Quotes of the month

01/09/2022

The Government’s polytechnic mega-merger is unravelling at pace. In a worrying sign for its whole grand centralisation push, details are emerging of a project with a half-billion-dollar price tag so far achieving less than nothing. – Steven Joyce

The report laments there is no plan to make the new entity financially stable. This is not a surprise. The mega-polytech has so far distinguished itself mostly by setting up an expensive Hamilton-based head office of about 180 people. These folk have yet to achieve much beyond lofty mission statements and a plan to rebrand all the regional polytechs around the country to the new Te Pūkenga name.

One way of looking at the reforms is to consider that we used to have a single agency in Wellington, the Tertiary Education Commission, which funded and monitored the individual polytechs nationwide, alongside other providers.

Now we effectively have a second bureaucracy duplicating that in Hamilton, and in fact a third one, because there is a beast called the ROVE Directorate, which oversees the overseeing of the overseeing. Little wonder a review of all this in March politely suggested the roles and responsibilities of those three should be “clarified”.

This experiment in shuffling the deckchairs and building a bigger bureaucracy has so far cost taxpayers $200 million in extra startup funding, which runs out at the end of this year. At that point the mega-polytech’s deficit will only grow. – Steven Joyce

As well as merging all the polytechs into one, Te Pūkenga inherits the newly nationalised industry training organisations, which used to arrange on-the-job training around the country. Their surpluses propped up Te Pukenga last year, so this year’s $100m loss is worse across the sector as a whole. Quelle surprise.

But wait, there’s more. The other $300m spent on this folly has gone on setting up yet another lattice of make-work bureaucracy. Fifteen new regional skills leadership groups are to advise the new polytech on what skills each region needs, while six workforce development councils have been created to collect industry views on how the mega-polytech should train people.

Each skills leadership group has now written a glossy report explaining in many words how they will collect the views of local employers and tell the workforce development councils what is needed, so they can tell the polytech head office in Hamilton and they can in turn tell the polytech branch in New Plymouth or Invercargill what it needs to do.

This is a Monty Python level of silliness. In pre-Hipkins time, the local employers would just talk to the local polytech or their ITO directly. – Steven Joyce

The problem, as with so many grand schemes of this government, is the muddy thinking that was applied to dreaming it all up.

Nobody, least of all Minister Hipkins, has seen fit to ask one simple question: how will any of this help one single person be trained better and more effectively in their trade than they were before?

It will probably make things worse. A lumbering monopoly is generally a recipe for increasing costs and reducing responsiveness and innovation. The Government hates monopolies when it’s not busy creating one.

The minister has started asking where cuts will be made to bring this thing back on track and avoid more political embarrassment for him. In education, cuts mean people losing jobs. Stand by for your local polytech to feel the brunt of all this extra cost at the centre.

He’s also sucking money away from private providers, who often do a good job with more hard-to-reach learners needing extra help. All providers used to be paid the same to deliver the same course. Now the new polytech will get more, again to help prop it up, while the private sector gets less. This will suit the minister’s ideology but I doubt it will suit the students who miss out.Steven Joyce

The magic isn’t in government agencies, or the wiring diagrams of the revised funding models requiring new hoops be jumped through to keep performing the same service. I used to say to the trainers, don’t listen to us too much — we are just the funders. They are the practitioners.

Just think what could have been done with that half-billion if it had been used to train people rather than rewire the system. Half a billion extra dollars in the tertiary sector could deliver a lot – more chefs, more nursing places, or even a third medical school. – Steven Joyce

Hipkins has proudly declared these are the biggest reforms in tertiary education in decades, as if on its own that is a worthy goal. It isn’t. A worthy goal is one that allows more magic to happen at the front lines of tertiary education.

The minister has bought some more training places in recent years, but he could have done so much more with this money and the old model. He has little time left to prove that this whole vocational education reform is more than just a political vanity project.

I pondered our conflicting desires — the desire to stand out and do things differently, rallying against our desire to fit in with our peers and look the same. Our desire for excitement and change, rallying against our desire to be comfortable and secure. We learn from our experiences, but, as we age, our mindset doesn’t shift as much as we think it does. – Anna Campbell 

Peer pressure never leaves us, except for a few free-spirited souls. No matter our age, we want to fit in, we want to keep up with the Joneses and we don’t want to imagine others thinking badly of us.

What we forget is, that most people don’t think of us at all and if they do, we are a fleeting thought in their minds, we are yesterday’s fish and chip wrapping, we are a topic of conversation for mere moments. That’s because most people are too busy inside their own heads worrying about what other people think of them — we are the definition of absurdity!Anna Campbell 

New events and life decisions can be genuinely hard, from dresses to career changes. Sometimes our decisions go wrong; we can learn from that, dust ourselves off and try again. Rationally we understand this.

It’s fair to say, the worst reason for not making change is to be scared of what others will think of you. In these situations, remind yourself, they don’t think of you at all. They are far too busy thinking about themselves and if you do fail, imagine their delight — giving such pleasure should not be underestimated. – Anna Campbell 

This is a government that doesn’t actually do stuff. They talk they promise, they hold press conferences, but they don’t get stuff done. They spend money, and God knows where it goes. Mike Hosking

A simple wedding is one of the most beautiful things in the world. A wedding where everyone concerned, even the bride and groom, are turned into props in some overwrought and self-absorbed drama is one of the most nauseating. – Giles Fraser

An A for aspiration and an E for execution.Jack Tame

It takes a bizarre kind of chutzpah to translate a question about your failures into an accusation that the interviewer really meant you should have set your sights much lower. – Graham Adams

In Ardern’s world, it appears that intentions count for everything. It’s almost as if she has not shrugged off her strict Mormon upbringing and doctrine, in which believers are saved principally by faith and grace, not works.

Intentions are apparently sacred to Ardern; results are nice to have. – Graham Adams

An ability to talk smugly and seamlessly without making a skerrick of sense is one of Ardern’s principal skills. She has an astonishing capacity to not answer a question at length — while appearing to answer it in a stream of fluent gobbledegook. –

It should worry everyone if the nation’s Prime Minister really can’t understand the difference between majority rule and everyone eventually agreeing on a matter under discussion. However, it is equally possible that she understood the difference perfectly and was slithering away from what she saw as a trap. Graham Adams

Although Ardern is quick to pose as a dedicated champion of democracy overseas — including warning 8000 Harvard students in May that “democracy can be fragile” — at home she is far more evasive and equivocal when questioned. – Graham Adams

24 hours after the madcap nuttiness of paying out $800 million we don’t have, to people who may or may not reside here, and may or may not need any assistance at all, we then get the idea that we have $10,000 to get a nurse here.

The cost-of-living payment is well intentioned, but oh so Labour in its delivery. In other words, it’s the usual wasteful mess dreamed up by a government that time and time again shows how little real-world experience it has.

The nurse package, at least, starts off with good intentions, but also the real possibility it might play a part in solving a crisis.Mike Hosking

So Hindsight Economics, is it, eh Grant? No, that’s your style of economics. Folks like Wilkinson, Hartwich & Crampton at the NZ Initiative, former Governor Wheeler & me, we do Foresight Economics. We do so to try to prevent inflation & cost-of-living crises like the one you threw us into. We put in effort to help serve the public interest – my work for doing so is unpaid – and all you can do, Grant, is put us down for political purposes. – Robert MacCulloch

This is the Labour Government to a T.

Spend money you don’t have, make it scattergun because it’s too hard or they’re too lazy to do it properly, ignore the advice about the wastage and inflationary issues,  when it comes to delivery, balls it up from the get go, get a long queue of disaffected, and then spend the rest of the week defending yourself. –   Mike Hosking

What they would have been hoping for was adulation, thanks, gratitude, and some sort of poll bounce. Instead, they have frustration, anger, and disbelief.

For a government that entered into this with a shocking reputation around delivery, and I mean delivery of multi-faceted projects like light rail, roads, and public housing, it now appears they can’t even spend money properly. – Mike Hosking

 Governments should never lose sight of their aspirations to make the country a better place. That is, after all, why they have been elected in the first place. But, at the same time, they should also never lose sight of heeding practical advice about the best way to achieve those aspirations.

Too often, this government has been so focused on the aspirational aspect of its policy agenda that it has given insufficient attention to how it might be achieved. The failure of Kiwibuild, the confusion and division around Three Waters, the uncertainty surrounding the move to Health New Zealand, the emerging controversy over plans to merge the country’s 16 polytechnics into one super vocational training entity, Te Pukenga, are all examples of where bold aspiration has hit major implementation roadblocks.  – Peter Dunne

We also need to do more to remind New Zealanders that the principles of democracy should not be tampered

But what looked like a political winner at Budget time is now looking like becoming an object of ridicule because of the way in which it has been rolled out, a risk the government was warned about at the time but chose to ignore. It looks like Kiwibuild all over again, where a laudable policy intent became widely derided because the government failed to appreciate the challenges associated with implementing it.

The lesson that emerges once more for this government is that while aspirations are laudable, their credibility quickly founders if they cannot be made to work as they were intended. But, given how this government has handled previous situations, the lesson is unlikely to be taken notice of. Talking about things and making vague, soothing, aspirational promises is always easier than taking officials’ advice to help make things work. – Peter Dunne

We also need to do more to remind New Zealanders that the principles of democracy should not be tampered with nor altered to suit the selfish power-hungry motives of an aggressive minority. Muriel Newman

Generations before us have fought and died for the democracy New Zealand had, before she became our Prime Minister.

We owe it to them, and to our future generations, to take a stand and defend our democracy against this attack.

Our collective goal must be to save New Zealand – and our democratic Kiwi way of life – and in this mission, we cannot allow ourselves to fail!- Muriel Newman

To change a government, voters must perceive it as comical or corrupt, a test the Ardern regime passed with flying colours from the get-go.Matthew Hooton

I think we’re seeing two forms of centralisation. One is centralised solutions, but we’re also seeing highly centralised processes that led to these solutions. Basically the political arm of government is coming to the table with a solution to a problem they’ve identified. And that centralisation means that they’ve been particularly poor at looking at ranges of plausible alternatives to the particular services they’ve chosen.

But also .. they’ve not been particularly good at a process of consulting the public with an open mind. And I think that’s the reason we’re seeing public disquiet or pushback. – Simon Chapple

We’re looking in every case at big, expensive, consequential and difficult-to-reverse decisions. Now, if you are making big, expensive, and difficult-to-reverse decisions, you should make those in a very careful and deliberate way with a pretty high degree of non-partisanship. 

And I think that public policy agenda is running into the fact that we have a first-past-the-post government and they have an agenda. They perceive, I suspect, that they have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get that agenda through.Simon Chapple

The Labour Party is desperate, right? They are a flailing, useless, tired, arrogant, incompetent Government, which has delivered nothing in five years. The Labour Party is throwing everything they can at him because they know they have got no track record to defend and they’re incompetent and wasteful and useless and Christopher Luxon is doing a wonderful job at explaining that to people. – Chris Bishop

Humanity is a great cable, woven together out of numberless threads of DNA. To follow only those threads that lead back to “Maori” ancestors, as the Maori ethno-nationalists do, is to thoroughly misrepresent, and ultimately corrupt, the true meaning of whakapapa. The spiritual power that flows through one’s bloodlines cannot be constrained, either by time or place. We are descendants of the whole world and everything, and everyone, that has ever been in it.

Salmond’s heresy is enormously powerful – hence the anger and doubt it has spawned among those who only weeks ago had counted her among their greatest allies. Her interpretation of the Treaty as a document that speaks to and for everyone who lives here, undercuts the entire intellectual case for co-governance. Te Tiriti o Waitangi’s spirit is democratic and gloriously colour-blind. It was not written for, or signed on behalf of, a clique of aristocratic rulers who, like the Scottish lairds of the same period, believed themselves to have the right to replace their people with more profitable ventures. It was written to secure the future of “all the ordinary people of New Zealand”.

How can you set up a system of co-governance when we are all maori – with a small ‘m’?Chris Trotter

It is astounding, but unsurprising, that researchers assume that those who employ staff are racist when there is no evidence from which to form this view. The gaps in their data are, literally, ‘unexplained’. Racism is an unambiguous moral wrong. It is a crime. To ascribe this sin to an entire class of New Zealanders because your analysis is deficient is, if I am being polite, disappointing.

It is also easy to disprove. You can be solvent, or you can be racist, but in business it is very difficult to be both. If the assumption behind these sorts of reports is valid; that Pacific people are being paid less than Pakeha while producing the same level of output, then I could make more profit by hiring Pacifica candidates and paying them less than I pay non-Pacific workers.

My racism would need to be intense to leave that profit on the table and if I was such a terrible person, the business owner down the road would out-compete me and I would be forced to rely on my writing to pay the bills. – Damien Grant

Society is complex. People make different decisions and pursue differing lifestyles. The fact that I am spending time writing this column rather than engaging in more productive and better paid work is a decision that will lead me receiving a lower income.

If your priority is community and family rather than wealth accumulation your life’s achievements will differ. Some prefer to die with seven children rather than seven houses and that isn’t a bad thing and nor is it a problem that needs addressing. – Damien Grant

One of the ideas floated is mandated pay transparency; forcing firms to publish salaries by gender and race. The law of unintended consequences will ensure this will reduce employment opportunities for low qualified women and minorities and increase them for inadequate white men.

More intervention will be introduced to correct for these failures in a never-ending cycle of regression. – Damien Grant

We have accepted as given that the Crown has not only the right but an obligation to embark on social engineering programmes to produce a society that confirms to the preferences of the cultural elite even if it defies the wishes and customs of the population.

Cultural change on the level envisioned cannot be achieved without Draconian intervention into the minutia of our economy and society and an unwavering certainty by those in power that the escalating costs are a necessary price to achieve their Arcadia.

Their ignorance is only matched by their determination and the lack of any willingness to confront these cultural commissars means their ambitions will be translated into policy with the inevitable, and now unavoidable, perverse outcomes. – Damien Grant

So white people: be aware of your privilege. Acknowledge that all whites are racist, even if they’ve never had any racist thoughts. And remember that your very existence is proof of your family’s racism, because the only reason white people have children is so that they can simulate the experience of owning a slave. – Titania McGrath

What’s good about it is as we go to the election, the choices are increasingly stark.

You want to keep your money or do you want more of the wastage? A good clear choice, let’s see who wins. – Mike Hosking

The idea of equal suffrage – equal voting rights, regardless of gender, class and ethnicity – has been a pillar of our democracy for decades. All New Zealanders should have an equal say in who governs them; an equal say in appointing the people that make the decisions that affects their lives.

Equally fundamental to our system is the ability to throw poor performers out at the next election – that is the bedrock accountability in our democracy. – Paul Goldsmith

These concepts – equal voting rights and accountability at the ballot box – are basic to our democracy and precious.  Sadly, they are becoming rarer in an increasingly authoritarian world.Paul Goldsmith

If we as a country no longer think that equal voting rights apply at one level of government, pressure will build for change in national elections.

I can’t think of a more divisive agenda for any government to run.

We recognise the burden of history, but no past injustices are fixed by undermining something that makes this country the great place it is – preserving the pillars of our open democracy. – Paul Goldsmith

If Jacinda Ardern and her government Ministers no longer think that Kiwis should have equal voting rights, then they should make the case and ask New Zealanders whether they agree.

It would be a constitutional outrage to use a transitory parliamentary majority to set a precedent that changes the nature of our democracy so dramatically, without asking the people first. – Paul Goldsmith

New Zealand increasingly stands alone, hobbled by punitive climate restrictions that have been justified on the basis that such controls are necessary to avoid constraints on trade – yet the European Union trade deal exposed the fundamental fallacy of that rationale.

The reality is that countries are increasingly backing away from the demands of green fanatics for their low carbon fantasy, instead prioritising economic stability and public wellbeing over UN socialism. – Muriel Newman 

The Government must get out of the way of private developers who have the expertise and private capital to get developments done. Driving up the price of land and using Kiwis’ hard-earned cash to do so is both counterintuitive and nonsensical.Jordan Williams

The so-called reforms are basically a solution for the wrong problem.

Actually, I think they were simply an ego trip on the Minister of Education’s part, to be frank. – Phil Kerr

Those hundreds of millions have just gone into structural stuff.

Not a single dollar has been put into improving outcomes for learners, not a single dollar to strengthening the regional providers, and so the issues that we had before Mr Hipkins started this misguided venture are not only still there, they’re worse.

The bulk of our learning does not occur on campuses. What that means is that support for learners — academic support, pastoral care, health support — these things can’t be delivered to learners nationwide.

They’re not being delivered now, not by a long shot. This is something that can’t be put together by individual providers, and so it could be a Te Pukenga initiative to do so.

This is an example of where valuable dollars should be spent to get better outcomes for people — not on bureaucracies, not on large salaries.Phil Kerr

I would challenge you to find a single, solitary additional initiative in the last two years that has delivered more or better. It just hasn’t happened. I think it’s a national disgrace. – Phil Kerr

I want innovation to focus on education and training, rather than having to set up non-core revenue schemes. Phil Kerr

The current model for local government is not sustainable, and the biggest issue is funding,” she said.

“Currently local councils deliver 52 percent of public services on 12 percent of the budget.- Tina Nixon

It’s been a very very tough week, like I said there’s been a lot going on behind the scenes that people have no idea about.

“But when you’re strong in the mind anything is possible and that’s what I had to do this week because my body was not able but my mind was and the fighting spirit is what really got me through.Joelle King

Certainty and confidence are what the sector needs from a government and that is what we intend to provide them.

Technology is key to achieving emissions reductions, not taxing or banning things.

We need to manage emissions while retaining food and fibre production, because it is crucial that we don’t lose our industry in the process. – Barbara Kuriger 

We now have bureaucratically driven unworkable rules with a ‘one size fits all’ approach, which I can assure you does not fit anyone.Barbara Kuriger 

Don’t we all want to live in a New Zealand that embraces diversity and multi-culturalism, recognises the Treaty, acknowledges Auckland as the biggest Pasifika city in the world, welcomes needed migrants, but that first and foremost serves the common cause of all New Zealanders.

A country that emphasizes what unites us, instead of what divides us. A country that says absolutely, explicitly, that there is one standard of democracy, equal voting rights and no co-governance of public services.

That’s the New Zealand I want to live in. – Christopher Luxon

Labour cannot deliver anything. They conflate spending more with doing more, when those are two very different things.

Since Labour came into office, 50,000 more people are dependent on the Jobseeker benefit than when National was in office five years ago. It’s a Government failure that I’m going to talk more about in a minute.

Since Labour came into office, there are four times as many people living in cars, rour times as many on the state house waiting list, and 4,000 kids in motels – at a cost of a million dollars a day.

The Government is spending $5 billion more a year on education, but now only 46 per cent of our children are attending school regularly. These are economic and social failures under Jacinda Ardern’s watch, yet she never holds herself or her ministers accountable for them.Christopher Luxon

This year, the Government will spend $51 billion more than National did only five years ago.

That equates to about $25,000 per household of additional new spending this year alone.

This year’s Budget included by far the most new spending of any Budget in New Zealand’s history, and it was delivered when the economy was already overheated and inflation was rising. – Christopher Luxon

If you think of the economy like a car, then the Government and Reserve Bank have been squashed together in the driver’s seat, pushing the accelerator flat to the floor. Now, like some terrified passenger realising the car’s going too fast, the Bank’s pressing down hard on the brake. The car’s got the wobbles and there’s a very strong likelihood it’s going to crash. – Christopher Luxon

Labour believes in an over-bearing State that thinks people need to be told what to do and how to do it. They believe in centralisation and control.

Just look at the mega-mergers of our polytechs, health system and Three Waters. It’s always the same story. Labour thinks that Wellington knows best, and better than the rest of New Zealand. They’ve spent more money, hired 14,000 more bureaucrats, and got worse results.

Only Labour could spend so much to achieve so little. – Christopher Luxon

National believes those closest to the problems should be closest to the answers. That’s why we back community-led solutions. For example, the Covid vaccine roll-out showed that bureaucrats in Wellington don’t always know best how to reach people. Just ask the Maōri organisations who had to take the Government to court so they could get people vaccinated.

National also believes in personal responsibility. We back Kiwis to make the best decisions for themselves, their families and whānau. Christopher Luxon

National wants all New Zealanders to be able to pursue their aspirations. A good education, followed by a job, is the best and usually the only long-term path to achieving this.

When it comes to welfare, every New Zealand government, Labour or National, will always support those who permanently cannot work and those who are temporarily unable to work.

But when it comes to those who can work, Labour and National’s approaches differ.

Having a job in early adulthood sets you up for success throughout your working life. Conversely, if you’re on a benefit before you turn 20, across your lifetime you’re likely to spend 12 years on welfare. – Christopher Luxon

Welfare dependency pushes people further away from the rungs of social mobility. It locks them out of the opportunities, sense of purpose and social connections that jobs provide.

Benefit dependency not only harms the person trapped on a benefit, but it also can harm the children who grow up in benefit-dependent households. And under Labour, there are more of them. There are now one in five children in New Zealand growing up in a household that depends on welfare. One In Five.

As a nation, we all bear the costs when welfare becomes not a safety net to catch people if they fall, but a drag net that pulls the vulnerable in. –  Christopher Luxon

In summary, I have messages for three groups of people.

First, to young people trying to find a job: That is a hard place to be and, if there was a National Government, you’d get more support and encouragement from your own job coach.

Second, to young people who don’t want to work: You might have a free ride under Labour, but under National, it ends.

Third, to taxpayers: National is on your side. – Christopher Luxon

Like many women, over the years I’ve absorbed the message that being thin is the most important goal there is, and that no end of dangerous behaviour (like starving yourself) is justified to reach it. And I can see how easy it could be for that to tip my behaviours over into something much worse. – Megan Whelan

Inflation plays havoc with the virtue of prudence, for what is prudence among the shifting sands of inflation? When inflation rises to a certain level, it is prudent to turn one’s money into something tangible as soon as it comes to hand, for tomorrow, as the song goes, will be too late. Everything becomes now or never. Traditional prudence becomes imprudence, or naivety, and vice versa. – Theodore Dalrymple

We have entered a more ‘traditional’ phase of inflation. No one knows how long it will last, or how serious it will be. But the very unpredictability creates anxiety even among those who have no real need to feel it – or rather, whom events will show to have had no need to feel it.

Inflation has not merely economic or social consequences, but moral and psychological ones too.Theodore Dalrymple

The control of assets is just as important as ownership, and control and ownership don’t always amount to the same thing. Most Kiwis understand this. Strangely enough, though, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sat down with TVNZ’s Jack Tame this month and argued just the opposite.Kate MacNamara

Control matters: controlling parties will set the prices charged for the use of water assets (possibly subject to a regulated cap); they will decide how those charges are levied – by volume/use perhaps, or maybe by property value if that’s how they judge fairness; and they will almost undoubtedly decide that the cost of improving water assets in some regions will be met by ratepayers in other areas, so those who have already paid for adequate infrastructure will pay again for assets in areas which have underinvested.

If the Prime Minister thinks control is immaterial, she should try giving it up. – Kate MacNamara

. Totalitarianism has its pleasures, chief of which is doing harm to others, albeit that today’s denouncer tends to become tomorrow’s denounced.

Raised ideological temperature inevitably brings with it the temptation to denounce. Where someone who doesn’t agree with you isn’t merely mistaken, but wicked or even evil, either in favor of your ideology or against it, there ceases to be any reason to argue against his point of view: it’s more a matter of denouncing him, of revealing him to be an enemy of the people to be exiled or excommunicated from decent society, or otherwise punished. – Theodore Dalrymple

We must fight the totalitarian tendency within ourselves.Theodore Dalrymple

Increased benefit rates drive increased deprivation.

This is no surprise to logical thinkers. Simply upping benefits doesn’t mean the extra money will be well spent. Benefit increases have the effect of drawing more people onto benefits, away from work and the structure work brings to people’s lives. – Lindsay Mitchell

Millions of dollars in welfare has to deliver the desired impact of hope and positive change, instead, Rotorua has seen a steady increase in deprivation since the onset of Covid-19, largely driven by increased benefit rates.Rotorua Lakes District Council 

My own views on the Ukrainian situation are deeply conventional: I believe that Russia under Vladimir Putin, and possibly under his successor, threatens the peace of Europe, which it believes it must subjugate or bend to its will in order to feel secure. One of Putin’s apologists on state television, asked where Russia’s true borders lay, replied “At the Pas de Calais.”

The contortions of the Russian mind on this subject are beyond my capacity to unravel. They are like those of a criminal who blames all his bad conduct on an unfortunate past. His past may indeed have been unfortunate, but analysis (not psychoanalysis) is usually sufficient to demonstrate to everyone except himself that he has been an important contributor to his own misfortune, having always taken a path that leads to disaster. Indeed, someone once said of Russia that all its roads lead to disaster, and there are individual people like that too. – Theodore Dalrymple

I suspect that sympathy for Ukraine and Ukrainians is rather typical of our emotional lives nowadays: our emotions are both intense and superficial and are like gusts of wind rushing through a cornfield. This is not to say that they are unimportant or insignificant, for they affect public policy, usually in a deleterious way.

For example, how deep is our commitment to the preservation of the environment or to so-called ecology? People have, or claim to have, cuddly feelings towards the surface of the earth, which they worship with a kind of pagan reverence. They may eschew meat and animal products, cycle wherever they can, and even suspend wind-chimes in their garden, but all of these things actually impose very little sacrifice on them, albeit that vegetarian or vegan food takes time to prepare, and all are perfectly compatible with normal everyday lives in our society. However, I doubt how far they would be willing to forgo such comforts as heating and warm water in order to reduce their own consumption of energy. – Theodore Dalrymple

The point, however, is that our population (in which I include myself, I do not claim to be very different from it) is soft. This is a sign of the advance of at least some aspects of civilisation, and I am far from believing that discomfort is good for you morally, as lifting weights is supposed to be good for the musculature. I remember the days when rugby pitches hardened by frost were deemed good for boys’ character, and I never really believed it as a matter of empirical observation.

However, people who have known little hardship are not apt for sacrifice of the type required by prolonged war or confrontation. I admit I may be wrong: I have been wrong before and will be wrong again. Perhaps, cometh the hour, cometh the people: but I don’t bet on it, and neither does Vladimir Putin.  – Theodore Dalrymple

What the Government is doing is the equivalent of passing a bill that defines Pi as 4, and then claiming it must be true because the law states it is 4.

The bill states that Councils will own the water entities, but all they are doing is getting the word “ownership” rather than actual ownership. –  David Farrar

There is a high standard for those who hold office and so there should be. Your behaviour while in office should hold up to public scrutiny and if it doesn’t then you shouldn’t be there.- Paula Bennett

Those that have been knocked around and not only stay standing but come back stronger are the type of people I want in public office. I don’t want someone who is so nervous that a photo of them chugging a depth charge while dancing on a table at 20 years old will surface that they don’t live life to the full.Paula Bennett

Of course, there are standards to be adhered to and lines that should not be crossed, I am not going to list them because I am not the moral police and it is subjective. The age you are, your honesty, the life you have lived, all come into play as to whether you are fit to hold office. – Paula Bennett

All politicians can’t and shouldn’t be the same, but let’s make sure we leave room for people of character and those that have perfectly lived an imperfect life.Paula Bennett

Further to that reality – when accusations of racism are used to silence debate – we can safely assume there are aspects of this issue that certain people do not want examined or debated – and that social dynamic will be what has emerged out of politics and ideology – when in fact discussing the realities and the history of things – ideology and politics have no place.- Denis Hall

Each of us is a living Ship of Theseus; which raises the difficult question of how should we access the character of an individual today when they have done things, great or malign, in their past?Damien Grant

You need to choose. You decide that a teenager is incapable of redemption, or you look at the husband, the father, the damaged, optimistic and frightened man before the spotlight, and assess that individual on his merits.

Young men are reckless by design. I cannot explain why some degenerate into malign actions and most do not, despite the reality that I was one of that minority who were driven by forces beyond my understanding into acts that were both destructive and, ultimately, self-destructive.

Nor can I articulate why, with the passage of time, the forces driving me shifted, but I know what happened. The desire to belong to a community, to contribute, to become a husband and ultimately a father eclipsed, without eradicating, the demons of my younger self. – Damien Grant

The question we should be asking is the same question that was asked of me: who is the person before us today? – Damien Grant

Uffindell stands in the spotlight stripped bare in a manner few can comprehend; the country debating the contents of his character and the future course of his life, his standing within his family and his community now resting in the hands of others.

It is, dear reader, a place that I have stood; thankfully with far less intensity, but with consequences equally as grave for the individual. A place where you are forced to reflect on yourself in a manner few are ever compelled to withstand.

It is possible that enduring such a process forges a better person. It can also shatter you into 10,000 pieces as you stare into the abyss.

I am unsure if I am worthy of the second chance I have been given, but the fact that it has been awarded says a lot more about the community than it does about me.

We owe it to ourselves to offer Sam Uffindell that same consideration. It is up to him to earn that opportunity and, if it is gifted to him, do something with it. – Damien Grant

Unbelievably, executive positions in the water services entities are already being advertised. It seems they are building the gallows for our democracy before the jury has heard the evidence.Stuart Smith

The important issue here though is that should this legislation pass, rate payers will lose control of their assets to these water entities, who have at best a tenuous connection to their rightful owners. The governance structures are so convoluted and the entities so large that the local voice has no chance of being heard. The minister has said that councils will still own their three waters assets. But ownership is in essence the right to control the assets, and this will not be possible, so the minister’s words are hollow and an attempt to calm the masses.- Stuart Smith

The key point is we would work with councils rather than seek to take their assets. We would ensure that ratepayers continue to own and have a direct say in the running of their three waters assets. After all, they paid for them in the first place.Stuart Smith

The system our Labour government wants to foist on us, with the open backing of the Green Party and Maori Party, is a dual-class system of citizenship based on race.  Only one race matters and will be preferred in all things.   – Derek Mackie

 By voting for ANY political party which actively promotes or condones this agenda you are either knowingly or unwittingly complicit in the dismantling of our democracy and way of life.  
 Take a stand.  DON’T vote for racism.   Vote for DEMOCRACY – it’s the best imperfect system we’ve got.  – Derek Mackie

We all want a more environmentally conscious and sustainable industry that protects our country from the degradation and overcrowding of our wilderness, pressure on infrastructure, and human waste on the roadside.

But do we need to be exclusive and snobby to get it?  – Francesca Rudkin 

If we want our tourism industry to recover, we really can’t afford to be fussy right now about who we welcome in. 

But if we want to transform the tourism industry, Stuart Nash needs to pull back from the headline grabbing elitist comments, and focus more on both the short term issues facing the industry – where to find staff and accommodation for them – and the long term issues of how to achieve a sustainable, regenerative, higher-wage industry. –  Francesca Rudkin 

The vitriol that comes the way of the mayor and councillors and council staff is inexcusable. I take my hat off to them all – I don’t know how they get out of bed some days, the shit they have to deal with. – John Bougen 

Eco-zealots ram wind and solar power down the throats of Third World governments, purporting to save the planet and drag millions out of poverty. But it never takes their targets long to work out that wind and solar power are both insanely expensive and hopelessly unreliable; sitting in the dark, night after night, generally does the trick.Stop These Things

We eventually decided to buy a small two-bedroom, turnkey apartment on the fringe of Wellington’s suburban sprawl. It was only 800 square feet, the commute would be miserable, it had no backyard or parking space. The area didn’t have a grocery store and the government had labelled it one of the country’s worst for socio-economic deprivation. But we thought we could attempt a bid with the 750,000 New Zealand dollar ($602,000) asking price.

We walked into our local bank in August, 2020, holding our mortgage application. We were beaming to show that after a decade of frugal living – quite literally passing up on avocado toast, and cycling to work to save on bus fare – we’d paid off student debt and had more than six figures set aside for a deposit. An adviser looked at our bank balances and asked if we were expecting a large donation from family. Our smiles faded. Without at least 20 per cent down, the bank wouldn’t even look at our application papers. A year later, we tried again with the help of a mortgage broker. The result was the same, but house prices had soared by 50 per cent. – Justin Giovannetti

New Zealanders found themselves with some of the developed world’s most unaffordable homes before the pandemic. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern quipped back in her days as an opposition politician that the country’s economy was basically “a housing market with a few bits added on.” Since she came to power in 2017, house prices have increased by nearly 60 per cent.Justin Giovannetti

 In New Zealand, the country’s Byzantine environmental rules make the construction of new subdivisions immensely difficult. New legislation to rezone nearly the entire country to allow multi-family homes has run into a wall of NIMBYism at the local level. It isn’t for a lack of land. New Zealand’s five million inhabitants are spread across an area twice the size of England. – Justin Giovannetti

Unaffordable house prices didn’t appear in New Zealand overnight. Prices had steadily grown for most of the past two decades, and while most middle-class parents could continue to help their children get on the property ladder, politicians from the right and left could promise to tackle the problem and then shrug as their interventions failed to launch. The blame does not fully rest on the incumbents in Wellington or Ottawa.

However, Ms. Ardern came into office with a marquee promise to build 100,000 homes within a decade. The program became an embarrassing failure, delivering only 1,000 homes in its first five years. Her government then changed course, putting forward a rebooted $321-million program to help first-home buyers. The country’s Housing Minister drew laughs with a triumphal press release where she announced that only 12 families were helped.Justin Giovannetti

Worse than the economics is the clear social damage. Reports come in every week warning New Zealanders about the heavy price of expensive housing. Poverty rates are growing, while the country’s emaciated welfare net fails to keep pace. Gang violence is often on the front pages, a daily reminder of the country’s fraying social fabric.

The health impact of substandard and crowded housing is growing on the country’s Indigenous population. Rheumatic fever is a rare but life-threatening disease, eliminated in most developed countries. It is still sometimes detected in First Nations communities in Canada’s North. Cases of rheumatic fever are diagnosed every few days in New Zealand, nearly all in Indigenous children. Many of the cases happen in homes only a short drive from the Prime Minister’s residence. It’s one of the reasons New Zealand’s children’s commissioner reported in June that the country is now “one of the worst places in the developed world to be a child.” – Justin Giovannetti

Leaders should take note, not only of Ms. Ardern’s rapidly fading popularity at home, but the speed with which a housing crisis can become a catastrophe.Justin Giovannetti

The only politicians who no one bothers to dislike are those who are totally useless. Around a third of the electorate are committed lefties. They dislike Luxon because they think he can win. Labour would not be testing attack ads if their polling did not say the National Leader is a threat.

Objectively, Luxon’s achievements as a leader are astonishing. When he took over as leader the National caucus was a poisonous bear pit.

It is a remarkable turnaround. He could now boast to his conference that his “MPs have their hopeless Labour counterparts on the run”. He now leads what appears to be a cohesive team.

Luxon has been in Parliament for less than two years and leader for just eight months. It takes most MPs six years and three elections to become effective. What is remarkable is not his occasional slip-up, but that he has made so few. – Richard Prebble

Luxon has been in Parliament for less than two years and leader for just eight months. It takes most MPs six years and three elections to become effective. What is remarkable is not his occasional slip-up, but that he has made so few.

National received just 25.58 per cent of the vote in the last election. Now it is New Zealand’s most popular party.Richard Prebble

Luxon has the great advantage of not only having a good CV, but of looking like a prime minister. Nothing else has changed, so he has to be given the credit for National’s revival.

The next election is now Luxon’s to lose. Labour’s only hope of re-election is to politically destroy the National leader.

There is a tried and tested formula. Accuse the Opposition Leader of having no policy. And when he does announce some policy, put it on trial and find it guilty. – Richard Prebble

There is great unease over how the young are faring under Labour. Just 46 per cent of pupils attended school regularly in term one. There is a 49 per cent increase in the number of young people on the Jobseeker benefit. When Luxon says “get the kids back to school” and that young adults need to “find a job and become independent”, the country agrees.Richard Prebble

A true conservative does not campaign claiming to have the most radical new policy. A real conservative pledges not to do anything that might damage New Zealand’s values. When Luxon campaigns to do nothing that might harm our liberal democracy, he will win by the landslide. – Richard Prebble

The 1980s was a decade that saw the beginnings of the breakdown of traditional political and moral boundaries, an unravelling with which we are still coming to terms.Kenan Malik

For others, the Rushdie affair revealed the need for greater policing of speech. It’s worth recalling how extraordinary, in contemporary terms, was the response to the fatwa. Not only was Rushdie forced into hiding but bookshops were firebombed, translators and publishers murdered.

Yet Penguin, the publisher, never wavered in its commitment to The Satanic Verses. It recognised, Penguin CEO Peter Mayer later recalled, that what was at stake was “much more than simply the fate of this one book”. How Penguin responded “would affect the future of free inquiry, without which there would be no publishing as we knew it”.

It’s an attitude that seems to belong to a different age. Today, many believe that plural societies can only function properly if people self-censor by limiting, in the words of the sociologist Tariq Modood, “the extent to which they subject each other’s fundamental beliefs to criticism”.

I take the opposite view. It is in a plural society that free speech becomes particularly important. In such societies, it is both inevitable and, at times, important that people offend the sensibilities of others. Inevitable, because where different beliefs are deeply held, clashes are unavoidable. They are better openly resolved than suppressed in the name of “respect”.

And important, because any kind of social progress means offending some deeply held sensibilities. “You can’t say that!” is all too often the response of those in power to having their power challenged. To accept that certain things cannot be said is to accept that certain forms of power cannot be challenged. – Kenan Malik

Rushdie’s critics no more spoke for the Muslim community than Rushdie did. Both represented different strands of opinion within Muslim communities. Rushdie gave voice to a radical, secular sentiment that in the 1980s was highly visible. Rushdie’s critics spoke for some of the most conservative strands. It is the progressive voices that such conservatives seek to silence that are most betrayed by constraints on the giving of offence. It is their challenge to traditional norms that are often deemed “offensive”.

Human beings, Rushdie observed in his 1990 essay In Good Faith, “shape their futures by arguing and challenging and questioning and saying the unsayable; not by bowing the knee whether to gods or to men”.

We can only hope for Salman Rushdie’s recovery from his terrible attack. What we can insist on, however, is continuing to “say the unsayable”, to question the boundaries imposed by both racists and religious bigots. Anything less would be a betrayal.Kenan Malik

The attack on Rushdie is exactly the same as the threats to kill Rowling.  Rushdie was accused of being blasphemous and Rowling of being gender critical.  Shortly after the attempt on Rushdie, Rowling received a text saying you’re next.(4)  The threats against feminists by the Wokerati are the same as the ones made against Rushdie by Islamists.  They come from intolerant parts of our society, that believe they hold a monopoly not only on truth but who gets to speak and what they can say.  They must be opposed and defeated and we should never forget who didn’t stand beside women under threat from men. – Gearóid Ó Loingsigh

What we should have learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic is that the public health response is only one part of the equation. Public health interventions have broader economic and social impacts, and invariably give rise to human rights issues. Our planning for managing public health emergencies needs to extend beyond the health sector response.

The failure to embed human rights considerations into pandemic planning resulted in Covid-19 response measures that did not give sufficient weight to human rights concerns.Lorraine Finlay 

We need to formally review all aspects of our Covid-19 pandemic response – especially its impact on human rights – to allow us to be better prepared for the next health crisis. We also need to ensure that future emergency planning incorporates human rights considerations as a priority. Even in the middle of an emergency – perhaps especially in the middle of an emergency – human rights matter. – Lorraine Finlay 

Future histories will see the Salman Rushdie affair, which followed the publication in 1988 of his novel, The Satanic Verses, as a pivotal moment in the history of Islamism: for the British response, and that of the West as a whole, was weak and vacillating, encouraging Islamists to imagine that the West was a kind of rotten fruit, ripe to fall from the tree, and therefore susceptible to terrorist attack. The Rushdie affair was to Islamists what the annexation of Crimea was to Vladimir Putin, or, indeed, the occupation of the Saarland to Hitler.Theodore Dalrymple

 Free speech must be defended, irrespective of whether those who exercise it are wholly admirable. The person does not defend free speech who demands only that those with whom he agrees should be heard or free to speak. – Theodore Dalrymple

Rushdie was attacked by an enemy of free speech while about to speak in defense of free speech, a principle of which he has been a staunch and brave supporter. His assailant and likeminded others are believers in an alien ideology that we find repellent. But are they the only—or even the main—threat to free speech in the West today?Theodore Dalrymple

You can’t convince enough people that you are the right people in these key leadership roles when the record continues showing failures to deliver on major promises to the electorate (housing, child poverty, economic well being, you name it) and management errors that have effectively destroyed important parts of our economy (tourism, high quality pastoral hill country going into trees, etc).

The only way for any chance of a change for the better is to lance the boil and start again with a whole new set of inclusive policies that will ensure our survival as one of the last remnants of a true democracy – a sovereign state that is best in the world at doing the things that matter.- Clive Bibby

This is bad enough, but it’s made worse by the exposure of the Labour Party who made so much of the honest, transparent, and kindness nonsense that has blown up so badly in their faces.

They are Machiavellian, fundamentally dishonest, and about as shallow as a puddle. – Mike Hosking

All parties have trouble and a party with a large caucus was always going to have some kind of trouble, if not several episodes of trouble, in this three-year term.

But like all the other stuff they’ve cocked up from the economy, to Three Waters, to co-governance, the list is now bordering on endless, they have taken a rogue MP and made it a mile worse than it ever had to be, by yet again not understanding that honesty counts and transparency works.

Pretending you are something you are not will always get exposed. – Mike Hosking

The next generation of New Zealand audiences simply doesn’t get media and broadcasting content from our public sector. It chooses innovation, ideas and imagination. It doesn’t care where they come from or who has funded it. We need to think about media as platform neutral and flexible. We need to think about supporting media not in terms of $$$ but in better regulations, in growing an economy that supports best practices and a platform neutral approach to content funding over feeding whatever comes along just from the public purse with little accountability.

A Public Media Monolith guarantees the latter and discourages the former.- Melissa Lee

The irony, of course, is that the prime minister, characteristically empathetic throughout, has never failed to express her personal concern for Sharma and “his wellbeing”, in the same way a mobster might fret that it would be a real shame if something were to happen to a local shopkeeper who hadn’t paid protection money. – Ben Thomas

There is no doubt Sharma has felt unfairly victimised by the party’s internal disciplines, and there is no doubt that, after the die was cast last Thursday, his party has set out to defang and then destroy him. If there is a salient difference between what he had earlier experienced and “real” bullying, it will be obvious to Sharma now.. – Ben Thomas

Just as economist Adam Smith described the miraculous functioning of free markets as seeming to work as if directed by an invisible hand, so too is the functioning of political parties. But in politics, even if it’s hidden, the hand is really there, and if you force it into the public eye it will usually appear as a fist. – Ben Thomas

That said, of course we should continue nullifying the numerous human factors contributing towards global warming but what’s happening is no reason to panic. Let’s have an end to this blather that humans are destroying the globe. It’s gone through ice ages and massive geographic changes on numerous occasions in the millions of years it’s existed, long before humanity evolved, initially in the sea.

When the first of our ape ancestors dropped form the trees and eventually stood and learnt to walk, you can be assured there’d have been a gibbering timid faction remaining tree-bound, clutching one another and crying alarm. Their fear-ridden ancestors live on today, behaving exactly the same in their advocacy for collectivist security. Bob Jones

The two age-old human failures are religious superstition and warfare. Humans will not destroy the globe but unless militarism is finally abandoned, they may well destroy themselves. – Bob Jones

The problem here is that many people on the Left – apparently including those who are huffing and puffing over Arps – don’t trust democracy. They don’t think their fellow citizens can be relied on to make the right decisions. They prefer to put their faith in state decrees that restrict people’s freedoms. In this respect they reveal their essentially elitist, authoritarian leanings.Karl du Fresne

Let Arps stand, I say, and put his support to the test. Provided the school community exercises its right to vote, I believe he’ll make an even bigger clown of himself than he is already. The votes of right-thinking people – and that means most New Zealanders – are the obvious antidote to extremists. – Karl du Fresne

When people are convinced that nothing worse can exist than that which they already experience, they do not stop to consider even the possibility that a policy advocated to release them from their “hell” might actually make things worse for them. Theodore Dalrymple

Whoever forms the next Government will inherit a country with a much-increased public debt burden. Crime, especially in Auckland, is out of control. The New Zealand health service is stretched. Education results have plummeted. The defence force needs to be rebuilt. The Reserve Bank is fighting inflation. The labour market is tight. The public service headcount has ballooned. The number of people on benefits has increased. Infrastructure projects have stalled. Energy security is no longer a given. Race relations are fractious. And according to a poll, one in five Kiwis consider emigrating. And who could blame them?

New Zealand’s situation could not be more perilous. The coming parliamentary term will decide if the country is to remain a first-world country. Or if New Zealand will be relegated to the status of economic and political basketcase.

Such circumstances cannot be overcome by marketing slogans. No amount of clever electioneering will be a substitute for economic reform. No aiming for the median voter will cut the mustard. – Oliver Hartwich

Our roads are going backwards – this isn’t an issue that has suddenly developed over the last year or two – we at a tipping point and starting to see and pay the cost of that underinvestment.Dylan Thomsen

We fund our roads on a consumption model rather than an investment model, so we are constantly falling behind, – James Smith

Ultimately, the problem is that funding is being pulled from road maintenance and being put into things like cycleways and public transport, and there’s a lot of money being wasted with little to no accountability. Geoff Upson

The overall impression given by these warnings is that we are a population of rather weak-minded, ignorant minors who are, or ought to be, the wards of a small class of well-intentioned guardians who know better. The problem is that one tends to become what one is treated as being; and some people might take the illogical leap to conclude that if something does not bear a warning, then it must be safe or even beneficial. After all, if it were harmful, officialdom would have warned us about it.

More irritating, at least to me, than this relatively innocuous sloganeering masquerading as benevolence or concern, that enunciates obvious truths than no one would go to the trouble of denying, are the unctuous messages or slogans that we are now often subjected to. – Theodore Dalrymple 

The other day I saw a photograph of a poster in New Zealand, apparently in response to the dramatic rise in cases of Covid there. “Stay safe,” it said in very large lettering, “Be kind.” I think this would win a trophy if there were a competition for the most nauseating slogan of the year. Indeed, if I were a very rich man I would fund such a competition, perhaps to be called the Unction Prize.Theodore Dalrymple 

The common principle of Rushdie’s critics is that if you offend someone’s beliefs then you are at least partly in the wrong, and so threats are somewhat excused. Giving offence justifies violence.

It is monstrous position. Words are not violence. Violence is violence. – Josie Pagani

If you give offence you are not protected from criticism. Stupid and offensive comments are words. They should be debated, ridiculed, disproven – with words. You should not be murdered, locked up, sanctioned, or threatened.

Hold the violent to account for their violence. Do not make excuses. Do not give comfort to their motive. Give comfort to the enemies of violence.

Polite people don’t change the world.

Being prepared to offend is how we progress. You cannot tell people that the Earth orbits the sun when centuries of status and identity depends on forcing everyone to agree that the sun goes around the Earth. Usually, offensive views are simply offensive. But sometimes, occasionally, they are Galileo. – Josie Pagani

Putting up with vile, nasty, dehumanising words is the price of our freedom and safety, of being adults able to detect truth and falsehood for ourselves, and of not being subjected to lies and suppression. – Josie Pagani

Fear of violence and fear of offence might prevent The Satanic Verses being published today. Cancelled, it would avoid offending anyone. We would be deprived of the right to decide the book’s merits for ourselves.

But fear is the point of terrorism. So decide not to be afraid.Josie Pagani

We elect a parliament, not a government, and we elect a parliament of individuals. The waka-jumping law places political parties, and not the parliament, at the apex of sovereignty. – Damien Grant

Bureaucratic structures are inevitably hierarchical, fostering rules, rigid operating procedures and impersonal relationships, with initiatives and policy directions blown in by egos and the political wind. As in a beehive, a self-perpetuating, circular organisation will evolve comprising thousands of drones fussing around the queen, enabling her to expand her colony thus ensuring the continued survival of the drones.

Inputs and outputs are the currency of bureaucracies – rather than insights and outcomes. In government, academic and local authority sectors, there are few profit-and-loss assessments, only budget allocations. – Mike Hutcheson 

I can sense the mounting frustration felt 70 years ago by Professor Parkinson, at the inexorable and seemingly unstoppable rise of bureaucracies of the world – and mourn the ever-increasing cost-of-living being added through more bureaucrats, more compliance costs, more levies, higher local body rates and taxation. – Mike Hutcheson 

Lowering the bar is a natural response if you want to paper over the cracks rather than fix the actual problem, a combination of low school attendance and acres of missed learning as a result of Covid lockdowns. Rather than the inconvenience of mobilising a full-court press to help those who have been missing out, we are to maintain a façade that these students have been as well-educated as those from pre-Covid years. This is a short-term decision which will have lifelong impacts.Steven Joyce

Our kids have had a raw deal from this pandemic. Many have given up their start in life to protect their elders from this pernicious disease. While some of that was unavoidable, especially early on, the lockdown that really sucked the life and happiness out of Auckland teenagers was the one that started this time last year and ran for five months. That lockdown was caused by the governments “world-leading” vaccine rollout and it should never have happened.

Someone needs to research how much the vaccine lockdown of 2021 scarred this generation. I suspect the low levels of school attendance this year and the current wave of youth violence can be directly traced to that period. – Steven Joyce

We have been witnessing a steady decline in literacy and numeracy amongst our young people for many years, and nothing tried so far has managed to halt it. Our relative performance on international tests in language, maths and science is turning from a steady decline into a nosedive, and the number of young people not regularly attending school is becoming a sad national joke.

When you lay the current issues over the top of a general decline in performance and school attendance, you have to ask whether our school system is completely broken? I fear it is.Steven Joyce

We have a very top-down school sector largely created to serve the people that operate within it. An overbearing Ministry of Education offers detailed guidelines on everything from how you teach to how schools should refer to “people who have periods”. The education unions have a tight grip on anything which happens in the government-operated part of the system which is most of it, and in their collective mind should be all of it. The vindictive, nasty approach the unions took to killing off partnership schools was a sight to behold.

The unions hate independent testing of students lest poor (or indeed excellent) teaching be exposed, and are allergic to principal’s paying individual teachers what they are worth. Woe betide an education minister who doesn’t genuflect before the twin powers of the NZEI and the PPTA.

Centralisation and control is the solution to everything. The education bureaucracy hates competition between schools, hates parental choice, and hates innovation, unless it’s being driven by the centre and pre-ordained by the mandarins as the solution to all our problems. – Steven Joyce

Philosophical debates must only be had by appropriately credentialed insiders, and then everyone must march together towards the latest silver bullet, be it modern learning environments, the fad for junior and senior high schools, or the latest prescription for the history syllabus.

I sighed this week when reading about yet another debate between advocates of ‘phonics’, “phonemic awareness” and “balanced literacy”. What happened to the idea of letting good teachers teach the approach that works for each student, and measure that with independent testing of the outcomes. It works in every aspect of life, but not in education apparently.

This cult of standardisation, commoditisation and monopoly provision of education services must end. If it was going to achieve great results for our kids it would have done so by now.

We need to encourage competition, choice, and innovation in our school system, not snuff it out. We need to celebrate excellent teaching and encourage it with better pay. We need to give lower-income parents similar choices for their kid’s education that wealthy parents get. We need to experiment with new models, give schools more autonomy, and re-orient the bureaucracy to focus on results and outcomes rather than prescriptive minutiae. And yes, we need to invest more.

Taking on the challenge of genuine improvement in our school system is not for the faint-hearted. It will be a bumpy ride and the public will need to be prepared, as the vested interests so feather-bedded by our current system will feel very threatened. – Steven Joyce

Right now, any child that succeeds at school and comes out with incredible qualifications and is ready to face the world is the outlier, they are the exception, not the rule.

Every child deserves to have a decent education and we are failing. We give ourselves an ‘F’ for failure, because that’s what we’re delivering.   – Kerre Woodham

What happens when democratic principles collide with cultural values and political self-interest? In New Zealand, that’s starting to look like a quaintly naive question. Jacinda Ardern’s Labour government appears supremely untroubled by accusations of nepotism and conflict of interest swirling around one of its most senior ministers.Karl du Fresne 

The problem here is that what constitutional purists would categorise as nepotism, many Maori people would justify as simply looking after your own whanau or tribe – a cultural imperative in the Maori world. But anyone bold enough to point out that looking after your own is incompatible with proper constitutional practice – and more specifically, the principle that appointments should be made and contracts awarded on merit rather than notions of familial loyalty – risks being denounced as a racist. – Karl du Fresne 

If you think a Government that can’t build houses, build light rail, deliver health services or be open, honest and transparent can sort your grocery bill – and this is the same bloke who cocked up the CCCFA and is now sorting your flour and biscuits – then you need to wake up.

You’re being had. – MIke Hosking

I’m not scared of death. I’m scared of a life where speech is watched, surveilled, curtailed, sanctioned, and therefore totally skewed because of it. Kind of how things are right now. – Rachel Stewart

To observe the New Zealand media vilifying and reputationally destroying those who dare to go against the Covid/vaccine narrative has been sobering. Except that it takes a gulp (or seven) of high-proof booze to make that particular medicine go down, and even then I’m left gagging.Rachel Stewart

Journalists keep repeating some strange heady brew about how these “right wing fascists” are trying to infiltrate democracy and overthrow it. Last time I looked democracy was about encouraging diversity of viewpoints and civic duty. Wasn’t it?

I mean, if their views are as heinous as they keep saying, they simply won’t get voted in. Right? Or, if they do, are they somehow more hateful and radical than, say, the Greens or the Maori Party? Or even Labour? Believe it or not, not everybody views Labour as “kind”.

Does media no longer trust voters to make up their own minds because we’re all as thick as planks?

Do they not see how this looks? It’s divisive, elitist and arrogant. It portends the end of legacy media, and it’s entirely deserved because ‘hate’ is a two-way street. Asserting that democracy should be available solely for people who think like them is not really a winnable strategy for the cohesion of a tiny fractious country at the bottom of the world. What’s the end game here? – Rachel Stewart

Things cannot go on like this. If media keeps using their fast-expiring social licence to continually tell a sizeable chunk of the Kiwi population that they’re “loony tunes” – rather than rationally trying to find out why so many feel so deeply disenfranchised – then they’ll be blood in the water alright. And not just tiny traces, but bloody great globules.Rachel Stewart

We let ourselves be ruled every day by politicians without checking they are qualified and trained to do the job. An unqualified surgeon is bad enough, but untrained politicians and their staff decide on the policies and budgets for not just one operation, but every hospital, and every area of society. – Jennifer Lees-Marshment

Standard HR selection processes don’t exist in politics. Politicians and political staff are not recruited or appointed by assessing their skills against a job description. Party members select candidates and voters choose MPs for a myriad of reasons including what they look like; and MPs often choose staffers on their ideology or to reward their help on an election campaign. – Jennifer Lees-Marshment

It’s time to invest in proper professional training programme for politicians and political staffers built on solid research into the reality of politics. We shouldn’t just be putting the spotlight on individual parties when an issue comes up, as that inevitably ends up with whatever created the issue being buried in the interests of limiting the political fallout.

This is a problem that affects political parties globally, so we need to engage in non-partisan debate about how to fix it for the sake of better functioning democracies. – Jennifer Lees-Marshment

On Friday night, when I heard that Rushdie had been stabbed, my sorrow was twofold: I felt saddened by the horrific injury of an exceptionally talented man whose mind and imagination I knew intimately through his writing; and saddened by the world we live in—a world in which the diplomatic immunity granted to every creative-ambassador of the kingdom of imagination, which I had always viewed as a solid fact, was crumbling. When literature departments refuse to teach Lolita, conferences on Dostoevsky are cancelled over the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Oscar winners feel comfortable slapping standup comedians on live television, journalists and cartoonists can be killed because they publish a thought or joke that offends their readers, it is a dangerous world for both artists and art itself. It’s a two-way street: a writer is stabbed because of ideas and fantasies he shares in a work of fiction, while a creative artist’s problematic conduct in religious, moral or political realms is punished by boycotting art that harms no one. And, unlike in the past, when artistic freedom was curtailed by totalitarian regimes and religious movements, today it is under attack from all fronts, including the liberal community, which is willing to police art by means of shaming and boycotting. In this reality, no artistic creator or creation is safe. Art has ceased to be a city of refuge unrestricted by pragmatism and agendas, and has become instead a battlefield in which artists who express ideas that infuriate someone might find themselves or their works bloodied.Etgar Keret

If I believed in God, I would pray for Salman Rushdie’s recovery. And honestly? It turns out that even without exactly believing, I find myself constantly praying, hoping that in a few days I’ll get another issue of Rushdie’s excellent Substack newsletter. While I pray for his health, I can’t help adding on another agnostic prayer: for a world in which book pages, cinemas, and theater stages are once again places in which it is safe to think, to imagine, to write our fears and weaknesses in wild, ambivalent, confusing and troubling stories. Yes, confusing and troubling. Because, after all, even when we read something that angers us, shocks us, or shakes our worldview—it didn’t really happen. It’s just a story. – Etgar Keret

Racial segregation is back in the US. That old foul practice that most of us thought had been done away with by the 1964 Civil Rights Act has been given some politically correct spit-and-polish. Jim Crow’s gone woke. Consider the University of California, Berkeley. A student house there has decreed that white people are forbidden in its common areas. People of colour, the house says, must have the right to ‘avoid white violence and presence’. Therefore, no honkies allowed. The colour line resurrected to protect allegedly fragile blacks from devilish whites. – Brendan O’Neill 

There is certainly a pathological disdain for all things white in woke circles. But the Berkeley antics strike me as pretty anti-black, too. The notion that black students need to be shielded from the words and ideas and even just the ‘presence’ of white individuals implies that they are weak and fragile, childishly incapable of navigating everyday life in a pluralistic society. – Brendan O’Neill 

This is woke segregation. Sure, it isn’t fuelled by the supremacist idea that whites should never have to interact with their racial inferiors, as was the case in much of the Jim Crow South. But it is palpably reminiscent of another key conviction of the Jim Crow era – namely, that the races just don’t mix well. That they have their own customs, their own ways, and they should get on with it, separately. ‘Separate but equal’, as the Jim Crow ideology put it. The claim that blacks need a safe space from whites, that white ‘presence’ doesn’t sit well with black comfort, is a woke renovation of old racial ideas. As the Atlanticsays, there’s a ‘fine line between safe space and segregation’ on the modern American campus.

And it isn’t only on campus that the segregationist mindset has taken hold. What is the stricture against ‘cultural appropriation’ if not a demand that each race stay within its own cultural boundaries? No mixing, please. Blacks drink from one cultural fountain, whites from another. Some racial grifters have even questioned the wisdom of white people adopting black kids. Ibram X Kendi implied that Supreme Court justice Amy Coney Barrett, who has adopted children from Haiti, is a ‘white coloniser’ seeking to civilise ‘these “savage children” in the “superior” ways of white people’. Even mixed-race marriage risks being problematised. As one scientist, herself in a mixed-race marriage, wrote last year, the woke ideology that says ‘all white people are oppressors, while people of other racial groups are oppressed victims’ leads to a situation where ‘every interaction between white and non-white people’ is seen as oppressive, even in the marital home. This oppressor / victim narrative ‘erases my love for my husband. It erases my humanity’, she said. Brendan O’Neill 

That the new Jim Crow demeans rather than celebrates whiteness is not progress. For it still rehabilitates the depressing, anti-human creed of racial separation. Separate but equal living quarters, racially divided culture, racial hang-ups even in personal relationships – these are the dire consequences of the racial myopia promoted by the new elites. Nothing better sums up the crisis of liberal thought than their abandonment of Martin Luther King’s vision of a post-race society and their embrace instead of the outlook of the notorious Alabama governor George Wallace: ‘Segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever!’ – Brendan O’Neill 

For some reason, and despite plenty of other priorities, this Government has decided to make the confiscation and centralisation of water assets a priority. They seem to be doing so with undue haste, without proper process, and irrespective of what others, including the current owners of the assets, think. In fact, their urgency in the matter makes you wonder what the real agenda is.Bruce Cotterill

It is clear that the current Government doesn’t care too much what the public thinks about Three Waters. They will continue with their rhetoric that our water is of poor quality, which it isn’t, and that desire for centralisation is because that is the only solution to these largely imagined problems. –

There is a strong view held by many New Zealanders that a centralised plan, one that robs Peter to pay Paul, and one that will inevitably see the smaller regions play second fiddle to the needs of the larger cities, and Wellington in particular, all set up with a complicated co-governance model, will be a recipe for failure, fragmentation and ultimately collapse. 

As you would expect, the record of this majority Government on getting controversial legislation passed is strong. However, the record of this majority Government on delivering good outcomes for the people of the country once said legislation is passed, is very very poor.

If allowed to proceed, Three Waters will become another disruptive saga along the lines of the polytechs, the new health authority and the burgeoning public service in general. – Bruce Cotterill

Kiwibank has been given the kiss of death. Grant Robertson announced this week the Government has bought full control of the bank, wasting another $2 billion it has taken from you and me. – John Roughan

Since then the bank has made the most of its founding purpose, always presenting itself as a brave little battler against Australian giants, doing its best to disguise the fact that not many Kiwis have put their money where their sentiment was supposed to be.

It’s hard to see how it is “keeping the big banks honest”. That’s a government’s job anyway, and governments have more effective tools than owning a bank. That makes about as much sense as the Government setting up a supermarket, which has been suggested, apparently seriously, as a response to rising food prices. – John Roughan

If it really had the courage to tackle inflation it would be telling us it has to reduce its spending now, not wasting money for purposes as pointless as keeping a bank in government ownership. – John Roughan

A political kiss of death kills a company with kindness, relieving it of competitive demands, covering its failures, keeping a zombie alive to everyone’s cost.John Roughan

Stepford Wife also describes what is commonly referred to as ‘the left’ in today’s discourse. This left has been hijacked by power; it’s the Stepford Wife of political ideologies, a possessed husk of what it once was. – Mark White 

When the principle of free speech is betrayed–as it was in the totalitarian Soviet Union–or abandoned as it is today, the result is an ideology that has become the submissive enabler of everything it has always sought to reject. – Mark White 

Leftist analysis of capitalism, which once centered around class, has been rejected in favor of identity politics. Speech is conflated with violence, and punishment is swift for those who use words deemed to cause harm or offense.

To be ‘right-wing’ or to have ‘right-wing ideas’ has been defined so broadly that it has become meaningless. When you call everyone who strays from your approved speech a fascist or a Nazi, what language do you have to identify real fascists when they appear? – Mark White

In spite of the fact that Karl Popper and the Paradox of Tolerance has become a mantra of the liberal-left, policing “harmful” wrong-speech does not prevent the rise of intolerance and fascism. It didn’t work when Weimar Germany tried to suppress Nazi speech and even shut down Nazi newspapers and jailed their leaders. Their efforts to censor made the fascist ideology all the more interesting and popular. This same dynamic is true in present day Germany and France; both make full use of hate speech laws to suppress intolerance and deprive the ‘far right’ of a platform. The result has been a steady rise in the power and influence of far-right ideology in both of these countries.

The left today is in an existential moment. It must shake off this Stockholm syndrome posing as a political movement or it will have suffered total defeat.

The first step is to stand up once again–for free speech.Mark White

But most importantly, a reversal of this upward surge demands a wider appraisal and acknowledgement of societal changes that have lessened the likelihood that children will experience material and emotional security and stability throughout their formative years. If children were genuinely placed at the centre of the family, given time, given unconditional love, given space to explore but surety to return to, there may still be no guarantees. But the odds of that child developing good mental health will massively increase.- Lindsay Mitchell

I would think in some quarters, having covered that story, it could be perceived as being some malice. But to me, it was justice and power over the powerless – and that’s something that in a democracy we should never tolerate.Barry Soper

Accountability is one of the most important attributes of leadership.

If you have a mandate to make decisions, then they must be defended and the decision maker must be held to account.

This Government doesn’t want to be held to account. – Mike Hosking

 Little who tends to get angry when confronted said last week when it was suggested to him he had ignored the letter, he said “a letter from an advocate is not evidence of anything, its evidence of a letter being sent”. 

That will help things a lot won’t it.

If Andrew stopped being angry long enough to offer some sort of defence I assume he would spruik his new centralised health behemoth, which appears to this point to have achieved less than nothing but cost a fortune to get to that point.

The one announcement they have made is to get everyone on a waiting list, onto another list to get a date for your procedure. Doesn’t mean you’ll get the procedure, just a date.

And that’s Little and that’s this Government isn’t it, paper shuffling and announcements. Mike Hosking

That should further enhance his reputation as the nearly perfect minister – one who left the country better off than he found it and knew when to move on. – Nevil Gibson

The problem with characters like Arp is that their behaviour is so prone to causing public outrage that  citizens find it all-too-easy for to switch-off their critical political faculties and remain silent when politicians call for Nazis to be declared ineligible for public office. After all, who wants to be seen sticking up for antisemitic fascists?

The answer, of course, is: we should all want to be seen resisting any attempt by the state to weed-out “undesirable” ideas, and the dubious individuals who hold them, before they get anywhere near a nomination form. As democrats, our firm position must always be that the only body qualified to decide who should, and should not, be elected to public office is the electorate itself. That is to say, You and I – the voters. Chris Trotter

For some time now, both the Labour and Green parties have struggled to acknowledge in the electorate a collective wisdom more than equal to the task of distinguishing good from evil, right from wrong, democrats from fascists. Indeed, both parties show signs of believing the opposite to be true: that the electorate is neither wise enough, nor resilient enough, to recognise Nazi bullshit when they hear it. – Chris Trotter

Once the most determined defenders of free speech, the New Zealand Left has, for more than a decade, been evincing less-and-less enthusiasm for the critical democratic insight that freedom of expression must never become a privilege, to be rationed amongst “our side’s” best friends, but remain a right, freely available even to our worst enemies.

The Covid-19 Pandemic made matters worse. When the fight is with a potentially fatal virus, individuals and groups communicating false information can endanger the health of millions. In these circumstances, the temptation is strong to rank the health of the democratic system well below that of the population as a whole. Or, even worse, to start seeing the key elements of democracy: freedom of expression; freedom of assembly; freedom of association; as the vectors of a dangerous political disease.

This is now the grave danger confronting New Zealand: a Labour Government which has convinced itself that people communicating lies can undermine the health and well-being of the entire population – rather than a tragic fraction of it. Chris Trotter

The political class’s historical mistrust of democracy, long resisted by the Left, has now been embraced by what is left of it. No longer a “bottom up” party, Labour has grown increasingly fearful that its “progressive” policies are unacceptable to a majority of the electorate. Ardern’s government, and its supporters, are terrified that the Far Right will opportunistically seize upon this public unease and whip it into some sort of fascist majority. Hence their determination to shut them up, shut them down and shut them out. – Chris Trotter

 Poorly educated though they may be, ordinary citizens are not stupid. They can tell when they’re not sufficiently trusted or respected to be given a decisive role in the government of their own country.

With distressing speed, New Zealand is dividing itself into two hostile, camps. The smaller counts within it the better part of the better educated, is positioned on the commanding heights of the state, and considers itself the brain and conscience of the nation. The larger camp, nothing like so clever, seethes with frustration and resentment, anxiety and rage. It fears that its world: the world it grew up in; the world it knows and trusts; is shifting on its foundations.

What remains to be seen is which outcome represents the greater catastrophe for New Zealand: that the policies of those occupying the heights should proceed unchecked; or that the depths should find a leader equal to the task of bringing them down? Chris Trotter

We are almost the size of Japan in terms of geography, yet we’re trying to pay for the necessary roading networks with five million people, compared to Japan’s 125 million. 

Ultimately, this is a question of whether we want to supercharge New Zealand or just grind down our economic growth.

If bringing in 4 million people over the next ten years helps us make money and pay for things, I’m up for it.  –  Heather du Plessis-Allan

One of the most remarkable developments of recent years has been the legalization—dare I say, the institutionalization?—of corruption. This is not a matter of money passing under the table, or of bribery, though this no doubt goes on as it always has. It is far, far worse than that. Where corruption is illegal, there is at least some hope of controlling or limiting it, though of course there is no final victory over it; not, at least, until human nature changes.

The corruption of which I speak has a financial aspect, but only indirectly. It is principally moral and intellectual in nature. It is the means by which an apparatchik class and its nomenklatura of mediocrities achieve prominence and even control in society. I confess that I do not see a ready means of reversing the trend. – Theodore Dalrymple

As the article makes clear, though perhaps without intending to, the key to success in this brave new world of commissars, whose job is to draw a fat salary while enforcing a fatuous ideology, is mastery of a certain kind of verbiage couched in generalities that it would be too generous to call abstractions. This language nevertheless manages to convey menace. It is difficult, of course, to dissent from what is so imprecisely asserted, but one knows instinctively that any expressed reservations will be treated as a manifestation of something much worse than mere disease, something in fact akin to membership in the Ku Klux Klan.

It is obvious that the desiderata of the new class are not faith, hope, and charity, but power, salary, and pension; and of these, the greatest is the last. It is not unprecedented, of course, that the desire for personal advancement should be hidden behind a smoke screen of supposed public benefit, but rarely has it been so brazen. The human mind, however, is a complex instrument, and sometimes smoke screens remain hidden even from those who raise them. People who have been fed a mental diet of psychology, sociology, and so forth are peculiarly inapt for self-examination, and hence are especially liable to self-deception. It must be admitted, therefore, that it is perfectly possible that the apparatchik-commissar-nomenklatura class genuinely believes itself to be doing, if not God’s work exactly, at least that of progress, in the sense employed in self-congratulatory fashion by those who call themselves progressives. For it, however, there is certainly one sense in which the direction of progress has a tangible meaning: up the career ladder.Theodore Dalrymple

Although the modern prestige bestowed upon science is laudable, it is not without peril. For as the ideological value of science increases, so too does the threat to its objectivity. Slogans and hashtags can quickly politicize science, and scientists can be tempted to subordinate the pursuit of the truth to moral or political ends as they become aware of their own prodigious social importance. Inconvenient data can be suppressed or hidden and inconvenient research can be quashed. This is especially true when one political tribe or faction enjoys disproportionate influence in academia—its members can disfigure science (often unconsciously) to support their own ideological preferences. This is how science becomes more like propaganda than empiricism, and academia becomes more like a partisan media organization than an impartial institution. – Bo Winegard

In plain language, this means that from now on, the journal will reject articles that might potentially harm (even “inadvertently”) those individuals or groups most vulnerable to “racism, sexism, ableism, or homophobia.” Since it is already standard practice to reject false or poorly argued work, it is safe to assume that these new guidelines have been designed to reject any article deemed to pose a threat to disadvantaged groups, irrespective of whether or not its central claims are true, or at least well-supported. Within a few sentences, we have moved from a banal statement of the obvious to draconian and censorious editorial discretion. Editors will now enjoy unprecedented power to reject articles on the basis of nebulous moral concerns and anticipated harms.Bo Winegard

Asking ethicists to assess the wisdom of publishing a journal article is as antithetical to the spirit of science as soliciting publication advice from a religious scholar. Who are these “ethics experts” and “advocacy groups” anyway? I am skeptical of ethical expertise. I am especially skeptical of ethical expertise from an academy more inclined to reward conclusions that support progressive preferences than those that emerge from empirical study and rational thought. I am more skeptical still of advocacy groups, which exist to pursue a political agenda, and are therefore, by their very nature, a good deal more interested in what is useful than what is true. – Bo Winegard

 I find that I am more positive about the science of the past than the editorial’s authors, and more gloomy about the social-justice-oriented science of the future they are proposing. Yes, humans are flawed and fallible and always will be, so we must accept that science will forever be an imperfect endeavor. But the best way to correct its imperfections is not to demand the capitulation of science to ideology, but to remain alive to our biases and devise mechanisms that can compensate for them. Trying to counter past bias by replacing it with a new kind of bias is self-evidently nonsensical—like trying to conquer alcohol consumption by replacing beer with hard liquor.Bo Winegard

Science is a human activity, and like all human activities, it is influenced by human values, human biases, and human imperfections. Those will never be eliminated. The banner of science has undoubtedly been waved to justify, excuse, or otherwise rationalize appalling crimes and atrocities, from the racial pseudoscience of the Nazis to the blank slatism (and Lysenkoism) of the communists. But the correct response to these distortions is not to endorse a highly partisan vision of science that promotes a progressive worldview, alienating all those who disagree and further encouraging doubt about the objectivity of scientific endeavor. The correct response is to preserve an adversarial vision of science that promotes debate, disagreement, and free inquiry as the best way to reach the truth. – Bo Winegard

Recently I enjoyed the experience of helping two young local men shear some of my sheep.

The exercise was a mixture of one that helped to restore my faith in our local farm based economy but also another that reinforced my concerns about the contemptuous manner in which the farming industry is being treated by the current government. Clive Bibby

Yet here we are lamenting that those who have the power to safeguard the jobs and welfare of those who make it happen, actually doing their best to destroy our number one asset – all in the name of an already discredited ideology. It is criminal activity and those who are responsible should be held to account. – Clive Bibby

It looks as if the “jewel in the crown” is gone forever, sacrificed on the altar of idealogical madness when it didn’t need to happen this way. 

I have said many times before, that there is more than enough marginal unplanted hill country available in this country that would satisfy the government goal of reducing carbon emissions 50% by 2030 without forcing a single hectare of our very best out of livestock production. 

I believe the government knows that to be true and will be hoping that this irrational decision will be the last in its search for idealogical purity. 
However, my guess is anything is possible with these incompetents and we should buckle up expecting the worst while hoping for a change in direction foreshadowed by a change of government. 

It can’t happen soon enough. Clive Bibby

. I believe the mainstream media in New Zealand have lost sight of what was previously their primary objective, which was to reflect society back to itself and report, as neutrally as possible, on matters of interest and concern to the communities they purported to serve. Instead they have positioned themselves in the front line of the culture wars and put themselves at odds with their diminishing audiences by haranguing them with an ideological agenda largely driven by disaffected minorities. The subjects of Fire and Fury just happen to be the wrong disaffected minorities.

To summarise: While purporting to be concerned about the potential harm done by wacko extremists (and some do have the appearance of being truly wacko), Stuff’s big-statement documentary drives another wedge into an already dangerously fractured society. Oh, and by the way: did I mention that it was made with funding from the Public Interest Journalism Fund? – Karl du Fresne

According to St. Paul, Jesus Christ said it’s more blessed to give than to receive: But we’ve changed all that. In the modern state, it’s more blessed to receive than to give—and possibly more common, too.

Giving in the modern state is compulsory, and the donors have no choice in the matter, either as to the quantity or the destination of their gifts, perhaps better known as taxes. Of course, in the process of distribution, a proportion of their gifts don’t reach their ostensible recipients, as distribution itself doesn’t come as a gift but as an additional reason why the compulsory gifts must be so large.Theodore Dalrymple

There are, however, people who clearly receive more than they give: those who exist entirely on gifts. Some of them couldn’t possibly exist other than by such gifts, being incapable of looking after themselves. But they aren’t the majority of those who live entirely on gifts. Again, the distinction between those who are incapable and capable of looking after themselves isn’t absolute; there are shades of incapability between them, those who require partial but not complete help.

The fact that there’s a spectrum of need, from total to none, gives bureaucracies of welfare the pretext or excuse for expanding them ad infinitum, thus expanding also the requirement for further compulsory donations from the rest of the population. An incompetent population is the joy of bureaucrats.

As for the recipients of gifts, they don’t really regard them as a blessing, but more as a right, certainly after they’ve become accustomed to receiving them, which they do very quickly, almost instantaneously. – Theodore Dalrymple

While, in constitutional theory, no government can commit subsequent governments to any particular policy, in practice, many policies, especially those bestowing “gifts” upon a population, are exceedingly difficult, politically, to reverse. Governments that come into power promising the reduction of government expenditures often fail to do so—or even end up increasing it. They find that, in practice, it’s more blessed to increase than to decrease.

Once a benefit is received, even if one has paid or continues to pay for it oneself through taxes, it’s painful to have it withdrawn.Theodore Dalrymple

The Government cannot find $300 million for a third medical school. Instead, last week the Government spent seven times that amount – $2.1 billion – to buy a bankMinister of Finance Grant Robertson admits the taxpayer may have to inject more cash. The purchase of Kiwibank could cost the taxpayer a lot more. – Richard Prebble

Ministers are hopeless at governance. When the taxpayer owned the Bank of New Zealand the bank funded the Wine Box rort. The BNZ had to be bailed out by the taxpayer to avoid its collapse.

When David Lange made me the first minister of state-owned enterprises I was in charge of 22 government businesses. I discovered not one was paying any company tax because none were profitable. The services and products were awful and overpriced. Politicians are just hopeless business owners.Richard Prebble

Kiwibank has always been a political stunt that has produced few, if any, of the benefits promised. This month the bank was the first to increase its mortgage interest rates. The bank almost ruined New Zealand Post. All of New Zealand Post’s earnings went into supporting Kiwibank.

NZ Post could not invest to expand its courier services to deliver Internet shopping deliveries. NZ Post had to beg the government to let it sell shares in the bank to ACC and the Super Fund to avoid bankruptcy. With the cash from the partial sale and NZ Post concentrating on its core delivery business the SOE has returned to profitability. – Richard Prebble

Some Kiwi Fund managers have said they would support a share float. Other analysts say Kiwibank is a risky investment. The New Zealand Super Fund knows far more about investing than Robertson. The fund believes Kiwibank needs a shareholder that would strengthen governance, presumably an overseas bank.

Labour is so keen to promote competition in the supermarket sector that it is encouraging foreign-owned Costco’s entry. At the same time Labour is spending billions of taxpayers’ dollars to prevent real competition in the banking sector that a foreign bank shareholding in Kiwibank would bring. The only winners are the Australian-owned trading banks.

If you cannot get a doctor you can take comfort in knowing that the government owns a bank. – Richard Prebble

We can only surmise wearing your religion ‘loudly’ is a bad thing, so what have Roxborogh and his colleagues got to say about a Speaker of the House with enormous influence, the 3rd most powerful person in NZ, and a practicing Christian? No doubt radio silence. It’s traditional to denigrate National, but not so often do we hear criticism of the left’s beliefs.

However, one has to ask how much more of this hypocrisy can we take from the tone-deaf, biased media commentators, who selectively choose who to torment based on subjectivity and emotion, not reason or logic? – Wendy Geus

So, we look forward with anticipation to hearing the media ‘loudly’ call out Rurawhe for his ‘unpopular’ beliefs which, like Luxon, could be detrimental in some way, yet to be determined.  Don’t hold your breath. Kermit said, “It’s not easy being green.” Copy that: It’s not easy being a National MP.Wendy Geus

Anna Campbell, Giles Fraser, Jack Tame, Graham Adams, Simon Chapple, Chris Bishop, Titania McGrath, Paul Goldsmith, Jordan Williams, Phil Kerr, Joelle King, Tina Nixon, Barbara Kuriger, Christopher Luxon, Megan Whelan, Kate MacNamara, Rotorua Lakes District Council, Lindsay Mitchell, Paula Bennett, Denis Hall, Stuart Smith, Derek Mackie, Francesca Rudkin, John Bougen, Stop These Things, Justin Giovannetti, Richard Prebble, Kenan Malik, Gearóid Ó Loingsigh, Lorraine Finlay, Melissa Lee, Ben Thomas, Sir Bob Jones, Elon Musk, Dylan Thomsen, James Smith, Geoff Upson, Josie Pagani, Mike Hutcheson, Kerre Woodham, Rachel Stewart, Jennifer Lees-Marshment, Etgar Keret, Brendan O’Neill, Bruce Cotterill, John Roughan, Mark White, Barry Soper, Nevil Gibson, Bo Winegard, Wendy Geus,


Planting seeds of division and dissent

05/08/2022

Labour and the Green party have voted to undermine democracy:

A bill allowing Ngāi Tahu to appoint two voting councillors to the Canterbury Regional Council was passed tonight with fractious debate in Parliament about whether it will diminish or enhance democracy and whether other councils will follow suit. . . 

If other councils stand up for the principle of equal representation with one person, one vote they won’t follow suit. But now a precedent has been set, they might not care about that, at least until there’s a change of government.

National’s Paul Goldsmith said National would repeal the law if it became the Government because it did not uphold equal voting rights for all New Zealanders and did not provide electoral accountability. He questioned the mandate for the bill.

“It is our view on this side of the House that the Treaty of Waitangi does not trump democracy and the country has not decided that,” he said.

It was a divisive bill that was pitting one group of New Zealanders against others.

“Ngāi Tahu get to appoint those two councillors forever and a day. They cannot be thrown out. There is no direct accountability. It astounds me that I’m having to make this argument.”

Goldsmith rejected a suggestion that the bill had its roots in a similar move National had made in Government in 2010 when it replaced the Canterbury Regional Council with commissioners, including two Ngāi Tahu commissioners.

It was a temporary appointment of commissioners when democratic elections had been halted and was different to permanent unelected councillors.

Ironically Labour and the Greens were very critical of the then-government appointing commissioners.

“It will set a precedent. There is no question about that across local government. I can’t how you could say this is modern expression of the treaty but it only applies to Canterbury.

“I am sure there will be many other councils to which this logic will flow to, and then potentially to central government.” . . 

Reading the transcript of the debate and trying to understand the arguments in favour of the Bill and the redefining of democracy brings to mind Through the Looking Glass:

“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ ’

The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”

Point of Order quotes some of the speeches in favour of the Bill and concludes:

. . . But if adding two additional representatives strengthens democracy, then it is reasonable to suppose that adding three representatives would strengthen it further  – and four would make it even stronger.

Why not 20 more? Or 100?

We don’t have to be too sage to recognise the absurdity of that line of reasoning – or to condemn the outcome of the vote at the end of the debate.  

Labour’s reimagining and rewriting of the Treaty to give people of Maori descent and Iwi rights and power not available to other citizens undermines the democratic principles which treat us all as equal under the law, giving us one vote each and the right to vote against those people we don’t want governing us.

New Zealand is a young country but one of the oldest democracies.

This Act replaces democracy by planting the seeds of division and dissent.


Vote for democracy

02/08/2022

MIchael Bassett calls the current government the worst he’s seen in his lifetime:

Have you noticed the ways in which New Zealand’s mainspring seems gradually to be unwinding with Jacinda Ardern’s government? A collection of small things add up to an unfolding collapse of civil society as we have known it. . .

We are experiencing the worst government of my lifetime, one that has caused more damage and divisiveness in our society, than there has been at any time since the Great Depression. 

Last week there were another step away from democracy and towards division.

. . . Mahuta has slipped a change into a piece of legislation that will make it mandatory for councils every six years to consider whether they should introduce Maori wards.

When they meet for their six-yearly Representation Review, the first step councils must take must be a decision about whether to establish Māori wards or constituencies.

That makes it very likely, doesn’t it, that a lot of councils will opt to introduce Māori wards. Because if they consider the wards and then actively choose not to introduce them, what are they? 

They’re racists.

That’s the response to any criticism of the government’s divisive race-based agenda.

Instead of responding with reasoned argument explaining or justifying proposals, proponents simply call the critics racist.

And no one wants to be called a racist so they’ll probably just end up taking the easy option and introducing the Māori wards.

Clever politics, Nanaia. 

And what’s more, because she popped these changes into an omnibus piece of law with a whole bunch of other boring, technical changes for local elections most people seem to have totally missed it.

In fact, from what I can see, no one’s reported on it in the 26+ hours since she put out her press release.

What’s especially clever here is that Nanaia is forcing something on ratepayers that ratepayers don’t want, but really can’t stop. . .

Another step towards further division and less democracy will come this week with the third reading of the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Bill.

A National Government will restore the basic principle that all New Zealanders have equal voting rights, National’s Justice spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“It’s astounding that any party should have to make such a promise – given most Kiwis take equal voting rights for granted – but that basic principle is being undermined by the Labour Government.

“On Wednesday, Labour and the Greens are set to vote for the third reading of the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Bill. The legislation removes both equal voting rights in that region, as well as the basic principle of democratic accountability.

“The Bill will give Ngāi Tahu the right to appoint two councillors. Since Māori will have had an equal vote in the appointment of the other 14 councillors, this arrangement gives Ngāi Tahu voters extra voting power.

“Since the Ngāi Tahu appointments are permanent, the normal rules of accountability do not apply. The universal principle that politicians are better behaved when they know they can be thrown out at the next election, will not apply for these councillors in Canterbury.

“Once this Bill is passed this week, against strong opposition from National, we can be sure that other regions will try to follow.

“Labour members on the Māori Affairs Committee are still trying to resurrect the Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill, which would move away from equal rights for the Rotorua District Council.

“This is anti-democratic and divisive.

“This morning on Q&A, when quizzed on whether co-governance in Three Waters gave Māori disproportionate power, the Prime Minister’s only response was that “democracy is democracy”.

“New Zealanders don’t need meaningless blather from the Prime Minister. They need a resolute defence of basic democratic principles.

“Equal voting rights and accountability at the ballot box are basic principles and National will restore them if returned to office in 2023.”

Voters will have a stark choice at next year’s election.

They can vote for more divisiveness under a Labour and Green government or they can vote for a return to democracy with equal representation with a National-led government.


Quotes of the month

01/07/2022

A 2021 Canadian law on assisted suicide contains a provision that will allow doctors to provide assisted suicide to the psychiatrically ill starting next year. Given that severe psychiatric disorder tends to cloud the judgment of those who suffer from it, one wonders who will benefit most from this law, if passed. Certainly, it might remove from society people who are often difficult, unproductive, and expensive for others. They might be encouraged to shuffle off this mortal coil as a service to their relatives or even to their county. The distinction between the voluntary and the compulsory might become blurred. – Theodore Dalrymple

An illness may be serious but not fatal; it may be bearable or unbearable, but whether it is the one or the other is not simply a technical question that can be answered by ticking a few boxes on a form. An easy way out will always tempt people to take it who might otherwise have carried on. And in times of economic stringency, they might well be encouraged to take it. Our hospitals, after all, are full, and often urgently in need of beds for those who can be helped.

On the other side of the question is the fact that everyone can easily imagine circumstances in which he would rather die than carry on and would appreciate an easeful death. The principle of double effect, according to which doctors are permitted to prescribe drugs intended to comfort the dying but that will also shorten their lives, has long been in operation. It is not a perfect solution to the dilemma—but then, there is no perfect solution. –Theodore Dalrymple

WHETHER NANAIA MAHUTA followed the conflict-of-interest rules set out in The Cabinet Manual hardly matters. A dangerous political narrative is forming around the appointment of, and awarding of contracts to, Mahuta’s whanau in circumstances that, at the very least, raise serious questions about this Government’s political judgement. Enlarging this narrative is the growing public perception that the mainstream news media is refusing to cover a story that would, in other circumstances, have attracted intense journalistic interest. The conflation of these two, highly damaging narratives with a third – the even more negative narrative of “co-governance” – has left the Labour Government in an extremely exposed and vulnerable position. – Chris Trotter

Since the widespread assumption among Pakeha New Zealanders is that co-governance and representative democracy are fundamentally incompatible, Labour’s willingness to be presented as co-governance’s friend runs the risk of being cast as democracy’s enemy.

Of even greater concern is the inevitability of this anti-democratic characterisation being extended to an ever-increasing fraction of the Māori population. Statements from Māori leaders appearing to discount the importance of, or even disparage, the principles of democracy have done little to slow this process. –

The problem with this willingness to indulge in ad hominem attacks on people holding genuine reservations about the Government’s proposals is that more and more of them will decide that they might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, and embrace the very racism of which they stand accused. In this context, the revelations that some members of a Māori Minister of the Crown’s whanau have been the recipients of Government funds, and appointed to roles not unrelated to the furtherance of the Minister’s policies, will be taken as confirmation that all is not as it should be in Aotearoa-New Zealand. – Chris Trotter

The result could very easily be the emergence of what might be called a “super-narrative” in which all the negatives of co-governance, media capture, and Neo-Tribal Capitalism are rolled into one big story about the deliberate corruption of New Zealand democracy. The guilty parties would be an unholy alliance of Pakeha and Māori elites determined to keep public money flowing upwards into protected private hands. In this super-narrative, the structures set forth in He Puapua to secure tino rangatiratanga, will actually ensure the exclusion of the vast majority of New Zealanders from the key locations of power. The only positive consequence of which will be a common struggle for political and economic equality in which non-elite Māori and Pakeha will have every incentive to involve themselves. Chris Trotter

What lies ahead, as the institutions of co-governance take shape, is the coming together of two very privileged birds of a feather: the Pakeha professionals and managers who have taken command of the society and economy created by Neoliberalism, and the Māori professionals and managers created to produce and operate the cultural and economic machinery of Neo-Tribal Capitalism.

This, ultimately, will be the spectre that arises out of the controversy swirling around Nanaia Mahuta. The spectre of the worst of both the Pakeha and the Māori worlds. Worlds in which the powerful trample all over the weak. Where tradition constrains the free exploration of ideas and techniques. And where the petty advantages of separation are elevated above the liberating effects of unity. Where “Aotearoa” creates two peoples out of one. – Chris Trotter

Crying in the movies and in response to really compelling stories, it actually shows … you have a strong empathy response and empathy is one of the five key characteristics of emotional intelligence, so it’s a strength. – Deborah Rickwood

People who are high in emotional intelligence have better social and intimate relationships, and it helps you to deal with stress and conflict, and I guess it just means that you’re more aware and attuned to your emotions, and as long as you can regulate them, that makes you better able to be socially connected, get along with other people. – Deborah Rickwood

Crying is basically a way of getting over getting upset and humans are the only animals who emotionally cry.

“Crying releases endorphins in your brain. I mean, [for] most of us, if you have a really good cry, you’ll notice you need to go and have a little sleep afterwards. You’re kind of drained, you’re more relaxed, it is a release of emotion that’s good for us.  – Deborah Rickwood

You hear particularly from people who become parents and especially men when they become fathers, they find that when they see movies about fathers and sons … they will cry and really respond to that, which they wouldn’t have before they became a father.

So, I think the older you get, the more experience of social connections, the more things you pay attention to that are meaningful to you, so more things then emotionally arouse you. – Deborah Rickwood

I’d love New Zealand to establish a Victims of  Museum which details all the mass deaths caused by communism. It could even include half price entry for people living in Aro Valley.David Farrar

When I was Governor of the Reserve Bank I used to talk about the contrasting fortunes of my uncle and me, to illustrate the effect of inflation. In 1971, my uncle sold an apple orchard he had spent a life-time developing and, being of a cautious disposition, invested the proceeds in 18-year government bonds at 5.5% interest. Perhaps fortunately, by the time those bonds matured my uncle and his wife were dead, because the $30,000 for which he had sold his orchard was by then worth only a small fraction of what it had been worth in 1971. In 1971, $30,000 would have bought my uncle 11 Toyota Corolla cars. By 1989, $30,000 would have bought him just one Corolla, with a small amount of change left over.

By coincidence, in 1971 my wife and I returned from the United States to a very well-paying job in Auckland. We bought a five-bedroom home with a great sea view for $43,000, which was almost exactly three times my substantial salary. By the late eighties, the house was worth more than ten times what we had paid for it, and I have no doubt that today it would be worth several million dollars (I have had no financial interest in the house for more than 30 years).- Don Brash

There are simply no good reasons why an under-populated country like New Zealand should tolerate the ridiculous “house prices” (really, ridiculous land prices) which we currently have. Blame central and local government politicians, not greedy speculators, people with Chinese-sounding names, or the purveyors of building materials.Don Brash

The use of the word “outcomes” (aka results, deliverables) should not be so earth-shattering but our media, entranced by this Government’s strategy of throwing money at problems to make them go away, have now realised we also need ‘outcomes’ or ‘results’.

Luxon and Willis, having grabbed the narrative and set the agenda, are re-educating the media (the public already knew) that it actually is results that we want and we don’t have much evidence of that with this Government so far. Just billions of wasted spending and excessive appointments of highly paid public servants, which National have promised to go through with a fine-tooth comb once they gain office next year. – Wendy Geus

A creative writing course at a British university has withdrawn graduation requirement that students should attempt a sonnet, not on the reasonable grounds that it is futile to try to turn people with cloth ears for language into sonneteers, but because the sonnet is a literary form that is white and Western.Theodore Dalrymple

As a psychiatrist, I understand identity as a crucial part of every person’s self-concept. Each person’s identity is cobbled together from multiple identity fragments: for example, gender, race, religion, nation, family, and ideology. These fragments can include their opposites, a negative identity fragment that represents something that person absolutely is not and defines themselves against. They might include someone’s love or hatred of flowers, sports, or the ballet. Over a person’s lifetime, these fragments may conflict with each other and get reordered and revalued in ways big and small, many times.

In the political and other societal realms, identity conflicts play out in an analogous way to how they play out within individuals. The key conflicts are over the prioritization of identities, particularly which comes first. In a totalitarian society, one identity is required to be the primary focus of all public and private action. This directive can serve as a definition of totalitarianism. – Elliot S Gershon

What seems to be overlooked in the rush toward “equity, diversity, and inclusion” is the fact that when one identity fragment within a population is selected for benefits, or favored for whatever reason, the other fragments are penalized. This has been proven mathematically for Darwinian selection and applies to any other selection within a finite environment. Elliot S Gershon

Identity-based regimes, like the one taking hold in the United States, do not necessarily consider the extent to which people agree with or give importance to the race or gender to which they are assigned. Based on my skin color, I might appear to be white, but I never think of myself as white. My grandfather and other family members were murdered in the Holocaust because they were not white, according to the identity-based regime of the time. So am I white? Not according to me.

Doctrinal identity assignments routinely disregard voluntary identity choices, limit transitions, accentuate distinctions, and generate very severe reactions among those who are assigned to favored and unfavored groups. Persons assigned to one identity are encouraged to see other identities as enemies or oppressors. Identity-based entitlements can therefore generate resentment and even violence, which can become routine, and can be used to justify the continuation of entitlements ad infinitum, even as the institutionalization of entitlements based on state-assigned identity groups creates its own devastatingly destructive forms of exclusion and corruption. – Elliot S Gershon

Gender identity is widely accepted as a matter of choice for everyone. But gender fluidity is a doctrine, and it generates resentments. Many parents of young children resent fluid-gender-identity education programs; they have their own understanding that children in those ages should be encouraged to integrate and solidify the gender identity of their natal sex. Gender transition has also led to widespread resentment when male-to-female transgender athletes win prizes competing against girls and women who are born female. Yet in the same political and social context where gender is held to be a matter of choice, race is considered immutable. Any person can be accused of having “white privilege” or “unconscious bias,” regardless of their actual ancestry or beliefs.

Although there is a case to be made for gender transitions, there is a stronger case to be made for racial transitions. Gender as a social construct is very closely related to biological sex, an unambiguous characteristic of the vast majority of humans. Race is also a social construct, associated with statistical differences among population groups. Race, however, does not have a rational or scientific definition unambiguously applicable to all individuals, and for many people it is impossible to determine—leading to casually racist assumptions based on skin pigmentation or “one drop” theories that lack any legal or scientific currency.Elliot S Gershon

There is nothing pure about race. As a category, it is remarkably fluid. In a modern American urban population, we statistical geneticists frequently find people who self-classify as white or Black but whose genotypes are ambiguous. People with the same amount of “white” or “Black” ancestry may identity with either race, or with neither race. Many people who are identified as “Latinx” by Harvard would identify themselves as “white,” while many “whites” would identify themselves as something else, based on ancestry, upbringing, culture, or personal affinity. Why should the state or private elite institutions be empowered to impose these slippery and often poorly framed identities on individuals without their consent, especially when the social cost to the society of doing so is real?

One way out of our current identity conflicts is to permit individuals to freely choose their own racial and gender identities and at the same time to forbid any societal rewards or penalties based on these identities. – Elliot S Gershon

Pursuing race- and gender-blindness under the law is preferable to enforced alternatives that have consistently failed for more than a century. – Elliot S Gershon

My faith is not a political agenda, right? I am there to represent all New Zealanders, not one faith or one religion, and you shouldn’t vote for me because of my faith, and you shouldn’t reject me because of my faith. –  Christopher Luxon

My faith is actually about tolerance, compassion – not discriminating, not rejecting people. That’s what I think my faith is about. – Christopher Luxon

Every human being in this country is valuable and equal. That’s the guts of it. I want everybody to genuinely flourish and so when I arrive in a business environment and I don’t see diversity being embraced and people being able to come to work as their whole self, that’s a problem. – Christopher Luxon

There is no substitute for personal knowledge of the patient and their conditions. It saves the health system huge amounts of money. If they turn up at an ED in crisis, they end up having scans, tests, all sorts of expensive treatment that good GP care could have prevented.Dr Samantha Murton

When fundamental facts of human nature, and fundamental values and institutions such as marriage and the family are contradicted by law and taught to new generations, of course those who disagree will feel alienated. Some will persevere in dialogue about these issues, but others will find an outlet not just on social media, but, as we have seen, in more militant ways.

Then, keyboard warriors will be the least of our worries. – Carolyn Moynihan

This Government’s activist-driven drive towards a Maori-dominated neo-apartheid political structure, cannot be allowed to continue. We must not just stand by and watch our democratic structure and democracy be overridden and destroyed — particularly by a group of in-caucus-activists driven solely by self-interest and totally, deliberately and fraudulently misrepresenting and misinterpreting the Treaty of Waitangi  in an attempt to justify what they are about.

What we are seeing and being subjected to is a TOTAL abuse of the privilege, power, objective-responsibility and trust and integrity inherent in and expected of those in Parliamentary office. Particularly galling is the fact that it has all been fraudulently sprung on us, following the election, without notice. It is treachery at its very worst — and it must be stopped. – Hugh Perrett

Lying awake at night imagining the worst possible complications – amputations, kidney failure, blindness? That sucks too. People with chronic illnesses will understand this, and this is hardly something I am alone in, but the worst part is the way my diabetes is a shadow over my whole life. It’s a constant companion I live with and try to placate. – Megan Whelan

There are many studies that show deprivation is a significant factor in both developing type 2, and in having complications from it. People who are having to choose between buying fresh vegetables and sending the kids to school camp aren’t quibbling over which protein powder brand is the best. – Megan Whelan

Green energy is a wild bull in the electricity china shop. Australia’s new green government has a $20B plan to “rewire the nation” to connect the spreading rash of wind and solar toys. Eastern Australia recently had a couple of days of high wind, which caused many outages as trees and powerlines were blown down. Imagine the outages after a cyclone cuts a swathe thru this continent-wide spider-web of fragile power lines connecting green energy generators, batteries and markets. – Viv Forbes

Working for Families has given us a mess that may have no solution. Or at least no solution that doesn’t cause other problems.Eric Crampton

A 57 percent Effective Marginal Tax Rate facing families who pay zero percent net tax is a mess. But it does not seem to be the kind of mess that can be cleaned up.

Unlike housing.

Would that governments fixed the problems that can be fixed before putting effort into the intractable ones. Ending the housing shortage and improving supermarket competition could do a lot more good for family budgets than tweaking transfers to middle-income families. – Eric Crampton

In a democracy, as on the marae, matters of collective interest should be decided by robust and respectful debate. The Government should stop trying to curate the conversation and force predetermined outcomes on constitutional matters, because this is backfiring. Exchanges based on racial framings provoke racist reactions; and questions that need airing are being swamped in a tsunami of racist abuse, foreclosing a proper (‘tika’) discussion.Dame Anne Salmond

By using the Treaty ‘partnership’ deception to justify giving control of essential services to the Maori elite, Jacinda Ardern is deliberately robbing New Zealanders of crucial democratic safeguards, placing them instead at the mercy of unelected and unaccountable iwi business leaders working in their own best interests, not in the public good.

The reality is that once co-governance is put in place, the opportunities for tribal enrichment will be endless, with contracts, fees, and other mechanisms able to be used to secure taxpayer funding – exposing the country to the problems that plague all tribal societies including corruption and nepotism.   – Muriel Newman

Jacinda Ardern’s path to co-governance and tribal rule, has barely got off the ground, but is already proving to be a recipe for Maori privilege by an inherited elite that will divide and weaken our society. Their end goal, of course – as outlined in He Puapua – is to ‘take the country back’ to tribal rule by 2040.

Are we really prepared to stand by and let this become the future for New Zealand? – Muriel Newman

It’s just possible that one reason so many MPs are unknown to the public is that the media have largely abandoned their traditional function of reporting what happens in Parliament. And I mean in Parliament – not outside the debating chamber where members of the press gallery (sometimes known as the wolf pack, but perhaps more accurately characterised as a mob of sheep taking their cue from whoever happens to be the most aggressive among them) wait to ambush whichever politician they have collectively decided will be that day’s target.

We are largely ignorant not only about who represents us in Parliament, but also what they do there. The only time the mainstream media take an interest in the debating chamber is when something happens to excite them, such as a squabble involving the Speaker or the inflammatory hurling of an insult.- Karl du Fresne

Much of the time we have no idea what business is being conducted in the House, still less any knowledge of which MPs are making speeches or asking questions. Often we don’t learn about important legislation until its consequences – not always welcome ones – become apparent long after it has been passed.

This means there is a vacuum at the heart of the democratic process. We elect our representatives every three years, and then what? To all intents and purposes they disappear into a void until the next election, with the exception of the handful of activist MPs already mentioned who attract journalists’ attention. The feedback loop that should tell us what all those other MPs are doing is broken.

Yet the right to observe and report Parliament is arguably the most fundamental of press freedoms.Karl du Fresne

My guess is that you’re more likely to see a polar bear in Bellamy’s than a row of reporters busily taking shorthand notes of speeches in the House. As a result, MPs largely escape the public scrutiny that should inform our votes. This magnifies an absence of accountability already inherent under MMP, where a substantial proportion of MPs are answerable not to the public but to their party hierarchy. Call them the invisible MPs.

Online platforms (NewsroomBusinessDeskPoint of Order, to name three) fill some of the gaps in parliamentary coverage, and Radio New Zealand’s The House caters to a small audience of political obsessives. But it’s hit and miss, and the result is that we are arguably less informed about the business of Parliament than at any time in living memory. That can’t be good for democracy. – Karl du Fresne

Wording is no doubt a small thing by comparison with the horror of a mass shooting such as the one of schoolchildren and teachers at Uvalde, but it’s nonetheless of some significance. In all the reports, I noticed that 8, 9, and 10-year-old children were referred to as “students.”

They were not students, they were pupils.

Does it matter what you call them, you might ask? If words matter, then it does matter (and Confucius thought so more than 2,500 years ago, for he wrote that when words were used wrongly, the state and society could not hold).

In fact, nobody believes that words don’t matter, least of all at the present time, when bitter disputes break out about nomenclature and by what pronouns people should be addressed. Such disputes are battles for power rather than for improvement or happiness. Since speech is so central to human existence, forcing people to change their language is an exercise in power over them, which isn’t to say that in no circumstances whatsoever should such changes be suggested or even mandated. It’s true that there are terms that are intrinsically degrading to those whom they designate, but with a few exceptions, struggles over language are not usually concerned with them. –  Theodore Dalrymple

A pupil is a child who is under the authority of a teacher who chooses for him what he should learn. This is because the child isn’t capable of choosing or deciding for himself: If the child were so capable, there probably wouldn’t be any need for teachers in the first place.  . . .

A student is a young person old enough to be at least partly self-directed in the choice of what to learn, increasingly so as he progresses. – Theodore Dalrymple

What does the abandonment of the word pupil signify? In the first place, it’s unctuous and hypocritical, for in practice adults are still obliged to choose what it is that young children should learn, even if they have changed their opinions as to what it is that should be taught.

But there’s something deeper than this, a kind of insincere refusal of authority as such. People now refuse to admit that they are exercising authority even as they are doing so, because authority is supposedly so undemocratic or paternalist in nature.  Theodore Dalrymple

This denial of proper distinctions is a characteristic of our age. For example, the distinction between men and women, inscribed in biology, is increasingly being denied because (what is true) there are some marginal cases. Those who wish to eradicate distinctions, however, start by making the marginal central to all considerations. Failing to agree to this sleight of hand is characterized by the eradicators of distinctions as a sign of intolerance or worse, as if everyone who thought that the marginal should not be made central necessarily is in favor of ill treatment of the marginal, which, of course, is true neither empirically nor in logic. Moreover, few people recognize that the virtue of tolerance can be exercised only in the presence of disapproval or distaste, for unless there’s one or the other, there’s nothing to tolerate. Everyone, surely, tolerates what he likes or approves of. Nor is acceptance of something the same as celebrating it. For example, I accept rock music in the sense that I don’t wish to suppress it, but I don’t celebrate it and avoid it when I can.

No doubt there are some 8-year-olds somewhere who are capable of being students in the sense of choosing what and how to learn, but I think that they must be about as rare as giant pandas, if not rarer. By calling such young children students we’re suggesting that they have authority, and you can’t suggest such a thing without children taking you at your word and coming to think of themselves as authorities. This is abject. – Theodore Dalrymple

The mainstream media tells the public repeatedly that the criteria in the $55 million media fund mandating the promotion of a radical view of the Treaty as a 50:50 partnership are insignificant and do not compromise their independence with regard to reporting on matters such as Three Waters.

However, their unwillingness to contact a highly qualified analyst who is closely investigating the power structures of Three Waters — which is probably the most contentious political issue for the government right now — certainly won’t convince the public they are not constrained by the criteria they signed up to as a condition of receiving handsome amounts of government cash.- Graham Adams,

A good Speaker, like a good person in any public role, needs to know when it is time to go. –  ODT editorial

New Zealanders may not be the most forthright people when it comes to saying what they really think. But in the Three Waters debate, this ‘Yeah, nah’ culture is reaching new heights.

Three Waters is about everything. It is about the government’s new race-relations agenda. It is about the Ardern Government’s direction for the country. It is about the divide between Wellington and the regions.

And yes, it may even be a little about water. But not for everyone.Oliver Hartwich

If skills like reading and arithmetic are not learned, creativity is stunted and well-being is compromised. Without knowledge, critical thinking is empty. If young people cease to learn disciplines like history and science, cultural and technological innovation will gradually grind to a halt. Or maybe we’ll just outsource those things to machines as well. – Michael Johnston

Until Jacinda Ardern became PM, New Zealanders were largely trusting of their Prime Ministers, secure in the knowledge that if they deviated too much from the straight and narrow, the Fourth Estate would hold them to account.

Not so anymore. Labour’s $55 million Public Interest Journalism Fund ‘bribe’ has put paid to that.

As a result, through her own actions, Jacinda Ardern has gravely undermined trust in the Government for many New Zealanders.Dr Muriel Newman

Luxury beliefs have, to a large extent, replaced luxury goods.

Luxury beliefs are ideas and opinions that confer status on the upper class, while often inflicting costs on the lower classes. – Rob Henderson

The yearning for distinction is the key motive here.

And in order to convert economic capital into cultural capital, it must be publicly visible.

But distinction encompasses not only clothing or food or rituals. It also extends to ideas and beliefs and causes.   – Rob Henderson

In the past, people displayed their membership in the upper class with their material accoutrements.

But today, because material goods have become a noisier signal of one’s social position and economic resources, the affluent have decoupled social status from goods, and re-attached it to beliefs. – Rob Henderson

Expressing a luxury belief is a manifestation of cultural capital, a signal of one’s fortunate economic circumstances.Rob Henderson

Plenty of research indicates that compared with an external locus of control, an internal locus of control is associated with better academic, economic, health, and relationship outcomes. Believing you are responsible for your life’s direction rather than external forces appears to be beneficial. – Rob Henderson

Undermining self-efficacy will have little effect on the rich and educated, but will have pronounced effects for the less fortunate.Rob Henderson

When people express unusual beliefs that are at odds with conventional opinion, like defunding the police or downplaying hard work, or using peculiar vocabulary, often what they are really saying is, “I was educated at a top university” or “I have the means and time to acquire these esoteric ideas.”

Only the affluent can learn these things because ordinary people have real problems to worry about. – Rob Henderson

The chief purpose of luxury beliefs is to indicate evidence of the believer’s social class and education.

Members of the luxury belief class promote these ideas because it advances their social standing and because they know that the adoption of these policies or beliefs will cost them less than others.Rob Henderson

Why are affluent people more susceptible to luxury beliefs? They can afford it. And they care the most about status.

In short, luxury beliefs are the new status symbols.

They are honest indicators of one’s social position, one’s level of wealth, where one was educated, and how much leisure time they have to adopt these fashionable beliefs.

And just as many luxury goods often start with the rich but eventually become available to everyone, so it is with luxury beliefs.

But unlike luxury goods, luxury beliefs can have long term detrimental effects for the poor and working class. However costly these beliefs are for the rich, they often inflict even greater costs on everyone else. – Rob Henderson

We don’t need last centuries, centralised, one-size must fit all ideology imposed on a vastly different modern workplace. Alan McDonald

The idea of equal suffrage – equal voting rights, regardless of gender, class and ethnicity – has been a pillar of our democracy for decades. All New Zealanders should have an equal say in who governs them; an equal say in appointing the people that make the decisions that affects their lives.

Equally fundamental to our system is the ability to throw poor performers out at the next election – that is the bedrock accountability in our democracy.  – Paul Goldsmith

If we as a country no longer think that equal voting rights apply at one level of government, pressure will build for change in national elections. – 

We recognise the burden of history, but no past injustices are fixed by undermining something that makes this country the great place it is – preserving the pillars of our open democracy. – Paul Goldsmith

If Jacinda Ardern and her  Ministers no longer think that Kiwis should have equal voting rights, then they should make the case and ask New Zealanders whether they agree.

It would be a constitutional outrage to use a transitory parliamentary majority to set a precedent that changes the nature of our democracy so dramatically, without asking the people first.Paul Goldsmith

The real crime with the incompetency is not only were we all affected in terms of their inability to do their job properly, but the fact we had no choice.

The entire Covid response has been a top down exercise in dictatorship. Rules, regulations, and instructions we had no option but to follow.

In this specific case, the testing was a mess because they refused to recognise RATs, labs and private facilities were screaming out to help, to fill gaps, to provide products, and to solve problems. But no, the Ministry knew best. And yet, they didn’t.

It started at the start of Covid the lack of PPE, it rolled on through the lack of vaccine, the lack of testing, and the lack of beds . – Mike Hosking 

This report this week will be dismissed along with all the other reports that got dismissed. When one day we have the Royal Commission, it’ll find all the same stuff, and that will be dismissed as well.

Where was the anger? Where were the demands to be better? Or do the majority these days just enjoy being shafted by incompetence, hence it’s not really news?   – Mike Hosking 

The Bill of Rights is oft-quoted; however, what people forget, particularly those quoting it in order to engage in yet more undisciplined behaviour, is the consideration of whether it interferes with others’ rights. – Wendy Geus

The wish to avoid evident but uncomfortable truths, and to allow people to maintain their blindness to them, makes it difficult for politicians to speak about the real problems that confront their respective societies. One might almost define truth in these circumstances as that which people wish to evade or do not want to hear about. The wish to preserve a treasured worldview is another reason for blindness to the obvious: We prefer our worldview to the world. Such willful blindness is not confined to one political tendency; it is common to all. It is a human trait.

In the modern world—perhaps in all worlds that have ever existed—blindness becomes institutionalized. The very existence of jobs may depend on not recognizing complex verities. Vested interests are, of course, visible in proportion to the square of the distance from the person perceiving them. Everyone thinks that the pursuit of his own vested interests is simply a manifestation of his own desire to do good in the world.Theodore Dalrymple

 I would give his appointment the charity of my silence. I don’t think he’s the appropriate person to send for any sort of diplomatic role but bigger than that it raises a more serious question,” he told AM Ealy host Bernadine Oliver-Kerby.

“Diplomatic roles and jobs overseas of that nature aren’t there to be political rewards for long-servers. There have been a few of them over the years from both parties I know, I just think it brings that whole question into starker relief that you don’t use a plum appointment overseas as an excuse to bump someone off the scene domestically, that seems to be what has happened. – Peter Dunne

Minus 0.2 pecent is a mess. It was avoidable, it is the result of an astonishing fiscal error from the Government and Reserve Bank, and don’t let them tell you differently. Yes, the war doesn’t help. But neither does money we never had tossed at bollocks and expecting it not to wreck us.Mike Hosking

$337,000 for cutting a ribbon. And you wonder why we are broke. – Mike Hosking

What I know from the real world is the Government gave us $50 billion plus to blow on crap, and blow it we did.

But once we had blown it and we needed to pay for stuff ourselves, the price of everything was rising, and we had to cut back. And when you cut back and 70 percent of your economic activity is in the services sector, guess what happens? You go backwards.Mike Hosking

I don’t blame the forecasters; we all get stuff wrong. But if you can’t see a recession when it’s knocking on your door, if you can’t smell the lack of confidence, then it’s time you got off the whiteboard and walked the streets for a while. – Mike Hosking

Economic growth matters for everyone. It has made people in the United States and other rich countries better off. And it has pulled more than one billion people out of extreme poverty. We also have a pretty good idea of what institutions are required for economic growth. One key factor is free trade. Another, as the comparisons of North and South Korea and East and West Germany show, is a relatively high dose of economic freedom. –  Dr David R. Henderson

Three Waters will bail out those councils who neglected their water infrastructure – and penalise those that didn’t. – Frank Newman

It has become more and more obvious that this Government is not governing for all New Zealanders – this united team of five million is actually a disaffected and dissatisfied group with tensions the worst I have seen for decades. Let’s use this Matariki to find the good. – Paula Bennett

Free speech exists for no other reason than to protect minority views from the tyranny of the majority opinion. A language, which encapsulates the soul of a people, articulates a unique point of view. If a politician wants to offer a heartfelt tribute in this language, and your response is to threaten them, you are no better than the extremist who believes that their political or religious views must dominate the discourse, to the complete exclusion of others. – Dane Giraud

But I say all this to remind you that the free speech battle in Aotearoa will not be won in the courts. It will not even be won by convincing politicians that this central progressive value is of benefit to us all.

It will be won when New Zealanders en masse exhibit the tolerance that should define the populations of all democratic nations. Understanding what was lost by Māori, and supporting efforts to reclaim it, would be a good place to start.Dane Giraud

Restructuring rarely succeeds in achieving sustainable improvements. But the Government instead listened to external consultants who, unsurprisingly, are the biggest beneficiaries of this restructuring.

Health structures were not the cause of the workforce crisis and neither is restructuring the (or part of) solution. This is an ABC of health systems, but one that the Government has failed to grasp. – Ian Powell 

There is no way ‘Team Interim’ (aka Health NZ) will turn this crisis around so it makes a tangible difference to healthcare access before the next election.

But what has made the situation doubly worse is the most incompetent decision I’ve seen made by a government in health – in the middle of a pandemic dismantling the system of provision and delivering healthcare in communities and hospitals and replacing it with an untested alternative which, for some time at least, will have an interim leadership.

By the time of the next election the government will be in no position to blame the workforce crisis on DHBs or the previous government. Labour is trending in the polls towards being under Damocles’ Sword. It will certainly be under it by the time of the election. – Ian Powell 

From the outset, Three Waters has been a damning indictment of the Labour Government. Built on lies and misrepresentations, the whole reform programme is shaping up to be a major election issue in 2023. – Muriel Newman

Whichever way you look at the Three Waters reforms, given there are many different ways central government could help councils upgrade their water infrastructure – including emulating the 50:50 shared funding arrangement they use for local roading – the inevitable conclusion is that the primary motivation for the reforms is Minister Mahuta’s desire to advance the interests of Maori in water. Muriel Newman

This is not democracy, as we know it. This is Jacinda Ardern delivering on yet another He Puapua goal – in this case, tribal control of water.

Since Three Waters will not be fully operational until 2024, it will become a defining election issue: vote Labour for iwi control of water infrastructure and services – or vote for the opposition to ensure local authorities and their communities retain control of this crucial public resource. – Muriel Newman

Treasury helpfully publish statistics on Who pays income tax… and how much? (treasury.govt.nz)

Those figures record that in 2020 (the last year for which figures are available) the top 5% of income earners (some 196,000 individuals – the very people that the Greens are targeting) paid a total of $11.31billion in income tax (out of total income tax of $36.85billion paid by the 3.85million individual taxpayers). 

So the top 5% already pay 31% of all tax paid by individual taxpayers. By contrast, the bottom 74% of income earners (2.84m individuals) pay only $10.95billion, which represents only 29.7% of all tax paid by individuals. 

This means the top 5% are already paying more tax than the bottom three-quarters of taxpayers combined.  – Mark Keating

Every day’s Inbox brings pleas about new and surprising regulatory and policy abominations. The combined efforts of Hercules and Sisyphus would not clear it.

In graduate school, my professor of regulation told the class that even if the most an economist might ever achieve is the delaying of a bad regulation by a few months, the value of that breathing space would easily exceed our lifetime salaries many times over. He also reminded us that we’re all part of the equilibrium – things would be far worse without our labours.

He didn’t warn us that we’d wind up envying Sisyphus.- Eric Crampton

Pick a government department, any government department.

All they’ve done to try and fix deep seated, really big issues within our Government departments is hire communication teams to again adapt the jazz hands approach and just not front, they just will not front and you kind of see why.

How do you explain it? How do you justify?

You can’t, so you refuse interviews and you don’t show. It’s appalling. I don’t know how you fix it.Kerre Woodham

Good to see that after five years in power and months into a plasterboard shortage, the Government has again hit the ground reviewing. – Luke Malpass

It is a human trait to harbour a cherished opinion and then torture evidence and employ rhetorical legerdemain in its support as if it were a conclusion.Theodore Dalrymple

The transformation of what is desirable into a right is the delight of politicians, lawyers and bureaucrats, for the more such rights there are, the more they need to be adjudicated and disputes resolved when there are contradictions between them. Moreover, supposed rights to tangible benefits always raise tempers and the temperature of disputes: for what is more outrageous than a right denied? And once a right is granted or, if you prefer, won after a prolonged struggle, it enters the realm of the untouchable. The period before the right was recognised as such becomes, in the minds of those who believe in it, the equivalent of jahiliyyah in Islamic thought, that is to say the period of ignorance before enlightenment was attained. And in a sense, this is logical: for a right to be a true right, it must always have existed, like America before Columbus, albeit in an ethereal or platonic world. It was simply that no one had discovered it yet, usually as a consequence of the malice of the powerful or of wilful human blindness. – Theodore Dalrymple

Where rights alone determine the permissible, the government, from whom rights to tangible benefits derive, becomes the sole arbiter of conduct. “There is no law against it” becomes “I have a right to do it”, even if “it” is bound to cause the antagonism of others. The only dialogue possible is that of the deaf, sure of their rights, and irresolvable conflict is the result. – Theodore Dalrymple

This government cannot get anything done, it doesn’t matter which portfolio you pick up, they’re actually spending more money, hiring more bureaucrats and getting worse outcomes. – Christopher Luxon

For bureaucrats, procedure is holy, a rite that must be followed come what may, however absurd it may appear to outsiders; a bureaucrat’s superior is a god who must be propitiated.Theodore Dalrymple

The bureaucrat who asks the question out of obedience and fear for his position comes to believe that he’s engaged in important work for social reform. There’s no one as shameless as a bureaucrat following orders who has persuaded himself that those orders are for the good of humanity.

Naturally, he must suppress in himself the inclination and even the ability to laugh. He must have no sense of the absurd. – Theodore Dalrymple

While no one likes to admit to himself that he’s performing worthless tasks merely so that he may continue to collect his salary and eventually his pension, in a situation in which the task is as fatuous as asking a 66-year-old man whether he’s pregnant, a subliminal awareness of its absurdity, at least, must defeat the best attempts at denial. The person of whom such a task is demanded therefore lives in bad faith, at one and the same time demanding that a task be taken seriously and knowing that it’s nothing short of ludicrous.

Such a man, of course, is emasculated; at heart, he despises himself, for he knows that he’s useless or worse than useless (which is why he’s so often touchy and defensive). And that’s also why my detestation of idiotic bureaucracy is tempered by personal pity for the bureaucrat whose work it is.Theodore Dalrymple

That such patent absurdity as I’ve described could actually become inscribed in an important institution, one that’s supposedly dedicated to saving human life, an absurdity that probably met with about as much opposition as a piece of tissue paper offers to a monsoon, is an indication of how thoroughly not only our institutions but also our characters have been rotted. – Theodore Dalrymple

Are we running this country on Blu-Tack and paperclips?

We almost had power cuts again this morning and apparently we need to get used to it because this is just the way our winters are going to be from now on.Heather du Plessis Allan

So is this all women’s fault? No: the decline in opportunities for working-class men isn’t a malign feminist conspiracy, but rather an effect of technological developments. It makes little sense to blame women as a sex for structural material changes that have disadvantaged working-class men. But it makes a great deal of sense to point the finger at knowledge-workers as a class for their efforts to wave away externalities, via a self-righteous ideology that often flies under the banner of feminism. – Mary Harrington

A long way from its roots in the labour movement, progressivism has become a story knowledge-class women tell about why their material interests are good in an absolute moral sense. And once you believe that, you can say with perfect conviction that anyone opposing my class interests is an enemy of progress, and thus is by definition a fascist. And faced with this accusation, we may have difficulty persuading working-class men not to turn their ire, frustration and resentment on women — especially while economic shifts that feel like disastrous decline continue to be narrated by the progressive Left as feminist progress.Mary Harrington

Primary care in New Zealand is falling over … it’s been chronically underfunded by the Government and we’ve tightened and tightened and tightened to keep it on the road. But it is now in the process of falling over right in front of us. – Dr Peter Boot

Is it not the height of hypocrisy to laugh along with the atheists who poke fun at the Christian eucharist, only to recoil in horror from the suggestion that there might be something just a wee bit peculiar about offering-up a cooked meal to a random configuration of stars?

For a country which, historically, has eschewed the very idea of a state religion, isn’t it also a little jarring to hear state broadcasters helpfully instructing New Zealanders on the ways in which their new state-sanctioned religious festival can be appropriately celebrated?Chris Trotter 

At times, it can be surprisingly difficult to see clearly from the ninth floor of the Beehive.

To understand what people are thinking out in regional New Zealand, you have to look past the officials in the office buildings arrayed protectively around the seat of power, past the Wellingtonians with their unique take on life, and most of all, past the preoccupations of your own Cabinet and caucus. – Steven Joyce

In regional New Zealand, the only immigration re-set that’s needed is one that brings people to help sustain and grow their communities. – Steven Joyce

Regional people have watched suspiciously as Wellington takes away their ability to run their local polytech or hospital on the grounds that Wellington knows better, with the unspoken corollary that locals aren’t up to it. – Steven Joyce

Regional businesses fear national pay agreements making it harder to run a niche exporter from places like Gisborne and Invercargill – where such businesses are celebrated and all too thin on the ground. And regional people are sick of hearing about vanity projects in Auckland and Wellington with ridiculous price tags, like bike bridges and light rail.Steven Joyce

Few in the regions are under any illusion that the convoluted spaghetti of governance arrangements has been set up to suit Labour’s Māori caucus and pretty much no-one else.

Good luck working out who to call if your “water service entity” fails to fix a sewer pipe, or a stormwater drain causes a pothole in the road outside your gate. In past times you’d ring the mayor and get it fixed. Now you’ll be given an 0800 number and no way of voting the bastards out. – Steven Joyce

Regional people suspect their interests are being sacrificed for Labour’s internal political needs, and not for the first time. They’ve had a gutsful. Steven Joyce

We’ll make it through winter. We always do. But we’ll do it on the sweat and tears and long hours of Kiwi health workers. And maybe we’ll lose some Kiwis who didn’t need to die if only there were enough nurses and doctors to see them. And Labour will have no excuse for not fixing a problem they knew existed five years ago. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

The health system is in meltdown. Call it a crisis, or don’t. It is collapsing around us.

Healthcare staff are at the end of their rope – undervalued and underpaid for years, the wave of strikes is a cry for help. Most are distressed because they know people will die because they can’t access treatment.

As the system buckles, there is incredulity that Health Minister Andrew Little is pushing ahead with a bureaucratic overhaul. Doctors are being asked to work – unpaid – on groups advising the ministry on how to bed in the new regime. No-one seems to know how it will work – the changes are yet another burden that the workforce cannot absorb.

Instead of prioritising a flow of overseas healthcare workers, or returning normal care to reasonable timeframes, his Ministry is pre-occupied with an administrative rejig. The reforms have their merits and are necessary – but staff say they can wait until this storm passes.Andrea Vance

The entire system requires a rethink – inequalities and uneven access need tackling, and the priority must be prevention, and social care.

But workers are too busy dealing with the immediate crisis. Rather than deal with the long term health of the system, we have no choice but to make do with emergency treatment. – Andrea Vance

Who, then, are ideologists? They are people needy of purpose in life, not in a mundane sense (earning enough to eat or to pay the mortgage, for example) but in the sense of transcendence of the personal, of reassurance that there is something more to existence than existence itself. The desire for transcendence does not occur to many people struggling for a livelihood. Avoiding material failure gives quite sufficient meaning to their lives. By contrast, ideologists have few fears about finding their daily bread. Their difficulty with life is less concrete. Their security gives them the leisure, their education the need, and no doubt their temperament the inclination, to find something above and beyond the flux of daily life.

If this is true, then ideology should flourish where education is widespread, and especially where opportunities are limited for the educated to lose themselves in grand projects, or to take leadership roles to which they believe that their education entitles them. The attractions of ideology are not so much to be found in the state of the world—always lamentable, but sometimes improving, at least in certain respects—but in states of mind. And in many parts of the world, the number of educated people has risen far faster than the capacity of economies to reward them with positions they believe commensurate with their attainments. Even in the most advanced economies, one will always find unhappy educated people searching for the reason that they are not as important as they should be. – Theodore Dalrymple

The need for a simplifying lens that can screen out the intractabilities of life, and of our own lives in particular, springs eternal; and with the demise of Marxism in the West, at least in its most economistic form, a variety of substitute ideologies have arisen from which the disgruntled may choose.

Most started life as legitimate complaints, but as political reforms dealt with reasonable demands, the demands transformed themselves into ideologies, thus illustrating a fact of human psychology: rage is not always proportionate to its occasion but can be a powerful reward in itself. Feminists continued to see every human problem as a manifestation of patriarchy, civil rights activists as a manifestation of racism, homosexual-rights activists as a manifestation of homophobia, anti-globalists as a manifestation of globalization, and radical libertarians as a manifestation of state regulation.

How delightful to have a key to all the miseries, both personal and societal, and to know personal happiness through the single-minded pursuit of an end for the whole of humanity! – Theodore Dalrymple

Some ideologies have the flavor of religion; but the absolute certainty of, say, the Anabaptists of Münster, or of today’s Islamists, is ultimately irreligious, since they claimed or claim to know in the very last detail what God requires of us.

The most popular and widest-ranging ideology in the West today is environmentalism, replacing not only Marxism but all the nationalist and xenophobic ideologies that Benda accused intellectuals of espousing in the 1920s. Now, no one who has suffered respiratory difficulties because of smog, or seen the effects of unrestrained industrial pollution, can be indifferent to the environmental consequences of man’s activities; pure laissez-faire will not do. But it isn’t difficult to spot in environmentalists’ work something more than mere concern with a practical problem. Their writings often show themselves akin to the calls to repentance of seventeenth-century divines in the face of plague epidemics, but with the patina of rationality that every ideology needs to disguise its true source in existential angst.Theodore Dalrymple

The environmentalist ideology threatens to make serious inroads into the rule of law in Britain. This past September, six environmentalists were acquitted of having caused $50,000 worth of damage to a power station—not because they did not do it but because four witnesses, including a Greenlander, testified to the reality of global warming.

One recalls the disastrous 1878 jury acquittal in St. Petersburg of Vera Zasulich for the attempted assassination of General Trepov, on the grounds of the supposed purity of her motives. The acquittal destroyed all hope of establishing the rule of law in Russia and ushered in an age of terrorism that led directly to one of the greatest catastrophes in human history. – Theodore Dalrymple

In the end this sinister drift towards authoritarianism in the name of fairness to Maori has to be sheeted home to the feeble quality of Labour’s current caucus. Did none of that slew of low-level lawyers raise questions about “Te Tiriti” let alone its use in a nation-wide move to undermine our constitution by way of co-governance? And about the semi take-over of the MSM that comes with strings attached to the Public Interest Journalism Fund? Co-governance is contrary to the real Treaty that was signed in 1840, contrary to our Bill of Rights, and to international conventions among those countries that believe in democracy. The Fund is contrary to customary democratic standards that govern the relationship between governments and the MSM outside of authoritarian regimes.Michael Bassett

We’re heading into some worse economic times. I do not expect it will lead to better policy. Rather the opposite. – Dr Eric Crampton

The problem is that while New Zealand is increasingly backing the West, the West is not fully backing New Zealand.

Neither the EU, nor the US are supporting their rhetoric of solidarity and unity with the economic deals New Zealand would need to have a true alternative to China.Geoffrey Miller

There is something not right about the whole Mahuta thing. The Foreign Affairs appointment came so far out of left field it made the Poto Williams appointment look like a stroke of genius.

A person who hates flying but is Foreign Affairs Minister. A person who has barely travelled post Covid, telling us the Pacific is fine and we can wait until the Pacific Leaders Forum next month while the Chinese park themselves locally aiming to achieve God knows what, and Penny Wong on a plane most days to try and mop up the potential damage.

There is a power struggle between the Prime Minister and the Māori caucus. There can be no other explanation for the ridiculous defence over a Minister who is low profile, work shy, and letting her portfolios down.- Mike Hosking

The Australians call it the pub test. Does the fact Mahuta’s husband and other family members getting money for contracts pass the pub test? A simple and easy no. Does the fact family members receive high-powered appointments pass the pub test? The answer is a simple and easy no.

The amount of money so far doesn’t appear to be massive but that’s not the point. The question that needs to be asked and answered is, do the jobs and the contracts go to people in the Mahuta family who offer skills experience and expertise that no one else can offer? The answer is an obvious no.Mike Hosking

The whole Mahuta thing stinks. It should never have happened, and they should have been smart enough to know that.

And yet here we are, more mess, more murk, and more reputational damage. – Mike Hosking

But the world has changed since the 1990s, and it’s changed in a way that makes republicanism seem a lot less attractive. For the past 15 years the 21st century has experienced a “democratic recession”: a global decline of liberal democracy, a widespread failure of liberal and democratic institutions. And almost all of this democratic backsliding has taken place in republics: Turkey, the Philippines, Venezuela, Brazil, the ex-communist republics of central and eastern Europe. Even the US system looks shaky. And they’ve failed, or are failing in exactly the way liberal theorists who favour constitutional monarchies predicted they would: via “autocoups” in which an authoritarian leader wins the presidency and then takes over the country, arresting the opposition, deposing judges, postponing elections, taking over the police and armed forces.  –

Under a constitutional monarchy the presidential role is split out into a ceremonial head of state with almost no political power, and the executive that has power but is legitimised by the monarch. You can’t contest the monarchy because it’s hereditary, and when there’s a legitimacy crisis or a constitutional crisis over who controls the executive, all of the politicians, soldiers and police have sworn to obey the monarch, not the head of government. And the monarch can play no role other than to direct them to serve the legitimately elected government, or for the country to hold new elections. They’re the apolitical actor at the apex of the political system.

During the late 20th century, this extra level of stability seemed superfluous: it prevented coups the same way Lisa Simpson’s rock “kept tigers away”. In the 2020s it looks as if this form of liberal democracy really is more stable. Most of the peer nations we like to compare ourselves to – your Canadas and Australias and Denmarks and Swedens and Norways and Japans – use the same system, and seem in no hurry to change it.  –

The constitutional monarchy is not a perfect system: if the UK’s monarch or presumptive heir looked like Edward VIII, or Thailand’s Rama IX, or Prince Andrew, we’d probably be looking for the exit and a new head of state (King Richie? First Citizen Swarbrick? We’d figure it out). But in the absence of any such crisis it’s no longer obvious that the republican model is inevitable, or even desirable. Our current system is not broken and may be far better than the alternatives. Republicanism is not the solution to any of our current problems, and it may create terrible problems of its own. Danyl Mclauchlan

I’m not interested in importing cultural wars into New Zealand. We have a much bigger agenda at play, which is that we have a great country, we have to realise our potential. We’re heading in the wrong direction. – Christopher Luxon

Throughout my electorate, Parliament, and the places I go in between, food and fuel prices are the biggest topics of conversation.

Given what I do, talks quickly turn to another F word — failure.

Failure by the Government to do anything remotely useful to address the crisis we’re all living in.Barbara Kuriger

Co-governance. Partnership. The unrelenting quest to try to refashion the New Zealand Diceyan unwritten Constitution (one of the modern world’s most successful ever, as it happens) into something else never quite specified, and to do so on the basis of a UN declaration that has the most scanty, exiguous, meagre democratic credentials imaginable. A government with a seemingly pathological desire to downgrade the English language (the world’s reserve language, meaning that to have been born into a country where it is the first language is akin – through no acts on your part, just dumb luck – to having won the biggest lottery going) in favour of the Maori language. Identity politics and the elevation of ethnic or group or race-based thinking and policy-making. After having just returned to Australia from a four-day speaking tour across the Tasman arguing against a radical government report, all this and more would unfortunately describe my observations of New Zealand, the country my family and I happily called home from 1993 to 2004. – James Allan

That government-commissioned report I was asked to critique and flown across the Tasman to speak about wants Aotearoa (what else?) to move away from procedural democracy to a ‘co-governance’ or partnership model – one where about 15 per cent of the population are put into one group and everyone else into the other and the former counted as equal to the latter, with an implicit veto on decision-making. That’s identity politics writ large, though in my view no 15-can-veto-85 setup is stable or sustainable (but what do I know, I never guessed Australians during the pandemic would submit sheep-like to the biggest inroads on our freedoms and civil liberties in three centuries, the preponderance of my fellow citizens seemingly welcoming despotic, petty, irrational rules and oversight by a public health clerisy which got just about everything wrong, we now see). Throw in the desire for a written constitution with that U.N. Declaration and an early nineteenth century short treaty stuffed into it – and surely with the unelected Kiwi judges then empowered to gainsay the elected branches on the basis of both – and you have the idea of the path down which this Ardern government is thinking of travelling. James Allan

The science and scientific approach that has delivered the most spectacular increases in human welfare from which all New Zealanders benefit – derisively dubbed ‘Western science’ – is to be put on the same plane as ‘traditional knowledge’? For this report to suggest that somehow this scientific worldview is tainted due to where it emerged in the world, and that it offers no better answers (in medicine, in food production, in international travel, pick any field you want) than so-called traditional knowledge does, is laughable. The claim, one that is likewise advanced regularly here in Australia by the way, can only be put forward because most people are too polite, actually, to laugh. (Test question: If the authors of this radical report were to get very ill, would they opt for ‘Western’ scientific medicine or traditional concoctions? I’ve got a theory on that one.)

Readers, it’s time a lot more of us started to laugh. And to grow a backbone. That goes doubly for my Kiwi friends. – James Allan

And now, with the apparent prospect of a food shortage worldwide – although New Zealand should be well placed as an agriculturally productive country – the selling of prime agricultural land to those planting pine plantations to eventually replace fossil fuels is folly. So is the ridiculous, punitive decision to now tax farmers for the supposed contribution of their livestock to global warming.

Moreover, the fanatical Climate Change Commission and Ministry for the Environment have both confirmed that the current emissions reduction targets have been envisioned to go much further, requiring farmers to help offset warming produced by other sectors of the economy. The damage to this vital industry will very likely drive many out of business. Yet there has not been a single scientific model of agriculture’s warming effect made publicly available.Amy Brooke 


What’s the difference between Rotorua and Canterbury?

22/06/2022

The Rotorua Maori Wards Bill that would have undermined democracy by creating unequal representation for people on the Maori roll and those on the general roll has been parked after finding it would breach the Bill of Rights.

Does that not apply to ECan?

New Justice Minister Kiritapu Allan needs to explain why the Government thinks New Zealand should ditch equal voting rights for all and accountability at the ballot box, National’s Justice spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says

“The Labour Government is voting for the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Bill, allowing Ngāi Tahu to appoint two councillors of their choosing.

“If passed, this moves away from the principle of equal voting rights.

“Māori Cantabrians will have an equal vote in selecting the 14 other councillors before Ngāi Tahu appoint two more entirely unchallenged. Because the Ngāi Tahu councillors cannot be voted out, the Bill also removes the essential democratic discipline of the ballot box.

“When asked in Parliament: “When did we decide that Treaty principles trump the democratic norms that we have enjoyed for a century, namely equal voting rights and the ability to throw out representatives at elections?”, the previous Justice Minister Kris Faafoi said, “No one’s decided that”.

“But that is precisely what the Canterbury Bill does. At no time have Government Ministers made a case for changing the way our democracy works. Instead, they seem to deny any responsibility for the Bill, ignoring that it will only be passed because the Labour Party is voting for it.

“Ms Allan either needs to explain why she thinks the votes of non-Maori voters should carry less weight in Canterbury, and why Ngāi Tahu-appointed councillors should never face the will of the voters, or she should insist her colleagues drop support for the Bill.

“Ms Allan’s colleague Willie Jackson has simply declared “the nature of our democracy has changed”. New Zealanders deserve to have a proper discussion before such a precedent is set.

“Equal voting rights for all New Zealanders are precious; they should not be discarded, and certainly not without proper, honest discussion.” 

Has there ever been a New Zealand government that shows such disdain for democracy and the principle of equal representation which are a fundamental plank of it?

They are doing their best to change the way we’re governed in a way that is anything but democratic.

If unequal representation contravened the Bill of Rights in Rotorua, it must also contravene it in Canterbury.


‘Untenable and unethical’

17/06/2022

The government should be very careful with every taxpayer dollar, but not in a way that is untenable and unethical:

Victims of serious crime are going without the financial support they’re entitled to so the government can keep within budget.

“Untenable and unethical” are the words used to describe a deliberate strategy to exclude crime victims from accessing the Victim Assistance Scheme (VAS).

The words can be found in Ministry of Justice Budget bid, released under the Official Information Act, that sets out the case for more investment in the VAS.

The scheme divvies out financial grants to victims, the annual average $570, to cover costs like replacing clothes or property, trauma counselling and travel to court.

It’s bankrolled by the taxpayer but run by independent charity Victim Support, which contracts to the Ministry of Justice.

The Budget bid implicates both entities in keeping take up rates deliberately low to avoid overspending; an approach officials say hurts marginalised communities like Māori and Pasifika, the most.

“The Ministry and Victim Support have managed the cost pressure by deliberately under-promoting the scheme to minimise access and uptake,” it reads.

“This approach is untenable because victims are being deliberately excluded from accessing support they are entitled to receive. If this was widely known, it would erode public confidence and undermine the stated ethos of access to justice.”

This document confirms that as well as some funds invested into the Victim Assistance Scheme sitting untouched, only a small proportion of those eligible for help are getting it.

“Currently the scheme has extremely low uptake: grants are paid out on average for only 4 per cent of the 104,190 eligible victimisations reported to police each year. . . 

A written statement from community services manager Hayley MacKenzie said the ministry was legally obligated to keep its spending in check.

“The Ministry has a responsibility to ensure that public funding is spent in line with allocated appropriations, so as not to breach the Public Finance Act,” the statement said.

Private victim advocate Ruth Money said this might be true but the government also had legal obligations to victims that were set out in the Victims’ Rights Act.

“We know that for every $100 in the justice system only 50 cents goes to victims and we can see through this OIA why; it’s held back deliberately. It’s disgusting.

“It’s inhumane, the word is inhumane. These are the most vulnerable people. Why are we not supporting them through their time of need?

“You know, people talk about being kind and showing respect? This is manaakitanga. Put your money where your mouth is and make this right.”

Money said victims were entitled to the funds administered through the VAS and anyone who had missed out on support they were entitled too should now be paid out.. . 

All government entities should be very careful with their spending, but not in this way:

Victims of crime are missing out on support because a Government-funded assistance scheme was deliberately under promoted to stay within budget, National’s Justice Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“A Ministry of Justice Budget bid released to National under the Official Information Act reveals the Government was aware Victim Assistance Scheme was least likely to be accessed by those who needed it most.

“Any victim of crime that has wondered why it is so difficult to access support now has the answer: the Government is deliberately making it hard to access services.

“The sheer cynicism of it is outrageous with officials warning it would “erode public confidence and undermine the stated ethos of access to justice” if it was widely known.  

“Officials also warned the practice worsened “…access to services for victims who already face other barriers such as digital exclusion, poor understanding of government systems and societal disadvantage”.

“In other words, the welfare of the most vulnerable victims is being actively harmed despite Labour’s claims to address inequities in the justice system.

“Given violent crime has increased by 21 per cent since 2017, victims should be at the forefront of Minister’s minds. However, yet again, victims have missed on support they are entitled to.  

“It makes a mockery of Labour’s 2019 commitment to a ‘comprehensive system change over time that treats victims with respect and dignity’. Instead, not only have the Government failed to deliver them promised supported, they’ve been treated with contempt and disregard. 

“It’s clear under Labour victims’ needs are an afterthought.”

The government stopped a Bill to prevent public money funding gangs when it’s shortchanging victims, especially those most in need of help.

Untenable and unethical are the right words for it.

 

 


Quotes of the month

02/05/2022

Personally, I believe you don’t need two systems to deliver public services, you need a single system that has enough innovation to target for people on the basis of need. – Christopher Luxon

None of the demands of the new left stray from the culture into the material, they are all about flags, statues, word changes, date changes, forced declarations and compelled pronoun announcements, all shielding privilege in virtue. The new green movement’s aim to consolidate international power to control energy production doesn’t seem at all suspicious to the new lefties, I can tell you the old left would have had some bells going off. Edie Wyatt

This agenda to create an elite New Zealand ethnic group is racist, its undemocratic, its destructive, it has no mandate from the people and its directly opposed to the true and communicated intent of Treaty, so to stand against it is a 100% morally defendable position, so stand and do whatever you can, no matter how little. – John Franklin

I was not much surprised after the continual fanatical research by the Thought Police, to read that the Declaration of Independence being displayed at the National Archives in Washington has now attracted a ‘trigger warning’ on one of the original copies. How could we even hope that those resounding words: ‘ We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’  would be acceptable in these days of endless virtuous Thought Correction. Valerie Davies

Liberal thinking, modern concepts of liberty, equality, and diversity, whether in terms of race or gender, were not common in previous ages, so most of the great classics, though they often helped to push the boundaries of thought in all these things, are doomed, I fear.

Literature, described by one writer, as the ‘logbook of the human race,’ will struggle to exist if the woke mobs have their say – and history and theories that enlighten and educate and shift our thought processes, and initiate new paradigms. The creativity of uncensored minds is what leads  civilisation and lifts it to greater heights..

Power corrupts, and the power of virtue signallers of all colours seems to have brought about the disgrace and cancelling of numerous forward looking thinkers, of established and reputable writers like JK Rowling, and even of ordinary people who posses the common sense to see things in  perspective and the courage to speak out, and who lose their jobs and reputations as a result of this persecution. – Valerie Davies

Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of this sort of censorship is the way employees of publishers now seem to hold the upper hand, and refuse to work if they don’t like the content of a book, so that publishers and writers are intimidated. They have become fearful of publishing or writing any book which doesn’t conform to the guidelines of the new groups who demand that we all think like they do.  Valerie Davies

Not only does this sort of policing of our minds and thoughts have terrible similarities both with the Nazi era, and the unforgivable brain washing of the Russian population during this latest unspeakable war, but it also limits the creativity and diversity of thought by which a society itself expands its perceptions, and explores the further reaches of thought and creativity, and the possibilities of the human spirit.

It’s called gaslighting when a person undermines the feelings of another person, making them feel that their feelings have no validity and don’t matter. What is happening to our history, to our literature, to our culture, is another form of gaslighting, which can also be described as bullying. – Valerie Davies

I wish it was different, I wish we had a better leadership, I wish we had more hope and more optimism, and I wish we had people running this place that were just a little bit in touch with the real world.Mike Hosking

One of the criticisms this government faces — and has faced often — is that there is little substance to their policies and at times, little rationale for their decision-making.

There is certainly very little transparency in terms of what’s shaping their thinking, what the intended outcome is, and why they’ve have taken the position they have.  – Rachel Smalley

Forcing local councils into toothless submission via far-reaching national policy directives and rushed legislative change is becoming a familiar refrain. Mike Yardley

Language is central in the culture wars and if you invalidate the words that enable people to articulate their concerns, you strip them of an essential weapon. By characterising users of terms such as “woke” and “political correctness” as alarmist, out of touch and jumping at their own shadows, the neo-Marxist Left seeks to minimise the implications of its radical agenda. The perception that New Zealand democracy is being systematically dismantled as part of a grand ideological project can then be presented as a figment of fevered right-wing imaginations.

Conservative New Zealanders tend to be reticent at the best of times, and are even more likely to keep their views to themselves if they fear being ridiculed for using the wrong words.  – Karl du Fresne

The lesson that arises, which is of acute relevance to the co-governance debate, is that reasonable public consideration of important issues will not take place if it is constrained by a framework constructed by politicians. All that ensures is that the outcome of any such consultation is shaped and ultimately decided according to the partisan political lines dominant at the time.Peter Dunne

The job of the fourth estate is not to take a position and tell anyone what to believe; it is to ask questions and report the answers, and investigate as far as possible and report evidence that may show whether those answers are truthful and comprehensive.

In other words, journalists are not endowed with special powers of insight by dint of their profession – though some may be uncommonly perceptive – and they should not be expected to take either a particularly antagonistic or obsequious stance in order to be seen to be doing their job well. – Andrew Barnes

When people feel afraid, when downtowns are no-go zones when police aren’t there to be seen when Kāinga Ora evicts no one despite the threats to blow you up or burn your house down when you curtail your lifestyle because of fear, and perhaps worst of all when your Government fails to accept any of it is true, just how long can you go rejecting the premise of the question before you are rejecting it from the opposition benches? Mike Hosking

For the record, I was a lousy public servant. Truly. I was the worst of the worst. I was eternally frustrated by the glacial pace of progress, the bureaucracy, the obsession with tiers and titles, a sector-wide fear of ministers, the Wellington-centric view of New Zealand, and the level of waste. – Rachel Smalley

This week, I wondered if the Government had learned anything from KiwiBuild.

Some of its decision-making continues to feel hasty, off-the-cuff, and lacking in strategy and substance. Remember the public sector pay-freeze in the middle of a pandemic? The policy around hate speech that neither Kris Faafoi nor Jacinda Ardern could articulate? The bungled border decisions that left Kiwis stranded overseas? And the little-scrutinised major health reforms announced almost a year ago. – Rachel Smalley

The July deadline is fast approaching and the CEOs of the country’s 20 DHBs have limited insight into what August will look like. In fact, Health NZ is yet to confirm an operating model.

It feels like KiwiBuild all over again. Health NZ began with a big announcement, but there is little substance behind it. The Ministry of Housing & Urban Development couldn’t wait to offload KiwiBuild to Kāinga Ora to manage, and Bloomfield may have timed his exit to avoid having to deal with the inevitable Health NZ mess.

The origins of major reform may lie with ideology, but they must be built on strategy and ‘real world’ thinking. – Rachel Smalley

At universities there has been a strong trend towards what is called “no platforming”, a concept that argues “platforms” shouldn’t be provided for harmful or wrong ideas and debates. It’s essentially the concept of “banning” bad ideas from being available. This concept has led to several speakers and ideas being kept off New Zealand campuses. Not only that, but it has also sent a strong message to academics about the possibility of being “called out” or marginalised if they don’t conform to orthodox views. – Bryce Edwards

In a sense, the left has swung from one extreme in the 20th century, when everything was about economics and class (and important issues around gender and ethnicity were not given their due focus) to one where the focus is much more on culturalist and identity politics. – Bryce Edwards

The modern version of the left – or the “liberal left” – has different ways of pursuing political change. Largely it’s an elite, top-down model of politics, reflective of the left being made up of the highly educated stratum of society. They confidently believe that they know best.

This elite leftwing approach is very compatible with a more censorious approach to politics and that partly explains the authoritarian impulses we are seeing today. – Bryce Edwards

The rise of “culture wars” has been incredibly important for shaping the political atmosphere we are currently in. Rather than debate and discussion, or finding a middle ground, it’s more polarising – with both conservatives and liberals focusing more on personalities. For example, from the left we see widespread labelling of opponents as racists or sexists. There is now a sneering tendency on the left – especially at those who are seen as socially backward.Bryce Edwards

One logical consequence for many on the left is to take an approach of “language policing” and concern for “cultural etiquette”, in an almost Victorian way. Again, this is topsy-turvy – it used to be the conservative or rightwing side of politics that was concerned with policing people’s behaviour, and looking down on the less educated and enlightened.

The contemporary left has a mistrust in the ability of society to make the right decisions or to understand the world. In an elitist way, many on the progressive side of politics view the public as being ignorant or lacking enlightenment. Hence, the view of gender or ethnic inequality or oppression is often understood as something to do with personal behaviour and “bad ideas” (racism, sexism, homophobia) – rather than a fundamental part of how our society is structured. – Bryce Edwards

I think what people would say about me is that I play politics like I played sport.

I mean when I got the ball in rugby, I ran it up the guts. That’s the truth. Because for me if you want to achieve something you look at the best route possible and for me it has always been from A to B. – Louisa Wall

The natural consequence of an ideology that holds the group, not the individual, as the standard of value, is complete disregard for the rights of individuals. If what really matters is the Russian state, who cares if some Ukrainian civilians are sacrificed for that ideal? This sounds callous and brutish to Western ears, precisely because Western culture places great importance on the value of the individual’s life. When that standard of value is lost—when the state or the group replaces it—the door is opened to unthinkable depths of inhumanity. – Thomas Walker-Werth

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in an address to the Russian people that he does not believe the invasion is being perpetrated in their name, echoing the view expressed by many that Putin is acting against the values of Russian people. However, although Putin is clearly a madman, his actions are enabled by a philosophy that has as thoroughly permeated Russia today as it had Germany in the 1930s. This truth is borne out in the reaction of many Russian people to the invasion of Ukraine: According to independent polling agencies cited by Forbes.com and other Western sources, Putin’s approval ratings have increased sharply since the war began.14 Many Russian people accept the government’s “justification” for the invasion.15 There are some valiant individuals who resist, and they deserve enormous credit, as do those Russian soldiers who defect or refuse to obey orders to murder civilians. But they are a small minority.

What is happening now in Ukraine is a kind of barbarism many in the West thought was consigned to history. But the collectivism that led to the murder and brutalization of millions upon millions of people in Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s USSR, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and numerous other collectivist tyrannies during the 20th century, is still alive and capable of inflicting gruesome harm on millions of innocent people.

The only antidote to collectivism is a principled defense of the very ideas Putin opposes: individualism and individual rights. That is what was missing in 1930s Germany, and that is what is missing in Russia and many other countries today. Nationalist parties inspired by Dugin have made significant electoral gains in relatively free European countries such as France and Germany.16 Collectivist ideology even underpins policies of both major American political parties. It will lead to ever more human suffering—until and unless people come to understand and embrace individualism and individual rights. – Thomas Walker-Werth

Even Dr Bloomfield appears reluctant to join the Prime Minister on stage for a repeat of their hit 2020 performances.

Back then it seemed to matter. Now it has the ring of a Culture Club farewell tour playing to shambolic dive bars while still dreaming of the packed stadiums of yesteryear. – Damien Grant

This administration has the feeling of a dead-man-walking. New Zealand has tuned out. Money, interest and attention has now turned towards Messrs Luxon and Seymour, as there is now a sense of inevitability about a change of government.

Here is my take: Outside of Covid, this administration has a terrible record. Inequality, if you care about that metric, has deteriorated. The only way a working family can now obtain a house is through inheritance. We are toiling longer, with unemployment having fallen, but the wages being earned are worth less thanks to inflation.

Few things better define the Ardern government than the Auckland Harbour cycle path. Announced with great fanfare then quietly forgotten. KiwiBuild, the Provincial Growth Fund, transparency, mental health funding and even the entire Well-Being budget framework have all fallen over. – Damien Grant

The poor now struggle to get credit, thanks to changes to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act. The poor now have to pay more for their petrol cars, thanks to the tax on dirty petrol cars. The poor now struggle to cover the cost of groceries as prices rise faster than wages, thanks in part to changes to the mandate of the Reserve Bank away from a single focus on inflation.

Other than increasing benefits at nearly the rate of inflation, the Ardern Government has achieved close to nothing outside of Covid, and in many key areas the welfare of Kiwis has fallen. – Damien Grant

Not all of this is Ardern’s fault. Her agenda was derailed by the pandemic and the paucity of competence within her caucus from which to draw talent. There are only so many portfolios you can force onto Chris Hipkins before he loses focus and begins to bait pregnant journalists trapped in Kabul.

There are still a few big projects on the books. The Fair Pay Agreements and unemployment insurance may become law by the next election, but if the past performance is any guide these reforms will not be well-designed and be implemented badly. – Damien Grant

Never, in the history of the world, have we lived in more generally inclusive and accepting societies than those that make up the West nowadays. That is not to say things are perfect and we should consider the job of promoting equality and fairness done. However, it seems the further we have progressed, the more ardently some quarters of our society declare evil to be found everywhere.

Instead of ‘reds under the bed’, these zealots find racists in the pantry, homophobes in between the couch cushions, transphobes in the bedside drawer, and misogynists under the rug. Again, I am not disputing that there are still the odd ‘phobes’ or bigots lurking unwanted, but the insistence that there is an epidemic of these uncouth kinds of folk runs the risk of manifesting them into existence. – Ani O’Brien

Much of New Zealand lives in incredibly multicultural communities – Wellington to a lesser extent and maybe that’s why bureaucrats are some of the worst offenders when it comes to imagining racists.

We, of all backgrounds, attend kindy together, then school. We are friends, neighbours, lovers, life partners, parents, family, and whanau. We cheer for the same sports teams, despair at the same petrol prices, and often share aspects of the same Kiwi sense of humour.

But despite our integrated, though at times flawed, society there are those who will have you believe that every white New Zealander harbours hatred towards New Zealanders of other ethnic backgrounds and especially Māori.Ani O’Brien

The reductive view these privileged theorists take paints the poorest, drug-addled beggar on the street as the oppressor of a successful and wealthy businessperson if only the beggar is white and the businessperson is not.Their concept of racial privilege is so lacking in nuance that a kid who has his shoes and raincoat supplied by a charity and is fed at school will be taught by his teacher that he is privileged over some of his more fortunate classmates because he is white and they are not.

This constant placing of people in diametrically opposite camps based on race is a recipe not for improved cohesion and furthering equality. It is a sure way to increase divisiveness and create distrust and animosity between groups of people.

When already marginalised people are told constantly that they are “bad” because of the colour of their skin, or that people like them need to “sit down and shut up”, and that they have less claim to their country of birth than the bloke next door, they begin to see themselves as outsiders.

And, when the criteria for being a ‘racist’ or a ‘white supremacist’ is so diluted that accusations are flung about as frequently and as flippantly as they currently are, the accused begin to be a larger and larger group. – Ani O’Brien

In this context, a white identity group is being formed not by those it is being imposed on, but by the mostly white, educated, ‘liberals’ who somehow exclude themselves from the characterisations they make about other white people as entitled, greedy, mean, ignorant, privileged, and, of course, racist.

White identity is being manifested by those who most decry it.

People who have always been more invested in a ‘Kiwi Identity’ untethered to race, now find themselves being repeatedly told that they cannot understand their fellow countrymen and women because they are racially different. People who have heartily taken part in the haka and sung Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi at the top of their lungs are now self-conscious and reluctant to attempt te Reo Māori for fear of being accused of appropriation or disrespect. – Ani O’Brien

White New Zealanders are being told “you stay over there in your lane”, while Māori are told “look at those guys over there – they’re racist and hate you”, and New Zealanders of all other races and ethnicities wonder ‘where do we fit into this dysfunctional situation?’

Division is being driven from the top. Government agencies, academia, media, and our education system are all complicit in dreaming into reality a toxic ‘white identity’ that imposes the very worst of fringe extremism on a population that still makes up the majority of New Zealanders. – Ani O’Brien

There is a glorification of making white New Zealanders uncomfortable as if that in itself is an acceptable and entertaining pastime by those at the top. It is inevitably white people with more institutional and economic power sneering at white people with much less than them. One should, in my opinion, rightly be made uncomfortable if they are racist, but often the shaming that happens is gratuitous and not in the pursuit of bringing an end to genuine racism.

Likewise, it seems to be a small group of wealthy, highly educated Māori who are driving the culture war from their end. Your average Māori, just like your average white New Zealander, is uninterested in ‘intersectional politics’ and reckons everyone should just get a fair go regardless of race. They certainly do not profit from the divisiveness like those who get air time and academic papers out of it. 

It is unlikely that the behaviours driving the manifestation of white identity are going to change anytime soon. The establishment white ‘liberals’ are too drunk on the power of denigrating ‘lower’ white people and promoting their own exceptionalism. They will continue to drive wedges between communities that otherwise live pretty harmoniously.

As with much of the antagonism in the culture wars, the accusation of racism is largely a weapon wielded by the powerful and fortunate against those who they see as the great unwashed and uneducated masses. They cancel others with relative power in order to retain control of the narrative and prevent the empowerment of the majority. Cancellations are punishments for deviating from the dominant discourse, but they are also warnings; ritualistic public shamings intended to make anyone who would be inclined to challenge norms, think twice.

There are ultimately more of us who wish to live peacefully in our multicultural country than those who want to pit us against each other. We can choose not to be afraid of the tactics used to make us comply. We can refuse to allow the toxic ‘White Identity’, they are attempting to manifest, to take hold. We should celebrate our shared values and manifest instead a Kiwi Identity that we can all be proud of.Ani O’Brien

When I heard Ukraine’s President Zelensky arguing for a fundamental overhaul of the United Nations, and especially of the Security Council, I recalled our greatest New Zealand Prime Minister and World War Two leader, Peter Fraser. He envisaged just the sort of issue we face today with Russia’s war on Ukraine. Old Peter, a wily, highly intelligent Scotsman, was one of the world’s few prime ministers to attend the San Francisco conference in 1945 that set up the rules for a postwar body to monitor the peace. With support from nearly all the smaller countries represented at the conference, Fraser objected strenuously to the great power veto that enabled any of the five victorious powers – the US, Britain, France, Russia and China – to block any substantive move the Security Council might want to take in the event of a breach of the UN Charter, even if all other countries favoured action. Peter Fraser pointed out that by allowing a veto, one of the five might behave as it pleased, and then act as judge and jury in its own cause. He was right. That’s exactly what has happened several times since 1945. The US has done it and Russia much more often. The veto is why today the United Nations is such a toothless tiger. It is unable to protect Ukraine, one of its member states, from the ruthless onslaught from neighboring Russia. The recent motion to condemn Russia passed the Security Council with a significant majority. Several Security Council members abstained from voting or absented themselves, but Russia exercised its veto, thereby preventing what should have resulted in international punishment, with Russia having to pay reparations for the damage it has done. – Michael Bassett

Wise heads are needed to work out some way of dealing with nuclear blackmail. Over Cuba in 1962 the United States stared Russia down and Nikita Khruschev blinked rather than take responsibility for blowing up the world. This time the US couldn’t be sufficiently sure that Putin wouldn’t push the nuclear button and blow everything up. The problem with high level threats is that one has to presume that both the offenders and the victims are capable of making rational decisions. With modern Russia, this has always been in doubt. Putin has never produced any rational explanation for the invasion he kept denying he intended, and then suddenly launched. There is considerable speculation that after 22 years in office he’s been removed from reality for too long. In his search for some kind of legitimacy for the corruption and looting that he and his oligarch mates have undertaken within Russia he’s become obsessed with Russian Orthodox Christianity which so far has placed a firm stamp of approval on his years in office. Put simply, he seems to have lost it, and to be beyond reason.

If this is so, it raises a further issue that Peter Fraser and the founders of the United Nations hoped they wouldn’t face again once that Adolf Hitler was dead: how to deal with a madman possessed of the wherewithal to blow up the world. In the meantime, a concerted effort to reform the Security Council and remove the veto powers has become urgent. President Zelensky is right. Michael Bassett

To call a belief a myth is usually to denigrate it, though there are beneficial myths as there are noble lies. There’s no doubt that myths can be harmful, however, for they can, and often do, obstruct critical thought.

In Britain, the mythology of the National Health Service (NHS), which now manages to combine the baleful characteristics of Stalinist administration with pork barrel politics, has obstructed necessary reform for decades. Because of the mythology, the NHS is the nearest to a religion that the country comes, according to Nigel Lawson, the second-most powerful British politician during Margaret Thatcher’s premiership. Even the Iron Lady feared to reform it fundamentally. It was much more difficult for her than confronting the Soviet Union. – Theodore Dalrymple

It’s therefore difficult to know how representative of the whole any scandal is. But the institution is coated in a kind of Teflon, to which no scandal can stick.

And yet everyone knows that it’s better to be ill in almost any European country than in Britain. The outcomes of various diseases—heart attacks or cancer, for example—are worse in Britain than elsewhere. When the NHS was established, in 1948, British life expectancy was six years higher than France’s. Now it’s two or three years lower. Life expectancy is not determined by health care alone, of course, but the government report that led to the establishment of the NHS stated that health care in Britain was superior to that in most of the rest of Europe. No one would claim that any longer.  – Theodore Dalrymple

I had never heard of a colour-coordinated library. I stood looking at her in total disbelief. After about 20 seconds of stunned silence I managed to blurt out, “Well, my books have to be read! I will not sell any of my books just to be put in a fake library and forgotten. You can’t buy any of these books!” – Ruth Shaw

When I hold one of my mother’s books I remember her; I touch the same page she touched, I read the same words she read. Books collected over many years become part of the family. They have been loved, read and re-read, and have often travelled around the world. They live in silence for years in a family home bearing witness to many special occasions, bringing the reader joy and sometimes tears.Ruth Shaw

This underlines a striking trend in recent years for the mainstream media in New Zealand to align themselves consciously and deliberately with causes that they must know alienate a large proportion of their readers, viewers and listeners. Call it slow-motion suicide.

The bigger picture is that the media have abandoned their traditional role of trying to reflect the society they purport to serve in favour of advocating on behalf of divisive and often extremist minority causes. By doing so they create a perception of New Zealand not as a cohesive, stable society made up of diverse groups with vital interests in common, but as one characterised by aggrieved minorities whose interests are fundamentally incompatible with those of a callously indifferent (or worse, deliberately oppressive) majority.

Media outlets that once tried conscientiously to provide a platform for a range of opinions and ideologies now unashamedly attack, or just as insidiously ignore, views and beliefs that run counter to the narrative favoured by the leftist cabal that controls the institutions of power. The most obvious example is the collective undertaking by major media organisations to ignore any opinion, including those of distinguished scientists, that runs counter to the “approved” narrative on climate change or the effectiveness of policies intended to ameliorate it.

Such flagrant suppression of news would have been unthinkable not long ago. Now it’s official editorial policy.- Karl du Fresne

As an occupational group, journalists have long tended to lean to the left. Earlier generations of reporters countered this by restraining their natural impulses, knowing that media credibility hinged on public confidence that events and issues would be covered fairly, accurately and impartially. That professional discipline is long gone, along with the moderating influence exercised by editors who insisted on the now highly unfashionable principle of objectivity.

We are bombarded daily with politically slanted content masquerading as trustworthy and authoritative reportage. A recent example was an episode of the New Zealand Herald’s newly launched podcast The Front Page (which claims to “go behind the headlines” and ask “hard-hitting questions”), in which Herald journalists Damien Venuto and Georgina Campbell purported to examine the Three Waters project without once mentioning its most contentious feature – namely, the proposal for 50/50 co-governance with iwi.

“High-quality, trusted” coverage as promised by Herald managing editor Shayne Currie? It’s time to revive the Tui billboards, surely. – Karl du Fresne

The war immediately combined the personal and public. And this is probably the fatal mistake of the tyrant who attacked us. We are all Ukrainians first, and then everything else. He wanted to divide us, to shatter us, to provoke internal confrontation, but it is impossible to do this with Ukrainians. When one of us is tortured, raped, or killed, we feel that we all are being tortured, raped, or killed. We do not need propaganda to feel civic consciousness, and to resist. It is this personal anger and pain, which we all feel, that instantly activates the thirst to act, to resist aggression, to defend our freedom. Everyone does this the way they can: Soldiers with weapons in their hands, teachers by continuing to teach, doctors by conducting complex surgeries under attacks. All have become volunteers—artists, restaurateurs, hairdressers—as barbarians try to take over our country. I’ve seen this raise the deepest patriotic feelings in our children. Not only my children, but all the children of Ukraine. They will grow up to be patriots and defenders of their homeland.Olena Zelenska

Blocked, destroyed Mariupol is our terrible pain. That continues. And the Kyiv region has become horrible—that’s what we’ve seen as the Russian army has retreated. The world has learned the name Bucha. This is one of the once-beautiful towns near the capital—but the same horrors can be seen in dozens of villages and towns in Kyiv region. People killed on the street. Not military—civilians! Graves near playgrounds. I can’t even describe it. It makes me speechless. But it is necessary to look at it.

I hope we are not the only ones who see the message Russia is sending. This message is not only addressed to us. This is their message to the world! This could be what happens to any country that Russia does not like. – Olena Zelenska

The democratic world must be united and give a tough response, thus showing that in the twenty-first century there is no place for killing civilians and encroaching on foreign territory.Olena Zelenska

The main thing is not to get used to the war—not to turn it into statistics. Continue going to protests, continue to demand that your governments take action. Ukrainians are the same as you, but just over a month ago, our lives changed radically. Ukrainians did not want to leave their homes. But so often they did not have homes left. – Olena Zelenska

My family—just like every Ukrainian—and my compatriots: incredible people who organized to help the army and help each other. Now all Ukrainians are the army. Everyone does what they can. There are stories about grandmothers who bake bread for the army just because they feel this call. They want to bring victory closer.

That is what Ukrainians are like. We all hope for them. We hope for ourselves. – Olena Zelenska

Change in linguistic usage is normal, and it can either add to or detract from language’s expressive power. It’s much more likely to be sinister when it’s directed by some organization acting in an official or public capacity than when it arises spontaneously from the population at large.

Directed change in linguistic usage is usually done in pursuit of some practical or ideological end, acknowledged or unacknowledged—or both. – Theodore Dalrymple

Why is there this drive to exculpate people totally from their own situation, if that situation is in some way undesirable or worse?

First, there’s the desire for power by those who see their fellow beings as pure victims, that is to say, as inanimate objects acted upon but not acting. But I don’t think that this is the whole explanation.

Another part of the explanation is the debased secularization of Christian ethics. Christian ethics enjoin us to forgive our enemies, to love others as oneself, and to be charitable toward the unfortunate. But the secularized version of these ethics omits one important aspect, namely that we’re all sinners in need of mercy. In the secularized version of Christian ethics, there’s no notion of sin, at least not in victims: Only perpetrators, such as commercial interests and governments, can sin in the new revised version.Theodore Dalrymple

In the older view, a Christian could—and, in fact, should—recognize the sinfulness of every person, including the very fat, but at the same time attempt to be compassionate toward him. For essentially he, the Christian, was in the same boat, if not necessarily with regard to the same sin—but he was a sinner of some kind or another.

Again, it isn’t the case that Christians always practiced what they preached or should have preached. Far from it: They can be as censorious, cruel, punitive, and sadistic as anyone else. But at least, in theory, their belief or doctrine allows them the possibility of recognizing both a person’s sinful part in bringing about his own bad situation and being compassionate toward him. – Theodore Dalrymple

 It wants to be compassionate toward those who suffer. But because it hangs on to Christian ethics with the concept of sin removed, that turns almost everyone, including the readers of this, into inanimate objects, with all the potential for a totalitarian dictatorship and abuse that such a worldview inevitably implies.Theodore Dalrymple

Why do we feature car or motorbike racing as though it is sensible to drive very fast to nowhere in particular, or simply round and round to get back to where we started? – Jacqueline Rowarth

Those of us who want our science free of ideology can only stand by helplessly as we watch physics, chemistry, and biology crumble from within as the termites of Wokeism nibble away. I once thought that scientists, whom I presumed would be less concerned than humanities professors with ideological pollution (after all, we do have some objective facts to argue about), would be largely immune to Wokeism.

I was wrong, of course. It turns out that scientists are human beings after all, and with that goes the desire for the approbation of one’s peers and of society.  And you don’t get that if you’re deemed a racist. You can even be criticized from holding yourself away from the fray, preferring to do science than engage in social engineering. (Remember, Kendi-an doctrine says that if you’re not an actively working anti-racist, you’re a racist.)Jerry Coyne

And everybody knows, though few dare to say it, that what’s happening is the erosion of the meritocratic aspects of science, replacing them with standards of social justice determined by a small group of “progressive” people on the Left. Further, the less that merit is considered and used as a fundamental tenet of science, the slower science will progress. But I suppose the proponents of injecting Wokeism into science would say “merit is an outdated criterion; what we really need is equity.” Perhaps, but the effort is all directed at calling present science riddled with “structural racism.” And that’s not true. – Jerry Coyne

Incitement to psychological fragility is one of the most important enemies of freedom today, especially where the taking of offence requires no justification and confers certain moral rights automatically, including those of censorship, upon the offended. Anyone who does not compassionate the offended compounds the supposed reason for his or her having taken offence in the first place. Moreover, taking offence is the highest proof of that most sterling of all human characteristics, vulnerability. Only the insensitive and hard-hearted lack vulnerability.

To increase people’s vulnerability is thus to improve their character. As it happens, it also creates job opportunities, for example those of so-called sensitivity readers, those youngish women, educated in the humanities, who read books for publishers in order to pre-empt any offence that readers might take. Without people primed and ready to take offence, where would they be?

Of course, only certain types or categories of people must be protected from offence; others may be offended with impunity, indeed it is a duty and a pleasure to do so.- Anthony Daniels 

The more people are protected from that against which they might take offence, the more hypersensitive and easily offended they become, so the more protection they need. Sensitivity reading is a job for life.

It is therefore important to seize all possible occasions to emphasise the fragility of the human psyche.  – Anthony Daniels 

Now I am myself somewhat prudish by nature, especially in the matter of bad language. I think it should be kept in reserve and brought out only on very important or special occasions. If used all the time, it has no real impact and is inexpressive. English is rather impoverished when it comes to bad language and so, apart from being bad in the moral sense, it is bad in point of monotony and uninventiveness. I am told that by comparison Hungarian, for example, is rich in expletives and the like, and it is possible to swear and insult in Hungarian for minutes on end without repetition.Anthony Daniels 

I regret very much the resort to bad language in Anglophone life. In England, the rapid increase in its daily use is almost exactly datable, back to the time when the highly superior theatre critic Kenneth Tynan first pronounced a certain word on BBC television, thinking thereby that he was liberating his fellow-countrymen from the terrible chains of respectability. It is sometimes claimed that the Irish writer Brendan Behan had used it before him, but he was so drunk at the time, and his speech so slurred and incoherent, that nobody could quite catch what he said.

Less than fifty years later, it was more or less compulsory for anyone who wanted to be taken seriously to use the word constantly. – Anthony Daniels 

Warnings that assume that we are a population of histrionic or hysterical personality disorders are common these days. Anthony Daniels 

At whom, then, was the warning aimed? Perhaps this is the wrong question: it should be, “What was the purpose of the warning?”

I think it was to instil in the population the idea that there are large numbers of delicate people—adults—in our society who need protection the way that minors were once thought to be in need of protection, because they are psychologically so sensitive, fragile and vulnerable. This in turn necessitates a great army of sensitivity readers and the like to prevent distress, and counsellors, psychologists and so forth to cure it after it has occurred. At the same time as our culture is unprecedentedly vulgar, crude and violent, we must protect people from representations of vulgarity, crudity and violence. In the words of the old Flanders and Swann song, “It all makes work for the working man to do.” But we have progressed somewhat since their benighted time: it makes work for the working woman too. – Anthony Daniels 

As I’ve always said, I don’t mind using whatever pronouns someone wants to be known by, but the buck stops for me when transgender women are considered as full biological women—and by that I mean women who produce (or have the potential to produce) large and immobile gametes. It’s not the word “woman” I object to; it’s the implicit conflation of biological women with transsexual women in every possible way: the equation of biological women with biological males who consider their gender to be female and may or may not take action to change their bodies. (I don’t care if they “transition” physically or not; I’ll be glad to use their pronouns.) In this case the Post uses “people” instead of “women” because they want to go along with the mantra that “transmen are men”, though transmen who can get pregnant are actually biological women, which is the only reason they can get pregnant.Jerry Coyne

There was once a place called the University. I knew it well – in fact I grew up there. The son of a mathematician, I often spent time in my formative years hanging around campus. I enjoyed interacting with my father’s colleagues. They were people who loved to argue. Even when I was a child they paid me the respect of challenging my thinking. They did so in a manner as generous and good-humoured as it was intelligent and robust. The idea that it might take courage to be a dissenting voice would, I think, have occurred to them as strange.

The people who inhabited that University knew what academic freedom was. They didn’t talk about it, they simply lived it. They understood implicitly that academic freedom was both a privilege and a duty. They understood that the University was an institution at the heart of democracy, that the health of democracy is a contest of ideas and that, as academics, they had leading roles in that contest. Academic freedom – the freedom to say things that are controversial, unpopular, almost unthinkable – kept culture fresh and provided grist to the mill of politics.

The University I grew up in is fading fast. In the New University, academic freedom is all too often seen as an embarrassing relic of the past, or worse, as a tool of oppression. Recent research commissioned by the Free Speech Union (FSU) shows just how far it has fallen out of favour. – Dr Michael Johnston

The Treaty, as well as sex and gender issues, have become sacred cows. There are doctrines about them that many academics feel scared to openly disagree with. – Dr Michael Johnston

I will add only that academic freedom is actually one of the principal mechanisms at our disposal for challenging the status quo. But I suspect that the academic who made that comment thinks that the status quo is simply whatever he or she disagrees with.

I encounter some of my dad’s old colleagues around campus from time to time. It’s always good to see them, but it makes me sad about what’s been lost. They’re in their 70s and 80s now, and they must wonder what’s happened to their university. To dispel any doubt, when I say, “their university”, I’m not speaking of a specific university, but of the spirit of open-minded scholarship they embodied. I hope that, in time, we’ll find a way to rekindle that spirit in the bricks and mortar of our country’s campuses. – Dr Michael Johnston

The Black Death (bubonic plague) in the mid-1300s is reckoned to have killed 30 per cent of Europe’s population at the time. The “Spanish” flu a century ago killed 50 million, 2.5 per cent of the world’s population. Covid-19 has so far killed 25 million, according to the Economist’s measure of “excess deaths” of all causes, 0.3 per cent of today’s population.

Clearly a pandemic in epidemiology is not what I imagined it was. But it therefore becomes more important to ask, were lockdowns ever a proportionate response now that we can see what a pandemic really is?John Roughan

We live in an age of serial expertise. First we were experts in climate change, whether or not we believed it was taking place, and consequently in energy policy. Then, with Covid, we became expert epidemiologists, though most of us would shortly before have been hard put to explain what epidemiology as a science actually was. And now, with the war in Ukraine, we have become expert military strategists. – Theodore Dalrymple

How does one become a panjandrum? Is there a special school for them? If there is, I suppose they teach there such subjects as gravitas and pomposity, pretentiousness and portentousness. No doubt students are selected by natural ability in these subjects, and perhaps psychologists have already developed validated and reliable scales for them, as they have for practically all other human characteristics. (Psychology is another subject of our chronic expertise, of course.)Theodore Dalrymple

As to increasing human capital, delightfully so-called, in the hands of government it is likely to result in an overgrowth of qualifications irrelevant to, and even obstructive of, any productive activity whatsoever, to what one might call, if it were a disease, fulminating diplomatosis. – Theodore Dalrymple

I do not want to cast doubt on the idea of expertise in some kind of know-nothing way. But there is no more important task for the citizen than the recognition of true expertise, as well as the recognition of its limits. Theodore Dalrymple

The delusions of the protesters outside Parliament have been debunked. The delusions of those inside Parliament also need debunking.

The fantasies of anti-vaxxers primarily hurt themselves. The fantasies of our leaders hurt us all. – Richard Prebble

An analysis of the Consumers Price Index reveals most of New Zealand’s inflation is domestic. Actions such as printing $55 billion and government deficit spending have pushed up prices more than either fuel increases or supply chain congestion.

The adult minimum wage has gone from $16.50 in 2018 to $21.20 today. Only a politician could call that a “race to the bottom“. – Richard Prebble

Surrounded by lackeys saying “Yes Minister”, it’s a struggle to keep in touch with reality. – Richard Prebble

When it is leaders who have delusions, it is very dangerous. President Vladimir Putin’s delusion that Ukraine is not a country has brought the world to the edge of nuclear war.

Ministers’ refusal to accept that their reckless government spending is inflationary makes reducing inflation very difficult. At a time of full employment, the effectiveness of the Reserve Bank’s anti-inflationary interest rate rises is being countered by inflationary government deficit spending. – Richard Prebble

Awards did not result in cleaners and bus drivers being well-paid. As Minister of Railways I found that, despite unions, awards and industrial action, railway workers needed social welfare to top up their income. As a law clerk, my union negotiated an award wage that was less than the unemployment benefit.

Despite prohibitions on strikes, the system of awards allowed those with industrial power to extort high incomes. For hours worked, wharfies earned more than brain surgeons.Richard Prebble

Successive studies have found that a factor such as having a fifth of all pupils leaving state schools functionally illiterate is one reason for our poor productivity. The appalling productivity in the unionised state sector is another.

One-size-fits-all union wages and conditions mean few are happy. It is why union workplaces often have industrial unrest.Richard Prebble

This Labour Government is the master of gesture politics. Maybe a majority of voters can be persuaded that inflation is imported. Maybe a tenth of all workers will vote for union sector-wide wage fixing.

What we do know is that gestures cannot change reality. Just saying “inflation is imported” will not reduce our grocery bills.

Fantasies that union bargaining results in “higher quality goods and services” cannot make New Zealand a prosperous country. – Richard Prebble

Governments like scapegoats. A good scapegoat can take the blame for something that is a government’s fault. It can also help justify measures the government was itching to take for other reasons.

When all goes well, a very good scapegoat can do both. – Eric Crampton

Greed is a poor explanation for inflation, not because companies are altruists, but because greed is always with us. It isn’t cyclical.

Should we credit corporate public-spiritedness for the five years from December 2011 through December 2016 when inflation ran well below the midpoint of the RBNZ inflation band?

Of course not. Monetary policy drives inflation, not changes in greed. – Eric Crampton

In short, the minister was wrong from beginning to end. Absolute economic ignorance would be the most charitable explanation, but even then he might have considered asking Treasury’s advice.

More plausibly, Clark was scapegoating the supermarkets to justify populist measures against them, or to deflect attention from his government’s failure to keep the Reserve Bank on target, or both.

Voters should be wary of policies justified by scapegoating – Eric Crampton

New Zealand is one of the oldest democracies in the world. This system of government ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’ – that treats all citizens as equals before the law – has been a liberating force of human endeavour throughout the ages. We have indeed been fortunate in New Zealand that successive governments have faithfully upheld policies to protect our democracy as sacrosanct.

That is, until now. – Muriel Newman

Do we uphold the foundation of our Westminster Parliamentary democracy, namely one person one vote, where all votes are equal, or do we go down the path towards an Orwellian Animal Farm democracy, where all are equal – but some are more equal than others?

Unfortunately, this is not a trivial question. It’s time for a national conversation about what we want from our democracy, and in particular, whether we want those New Zealanders identifying as ‘Maori’ to be guaranteed greater rights and privileges than everyone else. – Muriel Newman

A key problem New Zealanders face is that the partnership the Government is using to justify what amounts to totalitarian tribal control – through the transfer of democratic power and public resources to the iwi elite – is actually fake. Since it is constitutionally impossible for a partnership to exist between a Sovereign and the governed, it represents a massive deception of New Zealanders by the Government. – Muriel Newman

The resulting upheaval isn’t measurable so much by legislative change as by a profound shift in the political and cultural tone of the country. Ardern’s re-election was like an injection of steroids for the leftist cabal that now exerts control over all New Zealand’s institutions of power and influence, including the media and the craven business sector.

This university-educated and predominantly middle-class neo-Marxist cabal is distinct from New Zealand’s dwindling old-school socialist/communist Left, which ironically now finds itself aligned with conservatives on issues such as free speech and identity politics. But the New Left wields far more power than the comrades of the Old Left ever dreamed of.Karl du Fresne

How is this leftist cabal’s influence manifested? Chiefly through the divisive phenomenon known as wedge politics, and most provocatively through the promotion of 50-50 co-governance between representatives of the European majority and a minority consisting of people with Maori ancestry.

There are now effectively two levels of citizenship in New Zealand, one of which confers entitlements not available to the other. This is evident across a range of public policies that include compulsory Maori representation on local councils, the appointment of Maori activists to positions of power and the splurging of vast sums of money targetted exclusively at people who happen, by what is effectively a genetic accident, to have a proportion of Maori blood.

All this is predicated on the notion that people of part-Maori descent are entitled to redress for the baneful effects of colonisation. These deleterious effects presumably included the introduction of democratic government, the rule of law and the end of cannibalism, slavery and tribal warfare. – Karl du Fresne

Whether decolonisation includes rejecting such innovations as literacy and Western medicine isn’t clear, since the advocates of decolonisation are careful not to spell out exactly what they mean. – Karl du Fresne

. The stark choice facing New Zealand voters at next year’s general election will be between democracy and a different form of government for which we have no name.

But the cultural upheaval goes far beyond that, stoked by state-subsidised media that have abandoned their traditional purpose of seeking to reflect the society they purport to serve, and which instead bombard the public with indoctrination promoting the interests of attention-seeking minority groups.  – Karl du Fresne

This sense of polarisation is magnified by an authoritarian intolerance of dissent and by Stalinist-style denunciations of anyone bold or foolish enough to speak out against prevailing ideological orthodoxy.

Meanwhile, Ardern floats above it all. She’s a shrewd enough politician to have remained largely aloof from the rancour her government has generated, and who avoids entanglement in any unpleasantness that might detract from her carefully crafted image as an empathetic politician. But she cannot disown responsibility for presiding over a government that is promoting the politics of division and destabilising what was previously an admirably cohesive and harmonious society.Karl du Fresne

What were normal people—those who did not have any trouble defining woman, those who found talk of “pregnant people” and “contested spaces” and “rabbit holes” baffling—to make of this obvious discomfort with “women”?  – Zoe Strimpel 

But now these exemplars of female empowerment—educated, sophisticated, wielding enormous influence—seemed to have forgotten what “woman” meant. Or whether it was okay to say “woman.” Or whether “woman” was a dirty word. 

It wasn’t simply about language. It was about how we think about and treat women. For nearly 2,500 years—from Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata” to Seneca Falls to Anita Hill to #MeToo—women had been fighting, clawing their way out of an ancient, deeply repressive, often violent misogyny. But now that they were finally on the cusp of the Promised Land, they were turning their backs on all that progress. They were erasing themselves.  – Zoe Strimpel 

By the 1980s, women had won several key victories. Equal pay was the law (if not always the reality). No-fault divorce was widespread. Abortion was safe and legal. Women were now going to college, getting mortgages, playing competitive sports and having casual sex. In the United States, they were running for president, and they were getting elected to the House and Senate in record numbers. In Britain, Margaret Thatcher was prime minister.

In the wake of all these breakthroughs, the movement began to lose steam. It contracted, then it splintered, and a vacuum opened up. Academics took over—hijacked—the cause. – Zoe Strimpel 

It wasn’t just that these academics took it upon themselves to develop fiendishly complex theories about women, dressed up in a fiendishly complex language. It was that this hyper-intellectualized feminism, by embracing this hyper-intellectualized language, excluded most women. It transformed feminism from activism to theory, from the concrete to the abstract, from a movement that sought to liberate women from the discriminations imposed on them by their sex to a school of thought that was less interested in sex than gender. 

Sex, to the academics, was outdated. It was crude, fleshy, obvious—the stuff of everyday women everywhere. Gender, on the other hand, was fascinating—the starting point for an endless theorizing that, with each passing paper or book or conference, became more abstruse, more removed from the daily challenges faced by ordinary women. – Zoe Strimpel 

The new, abstracted feminism had little interest in changing political or economic reality, as the older, grittier feminism had. It was like a fancy garment that only the well off—those who had gone to college and lived in big cities and were fluent in the new vernacular—could afford. Or knew to buy. –

It is not an accident that the rise of gender ideology coincides with the long anticipated petering out of the feminist cause.

That’s because the rise of the one and the decline of the other are closely linked with our fetishization of identity. The fight for transgender rights over and above that of biological women’s rights, just like the war on systemic racism, jibes perfectly with our new identity politics.

Unfortunately, identity politics cannot content itself with simply defending women’s rights or LGBT rights or the rights of black people to be treated equally under the law. It must persist indefinitely in its quest for ever-narrowing identities. (The ever-expanding acronym of gay and gay-adjacent and vaguely, distantly, not really in any way connected communities, with its helpful plus sign at the end, neatly illustrates as much.) Everyone is entitled to an identity, or a plethora of identities, and each identity must be bespoke—individualized—and any attempt to rein in the pursuit of identity runs counter to the never-ending fight for inclusivity. Even if that inclusivity undermines the rights of other people. Like women.

This dynamic, with the most marginal interest trumping all others, easily took over a feminism long primed by whacky postmodern ideas like Butler’s—paving the way for its second, related hijacking. This one by biological males. – Zoe Strimpel 

And so Post-Feminist Feminism has morphed into a dark, strange Anti-Feminism. Anti-Feminism borrows from the language of liberation, but it’s not about liberating women. It’s about pushing women out of college sports. It’s about telling girls they aren’t lesbians or tomboys, but in fact men struggling to find themselves. Zoe Strimpel 

To attempt an answer, any answer, to the question—Can you provide a definition for the word ‘woman’?—would be to re-center women, biological sex, the concrete, mundane experience of ordinary, boring, bourgeois and working-class and very poor women the world over. It would be to attempt to undo the hijacking of the feminist cause and to return it to the people for whom that cause was created so many decades ago.

Returning the cause to the people for whom it was created is the only way to save it, and to stop the many discriminations that girls and women still face: domestic violence; the economic and psychological penalty of having babies; the manifold hurts and crimes visited upon countless women in non-Western countries simply for being women. For now, doing anything about all of that is a fantasy. First, we have to honor the actual meaning of words, like woman. We have to insist that those meanings are important. We have to go back, again, to first principles. That is the only way forward. – Zoe Strimpel 

The simple approach is to require integrity in communication and employ strategies suitable for the target audience. The bureaucracy and “political correctness” the Plain Language Bill promotes are not the answer. A basic principle is to communicate in a manner your audience can understand, as I hope I have. Dennnis Gates

Our business leaders big and small are currently being forgotten for their contribution to society. They put themselves on the line, take risks, worry about paying their staff and their bills and hope to make a profit, although, for many that last one is a distant dream, survival now takes priority. They have been broken by having to close their doors or cut right back and for most, it has been the heartbreak of letting people go they have worked with and cared about for many years.

Those that have survived through the worst of the Covid years now need our support more than ever but instead, they are treated with disdain as cost after cost is piled on to them with regulatory changes that make it harder to stay in business. An extra public holiday, increases in the wage bill, transport costs going up and a struggle to get workers will drive a whole lot out of business. Their contribution is more than the goods and services they provide, it is how they play a vital part in our community, employ us and our neighbours and support the many charities that need them – often quietly and without recognition. We need their entrepreneurial spirit and their dream of the next big thing. – Paula Bennett

 I thought the chance of another civil war in the US was minimal and in a country like New Zealand, neglible. . . The most important single factor is when one or more major parties in a country’s political system doesn’t organise around left-right political values but around identity – race, religion or ethnicity. –  David Farrar

The bottom line is that some of our friends on the left want to shoot at the rich, but they wind up wounding the poor instead by greasing the rungs on the ladder of economic opportunity. – Dan Mitchell

FPAs are a solution looking for a problem.Levi Gibbs

Of course, wages in New Zealand are lower than those overseas – most notably in Australia.

But the strong relationship between productivity and wages indicates the problem is not weak collective bargaining power, but our sluggish productivity growth.  – Levi Gibbs

The problem with misdiagnosing a problem like low wages is that the prescribed cure may in fact do harm.

FPAs are inflexible in the face of technological change – firms seeking to maximise productivity need to respond nimbly to new challenges and opportunities presented by change. Sometimes, such a response will necessarily involve adjusting employment arrangements. – Levi Gibbs

One-size-fits-all FPAs will mean “unproductive” firms with low profit margins, unable to bear the same wage costs as their larger competitors, will exit the market. Denying small firms the chance to grow more productive and forcing them to lay off workers is a short-sighted and unimaginative way to make productivity and wages look higher.

Wage floors will mean those on the outside looking in – including 188,000 job seekers and unskilled young people (NEETs) – will find it harder to find work, as they have not developed the skills to justify the entry-level wage. Higher labour costs will reduce the likelihood of firms hiring additional workers, and force those firms that do not simply shut down to reduce their workforce, cut back hours, or accelerate automation. – Levi Gibbs

The increased influence of trade unions will come at the expense of the vulnerable, the low skilled, and less experienced workers. This threatens New Zealand’s good record of high labour participation and low unemployment.

Improving productivity requires investing in people, taking risks on new ideas and innovative processes. It requires reforming New Zealand’s underperforming education system, attracting foreign direct investment, promoting capital reinvestment, and reallocating resources to the productive sector via tax relief. That is how New Zealand makes up for lost time over the past forty years. The ultimate result will be higher wages for workers and more prosperity.

The Fair Pay Agreement fantasy is an ill-advised, union-driven attempt to hack a shortcut to higher wages.Levi Gibbs

Decolonisation is not only destructive but simplistic. Although cultural knowledge is not science, the science-culture distinction doesn’t exclude traditional knowledge from the secular curriculum. It does however put limits on how it is included. Students can be taught in social studies, history, and Māori Studies about the traditional knowledge that Te Hurihanganui describes as the “rich and legitimate knowledge located within a Māori worldview’. But this is not induction into belief and ideological systems. The home and community groups are for induction into cultural beliefs and practices. – Elizabeth Rata

Ironically, decolonisation ideology is justified using the universal human rights argument for equity. But the equity case misrepresents the problem. As with all groups, it is not ethnic affiliation but class-related cultural practices that are the main predictors of educational outcomes. Māori children from professional families are not failing. Rather it is those, Māori and non-Māori alike, living in families experiencing hardship and not engaging in cognitive practices of abstract thinking and literacy development, who are most likely to fail at school. This is not inevitable. Education can make a difference to a child’s life chances but it requires all schools, Maori medium immersion and mainstream alike, to provide quality academic knowledge taught by expert teachers. Elizabeth Rata

Decolonisation will indeed divide society into two groups – but not that of coloniser and colonised locked into the permanent oppressor-victim status used to justify ethno-nationalism. Instead one group will comprise those who receive an education in academic subjects. These young people will proceed to tertiary study with a sound understanding of science, mathematics, and the humanities. Their intelligence will be developed in the long-term and demanding engagement with this complex knowledge. It is to be hoped, though this cannot be assumed given that the rationality-democracy connection is analogous not casual, that they will have the critical disposition required for democratic citizenship, one that is subversive of culture and disdainful of ideology.

The second group comprises those who remain restricted to the type of knowledge acquired from experience and justified in ideologies of culture. Distrustful of academic knowledge as colonising and oppressive, ethnically-based cultural beliefs and practices will provide the community needed for social and psychological security. In this restricted world they are insiders. And as there are insiders, there must be outsiders – in traditionalist ideologies these are the colonists who are seen to have taken everything and given nothing. And yet the tragedy is that it is the cultural insiders who are to be the excluded ones – excluded from all the benefits that a modern education provides.

A revolution is coming. The government’s transformational policies for education make this clear. It will only be stopped by a re-commitment to academic knowledge for all New Zealand children within a universal and secular education system. Colonisation is not the problem and decolonisation is not the solution. – Elizabeth Rata

Once the principle of one person, one vote is abandoned at local government level, pressure will build for something similar at the central government level.

It is hard to think of a more divisive agenda for any government to be pushing. – Paul Goldsmith

Big, radical changes to our democracy are being peddled in obscure local Bills by backbench MPs – with the Minister of Justice, the Attorney General and others nowhere to be seen.

These rushed, sneaky bills have become the stock-in-trade of this government.

It astounds me that the human rights lobby, constitutional lawyers, the Crown Law Office and other members of civil society are so relaxed about all this. Sadly, it speaks of a climate of fear that stifles open debate on these issues. – Paul Goldsmith

Our country is imperfect. We have many inequities, a fraught history and much work to do. But no inequities will be improved by shifting away from the bedrock of our relative success as a nation.

A core element of the liberal democracy we enjoy is the fundamental principle of one person, one vote.

We should not casually throw it away.Paul Goldsmith

Parliament imposed tough penalties. It meant these crimes to be serious. So consider the constitutional consequences of the police deciding to overrule Parliament. If the police are wrong in their judgments about which crimes to enforce, then there is no way for the rest of us to bring about justice. – Josie Pagani

Road rules are rules, but who decided that bus lanes and doing 110 on a brand new motorway are a higher priority than robbery?

Deciding which laws should be enforced is Parliament’s job. If the police do not have enough resources to enforce acts of Parliament, then democracy demands that citizens participate in ranking their priority offences. I want theft policed ahead of driving in a bus lane. – Josie Pagani

Last year, police attended more than 70,000 events that involved a person having a mental health crisis or attempting suicide (an increase of 60% in five years). Police are called in because they are the social agency of last resort.

But mental health professionals are needed for those cases – trained staff who were promised in the ‘’wellbeing Budget’’ and never delivered. The Government had nearly $2b, and three years, to train specialist staff. They can’t train a psychologist in that time, but they could have trained carers with more skills for mental health than a stressed constable. – Josie Pagani

Campaigning on values, mental health, and fixing inequality was electorally successful for Labour. It has been a shameful policy disaster.Josie Pagani

Call the Budget what you want – ‘’Wellbeing’’, ‘’Wellness’’, ‘’Well Done’’. We don’t care. Just make sure it’s not the police turning up when people need mental health professionals and somewhere safe for loved ones to go.

Tell us why we can’t have the decent mental health care that was promised. Don’t wait until the promise has failed.

Let voters make choices about which crimes to enforce, don’t pretend you’re not choosing.

If you can’t have that honesty then you have stolen our trust, like a scooter thief in the night, knowing you won’t be caught. – Josie Pagani

When it comes to the Three Water reforms, it is subordinating the rights of ratepayers to the interests of local iwi, and doing so without consent or compensation.Damien Grant 

We have a process for settling Treaty issues. Not everyone agrees with the outcome of a Waitangi Tribunal decision, but almost everyone agrees to abide by their decisions. It isn’t a perfect system but it works better than Molotov cocktails and hunger strikes. – Damien Grant 

Central to the reform agenda is the claim made by Nanaia Mahuta that 34,000 New Zealanders become ill each year from drinking poor-quality water. This number is softer than a week-old feijoa.Damien Grant 

Taumata Arowai is the regulatory body set up in response to Havelock North. We can see in this organisation that their focus isn’t solely water quality. According to their website, “Our name Taumata Arowai was gifted to us by Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Local Government”.

Having your name “gifted” by the reigning minister has a North Korean feel to it. This body enjoys a Māori advisory board whom it must consult. The chair of this advisory body is the minister’s sister. – Damien Grant 

If iwi believe their water rights have been compromised they can seek refuge in the Waitangi Tribunal, as they did when some energy companies were up for sale in 2012. (I was uncompromising in my support of the Māori Council’s intervention at the time.)

This is not happening, presumably because any such claim would fail. What possible claim can there be on dams and polyethylene pipes constructed and paid for in the 182 years since 1840?

If we are being asked to enter into a new compact with Māori, where rights that do not exist under the Treaty are to be created, then this does need to be put before the public. – Damien Grant 

Mahuta has no electoral, legal or Treaty mandate for her vision of co-governance, and even the claims of poor water quality are based on weak foundations.

If she wants to remove from ratepayers their legal and property rights, perhaps it is she, and not David Seymour, who needs to be putting this issue to the public.

After all, removing property rights without consent is what got us into the mess in the first place. – Damien Grant 

That this government spends record amounts of our money on political spin and social engineering is evident from propaganda campaigns to which we are subjected – none more reprehensible than the $5.3m commercial on the government’s 3 Waters intention.

Also frequently aired is a puerile presentation aimed at convincing us that a reduction in speed on our roads will increase our safety. – Garrick Tremain

Destroying confidence in the science – culture distinction, a distinction which is one of the defining features of the modern world, will be decolonisation’s most significant and most dangerous victory. According to the International Science Council science is ‘the systematic organization of knowledge that can be rationally explained and reliably applied. It is inclusive of the natural (including physical, mathematical and life) science and social (including behavioural and economic) science domains . . .  as well as the humanities, medical, health, computer and engineering sciences.

In contrast, culture is the values, beliefs and practices of everyday life – the means by which children are socialised into the family and community. For a Māori child, this may well involve immersion in marae life – or it may not.  But the experiences of everyday life should not be confused with the ideology of cultural indoctrination, what I call culturalism or traditionalism and others call decolonisation. It is this ideology which is permeating the government, universities and research institutes, the Royal Society Te Apārangi, and mainstream media. Here we are presented with an idealised Māori culture of what should be, not what it actually is.

It is as much a moral, quasi-religious project as a political one, its religiosity responsible for the intensity, and perhaps success, of its march through New Zealand’s institutions. Indeed, the spiritual is a central theme in decolonisation. The belief is promoted that Māori are a uniquely spiritual people with a mauri or life force providing the link to their ancestors – the  genetic claim for racial categorisation. Political rights for the kin-group are justified in this claim. –  Elizabeth Rata

Given that over 50 percent of Māori already have no religious affiliation, it is doubtful that there is a constituency for a spiritual-based education. This is where decolonisation plays its part with Te Hurihanganui and the refreshed curriculum promoting the ideological version of culture. Those hesitant Māori who are suspicious of the ideology will be outed as ‘colonised’, in obvious need of decolonisation.Those who are now racially positioned on the other side, officially the non-Māori, will require decolonisation to ensure support for the new moral and political order. Numerous consultants are already on hand to provide this profitable reprogramming service. Intransigent dissenters, who determinedly refuse the correct thinking will be ostracised as fossilised racists and bigots. 

The tragedy is that this decolonising racialised ideology will destroy the foundations of New Zealand’s modern prosperous society. The principles of universalism and secularism are its pillars in education as elsewhere. Academic knowledge is different from cultural knowledge because it is universal and secular. We could certainly live without this knowledge – our ancestors did,  but would we want to?Elizabeth Rata

 The formidable task of acquiring even a small amount of humanity’s intellectual canon is made even more complex and remote because abstractions are only available to us as symbols – verbal, alphabetical, numerical, musical, digital, chemical, mathematical – creating two layers of difficulty. While it is unsurprising that the much easier education using practices derived from action rather than abstraction is more attractive, to take this path, as teachers are required to do, is a mistake.

We humans are made intelligent through long-term systematic engagement with such complex knowledge. Yet decolonisers reject the fundamental difference between science and culture claiming instead that all knowledge is culturally produced, informed by a group’s beliefs and experiences, and geared to its interests. Indigenous knowledge and ‘western’ knowledge are simply cultural systems with academic education re-defined as the oppressive imposition of the latter on the former.

What is deeply concerning is the extent to which this ideology is believed by those in education and uncritically repeated in mainstream media.  – Elizabeth Rata

Decolonisation is not only destructive but simplistic. Although cultural knowledge is not science, the science-culture distinction doesn’t exclude traditional knowledge from the secular curriculum. It does however put limits on how it is included. Students can be taught in social studies, history, and Māori Studies about the traditional knowledge that Te Hurihanganui describes as the “rich and legitimate knowledge located within a Māori worldview’. But this is not induction into belief and ideological systems. The home and community groups are for induction into cultural beliefs and practices.

What about the proto-science (pre-science) in all traditional knowledge – such as traditional navigation, medicinal remedies, and food preservation? This knowledge, acquired through observation and trial and error, as well as through supernatural explanation, along with the ways it may have helped to advance scientific or technological knowledge, is better placed in history of science lessons rather than in the science curriculum.

Science provides naturalistic explanations for physical and social phenomena. Its concepts refer to the theorised structures and properties of the physical world, its methods are those of hypothesis, testing and refutation, its procedures those of criticism and judgement.  The inclusion of cultural knowledge into the science curriculum will subvert the fundamental distinction, one acknowledged by mātauranga Māori scholars, between naturalistic science and supernaturalistic culture.Elizabeth Rata

As with all groups, it is not ethnic affiliation but class-related cultural practices that are the main predictors of educational outcomes. Māori children from professional families are not failing. Rather it is those, Māori and non-Māori alike, living in families experiencing hardship and not engaging in cognitive practices of abstract thinking and literacy development, who are most likely to fail at school. This is not inevitable. Education can make a difference to a child’s life chances but it requires all schools, Māori medium immersion and mainstream alike, to provide quality academic knowledge taught by expert teachers. – Elizabeth Rata

Unlike authoritarian regimes, liberalism can tolerate some dissent. What it cannot tolerate is the removal of its very foundations – those principles of universalism and secularism that anchor democratic institutions into modern pluralist society. The separation of public and private, of society and community, makes room for both science and local culture. (The recent commonplace practice of using ‘community’ for ‘society’ is one of a number of indications that the separation is being undermined.) Valuing culture and devaluing science in a merger of the two fatally undermines the universalism and secularism that creates and maintains a cohesive society out of many ethnicities and cultures.

Decolonisation will indeed divide society into two groups – but not that of coloniser and colonised locked into the permanent oppressor-victim opposition used to justify ethno-nationalism. Instead one group will comprise those who receive an education in academic subjects. These young people will proceed to tertiary study with a sound understanding of science, mathematics, and the humanities. Their intelligence will be developed in the long-term and demanding engagement with this complex knowledge. It is to be hoped, though this cannot be assumed, that they will have the critical disposition required for democratic citizenship, one that is subversive of local culture and disdainful of ideology.

The second group comprises those who remain restricted to the type of knowledge acquired from experience and justified in ideologies of local culture. Distrustful of academic knowledge as colonising and oppressive, ethnically-based cultural beliefs and practices will provide the community needed for social and psychological security. In this restricted world they are insiders. And as there are insiders, there must be outsiders – in traditionalist ideologies these are the colonists who are seen to have taken everything and given nothing. And yet the tragedy is that it is the cultural insiders who are to be the excluded ones – excluded from all the benefits that a modern education provides.

A revolution is coming. The government’s transformational policies for education make this clear. It will only be stopped by a re-commitment to academic knowledge for all New Zealand children, rich and poor alike, within a universal and secular education system. Colonisation is not the problem and decolonisation is not the solution.Elizabeth Rata

Which brings us cheerfully to our friendly “be kind”, “listen to the science”, “we’re so transparent” Ardern-Robertson government, which seems to be now acting like a “friend” who would like you to look the other way, so it can get on with what’s good for it, such as getting re-elected. – Kevin Norquay

In 2022 NZ, it’s starting to look more like “of the people, by the party, for the party.” Kevin Norquay

“Listening to the science” now carries a taint, as decisions made could be seen as party political, rather than public health related.

It’s an erosion of trust. Why cover up things that are supposedly done in our best interest? – Kevin Norquay

There’s that “friend” again, telling us all the secrecy was for our own good. Whether MIQ did a good job is not the point here, it’s when that good job might have ended.

You could argue “we listen to the science” remains accurate, with the coda “but our decisions are based on the politics”, but transparency was always a fiction written boldly on a blocking PR wall.

What’s the next slogan: “You’ve got to be cruel to Be Kind?”Kevin Norquay

The truth of Hōne Heke’s rebellion deserves to be more widely-known. His  was the beginning of a proud lineage of anti-tax protest that is today carried on by the Taxpayers’ Union (even if we prefer to use arguments over axes). So congratulations to Hōne Heke for rightfully being recognised as one of the greatest New Zealanders. If it were up to us, he might even be ranked number one. How many taxes did Sir Ed cut, after all? – Louis Holubrooke

You don’t want to live in fear but I’m not going to be blasé about it. We are seeing very sick people every day, it’s not worth the risk at the moment. The more I read, the more bad things I find that this virus can do to your body, particularly your brain. You hear people say ‘might as well get it over with’. Well I wouldn’t want to voluntarily risk taking on a bit of brain damage for any reason.Dr Greg White

Whatever New Zealand does in isolation as its contribution to the world wide battle against climate change, it will have next to zero affect on whether or not we reach or even get close to the IPCC’s greenhouse gas emissions reductions that they say will be required to save the planet.

I can make that statement with confidence that l will be proved right simply because those key nations who have the capacity to collectively turn things around, with or without our help, are in fact increasing their use of fossil fuels at an alarming rate and as a result, increasing their emissions as if there was no tomorrow. In that context, our efforts, no matter how self sacrificial, will be like a blip on the radar as the rest of the world continues to condone the destructive activities of those who could and should be making a difference. – Clive Bibby 

We will watch on from the sidelines seemingly unnoticed by even the UN heavy hitters whose praise we appear to crave.

And in the meantime, we will destroy what remains of our agriculturally based economy at a time when we are emerging from the pandemic suffering from self inflicted wounds that already have reduced our capacity to earn overseas funds when we most need them. Clive Bibby 

It appears that the government is still hell bent on cementing in place policies that will negatively effect the two most important ingredients that will determine our survival as a sovereign state.

The first is economic growth and the second is race relations, both of which are in danger of managed decline because both are reflecting the deliberate implementation of programmes that will have the opposite effect of what is needed now more than ever.

If allowed to be fully implemented, these policies: – the emissions reduction policies such as the halving of our dairy herds and the race based legislation that is being un-necessarily promoted giving control of our natural resources to Maori – have the capacity to propel a sufficiently divided nation into a state where civil war is a serious possibility. – Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby 

I choose my words carefully when discussing these potentially dangerous policies simply because it appears we are not yet prepared to acknowledge that the immediate danger to our collective future comes from within rather than anything from the world at large – including climate change.

In order to have a rational discussion about our future, we need to be acutely aware of the options available to us. In that context, the truth remains our only hope.

We can and must stop this erosion of trust before it is too late. Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby 

But if I could go back in time and find a doctor who made me feel like they were treating my health, and not my size, that would have been a real gamechanger. – Megan Whelan

Democratic Socialist. Isn’t that a bit of a contradiction and maybe even an oxymoron?

Presiding over a government that has gone out of its way to decimate democracy by promoting the politics of division, there is nothing democratic in these actions! – John Porter

Don’t you think the way Ardern’s government, its Maori caucus and tribal leaders are surging ahead with their co-governance agenda, is pushing New Zealand close to that point of, if not actual civil war, then certainly civil disruption?

In New Zealand there is a significant degree of apathy and almost total lack of comprehension and knowledge around the subversion of democracy and promotion of Maori exclusivity that is very, very scary.

The overarching concern is that, based on ethnicity, a minority section of the population is being given an absolute right to control the rest of the population without, it appears, any limits on their power or any route for appeal. – John Porter

There is a very small group of those of part-Maori descent, Maori tribal elite, presumably swollen with self-importance because a small part of their cultural inheritance that they are clamouring for co-governance of this country. This co-governance agenda is gathering speed and, dare I say it, credibility at an alarming rate. John Porter

Ardern and her government’s separatist agenda combined with their inept fiscal management, are bringing this country to its knees!

Are we speaking out loudly, are we protecting our democracy, our rights to one person, one vote and do this government actually respect and represent the majority of New Zealanders? – John Porter

It’s either a caricature or merely a hallmark of a modern conservative New Zealand politician to be comfortable with whatever change has happened up to the present, but to think that any more would be a step too far.

This is by and large a positive. The fact that only journalists writing profiles on centre-right politicians, rather than the politicians themselves, ever want to revisit milestones like the marriage equality vote of 2013 means that the country has avoided the destabilising and counterproductive culture wars that have racked the United States for decades. – Ben Thomas

When the government spends $51 million to not build a bridge, that’s inflationary. Spending money on a new hospital that increases the provision of necessary services does not have the same effect. – Liam Hehir

There are six provisions in our law that are so important for democracy that they can only be changed by the vote of 75 percent in parliament or by a majority in a referendum. One is clause 36 of the Electoral Act that guarantees everyone regardless of race has an equal vote. – Richard Prebble

Having unequal voting will not solve Rotorua’s real issues. Here is one. The Labour government has filled our motels with the homeless from all over the Central North Island. There are enough children in our motels to fill a primary school. Borders are reopening. Where are Rotorua’s tourists to stay? – Richard Prebble

For most Westerners, the war unfolding in Ukraine makes no sense. Russians and Ukrainians look the same, speak the same languages, have lived lives that were, until very recently, culturally indistinguishable. Why are they fighting?

The chilling answer is that both sides are commanded by ghosts. It is the unquiet dead, the unpunished crimes, the gagged memories of countless perpetrators and their victims that drive these armies forward. Impulses barely understood, inherited from parents and grandparents who could neither speak about nor forget the horrors they had witnessed or performed.

Two nations to whom great evil has been done are being driven, by dead hands, to do evil in return. Chris Trotter

R for recession comes after I for inflation in the economic alphabet. Then comes v for voter and w for wallet. Get the drift? – Shane Jones

Behind the scenes, officials are working on other ways to make New Zealand less rather than more attractive to prospective students. They have plans to almost double the amount of money each student must bring to New Zealand for each year’s study, and heavily restrict post-study work rights. This is all part of the Government’s immigration re-set, more correctly called an anti-immigration re-set.Steven Joyce

If we are to avoid a recession, which is looking an increasingly difficult goal, we need to encourage more outward facing sectors to grow, rather than be always putting up new barriers to their success. International education is one of the best placed to resume pulling its weight, to the benefit of our country’s education system and the wider economy and society. The Government needs to get over its ambivalence to it. – Steven Joyce

We’ve become accustomed to hearing the words, “I support free speech, but ….” New Zealand is full of people in positions of power and influence who purport to defend free speech, but always with the addition of that loaded word “but”. You can’t say you support free speech and then, in the next breath, put limitations around it beyond the ones that are already clearly established in law and broadly accepted, such as those relating to defamation and incitement to hatred or violence.

We’ve been introduced to phrases unheard of a few years ago: cancel culture, speech wars, hate speech, gender wars, safe spaces, culture wars, trigger warnings, transphobia and no-platforming. We’ve acquired a whole new vocabulary. We’ve seen the emergence of a media monoculture in which all mainstream media outlets adopt uniform ideological positions that effectively shut out alternative opinions, even when those marginalised voices may represent mainstream opinion.

We’ve seen traditional ideological battle lines totally redrawn as people on the left and right of politics unite around the need to save freedom of speech from a new and powerful cohort of people who have co-opted the term “hate speech” as a pretext for banning any opinion that they dislike.

We’ve even seen radical feminists, who were once at the cutting edge of politics, demonised as dangerous reactionaries who must be shut down because of their opposition to a virulent transgender lobby that appeared to spring out of nowhere.

All this has happened within a remarkably short time frame. Mainstream New Zealand has been caught off guard by the sheer speed and intensity of the attack on free speech and as a result has been slow to respond. But what’s at stake here is nothing less than the survival of liberal democracy, which depends on the contest of ideas and the free and open discussion of issues regardless of whether some people might find them upsetting.Karl Du Fresne

The right of free speech, after all, means the right to hear as well as the right to speak. Our Bill of Rights Act doesn’t just talk about the right to speak freely. It refers to “the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and opinions of any kind and in any form”. That seems pretty clear-cut and unambiguous. To deny New Zealanders the right to hear opinions that some politicians and public officials don’t like is a flagrant abuse of power and must be challenged at every turn, which is exactly what this union is doing. – Karl Du Fresne

In other words there are people in the police who apparently think that anyone who criticises the government should be watched. This is how police states begin. Fortunately in this case, wiser senior officers stepped in before things got out of hand.Karl Du Fresne

The reality is that the enemies of free speech have no fixed ideology. Control is enforced with equal brutality whether it’s Nazi Germany or communist North Korea. The only thing the enemies of free speech have in common is a desire to exercise untrammelled power and to forcibly suppress any speech which threatens that power.

As it happens, the present threat to free speech in New Zealand doesn’t come from either the traditional left or the traditional right. It comes from a powerful new cohort that largely controls the national conversation. This cohort is dominant in politics, the bureaucracy, academia and the media and regards the exercise of free speech as serving the interests of the privileged. Free speech to them means licence to attack oppressed minorities and is therefore something to be deterred, if not by law then by denunciation and intimidation.

Depressingly, this group is entrenched in universities and libraries – institutions that have traditionally served as sources of free thought and access to knowledge. Libraries were at the forefront of the effort to shut down the feminist group Speak Up For Women, which was targeted by aggressive transgender activists because it opposed legislation allowing men to identify as female. It was only after this union went to court on the feminists’ behalf that libraries in several cities were forced to back down and allow them to hold public meetings.

A common factor in these instances is the belief that people have a right not to be offended and that this right takes precedence over the right to free speech. It’s as if the woke elements in society have developed an allergic reaction to the robust democracy that most of the people in this room grew up in, where vigorous debate was seen as an essential part of the contest of ideas that democracy depends on.

If a statement can possibly be interpreted as a slur against one’s gender, race, body type or sexual identity, it will be, no matter how innocent the intention of the person who made it. Apologies will be demanded and the ritual humiliation of the transgressor inevitably follows.

The purpose is clear: it sends a message to others that they will get similar treatment if they’re bold or foolish enough to challenge ideological orthodoxy. Yet paradoxically, the same people who insist on the right not to be upset don’t hesitate to engage in vicious online gang-ups and ad hominem attacks on anyone who disagrees with them.

A recurring theme in the speech wars is the notion of safety – not safety from physical danger, which is how most people understand the term, but safety from anything that might upset people or challenge their thinking. – Karl Du Fresne

Safety, then, is a highly elastic concept – critically important for women attending abortion clinics, even if no risk of harm exists, but not a problem if those who feel threatened are white guys in suits.

The enemies of free speech are blind to the contradictions in their position. They bang on about the right to be safe but applaud aggressive and intimidating behaviour against people they don’t like. And they demand protection against hate speech while freely indulging in it themselves on Twitter and other social media platforms, their purpose being to bully people into silence.Karl Du Fresne

I can claim to be something of an authority on freedom of the press if only for the reason that I’ve written two books about it. Back then the concern was with threats to media freedom from outside sources, principally the state. But ironically we’re now in a position where I believe the New Zealand media abuse their own freedom.

They have fatally compromised their independence and their credibility by signing up to a government scheme under which they accept millions of dollars in taxpayer funding and in return commit themselves to abide by a set of ideological principles laid down by that same government.

Defenders of the Public Interest Journalism Fund justify it on the pretext that it enables the media to continue carrying out worthwhile public interest journalism at a time when the industry is financially precarious. They bristle with indignation at the suggestion that their integrity is compromised. But it is. You need only look at the projects approved for funding to grasp that this is essentially an opportunistic indoctrination project funded by taxpayers.

From a free speech standpoint, however, it’s the ideological uniformity of the media that is of even greater concern. The past two decades have seen a profound generational change in the media and a corresponding change in the industry ethos.

News outlets that previously took pride in being “broad church” – in other words, catering to and reflecting a wide range of interests and opinions – are now happy to serve as a vehicle for the prevailing ideology. They have abandoned their traditional role of trying to reflect the society they purport to serve. The playwright Arthur Miller’s definition of a good newspaper as a nation talking to itself is obsolete. The mainstream media are characterised by ideological homogeneity, reflecting the views of a woke elite and relentlessly promoting the polarising agenda of identity politics.

The implications for free speech are obvious. What was previously an important channel for the public expression of a wide range of opinions has steadily narrowed. Conservative voices are increasingly marginalised and excluded, ignoring the inconvenient fact that New Zealand has far more often voted right than left. – Karl Du Fresne

But it’s worse than that, because the prevailing ideological bias doesn’t just permeate editorials and opinion columns. Its influence can also be seen in the way the news is reported – in the stories that the media choose to cover, and perhaps more crucially in the issues they choose not to cover. The Maori co-governance proposals in Three Waters, for example.

Underlying this is another profound change. From the 1970s onward, journalism training – previously done on the job – was subject to academic capture. Many of today’s journalists were subject to highly politicised teaching that encouraged them to think their primary function was not so much to report on matters of interest and importance to the community as to challenge the institutions of power.

Principles such as objectivity were jettisoned, freeing idealistic young journalists to indulge in advocacy journalism, push pet causes and sprinkle their stories with loaded words such as racist, sexist, homophobic and misogynist. In the meantime, older journalists who adhered to traditional ideas of balance and objectivity have been methodically managed out of the industry.

Worse even than that, we now have mainstream media outlets that actively suppress stories as a matter of official editorial policy, and even boast about it. I’m thinking here of climate change, a subject on which major media organisations have collectively agreed not to give space or air time to anyone questioning global warming or even the efficacy of measures aimed at mitigating it. This would have been unthinkable 20 or even 10 years ago. People are bound to wonder what else the media are suppressing.Karl Du Fresne

Robert Muldoon was a tyrant who tried to bully the media into submission, but eventually journalists and editors stood up to him. In the past few years, however, we’ve gone backwards. We now live in a climate of authoritarianism and denunciation that chokes off the vibrant debate that sustains democracy, and tragically the media are part of the problem.

There are positive signs however, and this meeting is one of them. As I said at the start, the sheer speed and intensity of the culture wars caught the country off-guard. Ours is a fundamentally fair and decent society, eager to do the right thing and rightly wary of extremism. For a long time we stood back and allowed the assault on democratic values to proceed virtually unopposed. We were like a boxer temporarily stunned by a punch that we never saw coming.

But the fightback has begun and is steadily gaining momentum. In giddy moments of optimism I even sense that the tide might be turning in the media. Even the most cloth-eared media bosses must eventually realise they have alienated much of their core audience, as reflected in steadily declining newspaper circulation figures and in opinion surveys measuring trust in the media. – Karl Du Fresne

The risk New Zealand runs in 2023 is that the policy promises of the contending parties will be come to be seen by their respective supporters as critical to the survival of the nation. On the Right, the introduction of co-governance will be equated with the death of democracy. On the Left, a racist referendum endorsing the elimination of co-governance will be construed as an all-out assault on the Treaty of Waitangi and the indigenous people it was intended to protect.

In such circumstances, the uncompromising partisans on both sides begin to believe that if they concede defeat there will be no “next time”. At that point the cry goes out for a “continuation of politics by other means”. Bullets replace ballots, and peace ceases to be an option – for anybody.Chris Trotter


People power ‘pauses’ discriminatory Bill

29/04/2022

The Bill that would have created unequal voting rights in Rotorua has been ‘paused’. 

Labour has predictably started backpedalling on the discriminatory Rotorua District Council Bill but rather than just pressing pause, they need to can the whole thing now, National’s Justice Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“The Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill would give the 22,000 Māori roll voters in Rotorua three council seats, the same number as the 56,000 voters on the general roll. Each Māori roll vote would effectively be worth about two-and-a-half votes on the general roll.

“One of the core principles of our democracy is one person, one vote. That, as New Zealanders, we are all treated the same. Our individual votes have equal power in deciding who governs our country and in decisions affecting our lives.

“This bill would throw out the one person, one vote principle. Labour should scrap it entirely. It is undemocratic and unfair, as indicated by the Attorney-General’s assessment that the bill is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act.

“Labour should also abandon the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Bill, which alters voting rights in a different way.

“Under that bill’s provisions, 14 councillors would be elected democratically, then after the election Ngāi Tahu would appoint two more – without even bothering with elections. This is equally inconsistent with our Bill of Rights Act and cannot be justified.

“Equal suffrage is a pillar of our modern democracy and it cannot be thrown away. Labour needs to respect democracy and scrap both bills.”

David Farrar shows how this is a victory for people power :

. . . They planned to it through Parliament in a few weeks. The Māori Affairs Committee only opened submissions for two weeks. They started scheduling oral submissions before the written submissions had even closed.

But what stopped them wasn’t the Attorney-General’s advice it breached the Bill of Rights Act (they knew it did and didn’t care) but the fact in just two weeks we got over 10,000 New Zealanders to do individual submissions against the bill – including 2,500 who asked to speak to their submission.

This meant the Māori Affairs Committee would have had to meet for eight hours a day, five days a week for five weeks to hear all the submissions against. It made it impossible for it to be passed by 1 June. . .

People power has won this time, but ‘pausing’ this Bill doesn’t mean there won’t be other attempts to undermine democracy.

The Canterbury Bill is still there and needs at least as much opposition to show the government they can’t undermine democracy by ramming through Bills like these.

 


Award for most incompetent Minister goes to . . .

07/04/2022

Who is the government’s most incompetent Minister? There’s plenty to choose from.

Transport Minister Michael Woods is a contender for the $50 million spent on the Auckland bike bridge to nowhere and for continuing to work on the far too expensive light rail project:

While New Zealanders are in a cost of living crisis with record inflation, it is unjustifiable and irresponsible for the Government to steam ahead with their plans to build their light rail vanity project, National’s Transport spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“Documents released by Treasury today show Michael Wood’s commitment to light rail could explode to an eye watering $29.2 billion – nearly double the cost of what was announced in January, which was already a staggering amount of money at almost $15 billion.

“Treasury’s advice was scathing of the project, saying the Government should not pick a preferred option for light rail until further analysis could be undertaken – advice the Government has clearly ignored.

“Labour’s commitment to this vanity project will cost taxpayers a whopping $100 million before the next election, with no guarantee of spades being in the ground.

“The cost for this project is entirely unjustifiable and the Government needs to accept that this project is simply not worth it. Especially when New Zealanders are dealing with a cost of living crisis, which will only get worse if the Government doesn’t rein in its wasteful spending.

Kris Faafoi is a contender for the way Immigration treated families of essential workers stuck overseas and for failing to fast track residency for essential workers already here.

Immigration policies are also likely to lead to job losses in the tertiary sector:

The Government urgently needs to get international students into the country to prevent looming job losses in the tertiary sector, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Penny Simmonds says.

“Universities and polytechnics are currently considering staff redundancies as a way of coping with declining enrolments this year.

“Labour is allowing 5000 international students into the country next month – but universities and polytechnics can only access 2150 students, or 43 per cent, with the remainder of students heading to high schools, Private Training Establishments and English language schools.

“This will do little to ease the urgent staffing issues facing the sector.

“Given that student visas are currently taking Immigration New Zealand three months to process, students applying in April won’t be processed in time for semester two, putting further stress on our valuable tertiary teaching staff.

On top of that, international research now shows New Zealand is falling out of favour with international students, being ranked last among the major English-speaking education destinations in a survey of more than 10,000 people from 93 countries.

“And the effects are obvious – according to the Ministry of Education in 2019, New Zealand had about 22,000 fulltime international students paying total tuition fees of $562 million. The figures for 2021 and 2022 are estimated to be 70 per cent of that 2019 figure.

“The Government must explain what the rational is for limiting international student numbers, our fourth biggest export earner, when the border is reopening.

“It is appalling that this Government has allowed international education in this country to decline to this level. We must act urgently to prevent further deterioration in this sector and that means not restricting international student numbers coming here.” . .

He’s also fallen short as Justice Minister:

Victims of crime missed out on support they were entitled to because Justice Minister Kris Faafoi failed to sign off the criteria for a $3 million victim support fund for more than five months after the fund was announced, National’s Justice spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“Earlier this month it was revealed that zero victims were supported by the fund announced in Budget 2021, despite applications being open since July 2021.

“Labour was content to let Victim Support take the blame for this lack of delivery, but it turns out Minister Faafoi didn’t bother to sign off the eligibility criteria until November 2021 – more than five months after the fund was announced and four months after applications opened.

Rather than letting Victim Support take the rap, Minister Faafoi should have fessed up that his incompetence is the real reason why victims are missing out on support the Government promised them.

“Governments spend months finalising the Budget every year so he would have known well in advance that this fund would be open for applications from July. What is his excuse for doing nothing for over five months to ensure victims could access the support? 

“Even worse, the Police Minister has conceded agencies who are meant to advise victims of support they are entitled to were not provided information about the fund until February 2022. . .

That Police Minister Potu Williams is another contender for the silence when police were facing the protesters at parliament, silence over repeated examples of policing by consent that let gangs disregard lockdown rules and terrorise the law abiding while doing it; and her refusal to allow National police spokesman Mark Mitchell to meet the Commissioner or district commanders:

. . . He said: “I don’t think she’s [Williams is] very good at her job and I don’t think she’s across her portfolio, but for her now to use her political power and position in government to start blocking me from meetings – that’s Third World stuff … she may as well go and join the Cabinet in Somalia.” . . 

Trumping that is her denial of an increase in gang violence:

. . .Mitchell asked Williams in Parliament on Wednesday if gang violence had increased or decreased under her watch, to which she replied: “I reject the premise of that question.”  . . .

And this:

Then there’s waste in health with expired vaccines:

Thousands of meningococcal vaccines have been left to expire instead of being given to those most at risk, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“It has been revealed that 17,122 meningococcal vaccines have expired in the last two years, at a cost of $1.6 million, and who knows how many lives.

“The Ministry of Health has a strict eligibility criteria for the meningococcal vaccine, but these vaccines that were left unused could have been made available to those most at risk, to help protect them from this deathly disease.

“The lost opportunity to protect people is a tragedy and that $1.6 million that ended up being wasted could have been spent on other areas of health that desperately need it.

“Last week a meningitis petition was presented to Parliament, pleading to the Government to fund vaccines against the disease. This news will be a cold comfort to those petition supporters.

“This is becoming a concerning pattern of behaviour from Health Minister Andrew Little who has already wasted $8 million worth of measles vaccines in a botched catch-up campaign, and now he can add this one to the growing list.

“Minister Little needs to commit to making expiring meningococcal vaccines available to primary care for use inside and outside of the strict criteria to avoid a tragedy like this happening again.” . .

And the botched measles programme costing $1900 per person:

The botched $20 million measles vaccine catch-up programme is worse than it appears, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“The other week it was revealed that $8 million of measles vaccines were left unused and had expired.

“However, information shows that only 11,206 people of the targeted 300,000 received the vaccine – representing a cost of nearly $1900 per person and reaching only 3 per cent of the targeted population.

“It was also revealed that Labour spent $1.8 million on public relations to frame a campaign ‘with a particular focus on Māori and Pacific people’, yet only 1181 Māori received the vaccine – a PR cost of $1,500 per person.

“Worse still, to date the programme costs show that $2.2 million has been spent on public relations while only $1.61 million was spent on actually delivering the vaccine to Māori.

“Andrew Little seems more interested in PR and spin than actually delivering measles vaccinations to Māori.

“The list of health failures is mounting under Andrew Little’s watch. He failed to deliver any extra ICU beds during a global pandemic, has completely missed every health target set and now he can add a botched measles campaign to his growing list.”

The government put so much effort, and spent so much money, justifying locking us down and persuading us to get vaccinated so that the health system wasn’t over whelmed yet did little or nothing to retain existing staff and recruit more.

That’s left  hospitals understaffed and health professionals overworked :

Their employers have warned them not to speak out but nurses say they won’t be silenced. Overworked and understaffed, they’ve told Sunday that they’ve had enough of a health system under real pressure.

The Omicron surge hasn’t helped, but there was a serious nursing shortage long before Covid struck, and now burnout and resignations are high while the pandemic shut off the supply of overseas nurses.

Nurses still on the job worry patient safety may suffer because they are so short-staffed.

Is the government listening?

No it’s not. Instead it’s going ahead with the complete restructure of the health system that will do nothing to improve pay and conditions for health professionals and nothing to improve services, and outcomes, for patients.

That would be bad enough at the best of times. In the middle of a pandemic it’s a complete waste of scarce funds and people’s focus.

While on health and the pandemic lets not forget the shortage of PPE, the delay in securing vaccines which left the rollout starting late and the RATs debacle.

Then there’s paying more and getting less in several areas.

Carmel Sepuloni has overseen an increase in MSD staff and deterioration in performance:

Our welfare system is less responsive than ever as phone wait times for the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) surge, National’s Social Development and Employment spokesperson Louise Upston says.

“Whether it’s superannuitants, students, people out of work, or a family who needs help to cope with soaring living costs, New Zealander’s deserve timely answers from the department responsible of administering the welfare system.

“Since 2017, the number of MSD staff answering calls has increased from 650 to 1220 people, yet the average wait time has also increased from 4 to 18 minutes, even reaching close to 40 minutes some weeks this year.

“That’s an 88 per cent increase in staff numbers, a large deterioration in performance and no better outcomes for Kiwis.  

“Appallingly, some people have waited longer than three hours while others have reported it took weeks to receive a call back.

“The cost of living crisis has increased demand for hardship grants and there is almost an extra 50,000 people on the unemployment benefit, which means preparations should have been made to cope with more inquiries.

“New Zealander’s deserve a better service given the substantial taxpayer dollars poured into MSD. Simply increasing staff numbers is not going to cut it.

“Minister Sepuloni needs to hold MSD accountable for their plummeting performance and ensures it fulfils its core responsibility to answer New Zealander’s questions and help people access their entitlements.”

Corrections is spending more money on prisoners with worse outcomes:

Taxpayers are spending more money on prisoners, yet violent crime continues to go up, National’s Corrections spokesperson Simon O’Connor says.

“New Zealand taxpayers are now spending $151,000 per prisoner, per year – an increase of over $30,000 per prisoner from 2018/19.

“Overall, there has been an increase of $139 million poured into the Corrections system over the period between 2018/19 and 2020/21, despite fewer prisoners.

“At the same time, there has been a steep decline in the number of prisoners accessing rehabilitation services. Prisoners accessing alcohol and drug programmes alone has dropped from 6311 in 2015/16 to 1065 in 2019/20 – a decrease greater than the drop in prisoner numbers.

“More money is being spent, but we’re getting worse outcomes.

“Rehabilitation is a key way for prisoners to turn their lives around, but in 2019/20 the number of prisoners taking part in rehabilitation programmes plummeted to 2399, from 5845 in 2015/16.

“It can hardly be a surprise then that violent crime is up 21 per cent since 2017, as reported by the Salvation Army, and that we have one of the highest recidivism rates in the OECD.

“This is typical for a Government who are experts at spending taxpayer money with no expectation of results.

“On top of this, Labour is taking soft-on-crime approach which is clearly not working.

“Without effective rehabilitation, re-imprisonment rates and violence will only keep climbing.”

And more is being spent on mental health for no positive results:

The mental health monitoring report out today shows that the Government’s $1.9 billion investment in mental health has delivered no benefit to Kiwis, National’s Mental Health spokesperson Matt Doocey says.

“This is emblematic of a Government that is all spin and no delivery. Labour’s only measure of success is how much it spends on things. But it needs to be about the outcomes that we achieve for New Zealanders.

“The report released today by the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission reinforces what many mental health groups and services have been telling me for some time – that they’re not seeing any of the money promised for mental health and can’t point to where it’s gone.

“They have been raising these concerns with the Government for months about staff shortages and growing waiting lists, but have not received a response.

“The findings in the report also show that our specialist services are facing increased demand since the beginning of the pandemic, especially from younger people seeking mental health support.

“The Government says it has invested in the sector, yet services are harder to access. They must explain where the money has gone and why it hasn’t made a difference to improving people’s mental health.

“Making announcements with good intentions isn’t going to solve the growing mental health problems that New Zealand is facing, but strong leadership and a well-managed plan to execute change will. We need targeted spending that delivers outcomes for Kiwis.”

Then there are virtue signalling environmental policies that are nothing more than taxes that increase costs but do nothing at all for the environment:

The Government’s car tax comes into force today, piling on yet another cost for Kiwis facing a cost of living crisis, National’s Transport spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“Hardworking Kiwis will be hoping that this is just an April Fool’s joke, but sadly they will still have to live with Labour’s new car tax after today.        

“The so-called ‘Clean Car Discount’ gives a rebate for expensive electric vehicles while imposing fees of thousands of dollars on many other vehicles. For example, buyers of a Toyota Hilux* will face a $5175 tax when they first register the vehicle.  

“This will have a negative impact on our farmers and tradies who need utes to do their jobs and contribute to our economic recovery.   

“The Government is penalising farmers and tradies for their choice of vehicle despite there being no viable electric ute available. Even Toyota had to correct the Prime Minister last year that it has no plans to bring an electric ute to New Zealand within the next two years.

“LDV will have an electric alternative, the EV-T60, coming from China later this year. But it is two-wheel drive and can only haul a max of 1,000 kgs for 162km. This is not enough to meet farmers’ needs, who need strength and reliability.

“While the Government gives with one hand, by temporarily reducing fuel taxes, it takes with the other by imposing the Auckland regional fuel tax, a car tax, and is now proposing a biofuels mandate which will further increase the cost of fuel. 

“All of these policies drive up the cost of living for motorists struggling to get by under rapidly rising inflation and fuel prices.

An environmental and transport failure is the train from Hamilton to Auckland:

The Te Huia train today marks its first birthday with news that it has spent more time off the tracks than on them, National’s Transport spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“There is not a lot to celebrate about this service which has failed from day one.

“Not only has the train spent more time off the tracks than on them over the past 12 months, taxpayers have poured $98 million into a service which very few people use and which takes much longer than driving between Hamilton and Auckland.

“Furthermore, research produced by the Waikato Chamber of Commerce shows that based on current passenger numbers the train actually emits more carbon emissions than someone who drives their petrol or diesel vehicle between these two cities.

“Patronage is significantly lower than what it was when the service started despite repeated calls to ‘build it and people will come’.

“This painfully slow train is simply not fit for purpose. It doesn’t achieve the outcomes that the Government claimed it would one year ago.

“The Transport Minister is so completely focussed on his legacy projects, he is prepared to waste almost $100 million of taxpayer dollars on a train that isn’t fit for purpose and hardly anyone wants to use.

“Quite frankly this is an irresponsible use of taxpayers’ money which would be better spent on extending the Waikato Expressway from Cambridge to Piarere.”  

If all this isn’t bad enough, there’s the incompetence with funding the Strategic Tourism Asset Protection Programme (STAPP) 

The Auditor General’s Report on the Strategic Tourism Asset Protection Programme (STAPP) confirmed what many businesses have been saying – that this Labour Government has been biased and unfair, National’s Tourism spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“Every tourism business in New Zealand has done it tough over the last two years and this report has shown that this Labour Government favoured some and left others to suffer.

“In May 2020 the Government and former Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis opened a $290M fund for struggling tourism businesses. When applications opened, some businesses were accepted without any evidence that they were in financial difficulty, and didn’t have to go through the same process as other businesses.

“The Government seems to believe that only Queenstown exists when it comes to tourism in New Zealand, when in reality there are tourism operators up and down the country who are suffering just as much.

“In typical Labour fashion, they simply threw money at a problem without having a well-managed plan. Current Tourism Minister Stuart Nash has blamed the uncertainty of Covid-19 for these mistakes, but the reality is they failed to think things through at a time when tourism businesses needed them most.

“New Zealanders deserve to have a Government who are responsible with their spending, but this Labour Government has proven time and time again that they cannot be trusted to make wise or fair spending decisions.

“I am calling on Minister Nash to find those funds that were given out incorrectly, take them back and redistribute them to all Kiwi tourism operators so that they can open up quickly for international tourists.”

Bryce Edwards says the report raises questions of integrity:

Was political favouritism involved in the dishing out of millions of dollars by government ministers to tourism businesses? We can’t know, because the Government didn’t keep sufficient records or have proper processes for the handouts. That’s the obvious question arising from a scathing report released by the Auditor General on Thursday, which has received far too little attention.

The Auditor General’s report investigates a scheme set up by the Government early in the Covid crisis (May 2020), called the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme. The report is one of many that have criticised government procedures during Covid for their lack of integrity. . . 

Harman draws attention to the fact that there have been a number of other reports from the Auditor General’s office that have pinged the Government for poor processes in regard to government departments dealing with private vested interests during Covid – especially the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Development.

Of course, one of the most problematic has been the multi-billion-dollar Wage Subsidy Scheme, which was seen to be poorly designed and administered.

There’s a theme building up from these reports – that of crony corporate welfare getting out of hand in recent years. This is one of the blind spots in New Zealand politics and society. Recent governments are prone to giving generous subsidies to business interests, often without any great systems of integrity or best practice. And unfortunately, the public never seems to mind much when it becomes apparent.

It could well be that New Zealand is just too eager to believe the annual Transparency International Corruption Perception Index results that show this country to be the least corrupt nation on earth. In ignoring reports such as this latest from the Auditor General, the Government is undermining that status.

On the subject of Ministerial oversight of money wasted, there’s plenty to choose from :

So much incompetence, it’s hard to choose which is worse but there’s one person who is supposed to be on top of all the portfolios and those presiding over them. That’s Jacinda Ardern.

Would any other recent Prime Minister have tolerated this litany of laxness from Ministers? Bill English, John Key, Helen Clark? No.

There’s a lot more to leadership than announcing announcements and serving word salads no matter how caring they sound.

Ensuring Ministers are up to the jobs they’re supposed to be doing and holding them to account if  and when they fall short is a very important one by which measure of competence this PM falls short.


FPAs really UPAs

30/03/2022

They’re called Fair Pay Agreements but for whom are they fair?

They’re not fair for the 90% of workers who will be forced to accept them if 10% of people in their occupation want them.

They’re not fair for the workers who will lose flexible pay and conditions that suit them and be forced to accept inflexible pay and conditions that don’t.

They’re not fair to employers in different parts of the country with different cost structures who will be forced to accept the pay and conditions imposed on them regardless of whether they can afford them.

They’re not fair to the businesses that will collapse under the weight of unaffordable wage bills and the workers who will lose their jobs to business failures and increased automation.

They’re not fair to the everyone already struggling with inflation who will face higher costs as a result of them.

It’s not fair that they will harm the economy:

Labour’s misnamed ‘Fair’ Pay Agreements Bill will reduce flexibility and harm New Zealand’s economy, National’s Workplace Relations spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“This bill is an ideological overreach, deliberately going to war with employers at a time when we’re facing huge economic challenges.

“The modern workplace is changing rapidly and people value flexibility. Labour’s bill would take us in the opposite direction, towards rigid national awards.

“It’s another example of this Government’s belief that central government knows best – better than employees and employers trying to arrange things for themselves in a way that works for them.

“Flexible labour markets are one of the foundations of our relative economic success in the past few decades. This bill undermines that foundation and will harm our economy and our national competitiveness.

“National stridently opposes this bill.”

They are so unfair that Business New Zealand is saying no to the payment being offered to them:

BusinessNZ has confirmed that it will not accept payments included in the Fair Pay Agreements Bill introduced to Parliament today.

Under the terms of the Bill, BusinessNZ would be offered $250,000 a year for supporting compulsory bargaining in major sectors of the economy.

But Chief Executive Kirk Hope says the FPA scheme is unacceptable and BusinessNZ will not take part.

“The Bill shows the Government is not listening, and we think the legislation should simply be canned.

“The scheme would make it compulsory for businesses to take part in collective bargaining, and compulsory for them to accept union demands or imposed arbitration.

“The FPA scheme would be deleterious to the economy, to people’s prosperity, and to the human rights of those involved, and despite the mention of BusinessNZ in the Bill presented to Parliament today, I can confirm that BusinessNZ will definitely not be taking taxpayer money to support compulsory national pay schemes.”

The Employers’ and Manufacturers’ Association says FPAs are a step back in time:

The Government’s step backwards to National Compulsory Awards, also known as Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs), is a retrograde move for employees and employers that removes the flexibility we’ve come to expect and need in the modern workplace, says the EMA.

Head of Advocacy and Strategy, Alan McDonald, says this is a step back to a centralised, antagonistic wage bargaining system that failed workers and their employers in the 1970s and 80s and was done away with in the 1990s.

“It puts a Wellington bureaucracy between employees and their employers and enforces the same pay and conditions for all employees regardless of their circumstances and those of their employer.”

Mr McDonald says inflexible, unwanted, slow moving, centralised bargaining was the last thing needed in the modern workplace.

This is what we had decades ago when a worker who sprained an eyelash at one workplace could trigger strikes the length and breadth of the country.

“FPAs are not consistent with the goal of the New Zealand economy being made of flexible, innovative, competitive and agile businesses.

“If nothing else, how would we have coped with the demands for flexibility and adaptability in the workplace imposed by Covid if we were working with these ponderous, unwanted awards?”

“The fact they must be compulsorily brought to an outcome is illegal under the International Labour Organisation (ILO) principles signed up to by previous Labour governments and currently illegal under our domestic bargaining frameworks where employers can choose to opt out.

As only 10 percent of a workforce or 1,000 workers in any sector can demand one of these agreements, they are demonstrably undemocratic.”

Mr McDonald says the EMA and other members of the BusinessNZ network had opposed these agreements from the moment they were proposed and would continue to oppose them.

He said it was hard to see what the issue was that they were meant to solve, especially with such widespread access to such agreements.

“MBIE, the government’s own advisors, said there may be a few areas where there could be an issue with pay and conditions and the best solution was to apply a market test and review conditions in those sectors and make changes where required.

“We’d support that, but instead this legislation takes a scattergun approach that will result in inflexible, rigid conditions across multiple industries with some employers having to deal with multiple awards in one workplace.

“It’s a logistical nightmare if nothing else. How do you reach every employee and employer from Stewart Island to Cape Reinga?

Inflexible, rigid and a logistical nightmare – what’s fair about that?

“I see the Government’s release ignores the fact that Business NZ and its network and the Chambers of Commerce have already ruled out being the bargaining agent for employers. The fact the CTU is the Government’s bargaining agent of choice also shuts out all the other non-affiliated unions from the bargaining process and ignores the fact around 80 per cent of the workforce is not associated with unions,” says Mr McDonald.

It’s not even fair to many unions.

How fair is it to democracy when the CTU supports the Labour Party financially and with people power for campaigning.

If corruption is too strong a word for it – and I”m not sure it is – then unfair certainly isn’t.

These aren’t FPAs they’re UPAs – unfair pay agreements – and another reason to ensure this government doesn’t get a third term.


Nicola Willis takes on Finance

16/03/2022

National leader Christopher Luxon has appointed Nicola Willis as Finance spokesperson.

Luxon announced it this morning after Bridges’ resignation yesterday, saying Willis was the right person to take the Government to tack over the cost of living and “wasteful spending decisions.”

It is a return to the days of the deputy also holding the finance role – as was the case when Sir John Key was leader and Bill English his deputy.

“Nicola has an incredible intellect, prodigious work ethic and proven ability to hold the Government to account as we’ve seen her do on housing. She will build on National’s track record as the best economic managers to help Kiwis get ahead.”

He pointed to Willis’ background as a member of Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Select Committee and previously held a number of senior management roles at Fonterra.

He said she also understands how finance interacts with the other portfolios across Government – and prior to politics had a good business and commercial orientation after working at Fonterra.

Willis said it was important to have good people around you, and National had a good team of advisers to develop a fiscal “and most importantly an economic growth plan”. . . 

Chris Bishop takes on responsibility for housing infrastructure portfolios and moves up one place to number three in the caucus. Shane Reti moves up to four and Paul Goldsmith climbs seven places to five.

National lost a lot of political experience last election but a team with the right skills, ability and financial acumen will make a better government than one full of political and bureaucratic experience but little knowledge or experience of life and business outside politics which is what we’ve got now.


Quotes of the year

01/01/2022

How do we prevent child abuse? First, we have to stop racism. That message has lately invaded the child-welfare system. The triumph of today’s fashionable ideological nonsense in this particular field carries exceptionally high costs — and abused kids will pay them. – Naomi Schaefer Riley

Kindness is as kindness does. And the one thing kindness cannot do is force people to be kind. – Chris Trotter

Of course, to assume that her missive would be engaged with in the spirit in which it was intended, is to make the mistake of imagining that the identitarian left is broadly committed to secular, rational discourse. It is not. Its activist component has transmogrified into a religious movement, which brooks no opposition and no discussion. You must agree with every tenet or else you’re a racist, sexist, transphobic bigot, etc. Because its followers are fanatics, Rowling is being subjected to an extraordinary level of abuse. – Petra Bueskens

The norms of civil discourse are being eroded, as we increasingly inhabit individualised media ecosystems, designed to addict, distract, absorb, outrage, manipulate and incite us. These internecine culture wars damage us all. – Petra Bueskens

If you deal primarily in subjective experience and impulse-driven reaction, under the assumption that you occupy the undisputed moral high ground, and you’ve been incited by fake news and want to signal your allegiances to your social media friends, then you can’t engage in rational discussion with your opponent. Your stock in trade will be unsubstantiated accusations and social shaming. – Petra Bueskens

Trans women are women is not an engaged reply. It is a mere arrangement of words, which presupposes a faith that cannot be questioned. To question it, we are told, causes harm—an assertion that transforms discussion into a thought crime. If questioning this orthodoxy is tantamount to abuse, then feminists and other dissenters have been gaslit out of the discussion before they can even enter it. This is especially pernicious because feminists in the west have been fighting patriarchy for several hundred years and we do not intend our cause to be derailed at the eleventh hour by an infinitesimal number of natal males, who have decided that they are women. Now, we are told, trans women are women, but natal females are menstruators. I can’t imagine what the suffragists would have made of this patently absurd turn of events. – Petra Bueskens

COVID has shown us that voters will excuse an astronomical level of incompetence, excused by collective amnesia, and the subsequent human toll as long as they believe they’re being kept safe. Fear really is the opiate of the masses. – Gemma Tognini 

We want a simplistic story sometimes – big naughty chicken companies are ripping us off – but it’s more complicated than that. It’s biosecurity, it’s iconic birds, it’s minimum wage and animal rights, which are all things the public support – Tim Morris

It should not be controversial to centre victims in discussions about crime and justice. In fact, it isn’t. The real world doesn’t play out like a Twitter timeline. For most New Zealanders the abolition of prisons is utterly insane and our government would be wise to remember that. – Ani O’Brien

 In the desire for an easy prey, hunters and journalists are the same.Theodore Dalrymple

Ideology is what all this ‘ethics’ crap is about – it has nothing to do with ethics as I understand the term. ‘Ethics’ has become a smokescreen for ideological vetting of research proposals and keeping findings that may not square with PC doctrine out of the academic literature. – Barend Vlaardingerbroek

So far I have lived—stayed safe, if you like—through predicted global cooling, global warming, mass famine, nuclear winter, asteroidal collision, and viral and prion-disease epidemics. . . Just because no catastrophe has yet touched me, then, it does not mean that none in the future will ever do so. That is why anxiety springs eternal in the human breast.Theodore Dalrypmple

And far too few of those who make the laws and regulations governing our lives will get anywhere near a farm, let alone develop a deep understanding of how agriculture works. If they did understand, there’d be much less chance they’d make laws that didn’t account for something as fundamental and unalterable as the changing of seasons. – Stephen Barnard

But “mother” is a fundamental biological, emotional, familial reality. It captures the irreplaceable bond between a baby and the woman who bore her in her womb. That others can be excellent guardians — a fact no one disputes — can’t justify extirpating Mom from our vocabulary. (For that matter, the political erasure of “dad” is also dehumanizing, because it ­entails the loss of our capacity to describe relationships that define what it means to be fully human.) – Abigail Shrier

By all means, call people what they prefer. But language in the law, by definition, ushers words into action. Words grant rights or take them away. Words can enhance or diminish status, placing people and concepts beyond the bounds of legal protection. . . That’s where we’re headed, isn’t it? Erasing “mothers,” and “women,” because the concepts are insufficiently inclusive to gender ideologues. The rights women struggled to win become undone, paradoxically, in the name of ­inclusion. – Abigail Shrier

The problem we have online is that an algorithm decides what we want to see, which ends up creating a simplistic, binary view of society. It becomes a case of either you’re with us or against us. And if you’re against us, you deserve to be ‘cancelled’.

It’s important that we’re exposed to a wide spectrum of opinion, but what we have now is the digital equivalent of the medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn. So it is scary for anyone who’s a victim of that mob and it fills me with fear about the future.Rowan Atkinson

Tarrases, on the other hand, are rare and getting rarer. Tarras with its tiny store and its tinier school. Tarras with its searing summers and its biting winters. Tarras with its bleached grasses, its merinos, its huge stations, its distilled New Zealandness. Leave it alone, you greedsters. Do you hear me? Leave it bloody well alone. – Joe Bennett

We all sense something is wrong. Our money is worth nothing to the banks. There is a rush to convert cash into assets. Houses selling as soon as they list. Those who cannot buy assets are just spending their cash. Every credit-fuelled recovery has ended in a recession. Richard Prebble

We are not allowing people to come into Scotland now without an essential purpose, which would apply to him, just as it applies to everybody else. Coming to play golf is not what I would consider an essential purpose. – Nicola Sturgeon

Rock-bottom mortgage rates, comparatively low unemployment, and our freedoms from Covid restrictions are there to be relished this summer, but perhaps not taken for granted. – Tom Pullar-Strecker

Of course, any tax is popular with the people who won’t have to pay it and who think the proceeds will be spent on, or at least trickle down to, them; but given human nature, the main attraction of the tax is probably more that of the certainty of inflicting pain on others than of the hope of benefiting oneself. – Theodore Dalrymple

The purpose of the wealth tax is only tangentially to raise money at a particularly difficult time . . . The purpose behind it is thus social reform, not the meeting of an economic necessity. The crisis is an opportunity: to advance the centralization of power and the permanent boosting of government powers vis-à-vis the population.

There is, however, one small potential fly in the ointment of my argument, namely that I haven’t fully worked out an alternative. But whatever the problem, incipient totalitarianism isn’t the solution. Theodore Dalrymple

Until a few months ago, American elections were the model for the world: fair, transparent and the results implemented. That reputation was undermined tonight, when armed protestors targeted elected representatives and tried to stop the ‘sacred ritual’, as it was described by President-elect Joe Biden, of confirming the election result.

That we are witnessing such scenes speaks to the extent that President Trump has degraded his office – and our politics. And I write this as a lifelong Republican. His behaviour since the election has not been for the benefit of the American people, but for the ego of a man who cannot bear to lose. His narcissism and obsession with winning cost the GOP two Senate seats in Georgia last night, handing full control of Congress to the Democrats. Today, it cost all of us our deepest privilege of being citizens of a country where ballots cast do not result in bullets shot. – Kate Andrews

This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic — not our democratic republic. I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election. – President George W. Bush

Note that I say the politics of race rather than race relations, because relationships between people of different ethnicities in New Zealand – including Maori and Pakeha – remain overwhelmingly respectful and harmonious. But how long this will continue, when ideologically driven agitators are doing their best to create grievance and division, is a moot point. – Karl du Fresne

There are environmental impacts associated with the production of food, period. The dairy industry does have an environmental impact, but if you look at it in the context of the entire U.S. enterprise, it’s fairly minimal. Associated with that minimal impact is a very substantial provision of high quality, digestible, and well-balanced nutrients for human consumption. Robin White

I always advocate for higher wages but there is a Catch-22, when the minimum wage is increased we see workers’ hours cut, or they lose their jobs. – Chloe Ann-King

Whether you are individualistic or collectivist, liberal or conservative, politics is not a culture war, it is about electing governments to act on our behalf to better people’s lives. It’s not just about one person’s outsized ego, it is about voters and their aspirations. That is democracy’s strength — and why it will endure. – Steven Joyce

So not insubstantial sums from Pharmac’s budget are already being spent for training when they should be used for medines. For Maori and anybody else who needs them. – Lindsay Mitchell 

And while, despite my best sewing efforts, little bits of shame still peek through sometimes, I can comfortably say that that’s not my, or other disabled people’s shame to carry.

There is nothing wrong with having a body that looks or works differently.

Our bodies are beautiful, just as they are.

We are worthy of love, just as we are.Erin Gough

Thus literal-mindedness is the enemy of freedom of expression, and represents also a disturbing loss of mental sophistication. But in any case, attachment to freedom of expression as an ideal seems to have lost much of its salience in the western world, having been replaced as a desideratum by that of virtue, moreover virtue of a peculiar but easily achievable kind, not that of acting well, but that of thinking and expressing the right thoughts. The certifiably right thoughts, which can change in an instant, are those that are in conformity with the moral enthusiasms of the moment. –Theodore Dalrymple

Antipathy, dislike, ridicule, and insult are, of course, normal phenomena of human expression, and furthermore are often justified. Without them expressions of more favourable attitudes would probably not be possible either, for they would mean nothing without the possibility of expression of their opposites. Even to contemplate outlawing such normal human reactions displays an alarmingly totalitarian mindset, all the more so in combination with the Scottish government’s desire that people should report so-called hate crime to the police. Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia seem to be its models. –  Theodore Dalrymple

Trying to eliminate antipathy, dislike, ridicule, and insult from the human heart and mind is a task to make that of Sisyphus seem like an afternoon stroll: precisely the type of task that authoritarian governments love, for it gives them the locus standi to interfere ever more intimately with the lives of their subjects. Hatred is hydra-headed, the task is never done, it grows with its very elimination, or rather the attempts by government at its elimination. Failure is the greatest success, since it requires ever more of the same, namely control over society. – Theodore Dalrymple

Nations rely on institutions: political institutions, the public service, universities, companies, churches, families. These all have different roles and duties that serve the societies that encompass them. And part of their purpose is to mould the individuals that pass through them, imbuing them with values that ensure they serve their institution and community instead of just themselves. Simon Bridges

The people who occupy our institutions increasingly understand those institutions not as moulds that ought to shape their behavior and character but as platforms that allow them greater individual exposure and enable them to hone their personal brands. – Yuval Levin

I emerged from what could have been an ordeal, with the knowledge instead, that goodness, kindness, courage, and laughter are as much part of our world as all the misery we read of in the media. I had been reminded that these are the things that keep the world turning, not politics and mayhem. Happy memories and gratitude and the knowledge of the goodness of life, are the lasting after- effects of another profound experience with which life has gifted me. In that alternative universe where goodness triumphs, all is well  and all manner of things are well, as Mother Julian reminded us.Valerie Davies

Coarse speech is as old as language. What has changed is that the decline in manners and the decline of religious observance – two phenomena that are probably connected – has obliterated the distinction between the vulgar and the polite. Language once considered unacceptable in public is now the norm, especially if it’s about sex or religion. Television has blazed a trail here. ‘Your’ ABC, for instance, never tires of having its ‘comedians’ or characters in its tedious attempts at drama refer to God or Christ in some expletive-tainted phrase. The ABC is scrupulous, when anything supposedly offensive to Aborigines is coming up, in interpolating an unctuously-voiced ‘warning,’, but never feels obliged to warn Christians when a torrent of blasphemy is on the way. – Christopher Akehurst

Statistics and everyday observation show that the future of Christianity in Australia is far from rosy. Christians are more liable to be mocked than respected. Semi-pagan beliefs about Gaia are filling the vacuum of faith. We can already see that, along with our belief in our religion, we have lost our belief and our pride in the uniqueness and, yes, superiority of our culture. That way lies extinction. Thanks for 2021? Not specially.Christopher Akehurst

What this all means is that bleeding heart versions of our history (Australia’s John Howard called it “black armband history”) need to be treated with great caution. Those who push the line that everything was lovely in Aotearoa until the colonists arrived, and that they were responsible for depriving Maori of their ancestral lands, are telling selected and often misleading bits of our story.  In reality, Maori society was in a parlous state when colonists arrived in significant numbers in the 1840s and 1850s. Yes, governors, politicians and settlers wanted access to Maori land. Some cut corners acquiring it. But even the most scrupulous land purchasers found many parts of Maori society a minefield of ancient hostilities and were worn down by conflicting assertions about historical ownership. It needs to be remembered that while the wars of the 1860s did terrible damage to what remained of the Maori economy, much damage had already been done to it by other Maori before the colonists arrived. –   Michael Bassett

Teaching a fair and accurate version of New Zealand history won’t be easy unless the Ministry of Education seizes control of the process and ensures that it doesn’t become the preserve of single-minded fanatics claiming to be historians but with axes to grind. They have the potential to stir unwarranted racial animosity in a country which, for much of its existence, tried to be fair to all people according to the norms of the day. – Michael Bassett

 Believers in conspiracy, however, would rather be the victims of a plot than of chance because plots make the world seem pliable to human will, whereas chance by definition escapes human control. A world pliable to human will, even where malign, is more understandable, and therefore less ontologically frightening, than one in which things happen that no human ever intended to happen. – Theodore Dalrymple

ns, none of them pleasant. And we do not live in times of social resignation or passivity. We have already gone through the revolution of rising expectations and reached that of rising, or risen, entitlements. When something to which one believes oneself entitled is not forthcoming, one is more aggrieved than by living at a far lower level without such entitlements. –Theodore Dalrymple

In summary we may say that unfunded government and personal expenditure, which creates the illusion of wealth and social security, necessitates low interest rates, low interest rates favour asset inflation, asset inflation favours the already possessing classes, which in turn leads to social rigidity and frustration down below in the lower reaches of society. Social classes rigidify into castes, and many people become fatalistic without contentment. But fatalism without contentment can undergo a sudden change, the emotional equivalent of a gestalt-switch, and become insensate rage. – Theodore Dalrymple

Taking full advantage of free education, being ambitious to enjoy a full life, making sacrifices for the long term pay-off; all obvious actions totally lacking in the no-hoper sector in our varyingly soft western societies. Thus, at the cost to the majority, governments insist on doing for these failures what they make no effort to do for themselves.Sir Bob Jones

Why did one have to switch energy providers and set a mobile phone alert for bin day, only to find out you can not set an alert because your phone storage is full, so you decide to pay for more storage (until you die), only to find you don’t know your password. By the time you retrieve your password you are sixty-five and howling into the abyss. – Susie Steiner

This cannot end well.  With the New Zealand economy shut in its bubble, Covid-19 ravaging all our international trading partners, local business suffering and unemployment rising, the market is propped up solely by the historically low interest rates upon which all profit projections are based.  But even a small change to those interest rates could prove devastating to many of my new clients.  There may be no greater fools left.  Because in 2021 all the shoe shine boys have become property developers … – Guest Poster at Kiwiblog

Simply put, the opening of the border does not depend on anything that happens in New Zealand but on the virus being brought under control globally. Like every other multilateral issue from climate change to free trade, that has little to do with what happens in Wellington and everything to do with decisions and operational competence in the likes of Washington, Beijing, Brussels, Brasilia and New Delhi. On the border, we are ultimately a policy taker, not a policy maker. – Matthew Hooton

But under the Ardern government, old-fashioned notions about property rights, due process and the rule of law are susceptible to being overturned when protesters can wave the Treaty of Waitangi and toss words like “colonialism” and “stolen” into their rhetoric. – Bob Edlin

I don’t think people realise the intergenerational commitment they’re making, in terms of totally removing choice over the land in the future, unless some other magic [CO2 sequestration] technology springs up. – Dave Frame

From the New Zealand perspective, there is not enough land to plant forests that would be equivalent to the amount of emissions that we’re emitting. – David Hall

History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity. We can see each other, not as adversaries, but as neighbours. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos. This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward. – Joe Biden

Let’s begin to listen to one another again. Hear one another. See one another. Show respect to one another. Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated, and even manufactured. – Joe Biden

But the answer is not to turn inward, to retreat into competing factions, distrusting those who don’t look like — look like you or worship the way you do or don’t get their news from the same source as you do. We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus — rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.

If we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we are willing to stand in the other person’s shoes — as my mom would say — just for a moment, stand in their shoes. Because here’s the thing about life: there’s no accounting for what fate will deal you. Some days, when you need a hand. There are other days when we’re called to lend a hand. That’s how it has to be. That’s what we do for one another. – Joe Biden

I used to think the PM so loved her position and the cheers of the adoring crowd that she would not do anything that risked losing or lessening her position at the pinnacle of admiration. I have now moved away from that to the much less charitable view that she doesn’t know what to do. She has no real vision of what she wants New Zealand to be like, beyond the usual clichés. – John Bishop

She is the Eva Peron of New Zealand politics: warm, compassionate, caring, kind, smiling, seemingly ever good-humoured, but her Government is piecemeal, fragmented, without an overall direction and seemingly without coherent analysis of issues and a strong strategy. – John Bishop

Her champions in the media, and there are many of them, are sycophants, excuse makers, processors of handouts evidencing uncritical laziness – and that’s without going into those who are openly biased in the left’s favour. John Bishop

What has happened to us? Why do we find noise a necessity? Why do we create soundtracks for our every move? Why does a lady walk past my house at 10.30pm every other night with her phone on speaker, tuned into the radio? Why, twice a week, does a guy wander past around midnight, shouting into his phone, his voice ringing out through the dark as he does circuits of the streets around my home? Why can’t we just be with the world, and listen to the music being made around us every day by the natural inhabitants of the earth? –  Michelle Langstone

The paradox, of course, is that to achieve “equity” you have to first take away equality for individuals who were born in the wrong identity group. Equity means treating individuals unequally so that groups are equal. – Andrew Sullivan

Take the trans question. Most decent people support laws that protect transgender people from discrimination — which, after the Bostock decision, is already the law of the land. But this is not enough for Biden. He takes the view that the law should go further and insist that trans women are absolutely indistinguishable from biological women — which erases any means of enforcing laws that defend biological women as a class. If your sex is merely what you say it is, without any reference to biological reality, then it is no longer sex at all. It’s gender, period. It’s socially constructed all the way down. – Andrew Sullivan

You don’t get to unite the country by dividing it along these deep and inflammatory issues of identity. And you don’t achieve equality of opportunity by enforcing its antithesis. – Andrew Sullivan

Even the very rich now feel a psychological or social pressure to do something for money, even without any economic imperative. I leave it to others to decide whether the disappearance of a leisure class is a good or a bad thing, though viscerally I feel that, overall, it is bad, inasmuch as a leisure class is able in theory to devote itself to the higher activities of a civilization. When the rich (of whom there are more than ever) involve themselves nowadays in conspicuous consumption, it is usually in bad taste. Good taste requires discipline and knowledge, which few are either able or prepared to exercise or acquire. – Theodore Dalrymple

 …the more that activities, particularly managerial, are professionalized, the more amateurs—that is to say, people who do things for their own sake, for the sheer enjoyment of them, or for the public good—are decried and, even more, feared. People whose career depends on doing nothing useful for high pay have much to fear from those who do something useful for nothing. – Theodore Dalrymple

Is this obstructionism a manifestation of stupidity or malice (of course, the two are not strictly incompatible, malice often lending a certain cunning to stupidity)? I have every respect for the stupidity of British—as of other—bureaucrats, but I think stupidity alone does not quite cover the case. The fact is that, at some level of consciousness, the bureaucracy realizes that a vast national campaign using volunteers is an existential threat to their careers. If much can be achieved for nothing, why is so little so often achieved for so much? Who knows where things might end if voluntarism were allowed to achieve something? Social solidarity might increase without the intermediary of the state to inhibit it, and that would be a terrible disaster that has at all costs to be headed off. – Theodore Dalrymple

Be that as it may, the fact is that even if an intelligent person in authority were to try to do something to put an end to the idiocy, he would soon be defeated by the unintelligent, for in any large bureaucracy it is unintelligence, at least in the absence of an end other than the very institutional survival that protects careers and guarantees pensions, that emerges triumphant. Stupidity multiplies unnecessary procedure, intelligence decreases it; therefore stupidity is the more functional from the bureaucratic point of view. One way of defeating intelligence and benevolent intention was long ago discovered and summarized by the Spanish colonial administrator who received his orders from Madrid: Obedezco, pero no cumplo. I obey, but I do not fulfill.Theodore Dalrymple

If you happened to be lucky enough to have a house 20 years ago, you’re living in clover. You didn’t? You’re screwed – absolutely screwed. The Government doesn’t even want to fix it. The biggest single issue facing the country is we’ve got an underclass [with] not a dog’s chance of moving into their own home, they cannot live comfortably on the current [average] income… it’s a serious problem. – Don Brash

In brutal terms, there are votes to be won in a broken housing market. And this week is the first week of the 2023 election campaign. – Jonathan Milne

It’s easy to laugh about the latest fads of the woke, and to cheer as smug Guardianistas disappear up their own purity spirals, but the assault on reality from transgender extremists is serious. The public have a right to know the truth about crime, and accurate sentencing and reporting is necessary for a cohesive and functioning democracy. One has to question why the feelings of trans offenders matter more than the rights of their victims. – Jo Bartosch

We can still have social media, just as we still have railways and energy companies. However, they must be equitable, accountable, competitive and pay their dues (be they taxes or fees to reuse material others have paid to create). In other words they must be safe vehicles we are happy to have on our roads.Gavin Ellis

This in turn brings us to the value that we place on human life. We live in an age, after all, in which we hope to wage war without losing a single soldier. In a sense, this must represent a moral advance over a time when generals could send thousands, even tens of thousands, of young men to their deaths for the sake of a military advance of not more than ten yards of muddy ground. And the fact the lives saved by strict sanitary measures that are destructive of everyday life will be mostly those of over eighty will not be allowed to enter into the public debate because to allow it to do so would be to devalue the lives of the old: even if, in our hearts and our daily life, we do not really value them. – Theodore Dalrymple

Too often, National has talked about its economic priorities as if these are the end goals in and of themselves – bigger economy, fewer regulations, smaller government, stronger businesses.  On their own, these things aren’t what is really important. They are only important because they are what ultimately drives prosperity, creates jobs and lifts incomes. Judith Collins

A strong economy means more opportunities for New Zealanders. A strong economy is what will ultimately help lift children out of poverty. A strong economy means more money to invest in our health system. A strong economy will help our kids into their first job and give them the chance to do things and be things we’ve never even dreamed of.  That’s what matters – the things that a strong economy allows us to do. That is why a strong economy matters. –Judith Collins

The old media had needed happy customers. The goal of post-journalism, according to Mir, is to “produce angry citizens.” – Martin Gurri

The intent of post-journalism was never to represent reality or inform the public but to arouse enough political fervor in readers that they wished to enter the paywall in support of the cause. This was ideology by the numbers—and the numbers were striking. – Martin Gurri

The history-reframing mission is now in the hands of a deeply self-righteous group that has trouble discerning the many human stopping places between true and false, good and evil, objective and subjective. Martin Gurri

To be sure, producing and burning coal and oil have significant environmental impacts. But what goes unmentioned are the extensive benefits of affordable, reliable energy provided by coal and oil to make cheap electricity, power cars and underpin a modern economy.

The ironic kicker is that economic wealth allows a nation to regulate and clean up the environment: its air, soil, water and emissions. Coal and oil are not green, but the wealth they create cleans up the environment. And, only wealthy nations such as the U.S., U.K. and Germany have been able to afford to begin to transition beyond coal for power generation.  –  Scott Tinker

So why not just switch from dirty coal and oil to clean and renewable solar and wind? Two reasons: They are not renewable and they are not clean. Sure, during non-cloudy days and windy times, the wind and the sun can be captured and turned into electricity. But because the amount of energy is not “dense,” it takes scads of land and collectors — solar panels and wind turbines — to capture it.  

It also takes oodles of batteries to back up intermittent solar and wind so that everything keeps running uninterrupted. There is also replacement. The panels, turbines and batteries wear out after 10 to 20 years, and the metals, chemicals and toxic materials required to make them must be constantly mined, manufactured and disposed of in landfills. Coupled with some carbon dioxide emissions associated with those processes, solar and wind are neither renewable nor clean.  – Scott Tinker

All Maori children have mixed ethnicity. But before they are Maori/Pakeha/Pacific/Asian/other they are tiny human beings. Tiny human beings whose best interest the grown-ups should be able to agree upon free from political agendas. – Lindsay Mitchell

But “racial equity” is emphatically not the same as treating every person as of equal value regardless of their ethnicity. It does not mean, in the words of Martin Luther King (who must surely be turning in his grave, not least by being given a shout-out in that Biden speech) judging someone by the content of their character rather than by the colour of their skin. It is the precise opposite. It is a doctrine which holds that white people are intrinsically racist; that the west is therefore intrinsically racist; and that therefore black people in the west should be privileged over white.Melanie Phillips

There is more than a modicum of truth in the old joke that the definition of a ‘racist’ is anyone who is winning an argument with a leftist.  When a woke leftist’s evidence and logic don’t stack up, a bit of name-calling (‘racist’, ‘bigot’, ‘deplorable’, etc.) will enable them to seize the presumed moral high ground and thereby claim victory, at least to their own satisfaction.  Moral one-upmanship is the woke leftist’s go-to position: ‘I’m good, you’re bad, so just shut-up’. If you’re of the Left, it’s the all-purpose, not-so-sotto-voce debate clincher.  – Phil Shannon

For those of us in the media, there’s a real challenge to confront: a wave of censorship that seeks to silence conversation, to stifle debate, to ultimately stop individuals and societies from realizing their potential. This rigidly enforced conformity, aided and abetted by so-called social media, is a straitjacket on sensibility. Too many people have fought too hard in too many places for freedom of speech to be suppressed by this awful woke orthodoxy. – Rupert Murdoch

I firmly believe that government needs to be as responsible with your funds as you are, and it seems to me that Covid has been used as a cover for a plethora of other projects and spending initiatives that we are not able to cover through tax revenue. – Michael Woodhouse

The events of this week should lead to permanent improvements in MIQ and if nothing else, wipe away the smugness for a while. – Audrey Young

My child’s right to see the Wiggles doesn’t trump anyone’s right to say a final goodbye to a loved one. – Vera Alves

But nonetheless it is interesting to see how quickly the local NZ narrative might be shifting from congratulation at a job well done towards fear of being left behind. New Zealand’s political decision makers are surely aware that this is a race, with no prizes for mediocre performance. – Point of Order

Those people who won’t gave a vaccine or don’t believe Covid is real they so are dumb right?  Some of them will die because of their beliefs, some of them will infect others because of them. Science, ‘big pharma’, ‘jews,’ the government is lying to them. These people with little understanding of virology or epidemiology know better than those who have devoted their lives to studying these subjects..

But should any of us be surprised that when Covid is happening before our eyes, some people choose to close theirs ? Other kinds of anti-science arguments are now part of our culture and are now considered not only acceptable but “radical”. – Suzanne Moore

So if biological reality does not exist (biological essentialism), or indeed science which sees us as mammals (we are mammals not slugs or fish or is this now controversial to say so ?) then  we are to understand that sex is not binary and that we are not a sexually dimorphic species.  If women don’t exist really what is feminism for?  Apparently it’s for everyone . Except obviously woman like me.Suzanne Moore

 I’d be worried about the humanity of an individual who didn’t consider the ethics involved; so let me share my perspective. For a start, sanctions do not work. No tyrant has moderated his behaviour once they were imposed. Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and dozens of African kleptocrats provide a mountain of evidence for the thesis that tyrants are impervious to external economic forces. Governments that are subject to political and economic pressures at home can be bullied into behaving better domestically. South Africa is the most obvious example but there are others. Such niceties are utterly ineffective against true dictatorships such as Cuba, North Korea and China. – Damien Grant

If sanctions worked imposing a short-term economic harm on ourselves to help free an oppressed people would be the right thing to do. But they don’t. They impoverish the civilian population, sometimes resulting in their death, for no material advantage. – Damien Grant

Today, the super-power of human rights abuses is China and the outgoing American Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, declared that China was committing a genocide against the Uyghur. Surely if we are ever to draw the line, it must be at genocide?  To understand why the answer is no, consider that we do not trade with a nation. We trade with firms, individuals, collectives or whatever enterprise has been established to undertake commerce.  To refuse to trade with the factories, farms and supermarkets in China because of the crimes committed by those running the Communist Party is to engage in collective responsibility and punishment. We are harming one person for the crimes of another and doing nothing to assist the victims while the perpetrators live in undiminished luxury. – Damien Grant

While threats of economic pain for their citizens do not deter dictatorships, those running these regimes have demonstrated a desire for respectability. China in particular appears highly sensitive to criticism. We may be economically impotent but our voice carries a heavy moral weight. We should use it.

If Beijing elects to retaliate that is beyond our control; but while I believe we should trade with China, we should not become a vassal state in the process.Damien Grant

In 2021 numbers in the underclass continue to accelerate. And they will keep on doing so do until parents are held to account for raising the children they bring into the world. But of course this solution doesn’t have a good political ring to it in 2021 any more than it did in 2008. Those children, however, are usually the ones who never get a good education, whose health is more often neglected, and who are more likely to end up at the bottom of the heap, and consequently unlikely to enjoy equal opportunities, let alone have any chance of an equal outcome from life. – Michael Bassett

Myths are welcome comforters, but have never been a sure guide for the future. The second Ardern government passed its 100 days this week. It seems to be propagating a new myth: that kindness is enough. But if you are a child at the bottom of the heap, kindness can be rare indeed. – Michael Bassett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can see we’re slowly moving into the post-kindness phase, where instead of being a team of five million, we are hearing that people just need to be compliant, But the danger I see is that if we are forcing people to be compliant, then what does that look like when the vaccine rollout happens and half the community refuse, because it’s being forced on them. So we’ve got to be careful how we communicate things. – Fa’anana Efeso Collins

These new language codes and norms are mandating us to adopt doublespeak. Why do I need to describe myself as a ‘cis woman’? I am a woman; that is it — enough. I am not a uterus holder, nor a person with a vagina nor a chestfeeder. These are linguistic abominations, but they are not harmless. Ultimately, these body part descriptions demean women and are a linguistic assault on the notion that biological sex exists at all. – Baroness Claire Fox

Something very different has taken hold within a few short years when it comes to thinking about what it means to be a woman. We have stopped thinking. The trans movement has decreed that ­biology is no determinant of womanhood. Many within this ­social justice movement assert that there is no room for debate, and that if we dare to try to discuss it, or challenge their diktats, we should expect the same vitriol, abuse and public shaming heaped on JK Rowling last year.

What is unfolding is the antithesis of inclusivity and tolerance. Worse, it marks a disturbing detour from progress. Surely, our ­desire to support trans men and women need not be done by eliminating the reality of women’s biological identities? – Janet Albrechtsen

If men advocated for the erasure of female biology from laws, policies and other official forms of language to suit them, most women would be screaming to high heaven about the misogyny of that project. But when a small group of trans activists call for the elimination of ­female biology from language, laws and sport, there is cowering silence.

Do we understand what is at stake? The move to eliminate the biological woman from the English language is worse than book burning. It is more damaging than toppling statues, censoring art, cleansing words from The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn and removing dialogue from our TV screens’ clips of Fawlty Towers.

It is altogether different from adding “Ms” to the list of titles for women or swapping “chairman” with “chairperson”. Language has always adapted to new times. We have moved on from the language of Beowulf and Chaucer.  – Janet Albrechtsen

Expunging female biology from our language is the state-sanctioned humiliation of women. When carried over into laws, it makes it harder for women to be safe in public toilets and prisons, and impossible for women to compete fairly in sport.

We women talk among ourselves about being mentally “undressed” by men. Now we face something worse being done, not to a single woman, but en masse: all biological females, tiny tots included, are being told by parliaments and bureaucracies that our female biology is to be stripped away from us, treated as a matter of inconsequence in the eyes of ­bureaucracies and the law. Stamping out our intrinsic biological identity is an abomination akin to stripping the sexual identity from gays or the religious identity from Christians or Muslims or Sikhs. – Janet Albrechtsen

But what if it is not a fleeting moment of nonsense? What if the project to decouple women from their biology is more long-term? When we agree to demands to ­dehumanise half the population by stripping away their biology, we dehumanise the whole of society.

It will make it easier to strip other groups from the essence of their beings. Isn’t that the lesson of slavery, of apartheid, and of ­ongoing racism? – Janet Albrechtsen

If we, as women, cannot defend our biological being, what will become of women? If we, as adults, cannot talk openly about the ­explosion of gender dysphoria among children, how can we know we are doing the right thing by children? We at risk of conducting a giant social experiment without enough careful analysis of what is happening.

The darkest side to the project to kill off a woman’s biological self is not what has happened to date. The most dangerous part put about by many within the trans movement is that there is no space for women to defend their biology, and no room for debate when it comes to gender dysphoria.

It signals a form of ideological tyranny that, in light of recent history, those living in the 21st century ought to be well equipped to recognise and resist. – Janet Albrechtsen

If farmers are to face a price for their agricultural emissions, it’s only fair they get credit for their action already taken to date on greenhouse gas emissions, such as reductions and sequestration. Sam McIvor

Two months in, third breach. Second lockdown in February. We don’t have this, it’s not eliminated. Our response isn’t good, the attitude is all wrong. This is a lazy, complacent government, whose major energy expenditure involves defending their ineptitude and trying to explain why things keep going wrong. Mike Hosking

Actually, if we are to assign blame, I blame the ineptitude of the Ministry of Health. The handling of this latest cluster has been a shambles. It’s been bungle after bungle. Slack contact tracing, ineffective communication, this ‘high trust’ model they keep running has been shown up for what it is – a disaster. High trust, low enforcement- which seems this governments mantra for everything these days, has proven detrimental and extremely costly to every New Zealander. We are in lockdown because of someone ignoring the rules, yes, but it’s the Ministry who’ve dropped the ball here. And they know it.Kate Hawkesby

We didn’t hustle hard enough to get to the front of the vaccine line, we are not vaccinating fast enough, our contact tracing is not gold standard – emailing people who don’t respond and waiting for them to spread the virus further before acting is not a proficient way to handle anything. We have fiddled while Rome burns. All we are left with when leaderships sit on their hands is knee jerk reactions, waiting until the horse bolts before trying to fix anything. It’s an incompetent way to run things, and now each and every one of us is paying the price for that. Kate Hawkesby

Being kind to someone who has a test, is told to stay home, has the symptoms and goes to the gym, I’m sorry but how is that being kind to everyone else. – Judith Collins

I’m sorry but by Jacinda Ardern’s own standards she has done ‘the worst thing’ for the economy. The government cannot take the glory when they get things right but deflect the blame others when they get things wrong. They got this wrong and this lockdown is a result of their own mistake. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

How then should the “Left” respond to the radical programme of social and cultural reforms about to be imposed upon the population from above by institutions of the New Zealand state? It is at least arguable that the changes planned by the Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Education are analogous to the economic reforms formulated by Treasury and Reserve Bank officials in the early-1980s. As with those measures, there is next to no evidence of ordinary voters clamouring for the changes proposed. In 2021, those calling for restrictions on free speech, or compulsory “Unmake Racism” courses for schoolchildren, are as few and far between as working-class voters calling on Labour to embrace Thatcherism in 1984. – Chris Trotter

Let’s stop being grateful for lockdowns. They’re not a sign of success. They’re a sign that things are getting too hard for the Government to handle. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

A population that hesitates not to cry in public is likely to be also a population of many frauds, of many actors and actresses, and of many liars. More dangerously, it will be a population without the capacity for real self-examination; many will no longer be able to distinguish between minor inconvenience and real tragedy, between slight loss and real grief, not only in others but in themselves. It will be a society in which tears will be not only an argument, but a conclusive one; and the more tears the more conclusive. – Theodore Dalrymple

People think empathy is that thing where you feel everything that someone else is feeling. It’s not. It’s when you take what somebody else is feeling, you hold space for it, and then you give it back to them. It just means you hold space for them, and that can look like holding your tongue, because you don’t know their life or their experience. Withholding judgement or opinion, making space for their life, because it’s different from yours. – Jackie Clark

Our rich Kiwi culture that once-upon-a-time encouraged personal responsibility, educational success, and financial independence, is being replaced with a culture of feel-good collectivism that has over the years resulted in social and economic decline.Muriel Newman

The problem is not the people. It’s the system. Blaming the people is a sly way to avoid responsibility. A well-designed system understands that people make mistakes. Understands why the rules get broken, then creates incentives to comply. – Josie Pagani

We’re hearing calls to punish the people that the system is failing. We should focus on the people who are making the system fail. – Josie Pagani

All Kiwis should accept there is still some negative flow on from the previous colonial era.  None of these challenges should be beyond the wit of governments.  However, they should stop naively entrenching iwi powers in statutes, because that will end badly one way or the other, and New Zealand will lose its credibility as a quality democracy, with the same rights for all.  It’s democracy or partnership – we cannot have both. – Barrie Saunders

The mills of political correctness grind exceeding fine, though unlike those of God or justice, they also grind rather fast. Nothing is too small or insignificant for them, nothing can hide from them for long. – Theodore Dalrymple

Pregnant people? What kind of people? Women, surely? But it seems than the word women, at least in certain contexts, has become some kind of insult, as strenuously to be avoided as another well-known insulting epithet. – Theodore Dalrymple

The lie is that there is no biological difference between men and women, a lie that has been adopted in the most cowardly possible fashion because of the activity of a very small but ruthless pressure group. In Britain, people (not only pregnant people) may change their sex on their birth certificates, a revision of history at which even Stalin might have balked. – Theodore Dalrymple

To abandon the locution ladies and gentlemen because there are no ladies and no gentlemen any more, in the sense that we have all become unmannerly brutes, is different from abandoning it because there might be a transexual in the building, or rather (since transsexuals want to be ladies or gentlemen), a person of the many indeterminate genders that have recently been discovered or acknowledged to exist. – Theodore Dalrymple

And thus, before long, we shall all call pregnant women people who are pregnant, and adopt whatever other absurd and sinister locution the pressure group du jour dreams up, until no one can tell the truth any more because the very concept of truth will be despised. – Theodore Dalrymple

Basically, they — like many — want the Prime Minister to get beyond the current flannel and sloganising and ensure in-depth detail is put in public so that business can make strategies and fall-back plans for keeping their firms moving forward during and after this pandemic. – Fran O’Sullivan

Underlying there is a suspicion — based on the revelations of bureaucratic incompetence exposed in the Simpson Roche report, that sensible strategies are not in place. – Fran O’Sullivan

Here’s the thing. Councils are elected to represent the interests of all citizens. They are required to follow processes laid down in law to ensure fair and equal treatment. Once they start going outside those processes to humour a privileged interest group – whether it’s one based on ethnicity or any other characteristic – then they invite public contempt and distrust. It’s not how democracy is supposed to work. – Karl du Fresne

The thing with the pantomime of politics is that your facts are only as strong as your ability to get the information across to the people. And there is a growing disconnect between the sentiment of the people and what the Government is trying to say. – Damien Venuto 

Any entertainer who has lost the audience will tell you that you need to tweak the script if you want to get their eyeballs back on you. Failing to do so just leads to a growing stream of people heading for the exit door – and most of them won’t bother to look back to offer a loving nod acknowledging how good the show once was. – Damien Venuto

It is a stain on New Zealand’s otherwise very good international reputation for the standards of our parliamentary democracy. – Nick Smith

This legislation is a solution in search of a problem. There is simply no problem with party defections in New Zealand. – Elizabeth McLeay

The Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Act 2018, is a convenience for some of the living. It betrays the dead, who put in place democratic safeguards for us, at some great cost in some cases. – John Anderson

But here’s the key fact: per capita income in New Zealand is a mere three-quarters of the level in Australia. And over a very long time, there has been no significant narrowing of this gap. – Judith Sloan

But let’s face it, four-fifths of two-thirds of nothing is nothing. And that’s the level of interest the world is generally taking in New Zealand’s self-destructive climate actions – Judith Sloan

Ignoring the value of natural fibre carpet is an example of not seeing the wool for the trees. – Jacqueline Rowarth

We should be very suspicious of the word “safety” when used in this type of context. It has become another cover for the Stalinist authoritarianism that infects public discourse and seeks to silence and marginalise dissenters. “Unsafe” used to apply to situations where one’s health or physical wellbeing was at risk. Generations of New Zealanders grew up being told that it wasn’t safe to play with matches or go too close to the water. Then we started hearing the phrase “cultural safety”, especially in the context of health care. An invention of neo-Marxism, it broadened the definition far beyond its traditional and accepted meaning.  – Karl du Fresne 

At the dawn of the Internet era, we were encouraged to think of social media platforms as anarchic and liberating. They were supposed to free us from the shackles of the “old” media, where editors (who were routinely caricatured as old, conservative white men) served as gatekeepers controlling the dissemination of news and comment. That promise now stands exposed as fraudulent; a giant con. Many social media platforms have turned out to be far more controlling and authoritarian than the despised “legacy” media they displaced, which were committed to principles of fairness, accuracy and balance. – Karl du Fresne

Don’t be fooled by seductive talk of the government wanting to subsidise “public interest” journalism. Any journalism that provides citizens with “the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies and their governments”* is, by definition, public interest journalism.  But when used by left-wing academics in journalism schools, the phrase has a much narrower and more ideological meaning. In that context, “public interest journalism” is code for journalism that attacks power structures – that “comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable”, to use a definition much favoured by those who see journalism principally as a form of activism, and who believe the only journalism worth supporting is that which has an ideological purpose. – Karl du Fresne

The media needs more balance in coverage and a wider range of viewpoints represented in every newsroom, at every level and in each position. – Kari Lake 

I don’t really want to dictate to my kids what they should be, but if there’s anything I could encourage in them it’s just to be a good, loving person.  Yeah, just love. That’s the most important thing to me. – Te Moananui-ā-Kiwa Goddard

There’s all this ‘real boys don’t cry’ bullshit, who can drink more beer at the pub, disrespect women, sleep with as many as you can. I tell them the strongest warrior is the one that loves his mum, because they will fight for her till the end. – Reweti Arapere

I’m not just there to pay the bills, to make sure my kids have what they need. I’m there to provide an example to them that they can take to their children, and the generations to come that I may not even meet. Lyall Te Ohu

I want my kids to know it doesn’t really matter where you go or what you do, as long as you’re conscious of people, and you treat them with respect. Have your mana intact. And when I say mana, I mean pride. I mean, resilience, I mean, always being who you are. – Te Moananui-ā-Kiwa Goddard

You know, in our diversity, we could probably see each other’s beauty, if we only just paid attention.  There’s beauty everywhere. As long as you’re looking. – Te Moananui-ā-Kiwa Goddard

The Prince of Sighs and the Duchess of Self Delusion have committed their ultimate act of folly. They should have remembered the saying “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”. And boy, has their house turned out to be glass of the least durable kind Petronella Wyatt

The woman believes herself to be a swan among swans, the physical, moral and intellectual peer of such great figures as Emmeline Pankhurst, Audrey Hepburn and Mother Teresa. Where self-knowledge should be is a hole so large it could be filled by a new galaxy – Petronella Wyatt

But when you’re on top of a mountain you’ve only done half the job, getting down is the other, so you have to remain focused on the job and don’t let yourself get too carried away with the situation. –Don French

There is some incredulity within Government circles about how much good publicity New Zealand’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout has generated. Behind the scenes, the feeling is, it is not warranted. In reality, it is a secretive, sluggish spin-fest. – Andrea Vance.

It seems another 1000 families have lost their livelihoods because health authorities weren’t able to show Case M pictures of cases A-L and ask, “Do you know any of this lot?”It seems another 1000 families have lost their livelihoods because health authorities weren’t able to show Case M pictures of cases A-L and ask, “Do you know any of this lot?”  Matthew Hooton

Revealed since has been a communications and perhaps operational shambles in South Auckland. The sick, the possibly sick and the general population have been given inconsistent or inaccurate information by government and health officials, using language and channels more suitable for multiply-degreed, upper-income, monocultural Wellington bureaucrats than the glorious ethnic, linguistic, educational and socio-economic diversity of South Auckland. – Matthew Hooton

It’s a tricky scenario, she should be up for it. Any Prime Minister should be up for it. As a publicly elected official you are asked to be held to account. So, it stands to reason you, at least, put yourself up, even if you don’t enjoy it or at times struggle with the complexity or detail of the question line. It speaks to a lack of backbone that she would want to bail and run. It also speaks to an increasingly apparent trait; they don’t handle pressure well.Mike Hosking

Being held to account is not something a politician can take or leave.  – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Think about it, Jacinda Ardern’s the accidental Prime Minister.  This rookie leader, plucked from obscurity in the lead-up to the 2017 election, was appointed by Winston Peters simply because she gave him much more than what Bill English was prepared to wear.  Barry Soper

She’s the master of soft, flattering interviews and television chat shows, blanching at tough questions.  She’s commanded the Covid pulpit to such an extent that the virus has become her security blanket; without it, she’d be forced to face the reality that her Government has been moribund. The Prime Minister’s press conferences usually begin with a sermon – it took eight minutes for her to get to the fact that she was moving the country down an alert level last Friday.  When it comes to question time her forearm stiffens and her hand flicks to those, she’ll take a question from.  Some of us are left barking from the side lines. –  Barry Soper

I feel like we’re witnessing a new normal these days when it comes to the media landscape and how people in positions of power are held to account. The new normal is to choose when to be held to account, and by who. – Kate Hawkesby

Forget the messenger, and whether you like them or not, politicians owe voters answers. They have to be heard across a wide spectrum of outlets, not just those who’ll favour their political view. – Kate Hawkesby

Hello? Anyone at home? You and I pay for this place. The government runs it and at no point the Prime Minister dictating terms to what I thought was still claiming to be an independent operator draws attention? Are the media literally asleep? Or just so compliant, and apologetic to Labour, that this is their dream scenario?Mike Hosking

Like her or don’t like her, like me or don’t like me. That’s not the point. The point is to be Prime Minister, you have to be up for it. You have to be willing to be up for it. You have to defend your corner. You have to argue your corner. You have to know your facts. You have to deal with people like me.Mike Hosking

But there’s something else going on, too, something that goes far beyond Harry falling out with his dad or Meghan vs Kate. More fundamentally we’re witnessing a culture clash. A conflict between the contemporary cults of victimhood and identity politics, as now keenly represented by Harry and Meghan, and the older ideals of duty, self-sacrifice, stoicism and keeping your shit together, as embodied by the queen, and as aspired to by most Brits in recent decades. Brendan O’Neill

That’s the great irony of Harry and Meghan juxtaposing themselves to the monarchy, and being witlessly cheered on by the left for doing so: these two behave in a far more old-world monarchical fashion than the queen does. Their punishment of the disobedient media; their conviction that they must instruct the rest of us on how to live, how to travel, how many kids to have; their eye-wateringly arrogant mission of ‘building compassion around the world’ – they make the actual British monarchy, politically neutered by centuries of political progress, seem positively meek in comparison. – Brendan O’Neill

Power today often comes wrapped in claims of suffering. Publicly professed weakness is a precursor to dictating to everyone else that they must open up, change their attitudes, become more ‘aware’. Victimhood is the soapbox from which the new elites, whether lip-trembling politicians or ‘suffering’ celebs, presume to instruct society at large about the right way to think, emote, feel, be. – Brendan O’Neill

Even a republican like me can see there is nothing progressive in the current rage against the palace. That there is nothing to celebrate in the shift from a world of self-control and stoicism to one of incessant self-revelation, and from a democratic era in which the power of monarchy had largely been curbed to a new, woke feudalism in which a select few wield extraordinary cultural influence over the rest of us. These developments harm the freedom of the mind and our sense of moral autonomy, by always cajoling us to bow down to the cult of emotionalism, and they shrink the space for open, democratic debate by investing so much power in the woke feudalists of Big Tech, NGOs, the Oprah set, and so on. Harry and Meghan aren’t fighting the establishment; they are the establishment now. Meet the new aristocrats, even worse than the old. – Brendan O’Neill

Individual autonomy should prevail. We should each person – each adult – look at the book and decide. – Juliet Moses

If we cannot sympathise or empathise with anyone who is not identical to ourselves, even in merely outward physical characteristics, then there is no hope of a country committed to any culture other than its own. Indeed, no country could tolerate difference within itself: it would be obliged to split itself into various Bantustans, to use an expression from the bygone age of apartheid. – Theodore Dalrymple

The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan. The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.Queen Elizabeth II

Reform should be about getting housing/land markets functional again, partly compensating some of the losers, and making housing once again something that young people don’t need to worry much about, all without messing up access to finance.  It is about fixing injustice now, and rooting out the systematic disadvantage, working against the young and the poor, that governments themselves created. – Michael Reddell

A wokester is someone who identifies with the wokeness of other woke folk and is likely involved in woketivism, principally through Woke Twitter. The wokest of the woke is a wokeflake who may take on the role of wokesperson for the purposes of wokescolding the woke-thirsty, who are those more interested in appearing woke than actually being woke. – James Elliott

Liberals don’t really know what to do because the most high profile complainant is Nicola Willis. As a National MP she is not, according to at least some libs, to be treated as a full member of the female gender in good standing. On the other hand, the sense of fear and unease she reports is ofte shared by women who are not National MPs (with whom it is okay to sympathise). Then there is the overlay of whether it is racially problematic for women to feel unsafe due to an increase presence of homelessness.The internal contradictions of modern liberalism make it impossible for libs to work through these issues and come to a coherent position. – Liam Hehir

Where politicians only speak to audiences close to them, there will be no tough questions, no hard talk and little to learn. And where journalists only interview politicians they like, they are in danger of becoming acolytes. – Oliver Hartwich

Fringe media promote fringe views. And fringe views create fringe politicians. Thus, the polarisation will jump from the media into politics. It does not have to happen this way. But to prevent this dystopian and polarised future, we must stop cancelling each other. As a nation, through and in our media, we should be talking to ourselves. – Oliver Hartwich

This Government can only hide behind Covid for so long before it must confront the real issues facing this country – the very issues it said it would resolve if it was elected.Kerre McIvor

One of the most important but least acknowledged psychological factors that affects a person’s way of being in the world is his conception of history. It can make one glad to be alive, or bitter and resentful against all that exists. These days, bitterness and resentment are usually taken as signs of enlightenment. – Theodore Dalrymple

Those who, for political reasons, keep past oppression or crime constantly before the mind of the descendants of the victims (that is to say, descendants of the victim group, not necessarily of the individual victims) help to foment and foster a deep mistrust or resentment that is no longer justified, but which can lead people in effect to cut off their noses to spite their faces.

This is to the great advantage of political entrepreneurs who surf resentment as surfers ride waves in Hawaii; and such resentment, the most damaging of all emotions, can easily become a self-reinforcing loop. It is not that past oppression or crime should be forgotten, much less denied, but that past achievements and change for the better must also be recognised, lest oppression and crime come to occupy minds entirely and distort decisions.

It is the same with injustice. It is important to oppose injustice, but just as important not to see it everywhere. To ascribe everything that you think undesirable to injustice may blind you to its real causes.  – Theodore Dalrymple

While the Government may – out of kindness – be handing over millions of dollars a day in emergency funding to families in need of accommodation assistance, it’s not doing anything that will materially affect the number of people who claim the payment. – Thomas Coughlan

Ardern herself is undoubtedly a kind person, but how hard has she tried to be kind in government? She’s gambled precious little of her popularity on measures that might make a meaningfully significant – not just statistically significant – difference to people’s lives. Holding on to that popularity isn’t just unkind, it’s selfish.Thomas Coughlan

I want us to reject ideology and blame in favour of a relentless focus on science and fact. I want us to choose constructive dialogue over condemnation. It’s my hope that one day, New Zealanders will once again appreciate and, in fact, be proud of our farmers and the contribution that we make to an innovative, thriving, sustainable economy and environment. That is my “why”. – Nicola Grigg

 Our economic growth must be export-led, and that includes the export of innovation. So let’s dare to build an export empire of intellectual property. Let’s sell to the world our clean-tech and our green-tech. The economic and social impact of the pandemic means we must dare to make some difficult decisions in the next decade. But first, let’s dare to stop deceiving ourselves that Governments can find solutions to every problem, or that throwing public money at a problem will make it go away. Nicola Grigg

The thing the public most wants from its Government is competence. When it does regulate, or when this House legislates, we should be drawing on the expertise already out there on the ground. If a Government truly wants to make it easier to earn a living, to address environmental problems, or to increase our exports, it needs to listen. – Nicola Grigg

 Innovation will require us to stop this close-minded mentality where we shut ourselves off from foreign investors and foreign capital. We must open our borders and open ourselves up to the world again. We need trade, we need investment, we need immigration, and we need the growth that these will bring. We need to go all out to attract the best and brightest from other countries to come here and make a contribution to New Zealand. This “fortress New Zealand” mentality will only continue to mire us in mediocrity, and it must stop. Mediocrity is the virus that we should be protecting our country against.Nicola Grigg

Health and education can’t be siloed from our country’s economic performance, our strategy for affordable housing, or the importance of providing a self-worth for our citizens. It’s all linked, and these challenges need action to sort out not only just the symptoms but the root cause of these issues. – Simon Watts

I was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic at the age of 21 months old. I’ve had a lifetime association with a system that is blessed with passionate professionals yet plagued by broken decision making. It is time to fix that. We must fix that. We have the people; we undoubtedly have the resources. We must put individuals, families, and communities at the heart of decision making, not existing government structures and ways of doing things.Simon Watts

The importance of decisive, informed decision making was hammered home to me then, and that experience is with me now. And that experience resonates with the economic challenges that I see in my electorate and as a country as a whole, as we seek a path beyond COVID. An economic rebound that leaves the most disadvantaged behind and that locks young people out of work and home ownership is a mirage. It might look good in the business pages, but if it fails where it counts, in our homes and in our communities, then it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. – Simon Watts

Sitting on these benches isn’t an opportunity to indulge in our particular and individual interests. Being in Government is about getting the important stuff done and not being distracted from that task. Many, many people throughout this country are capable of making their own decisions. What they want from us is action on the things they can’t influence. Limited government creates laws; it builds frameworks and structures of better governance to support our communities; it is focused on the incentives that will enable the private sector to thrive and generate jobs; and, it takes a leadership role on protecting our environment. 

A better Government will focus on a bold, long-term infrastructure plan, ensuring Government spending is not wasteful, spelling out the returns to a nation of that investment, creating an environment that encourages local and foreign investment and ensures incentives align with the outcomes we want as a country. Let’s take on these challenges with the vision and teamwork to drive positive change beyond the next election. Our lives are not governed by three-year intervals, so why is our decision making? New Zealanders expect more of this House than that. We need to put in place the ideas today that will guide this country to 2040 not 2024.Simon Watts

Today the faith is spread not by preachers, or even teachers, but through the institutions that wield the most power in the 21st century; corporations, and their Human Resources departments. For the practitioners of what is generally known as “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” are teaching nothing less than a modern form of political Calvinism, one that paints a pessimistic picture of humanity destined to be damned. And their strength is growing. – Ed West

There is also the difference between the totalitarian mind and the liberal mind; for the former, everything is about politics. What you do in your spare time has political implications, and so no area of life is free of political discussion. The traditional English cultural taboo about not discussing religion or politics in the pub reflected a deep-seated aversion to fanaticism; the idea that workplaces might be settings for political instruction would once have struck people here as positively demented. – Ed West

Universities are particularly vulnerable to this sort of activism, because by nature they are political. Many privately despair, including academics who aren’t especially right-wing; whatever your politics, conformism can become intolerable in a workplace. Talking about politics all the time is tedious. And activists can be disagreeable people. – Ed West

The companies hiring diversity consultants probably aren’t improving people’s lives, and they aren’t encouraging tolerance, let alone “diversity”; quite the opposite. They’re doing what people in positions of power have done since the first states were formed, ensuring that their gods and saints are the ones being revered by the subjects they rule. As for the individuals who do not believe in the new faith, they do what people in totalitarian societies have always done – they keep quiet and retreat to an inner world where the intolerance and conformity of the powers-that-be cannot reach them.Ed West

I started teaching in 1991. It is an incredibly frustrating system to be a part of – despite many, many good people being involved and some good intentions. The best analogy I can think of is that the system acts like a human with a pea sized brain, virtually no nervous system to communicate to the organs and limbs as well as being addicted to heroin and always looking for the next quick fix for political expediency. –Alwyn Poole

When the world moves quickly and dramatically, policy has to be nimble. The costs of policy being less than perfect were rather smaller than the costs of failing to act.  But too much of policy since then has continued on that same near-wartime footing. It is an approach that will not serve us well. – Eric Crampton

A government preferring to take advice from political advisers within the party – within their own echo chamber – over expert and objective official advice, is a warning sign that it’s not all beer and skittles in the current corridors of power. It appears that this is a policy informed by internal Labour politics, not sound economics. – Claire Robinson

Labour seems to think it can invent new euphemisms for breaking promises, and cross its fingers these will be swallowed whole by the public. Asked why he said in September that there would be no extension to the brightline test, Robertson claims he had been “too definitive” back then. How is anyone to believe anything he says from now on if he admits that sometimes he doesn’t tell the whole truth? This is dangerous territory for a finance minister, in whom the markets and credit agencies must have trust in if the entire economy is to be trusted. – Claire Robinson

I was a child in the 1980s, when the Labour Government embarked on a radical programme of restructuring the economy. Change was needed, but I can tell this House that change needs to be managed carefully. Those changes in the 1980s had a huge impact on many lives of people in the rural sector, with many farmers losing their farms or experiencing significant hardship. My stepfather worked on farms, but lost his job during that period and struggled to find more work. I recall my family going hungry during those times, and I remember days on end when we had no food to eat and going to the river to look for blackberries for food.

For a variety of reasons, my younger brother and I chose to leave home when I was 11 and he was nine. We’d planned to travel from Hawke’s Bay to the goldfields in Central Otago, live in old mining huts, and make a living panning for gold. We managed to get to Wellington, but we were stymied by Cook Strait, and ended up living for a bit over a week on the streets of Wellington, huddling together for warmth on cold, rainy nights in flax bushes, trying to figure out a way to get across that Cook Strait. Let me tell you that Wellington is a cold, hard place when you’re a child living on its streets. I remember this every day when I come to this House, and it serves to remind me that while I’m here, I need to do my best to ensure the policies that go through this House do not have unintended consequences that hurt our country’s children. – Joseph Mooney

 I strongly believe that the narrative of hard work and self-responsibility being the surest path to success is vital for the future of our country. We all need to do our bit to grow the pie, rather than trying to divide it into ever-smaller pieces. I know from my life experience that if parents don’t have jobs, kids go hungry. So it is one of the key responsibilities of Government to create a policy framework that empowers businesses, that empowers employers, and that empowers employees.Joseph Mooney

A strong and successful country depends on strong and successful communities, and those strong and successful communities in turn depend on strong and successful families, however those are constituted, which in turn depend on strong and successful individuals. The State is not an end in itself, but is a means of helping people achieve their own goals. – Joseph Mooney

 Let us be a nation that comes together and looks to its abundance of land and resources and enables our people to solve their own housing needs by building many more warm and healthy homes. Let us be one of the most productive and effective nations, and encourage and celebrate the people, the businesses, and the policies that can make that a reality. Let us be a people who rejoice in our great fortune to be fellow travellers under these southern skies, to celebrate our great collective heart and our practical, pragmatic minds, to treasure and celebrate the achievements of our people. For there’s more that binds us together than divides us in this land. Joseph Mooney

It seems it has become acceptable to stereotype those who have a Christian faith in public life as being extreme, so I will say a little about my Christian faith. It has anchored me, given my life purpose, and shaped my values, and it puts me in the context of something bigger than myself. My faith has a strong influence on who I am and how I relate to people. I see Jesus showing compassion, tolerance, and care for others. He doesn’t judge, discriminate, or reject people. He loves unconditionally.

Through history, we have seen Christians making a huge difference by entering public life. Christian abolitionists fought against slavery. Others educated the poor and challenged the rich to share their wealth and help others less fortunate. The world is a better place for Christians like William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King, and Kate Sheppard contributing to public life.

My faith is personal to me. It is not in itself a political agenda. I believe no religion should dictate to the State, and no politician should use the political platform they have to force their beliefs on others. As MPs, we serve the common cause of all New Zealanders—not one religion, not one group, not one interest. A person should not be elected because of their faith, nor should they be rejected because of it. Democracy thrives on diverse thinking and different world views. – Christopher Luxon

It’s not good enough saying you’re going to lower greenhouse gas emissions but not doing it. It’s not good enough saying you’re going to reduce child poverty but not actually doing it. Talking about it gets you a headline, but doing it makes a difference. I’ve entered politics because I want to make a difference, I want to solve problems, and I want to get things done.

New Zealand’s ability to become more prosperous and to enjoy a higher quality of life as a nation depends on the size and output of our economic engine. Just as growing Air New Zealand provided the opportunity for all staff to benefit, I believe that it’s growing New Zealand’s economy that will provide the opportunity for all New Zealanders to benefit. However, I believe that right now, New Zealand’s economic engine needs major modifications and serious upgrading.  – Christopher Luxon

I believe in tackling inequality and working hard to find that balance between encouraging hard work and innovation while always ensuring there is social mobility and a safety net. Every New Zealander who cares about other New Zealanders knows what that means. No matter your situation, I believe in a New Zealand that backs Kiwis to work hard, to convert opportunities, and to create prosperity for themselves, their families, their communities, and our country, because that is how we will make our country stronger. But I also believe that Governments must make powerful and targeted interventions on behalf of those with the most complex and challenged lives. With the right resources at the right time in the right place, the State can help people make positive and sustained changes that enable them to rise up and to realise their own potential.

Regardless of the different political that views we hold in this House, New Zealanders can all agree that we are incredibly fortunate to live in this place, and I believe, more than ever, if we make the right decisions, New Zealand has a great future ahead of us. We can do better and we can be more prosperous and more ambitious if we think strategically, solve problems, deliver results, and get things done. I don’t want to settle for mediocrity, and I don’t believe other New Zealanders want it either.  – Christopher Luxon

 I understand that the choices that every New Zealand family has at such times are constrained by their circumstances. I’ve come to politics because I want those choices to be better for New Zealand families. It’s by being more successful as a country that we can ensure that those kitchen table decisions include wider choices and better options for all New Zealanders.

The choices we all have are never made in isolation. The resilience and wealth of a student flat, a family home, a small business, a large corporate are all affected by how New Zealand is doing as a country. It’s my absolute belief that New Zealand can do better, and when it does, New Zealanders will do better, too.  We will all ultimately get the country—the economy, society, the environment—that we deserve, and I think we deserve the very, very best.Christopher Luxon

The one element that stood us apart from most of the community was our oldest sibling being intellectually handicapped as a result of decisions made during a difficult birth. This extended our world into the families, institutions, and bureaucracy of dealing with disabilities. This has continued for our family with the birth of our youngest daughter, Briony, who is Down’s syndrome.

Apart from that, my upbringing was pretty standard fare in a Southland rural community. We were neither wealthy nor poor. We understood the need to work hard but also to support those who needed it. We immersed ourselves in the community through school, sport, music, church and social activities. We learnt the value of family and community engagement and support. – Penny Simmonds

I also looked to our Southland rural sector. The economic bedrock of Invercargill and Southland’s wealth and prosperity, which survived the reforms of the 1980s and pulled itself back to a powerhouse, once more ensuring that Southland punches well above its weight, consistently contributing around 15 percent to New Zealand’s GDP, with less than 1.2 percent of New Zealand’s population. The South’s rural sector is justifiably proud of its long history of economic success. But our rural sector is facing significant threats that seem to ignore or not understand the unique climatic and geographic challenges to the southern farmer and that give no credit to the incredible progress already being made by farmers working together with scientists to improve environmental outcomes.

And I look to the threat of SIT—the organisation I had the privilege to lead—losing its autonomy and innovation, being swallowed up in the ideological mega-merger of institutes of technology and polytechnics.

While there may be better alternatives to the status quo in each of these industries, I know that the decisions must be driven by Southlanders to ensure the benefits stay in the South. The decisions must also be pragmatic and science, technology, and engineering – based; not reacting to emotive sound bites from people who don’t understand either economics or science.  – Penny Simmonds

I will be driven in this new role as the member of Parliament for Invercargill to continue my advocacy for the people, industries, and organisations of the Invercargill electorate. I come to the role with the experience of a farmer’s daughter and a farmer’s wife, a mother and a grandmother, an educationalist and a soldier for several years in the Territorials, a businesswoman, a community leader, and a sportsperson. But most of all, I come as a passionate Southlander who will not stand by and allow the place that I proudly call my home to be adversely impacted upon by poor political decisions. Our rural communities, farmers, SIT, our productive land, fresh water, and clean energy are worth standing up for. – Penny Simmonds

We all have the same goals with the environment, to look after our land and to be constantly improving. –  Kate Acland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet, the Ardern government has deliberately opted for diversity over merit (skills, experience, competencies, and management ability), so is it any wonder they are floundering around achieving almost nothing-except of course, keeping Ardern in front of the cameras, giving her trademark, almost daily, theatrical performances?  Representational politics based on minority interest groups, can only result in ignoring the needs of the majority, ie everyone else-but then majoritarian democracy is long dead in New Zealand under MMP. So, is this government acting in the best interests of ALL New Zealanders? – Henry Armstrong

On any of the well-accepted criteria of good governance, the Ardern government has to be described as an abject failure. Attempts to portray our shared history as being based on oppression, is ostensibly untrue. Attempts to portray “old white men” as being responsible for all of the issues which beset New Zealand society, are not only insulting, they are deeply offensive and divisive. The treaty offered us all an opportunity to progress which, by and large, as citizens of New Zealand, of every ethnicity and creed, we have achieved. This government seems to be, through its total incompetence, determined to divide us.Henry Armstrong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If policy is developed by ministerial staff and implemented by DPMC, what do all of Robertson’s ministerial colleagues and their thousands of highly paid advisers do all day? Because the description of the Implementation Unit sounds an awful lot like the current role of a ministerial office. – Danyl Mclauchlan

Are we, as mere minions of this Labour government, just voters not to be trusted with a report that suggests a fundamental change to New Zealand society? Peter Williams

Frankly, we have to have a major talk in this country about two things – what is self-determination, and what is indigenous? And until we have those defined we really can’t go any further can we? – Peter Williams

This government has no moral authority to tell private sector employers that they have to quote ‘improve wages,’ when they themselves are not going to do it for the next three years.  Something’s going to have to give; either this government abandons the wage freeze or abandons the fair pay agreements.

But they cannot tell businesses around this country to do something they are not prepared to do. The hypocrisy is blinding.Heather du Plessis-Allan

As it stands, I don’t trust the media and I’m in it, but I trust bits and in that is the key.

Trust requires work. The media as a whole in this country is in a parlous and decaying state. Journalism sadly is frequented by too many inexperienced people, naïve people, thick people, and people on band wagons. – Mike Hosking

Unions have good reason to celebrate. Their power will soon outstrip what would be justified by their membership. It will take much longer for better conditions to be felt by large numbers of workers.

Given the sheer number of public sector workers likely to be hit by the pay freeze, this week appears to have been much more about improving the strength of unions than it was about helping workers.Hamish Rutherford

This Labour Government is growing more interventionist by the day. It has not met a problem it doesn’t think can be solved through more centralisation, regulation, bureaucracy, and more power in the hands of the Government. – Scott Simpson

It seems odd and increasingly criminal we can be recognised for a solid Covid response but because of our own fear and lack of planning cut ourselves out of the joining the rest of the world. – Mike Hosking

You know how the whole cancel thing works, right? It’s pretty simple. First you do a bit of due diligence on a scheduled speaker or soon-to-be-published author. Find something ropey they once said (easy in my case, but I’m only an email away if anyone needs direction). Then head for the open sewer running through the Dickensian lunatic asylum that is Twitter. Declare yourself upset beyond belief. Don’t worry about grammar or humour or context or any of that boring stuff. Repetition is what counts. Consider hammering the point home with an amazingly colourful word that rhymes with “bunt”. And don’t forget to use a nifty hashtag. – David Cohen

Cancel culture goes after writers by harnessing something old (the desire of the mob to scalp dissenters) with something relatively new (the ubiquity of social media) and something else that sounds rather borrowed (crypto-religious demands for demonstrations of public piety). And as the former Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon pointed out the other day, while the language the ringleaders use to rally the troops is often collectivist, the tone is all Me Me Me. Every second sentence seems to start with a, “Speaking as a …” – David Cohen

But is opinion what it’s about anyway? More and more, it seems to me, what’s happening doesn’t seem to be in the interests of fostering the vigorous exchange of views or even correcting people who may have got something significantly wrong. At heart, I think, cancel culture is part of a wider linguistic turf war currently being fought on many fronts over who gets to control the language.  David Cohen

I’m not a Labour Party Māori or an on-the-marae Māori. I can be pretty frank about that, there’s reasons for that, I just wasn’t brought up that way. These are things we all have to reconcile in our heads but what is true is it doesn’t make me less Māori. We don’t think you’re only Scottish if you wear a kilt.  It’s a free world, my whakapapa is what it is, and I’m proud of it. – Simon Bridges

There is also always a place for punishing those who traumatise others, who destroy the lives of other people, who kill, murder, rape.Those things must be treated with the force of the law, and I won’t apologise for that. – Nicola Willis

I have to say, to blow the health system up when you’re trying to vaccinate 4 million people, that’s not particularly clever timing, is it? . . . This lack of planning, I mean, this is an iterative problem. We’ve got to take it away from politicians and away from doctors like me – may I add – and put it in the hands of professional governors and managers.Des Gorman

Yes there is an argument that vaccination has most application in countries with rampant disease, but there’s an equally strong argument we’re like a shag on a rock, and we’ll be a shag on a rock until we’re vaccinated, and our economy suffers. The next GFC, the next earthquake in Christchurch, we can’t buffer it. – Des Gorman

For the most open honest transparent government, things haven’t been looking too transparent of late. The pulpit of ‘truth’ is proving a stretch, are they being ‘too definitive?’ – Kate Hawkesby

This is why everyone should fight against cancel culture. Everyone has led lives of imperfection. I want a society that doesn’t judge people by the worst thing they have ever done, but by their overall contribution. – David Farrar

This, of course, is the great weakness of unionism. Most pay rises are not productivity based; they are threat based. Pay us or we are out. – Mike Hosking

So just who is it they’re appealing to? Do you have the same trouble British Labour now has? There isn’t a working-class Kiwi who would touch them. It’s the party of socialist ideologues who hang out at universities, NGOs, and pressure groups.

This smacks of whack-a-mole government. No vision, no big picture, no strategy, just a trail of bewildered, disowned, and disenfranchised supporters who no longer know who they’re dealing with. – Mike Hosking

The window of opportunity for New Zealand to attract talent is evaporating rather rapidly as the developed world becomes vaccinated.- Peter Gluckman

Also if you can print me a steak, you can also print me up a takahe drumstick or a slab of whale. I could munch on endangered animals with impunity. There is a small, but creepy, seam of wannabe cannibals on the internet who are also excited about this avenue. – Nicola Dennis

And there you have the three reasons people help others: they’re bullied, they’re paid, or they love. – Rodney Hide

Why they matter is because these stats drive taxation/redistribution policies. They influence how much is taken from Paul to give to Peter. Doesn’t matter how hard Paul worked, what sacrifices he made, how careful he was not to have more children than he could personally afford to raise. If he is defined as ‘rich’ and Peter is ‘poor’ you know the outcome. – Lindsay Mitchell

What has suddenly changed is the slavish, craven and witless embrace of identity politics that has swept through government, academia, the media, the arts, the corporate sector and even sport. – Karl du Fresne

The advertising business likes to celebrate itself as edgy, idiosyncratic and anarchic, but it strikes me as deeply conformist, risk-averse and prone to groupthink. Its suspiciously abrupt, across-the-board conversion to the virtues of diversity suggests much the same level of fearlessly independent thought as you’d find in a mob of romney ewes. – Karl du Fresne

And I’m sorry, but as long as Labour ministers like Chris Hipkins just don’t care whether our money is wasted in uneaten school lunches, as long as that happens, Labour will be perceived to be the party that just throws cash away. Pay freeze the nurses all you like, that perception will stick, because it’s warranted.Heather du Plessis Allan

A state broadcaster rigorously excluding any and all voices dissenting from the official line, is something most New Zealanders would expect to encounter in Moscow or Beijing – not in Wellington. – Chris Trotter

Vegans and vegetarians are the gullible foot soldiers for the processed food industry and religious ideology. – Dr Gary Fettke

History has us at our healthiest from a metabolic aspect when our diets were predominantly animal based. – Dr Gary Fettke

Generally, plant-based diets require supplementation for at least vitamin B12 and iron. It’s almost not fair to compare beef and rice. To get the protein in 200 grams of beef you need to eat nearly a kilogram of rice, and still you would be missing the micronutrients. – Dr Gary Fettke

We often get people in this country whom we consider – and I hate the word – but we often call them ‘low value’ but they work hard and they have incredible work ethics and that goes through to their children – Erica Stanford

They are starting a new life. There is always that sword of Damocles hanging over them. They have got to keep working hard to stay here to get their residence and they do – they know this is a new chance, a new life and they do work very, very hard.

These people were quite vulnerable. They didn’t have any rights. They didn’t know the system. Sometimes they couldn’t speak English very well and they would often make mistakes or get themselves in trouble and just being able to help them and change their lives was so rewarding. – Erica Stanford

Right now the top priority for New Zealand is to make this country the most desirable place for migrants to want to come to because if we want the best migrants, which we do, the most skilled, the ones that have a lot to offer our economy and our society, we need to be their best option and right now, we are far from that.  – Erica Stanford

 I am quite close to this but I can’t turn away. I cannot turn away. How can you turn away from their grief and their anxiety and their stress? A lot of them have terrible mental health problems and are beside themselves because they haven’t seen their partners and their children.

“I can’t turn away turn away from that. I can’t walk away. I can’t not scream from every rooftop, every chance I get to give these guys a road map to reunification so they can see their families again.Erica Stanford

The world isn’t rejecting left-leaning progressive thinking for no reason, they’re rejecting it because it doesn’t work. – Mike Hosking

We’ve got to make sure we’re taking an approach to it that doesn’t lead to some particularly grim financial outcomes, which a lot of what we’ve seen in recent times certainly do. 

We need to make sure people have an appreciation of what those things mean. Some people are happy to accept the cost being worn by someone else, rather than contributing themselves, and we’re hearing a lot of that in the zero carbon space. – Jared Ross

The government is not only doing too much, it is doing too much of that too much too badly – Eric Crampton

With New Zealand’s democracy now white-anted by racist policies, we will also deservedly become a laughing stock if our politicians and bureaucrats continue to pay obeisance to primitivism.  – Amy Brooke

The kind of values needed to raise children with their wellbeing absolutely utmost cannot be learned from a government. They cannot be replaced by unearned income. – Lindsay Mitchell

Give a family another $20 or $50 a week and, hey presto – just like that – 33,000 children are lifted out of poverty. In itself that is heartless isn’t it? That poverty is only measured by money. But is the life of those 33,000 kids going to be noticeably better in 12 months time? I would doubt it unless the attitude and approach to life of their parents or caregiver had shifted significantly. Will that person have made moves to get a job? To make the children’s lunch? To ensure they go to school at least 90 percent of the time?  – Peter Williams

If it takes “true grit” to be Opposition leader, then Judith Collins has it in spades. – Fran O’Sullivan

It is not racist to suggest that proposals such as those contained in the He Puapua report should be openly debated rather than sitting in some drawer in a Cabinet Minister’s office.Fran O’Sullivan

It was hard to give the Budget much credence after reading the Auditor-General’s report on the Covid-19 vaccination programme this week. The gulf between word and deed in Government has probably never been greater.

From the moment the Cabinet gave the vaccination programme entirely to the Ministry of Health you just knew it wouldn’t turn out well. Ministries these days do what the Auditor-General calls “high-level” planning. He doesn’t mean high quality, he means the plans made on high that do not get down to the harder work of deciding exactly who will do what, when, where and how. – John Roughan

“High-level” planning isn’t just disconnected from practice on the ground, it thinks up needless things that get in the way of practical work. But mostly it just wastes time and high salaries thinking of the bleeding obvious.  – John Roughan

Being in Parliament sometimes feels a bit like a kindergarten. There are squabbles, the occasional tantrum, and many questions that can seem quite repetitive to the public, and irritating to the Government too. The ability to question is vital for democracy. As politicians, it’s our job to question the policies and intentions of the Government in order to make sense of where we’re heading as a country. What laws will the Government pass? What problem are they trying to solve? How will the change impact the life of a child just starting school, the pocket of a solo mum, the small business owner struggling to find staff and pay taxes? How will we know if the policy’s been a success or failure? – Brooke van Velden

It is not racist to question policy that creates two systems for New Zealanders. Brooke van Velden

I want to live in a country where we can acknowledge our differences and seek better outcomes for all children regardless of race. It’s time to focus on our common humanity rather than constantly looking for division. We need better ideas, and to have honest conversations. Accusing others of racism when they challenge your idea is simply lazy. It stifles debate and breeds resentment.

It speaks to a growing sentiment I’m hearing across New Zealand. People are more and more cautious to express their opinions because others choose to take offence at ideas they don’t support. We should all be respectful in the way we deal with each other, whether we agree or disagree. We should show leadership by standing up for the ability to freely think and ask questions in our Parliament. How can we teach our children the importance of critical thinking, if we don’t expect it from our leaders? – Brooke van Velden

The issue should not be about race, as some would like to make it out to be. It is about which vision is more likely to give every child born in New Zealand the best chance to succeed. I don’t really care if our country is called New Zealand or Aotearoa. How about we focus on the outcomes for kids?Brooke van Velden

Can I give Craig, your good selves and, for that matter, the current Speaker, Trevor Mallard, a last piece of media advice? Do not endlessly and obsessively relitigate a losing argument. Take it on the chin. Move on. The public have short memories and it is sometimes possible to rebuild your reputation. Keep arguing a lost cause and you will not. – Bill Ralston

If, as looks increasingly likely, the vaccination programme turns out to be another KiwiBuild rather than another Covid elimination effort, all bets are off. Ardern had better hope Robertson’s announcement of the $1.4b for the vaccination programme turns out to be one of those old-fashioned Budget initiatives that turn out to be at least somewhat correlated with reality.- Matthew Hooton

The people who feed this misinformation online have no idea what it is like to live through a deadly virus.  We could have died, and we would have been a loving memory for our whānau, but we lived, and we lived with side effects. Death is a clean option.

Surviving is the hard and dangerous part. Those keyboard warriors don’t know what survival means – that fight is forever. And we see that with Covid-19 survivors most have recovered from the immediate effects but [some] have ongoing side effects that are far more damaging than anything else.

So when they say [on social media] Covid won’t kill you, they don’t realise that death is the clean way out and surviving is the scary part. John Forbes

Getting vaccinated isn’t about just you, it’s about protecting the ones you love. It’s an act of aroha. –  Maea Marshall

Getting doctors and nurses into poorly-serviced regions will improve Māori health. Economic growth that lifts New Zealanders out of poverty will improve Māori health. Better education will. Vaccinations will. Actually, building decent housing will. Shifting all health decisions to Wellington will not. – Judith Collins

National’s view is that every dollar spent must be spent on growing New Zealand’s economy. This is the key difference between National and Labour.Labour spends money on initiatives designed to keep people dependent on government. National spends on money on initiatives that empower New Zealanders by creating opportunities for every individual, every family, and every whānau to be in the driver’s seat of their own lives.Judith Collins

For the record, disparities are a statistical observation: they don’t think or act. They can’t themselves be racist. They are a fact. They can no more be racist than a rock or the sun.  – Rodney Hide

Everything measured differs on average from group to group. It would be odd if it didn’t. But the difference now is racism. It doesn’t require anyone past or present to have done anything racist. It requires averages only to differ. It’s difficult to know what to do about racist numbers. Would racism be reduced if I took up smoking? Or got fatter?Rodney Hide

But we should take comfort in another racist disparity: Maori women are more likely to be married or partnered to a non-Maori than a Maori. The same is true for Maori men. We are not just brothers and sisters but husbands and wives raising children together, living together, working together.

The government and the media are running a separatist agenda. It appears they are making a good play as they make up the daily news. But they are not. That’s because the rest of us are just getting on with our lives. Together.  – Rodney Hide

Labour and compliance issues aside, water in all its components, quality and quantity, is one of the major issues currently facing the rural sector, and for that matter, most of the urban centres throughout the countryBrian Peacocke

 The draft has the air of a 21st century revival of the 18th century Enlightenment concept of the ‘noble savage’, children of nature in an undisturbed state. – Philip Temple

The impact and lasting influence of the Musket Wars on New Zealand history, right up to the present day, need to be understood. If we are to teach our country’s history honestly, usefully and in a balanced way then the accounts and lessons from scholarship such as Ron Crosby’s Forgotten Wars must be included along with what one media outlet describes as ‘Our Story’ of the crimes and misdemeanours of British colonisers. We need a warts’n all history about the whole of ‘Our Story’, Pākehā  and Māori. For our children, we do not need a curriculum that tiptoes through myths of goodies and baddies with the omission of whole tranches of history. They – indeed everybody – need a set of interwoven truths we can all understand, relate to and accept. Philip Temple

It has become the norm for people of part-Maori descent to recite iwi connections, but without any reference to their European lineage. That inconvenient part of their ancestry is routinely erased.

I say “inconvenient” because I suspect it suits many part-Maori activists not to acknowledge their bicultural heritage, the reason being that their bloodlines demonstrate that New Zealand is a highly integrated society. This conflicts with their aim of portraying us as intrinsically and irreparably divided, with one side exerting dominance over the other. – Karl du Fresne

The reason I am so concerned about our cyber education is simple; the Internet is our new border and we are at a growing risk of malicious damage to our nation through online actors then we are now through our airports, particularly during COVID times. Millions upon millions is lost out of our economy due to the damage that one email with a virus can contain and we must do more. The State has to take far more responsibility as our democracy, our health and ultimately, our lives are now at risk. It is not hyperbole to say that when clinics and hospitals across the Central North Island are facing one of the greatest crisis our nation has seen. – Melissa Lee

Ultimately, this situation goes beyond the Labour Government not doing their job. It is seeing individual New Zealanders being harmed at their most vulnerable being forced to travel the length of the country for medical treatment and with growing anxiety about what unknown hackers know about their personal lives. – Melissa Lee

If gangs are trying to get me sacked, I must be doing something right – Simeon Brown

 My dad was a meter reader. There wasn’t a lot of money to buy books, but we were a reading family. Library books were piled by each bed, beside the bath and on the dining table where we propped them against the teapot and read, rather than risk the conversations that would turn inevitably to argument. Library books were our salvation, our way out, our way up.  – Fiona Farrell

Libraries are many things to many people, but for me as a writer, they have been primarily a resource, like Mitre 10 for a builder or a patch of bush for an eager botanist. Their contents have formed the foundation for everything I have written over 30 years. The internet has its uses, but the things I read online always feel curated, universally available, ordinary. I encounter everything in an identical format, on the same screen, with the same levels of light and intensity. A library shelf lined with books, however, is eccentric. A book is such a perfect geometry, narrow and rectangular, to contain fact or fancy, word or image. A library shelf presents the possibility of random juxtapositions, discovery, surprise. I value that. Fiona Farrell

Freedom of speech in a democracy means having to tolerate the expression of diverse views. It works in both ways, people are entitled to voice their views and others are entitled to criticise those views, but they should be able to speak nonetheless. – Judith Collins

Health and safety should not be allowed to be used as an excuse to ‘deplatform’ speakers unless there are threats to physical safety. . . The small vocal group of self-appointed opinionators who complained about this need to mind their own business and let adult citizens in a free society mind theirs. David Seymour

For if despite everything, immigrants or people of immigrant descent, especially those of different races, are prospering and integrating well into society, there is no need of a providential class of academics, journalists, bureaucrats, and others to rescue them from the slough of despond supposedly brought about by prejudice and discrimination. Many a career opportunity would be lost if there were no systemic injustices of this sort to untangle. –  Theodore Dalrymple

The aggregation of all ethnic minorities into a single category (when there are sufficient numbers of each for meaningful disaggregation to be undertaken) is designed to disguise or hide the real differences between the minorities, precisely because if such differences were admitted, they would not only threaten, but actually refute the whole worldview of the providential class, namely that the society is so riddled with prejudice and discrimination that something akin to a revolution is required, rather than, say, dealing with problems on a case-by-case basis as they arise. – Theodore Dalrymple

For the providential class, nothing succeeds like the failure of others: it therefore needs there to be perpetual grounds for grievance by minorities, creating a constituency that looks for salvation by political means. – Theodore Dalrymple

There is a huge issue of fairness and independence with this local Government process alone.  The consultative process of local government is usually along the lines of – “Tell us whether you agree with what we have decided” and therein lies the problem. Genuine consultation has to occur at the formative stages which simply doesn’t happen or is rare to say the least. – Gerry Eckhoff

I have a term for it: Righteous prohibition.

I define that as the willing – or enforced – suppression of information because people believe it may have negative effects. It ranges from preventing a man from whipping up a lynch mob to neutralising a language because specifics may make a small number of people feel excluded. – Gavin Ellis

Paraphrased, that means legislators are hard-pressed to draught laws that define hate speech in such a way that society is protected while its rights and freedoms are held intact.

Unfortunately, hate speech is what we want it to be. The devil is in the definition.Gavin Ellis

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

People can lose their jobs or find themselves cancelled when labelled as racist (whether or not they are), or prejudiced against different sexes, or religions. Yet as a Christian in a Christian country you may not wear a cross on a chain, though you may wear a hijab or a turban. –  Valerie Davies

These are strange and apocalyptic times. There is no stopping the human tide of peoples who want a piece of the peace and plenty and prosperity of Europe. But perhaps they have to make some compromises in order to preserve that way of life. It is ironic that so called liberals have castigated and condemned the past, decrying the evils of colonialism, while ignoring the hospitals and schools, railways and roads, law and order that colonialism brought to so many corners of the globe; while at the same time too, so many people in deprived places around the world, want to be part of the very culture and society that western protesters of all kinds and colours and beliefs sneer at. Yet until much maligned colonialism arrived, tribes in Africa, for example, faced the same poverty and oppression, murder and mayhem from their own people, that so many refugees are fleeing now. –  Valerie Davies

But we can create our own world of goodness and human connection. The human connection is what in the end sustains us, and always will, whatever lies ahead. As we all take this unavoidable evolutionary leap into the void of the future, we have each other. Valerie Davies

It would be nice to think that opinions in this forum and others are the result of expertise, scrupulous consideration of all the facts, relevant experience and an understanding of all factual material and different perspectives.

I suspect, however, that most opinions are more the result of feeling than thinking. That is not to say there is always a right opinion but rather that temperament and emotion play a much bigger role in opinion than we would like to think. It’s said that character is your fate. It might also be said that character is your opinion. Facts used to support a view are often chosen to support a stance, after the stance has formed. – Martin van Beynen

As an opinion writer, it’s easier to identify what you oppose rather than what you support. I don’t like being told I’m to blame. I don’t like zealots and young know-nothings telling me what to do. I don’t like wokeness or virtue signalling or cancelling people for some trivial perceived infringement of current sensibilities. I don’t like being told I’m privileged or that I had it too good because of being pale and male. I don’t like tailoring my views to suit a new zeitgeist. I don’t like the implication that everything done to improve people’s lives prior to the latest orthodoxy has been a disastrous failure and that some new system will bring in a utopia.Martin van Beynen

Rapid change, particularly the sort of changes New Zealand is experiencing at the moment, implies we should feel guilty, ignorant, outdated and prejudiced if we want to take a more sceptical and contrary line.

And yet I realise that society moves on and a new generation taking over will always seem naive and dogmatic to old-timers like me. – Martin van Beynen

I remain very much in favour of free speech with the usual riders. I think the media is too much dominated by a polite conversation with strict self-imposed boundaries on what can be said or tolerated. What we need are some thunderous voices from the silent majority. Declaring some views beyond the pale doesn’t mean they go away. They fester in the dark and grow more potent. No-one has a monopoly on truth and morality.Martin van Beynen

Having failed to teach NZ history properly in the last 50 years, it is important that the curriculum presents the most relevant facts and context, in order that our children can reach a balanced and informed view.   It appears however those involved in drafting the curriculum, have decided to skip that stage and go straight to themes.  This is a terrible mistake. – Barrie Saunders

Third, there is a strong sense running through the document that a primary purpose of studying history is to judge the past (and those in it) rather than to understand it.   Particularly when such young children are the focus, and when the curriculum is designed for use in schools across the country (attended by people of all manner of races, religions, political and ideological views), that focus is misplaced.    Understanding needs to precede attempts at judgement/evaluation, but there is no sign – in this document, or elsewhere in the curriculum – of children being equipped with the tools that, as they move into mature adulthood, will allow them to make thoughtful judgements or (indeed, and often) simply to take the past as it was, and understand how it may influence the country we inhabit today.    There is little or no sense, for example, that one reasonably be ambivalent about some aspects of the past or that some people might, quite reasonably, evaluate the same facts differently. Michael Reddell

If a New Zealand history curriculum is to be anything more than an effort of indoctrination by a group who temporarily hold the commanding heights in the system, this draft should simply be scrapped and the whole process begun again with a clean sheet of paper.  – Michael Reddell

Fourth, not only does the document seem to operate in a mode more focused on evaluation and judgement than on understanding, it seems to champion a particular set of judgements, and a particular frame for looking at the history of these islands (evident, as just a small example, in its repeated use of the term “Aotearoa New Zealand”, a name with neither historical nor legal standing, even if championed at present by certain parts of the New Zealand public sector).     This includes what themes the authors choose to ignore – religion, for example, is not mentioned at all, whether in a Maori context or that of later arrivals, even though religions always (at least) encapsulate key aspects of any culture’s understanding of itself, and of its taboos).   Economic history hardly gets a mention, even though the exposure to trade, technology, and the economic institutions of leading economies helped dramatically lift average material living standards here, for all groups of inhabitants.   Instead, what is presented in one specific story heavily focused on one particular (arguably ahistorical) interpretation and significance of the Treaty of Waitangi.  These are contested political issues, on which reasonable people differ, and yet the curriculum document has about it something very much of a single truth.Michael Reddell

We should be deeply suspicious of the phrase “public interest journalism”. It sounds harmless – indeed, positively wholesome – but it comes laden with ideology.

Like “social justice”, it’s a conveniently woolly term with no settled definition. It sounds like something we should have more of. Who couldn’t be in favour of it? But those who promote “public interest journalism” generally have a very clear idea of what they mean, and it’s not necessarily how ordinary people might interpret it.- Karl du Fresne

Public interest sounds noble. I mean, who could object to something being done for the public good? The crucial question, though, is who decides where the public interest lies. That’s the trap with so-called public interest journalism, because it usually reflects a narrow, fixed, elitist and ideologically slanted view of what’s best for the public. Whether or not the public actually wants it is often immaterial. They’re left out of the equation.

To put it another way, public interest journalism is a coded term that disguises an ideological project. Far from viewing the role of journalists as being to convey information in a non-partisan way, advocates of “public interest” journalism regard journalism as a tool for the pursuit of particular goals. – Karl du Fresne

 It’s true that journalism can lead to systemic change, and often does, but that shouldn’t be its purpose. To put it another way, journalism provides the information that often serves as a catalyst for change; but to actively work toward that end leads to the arrogant assumption that idealistic young reporters know what’s best for society and should be free to angle their stories accordingly, emphasising whatever supports their case but excluding evidence or opinions they disagree with. Karl du Fresne

Objectivity in journalism is fashionably denounced as a myth, thereby giving reporters licence to decide what their readers should know and what should be kept from them. The worthy idea that journalists could hold strong personal opinions about political and economic issues but show no trace of them in their work, which used to be fundamental, has been jettisoned.   Karl du Fresne

The PIJF should be seen not as evidence of a principled, altruistic commitment to the survival of journalism, which is how it’s been framed, but as an opportunistic and cynical play by a left-wing government – financed by the taxpayer to the tune of $55 million – for control over the news media at a time when the industry is floundering and vulnerable. Karl du Fresne

Ask yourself which is preferable: a hollowed-out news media, unable to properly fulfil its functions (which, to all intents and purposes, is what we have now), or a more powerful one whose priorities are determined by apparatchiks of the state? I’m sure I know which presents the greater hazard. Karl du Fresne

Equally mysterious to me is the attention given to the opinions of celebrities on subjects such as global warming or the situation in Burma. Of course, like everyone else they are entitled to an opinion of their own, but not to anyone’s attention to it. That attention is in fact given to it is dispiriting. What they say consists mainly of cliché, but when, as happens rarely, they step out of line with the party line, the party being that of the reigning orthodox liberals, they are turned upon with a ferocity reminiscent of that of lynchers. This prospect alone is enough to make most celebrities cleave closely to the preordained orthodoxy. Many of them know that their celebrity is founded on shifting sands.

The cult of celebrity, as a quality in itself irrespective of the value of what it attaches to, is likewise mysterious to me. Many are those who seek celebrity detached from anything else of discernible worth. Fame for its own sake is sufficient for them. But what does it mean that people can be famous for being famous? – Theodore Dalrymple

The celebrity must be such that, fundamentally, he is one of us, the great mass of mediocrities. In fact, a celebrity could have been me if things had been only a little different. Modern celebrity is thus the screen on which mass daydreams are projected. Theodore Dalrymple

Where celebrity is both more desired and more prevalent, it will attach to people of less and less accomplishment. To be completely unknown becomes a wound, a humiliation, a sign of failure; celebrity is the sole guarantor of personal worth. To be known for nothing of any importance is infinitely better than not being known at all. – Theodore Dalrymple

There should be term limits of about 15 years and then you should have a compulsory sabbatical. If you want to come back, it’s over to you, but you’d be pretty stupid to. – Chris FInlayson

 Patel evokes such insensate fury in her opponents not because of her actual practical politics, which could be opposed or disagreed with in a normal way, but because she represents a threat to a worldview. She is the child of refugees, and she experienced racial insult and abuse as a child; therefore, it was her duty to play the professional victim for the rest of her life. Instead, she says that her heroine was Margaret Thatcher, who inspired her to go into politics. By not claiming to be a victim, and by climbing up the greasy pole through sheer determination, she has proved herself a traitor to her class and her race.

Worse still, Patel is a threat to all those who aspire to climb that same greasy pole by denouncing elitism, privilege, and racism as the principal sources of all evil. And there is a growing danger that a substantial proportion of various ethnic minorities will come to think like her. – Theodore Dalrymple

Labour’s record is going to be blowing 30 years of fiscal prudence and creating $100,000 of debt per household. Plus closing down the country and avoiding a mass outbreak of Covid, but how hard was that?Richard Prebble

What if making people dependent is a cause of poverty? What if Labour’s benefit increase traps more people in dependency? Bill English’s Better Public Services programme that provided wrap around services to assist beneficiaries off dependency achieved better results. – Richard Prebble

Spending $486 million restructuring health to a centralised system won’t provide a single extra operation. Andrew Little achieved nothing in three years in justice except expensive hui. He has yet to learn about project optimism. It is the rule that says projects cost twice as much and take four times longer than estimated. The unexpected always happens. – Richard Prebble

The evidence of the last thirty years is that, given the choice, workers prefer not to be represented in their wage negotiations by unions. Unsurprisingly, they choose to have a direct relationship with their employer. This may be bad news for unions, but it is not a systemic weakness in the labour market.

And that is the real reason why the claims in Minister Wood’s Cabinet paper don’t stack up. New Zealand’s labour markets are working well for both firms and workers. But they have not been working well for unions. That is the only “entrenched weakness” of the current framework. And it is only a weakness if you are a union official. For anyone else, the case for FPAs does not compute. – Roger Partridge

Of the services classed as essential during the Covid lockdowns last year, it is important to remember that the only ones supporting income for the country were those to do with food and fibre. The other essential services were … essential, but most, including the public servants now on a wage “pause”, were supported by the Government. 

Farmers and growers working through were not.

Just as the primary sector was vital to maintain the economy during Covid, it is now vital to contribute to debt repayment. It therefore makes little sense to shut down any part of it without considering the full implications and alternatives. – Jacqueline Rowarth

Organic, regenerative production systems do not and cannot yield as well as conventional systems. Globally, depending on crop and season, about 60 per cent of conventional is average.

Occasionally the yields are similar, but generally only on individual harvests – not on a five- or 10-year calculation. And most of the calculations overlook the need to bring in animal manure as nutrient replacement. Green-laundering refers to the fact that this manure has often been created by animals being given conventionally grown food. – Jacqueline Rowarth

The National Science Challenge Our Land and Water has funded research on organic versus conventional yields and people’s willingness to pay. The report indicated that a premium of 38 per cent would be required to offset yield decrease. People were apparently willing to pay an extra 36 per cent, though reality suggests that most people don’t.

It is also important to remember that a premium is paid for something that is not the norm. If everybody is organic or regenerative or whatever, there will be no premium. – Jacqueline Rowarth

Regulation cannot create excellence in anything but compliance, and compliance with regulations set in urban environments, where context is not understood, cannot assist with debt reduction for the country. – – Jacqueline Rowarth

In the four minutes it took to read this column, the national debt increased by $353,333.

Who will pay off this debt if the farmers and growers are out of business? – – Jacqueline Rowarth

Putting New Zealanders first when it comes to local employment is all very well. But it has to be based on more than wishful thinking. It needs to be properly evidence-based that the goal can be achieved. Despite the government’s optimistic rhetoric, there is no substantive evidence of a large number of New Zealanders showing any interest in doing the necessary work that migrants currently carry out. – Peter Dunne

The faster we get that jab into arms up and down this country, the faster we’ll be reconnecting with the world. Heather du Plessis-Allan

 So, her visit was disappointing. Confirming that dogma dictates decisions, while reason runs for cover. Grass doesn’t need water. Tractors don’t need drivers. Regenerative farming makes Lincoln redundant. Maori wards will make gangs evaporate. Pine forests make air travel harmless. Nevertheless, we pray that rain and sanity may one day return to us here in drought land. – Tim Gilbertson

Labour’s problem with the Bill is that it offers choice, when they believe there should only be one choice for the second language – te reo.

“One minute Labour MPs are celebrating Samoan language week in Parliament, next minute they are killing a piece of legislation that would better equip schools to teach Samoan – or Hindi, or Mandarin, or Tongan, or Punjabi or any number of languages widely spoken in communities around New Zealand.Paul Goldsmith

 Confirmed, yet again, is the unhealthily large number of “suck-up, kick-down” personalities currently at large in New Zealand’s Fourth Estate.

So many contemporary journalists appear to be in the job for trophies. Not the sort of trophies one displays on the mantelpiece (although they like them too) but the sort of trophies big-game hunters hang on their walls. The current Press Gallery’s definition of a good political journalist would appear to be based on how many politician’s they have “bagged”. As if stuffing someone’s career is something to be proud of. – Chris Trotter

There is already enough ego and ambition in Parliament to go around – we certainly don’t need to be stoking either in a person before they have even been selected or elected. Monique Poirier 

The victim is the modern hero and also the highest moral authority: for who would dare to question, let alone oppose, the opinion of a victim on the subject of whatever has made him or her a victim? Thus, we listen to victims with a kind of awed and uncritical, but also terrified, reverence even when they speak of abstractions. If they say something which we suspect or even know to be untrue, we fear to let on to others our derogation from the holy word. To disagree publicly with a victim, to question the undiluted veracity of their story, is to increase the harm they have suffered, and in effect to victimise them a second time. – Theodore Dalrymple

 It is small wonder, then, that in a cultural climate such as this, some people are willing and able to claim the status of victim even when what they suffered is only one of the inevitable inconveniences of having been born human. It is as if were prayed not for the Lord to make us strong but to make us fragile. Psychological fragility, of course, is romantic in a way in which strength of mind is not: it is the moral equivalent of the blood that romantic poets coughed up prior to dying early. Apart from anything else, psychological fragility gives one the standing from which to discourse at length upon one’s favourite subject, the subject on which one is a world authority, namely oneself. – Theodore Dalrymple

If you’re ugly, old or badly-dressed, don’t expect crying to work; if you’re male, it’s a gamble; and if you’re not in the in-group, you can forget it. But if your face fits (and you don’t ugly-cry) then you can do what you like. And as long as you sob in public now and then, you’ll be considered a paragon of compassion. – Mary Harrington

In my 20-year plus time as a journalist, this Government is one of the most thin-skinned and secretive I have experienced. Many of my colleagues say the same. Even squeezing basic facts out of an agency is a frustrating, torturous and often futile exercise.Andrea Vance

It’s now very difficult for journalists to get to the heart and the truth of a story. We are up against an army of well-paid spin doctors. – Andrea Vance

But it is the New Zealand Transport Agency that take the cake: employing a staggering 72 staff to keep its message, if not its road-building, on track – up from 26 over five years. At every level, the Government manipulates the flow of information. – Andrea Vance

Perhaps the trials and tribulations of the nation’s journalists do not concern you. Why should you care? Because the public’s impression of this government is the very opposite.

They see a prime minister that has captivated the world with her ‘authentic’ communication style, intimate social media postings, daily Covid briefings and proactive releases of Cabinet papers. It is an artfully-crafted mirage, because the reality is very different. This is a Government that is only generous with the information that it chooses to share. Andrea Vance

Our current monetary regulatory regime works to protect the vested interests of those with capital at the exclusion of those seeking to acquire it. This applies to people wishing to purchase a house, obtain capital for a business or in some cases even open a bank account. This harms the poor and entrenches the wealthy. For historical reasons Māori are over-represented in our lower economic demographics. The Reserve Bank is not doing anything to improve their lot, and in many ways is making their lives harder. – Damien Grant

We’re losing a lot of the satire and the greater comment about what is going on, because people are afraid of what the reaction is going to be. – Matt Elliott 

It’s quite hard to navigate comedy, particularly if you want to do social satire, in these conditions… you really have to twist yourself in knots to not offend. – Ginette McDonald

Some people still continue to have the sense that comedy is the ability to say whatever you want, and that that has always been the case. That’s never always been the case. There’s always been lines and the audience will tell you where that line is, by reacting against it – Te Radar

The only reason we get away with that irreverence and edgy stuff is because on the flipside is heart. – Oscar Knightley

I don’t have rules but ‘stay in your storytelling lane’ is one anyone can trust. Everything (especially the painful stuff) should have an autobiographical pebble in it, because then it resonates. In my experience that’s how marginalised audiences feel seen, which is why I got into comedy writing in the first place. – Jessicoco Hansell 

But comedy’s not like ice skating. You don’t get points for degree of difficulty.” Sometimes, crossing the line can be thought-provoking. Laughter is a physical reaction. It’s honest and instant, and it’s interesting for the audience to laugh and sometimes wonder if it was OK to laugh.

The list of forbidden topics is always changing, and comedy evolves, like society, and it’s the job of the comic to feel where the line is. Sometimes you only find out by tripping over it. I’m sure if you’re the guest speaker at a KKK rally, the line is in a different place than for my audience. – Raybon Kan

The only rule in stand-up comedy from my perspective is tell jokes that you want to tell. Don’t tiptoe around other people because they might get offended. As a comedian, you have to stay true to your craft. – Dave Batten

There are some things that you can try and do something about. And if you want to be able to look at yourself in the mirror, then you’d damn well better do something about them. – Arif Ahmed

My best guess is that if, somehow, these islands had not been settled by outsiders but had simply been governed from outside for 100 years or so – as with most of these other Pacific states – real GDP per capita here might be similar to that in Samoa. They have computers, they have phones, they have credit. But they do not have an advanced economy offering high material living standards for their people (many of whom prefer to migrate to New Zealand). There might be reasons to debate this view, but even if these islands somehow generated per capita incomes twice those of Samoa they’d still be very low by advanced country (or modern New Zealand/Australia) standards.

Material living standards aren’t everything by any means. But they do seem to count for quite a lot.Michael Reddell

The conversations around the sustainability of red meat – which is often dominated by issues and matters prevalent in the northern hemisphere – means it is important to contribute a New Zealand-centric explanation of how we produce our meat.

The fact is, our system is the ‘EV car model’ of farming. Very efficient at raising animals on pasture and converting inedible grass into high quality, nutrient-dense food.Derek Moot

Kiwis must realise there’s no us and them – farmers are part of New Zealand; an integral part of our country’s welfare. A cursory glance at the rest of the world and we’d recognise how lucky we are here in Aotearoa.

New Zealand is the only OECD country with its economy based on agricultural production. It’s something that we do really, really, well. New Zealand farmers are good at agriculture and Kiwis can be proud of it. – Derek Moot

I’m reminded of the old Soviet Union, where word would spread like wildfire when a fresh delivery of bread or potatoes arrived at the supermarket and people would run to join the queue. Perhaps the government has chosen the same the mode of delivery for the Pfizer rollout. – Karl du Fresne

I don’t know who’s making these calls but I have to say, if you’ve got middle level bureaucrats sitting at their desk in Wellington, they do need to remember that their decisions will affect real people. – Dr Tim Mackle

New Zealanders, on the whole, are a tolerant, decent people, of many cultural and ethnic backgrounds. who abhor racism and inequality and indeed any other “ism” which purports to establish some sort of domination or superiority. “Jack is as good as his master” is a colloquialism long espoused in New Zealand to describe our egalitarian approach to life. There is no doubt whatsoever that any person in New Zealand today, if they have the ability, can aspire to and achieve whatever they want. The opportunity is undoubtedly there. In recent times, the highest offices of the land have been held by distinguished New Zealanders of multiple ethnicities – Maori, Fijian Indian, and yes, those of European or Asian descent. Ethnicity, gender or religion, amongst other political identities, has been no barrier to New Zealanders achieving their goals and dreams. We, all of us – Maori, Pakeha, Pasifika, Asian, African – attended school together, have worked together, played sport together, served and died for our country New Zealand together, and have intermarried to the extent that virtually every person of Maori descent today has a European or Asian ancestor. Few other countries around the world can claim such egalitarian, inter-cultural and relatively peaceful outcomes. – Henry Armstrong

This is not to say we should not be indifferent to the cultural identification, beliefs, needs and practices of cultural minorities, including our Pasifika, Asian and Maori communities – we should of course acknowledge and respect those cultural differences where appropriate. But equally, the same attributes pertaining to the current ethnic majority also need to be acknowledged. Terms like “white privilege” and “white supremacy” are racist insults which have NO PLACE in New Zealand. – Henry Armstrong

Racism goes both ways and is equally hurtful, no matter what a person’s ethnic or cultural identity. My Irish and Polish ancestors, as well as our Pasifika and Chinese brothers and sisters, have all experienced racism in New Zealand. Let’s unite and stamp this out-wherever it comes from, including from Maori! . . .

There is no excuse for justifying and supporting insulting accusations of racism of any type in New Zealand, be it by Pakeha or by Maori, or indeed by anybody else who uses ethnicity as a point of difference. Let us condemn ALL racism, overt, covert or inverse. – Henry Armstrong

If it’s true that a new form of overt racial antagonism is emerging in New Zealand, then its origins are almost certainly domestic. I’d go further and say that the primary provocation is coming not from shadowy white supremacists, as the Dominion Post story speculates, but from the opposite direction – from proponents of critical race theory, the Marxist view that societies such as New Zealand are built on oppressive, systemic racism.

To put it another way, the divisive, polarising race rhetoric that we are bombarded with daily is coming overwhelmingly from one side, and it’s not from Pakeha. If we really to want to identify what’s destabilising race relations in New Zealand, we should point the finger at those who relentlessly promote an ideology of apartness – conveniently denying, as I’ve pointed out in this blog, that even the most strident activists carry the supposed curse of European blood. – Karl du Fresne

The problem for these part-Maori agitators (should we call them Maokeha?) is that if they acknowledged their European descent, the ideological narrative that we are two races, immutably divided into exploiters and exploited, would be deprived of much of its force. But as long as they continue to identify exclusively with their Maori heritage, they lay themselves open to the accusation that they do it because it enables them to exercise power and influence that would otherwise not be available to them.

These are the people who are dialling up the heat in the race debate, and no one should be surprised if a redneck backlash develops. Nothing is more likely to give oxygen to the small minority of true racists in New Zealand – people like the woman Tukaki encountered – than the perception that New Zealand is being reshaped along race-based lines that would advantage those of part-Maori descent. The danger is that the vast majority of New Zealanders who are liberally minded and racially tolerant are likely to get caught in the middle of an unlovely clash between extremes. Karl du Fresne

In reality, the world seems every more filled with what the French call “langue de bois,” that wooden language in which apparatchiks of various apparats, governmental, academic, and commercial, put words to their lack of thoughts. – Theodore Dalrymple

Sentences, which are no more meaningful in the negative than in the affirmative, and whose negative indeed confers nothing to the mind different from the affirmative, are uttered with a gravity intended to suggest that something important is being said.

But it would be a mistake to suppose that, just because the words and sentences uttered have no clear meaning, that they have no purpose. On the contrary, they have a very important purpose. The mastery of this kind of language is the managerial equivalent of freemasons’ ceremonies: it distinguishes the managers from the managed.Theodore Dalrymple

Again, if I may be allowed a paradox, meaninglessness is not without meaning. To talk in verbiage is to commit yourself to nothing, to promise nothing, and therefore to prevent yourself from being held to anything. It therefore excludes nothing.

It facilitates, or is a disguise or smokescreen, for complete ruthlessness: for having uttered something without meaning, without any tether to concrete reality, you may do anything you like without breaking your word.

Where such language is used, there can be no trust, only suspicion, for no one utters anything to which he can be held. All that is left is a struggle for power, the achievement of which has come, ever since Nietzsche and his death of God, to seem the highest, even the only, good. – Theodore Dalrymple

In an age where we are surrounded with everybody’s best version of themselves presented on social media, confidence is king. On reality TV, all shyness and self-consciousness is discarded for 15 minutes of fame. Contestants readily make fools of themselves to gain some notoriety. These incredible levels of confidence shouldn’t be our norm, nor considered healthy.

Before diagnosing yourself with imposter syndrome and chanting affirmations in the mornings, consider that being a little bit self-aware and self-critical is not, in fact, a problem, and perhaps a society which values confidence over self-reflection is.Rachel Peters

The mantra of ‘They Are Us’ repeated over and over like a prayer soon began to lose its meaning. After March 15, many of us felt more isolated than ever before. We looked over our shoulders when we walked through a crowd. We felt our chests tightening while walking into a mosque. Some of us stopped taking our children to Friday prayers.

Others questioned whether or not to abandon wearing the hijab in search of safety. We were all waiting for more attacks to come, and we did not know where they would come from, or when. – Mohamed Hassan

All of us were grateful for the beauty we witnessed in the days that followed, the empathy and warmth and shared grief we were able to experience as a country. It was a moment that shaped us, gave us a path forward through the darkness. But that process has not ended. We are not healed. We are not ready to move on, and the road is long and difficult. –

There were times when ‘They Are Us’ felt hollow. A promise made but not kept. A pat on the back for a job not yet done. – Mohamed Hassan

In its essence, it is a story about an act of white supremacy that is centered around white voices, white feelings and white heroism. The irony is nauseating. The lack of self-awareness is profound. – Mohamed Hassan

But this is not an inspiring story. It is a tragedy, one that must always be centered around the Muslim victims and their families. No one else.

And when they are ready to speak again, the rest of us must sit down and listen. – Mohamed Hassan

At every such juncture, we’ve been admonished to “believe the science.” But this is not science; it’s politics. Science demands a reflexive posture of skepticism toward received wisdom, tempered by trust in empirical evidence. Bowing habitually to expert authority on the strength of titles and credentials is the antithesis of the scientific mindset. Leighton Akira Woodhouse

The scientific establishment, like the political establishment, is a human institution. It’s not an impartial supercomputer, or a transcendent consciousness. It’s a bunch of people subject to the same incentives and disincentives the rest of us are subject to: economic self-interest, careerism, pride and vanity, the thirst for power, fame and influence, embarrassment at admitting mistakes, intellectual laziness, inertia, and ad-hoc ethical rationalization, as well as altruism, moral purpose, and heroic inspiration. Scientific experts deserve the respect due to them by dint of their education and experience, and they deserve the skepticism due to them by dint of their existence as imperfect actors functioning in complicated and deeply flawed human networks and organizations. If you “believe in science,” you don’t bow to their authority. You don’t transform them into living legends and teach your children to follow the example of their lives. You don’t light votive candles to them and castigate anyone who dares doubt their infinite wisdom.

Instead, you demand the best proof they can offer. You consider their motivations, their ideological biases and their conflicts of interest. You interrogate their advice, and weigh it against that of their critics. You exercise diligence. You ask questions. You trust in evidence, not in people. You think for yourself. – Leighton Akira Woodhouse

Never forget that if it was easy to be in business then everybody would be in business. –  Pita Alexander

Honestly, that whole ‘They Are Us’ phrase really bothers me. I know many disagree with me and I’m not gonna’ fight the fight again, but if we really meant ‘They Are Us,’ the Crusaders would have changed their name. If we really meant ‘They Are Us,’ then we might not have planned massacre anniversary commemorations, knowing that most Muslims don’t mark anniversaries.

If they were us then we wouldn’t us the word ‘They’ at all.    – Jack Tame

How is it acceptable that the cycleway is a velvety smooth carpet of asphalt, while the general roadway remains a rutted, dishevelled patchwork quilt of rough and ready repairs? Motorists feel like they’re being contemptuously treated by a rabidly anti-car council.Mike Yardley

 Up to now, this new “age of enlightenment”, as woke followers would call it, is largely constrained to traditional wealthy democracies found in Europe, North America and Australasia. In other words, most of the world, by population, is yet to feel the woke wave or has decided it’s just not for them. Poor ignorant souls, still able to give their misplaced opinions on issues which have been ruled on by our woke leaders as unfit for public debate. – Derek Mackie

 It’s hard to tell how many people are secretly unwoke but I suspect it is a very large number indeed. Why don’t they speak out? If there’s one thing the woke brigade does well, it’s bully and intimidate. This is an age-old human tactic for getting your own way but what makes it particularly hypocritical in this case is the endless woke calls for fairness, kindness and freedom of expression. Like most movements born out of an urge for radical change and revolution, these laudable aims only apply to their own supporters. Anyone who dares to disagree or argue an alternative viewpoint is shouted down, vilified and verbally beaten into submission. –  Derek Mackie

In the last 70 – 100 years the great unwashed, that’s you and me by the way, have gained enormous freedoms and opportunities, not least regular baths and showers, which were denied to our ancestors. I don’t believe we will give these rights up easily. Like all radical movements, Woke will degenerate to more extreme and intolerant ideas, continuing to divide us by race, colour, gender and sexual orientation. These policies will become irreconcilable with preaching the same facade of understanding and fairness.

I hope that, despite the indoctrination planned for future schoolchildren, many will rebel and challenge the woke elite. However, this is likely another generation away, at least. In the meantime, the Great Unwoke need to band together, as best they can, and speak out at every opportunity to encourage others to follow suit. To stay silent and live a quiet life is no longer an option. Let’s bring on a new great age where we can discuss all issues in public life without fear of being branded something repugnant. –  Derek Mackie

I hope the greenies are still enjoying their gas ban and the fact we don’t mine much coal nowadays.

Because both of things mean we’re hurting the planet more than we otherwise would’ve done. Heather du Plessis Allan

That the CCC and the Government have got this far without encountering very much in the way of pushback from the public (farmers don’t count as the public) is because New Zealanders have no idea how much their day-to-day lives will be affected if Carr’s masterplan becomes Government policy. Everybody pays lip service to fighting global warming, but beyond occasionally catching a bus, or walking – instead of driving – to the chippie, it’s business as usual. Hardly anyone is prepared for the radical change of lifestyle which Carr’s recommendations would require. So, when the climate change penny finally drops, all hell is going to break loose. – Chris Trotter

Carr’s plans are typically elitist in their lofty disregard for the lives of ordinary New Zealanders. Indeed, the burden of this plan of his will fall most heavily upon those Kiwis least able to bear it. Is the cleaner living in South Auckland, who travels miles each day by car to reach her workplace, seriously being asked to buy an electric vehicle? And even if the government finances her into one, how is she supposed to power it up?Chris Trotter

The fact that Labour is surprised at our outrage tells me they don’t understand Middle New Zealand voters.

They badly misjudged how much we would object to this spend and how much we would hate the pay freeze just a few weeks ago. They don’t know what we prioritise.

After years of living in a Wellington politics bubble or a university bubble or a union bubble they’ve stopped bumping into normal people. They are relying on focus groups to try to understand us, but focus groups have limits. Focus groups measure people through a series of questions. People are more complicated than that.

To Labour, Middle New Zealanders are a curiosity they occasionally venture out to study like a zoologist heading out to watch a pack of passing giraffes. –  Heather du Plessis-Allan

The crime committed around the harbour crossing is now two-fold. The ruinous waste of money for a whole new structure, the only positive aspect being it most likely will never happen. The government, by the way, might want to reflect on that widespread type of reaction.

Why are so many people sceptical? Because their delivery record is abysmal, and it’s now haunting them. Governments should make announcements like this and have support, what they get through their own ineptitude is scepticism. – Mike Hosking

In a country crying out for infrastructural reform, not to mention no money and a shortage of skills and materials, the best they can do is a massive cross water cycle lane.

If you don’t see that as the sheer insanity that it is, you’re either employed at a university, in the Green Party, or you’ve lost your marbles. Roads build economies, cycles don’t. – Mike Hosking

Sometimes you get so bogged down with the day-to-day graft that it is hard to see where small improvements can make a big difference. If we stop seeing health and safety as compliance and look at it as productive farming with thriving staff, we might see an improvement in our pretty miserable track record of injuries and deaths on farm.Jake Jarman

Pandemics require two things: The efficient administering of effective vaccines, and truth.

I need reassurance that the country is receiving both. – Gavin Ellis

An army of spin doctors in the ministry and an elite force of them in the Beehive may be responsible for narratives which, if not conflicting, are not perfectly aligned. Either way, information is being manipulated and we would be näive to think otherwise. It’s the way politics and government works.

Nonetheless, it has no place in a pandemic.

When “Can I believe it?” passes the public’s lips in these hazardous times, it’s a signal to reset the strategy. – Gavin Ellis

The truth has a wonderful habit of revealing itself but, with a deadly virus waiting for an opportunity to thrive, we can’t wait a year to hear it. – Gavin Ellis

We need to hear leaders condemn all support for terrorism and all terrorism equally whatever the source, target, and circumstances, and even when it is not politically expedient to do so. – Juliet Moses

The Commission concedes that it is not possible to model the future but then bases its report on modelling.

A Shaman examining the entrails of a goat could make a forecast of GDP in 30 years’ time that would be just as valid. – Richard Prebble

The Commission is using climate change to advance an agenda for a transition to a “fair, inclusive and equitable” society, the eternal justification for socialism.

The report’s recommendations will make reaching zero emissions more costly while making New Zealand less fair, more divided and poorer. – Richard Prebble

If the term “the Establishment” means those who hold power in society and whose ideas dominate the public conversation, then what we thought of as the conservative Establishment in the latter part of the 20th century has long been extinct. We’ve done a 180-degree flip, to the point where what was then considered radical has become mainstream. But just like the old Establishment, the new one is oppressively conformist, authoritarian and intolerant of different ideas and different ways of doing things. That’s the nature of Establishments. – Karl du Fresne

When a major event occurs or a policy proposal announced, your first thought in today’s news feed culture is not your own original idea but almost inevitably a headline or commenter appealing to your worse biases.

Playing to the rawest elements of human nature, today’s social media-driven outrage machine has done great damage to intellectual life, destroying our ability to think independently, and discuss productively across lines of difference.   – Matthew Nisbet

When TV news does report on climate change, portrayals tend to exaggerate the threats, without providing information about what audiences might be able to do to protect against them, a style of fear mongering that can result in feelings of powerlessness or forms of denial. – Matthew Nisbet

In the quest for climate progress, the goal is not to broker cross-alliances between the center-right, center-left, and left wing, drawing on the best ideas that those factions can offer, but rather to build progressive power.

In doing so, the vast complexity of climate politics is reduced to a Manichean storyline that features a battle between the forces of “good and light” and “evil and darkness.” 

Progressives not only see climate change as an epic battle to stave off catastrophe, but also an opportunity to transform the world into their vision of an ideal society. – Matthew Nisbet

Absent the ability to read deeply, reason analytically, or argue effectively, generations of college students are at of risk of missing out on the most essential skills needed to sustain a liberal democracy. – Matthew Nisbet

I applaud and congratulate people who question the official line on any matter, even if sometimes they are in error. There is a freedom to err, a right to be wrong. – John Bishop

Those who say on any matter that the debate is over are propagating their ideology and advertising their power to squelch opposition. They are the enemies of free speech, freedom and democracy, even if they cloak themselves as being on the right side of history. – John Bishop

Today, if left unchallenged, cancel culture, de-platforming speakers, or decrying anyone who strays from the “correct” ideological line will lead inevitably to a denial of free speech rights. People will become afraid to exercise those rights. How can that ever be good?John Bishop

The Government’s announcement on Sunday of subsidies for electric vehicles did not make any case that the benefits to the public would plausibly exceed the costs. To fail to demonstrate positive net benefits is to fail to make a public wellbeing case for the measure.

The puzzle is why a Government that prides itself on having a wellbeing focus seems to have so little regard for it in this and other cases. – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

The Government’s press release covered the absence of a wellbeing benefit case with specious spin. For a start, its claimed environmental benefits are spurious. The ETS caps net emissions. If there are fewer emissions in transport, there will be more emissions elsewhere unless the cap is reduced. The same is true for other “chest-beating” policies such as decarbonising public transport and ‘revitalising rail’. Reducing the cap without subsidising electric vehicles could achieve more while costing less. – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

On the Climate Change Commission’s analysis, the ETS could come close to achieving the government’s net zero goal at a cost of only $50 a tonne of CO2. Why then did the Commission propose a raft of choice-reducing measures that would cost up to and possibly beyond $250 a tonne?

The Commission’s answer in essence is that we, the public, would cut net emissions in the wrong ways. We would not inflict enough pain on ourselves. We would plant too many pine trees. We would also fail to walk and cycle enough. We would drive cars too much. Government needs to change our behaviour in specific ways.

In so doing, the Commission explicitly abandons achieving net zero carbon by 2050 at least cost, as perceived by those incurring the costs. It seeks to force on New Zealanders an unchanged net emissions result at a higher cost. That harms the public’s wellbeing, as perceived by those affected. It does so for no environmental gain. – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

The branch of economics that has studied how best to assess whether a policy might improve people’s experienced wellbeing is welfare economics. People’s own assessment of their wellbeing is at the heart of that analysis. That makes it inherently non-elitist.

The contrast is with paternalistic policies that treat people’s preferences as the problem rather than something to be respected. People who have choices will make the “wrong” choices. Instinctively, paternalists wish to reduce the public’s scope for choice. They may want to prohibit what is not mandated. The Commission comes close to both on petrol versus electric cars. The Government may have the same instincts. – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

The Government’s press release on Sunday is a masterclass in the use of a false comparison. None of the claimed benefits are benefits relative to the ETS.

To cap it all, a tweet a few days ago by a former senior Labour adviser decried heavy imports of SUVs. With supreme elitism it ended: “It’s surprising we allow this at all.” Well, whose country is it? – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

But if the goal of the rollout was to safely vaccinate New Zealanders in the fastest possible time, the government and our health ministry have surely failed. We can’t look back at the initial response to Covid-19 and toot our horns, comparing ourselves favourably with almost every other country on Earth, whilst conveniently ignoring the fact that we are making the amongst the slowest progress with vaccinations in the developed World. – Jack Tame

It seems to me we’re in a funny middle ground. We haven’t done the noble thing. And for whatever reason, we haven’t done the fast thing, either. – Jack Tame

The whole thing has at times felt a bit ramshackle and inconsistent.
I’ve heard politicians say it’s not where we start but where we finish. It’s true that we won’t be entirely safe until our full population is vaccinated. Even then, we face a risk. But the speed of the rollout does matter. Every day someone in our community isn’t vaccinated, we face an increased risk of a community outbreak. The more people are unvaccinated at any one time, the greater the risk. – Jack Tame

The hypocrisy from the political left to conveniently ignore facts which do not suit their political agenda appears to have no shame.

Politicians constantly advertise what they claim are the sparkling clean, green credentials of EVs. I believe these politically driven, so called “noble” assertions are badly misleading and dangerous for the New Zealand public to blindly accept without debating the environmental credibility of EVs and fully understanding the downstream costs to taxpayers. – Troy Bowker

The point being missed, ignored, or not properly debated, is the total cost on the environment from the manufacture, use, and disposal of EVs versus petrol or diesel cars.

There is plenty of research to suggest EVs are actually worse for the environment overall than fossil fuel cars, just as there is research they are better.

None of that research properly deals with the CO2 emissions from the disposal and recycling of batteries. The EV industry lobby groups all tell us to not to be concerned and to “hope” that technology catches up so that the production and disposal of EV batteries will at some stage have a much lower carbon footprint. Surely this is putting the cart before the horse . Why can’t they address the elephant in the room regarding disposing of millions of EV batteries in a climate friendly manner and provide hard facts to support this? They can’t and they won’t because they simply don’t know. – Troy Bowker

A $6000 subsidy on a $60,000 EV is hardly relevant when all of your disposable income is paid in rent, food and heating your home.

I believe that when these issues are fully understood by the public, and the inconclusive message of how clean and green EVs are is replaced with reliable facts and sensible debate, Labour’s car tax will be seen for what is, political left ideology and hypocrisy at its worst. – Troy Bowker

To allow EVs to drive up to 500km in a single charge, these batteries weigh over 350kg and are made out of lithium, cobalt, copper, graphite, and nickel – mined in some of the world’s poorest countries.

The manufacture of these batteries does not come without an environmental cost. Once CO2 emissions from the production of batteries are taken into account, Germany’s Institute of Economic Research argued EVs do more harm to the environment than a modern Diesel engine. – Troy Bowker

Manufacturing is only the start of the problem. After an EV battery loses its ability to hold its charge, the metals and chemicals inside them contain toxic substances that are currently very difficult and expensive to dispose of cleanly. Technology hasn’t developed enough globally to come up with a way to either dispose of them safely, or recycle them in the volumes required.

If Labour wants all of New Zealand’s approximately four million vehicles to be EVs, then before they tax us even more can they please outline the plan to dispose of millions of toxic used EV batteries generally driven by the urban elite? This is not an unreasonable request. – Troy Bowker

Huge areas of land would need to be converted to graveyards for toxic used EV batteries. Suddenly the clean, green future with EVs that Labour advocates looks extremely dirty.

Used EV batteries are prone to spontaneous combustion, emitting poisonous gases into our air. The gases from the fires would travel large distances and be a huge risk to animals and humans. – Troy Bowker

Compared with normal fires, EV fires will be very difficult to put out. Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) national manager Paul Turner recently warned of the risk to human life from EV battery fires.

He reports EV battery fires trigger an irreversible chain reaction called “thermal runaway”, with fires burning at 1000C. FENZ is currently warning of the risks with the influx of a few thousand more EVs, let alone the four million that Labour want to bring into New Zealand. – Troy Bowker

Even more horrifying are the human rights violations in the production of EV batteries in the Congo, where over 50 per cent of the world’s cobalt is mined. A CNN investigation tracked the cobalt used for the production of luxury EVs to mass Congolese child-labour camps, involving children as young as 7. Adult supervisors were filmed assaulting children for not following instructions. – Troy Bowker

Proponents of identity politics and critical race theory, its ideological stablemate, hold that all people of Pasifika or Maori descent have experienced subjugation and have needs and interests that are at odds with those of the white oppressors. The aim is to secure political advantage to atone for their mistreatment, but unfortunately this can only come at the expense of social cohesion that benefits us all. – Karl du Fresne

Denial of one’s European heritage is a necessary starting point, because otherwise those claiming to be descendants of the oppressed must confront the fact that they are also descendants of the oppressors. The proponents of identity politics don’t seem to have yet worked out a way to reconcile this dichotomy without weakening their claims, so they ignore it.

Do they, at the same time as they cry out for justice on behalf of their dark-skinned forebears, also experience paroxysms of self-reproach for the behaviour of their pale ones? Karl du Fresne

It’s a sad reflection of the times we live in that there is an industry of fact-checkers. These usually come in the form of online services that you can access to check the facts surrounding something you’ve seen or heard.

In a world where documentaries, the current affairs reading material we choose, and even the words of our elected officials, don’t always present an accurate view of the facts, fact-checking has become a necessary service. – Bruce Cotterill

We live in a environment where anyone with a mobile phone and an ability to write can be a publisher. And there are many mechanisms to distribute one’s opinions, most of which rely on some form of social media.

As a result there is more information out there than ever before, none of which has been subject to the normal safeguards around checking what is true and what is false. And unlike the news-gatherers of old, there is no obligation on the new age publisher to be accurate. Or honest. 

In my opinion, this puts an even greater onus on the traditional media to call out the inaccuracies. Now, more than ever before, they should be our unchallengeable source of the truth.

In fact, while the old media companies are busy trying to find ways to remain relevant, I suggest that there is an obvious path for them: honest, accurate journalism that can be relied on by readers, viewers and listeners. – Bruce Cotterill

For most of us, when we make promises we should at least have an understanding of how we are going to deliver on them. For our current crop of political leaders, that doesn’t appear to be a consideration. In fact, they appear to see the ill-informed landscape not as a chance to put things right, but an opportunity to further confuse and mislead.

That’s a great shame. I don’t want much from our politicians. But I do want them to be people who tell us the truth, who give us the best information they can give us, and who make good decisions on behalf of the electorate, without hidden agendas, dishonesty or bias.

The problem with misleading people is this: the more you get away with it, the more likely it is to continue. At its worst, we must prepare for a Government that deliberately and frequently lies to us in order to hold on to power. Such behaviour, left unchecked, would put us into irreversible decline. – Bruce Cotterill

Can you credibly believe any policy that says plant your food productive land in exotic trees so you don’t have to change your behaviour? 50 Shades of Green

In normal times, fiscal profligacy is, at base, an act of selfishness at the expense of future generations. It is the same attitude that has seen us pollute our rivers, overfish our seas, use up non-renewable resources, plunder our forests and generally behave in a fashion without thought for our own grandchildren and their grandchildren…My fiscal policies were, as far as possible, about looking to the long term, not spending up to the hilt in the good times. Rainy days do come, and are more likely in New Zealand than in many other countries. – Sir Michael Cullen

Whanau is at the core of humanity. Let’s stop pretending we are ‘kind’. It’s a buzz word that no longer applies to the way we handle those suffering the most for the rest of us. – Sir Ian Taylor

Everybody needs a bit of luck, but luck isn’t a strategy. We need to have a system that holds up, – Sir Brian Roche

The unbelievably insane proposed $800 million ‘cycle bridge’ attached to the Auckland harbour bridge, WILL NOT HAPPEN. Why? Because the understandable uproar across the country has been such, no government could survive such craziness and all governments principal motivation is survival. – Sir Bob Jones

The second reason I suspect a conspiracy behind the $800 million cycle-bridge announcement is because no government is that dumb. It amounted to a plainly ludicrous straw man for the government to earn public points by subsequently cancelling it. Sir Bob Jones

I expected that I was paying this fortune, all this time and energy, to learn how to think. But they are forcing you to think the way they want you to think. – Yeonmi Park

Voluntarily, these people are censoring each other, silencing each other, no force behind it. Other times (in history) there’s a military coup d’etat, like a force comes in taking your rights away and silencing you. But this country is choosing to be silenced, choosing to give their rights away. Yeonmi Park

There is a problem and it needs to be fixed. It is one of short-sightedness in understanding that jobs defined by officials as low skilled, low paid and low priority are actually vital links in keeping a longer and deeper interconnected supply and delivery chain ticking all the way into the market to ensure we can sell the products and services we supply and in return contribute to our national, regional and local economies. – Michael Barnett

We classify our sports in order to pitch like against like and to keep people safe. Heavyweight boxers never fight flyweights. From puberty, the sexes compete separately in most sports most of the time. These are long accepted norms. Or were. – Tanya Aldred

By conflating gender and sex, I would argue we fudge the very reason we have sex categories in sport: the male performance advantage. Without a separate category for females, there would be no women in Olympic finals. – Tanya Aldred

The science is young. Stop. Breathe. Trans women should be able to live their sporting lives to the fullest so if research can find a way for them to participate in female sports without advantage, brilliant. Until then, remove the idea of gender altogether and revert to sex-based categories – a female category and an open category that can cater for trans men who have taken testosterone, trans women and men.

But above all, there needs to be a realisation that you can’t always have it all. Just as women and trans men can’t dominate in men’s sports; and men can’t enter women’s sport; trans women shouldn’t be able to push open a door that was locked for a reason. It isn’t fair. –  Tanya Aldred

Lowering of testosterone is almost completely ineffective in taking away the biological differences between males and females. – Ross Tucker

You take the best part of you, the thing you love and enjoy the most, and you take it away. It’s probably the cruellest thing you could do to somebody.Gray Todd

The so-called low skilled workers were essential and frontline workers through lockdowns. Prioritising visa relaxations based on workers’ skills or the capacity to generate wealth is not only against basic human rights, but is not aligned with brand New Zealand as known internationally. –  Anu Kaloti

Migrants here are left in no doubt whatsoever that this government does not want them and does not value them.Alastair McClymont

As well as superior height and bone density, males gain a far larger amount of muscle and strength during puberty than females, and multiple studies show this is largely maintained even after an extensive period of testosterone suppression in adulthood. – Dr Emma Hilton

Too many today think that acknowledging the biological differences between the sexes is sexism. This is nonsense. Of course, cultural norms exacerbate biological differences, but there is no escaping the reality that most men are considerably stronger than most women.Jo Bartosch

It is no more offensive to admit that, on average, men outperform women in sport than it is to acknowledge that men can’t give birth. It is, however, offensive to reduce the biological reality of womanhood to a testosterone marker. With training and dedication there was a possibility that Hubbard could have become a champion male weightlifter. But what is certain is that Hubbard will never be a woman. – Jo Bartosch

It’s over-ambitious, under-endowed with talent and too impatient to re-invent the wheel. The bureaucracy is struggling to keep up, and it’s showing. A popular leader isn’t enough to compensate for (or disguise) incompetence, fatigue and hubris. – Karl du Fresne

Roads that keep farms supplied and enable crops and livestock to be transported for processing will be neglected so that affluent Aucklanders can cycle over the harbour on a summer’s day for a leisurely Saturday morning latte. – Karl du Fresne

A government that was rewarded only last year for its empathy and sensitivity is rapidly turning into one that looks arrogant, incompetent and defensive. – Karl du Fresne

Two years on, can we conclude the much-vaunted 2019 Wellbeing Budget was really just a feel-good budget? – Ben Thomas

We’re journalists, we’re not criminals. The fact that the Crown is treating the media like this when we have exposed bad practice in a government department is incredibly disappointing and very heavy-handed. 

If that’s the way Crown Law is going to treat the media then we should be afraid because that’s not the Aotearoa New Zealand that we believe that we’re living in.

Our job is to hold power to account. That’s what we did, that’s what we do and that is what we will continue to do. The Crown being so heavy-handed and ridiculous in taking this case is certainly not going to stop that. – Melanie Reid

Labour’s and the Greens’ sharp swing to the left, in cultural terms, may be acceptable to New Zealanders in the professions, the public service, the universities and the communications industries. After all, these are the highly-educated elites who, in practically all the advanced economies of the West, are the most comfortable, temperamentally, with the politics of race and personal identity. It is not acceptable, however, to the culturally conservative 7-15 percent of the electorate which “switched sides” in 2017 and 2020. They are becoming increasingly alarmed and confused by the Labour Government’s unheralded direction of travel. – Chris Trotter

What Labour would like us to believe is that they are skating on a solid sheet of ideological ice, more that capable of carrying the weight of their cultural revolution. In reality, the ice now bearing their electoral weight is wafer thin. Sadly, Labour’s leaders remain utterly oblivious to the currents surging just below their party’s fragile crust of support. They have no idea how very strong they are, nor how deathly cold.Chris Trotter

We live in a society that abhors discrimination on the basis of many traits. And yet one of the major forms of discrimination is lookism, prejudice against the unattractive. And this gets almost no attention and sparks little outrage. Why?

Lookism starts, like every form of bigotry, with prejudice and stereotypes. – David Brooks

The language of Critical Race Theory is designed to obfuscate, not to enlighten, and its use of language is key. Critical Race Theory has used English to hide within plain sight an entirely new dialect where nothing means what we think it means; where words may not be pronounced differently, but where they have different meanings to the initiated, and these meanings are deeply interlinked with one another, and referential to one another.  – Effi Lincoln

Western civilization has succeeded as much as it has because we have adopted the concepts of liberty, universal human rights, democracy, free enterprise and equality before the law.  We believe that there is an objective truth that is accessible through reason, and we believe in the concept of the reasonable person.

Importantly we recognise the imperfections of our society, but we know that through reason, through scientific method, and through the application of the law, we can continue to improve. –  Effi Lincoln

Liberalism seeks to understand where we are now, and how we arrived here, and to use reason to take people forward to a better future

And the breath of life for Liberalism; its oxygen, is free speech. –Effi Lincoln

To Critical Race Theorists and thus to the Woke, all inequity, no matter how random, is an expression of racism.

For them, any outcome gap between two identity groups must be due to racism – Effi Lincoln

Leftist ideology exists on a continuous downward slope to absurdity because it has no external arbiter of truth. In leftist thought there is no objective truth, no reasonable person standard.  There is only your truth and my truth. And these truths, which emanate from Lived Experiences, are ranked by identity grouping with the most oppressed identity always being bestowed the status of Most Truthful.

In Woke, even the way we speak is seen as part of the power matrix to be dismantled – Effi Lincoln

The aim of the Woke movement (and, integral to it, the Critical Race Theorists) is to enact a social and cultural revolution with the goal of seizing the means of cultural production and flipping society over in such a way that the cultural capital that holds our society together is destroyed;  destroyed in such a way that turns the perceived oppressors into the oppressed and makes those oppressors pay, in perpetuity, for the sins of themselves, in upholding systemic racism, and of their forbears, who first created the systemically racist institutions and then stole from the ancestors of the Critical Race Theorists, their utopian world. – Effi Lincoln

The fact that we have human rights, and a Human Rights Commissioner to uphold those rights is a direct result of Liberalism. 

Critical Race Theorists however see human rights as subservient to the group rights of the identity politics they practice instead. – Effi Lincoln

It’s not hard to see why wokeness is so frequently compared to a religion. The metaphors are everywhere: the washing of feet, the prostrations, the proclamations of faith, the sacraments, the martyrs, the confessions, the heretics, the hallowed ground, the Original Sin, the evangelism. Last summer’s protests for racial justice often had the look of a religious movement. Many of its practitioners saw it explicitly in thoseterms. Even the snarky phrase for this moment of mass political enlightenment, “The Great Awokening”, is derived from the name of an early American religious revival. – Leighton Woodhouse

If religion gives meaning to the lives of the faithful, there are a lot more Americans now who lack that meaning than there used to be, and they’re concentrated on the left side of the political spectrum. It’s not difficult to imagine these people seeking the kind of meaning that religion would otherwise have provided them  — a sense of belonging to a larger community; a feeling of collective purpose; an affiliation with a temporal reality that transcends the duration of a single human lifespan — in other things. In their politics, for example.

The problem is that politics is, in important ways, the very antithesis of religion, and in a democratic society, the more politics takes on the shape of faith, the more intractable and dysfunctional it becomes. That’s because politics, when put to its proper use, is the search for what disparate groups share in common, and the bargaining over their differences. Religion is practically its inverse; at its root, it’s tribal. And so as our politics have taken on the character of religion, they have become tribal, too. – Leighton Woodhouse

Once upon a time, politics served the purpose of weaving together livable compromises out of divergent interests and values. We didn’t rely on political identities to give our lives meaning. Political parties, factions, and institutions were merely the instrumental means through which we brokered a relatively peaceful co-existence with those who didn’t see eye-to-eye with us. Occasionally, and often heroically, it was the basis upon which we mobilized opinion to annihilate those with truly anti-social agendas. But ultimately, it was the toolset with which we built a practical working peace.

Today, politics is a competition for tribal allegiance, the means by which we proudly declare our intractable differences with others. Like religion, it is an instrument we use to forge communities of kinship with one another, but only by declaring war on those who lie outside of them. It is no longer the basis for co-existence in a pluralist society, but the stick with which we draw our battle lines. It is the domain of sectarian holy war. In a democratic society, it will be the vehicle for our undoing. – Leighton Woodhouse

While these reforms are often referred to, quite accurately, as free-market reforms, another way of looking at them is as the removal of an incalculable number of privileges that each benefited the few at the expense of the many. These privileges meant fewer opportunities for New Zealanders to reach their full potential. Once these shackles came off, innovative and entrepreneurial Kiwis started countless new companies and even created new industries. – Nicholas Kerr

While New Zealand has avoided large numbers of COVID-19 deaths or infections, it’s wrong to suggest that this is due to astute policy choices or excellence in their execution. Rather, it had few choices and got lucky. – Nicholas Kerr

New Zealand was able to prevent a major COVID-19 outbreak for two main reasons. First, it’s fortunate to be a remote island nation, so it was feasible to shut down the country’s borders. Second, it has a unicameral legislature and no constitution. – Nicholas Kerr

Once again, New Zealanders will have more limited employment choices. While they might like to trade off salaries or conditions with their preferred employer, that will no longer be possible as the entire sector they are seeking work in will have those locked in place. The least skilled will be priced out of jobs altogether. – Nicholas Kerr

If you value liberty and free markets, you need to continually make the case for them.  – Nicholas Kerr

Free markets allow everyone to reach their full potential and deliver morally sound outcomes. Most of us who understand this would prefer to use our time producing and innovating. But if we truly care for the thing that allows us to be productive—the free market—we need to devote some of our energy to defending it. – Nicholas Kerr 

At a business summit earlier this week, the subject of the Prime Minister’s occasional tendency to argue black is white came up. A particularly acute observation was that Ardern was really speaking to her base and giving them the message she wanted them to hear. When it comes to the OECD and Covid, a higher level of truth is required. Fran O’Sullivan

Throughout this pandemic, the burden of a slow government response has been borne by the general population. Excessive personal restrictions have become the go-to tool, in preference to officials having their feet held to the fire by impatient politicians. – Steven Joyce

When there is no clear and present danger, most people can’t be bothered pulling out their phone to scan a barcode every time they go into a shop or cafe.

Unfortunately it looks a lot like the government has the same attitude, shrugging its shoulders and wombling along with a slow vaccination rollout. It fills in its time instead writing policy papers on the utopia that awaits us once they have completely re-organised our previously successful economy some years after the pandemic has passed. – Steven Joyce

The difference between an overly relaxed population and a sleepy government is that we are paying them to look out for our interests. It is their job, and they should be working much harder and with more urgency at getting the place back to normal so people have the freedom to live their lives. – Steven Joyce

Great Britain, the US, Europe are all doing everything in their power to return to normality as quickly as possible. Certainly, they have had it tougher.

But they are also much more realistic that free money and constant government borrowing can’t work forever as a substitute for a vibrant, connected economy. And to them the freedom of their citizens and the ability to go about their lives is important. – Steven Joyce

Beyond the vaccines, the Prime Minister should show some leadership by declaring her intention to get our border back to normal and allow reasonable freedom of movement as soon as is safely possible. She needs to put the boffins and the Fabian Society theorists back in their boxes, and declare that our post-pandemic problem is a shortage of labour, not a surplus. – Steven Joyce

Most importantly, the government needs to grow a backbone when dealing with the public service. They’ve stuffed it full of money and people. It is not Ministers’ job to justify a lacklustre performance. It is their job to demand more on our behalf. – Steven Joyce

Winston Peters’ reappearance in public last weekend was a reminder of the damage he has done to our democracy. When he put the Labour Party into office after the 2017 election, he did not just disappoint the winning party and its voters, he distorted the election’s reflection of public opinion. – John Roughan

Supporters of the winning party assert their views with new confidence thinking most people now agree with them. People who do not share those views become less confident to say so, more likely to keep their concerns quiet for the time being.

This is what has happened since the 2017 election. Ever since Peters put Labour in power its supporters have believed they won that election, despite the fact National had received 44.4 per cent of the vote to Labour’s 36.9 per cent. Even when Labour and Green voters were added together they did not outnumber National’s supporters that year. – John Roughan 

Last year Labour was re-elected with a majority in its own right, the first time any party has won an absolute majority since 1951. It attracted a swag of National votes thanks entirely to Jacinda Ardern’s appeal in a pandemic. But the result has reinforced the confidence of progressive folk that New Zealand has radically changed. They think it might even be Aotearoa.

They are mistaken. You don’t have to be very clever to know there is a subterranean rumbling in the land about a suspected agenda of Māori empowerment. You need only move beyond the bubbles of media, academia and public relations to hear it. – John Roughan

New Zealand has been blessed with very stable government on the whole, because voters normally give plenty of notice when most of them want a change of government. Polls turn against the incumbent a good year or two before the next election, plenty of time for the alternative party to drop or dilute positions it has taken for opposition purposes. – John Roughan

We got a Government unprepared for power and we know how. It need never happen again – John Roughan

Over the last 20 years, the Treaty has been wrenched out of its 1840s context and become the plaything of those who would divide New Zealanders from one another, not unite us. – Don Brash

I love the punctuality and the cleanliness of Pākehā funerals, but I do think they lack a bit of time in terms of spending time with their loved one, with families and just being able to cry and talk and sing and laugh together, instead of having all turn up on the final hour on the day of the funeral and doing it all then. That’s a bit tough to be honest. – Francis Tipene

Among the positive things about journalism are creative listening and humanity, and the voice the media can give to the overlooked and marginalised, and to raise ideas whose time has come. – John GIbb

Twitter is the new Colosseum and its inhabitants are the new mob, deciding what opinions, statements and beliefs can be expressed publicly and what cannot. – Schreibmaschiner

Now it is true that the character of a person wrongfully killed is not germane to the wrongfulness of his death. The law does not distinguish between saints and sinners as victims of murder. It is no defence to a charge of murder that the victim was a swine. . . .a man does not become good by being wrongfully killed. A mother loves her son because he is her son, not because he is good, and therefore the grief of his family is understandable and easily sympathised with; but for others to turn him into what he was not, a martyr to a cause, is to display at once a moral and an intellectual defect. – Theodore Dalrymple

Hate speech laws are always confusing because the concept is subjective. There is no objective test. What makes you feel unsafe is totally subjective. Some people feel unsafe in the dark. Hate speech will be whatever the authorities decide. – Richard Prebble

The government wants to add groups that should be exempt from ridicule and has suggested “religion, gender, sexuality, and disability”. The paper does not explain why these groups. We can easily think of others. Why not the vertically challenged? Height matters. Most US presidents have been over 6 foot tall.

Then what about the most misunderstood? Old white men, a group with which I feel some affinity. There are university courses on “white privilege” that seem designed to make old white men feel “unsafe and unwelcomed”.

Once we are protecting people’s feelings the list of groups is infinite.  – Richard Prebble

Cancel culture is sweeping the West. It is identity politics. Persuading voters that they are victims who need protecting. – Richard Prebble

Why is free speech important? Free speech is the building block on which democracy is constructed. Out of discussion and debate we test ideas. Only by allowing the advancement of false propositions can we prove they are wrong. – Richard Prebble

It is important that the state protects religious freedom including the right to hold no religious belief.

Religious freedom does not extend to the state giving special protection to religious opinions. – Richard Prebble

In a democracy, it is not the role of the government to protect us from having our beliefs challenged no matter how “unsafe and unwelcome” that may make us feel. The risk of being offended is the cost we must pay for having the right to say what we think. Once we empower the state to protect us from being offended we are no longer a free society.

Free speech is our defence against tyranny. It is our ability to say that the government is wrong. – Richard Prebble

After all, if we really were one of the first countries to eliminate Covid19 as the Prime Minister claimed, we should not be one of the last, as now seems increasingly likely, to escape its clutches. – Peter Dunne

A government entity is threatening a specialist contractor’s livelihood on the basis of her race. It’s almost unbelievable that this could happen in 2021 in a developed country. – Jordan Williams

If the Labour Government were a beloved childhood character it would be Pinocchio, the puppet whose nose grows when he lies.

There’s been several examples of blatant porky-telling in the past week; its weak framing-up of what constitutes hate speech is one – but the most obvious (and the most important politically) concerns this country’s vaccine roll-out. Pinocchio’s snoot is experiencing quite the growth spurt. – Janet Wilson

Don’t forget that over-promising and under-delivering is a hallmark of this Government. 

Then there’s the “what’s-good-for-you-is-even-better-for-me” strategy. – Janet Wilson

What’s needed now, more than ever, are honest conversations, based on fact, not what’s increasingly looking like opaque butt-covering. – Janet Wilson

New Zealanders returning after a few years abroad might wonder whether they’ve blundered into a parallel universe. A government that is pitifully thin on ministerial ability and experience is busy re-inventing the wheel, and doing it at such speed that the public has barely had time to catch its breath. Karl du Fresne

The most visible change might crudely be described as Maorification, much of it aggressively driven by activists of mixed Maori and European descent who appear to have disowned their problematical white colonial lineage. Self-identifying as Maori not only taps into a fashionable culture of grievance and victimism, but enables them to exercise power and influence that would otherwise not be available to them. – Karl du Fresne

The government has done its best to ensure continued media support for this ideological project by creating a $55 million slush fund supposedly created to support “public interest journalism” but available only to news organisations that commit themselves to the promotion of the so-called principles (never satisfactorily defined) of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi. 

What has been framed as an idealistic commitment to the survival of journalism is, in other words, a cynical and opportunistic bid for control over the news media at a time when the industry is floundering.  This is a government so shameless, or perhaps so convinced of its own untouchability, that it’s brazenly buying the media’s compliance.  – Karl du Fresne

Potentially even more damaging to Ardern’s government, because it hits ordinary people at a very basic level, is the shambolic incompetence of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, and the growing perception that the public has been continually fed falsehoods about the pandemic and the government’s response to it. – Karl du Fresne

The right groups, with the right processes, can make excellent decisions. But most of us don’t join groups to make better decisions. We join them because we want to belong. Groupthink persists because groupthink feels good. – Tim Harford

Ethno-nationalism has political categories based on racial classification – the belief that our fundamental identity (personal, social and political) is fixed in our ancestry. Here the past determines the future. Identity, too, is fixed in that past. In contrast, democratic-nationalism has one political category – that of citizenship – justified by the shared belief in a universal human identity. – Elizabeth Rata

He Puapua envisages a system of constitutional categorisation based on ancestral membership criteria rather than the universal human who is democracy’s foundational unit. Ancestral group membership is the key idea of ‘ethnicity’. This slippery term refers to a combination of culture – what we do and how we understand ourselves – and genetic inheritance. The word entered common usage from the 1970s followed by ‘indigenous’ in the 1980s. ‘Ethnicity’ was an attempt to edit out the increasingly discredited ‘race’. However changing a word does not change the idea. Ethnicity does not mean culture only. It has a genetic, biological – a race, component. Although race is an unscientific concept it retains social currency with whakapapa often used to soften the racial connotation of ancestral belonging.

Whatever term is used – ethnicity, race, culture, whakapapa – the issue is the use of ancestral membership for political status. Liberal democracy can accommodate identification with the ancestral group in the civil sphere. Inclusive biculturalism allows for the evolving social practice of a hybrid Maori and settler-descendant culture, one enriched by diverse migration. Exclusive biculturalism, on the other hand, takes those ethnically or racially categorised groups into the constitutional sphere of legislation and state institutions. It is here that we see the effects of five underpinning beliefs of ethno-nationalism. – Elizabeth Rata

The first belief holds that our ethnic or racial identity is our primary and determining personal identity. This denies the fact that identity in the modern democratic world is individual identity.  – Elizabeth Rata

For many people, the meaning of who they are is intimately tied to the idea of ethnic belonging. There are those who choose their primary social identity to be pakeha. Others, with Maori ancestry, choose Maori identity as their defining subjectivity. From a democratic point of view the right to choose a determining identity, including an ethnicised or racialised one, must be supported. It is the same for those who wish to define themselves in religious or sexuality terms. As long as such identities remain private choices, practised in association with others of like minds in the civic sphere, there is no problem. It is the right of an individual in a democratic country to make that choice. Elizabeth Rata

The second belief underpinning the He Puapua Report is that the ethnic or racial group is primordial – existing from the beginning of time and known through the mythologies that are now called ‘histories’. This belief feeds into the assumption that the group is fundamentally distinctive and separate – hence ethnic fundamentalism. It denies the universal human reality of migration, genetic mixing and social mixing. It certainly denies the New Zealand reality. – Elizabeth Rata

A third belief permeating He Puapua is that how people live and understand their lives (culture) is caused by who they are (ancestry or ethnicity/race). Such biological determinism asserts that our genetic heritage causes what we do and the meaning we give to our actions – culture. It is a belief that has taken on its own life in education to justify the ‘ways of knowing and being’ found in matauranga Māori research, Māori mathematics, and in ‘Māori as Māori’ education. – Elizabeth Rata

The fourth belief is a blood and soil ideology. It is the idea that an ethnic group indigenous to an area is autochthonous. The group is ‘of the land’ in a way that is qualitatively different from those who arrive later. As a consequence of this fact the first group claims a particular political status with entitlements not available to others. The ideology is located in mythological origins and seductive in its mystical appeal. By separating those who are ‘indigenous’ from those who are not, a fundamental categorisation occurs which then becomes built into political institutions. Such a categorisation principle can be extended – why not have a number of ‘classes’ with political status based on time of arrival – those who arrived first, those who came a little later, to those who have only just arrived. In an ethno-nation it is quite possible that these ‘classes’ could become caste divisions. – Elizabeth Rata

The fifth belief builds on the others. The classification of individuals as members of ethnic categories is extended to political categories. Membership of an ethnic category  takes precedence over citizenship as a person’s primary political status. One’s political rights follow from this status. The acceptance of ancestral membership as a political category, rather than a social identity, has huge implications for national cohesion and democratic government. It is where ethnic fundamentalism becomes a major problem for us all. – Elizabeth Rata

The democratic political arena is where we meet as New Zealanders, as equal citizens of a united nation. That public arena is textured by contributing communities certainly, but it is the place where we unite – as a modern pluralist social group that is also a political entity. If we choose not to unite in this way, and the He Puapua Report is recommending that we don’t,  why have a nation – New Zealand?

When we politicise ethnicity – by classifying, categorising and institutionalising people on the basis of ethnicity – we establish the platform for ethno-nationalism. Contemporary and historical examples should make us very wary of a path that replaces the individual citizen with the ethnic person as the political subject. – Elizabeth Rata

Ethnic fundamentalism is no better, no worse than the myriad of other fundamentalisms that some individuals impose upon themselves (or have imposed upon them) to give their lives meaning. It becomes a danger to liberal societies regulated by democratic politics when ethnicity is politicised. By basing a governance  system of classification and categorisation on historical rather than contemporary group membership, we set ourselves on the path to ethno-nationalism. ‘He Puapua’  means a break. It is used in the Report to mean “the breaking of the usual political and social norms and approaches.” The transformation of New Zealand proposed by He Puapua is indeed a complete break with the past. For this reason it is imperative that we all read the Report then freely and openly discuss what type of nation do we want – ethno-nationalism or democratic nationalism? – Elizabeth Rata

For New Zealand’s Prime Minster to be talking such nonsense – in fact, such a complete untruth as ‘bold action on climate change is a matter of life and death’ –  is more than ominous. Her obvious preference for calling urgency on endorsing the recent recommendations of the Climate Change Commission is completely unacceptable. Its unbalanced findings verge on the fanatical and it is high time Ardern is called to account for the fear-mongering she is spreading and for promoting policies which would in fact basically destroy our economy. – Amy Brooke

She must be very well aware that policies have consequences – so why is she so dramatically advocating what would be a self-inflicted wound on New Zealand? There is no evidence whatsoever that we are faced with any life or death decision with regard to climate change –except the one she is not highlighting: that adopting its extreme and unnecessary recommendations would economically cripple us as a country.

So what is she up to? She must know very well that given our size, in comparison with major producers of carbon dioxide, what we might achieve would not make one shred of difference to the total global CO2 emissions. She is treating New Zealanders as fools by maintaining this fiction – Amy Brooke

Ardern, apparently, is making obeisance to the extremist propaganda advanced by the far Left. However, New Zealanders are gradually realising that the guerrilla tactics of communism have long been undermining our country. Given her hard-core, leftist agenda – and a strong body of dedicated, socialist comrades in her Labour coalition – extraordinary moves are now being made to destroy our democracy, largely unchallenged by a lacklustre National party opposition. – Amy Brooke

By fanning the flames of concern over the supposedly catastrophic consequences of climate change – giving it cargo cult status – an extraordinarily useful tool is at hand, particularly given the prophesying of impending calamities by our helpful, now government-paid media. – Amy Brooke

Facts? The majority of policymakers and politicians are damagingly uninformed about the findings of the hundreds of scientists in related fields, many with world-renowned reputations. Some, themselves serving as expert reviewers for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, have pointed out that the IPCC has been hijacking science for ideological ends and have shown that hard evidence for a ‘climate emergency’ doesn’t hold up. In other words, the Left’s policy-makers’ agenda is to destroy the West’s economic and social ecology, but so successful has been the propaganda that an obsession with an impending global warming climate change catastrophe is now prevalent – Amy Brooke

The truly shocking  aspect of the Climate Change Commission’s recommendations to government on how to limit New Zealand’s greenhouse gases is the damage they would inflict upon this country. Its role was apparently originally envisaged  to take politics out of the climate change debate. It has done nothing of the sort and, instead, launched an attack on our freedoms. It would give the government unprecedented, basically fascist, control over the cars we drive and import, our energy sources and our housing and agriculture. It also recommends reducing the number of farm animals and replacing productive farmland with still more pine tree plantings.

Not only is our set 2050 target of net zero emissions entirely unnecessary, its totally unrealistic recommendations such as prioritising re-cycling are impracticable – and almost risible.  – Amy Brooke

We should make no mistake: the government’s Emissions Reduction Plan, due by 31 December, is meat and drink to our now totally compromised, hard-left Labour coalition.

The way ahead is now fraught indeed – unless that sleeping giant, the public, properly wakes up. – Amy Brooke

Understanding the other side’s point of view, even if one disagrees with it, is central to any hope for civility in civic life. Monique Poirier

It should be acceptable to hold the position that New Zealand’s response to Covid-19 was a good one while simultaneously being critical of it when things go wrong – particularly when they are avoidable – without fear of the response you might receive. – Monique Poirier

I don’t like the idea of New Zealand as a country where political opponents are also political enemies. Monique Poirier

“My worry when I think about Willie … [Foreign Affairs Minister] Nanaia [Mahuta], other ministers, is there is something a bit religious about this. A sense that ‘if we haven’t said Aotearoa 18 times by lunchtime, if we haven’t referenced the Treaty and tried to do some things in that area, we’ll have to go home in the evening and say a few Hail Marys’ – Simon Bridges

If the critical race theorists are correct, if you’re a white person who denies that you’re a racist, that just proves that you’re a racist…they used a very similar test back in the medieval period to identify witches. – Andrew Doyle

“I think that’s what’s going to happen if this Government doesn’t pull its finger and get the immigration department to actually do its job and support our migrant workers. We will lose a lot of people who are productive to our economy, and good human beings. – Judith Collins

I grew up thinking being a farmer’s daughter was the best thing … and now I find people apologising for being farmers. Judith Collins

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, said Lord Acton. One might add, absolute money creation power corrupts absolutely, too. So central banks, armoured with the power to keep governments afloat and markets working, now aim to use it for whatever political goals they please. –Oliver Hartwich

It is a strange world in which we now find ourselves. While politicians are constrained by majorities and public finances, central bankers are unconstrained. They do not have to convince the electorate. They cannot run out of cash. They cannot be voted out of office. – Oliver Hartwich

Once upon a time, central bankers did not tweet. And perhaps that was just as it should be. – Oliver Hartwich

The open discussion of any issue must be possible without fear of repercussions on both sides of the debate if the best outcome is ever to be reached. That is the fundamental value of free speech that permits the free enquiry, self-reflection, self-criticism and peer review that underpin our scientific and academic edifices and, in fact, our entire civilisation. – N. Dell

I argue that a deliberate effort to engineer diversity will do more harm than good. In fact, to focus on identity goes against the well-known Army maxim of colour-blindness: ‘we are all green’. – N. Dell

The trend over the past five to six years to increasingly focus on race, gender and sexual orientation feels like a return to a pre-social revolution era where these arbitrary features of a person were given so much more weight than they deserve. Their return to the spotlight has been undeniably corrosive to society and the political sphere, which appears to have grown to encompass everything. Instead, the kinds of diversity that should matter to an organisation like the Army are diversity of opinion, experience, attitude, class and background. Again, in my experience, the Army already excels in this area. – N. Dell

The ‘Woke’ culture that has led to the popular preoccupation with Diversity and inclusion is antithetical to the Army’s ethos and values. It is built on the notion that feelings are more important than facts. It asserts that everyone is the same while promoting the merits of Diversity. It shuns notions of excellence and meritocracy. It diminishes personal responsibility and erodes resilience, even rejecting the notion that resilience is a virtue. Social media has been the vector for this intellectual contagion and evidence has even surfaced that this has been cynically aided and abetted by belligerent foreign governments with the explicit goal of weakening western democracy. We must not capitulate to our enemies’ efforts. – N. Dell

The primary threat of any effort to be more ‘Diverse’ and ‘inclusive’ is opportunity cost. Put simply, every resource that we divert toward programmes aimed at improving Diversity and Inclusion is a resource that is not available to be used for the Army’s onlyresponsibility: to protect New Zealand. Whether that is in preparing for wars or fighting them (or civil defence).  Every man-hour that is spent on ‘cultural awareness training’ or similar programmes is a man-hour that is not spent training for combat or monitoring our enemies. How are they spending their man-hours? 

The second key area where Diversity and Inclusion could harm our effectiveness is in recruitment. Recruiting based on a concerted effort to increase Diversity necessarily comes at the expense of recruiting the best candidates. If the current policy of (presumably) recruiting the best candidates for their roles does not produce the desired Diversity outcomes, then the conflict is self-evident.  – N. Dell

“Diversity must also mean diversity of thought. The essay should not be buried, it should be debated. To gag one of our soldiers in this way, removing what had already been acknowledged as a well-articulated point, simply because the optics of the well-articulated point confronted some who do not share the views espoused, must have nations overseas bending in laughter. – Dane Giraud

You get the feeling that if Judith Collins baked a cake and donated it to orphaned puppies the headlines would read “Collins feeds animal obesity epidemic”.Neil Miller

It is a stark contrast that this government – which seems so willing to move at increasing breakneck speed with an almost “damn the torpedoes” bravado to implement the policy items that appear dearest to it – appears stubbornly determined to move at near glacial pace on matters immediately affecting the day-to-day lives of New Zealanders. – Peter Dunne

At best, “world-class” is a phrase used by people with brains of tinsel; more often it is an attempt to mislead people into accepting a rotten present on the promise of a supposedly glorious future.Theodore Dalrymple

For those who worry about stealing vaccines from places that might need it more, fear not. The Government could contract for twice as much as New Zealand might need, with extra doses to be sent to poorer countries via COVAX.  Richer countries paying now helps build more production lines for delivering a lot more vaccine to the whole world in a far bigger hurry. It would leave the world much better prepared for new variants as they emerge. Far from being stingy about such things, economists have urged governments to spend a lot more to get vaccines rolled out and broadly distributed far more quickly. – Eric Crampton

We’re becoming intolerant of tolerance – Frank Luntz

It is farmers, other businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators, inventors, scientists, workers, and, not least, households – the whole team of five million – who will get the job done, and at the lowest cost, so long as the overall cap set by the Emissions Trading Scheme (or through a carbon tax) is secure.

The commission’s efforts to predict what will happen in each sector are pointless – not worth the code their models are written in. They result in dozens of goofy pronouncements like: “There will be fewer motor mechanics”. Oh, please.

Also mostly pointless, are the multitude of policy recommendations that pour forth from the report. If the real decision-makers in the economy (i.e. all those listed above) are getting the correct price signal from the ETS, then there is generally no justification for further government intervention. What should be done will be done –  Tim Hazledine

And – not so incidentally – the expensive scheme to subsidise purchases of electric vehicles that the commission has foisted on the current government will almost certainly fail the cost-benefit test. Around 90 per cent of the well-heeled beneficiaries of the scheme’s largesse would have purchased an electric car anyway – we have just given them an $8000 present. – Tim Hazledine

When you see the results done at a catchment group level, you can’t help but feel optimistic.  If you want change, you need to be very specific.  Ultimately, any reform needs to be community-led and science-based. – Mark Adams 

Humans respond well to tension, you can’t achieve anything without it. But for real change to occur, we need to develop a culture of innovation rather than a culture of box-ticking.Mark Adams 

It has never been explained how absentee (de facto) landlords such as the government or councils can ensure better outcomes on the newly identified SNAs by devaluing them to the point of becoming real liabilities to the landowner. The eco-puritans are of course fully entitled to deceive themselves as to the benefits of state command and control. They are not entitled to deceive the country. – Gerry Eckhoff

Rather strangely, no environmental organisations or advocates appear to have ever purchased or offered up into state control any land that they personally or collectively owned for conservation. Nor, curiously enough, was it mentioned in the article that private landowners line up to protect environmental values in a QEII Trust covenant to the extent that that trust can barely cope with their requests.  – Gerry Eckhoff

So guys, make your choice – avoid some potentially unnecessary stress, or avoid an exceptionally inconvenient truth. Take responsibility for your health and get your PSA tested.

If your doctor says you shouldn’t get a PSA test, get another doctor. – Conor English

There are two types of New Zealanders – those who are quite happy hiding behind Jacinda’s skirts, who don’t see any reason whatsoever to allow “foreigners” in; indeed, they’re reluctant to let New Zealand passport-holders back in. . .But in the meantime, on the other side of the divide, there are those who generate their own living.  These are people who are eager to engage with the rest of the world. These Eager Engagers are people who get up every morning and make their own money and provide jobs for other New Zealanders. – Kerre McIvor

Ninety-seven per cent of New Zealand businesses are classified as small-to-medium businesses. They employ three-quarters of New Zealanders and generate more than a quarter of our economic output and they’re doing it tough. Not because they don’t have enough work. But because they simply cannot find reliable, drug-free staff who will help them become more productive.

Pay them more, say the bureaucrats and politicians sitting in their taxpayer-funded offices, drawing their taxpayer-funded salaries. But it’s not that simple. Workers are being paid about as much as businesses can sustain before price rises kick in and products and services become unsustainable. As one commentator said to me, people want to buy their bread for a dollar a loaf and have supermarket workers paid $40 an hour.  – Kerre McIvor

If you cut off one of the vital arteries that pump life into New Zealand business, and that’s skilled staff, businesses will wither. As will the tax take. The money to fund New Zealand Inc comes from New Zealand businesspeople and all they have ever asked is for the opportunity to do what they do best. And yet this Government continues to treat them with contempt. A constant complaint is that this Government doesn’t understand business. The reluctance to let skilled workers into the country is another example that reinforces that complaint is justified.  – Kerre McIvor

In speaking to Part 2 of this bill tonight, just really wanting to make a point that this report is an example of the fine work of the Office of the Controller and Auditor-General, and this beef that we’re having tonight is with the Government, not the Auditor-General. This is the productivity of the Auditor-General, this is the productivity of an apple orchard [Holds up two apples]. So I would like to propose a tabled amendment—I’ve got a tabled amendment here, and my amendment suggests that we have a new clause 8. So “After clause 7, insert 8 New section 98A, after section 98, insert: 98A Extend the apple picking season—(1) All local Government bodies, where able, for the financial year ending 30 June 2021 should ask that apples stay ripe for the picking of an extra three months.  – Barbara Kuriger

I did actually brainstorm with some of my policy staff about what they thought would be appropriate alternative titles for the Annual Reporting and Audit Time Frames Extensions Legislation Bill. And they were pretty good at coming up with, I think, more appropriate names. One said the bill should be the “Skill-shortage Solution Grant Robertson’s Magic Wand Act 2021”. And, oh, that DHBs could have the same magic wand, that they could magic up either staff or extensions of time. I wonder how it would go if—in fact, we know that it’s happening every single day, that the DHB entities that are the subject of the extended reporting requirements in this bill are actually telling their patients they’ve got an extension of time. It’s not an extension of time that they look for if they wanted to have their cancer treatment in a more timely manner or cardiac surgery. So it is a magic wand that Mr Robertson is providing for himself but for no one else.

I think that actually is a nice segue into the second alternative title that we have seen: the “Helpful Government But Not for Business Act 2021”, because we have implored the Government to give relief to business who have severe staffing shortages of their own, and the answer has been no, no, no. And, yet, when it comes to giving financial reporting and audit relief, it’s a yes, yes, yes from this Government.

So that, again, would suggest a title that is “We Don’t Have Solutions for Actual Kiwis Act 2021”. I don’t know about that. I think they do have solutions. They’re staring the Government in the face but they are so blind to the need and the opportunity to maintain and increase economic growth in this country that they simply will not see where the need and the opportunity is.Michael Woodhouse

This is a tricky message to get across, because after 20 years of nuking our taste buds with bread that’s mostly sugar, Ronald McDonald’s special sauce, chicken vindaloo, deep-fried chicken and crisps made from artificially flavoured carpet underlay, most of us could not tell a beautiful piece of prime beef from a Walnut Whip. – Jeremy Clarkson

Ironically, MIQ, which is often held responsible for restricting the flow of labour into the country, was itself a victim of the labour shortage. – Thomas Couglan

First, and most obviously, the government is acting as a monopsonist. The government is the largest employer of nurses. It is worried that MIQ facilities offering higher pay to attract nurses would bid nurses away from the rest of the health sector, and then force the government to pay nurses more to avoid that happening. For all the government’s push for Fair Pay Agreements and utterly implausible arguments about ‘monopsonistic’ employment conditions requiring a benevolent state to come in and force new pay relations under an Awards system, the only parts of the labour market that work like that are the ones where the government is the monopsonist: teaching and nursing. And in those sectors, the government behaves exactly as you would expect a monopsonist to behave. Maybe that’s why the government sees monopsonists everywhere – it extrapolates from its own conduct. – Eric Crampton

It looks to me like the government ran a near-corrupt tendering process resulting in contracting with a provider who doesn’t even have a validated test, because the Ministry of Health was embarrassed that Rako showed them up. It hasn’t been deployed at anything like scale, and nobody knows whether the test would actually work. Eric Crampton

We can’t expand MIQ capacity because the government doesn’t want MIQ to be pushing up the cost of nurses for the rest of the health system – and again the Commerce Commission can’t go after this kind of anticompetitive practice, because State protects State.

And we can’t have better testing methods that won’t put pressure on nursing and current testing capacity because the Ministry of Health is embarrassed that Rako could do something that ESR couldn’t manage, and because demonstrating competence in delivery just isn’t the way things are done in New Zealand.

Remember that old “there’s a hole in the bucket” song? It’s that, except there’s a bung for the hole sitting right there, and MoH refuses to use it and prefers to bleat endlessly about the axe not being sharp enough, the whetstone being too dry, and there being a hole in the bucket preventing getting the water to wet the stone.  – Eric Crampton

Incidentally, “Public Interest Journalism Fund” strikes me as a bit of a mouthful, and time-consuming to type, besides. So I’m giving it a shorter, punchier name: the Pravda Project, after the old Soviet Union’s esteemed official press organ, on the assumption that the PIJF will exhibit the same fearless independence and unstinting commitment to the truth. – Karl du Fresne

We’ve always suffered the loss of our best and brightest who seek out life in countries run by grown-ups. I’m picking a massive exodus in the immediate years ahead by freedom lovers, tired of nanny-statism and blatant “front of the vaccination queue” lying. – Bob Jones

You don’t save money by spending billions of dollars and employing thousands of people. It just doesn’t stack up. – Dan Gordon

What we want and need is to see the information, not hear the PR spin. – Dan Gordon

The first good decision the British government took was to bypass its own civil service in appointing a very successful venture capitalist with a background in biochemistry and pharmaceuticals, Kate Bingham, as the head of its vaccine procurement and vaccination strategy agency. She took on this role without pay, and her success has reinforced my belief that management at the highest level of public administration ought to be amateur rather than professional: amateur in the sense of being unpaid and undertaken from a sense of public duty, not in the sense that it should be amateurish, as so much professional management is. Those who act temporarily at this level without pay have no vested interest in complicating matters or in institutional empire-building, and insofar as they have a personal interest, it is in the glory of successful accomplishment. – Theodore Dalrymple

Farming could be a joy but really it’s a bloody nightmare. – Jim Macdonald

Voters hate inflation. Wages never catch up to prices. Interest rate rises devastate households with mortgages. Voters punish governments that cannot guarantee the buying power of our money. – Richard Prebble

Nothing causes an election loss more certainly than our money losing value. – Richard Prebble

The Government’s vaccine programme is running behind schedule, the trans-Tasman bubble is looking decidedly deflated, it has welched on several key transport election commitments and is building a bicycle and pedestrian bridge across the Auckland Harbour Bridge that doesn’t look like it could possibly pass any sensible cost-benefit analysis.Luke Malpass

I’ll tell you what we did this week: we stuck up for business. We stuck up for the inconsistency that exists between the ‘suck it up’ approach by this Government to the severe staffing shortages that are a handbrake on this economy and a Government that gives itself a pass for teachers and for auditors. – Michael Woodhouse

We need to ensure that any price mechanism is correctly set so that we don’t have emissions leakage offshore.  Reducing production in the most efficient country in the world to have it replaced offshore makes no sense.  If we get this price mechanism wrong then we get a situation that could inadvertently cause us to make changes on our farm that may reduce overall emissions but perhaps lose some of the efficiency and world leading footprint. Let’s not forget it’s that footprint which is what these supposedly discerning customers are after.

We get this wrong and it could have major implications for our economy and not do diddly squat with regards to climate change. So, industry and government officials need the time to focus on this in the coming months, not be bogged down with even more legislation and work.Andrew Hoggard

 The government can’t do much about a global pandemic, but there are some steps it could take that would give people some hope. Firstly, we already have people in the country who are in a limbo land with regards to visas, and are being lured offshore, so let’s stop buggering around, if they are here, have a clean record, have a job – give them residency. – Andrew Hoggard

The Government needs to understand the burden that is being placed on people in the ag sector right now.  Our sector is doing the heavy lifting to bring in export revenue, and yet while our farmers and growers are doing this often short staffed all these other pressures I have just mentioned are weighing down on them and potentially going to add to their workload. For a government that talks about wellbeing a lot, they seem to have forgotten about it with regards to rural NZ.

Overall, my message to the government is we need to organise the workplan better. We have a siloed haphazard approach right now, that is causing stress and anxiety for many. Not just for farmers and growers, but other sectors and quite frankly probably the government’s own officials. Andrew Hoggard

The Government will only have itself to blame if next local body elections sees a tide of councillors elected on a platform opposing Three Waters and development. Over the past four years, it’s contributed to rates rises across the country as part of effectively forcing councils to spend more on water infrastructure ahead of the Three Waters reforms, which will likely culminate in water assets effectively being seized. – Thomas Couglan

They only seem to have four sports in New Zealand at the moment, that’s rugby, cricket, netball and bashing farmers, and farmers and rural people have really just had enough of this.

We’re the ones doing the heavy lifting in the economy, in fact we’re just about all the economy at the moment, and we just really want common sense solutions to things. – Laurie Paterson

It remains to be seen whether funding from the proceeds of crime ends up funding the precedes of more crime.James Elliott

Metropolitan centres may be where the majority of votes exist, but we need a fair New Zealand which allows all Kiwis to thrive economically, environmentally, socially, and culturally. – Gary Kircher

Farming isn’t all sunshine and daffodils. It’s about life and the death that inevitably accompanies it. It’s working in the mud, making stuff-ups that potentially impact your staff, or your animals. Farming is looking at bare, parched paddocks in March and wondering where the heck you’re going to shift those steers to next. Sometimes, farming can make you cry. – Nicky Berger

And farming is very real. It is connected to the very real earth beneath our feet, to the precious waters that fall from the sky to help our plants and animals thrive. Sometimes it’s about reaping rewards, and sometimes it’s about making hard decisions. – Nicky Berger

Jacinda Ardern must understand that organised crime is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop – until her Government decides to stop it. – Chris Trotter

An overly zealous implementation of any new hate speech law poses the biggest threat. Without extremely clear limits and guidelines on its application leaving bureaucrats and the courts to fill in the gaps, the risk of unintended consequences arising is high. And that, in turn, poses the greatest risk to our future freedom of speech, thought and opinion. – Peter Dunne

I wonder how many urban New Zealanders would be willing to give up the cheap overseas imports that make their lives more enjoyable and comfortable and buy eye-wateringly more expensive furniture and clothes and cars made by New Zealanders getting a decent wage. – Kerre McIvor

 Farmers aren’t Luddites. You don’t get to be the most carbon-efficient dairy producers in the world by ignoring science and innovation. – Kerre McIvor

Still, the Prime Minister would do well to remember the shower regulations that, in part, scuttled Helen Clark’s chances of an historic fourth term. It was just another nanny state policy from a Government increasingly interfering in the lives of its citizens and it was the final straw for voters. Sound familiar? – Kerre McIvor

Critics are swatted away with a moral argument – there are other countries more deserving.

That plays well to Ardern’s compassionate image, but it’s cynical. In reality, we are not safe until we are all safe, and it makes more sense for the countries with infrastructure capability to get on and vaccinate populations while others get up to speed. – Andrea Vance

Ultimately, the Government is responsible for delivering the programme. If on-the-ground processes need to be fixed, ministers should get on and do it rather than pretending all is running smoothly.

For now, they’re reassuring us Pfizer will send more stock – enough for 750,000 people in August.

We can only trust that this is enough to keep the intended nationwide roll-out on course.

But if Hipkins and Ardern persist in their White King and Queen double-act, while the rest of us experience more delays on the other side of the Looking Glass they will squander that trust, and patience will run out. Andrea Vance

Each pastoral lease has its own inherent values and no government official could have a better grasp of that than the family who lives there. – Jacqui Dean

It’s naïve to think that when land is left to nature that only the good things grow. I’ve seen how wilding pines and other vegetation have been allowed to take over thousands of hectares of precious land right through the South Island and it’s a sorry sight.Jacqui Dean

As every proponent of freedom of expression must allow, the right to it is not an unqualified one. The standard way of explaining why is to cite the case of someone shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theatre when there is no fire. Because it can do harm, and because it can be used irresponsibly, there has to be an understanding of when free speech has to be constrained. But given its fundamental importance, the default has to be that free speech is inviolate except … where the dots are filled in with a specific, strictly limited, case-by-case, powerfully justified, one-off set of utterly compelling reasons why in this particular situation alone there must be a restraint on speech. Note the words specific,strictly limited, case-by-case, powerfully justified, one-off, utterly compelling, in this particular situation alone. Give any government, any security service, any policing authority, any special interest group such as a religious organization or a political party, any prude or moralizer, any zealot of any kind, the power to shut someone else up, and they will leap at it. Hence the absolute need for stating that any restraint of free speech can only be specific,strictly limited, case-by-case, powerfully justified, one-off, utterly compelling, in this particular situation alone. A.C. Grayling

 “Hate speech” is an important matter, but here one has to be careful to note that hate speech can only justifiably be linked to aspects of people they cannot choose—sex, sexuality, ethnicity, age, and disability if any—whereas their political or religious affiliations, dress sense, voluntary sexual conduct, and the like, are and should be open season for criticism, challenge, and even mockery. Most votaries of religions attempt to smuggle “religion” into the “age, sex, disability” camp, and though it might be thought an instance of the last of these, it is not sufficiently so to merit immunity from challenge and satire. – A.C. Grayling

A particular aspect of freedom of expression that has much importance is “academic freedom.” This is the freedom of those who teach, research and study in academic institutions such as universities and colleges, to pursue enquiry without interference. The pursuit of knowledge and understanding is hampered, if not derailed altogether, by external control of what can be studied; and the silencing of teachers and researchers, especially if they make discoveries unpalatable to one or another source of authority, stands in direct opposition to the quest for truth.

It is a widely and tenaciously held view among all involved with academies of higher education in the world’s liberal democracies that freedom to teach, research and study is essential for the communication of ideas, for formulation of the criticism, dissent and innovation required for the health of a society, and for the intellectual quality of its culture. Censorship and political control over enquiry lead to the kind of consequences exemplified by the debacle of biological science in the Soviet Union which followed the attempt to conduct it on dialectical-materialist principles, concomitantly with the expulsion of “bourgeois” biologists from laboratories and universities. – A.C. Grayling

The intellectual life of Western countries happens almost exclusively outside universities; within their humanities departments jargon-laden nit-picking, the project of speculating polysyllabically more and more about matters of less and less importance, consumes time, energy and resources in a way that sometimes makes even some of its own beneficiaries, in their honest moments, gasp. – A.C. Grayling

And having said all that, I shall now retract some of the cynicism (which, experto crede, has enough justification to warrant it), and repeat the most significant of the points made above, which is this: it matters that there should be places where ideas are generated and debated, criticized, analysed and generally tossed about, some of them absurd, some of them interesting, a few of them genuinely significant. For this to happen there has to be freedom to moot radical, controversial, silly, new, unexpected thoughts, and to discuss them without restraint. Universities are one of those places; humanities departments within them make a contribution to this, and as such justify at least some of the cost they represent to society. For this academic freedom, as an instance of freedom of speech more generally, is vital. –  A.C. Grayling

Ironically, the whole point of freedom of speech, from its beginning, has been to enable people to sort things out without resorting to violence.Greg Lukianoff

Yes, a strong distinction between the expression of opinion and violence is a social construct, but it’s one of the best social constructs for peaceful coexistence, innovation and progress that’s ever been invented. Redefining the expression of opinion as violence is a formula for a chain reaction of endless violence, repression and regression. – Greg Lukianoff

Historically, freedom of speech has been justified as part of a system for resolving disputes without resort to actual violence. Acceptance of freedom of speech is a way to live with genuine conflict among points of view (which has always existed) without resorting to coercive force. – Greg Lukianoff

Being a citizen in a democratic republic is supposed to be challenging; it’s supposed to ask something of its citizens. It requires a certain minimal toughness—and commitment to self-governing—to become informed about difficult issues and to argue, organize and vote accordingly. As the Supreme Court observed in 1949, in Terminiello v. Chicago, speech “may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger.”

The only model that asks nothing of its citizens in terms of learning, autonomy and decision-making is the authoritarian one. By arguing that freedom from speech is often more important than freedom of speech, advocates unwittingly embrace the nineteenth-century (anti-)speech justification for czarist power: the idea that the Russian peasant has the best kind of freedom, the freedom from the burden of freedom itself (because it surely is a burden). – Greg Lukianoff

Freedom of speech includes small l liberal values that were once expressed in common American idioms like to each his own, everyone’s entitled to their opinion and it’s a free country. These cultural values appear in legal opinions too; as Justice Robert H. Jackson noted in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, “Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.” Greg Lukianoff

A belief in free speech means you should be slow to label someone as utterly dismissible for their opinions. Of course you can kick an asshole out of your own house, but that’s very different from kicking a person out of an open society or a public forum. – Greg Lukianoff

And I don’t just believe that cracking down on hate speech failed to decrease intolerance, I think there is solid grounds to believe that it helped increase it. After all, censorship doesn’t generally change people’s opinions, but it does make them more likely to talk only to those with whom they already agree. And what happens when people only talk to politically similar people? The well documented effect of group/political polarization takes over, and the speaker, who may have moderated her belief when exposed to dissenting opinions, becomes more radicalized in the direction of her hatred, through the power of group polarization. – Greg Lukianoff

I want to highlight one last argument very briefly: free speech is valuable, first and foremost, because, without it, there is no way to know the world as it actually is. Understanding human perceptions, even incorrect ones, is always of scientific or scholarly value, and, in a democracy, it is essential to know what people really believe. This is my “pure informational theory of freedom of speech.” To think that, without openness, we can know what people really believe is not only hubris, but magical thinking. The process of coming to knowing the world as it is is much more arduous than we usually appreciate. It starts with this: recognize that you are probably wrong about any number of things, exercise genuine curiosity about everything (including each other), and always remember that it is better to know the world as it really is—and that the process of finding that out never ends. – Greg Lukianoff

The fact the protesters were well behaved and the protests had such a huge turnout made it impossible to dismiss them as the actions of a small number of radicals or perennially disaffected farmers. It was a big swathe of grassroots New Zealand on the move. – Graham Adams

The people must be trusted with fear, and the governing class must be comfortable with leadership during times of crisis. Fear is an unpleasant emotion— but at times, a useful one. Fear lends urgency to action. Fear forces the afraid to focus on that which matters. This is the great lesson of the 2020 coronavirus: We should have been allowed to fear. Alas, our leaders feared our fear more than they feared our deaths. The world bears the consequences of this stark faith in the myth of panic. – Tanner Greer

This is the sad reality of entrepreneurship internationally, particularly around women’s health, where men go and attempt to solve a problem that doesn’t actually exist. They don’t only then get the investment dollars to make it happen, they also then have the opportunity to create and market a product in such a way that is pushes people to believe they need it.Angela Priestley

Indeed, what these founders are essentially creating is another “pink tax” — where women pay the additional cost of “feminine” marketing and colours for a product that is often already available or, worse, that they don’t need at all. – Angela Priestley

First, and most obviously, no one in NZ should be working anywhere near the international border unless they are vaccinated and wearing a mask.

Secondly, the NZ government needs to be well prepared in advance of any outbreak. That means having significant capacity in contact tracing and Covid testing before trouble strikes. It is no good trying to build that capacity during an emergency.

Thirdly, there is no future in lockdowns, closed borders, and quarantine. Citizens will grow increasingly frustrated with them and, inevitably, less compliant. Rapid and comprehensive vaccination is vital in New Zealand like everywhere else. It offers the only possible path out of the Covid-19 dilemma (including any future variants).Ross Stitt

Being well meaning is no excuse for the racial division the government is promoting with its endless excuses for maori failure and maori privilege. – Bob Jones

Meaning well is no excuse for causing harm. The government is causing enormous divisive damage to our social fabric by catering to the dying Stuff’s type maori wonderful nonsense. It will be a key reason they’re run out of office in two years time. Bob Jones

It is easy to pull the rug out from under thousands of migrant workers, but nobody ever tells you the carpet might just bounce back and hit you in the face.

The country is now overwhelmed by a wave of economic capacity issues most of which are linked in some way to severely reduced migration and border flows. – Dileepa Fonseka

If you were a migrant and feeling angry about how things have gone since lockdown you might take a strange sort of comfort in the way inflation has spiked, job vacancy advertisements have soared, job re-training budgets have proven woefully inadequate to the task of retraining people, and employers have been unable to fill vacancies. – Dileepa Fonseka

As a rule, farmers stay beneath the radar, unseen and unheard, going about their business producing milk for our lattes and kiwifruit for our smoothies. The parade was peaceful and wonderfully managed. The awful placards that were shared on social media were not representative of the wider sentiment. – Anna Campbell

As I reflected on the protest and pondered why the protest was important, I decided it comes down to this — respect. Farmers are in the middle of change, they know that and they are adapting. Farmers listen and take on sensible policies — we have seen this over many years — but when they are spoken to like naughty schoolchildren and treated like idiots, they react in a different manner. – Anna Campbell 

Farming is complex, there are different types of farming activities, from cropping to livestock, from horticulture to forestry. There are different landscapes — New Zealand would have some of the most varied farming landscapes in the world. With differing landscapes there are differing soils, terrains, micro-climates and waterways. Blanket policies forced down people’s throats by inflexible bureaucrats who have barely stepped on a farm, won’t lead to successful change. – Anna Campbell 

Farmers don’t want a top-down, telling-off, they want to make their communities the best places they can be and they want to make their children proud to be part of a rural community — so proud, that they want to come back and live in those communities as adults. Anna Campbell 

Farmers, keep up the amazing work that underpins our country’s economy, keep up the changes you are making, there is more support out there for you than you realise. Climate change is society’s problem and we all need to be involved in the solutions. – Anna Campbell 

“It is aimed at saying to people of goodwill that this is a project where this country has done very well – it is bipartisan project – and yes there will be tensions and everyone will get up one another’s nose on a regular basis but it is worth the effort. 

Other countries have problems; we have a project. – Chris Finlayson

As a liberal conservative, I have always had a healthy scepticism of the ability of governments to do good. –

We should not forget that our small size and unitary system can lend itself to radical and innovative solutions when required. Things can change fast. – Chris Finlayson

Young people who play sport, waka ama or kapa haka do not join gangs. – Richard Prebble

I think the further we go, the more we find that there is a real rowdy faction that are actively trying to cause division; that have agendas that perhaps aren’t in the best interest of New Zealand as a whole, and definitely not in the best interest of rural people. . . I think we are really finding out how small of a minority they are. They’re just very rowdy, that’s all. Maybe it’s time we become a little bit more rowdy ourselves. – Bryce McKenzie

Everyone agrees with the big picture direction, but these policies, regulations and legislation are coming out in random orders. It’s like there’s not a workplan behind it. – Andrew Hoggard

Maybe we’ve just been a little too polite. Maybe we need to be blunter. For the average farmer, the key point is they all want their kids to be swimming in the local rivers that run through their farms. At the end of the day we all want our farms to be better for the next generation, but we don’t want to spend all day filling in forms.Andrew Hoggard

Wine is liquid geography. And the Waitaki terroir, particularly that of Clos Ostler, is unique in the world of wine. – Jim Jeram

Herein we find the first issue that teachers will find problematic to navigate–it is not obvious that Pākehā have been intentionally manipulating society to suit themselves. There are ethnic groups in New Zealand, many who start from humble beginnings, that not only do better than Māori and Pasifika but also do better than Pākehā too. – Dr Paul Crowhurst

Yet this latest form of racism that teachers must address can’t even be seen because apparently it is so deep in our psyche that we don’t know it is there. Unconscious bias is hard to define and identify, meaning it will be very difficult to teach. And, we thought getting algebra across to kids was tricky. – Dr Paul Crowhurst

I expect that Unteaching Racism is founded on the good motive of addressing disparities in New Zealand society. However, the disparate outcomes we can see do not necessarily mean that New Zealand society is fundamentally racist or proves that there are less opportunities for some groups.

Growing up in Auckland I had much the same opportunity as a number of athletes who have grown up near me and have developed their talent to a point where they have gone to the Olympics. Alas, my athletic career has not moved past the status of keen amateur. Same opportunities, different outcome. – Dr Paul Crowhurst

Life outcomes are far more complex than the sum of opportunities that we have or haven’t received. This points towards the great elephant in our classrooms. What about the opportunities that all New Zealanders do have? What about New Zealand privilege?

The pristine environment, a comparatively accessible social welfare system, free public education, and cultural icons to be proud of like our beaches, The All Blacks and Taika Waititi movies. If there is a list of great privileges in the world, living in New Zealand should be one of them. – Dr Paul Crowhurst

As part of the current wellbeing movement we are told that gratitude is key to a happy and meaningful life. It is here that perhaps the greatest concern lies with regard to unteaching racism.

We are going to miss all that we have achieved as a nation, while descending into a state of introspection that encourages people to resent one another.Dr Paul Crowhurst

Young people in Aotearoa are living in a less segregated, more affluent, more culturally aware society than ever before.

Our teachers should be motivating our rangatahi of all cultural backgrounds by focusing on our progress and the many reasons young people of all racial groups can realise their potential in our wonderful country. – Dr Paul Crowhurst

But perhaps the biggest deal-breaker for a freedom timetable is one the Government would not admit publicly: 18 months into the crisis, this country is not yet on top of testing and enforcement to protect those living here, let alone to cope with more folk coming and going.

One of the most disillusioning let-downs of the entire pandemic is the Government – having belatedly decided all border workers must be vaccinated, as the experts have been imploring – saying it cannot muster the logistical capacity to complete that until October. The definition of “urgent” and “compulsory” must have changed while we weren’t paying attention. – Jane Clifton

A road map that starts with a ruddy great U-turn is no use to anyone. Although, to be fair, the sanctimonious would get a bloody-minded kick out of it. – Jane Clifton

Pitting sex against gender identity in sports policies has caused a collision of incompatible, competing rights. In the name of inclusion, however, international and national sports authorities and organisations are allowing transgender athletes to compete in the category that is the opposite of the sex they were born. Nobody wants to be seen as failing to play along with this notion of progressivism, nobody wants to be accused of failing to demonstrate sufficient allegiance, but nobody is stopping to think about what “inclusion” actually means.  

When males are included in the female category, what happens to the women and girls? They miss a spot on the team, they self-exclude, they are withdrawn by their parents, they are silenced if they resist, they lose out on the opportunity for prizes and scholarships and are threatened with loss of sponsorship. Inclusion really means exclusion for women and girls. – Katherine Deves

Due to their androgenised bodies, biological males have substantial and observable performance advantages that are simply insurmountable for a female of comparative age, size and training. – Katherine Deves

When boys hit mid-teens, the differences between the sexes become acute and their performances begin to surpass those of the most elite females. Allyson Felix, the fastest woman in the world, is annually beaten by 15,000 men and boys. The world champion US women’s soccer team were beaten by under-15 schoolboys 5-2, as were the Australian Matildas by under-16 schoolboys, 7-0.  

No matter how hard a female athlete trains, how many sacrifices she makes, or how naturally talented she is, a male’s physiology gives him greater speed, strength, size and stamina.  – Katherine Deves

We divide sports by age, by weight in combat sports, by size in children’s collision and contact sports, and yes, by sex, as a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of ensuring the benefits of athletic success are available within those protected categories. – Katherine Deves

Backed by mounting evidence and the rising chorus of voices that object to the mockery inclusion policies make of female sports, there is an easy answer to this problem. The female sports category must be protected for biological females, and men must start being more accepting and inclusive of gender non-conforming males instead of expecting women and girls to sacrifice the opportunity to play safely and fairly in their own sports.Katherine Deves

How is it possible that Britain’s best-selling author, a woman credited with having encouraged an entire generation of children to read more books, can be subjected to such gutter abuse and threats of murder and yet the prime minister says nothing? And the Guardian shuffles its feet? And the literary set carries on chatting about what fun last month’s Hay Festival was, pretending not to notice the thousands of people calling one of their number a disgusting old hag who should be forced to fellate strangers or, better still, murdered with a pipe bomb? It’s because ours is an era of moral cowardice. Of fainthearts and wimps. An era in which far too many who should know better have made that most craven of calculations – ‘If I keep quiet, maybe they won’t come for me’. – Brendan O’Neill

No one who believes in freedom, reason and equality can stand by and watch this happen. Watch as the reality of sex is erased by trans activists promoting the hocus-pocus view that some men have ‘female brains’. And as words like woman, mother and breastfeeding are scrubbed from official documents to avoid offending the infinitesimally small number of campaigners who think their feelings matter more than our common language. And as female writers, columnists, professors and campaigners are censored and threatened merely for discussing sex and gender. And as JK Rowling is transformed into an enemy of decency deserving full, Stalinist destruction of her reputation and her life.Brendan O’Neill

Radical leftists’ incessant branding of any woman who questions the ideology of transgenderism as a bigot or a TERF – a 21st-century word for witch – is the foundation upon which much of the more unspeakable hatred for sceptical women like Ms Rowling is built. – Brendan O’Neill

In many ways, the liberal elite’s silence over the abuse of JK Rowling is worse than the abuse itself. The hateful, threatening messages come from people who have clearly lost touch with morality, who have been so corrupted by the narcisssim of identity politics and the delusions of the transgender lobby that they have come to view those who question their worldview as trash, essentially as subhuman, and thus requiring ritualistic humiliation and excommunication from normal society. But the quiet ones in the political and literary worlds are making a greater moral error. Because they know that what is happening to Ms Rowling is wrong, and horrific, but they opt not to speak about it because they want to avoid the attention of the mob. Like the identitarian persecutors of Ms Rowling, they put their own feelings – in this case, their narrow desire for an untroubled life – above doing what is right and true.

They think this will save their skin. How wrong they are. It should be clear to everyone by now that looking the other way as woke mobs set upon wrongthinkers and speechcriminals does not dampen down these people’s feverish urge to persecute those who offend them. On the contrary, it emboldens them.  – Brendan O’Neill

The forces of unreason, illiberalism and denunciation that are now central to woke activism, and especially trans activism, cannot be countered by keeping quiet. They won’t just fade away. They have to be confronted, forcefully, with clear arguments in favour of freedom of speech, rational discussion and women’s rights. It’s the Rowling Test – will you or will you not speak out against the misogynistic persecution of JK Rowling and others who have been found guilty of thoughtcrime by the kangaroo courts of the regressive regime of wokeness? Right now, many are failing this test, miserably.  – Brendan O’Neill

It is, I’d argue, the sudden, rapid, stunning shift in the belief system of the American elites. It has sent the whole society into a profound cultural dislocation. It is, in essence, an ongoing moral panic against the specter of “white supremacy,” which is now bizarrely regarded as an accurate description of the largest, freest, most successful multiracial democracy in human history.

We all know it’s happened. The elites, increasingly sequestered within one political party and one media monoculture, educated by colleges and private schools that have become hermetically sealed against any non-left dissent, have had a “social justice reckoning” these past few years. And they have been ideologically transformed, with countless cascading consequences. – Andrew Sullivan

This is the media hub of the “social justice movement.” And the core point of that movement, its essential point, is that liberalism is no longer enough. Not just not enough, but itself a means to perpetuate “white supremacy,” designed to oppress, harm and terrorize minorities and women, and in dire need of dismantling. That’s a huge deal. And it explains a lot.

The reason “critical race theory” is a decent approximation for this new orthodoxy is that it was precisely this exasperation with liberalism’s seeming inability to end racial inequality in a generation that prompted Derrick Bell et al. to come up with the term in the first place, and Kimberlé Crenshaw to subsequently universalize it beyond race to every other possible dimension of human identity (“intersectionality”). – Andrew Sullivan

The movement is much broader than race — as anyone who is dealing with matters of sex and gender will tell you. The best moniker I’ve read to describe this mishmash of postmodern thought and therapy culture ascendant among liberal white elites is Wesley Yang’s coinage: “the successor ideology.” The “structural oppression” is white supremacy, but that can also be expressed more broadly, along Crenshaw lines: to describe a hegemony that is saturated with “anti-Blackness,” misogyny, and transphobia, in a miasma of social “cis-heteronormative patriarchal white supremacy.” And the term “successor ideology” works because it centers the fact that this ideology wishes, first and foremost, to repeal and succeed a liberal society and democracy. – Andrew Sullivan

In the successor ideology, there is no escape, no refuge, from the ongoing nightmare of oppression and violence — and you are either fighting this and “on the right side of history,” or you are against it and abetting evil. There is no neutrality. No space for skepticism. No room for debate. No space even for staying silent. (Silence, remember, is violence — perhaps the most profoundly anti-liberal slogan ever invented.)

And that tells you about the will to power behind it. Liberalism leaves you alone. The successor ideology will never let go of you. Liberalism is only concerned with your actions. The successor ideology is concerned with your mind, your psyche, and the deepest recesses of your soul. Liberalism will let you do your job, and let you keep your politics private. S.I. will force you into a struggle session as a condition for employment. – Andrew Sullivan

A plank of successor ideology, for example, is that the only and exclusive reason for racial inequality is “white supremacy.” Culture, economics, poverty, criminality, family structure: all are irrelevant, unless seen as mere emanations of white control. Even discussing these complicated factors is racist, according to Ibram X Kendi.Andrew Sullivan

We are going through the greatest radicalization of the elites since the 1960s. This isn’t coming from the ground up. It’s being imposed ruthlessly from above, marshaled with a fusillade of constant MSM propaganda, and its victims are often the poor and the black and the brown. – Andrew Sullivan

But one reason to fight for liberalism against the successor ideology is that its extremes are quite obviously fomenting and facilitating and inspiring ever-rising fanaticism in response.- Andrew Sullivan

We can and must still fight and argue for what we believe in: a liberal democracy in a liberal society. This fight will not end if we just ignore it or allow ourselves to be intimidated by it, or join the tribal pile-ons.  – Andrew Sullivan

Change requires buy-in and it’s obvious that the opportunities that await along the road to greater sustainability haven’t been sold to those who are being asked to make the journey.

At the moment those opportunities are being obscured by rules, costs and uncertainty. – Bryan Gibson

Timing might be everything in sport, and it will be 11 years before we can say whether the Queensland capital’s rescue package for the Games will have been years ahead of the curve or embarrassingly behind it. Brisbane will either be the wide-eyed yokel who marvelled at the good fortune of being the only bidder in an empty auction house, or it will be the genius who snapped up the greatest bargain on Earth. – Malcolm Knox

What is clear is that every New Zealander will pay heavily for a gold-plated water standard, decided by government. And affordability has not even been discussed.

The governance structure has been proposed as 50% councils who have put in 100% of the assets and 50% Iwi, an unusual situation to say the least. – Bruce Smith

Where exhibitionism is a means of achievement (and for many people the only means of achievement), it is hardly surprising—indeed, it is perfectly logical—that public conduct should become ever more outlandish, for what was once outlandish becomes so commonplace that it ceases to attract notice.

And in an age of celebrity, not to be noticed is not to exist; not to be famed even within a small circle is to experience humiliation.

To have melted unseen and unnoticed into a crowd is to be a complete failure and is the worst of fates, even if by doing so one performs useful work. If Descartes were alive today, he would say not ‘I think, therefore I am’, but ‘I am famous, therefore I am’.

Celebrity has become a desideratum in itself, disconnected from any achievement that might justifiably result in it. Theodore Dalrymple

The vaccine programme – in a broader political sense – is just about the only thing that matters. It’s the ticket back to something like normality, and it is going to be the only thing that’s going to shift the dial on who can travel where, and with what level of convenience. Luke Malpass

We may be sure that this is mere Orwell-speak for: “criticism shall henceforth be conflated with incitement, and thus, criminalised.” Any dissent from the dictatorship’s Woke-Fascist agenda will be imprisonable.

Criticism of what, exactly? Well, more than anything the Woke-Fascist regime wants to criminalise criticism of Islam, whether that criticism be long and erudite or crude and succinct. Say “Islam sucks,” and you’ll go to jail. (Say “Christianity sucks” and nothing will happen at all. Ditto “Atheism sucks.” Neither should anything happen. I’m an atheist, but I defend to the death the right of any religious person to his or her beliefs, and of me to mine.) Islamic leaders were demanding this within hours of the Christchurch mosque slaughter. Liberty-lovers must continue to reserve the right to proclaim that Islam does suck, and the horror of that slaughter does not mitigate the horror of Islam. – Lindsay Perigo

This is the “social cohesion” so avidly promoted by the Royal Commission. What it really is is coerced conformity. Society will “cohere” because there’s a government gun at everybody’s head.

The zombified young (moronnials), far from being fired up in defence of freedom, have been lobotomised and brainwashed into believing that freedom is a patriarchal, capitalistic, White Supremacist ruse. The media have become the regime’s lickspittles. A sisterhood of snowflakes has overtaken Academia. Infantile “feelings” and Thunberg tantrums have supplanted logic, reason and their indispensable crucible, open and forthright debate. Fry-quacking, upward-inflecting wannabe umbragees get out of bed each day, if they get out of bed at all, just to find someone to be umbraged by; now they’ll have the satisfaction of seeing their umbrager jailed, as well as cancelled, sacked, censored, doxxed or otherwise lynched by the repulsive mindless Woke-Fascist mob on “social” media. –Lindsay Perigo

Rather than entrenching totalitarianism, let us boldly proclaim that there is indeed no such thing as a right not to be offended, and that the precept, “I disagree with what you say but defend to the death your right to say it” should permeate all social discourse and be emblazoned across the sky. – Lindsay Perigo

For monetary policy to work, the public needs to believe that the central bank is serious about controlling inflation. Cutting inflation means taking politically unpopular decisions, like raising interest rates and creating unemployment. – Damien Grant

Low interest rates and printed cash goosed an economy populated by two generations that had never seen inflation. They assumed rising prices and asset values meant they were rich. It was an illusion. Output didn’t change. Only the amount of cash chasing the same amount of goods and services did. The cost of this is now clear: inflation.

The Reserve Bank looks like an organisation in disarray. It terminated the money-printing spigot without warning. Because Orr has been so libertine when it comes to inflation, he may decide a hard money policy is needed to convince the market he’s now serious about price stability and creating unnecessary economic disruption as a consequence. – Damien Grant

A new governor with a tight inflation mandate will not have to drop the monetary hammer to convince the market they are serious about keeping inflation under control. Orr should do the honourable thing and resign. If he doesn’t, Robertson should fire him. – Damien Grant

In a nutshell, it’s essentially that we’re demonising synthetic plastic carpet fibres and obviously promoting the virtues of our beautifully homegrown wool. – Rochelle Flint

It’s quite clear that you know, Sydney isn’t immune from morons as well – David Elliott

If tens of thousands of people all over the country challenging private land rights, freshwater and taxes can only make the front page 50 per cent of the time, then we need to have a debate around how our conversations are being shaped and what priority we put on those conversations.Shane Reti

It is hard not to feel that the Government and much of the country are somehow, incredibly, asleep at the wheel. Eighteen months into a deadly pandemic, we are balanced on the edge of a precipice and yet New Zealand seems to be blissfully unaware. – Bill Ralston 

Has anyone noticed that Fortress New Zealand, our bastion against infection, has some huge holes in its crumbling walls? A stubborn number of border workers have still not been inoculated. Months have passed and the Government has been reluctant to force them to do so because of its concerns about personal freedoms. – Bill Ralston 

The Government refuses to give us a road map of how we can exit Covid-19. Why? Because it doesn’t have one and it doesn’t want to alarm us. Our politicians are sleepwalking through this crisis and we haven’t noticed. – Bill Ralston 

It must be a terrifying time for the families of police officers. It’s always been a dangerous job but the violence and unpredictability of offenders has really ramped up over the past few years. And I’m not being emotive or depending on unreliable memory when I say that – figures show the rate of gun crime increased during 2018 and 2019. We can only imagine what the stats are going to look like for this year.Kerre McIvor

On a number of occasions, during her interview on Newstalk ZB and in subsequent interviews, Williams stressed that she was representing the Māori and Pacific communities of South Auckland – they were her people.

Which would be fine if she was Minister for Pacific Peoples. Or the MP for Manurewa or Māngere. But she’s not. She’s MP for Christchurch East. Of course, her role will be informed by her experiences as a New Zealander of Cook Island descent, and as a woman and in her previous work outside government. But she can’t just pick and choose who she represents as it suits her.

First and foremost, I would have thought a police minister would have the interests of police at heart. Then New Zealanders as a whole. Not just the sectors most dear to her heart.

There must be nothing more disillusioning than hearing your minister rabbiting on about unconscious bias and systemic racism as you put on your uniform and head out to work, not knowing with 100 per cent certainty that you’ll make it home that night. – Kerre McIvor

The men and women I’ve spoken to, from chief supers to constables, somehow, magically, have kept their faith in humanity and believe they are there to serve their community. They have got our backs.

If only we, and especially their minister, offered them the same respect and protection.Kerre McIvor

Anything is tolerable if it is temporary, especially if you are living to the promise of “building back better”, but what if the pain isn’t fleeting but permanent, or what you are building isn’t better, but worse? – Dileepa Fonseka

Hastily set up systems, like the one created for managed isolation bookings, are fine if they are some sort of pit stop on the way to a new normal, but not if they are where we are supposed to end up.

Yet there is a real fear disruptive elements of the pandemic, like the chaos in international shipping, are set to become permanent fixtures.Dileepa Fonseka

Yet it is clearly going to be unconscionable to use the MIQ system for business travel while citizens in need are effectively locked out of it and families of critical workers like teachers and healthcare professions are not able to use them either.

Surely this will all be fixed soon, you say? You would hope so, but if the pandemic has taught us anything it is that we shouldn’t assume it will be fixed either. – Dileepa Fonseka

The inescapable fact of the matter is that neither Faafoi nor the Prime Minister appears well equipped intellectually to lead a debate on such a complicated and demanding topic. –  Graham Adams

And if Ardern and Faafoi can’t even offer convincing examples of what kinds of speech might or might not be deemed criminally hateful, they should count themselves extremely lucky that no interviewer has been cruel enough to ask them more challenging philosophical questions about the proposed changes.

One obvious question is why political opinion should be excluded if religious beliefs are included — which they almost certainly will be after the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the mosque murders recommended they should be and the Labour Party manifesto promised they would be.

Religions, of course, are ideologies just as political doctrines are — even if the former are rooted in the supernatural realm and the latter in the secular. Both often involve deeply held convictions about how society should be organised; followers of both systems of belief are sometimes willing to die for the cause; they often inspire loyalties that are passed within families from generation to generation; and both political and religious adherents are constantly imploring others to accept the righteousness and necessity of their views.

Furthermore, the two are often intertwined with religious beliefs that form the basis of political programmes. – Graham Adams

“Safer”? “Uncomfortable”? Neither exactly qualifies as a compelling or rigorous assessment of why political speech should or shouldn’t be included in a major overhaul of long-standing rights to freedom of expression, particularly if religious belief is.

It is hard to imagine what unholy mix of obtuseness and hubris would allow any politician to enter such a challenging intellectual arena without being armed to the teeth with sound arguments and convincing evidence to persuade voters that expanding the existing hate speech laws is an excellent idea. Graham Adams

Neither shows normal understanding of the role of legislation or the legislator: the elementary requirement for the rule of law that the citizen be able to know in advance from written rules how the law will apply to them and their actions, and are predictable in application to unexpected or novel circumstances. It shows disdain for the protection our law is supposed to provide against the temptation of all in power to make up the rules as they go.

“The deliberate use in the proposals of vague terms confers unfettered law-writing power on the courts. That shows contempt for the fundamental wisdom of our inherited tradition – to write law not for the well intentioned, but for those who will abuse it for personal and group power. – Stephen Franks

Transformation is like Rachel Hunter’s hair. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. – Jamie Mackay

Learn from Rogernomics. Be on the right side of history on this one. Take farmers with you. Be kind. Our collective provincial plea to our PM is; we want Ohakune carrot, not Wellington stick! – Jamie Mackay

Given the difficulty and errors ministers and the Prime Minister have made in trying to sell their policy, how on earth is the average citizen supposed to understand what is lawful and unlawful?Jordan Williams

The proposal to pay people according to their behavior (made possible by information technology) is a sinister extension of state power, but there is no denying that it has a certain logic.

Where people surrender their right to choose how to meet their medical needs, and hand over responsibility to the state (or for that matter, any third-party payer), it’s hardly surprising that they will before long surrender their right to choose how they behave.

If someone else pays for the consequences of your actions, it is only natural that, one day, he will demand to control your actions. After all, freedom without responsibility creates an unjust burden on others. –  Theodore Dalrymple

He’s a highly skilled professional that we desperately need and frankly we’ve treated him like rubbish. I’m sure that his view of New Zealand has been tainted and he will go somewhere else that will treat him much better – Erica Stanford

If you think the Ministry of Health doesn’t have the Covid vaccination programme under control, wait until you hear about mumps. More than a month after I first asked, the ministry has confirmed it doesn’t know how many New Zealanders are vaccinated against any of the diseases on its National Immunisation Schedule.

This includes mumps, but also chickenpox, diphtheria, haemophilus influenzae type b, hepatitis B, human papillomavirus, influenza, measles, pneumococcal disease, polio, rotavirus, rubella, shingles, tetanus and whooping cough. – Matthew Hooton

If we drive the vehicles out, we’ll drive the people out and the businesses will follow. – Alistair Broad

I said, ‘I’m not an activist’. They said, ‘what are you?’ I thought, ‘what am I?’ Somebody that’s concerned about what’s happening to New Zealand, that’s all I am – Bryce McKenzie

This isn’t imagined. If you don’t know about it, we’d like you to try and find out. It’s general — people are hurting. – Bryce McKenzie

They are worried not about themselves as … [much as] what’s going to happen to their kids, their grandkids. The family farm, if we keep this up, is gone.

If New Zealand goes to corporate farming, does New Zealand really want family farms gone? They need to just have a good think about that. – Bryce McKenzie

We have never ever not offered a solution in everything we’ve stood for. We’re not against any of the stuff; we just think there’s a better way to treat everybody far better.

It all comes back to one thing: some of these regulations are unworkable – you cannot get around that. – Bryce McKenzie

There’s not enough hand sanitiser in the whole of Japan to clean that act up. That was just absolutely terrible. – Ruby Tui

What rain? Bring on the thunder, we’re at the Olympics, let’s be happy, let’s compete safely and peacefully, peace and love, love you guys.  – Ruby Tui

First off, I would like to stress that I fully support the transgender community, and that what I’m about to say doesn’t come from a place of rejection of this athlete’s identity.

I am aware that defining a legal frame for transgender participation in sports is very difficult since there is an infinite variety of situations, and that reaching an entirely satisfactory solution, from either side of the debate, is probably impossible.

However, anyone that has trained weightlifting at a high level knows this to be true in their bones: this particular situation is unfair to the sport and to the athletes.  – Anna Vanbellinghen

So why is it still a question whether two decades, from puberty to the age of 35, with the hormonal system of a man also would give an advantage [in competing against women]?

I understand that for sports authorities nothing is as simple as following your common sense, and that there are a lot of impracticalities when studying such a rare phenomenon, but for athletes the whole thing feels like a bad joke.

Life-changing opportunities are missed for some athletes – medals and Olympic qualifications – and we are powerless.

Of course, this debate is taking place in a broader context of discrimination against transgender people, and that is why the question is never free of ideology.

However, the extreme nature of this particular situation really demonstrates the need to set up a stricter legal framework for transgender inclusion in sports, and especially elite sports.

Because I do believe that everyone should have access to sports, but not at the expense of others.Anna Vanbellinghen

Pushing up wages without driving productivity just adds to inflation.

The cost of living becomes a race between prices and wages. H