaller and and more manageable for MPs and their constituents.

The Royal Commission which drew up recommendations for MMP said there would be no need for Maori seats and that has been confirmed by the Maori Party leader’s own words – it’s not the seats but the party  which gives a dedicated Maori voice.

P.S. Muriel Newman disccuses Maori seats here and refers to a paper by  David Round which is here.


ETS for agriculture is economic stupidity

30/06/2008

David Bellamy’s biological arguments for excluding agriculture from the Emissions Trading Scheme (see post below) are complemented by economic arguments from Muriel Newman:

The primary sector remains the backbone of New Zealand’s prosperity. Last year it earned 47 percent of the country’s export returns of $35 billion. Dairying was the single biggest export earner with receipts of $7.5 billion, or 21.6 percent of the total. Meat exports ranked second with $4.3 billion or 12.4 percent. In third place, wood exports were worth $2.1 billion, or 6 percent.

The primary sector exports around 90 percent of all of the food produced in New Zealand. This is in sharp contrast to Australia, which only exports a quarter of its food production. An estimated 40 percent of New Zealanders are employed in the food industry.

New Zealand’s prosperity has, of course, always been dependent on farming…

That’s why it is incomprehensible that a New Zealand parliamentary party is undermining the farming sector. The Green Party should be ashamed of itself for blaming farmers for increasing food prices, when farmers, like everyone other New Zealander, are facing rising costs caused by increasing fuel and power prices, higher mortgages, and an escalation in rates and other government charges.

In fact, it is Green Party policies like biofuels, emissions trading schemes, and an over-reliance on solar and windpower that are the cause of much of the cost pressure increases that are occurring in New Zealand and around the world. That is why their call for an inquiry into supermarket pricing smacks of hypocrisy and political game-playing – especially in light of their opposition to the government’s proposal to delay the entry of farming into the emissions trading scheme.

Absolutely right. They don’t appear to understand that if it costs more to produce food it will cost more to buy it.

The government has estimated that at a conservative price for carbon of $50 a tonne, under their proposed emissions trading scheme agricultural payouts will fall by 12 percent for dairying, 21 percent for beef, 34 percent for sheep and 43 percent for venison. 

Anyone who has even the most rudimentary understanding of our economy will realise that these charges will not only ruin the viability of the farming sector and cause food prices to escalate to unprecedented levels, but will further undermine the wealth of all New Zealanders.

Why would any government commit to something which will be hugely expensive, damage the economy and do nothing for the environment. It is economic and political madness to impose such high costs for no benefit.


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