Quotes of the month

01/12/2022

The government is quite happy to pay $280 a person to get you out of your car and onto a slow train, with a hopelessly inconveniently schedule, to drop you off at a station where you don’t want to be, at a time of the day that does not suit you.

That certainly does sound like Labour Party policy! – Frank Newman

The truth is that “far-Right” is an entirely arbitrary term, used to disparage any politician or party whose policies the left-leaning commentariat dislikes – or perhaps more precisely, fears.Karl du Fresne

“Far-Right” is often used in connection with the equally damning word “populist”. But a populist politician, by definition, is one who appeals to the people. Isn’t that the essence of democracy?

Here, I suspect, is the core of the problem. “Populist” is used as a derogatory term because the progressive elite, deep down, don’t trust democracy and don’t think ordinary people, ignorant proles that they are, can be relied on to make the right choices.

For the same reason, the political elite want to control the public conversation by regulating what we are allowed to say or hear. Uninhibited political debate is dangerous. People might get the wrong ideas – hence the moral panic over disinformation.

Do the journalists and academics who so freely use the misleading term “far Right” realise that the world has moved on from the days when it described fringe nationalist groups with little hope of electoral success? Possibly not.

I think they’re in denial. They don’t want to admit that the so-called far Right has moved to the political centre, and that this is an entirely natural and predictable reaction to stifling left-wing authoritarianism. – Karl du Fresne

People who know they are forcing a majority of the people to accept policies demanded by a minority, will always, under pressure, fall back on the blunt interrogatives of political power: Who has it, and who is willing to use it?

That’s why it is so easy to finish a sentence that begins, “As a governor”, with the words: “it is my will that prevails – not yours.” Easy, but a perilously long way from New Zealand’s egalitarian political traditions.Chris Trotter

That 16 per cent of the population will get to decide exclusively what is best for the remaining 84 per cent in the management of water and water infrastructure — built up over many generations by ratepayers and taxpayers, both Māori and non-Māori alike — is outrageously divisive and entirely undemocratic. – Graham Adams

The solution is a political one. No amount of polite protest will change the fact that the only solution is to remove the Labour Party from government. That opportunity presents itself next year. Co-governance is shaping up to be a very important election issue.- Graham Adams

Realistically, no amount of arm waving and foot stomping to the Panel is going to make any difference. Nanaia Mahuta has set a course on co-governance and the Future for Local Government report is part of that agenda, as detailed in He Puapua.

The solution is a political one. No amount of polite protest will change the fact that the only solution is to remove the Labour Party from government. That opportunity presents itself next year. Co-governance is shaping up to be a very important election issue. – Frank Newman

We’re seeing, for example, that companies are trying to dierentiate themselves on CO2 emissions per kilogram of product. But the significance of this indicator is very limited, because the value of a food is largely determined by the nutrients it contains. This indicator takes no account of this. Mineral water, for example, can have a low CO2 emissions level, but you can’t live on it. There are no or hardly any nutrients in it. That’s why there’s no point to comparing the CO2 emissions per kilogram of a soft drink to that of milk. Or of bananas to meat. Stephan Peters

Comparisons based on a single nutrient like protein are too limited. You can’t base a healthy diet on protein alone. We need a combination of many dierent nutrients to stay healthy. By quantifying the most important nutrients in a product, you can attain a new ecological footprint. The so-called Nutrient Rich Food (NRF) scores are one example. A product’s contribution to the daily requirements of the consumer can be calculated based on a summation of the nutritional benefits of that product. Products with a high NRF score have a lot of added value for our health. This also means that for products with low NRF scores, we have to eat more of them, which often means more unwanted calories and a higher footprint. By using the NRF scores in the ecological footprint of foods, you can connect ecological footprint to a product’s health benefits. This sometimes provides a different picture than you would expect from the ecological footprint per kilogram – Stephan Peters

When you combine the ecological footprint with the NRF scores, these plant-based substitutes show a less positive picture. Of course there are many nuances here, but this makes clear that nutritional value and (micro)nutrients have to be included when comparing products in terms of sustainability.Stephan Peters

Extremism is bound to thrive when dissent is suppressed by members of a pharisaical caste that takes upon itself the right to determine what others may read and hear. – Karl du Fresne

The reasons for Local Government appearing to be so dysfunctional all over the country – starts and finishes around a council table. Quite some years ago there was little or no obvious political affiliations as councillors put aside their back grounds and or political beliefs. Recent past elections have seen overtly Green and Labour candidates standing for election which draws into question exactly who they represent and whether the oath of office is little more than a meaningless formality as they take their place around the council table. The battle lines are therefore drawn before debate is enacted as predictable attitudes soon manifest themselves. It’s called predetermination and that is a root cause of council acrimony. To make matters worse, councils are now compelled to accept unelected representatives (Maori) to promote a singular point of view alongside those who must act in the wider interests of the region/district. The oath of office -sworn by councillors – is not required of the Maori appointees. The call for more diversity and broader representation is a nonsense. Given the size of councils balance sheet, it is knowledge, judgment and experience that matters – not age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or street address.Gerry Eckhoff

Trust and integrity of process are the hall marks of a well-functioning democracy. There can be no place for those who seek authority and power for their own sake. The situations in China and Russia, where the seedlings of democracy are crushed under the tyranny of false authority and weaponry – must serve as a reminder to us all that our freedoms start – not just with local government but with those who also serve – by challenge and protest. – Gerry Eckhoff

None of the significant changes undermining democracy and our Kiwi way of life, that are being introduced through He Puapua have received a mandate from the public. The restructuring of health, polytechnics, and water services are all illegitimate policy changes designed to pass control to the tribal elite. None have public approval, and all should be repealed by the next government.

In this climate of division created by Jacinda Ardern, key institutions are being corrupted from their original purpose of serving all New Zealanders as equals, to prioritising and privileging those of Maori descent. Under her leadership, democracy is being replaced by apartheid. – Muriel Newman

Of all the forms of pollution that harm this world, that of noise seems to gain the least attention, perhaps because we have no one to blame for so much of it but ourselves, preferring as we do to concentrate on harms for which we can blame others.Theodore Dalrymple

The English have always taken their pleasures sadly, but now they take them first noisily, then antisocially, then forgetfully. Several times I have heard young people claim to have had a wonderful time the night before, the evidence for which is that they can remember nothing whatever of it. On this view of things, death is the final, eternal nightclub. – Theodore Dalrymple

Who’s taking any notice of the laws? Answer – no one. They couldn’t give a crap.

 And why would they? There are no consequences in this country for anything anymore so why fear authority or rules or laws? Even ram raiders get a wraparound hug and a meeting rather than any kind of law enforcement.

Being young means being off the hook. Kids know it, their mates know it, the parents know it. So why are we surprised when they don’t follow the rules?  – Kate Hawkesby 

There’s more youth in trouble than there is aid. And despite all the best efforts of Youth Aid and their valiant attempts at restorative justice and rehabilitation, we have a major problem in this country with disenfranchised youth. – Kate Hawkesby 

I despair that we are now just in a cycle of youth trouble equals Youth Aid, and that’s it. The forgotten word here is – consequences. – Kate Hawkesby 

There is a sense however that Ardern is attempting to expand the legitimate need for surveillance of a very small group of potentially dangerous individuals to also cover people whose beliefs simply run counter to government policy or to the norms of woke culture.

That suspicion was reinforced by the TVNZ documentary Web of Chaos which looked at the internet’s influence on modern-day life and included what the producers described as “a deep dive into the world of disinformation”. Whilst the documentary made some good points, there were some odd moments, including when the Director of the Disinformation Project made the astonishing claim that Kiwi mothers with interests in children’s clothes, healthy cooking and interior design were being drawn into “white nationalist ideals”. – Thomas Cranmer

We are an important liberal power at a time when illiberal forces in Moscow and Beijing are flexing their brutal and authoritarian muscles on the battlefields of Ukraine, the streets of Hong Kong and across the narrow water of Taiwan.

We have to take the risk of voicing our doubts about decolonisation. It should be open for discussion, open for interrogation. We need to break the spell. – Nigel Biggar

New Zealand sheep farmers have been singled out to bear the brunt of our country’s efforts to stop the planet warming. Our government’s chosen metric is to measure progress by annual emissions. When applied to constant or diminishing emissions of short-lived gasses such as methane, this results in perverse outcomes. – Dave Read

I love farming because it offers unlimited opportunity to use my intellectual and physical skills. I am proud to produce a product that is very close to organic. Our system is on a different planet when compared to feed-lot animals that are fed grain, grown under an industrial farming system awash with fossil fuel.Dave Read

I produce the same amount of meat from less pasture, and therefore less methane. Since 1990, I have planted willows and poplars for erosion control and now have over 6,000 that will cover 100ha when they are all mature.

Trees are the current feel-good factor, but actually, retiring land to plant is only made economically possible by efficiency gains on the remainder. Conversely, whole farms changed to pine forests are wiping out food production entirely. – Dave Read

I have walked to every corner of the farm and feel an intimate connection to this land. Returning from elsewhere, I get to within 100km of home and feel the land reaching out towards me. When the land suffers under drought or flood, I feel it as a pain in my own body. And I love trees, but when I see whole farms planted in a monoculture of pines, I feel sick to my stomach.

Right now, I feel like a contentious objector must have during the first world war. I am being reviled as an environmental vandal. The news feels like propaganda. Dave Read

When I do the math, the UN target for ruminant stock works out to a 4.7 per cent reduction for New Zealand. This is under half New Zealand’s target, but no editor will print this fact because ‘readers don’t want complicated maths’, ‘you are not a climate expert’, ‘it would undermine the consensus achieved’.

I am forced to watch sustainable food production (my life’s work) destroyed even though it is expected that 1.4 billion people will be protein-deficient by 2050. I lie awake in the early hours, composing yet another submission to be filed and ignored by group of professional listeners in Wellington (the seat of our government). The road that used to be quiet at 4am roars with logging trucks carrying logs from trees planted in the 90s during the last wave of land-use change. Transport carries on warming the planet; people drive to the store when they could walk; they fly to Sydney for shopping weekends instead of buying local.

Meanwhile my sector, the only sector of New Zealand no longer warming the planet, is being gutted. – Dave Read

Climate change is hugely important. But it just isn’t a substantial prudential risk for the financial system.

There are far bigger financial risks out there. For example, a Reserve Bank that spends too much time playing with its frog-exaggerator when an inflation monster is running wild.  – Eric Crampton

Constant tweaks to immigration settings have contributed to complexity and confusion for migrants and officials. The Government abandoning targets for processing visa applications has led to fewer decisions being made. Immigration NZ’s antiquated legacy processes and teething problems with its new online systems have also played a role. And then there has been the Government’s clunky approach to dealing with pandemic-related backlogs.

Yet these issues are all symptoms rather than the cause. The root of the problem is the Government’s distrust of immigration. It stems from a belief that productivity improvements will come from restricting the supply of migrant labour. Unfortunately, that belief is not founded on economic evidence. And it risks tarnishing our longstanding record as a favoured destination for skilled migrants. – Roger Partridge 

As New Zealand firms and workers battle rising interest rates, a cost of living crisis and geopolitical uncertainty, it is time our Government ended the self-inflicted harm of restrictive immigration settings.Roger Partridge 

Well-functioning cities should mean higher real wages for workers and better entertainment options. So why are New Zealand’s cities shrinking?

Our cities just do not seem to be working well and that comes down to poor policy decisions.  – Oliver Hartwich

When zoning and consenting make it too hard to build in places where people want to live, work and play, land prices inflate in surprising ways. Turning inner suburbs into museum pieces blocks the dynamic change that lets cities thrive. And banning new subdivisions at the city’s fringes makes the land under downtown apartments more expensive than it should be. – Oliver Hartwich

Councils need incentives to zone ample land for development. It is vital to finance infrastructure well. Then zoning will not introduce artificial scarcity. More competitive land markets unleash opportunities.  – Oliver Hartwich

But don’t expect a vote for NZ First to deliver anything transformational.  From 1996-1998 NZ First was a brake on a National Government continuing with free market liberal reforms, but not a stop. Similarly, from 2005-2008 and from 2017-2020 it was a brake on Labour Governments continuing with growth of the welfare state, but put a foot on the accelerator of economic nationalist interventions.  It was not a brake on Maori nationalism, because the policies now being advanced by the Government had their genesis in 2017-2020 (or earlier in the case of He Puapua).Liberty Scott:

Surely, in the interests of “partnership”, the rights of private landowners should be honoured or is this another example of everyone being equal, but Māori are more equal than others.- Frank Newman

My view is that bad accidents are the result of a couple of things. Exceedingly bad luck, in other words you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. It isn’t your fault and no amount of advertising and road rules would have stopped it.

And idiots. Whether by madness, booze, drugs, criminal activity, poor cars, or insane behaviour. It’s the stuff that is  preventable, but only if the fool behind the wheel was behaving differently.

Those sort of people are not reached by ads on telly and cops that aren’t on the road. So, back to the question; when we get to the end of the year in a month or so and the toll is up yet again, one of the worst yet again, what then? Another ad agency ?    – Mike Hosking

There are three things that are needed immediately if we are to tackle the huge and growing pile of unmet need in our health system. We need more people in the health workforce, we need more facilities, and we need targets and goals for the facilities we already have. – Steven Joyce

Our Health Minister looks more and more like a tired one-trick pony. His only initiative was to rearrange the bureaucracy and slap a new coat of paint on it, then stand back to wait for it solve the world’s problems.

He ignores that it is infeasible a bureaucracy in Wellington, roundly derided by most who work in the health system, should suddenly be the solution because it is now called “Te Whatu Ora”. Particularly as it exhausted itself changing all the deckchairs around and few people within it yet seem to know how the new entity works.Steven Joyce

Our health sector needs new thinking, not hidebound technocracy. It needs to be led by someone new with energy and enthusiasm, who is prepared to roll sleeves up and lead from the front.

Someone who stands up for patients and their families, visibly backs the doctors, nurses and other professionals and is prepared to take on entrenched interests like the health unions and medical school duopolies. We don’t need a tired paper pusher. He needs to go. – Steven Joyce

 The effect of three of the judgments in this case is to introduce Maori customs of uncertain definition and unknowable consequences as they existed in 1840 as a third arm of the common law of New Zealand. These customs are collectively labelled “Tikanga.” The way in which they have  been infiltrated into the common law is unprecedented.Anthony Willy 

This excursion into Maori customs raises a number of questions: What is “Tikanga?” A search of the meaning of the word in the Maori dictionary yields fifteen possible definitions all of which amount to doing the right thing in the circumstances. None of the meanings have anything thing to do with the law as it has been understood and  practiced in New Zealand since 1840.  Every society throughout time has its customs as a means of surviving both its environment and from the attentions of others. Maori tribes were no different but the world in which persons of Maori extraction now live is unrecognisable for those who lived here in 1840 when they accepted British sovereignty and all that entailed. Obviously, the law must change and adapt to changing circumstances but it is extraordinary to suppose that this should be done by importing concepts some of which are no more than are to be found in any developing society but have no unique contemporary relevance to the lives of New Zealand citizens. One might as well say that attention to good manners and consideration for others should form part of the common law. – Anthony Willy 

 Willie Jackson the Minister for Broadcasting and who appears to lead the Maori caucus in government and who has probably read the writings of Williams J. knows all this. He has recently rejected a report from who knows whom proposing co government in New Zealand because it is too radical. He now has barely six weeks left in the Parliamentary cycle to introduce new legislation dealing with that deeply unpopular proposition making it unlikely it will ever see the light of day. It is astonishing that the  majority of the judges in our highest court would do his work for him by elevating Maori customs to become an equal source of law alongside the common law, and the statutes enacted by Parliament. That is the most unprecedented and blatant descent by three out of five members of our highest Court into matters of crucial social and political import. These judges leave a poison challis for their successors with unknowable malign social consequences. It will now be left to Parliament by legislation to reinstate the commonality of Judge made law.Anthony Willy 

Our preference has always been for commercial pragmatism and fact-based analysis to lead solutions, rather than any politically-motivated or interest-driven proposals. Our vision involves enhancing existing assets, while investing in supporting infrastructure such as new rail connections and coastal shipping – Julia Hoare

It is our belief that current legislation and policy does not encourage nor facilitate investment even when it is environmentally sound and nationally significant. The consenting process is complex, time consuming and costly. It hinders adoption of new technology with its economic and environmental benefits, ensures we are always playing catch up with capacity and stops existing assets from being used to their full potential.Julia Hoare

Parliament did not legislate for a tax increase large enough to break Treasury’s tax calculator. Nobody proposed it. Nobody campaigned on it.

It never went to Select Committee for deliberation. No tax experts analysed the distributional consequences of it or its affordability. It never received Royal Assent. Parliament simply failed to undo that which Adrian Orr gifted it, at our expense. – Eric Crampton

Failing to inflation-adjust tax thresholds, since April 2021, pushed some 40,000 people from the 10.5% bracket into the 17.5% bracket, about 187,000 people from the 17.5% bracket into the 30% bracket, 161,000 people from the 30% bracket into the 33% rate, and about 18,000 people from the 33% rate into the new top 39% rate.

As consequence, the government collected about $1.3 billion extra in tax – though both the figures on the numbers of people and revenue effects come with a heavy caveat from Treasury. Changes this large cause changes in behaviour, and those behavioural shifts are not in Treasury’s simple model.

When inflation’s effects over a little more than a year are enough to break Treasury’s tax calculator, something has got to give. At this point the question shouldn’t be whether to adjust the tax bands for inflation, but how best to do it – and how to avoid this ever happening again.

Whatever your views on the appropriate size of government, a few basic principles should apply.

The government should not normally spend more than it is prepared to take in tax revenue. Careful accounting needs to be applied, so that long-lived infrastructure can be appropriately debt-financed and paid off by users over its lifetime. But operating revenue and operating expenditure should balance.

If a government wants to reduce the amount of tax it collects, it should reduce the amount it spends.

And if a government wants to increase the amount that it spends, it should have to explicitly legislate for the taxes needed to fund that spending – rather than let inflation do the work. – Eric Crampton

 Bracket creep is a stealthy and dishonest form of taxation. Worse, it can easily lead to the impression that Parliament wants the Reserve Bank to ignore its remit and let inflation run hot.

Inflation indexing tax thresholds isn’t just good tax policy. When inflation is no longer a tidy little earner for central government, we might worry less about whether the Reserve Bank is really committed to fighting it.Eric Crampton

I wrote a book, Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality, which was published in July 2021. The idea behind the book is also simple: biological sex is fixed, it is binary. And transgender ideology — which replaces sex with subjective claims of ‘gender identity’ in law and policies — does serious harm. To anyone not blinded by this dogma, the argument is obvious. You cannot let men claim to be women just because they feel like it and thereby gain entry to women’s toilets, women’s changing rooms, women’s refuges, women’s jails. It puts women at increased risk of male violence. It is not acceptable. – Helen Joyce

And what I discovered was this: during the past two decades, ‘trans rights’ have morphed into a totalitarian project the aim of which is to make the very concept of biological sex unsayable. It has been pernicious, and extraordinarily so. Almost every civil-rights organisation, including Amnesty, Liberty and Stonewall, now insists that a man truly can become a woman simply by saying he is one. ‘Trans women are women — no debate,’ that’s their slogan. The rest of us must shut up. – Helen Joyce

This radical transactivism has erased and endangered women, pushed us out of our own spaces and destroyed protections from male violence that we fought so hard for. – Helen Joyce

That was when I understood the full horror of what is happening. In the name of a warped ideology masquerading as a civil-rights movement, doctors are potentially endangering children who may be gay or mentally ill. How did we get here?

Young adults have certainly changed since my student days. Many now see themselves and the world through the lens of gender, sexual and racial identity, placing great store by ever more specific self-descriptions (they might, for example, be a ‘queer non-binary asexual person of colour’).

The objective reality of our shared human nature is sidelined, in favour of what each individual feels or claims about themselves.  It is childish, and dangerously so. – Helen Joyce

If you had coal in the 19th Century you were rich, if you had oil and gas in the 20th Century you were rich and if you have water then you’re rich in the 21st Century.

It gives you options and frankly successive governments haven’t been able to appropriately resolve the tension that has existed in the community around how to manage water. – Todd Muller

I’m hearing a sense of hopelessness around the future, and whether it’s worth staying in the sector is extremely palpable. The big change for me that I’ve never seen before is that the message is being articulated by younger farmers.

You will always get in a group, individuals who are perhaps resisting change, and normally they tend to be people who are more senior than younger, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen it the other way where the anger, frustration and hopelessness is very much the message I’m getting from younger farmers.Todd Muller

Here it’s like a cumulative sense of obligation and criticism and a lack of acknowledgement of everything that’s been done on farm. How complex farm systems are and how interactive they are in terms of their farm animals, various farm practices, the interaction on the environment and trying to measure and mitigate that.

Trying to work all that out across a myriad of issues, from water quality, to soil, to winter grazing, to climate – they feel overwhelmed actually and that’s hugely striking and quite shocking when the faces who are telling me that are under 40. – Todd Muller

There’s a real sense that no one’s in their corner, that nothing they do on farm is ever good enough. It doesn’t matter if they’ve done plantings, riparian strips, put in more effluent ponds or set aside bush because it’s the right thing to do.

Nothing seems to be acknowledged or rewarded or supported – you’ve still got some clipboard warrior from MfE (Ministry for Environment) coming out, or local government saying, ‘That’s wrong and here’s the penalty’.Todd Muller

Part of it is actually accepting that some of this is going to take some time, and I know there are always the critics of the agriculture sector who immediately run to the pulpit and say the sector has always sought to kick the can down the road.

I fundamentally reject that, and I think the people who say that have never been on a farm and never seen the work farmers have done individually and cumulatively across water quality, soil improvement, reducing erosion, fresh water – they just don’t see all that effort. – Todd Muller

That’s why I’m so critical of the Government’s response to He Waka Eke Noa … they’ve decided they’ve got a better view on how it should be managed, and it doesn’t surprise me the sector is up in arms.

I’m not signalling in any way that because farmers are so angry, no action is required to continue to look to improve freshwater, improve measurement and mitigation of emissions. But there’s a way of doing it that brings the sector along with you and there’s a way of doing it that makes them feel like second-class citizens, and that’s how they feel at the moment. – Todd Muller

There’s a whole heap of additional work that could be done with the sector around efficient capture of additional sequestration. The Ministry for Environment and MPI constantly talk about how difficult all this stuff is, well yeah it is difficult, but it has to happen. You can’t run to the taxation lever, which this Government wants to do with vigour, and kick the can down the road. – Todd Muller

I’ve been involved with the sector for 25 years, and just seeing the vehemence of the reaction makes it clear the Government has lost the farmers here completely.Todd Muller

He clearly has the better of Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor in any Cabinet conversation they have on these things because the balance is always skewed toward David Parker’s view of the world, which is frankly, he thinks farmers have got away with it for too long, and in my view that’s an outrageous position to hold. – Todd Muller

Indeed, we are at a difficult crossroads in New Zealand, where we are being pushed into accepting a new order and a new name for our country that has not undergone a referendum. It seems to me a form of bullying. Of course, Māori and other indigenous people across many countries were oppressed for several centuries but often were not themselves kind to others and indeed gained much from colonialism. The world has made great progress over the last half-century but we are undoing that progress very rapidly.David Lillis

He Puapua is one of the most alarming documents I have ever read. It will sow the seeds of discontent and division for decades to come. We must oppose the current ideology while embracing equality and the rights of minorities, and commit ourselves to assisting all people on the basis of disadvantage rather than of race. We are not a bicultural society but instead a multicultural society that today includes people from all parts of the world.

On the question of the demarcation of science and indigenous or traditional knowledge – most probably it is true that many scientists know little of indigenous or traditional knowledge and may undervalue the genuine wisdom to be found there. Some Māori and others have made this point forcibly and quite correctly. But proponents of indigenous or traditional knowledge often betray an even greater ignorance of science. – David Lillis

Towards the end of the meeting two Māori women stood up and called for decolonisation of science. Is science colonial and, if so, how exactly are we to decolonise it and whose science are we to decolonise? We can understand where they are coming from in relation to past oppression and their need to resurrect pride in their culture, language and traditional knowledge. However, I and many others have grave concerns about the He Puapua report, which recommends that mātauranga Māori (Māori traditional knowledge) be valued equally and resourced equally to “Western science”. Indigenous people, including Māori, and other minorities make valuable contributions in many areas in which science and technology play a part. Surely, all traditional knowledge ought to be valued and preserved but no traditional knowledge of any cultural group, anywhere in the world, should be taught as science until tested and shown to be valid through the methods of science. Nor is there the slightest justification for resourcing traditional knowledge equally to science, however valuable that knowledge may have been in the past.David Lillis

However, assertions to the effect that indigenous science is equally valid and equally important as “Western science” are very worrying (for example, Henry, 2022). In specific cases they can be as valid but, unfortunately, mostly they are not, and the notion of “Western science” is demonstrably mistaken.

It is not a criticism of traditional knowledge or of the communities or societies that produced it that such knowledge cannot compare with the centuries of advances and investments that lie behind the modern physical and life sciences; for example, randomised controlled trials in medicine, molecular and atomic physics, evolutionary biology and developments in energy and climate science. We have duty of care to define clearly what sits within the ambit of science and that which lies beyond, just as we have a critical obligation to exercise the utmost rigour when we test the efficacy of newly-proposed cancer drugs and other treatments.

The idea that in any country traditional knowledge should be regarded as fully the equal of science and be resourced equally is astounding and, as a person who trained originally in physics and mathematics, and who worked in research evaluation for Government (for funding decision-making), I find it deeply disturbing that people buy into it, however well-meaning they may be. Similarly, incorporation of traditional knowledge into any national science curriculum is potentially very detrimental to the education of young people. – David Lillis

Every citizen should have equal opportunity of access to education, healthcare and to political and economic power. Here in New Zealand we include Asians, people from North Africa and the Middle-East, people of European origin and, of course, Māori and everyone else.

A second lesson is that we can take affirmative action by removing a Government that is causing damage to its people. Perhaps in New Zealand we can still do something about the current absurdity. We have a duty of care to our country to remain kind, embracing and inclusive – but to stand firm against a Government that may be well-meaning but that has lost its way. – David Lillis

The core role of the public service is to provide New Zealanders with essential services focused on achieving better outcomes and delivering for all Kiwis. Whether it be healthcare, education, transport or infrastructure, New Zealanders should get value for the taxes which they pay to the Crown.

Government is currently spending $1.8 billion of taxpayers hard earned money every year on 14,000 extra bureaucrats, and that’s without mentioning the staggering amount spent on expensive consultants and working groups. The public service in New Zealand has ballooned to unprecedented levels. Yet, we seem to have worse outcomes as a result. – Stuart Smith 

 More churn means more costs, and the lack of continuity puts strain on workflow and projects.  Adding to that, the Crown accounts released earlier this month show that the government’s tax revenue increased from $76 billion to $108 billion in five years. That is an average of $15,000 more in tax for every household in New Zealand. 

With all the extra revenue and all the extra government officials and public servants, I struggle to understand how and why New Zealand’s public services are not functioning as they should.Stuart Smith 

The question is, why are we getting worse outcomes? Frankly, it’s because this government is focused on the wrong things. – Stuart Smith 

If New Zealanders are paying high levels of tax, they should get services that deliver for them and their families. We should not be content with mediocrity, we should be ambitious and focused on giving Kiwis the best opportunities and best services possible. I’m confident that a National Government will be able to manage the economy competently and deliver outcomes that rival some of the best in the world.Stuart Smith 

Oh dear. What an embarrassment. The Prime Minister’s advisers wrote her a conference speech which summarized why this government has become unfit to govern. Since it was based on a misunderstanding of the Covid-19 shock and, as a consequence, the types of changes we need to make to get things back on track.  – Robert MacCulloch

 The Great Depression is widely acknowledged to be a demand-side shock, set off by the 1929 stock market crash. Consumption and investment slumped. It gave rise to Keynesian economics, the view that maintaining demand, running budget deficits and establishing a welfare state could help mitigate the effects. Which was all true!

But the Covid-19 shock was entirely different. It was a supply-side shock: people couldn’t go to work due to the virus, so the supply of labor crumbled. Now there are all sorts of other supply-chain issues.

Adverse demand shocks cause inflation to fall.  Adverse supply shocks cause inflation to rise.

Now we know why this government stuffed up monetary policy. They thought they were dealing with a demand shock which needed to be dealt with by money printing, but all that did was cause inflation. – Robert MacCulloch

The PM must be getting woeful economic advice to write a speech saying the way out of a supply shock is not to address the root cause of cost pressures but instead to embark on 1929-style welfare expansionism.
By the way, the creation of a welfare state was a great victory back in the 1930s. But it was already in place when Covid-19 hit and a century before Ardern came to office. Her government have not furthered the cause of the development of the welfare state. Instead its legacy has been to run-down our health-care system.
If Ardern thinks we’re living in Great Depression times and wants to create a welfare state, she should have run for office in 1935 and not 2023. – Robert MacCulloch

Sure, there are plenty of opinions and comments published every day on the internet and elsewhere that are not accurate. They’re not hateful. They’re not terrorism. But they’re not accurate. There’s also plenty that is accurate, or just to confuse us all, accurate in the views of some people but not in the eyes of others.

The great majority of that material is opinion. Some opinions are well informed. Others less so. We all have them. And we have all been entitled to have them. Opinions and the debate they generate form the basis of better decisions and better outcomes. But who decides what is right and what is wrong?  – Bruce Cotterill

As I understand it, there are already laws that deal with extremism and harmful content. And so the question needs to be asked: will our new hate speech legislation seek to go further? If so, how far?

There are plenty of people who agree with any given government. There are usually plenty who disagree with that same government. Democracies around the world are better off for such diversity of views. Is our Prime Minister suggesting that ultimately, someone should decide that one side is right and another is wrong? – Bruce Cotterill

The trouble with hate speech laws and disinformation claims is this. Who decides what’s right? What is information versus opinion? What is an accurate opinion versus an inaccurate one? And if you eventually shut down one side of an argument or discussion, how are we to know where the alternative view might have led us if it was allowed to be pursued?Bruce Cotterill

Freedom to speak. Freedom to publish. Freedom to congregate. Freedom to protest. Freedom to participate in matters of government. These freedoms quite rightly apply equally to those who disagree with us, as well as those who agree. They are all important cornerstones of democracy as we know it.

Every society needs balanced, constructive and reasoned debate. The fact that this newspaper publishes opinions and comment that are divergent and sometimes opposite is a good thing. Such commentary informs discussion and debate. Debate leads to accountability and better outcomes.

Constructive and well-reasoned argument is essential. It paves the way for better outcomes. But if we seek to shut down such discussion, where does it lead? When does “disinformation” become watered down to “disagreement”? When does any amount of criticism become an unacceptable challenge to authority? When will we be asked to leave our “point of view” behind? – Bruce Cotterill

The freedoms we enjoy provide for a range of views to be expressed, listened to and challenged. Sure, in doing so we are also enabling the fringe views, or sometimes the extreme views, and maybe even the intolerable ones. But they are a tiny minority of cases when compared to the many thousands of other voices we hear every day.

To block mainstream debate because of those few voices is to curb one of the greatest freedoms that we have — the freedom to think for ourselves, inform our views and express our opinions.Bruce Cotterill

It would be a great shame if just some of those very freedoms were taken away at a time when Europe is once again at war. Freedom is worth talking about, arguing for, debating, and defending. – Bruce Cotterill

Voters clearly have given the one-fingered salute to Labour’s cost-of-living packages and perhaps there’s nothing Labour can do right now but hope next year gets better and people forget about inflation. But, right now, it’s described like this: the phone is off the hook.

It’s because Labour appears to put ideology, unfinished business, pet projects, and settling scores ahead of tested and fair, economically sensible policy. Why, for instance, during Covid has it spent so much money on health reforms that no-one can see the immediate benefits of.

And why waste hundreds of millions on screwing RNZ and TVNZ? It’s a merger no-one believes in and no-one thinks will work. And, at $600 million and counting, we simply can’t afford it. Duncan Garner 

Despite the name, FPAs will bind all employers and employees in the occupation/industry, whether or not they want to be bound by the FPA or they participated in bargaining for the FPA. It will be illegal to contract out of an FPA, even if an employer and an employee both want to. – Edwards Law

The FPA process is likely to be complex and time-consuming for employers and employees. Given the employer side will need to represent potentially hundreds of employers of varying size and scale, it may be difficult for employers to reach an agreement amongst themselves, let alone with the employees. All of this could mean more costs for businesses in New Zealand, and maybe, higher prices for consumers as a result.Edwards Law

For better or worse, FPAs are here, and we will soon see the first industries/occupations beginning the process to implement an FPA. It is widely expected that hospitality, cleaning, and security guards will be the first industries to begin bargaining for an FPA. Only time will tell if FPAs will achieve their goal of improving working conditions and productivity in New Zealand, or if they will instead be the final straw for many employers already under pressure. – Edwards Law

Ardern will be remembered as a Prime Minister who collected windfall votes in that year’s election and — like a feckless and foolish Lotto winner — recklessly squandered the vast amount of political capital they gave her on divisive projects like co-governance and decolonisation she had never campaigned on and had no mandate for. 

She will mostly be seen as a leader who disgracefully betrayed the trust that voters placed in her.Graham Adams

It’s a real shame that they think Te Ao Māori is too narrow for the views that I expound, which are based on a free society, which I think is the best place for people to thrive and prosper over time.

Now they may think that you can’t be Māori and have those views, or you are a useless Māori, or not an advocate for Māori, but I would say to them that their disagreement is not with my Māoriness but with my views. – David Seymour

What I think is dangerous is the idea, we are talking past each other and no longer committed to some old values which have got New Zealand as far as it’s come.”David Seymour

We have democracy and human rights on the one hand and this idea of a Tiriti-centric Aotearoa with Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti on the other and it is incompatible. If anyone says it dangerous or dog whistling to discuss that then I would put it back to them that they are endangering New Zealand by suppressing that discussion.

Apartheid is a system where people have a different set of political rights based on their ancestry, which happened in South Africa to a much more dramatic extent. – David Seymour

Ethnostate is a state where your citizenship or your rights are connected with your whakapapa, your ancestry and we have a government that is formalising that into lawDavid Seymour

How is one more kid who is hungry going to school with a full tummy because a distant relative is sitting around a co-governance table? – David Seymour

Do you really think that everything Europeans bought to New Zealand was bad or would it be more honest to say, that there have been good and bad on both sides and the real question is how do we go forwardDavid Seymour

Throwing cash like this fixes things for about 5 minutes then the pain returns. It’s not a solution, but thinking it is a solution is why Labour is on 32 percent. – Heather du Plessis-Allan 

Ardern had no answer for why bank profits were a bad thing, falling back to the old trope of “social licence”, which is essentially an ill-defined extra level of behaviour – over and above the legislated and regulated laws of the land – that commercial enterprises are somehow supposed to undertake to earn said licence.Luke Malpass

Ultimately bank profits are a distraction for the issues facing New Zealand and a bit of vague bank-bashing won’t long distract the public from the one, real-life, indicator that rules them all: inflation. – Luke Malpass

The unpleasant aspects of health care in Britain are universally acknowledged, are well-known, and a cause of wonderment to all Western Europeans.  I have come to the conclusion, however, that it is precisely these aspects that appeal so strongly to the British. How else is fairness to be guaranteed, other than by ensuring that everyone is humiliated and made to feel that he is privileged to receive anything at all?Theodore Dalrymple

That’s this Government in a nutshell, though. Some headlines, bit of noise, some advertising, a bit of hiring and some “transition” work. But the reality and the grunt work, where is it? – Mike Hosking

When you go back through 80 years of history of this party, it’s at its best when it’s a national National Party … that’s when we’ve been really strong.Christopher Luxon

I will argue our end hard, but I can disagree without being disagreeable in a personal sense – Christopher Luxon

Perhaps the problem with New Zealand’s education system is that it was once world-class. An outstanding reputation sticks long past its use-by date.Oliver Hartwich

New Zealand has experienced a continuous decline in its Pisa results over two decades and we don’t know how far we still have to fall before bottoming out.

Meanwhile, we fool ourselves by pretending we are still doing well. Thanks to the ‘flexibility’ of our NCEA assessment system, more and more students graduate with a certificate. Today, roughly 80 percent of our students leave school with NCEA Level 2, up from 60 percent two decades ago.

However, we know these NCEA results are meaningless, and not just because of the simultaneous declines in international tests like Pisa. Our own domestic analysis of basic literacy and numeracy should have been enough to wake us from any complacency. – Oliver Hartwich

This year, when the Ministry of Education finally assessed what was really going on, the results were as predictable as they were depressing. Reading tests were passed by just two-thirds of the 15-year-old students participating, and numeracy tests by just over half. Writing was even worse, with only one-third passing.

When an education system “performs” at such atrocious levels, it is justified to talk about a crisis. More than that, it is a national disgrace.

It is even more scandalous because the drop in achievement is unequally distributed. To put it bluntly, the poorer your family, the less likely you are to succeed at school.Oliver Hartwich

If a wrecking ball had been run through the education system as it was in the 1990s to yield such results, there would have been an outcry. But because the decline has occurred slowly, that outcry has never happened.

Instead, parents concerned for their children’s education have done their best to make up for the decline in the education system. – Oliver Hartwich

New Zealand parents have noticed that schools are not quite what they used to be. But instead of going on the barricades, those who can do their best to fix the failings of our public education system privately.

Today, we have reached a point at which most parents can no longer make up for the education system’s deficiencies. Many parents do not have the time or the means to do so. Besides, young parents may never have experienced for themselves what a good education is like.Oliver Hartwich

Practically everything in the system cries out not just for reform, but for revolution.

We need better teacher training and a better career structure for teachers. We need a deep, knowledge-rich curriculum. We need a better assessment system. We need proper monitoring systems for school performance. We need an overhaul of the education bureaucracy. And we need all of this at once.

If a war had wiped out our entire education system, the task could not be more daunting. – Oliver Hartwich

The challenge for the current generation of politicians is to have the courage to admit just how bad our education system has become. And then they need to have the courage to discard what is wrong and start again.Oliver Hartwich

The coalition was concerned with one issue only: protecting the principle of free speech and the right of New Zealanders to be exposed to ideas and opinions regardless of whether people happened to agree with them.

This, after all, is the very heart of democracy. Democratic government depends on the contest of ideas, and the contest of ideas in turn depends on people being able to engage openly in free expression and debate. Free speech is where democracy starts. I would argue that it’s even more fundamental than the right to vote, because people’s ability to cast an informed vote depends on them first being able to participate in free and open debate about political issues and ideas. – Karl du Fresne

Note that the law doesn’t just refer to the freedom to speak; it gives equal weight to our right to seek and hear alternative views. There’s nothing in the Act that says opinions and ideas must be approved by people in power, such as the mayor of Auckland, before we can be safely allowed to hear them.Karl du Fresne

The problem with so-called hate speech laws is that they could impose unreasonable and undemocratic limitations on public discussion of legitimate political issues. Hurtful is different from hateful. Someone might feel insulted or offended by a statement but that doesn’t mean it’s intended to incite hatred or harm, and the courts have traditionally been liberal in recognising people’s right to express opinions that upset others – with good reason, because judges are reluctant to interfere with the fundamental right to free speech. – Karl du Fresne

As an aside, I was astonished to learn recently that according to the New Zealand Police website, a hate crime is an offence perceived by the victim to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards a person’s race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or age. So it’s down to victims to decide whether they’ve been the subject of a hate crime. This goes far beyond what the law says and shows that the police have already been well and truly politicised.Karl du Fresne

The Free Speech Union campaigned vigorously against a law change – 20,000 submissions to Parliament, 80 percent of them opposed – and the government quietly consigned the proposal to the too-hard basket.

Job done, the union thought. But now we have a new justice minister, Kiri Allen, and suddenly hate speech laws are back on the agenda. Not only that, but the prime minister recently delivered an address at the United Nations in which she talked about the need to combat threats from so-called disinformation – a word that seems to mean whatever the user wants it to mean.

All this points to the possibility of the government seeking to control the dissemination of information and opinion that it disapproves of, perhaps even relating to issues such as climate change, Covid vaccination, transgenderism and immigration. – Karl du Fresne

The Minister of Māori Development, Willie Jackson, recently declared that “Democracy has changed… This is not a majority democracy.”

He is right. Aotearoa has changed its understanding of democratic norms, and we are establishing different political and economic rights based on a person’s whakapapa. – Damien Grant

He Puapua is remarkable in its scope and ambition. It has Orwellian statements such as, by 2040, “All New Zealanders will embrace and respect Māori culture as an integral part of national identity…”, and has some grandiose plans that defy political reality.

It lapses into Cultural Revolutionary rhetoric and over-reaches, but it reflects the thinking of a large swathe of the Wellington cultural elite. – Damien Grant

The effect is a shifting of political power away from the process of voting for political office holders to manage the state’s assets, and towards a new political caste. The changes are not restricted to the water assets.Damien Grant

Most have accepted, in this new order, a health and increasingly a welfare system that responds on race and not need is acceptable; or they do not care enough to speak out.

Adults are created by our childhoods and mine, like most of my generation, was raised on very different cultural gruel that those who are coming of age today.

Our children have been raised in classrooms that placed an emphasis on te reo Māori over TE Lawrence, and Kupe before Kipling. – Damien Grant

There remains in conservative circles a belief that the tide can be turned back, that an omnibus piece of legislation or major reform agenda can roll back a regime that has been decades in the making.

This will not happen. Although some programmes, such as Three Waters, may falter, the direction of travel is set.

Andrew Breitbart, an iconoclastic conservative thinker and agitator, famously declared that politics is downstream from culture, and on this issue, the cultural landscape has shifted permanently. – Damien Grant

The risk of cancellation at Williams College, where I have taught for 12 years, and at top colleges and universities throughout this country, is not theoretical. My fellow scientists and I are living it. What is at stake is not simply our reputations, but our ability to pursue truth and scientific knowledge.

If you had asked me about academic freedom five years ago, I would have complained about the obsession with race, gender and ethnicity, along with safetyism on campus (safe spaces, grade inflation, and so on). But I would not have expressed concerns about academic freedom.

We each have our own woke tipping point—the moment you realize that social justice is no longer what we thought it was, but has instead morphed into an ugly authoritarianism. For me that moment came in 2018, during an invited speaker talk, when the religious scholar Reza Aslan stated that “we need to write on a stone what can and cannot be discussed in colleges.” Students gave this a standing ovation.  Having been born under dictatorship in Brazil, I was alarmed. – Luana Maroja

The restriction of academic freedom comes in two forms: what we teach and what we research.

Let’s start with teaching. I need to emphasize that this is not hypothetical. The censorious, fearful climate is already affecting the content of what we teach.

One of the most fundamental rules of biology from plants to humans is that the sexes are defined by the size of their gametes—that is, their reproductive cells. Large gametes occur in females; small gametes in males. In humans, an egg is 10 milliontimes bigger than a sperm. There is zero overlap. It is a full binary. 

But in some biology 101 classes, teachers are telling students that sexes—not gender, sex—are on a continuum. At least one college I know teaches with the “gender unicorn” and informs students that it is bigoted to think that humans come in two distinct and discrete sexes.  – Luana Maroja

In psychology and public health, many teachers no longer say male and female, but instead use the convoluted “person with a uterus.” I had a colleague who, during a conference, was criticized for studying female sexual selection in insects because he was a male. Another was discouraged from teaching the important concept of “sexual conflict”—the idea that male and female interests differ and mates will often act selfishly; think of a female praying mantis decapitating the head of the male after mating—because it might “traumatize students.” I was criticized for teaching “kin selection”—the the idea that animals tend to help their relatives. Apparently this was somehow an endorsement of Donald Trump hiring his daughter Ivanka. – Luana Maroja

While the history of science does contain baseless and shameful assertions about race, we know that it is true that human populations, say over distinct geographic areas, have differences in allele frequency. Many of these differences are deeper than just skin color and relevant to health and well-being. Imagine the consequences of this lack of knowledge in medicine. After all, many genetic diseases vary between populations, for example, sickle-cell anemia among African-Americans, cystic fibrosis in Europeans, and Tay-Sachs disease among Jews.

But it has become taboo in the classroom to note any disparities between groups that are not explained as the result of systemic bias. – Luana Maroja

The language purity that this ideology requires is also distressing. It gets in the way of spontaneity and good teaching. At Williams, for example, our teaching assistants were told at a DEI training session that the word “guys” is a microaggression. So students learn that inoffensive words are harmful. This leads to a snowball effect, where ever more insignificant words or gestures can be taken as proof of bigotry. Many professors I know will freeze in class when realizing they were praising the work of a “colonialist” such as Darwin or Newton. Others will avoid mentioning historical figures if they are white and male.  – Luana Maroja

The prestigious journal Nature Human Behavior just announced in a recent editorial: “Although academic freedom is fundamental, it is not unbounded.” They are not referring to the importance of protecting individuals participating in research. They are saying that the study of human variation is itself suspect. So they advocate avoiding research that could “stigmatize individuals or human groups” or “promotes privileged, exclusionary perspectives.”

The censors and gatekeepers simply assume—without evidence—that human population research is malign and must be shut down. The costs of this kind of censorship, both self-imposed and ideologically based, are profound. Student learning is impaired and important research is never done. The dangers of closing off so many avenues of inquiry is that science itself becomes an extension of ideology and is no longer an endeavor predicated on pursuing knowledge and truth.Luana Maroja

Yes, a spreading web of ignorance and credulity that will doom some Māori to illness or death. Applauding the spread of the tohunga is like applauding the spread of faith healing. Indeed, that’s much of what the tohunga do! – Jerry Coyne

Do things differently! But hang on, this is a government that is overseeing a health system that now reports that patients are choosing to die rather than suffer the tribulations of a hospital waiting list. How’s that for doing things differently? – John Porter

The Government is spending $30 million on an investigation into renewable energy projects including a hydro scheme at Lake Onslow in Central Otago.

If the scheme proceeds it would be the largest hydro project in New Zealand’s history and could cost more than $4 billion. Knowing this Government’s inability to accurately cost projects, you have to say $8 billion not $4 billion! – John Porter

And then MBIE advise, “…proof that the project would lower wholesale electricity prices is not necessary for Onslow to proceed”. Does this sound more like ideological thinking rather sound economic thinking?

I haven’t even touched on how greenhouse gas emissions from geothermal power production, while generally low, are emitters of CO2 and studies overseas show some are on par with emissions from coal fired power plants! – John Porter

Labour’s new “Landmark New Zealand Energy Strategy” sounds awfully like so many other Labour strategies: huge on aspiration; minimal planning and negligible delivery! – John Porter

Collectively, our local and Central Government politicians could have avoided all the unnecessary sacrifice of our prime grazing land on the idealogical altar of emissions reductions targets. 
It has been known ever since the government set its zero emissions target by 2030 that this could relatively easily be achieved by limiting the planting of trees to what has been historically known as class 7 land.
The truth is, we don’t need to plant a single hectare of our most profitable country with anything other than the best pasture species especially at a time when the produce from that farm land is delivering returns we have never seen in my lifetime.  – Clive Bibby

Violent and inappropriate language does, indeed, appear to be a real problem in the US. In this country, however, on both sides of the political divide, people tend to express their views strongly but generally within the bounds of propriety. There have always been people who express extreme views and social media perhaps helps them. But they are the exception rather than the rule.

It would be a tragedy for this country if, influenced by overseas excesses, we were to legislate for hate speech. Such legislation could have a chilling effect on debate here on all manner of issues.

I agree with people who say that, if passed, the law could be used to attack those who may hold unpopular positions. Given the increase in wokery in society, there would be innumerable complaints to the police and also the possibility of private prosecutions. – Chris Finlayson

The most effective way of rebutting positions you disagree with is to master the arguments of your opponents and engage in a robust and civil debate.

May the best person win the argument. It is contrary to fundamental principles of freedom of expression and to a liberal democracy to have a law that could stop the full and frank exchange of views. – Chris Finlayson

I ended up as an activist in a very different place from where I started. I thought that if we just redistributed resources, then we could solve every problem. I now know that’s not true. There’s a funny moment when you realize that as an activist: The off-ramp out of extreme poverty is, ugh, commerce, it’s entrepreneurial capitalism. I spend a lot of time in countries all over Africa, and they’re like, Eh, we wouldn’t mind a little more globalization actually. – Bono

Capitalism is a wild beast. We need to tame it. But globalization has brought more people out of poverty than any other -ism. If somebody comes to me with a better idea, I’ll sign up. I didn’t grow up to like the idea that we’ve made heroes out of businesspeople, but if you’re bringing jobs to a community and treating people well, then you are a hero. That’s where I’ve ended up. God spare us from lyricists who quote themselves, but if I wrote only one lyric that was any good, it might have been: Choose your enemies carefully because they ill define you. Turning the establishment into the enemy — it’s a little easy, isn’t it? Bono

The real danger to our democracy is the deliberate distortion of these historical facts that would, if allowed to take root, set our development back for no good reason.

We must insist that the complete record (warts and all) is included in any state sanctioned revision of our curriculum. Failure to do so will result in a division from which we may never recover.

If it is not the full truth – it is a lie. –  Clive Bibby 

Protectionism [i..e, shielding local industry from foreign competition by the likes of protective tariffs] necessarily imposes larger costs on the rest of the home-country economy.

Protectionism’s harm to consumers is obvious. Having to pay more to buy the outputs of ‘successfully’ protected firms, consumers must reduce their purchases of other goods and services or reduce their savings. 

To grasp this economic reality is to realise also the harm that protectionism inflicts on other home-country firms and workers. Every input that protectionism diverts into protected firms is an input diverted away from other productive uses. Non-protected firms thus have less access to raw materials, tools, intermediate goods, and labour. Their outputs fall. 

Further, because workers in non-protected firms have fewer or lower-quality tools and inputs with which to work, these workers’ productivity falls. And falling productivity means falling wages.

Looking only at the alleged ‘success’ of protected firms and then confidently concluding that protectionism is a boon to the entire country, [one] reasons as would an apologist for successful thieves – an apologist who points to the thieves’ bustling business in larceny, and to the thieves’ high ‘earnings,’ and then confidently concludes that thievery is a boon to the entire country. Don Boudreaux

Monetary policy operates on a time delay, so often it appears the sensible decisionmaker is a killjoy, taking away the punchbowl just as the economic party is getting started. That’s not a popular approach at any gathering.

Back when monetary policy was left to politicians, the temptation to goose the economy beyond its capacity at election time was often too great. Political cycles made economic cycles worse, with magical rip-roaring times prior to election day, and big hangovers a year or so afterwards as resurgent inflation had to be tamed. That’s why New Zealand was a world leader in removing the monetary policy remit from politicians and placing it in the hands of an independent entity.

And it’s worked well. So well that with the help of the price stabilising effects of trade globalisation, a generation or two has been able to largely forget about inflation and central bank governors. Until that is, the last three years.

The economic response to the pandemic has reminded everyone of the power wielded by central bankers. The extreme monetary loosening and belated monetary tightening have created big swings in prices, asset values, and economic activity. There have been stark winners and losers, none more so than those who were encouraged to get out and buy houses when prices were high, only to see their equity evaporate before their eyes now, and their mortgage costs soar. – Steven Joyce

It doesn’t help that Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s response to the review was it was evidence the Bank “got the big decisions right” when that’s clearly not the case. Say what you like about the notwithstandings, extenuating circumstances, and who else also got it wrong, but inflation this far outside the required band, (including food inflation now in excess of 10 per cent), and the need for sudden rapid increases in interest rates is not “getting it right”.Steven Joyce

Because of the bank’s importance and independence, the appointment of the governor is supposed to be a non-partisan decision that both sides of politics can live with. For whatever reason, it is clear that for the opposition parties and many independent commentators that is not currently the case.

A sensible Finance Minister concerned for the independence of the institution would have either appointed a new governor or reappointed the current one for a shorter term. It would have been entirely reasonable to make a two-year extension, say, until the current crisis is passed, and then appoint a new governor for the next stage of the bank’s evolution and the next economic cycle. – Steven Joyce

It is Robertson who appointed Orr and the buck stops with him on Orr’s reappointment. It is also Robertson who implicitly and explicitly extended the bank’s remit to focus on housing, employment, climate change, Māori issues, and the economy generally. As Finance Minister he has never once publicly said the bank should focus on price stability alone and leave the rest to the Government.

This in itself is endangering the political independence of the bank. The more it is inserted into activities outside macroeconomic policy, the more reasonable it is for people to take a political position on what it is doing and saying.Steven Joyce

It has been convenient for Robertson to set the bank up with a broader brief. It has enabled him to crank up spending and make policy decisions that arguably hold the economy back, while abdicating economic responsibility for those decisions and charging the bank with looking after the downstream effects.

However, we are currently experiencing a salutary reminder of the reach and importance of monetary policy and the critical but circumscribed role of an independent central bank in a successful economy.

The Finance Minister should be taking steps to reinforce the bank’s focus, its independence, and the broad-based support for it as an apolitical institution. At the moment he risks undermining it. – Steven Joyce

Pandemic preparedness, at least for a virus with similar properties to Sars-CoV-2, should be regarded as a failure if a country requires a lockdown in the first six to 12 months.Philip HIll

If everyone was wearing high quality masks in all indoor situations, that also stops the virus. We just didn’t have enough tools initially – we didn’t have the mask use; we didn’t have the test and trace up to scratch at that point. It’s definitely something you’d want to avoid in the future.

Taiwan were phenomenally ready … You need all these systems ready to go, with all the tools you need. – Michael Baker

Our baseline position is not very good. So we need to take that into consideration when we plan for the next pandemic … To assume it will be fine, and it will all work out, would be a mistake. – Anja Werno 

If we don’t have a vaccine readily available, and we don’t have enough information about its specific characteristics, and it looks like it’s very virulent, with a high case fatality, I think sometimes lockdowns should be considered. But I think they are an option of last resort.

I don’t think the government or the public wants to go through all that again unless we absolutely have to. – Chris Bullen

The social cost of a lockdown should also not be underestimated. There should be no spin about us being prepared when we are not. We can be good enough if we want to. – Philip Hill

How many times this year have you heard advocates of green energy decrying the fact that consumers have been ripped off by our failure to shift to renewables even more quickly? Yet we really don’t have an alternative to gas to make up for shortfalls in wind and solar. We could try to store renewable energy, but storage, in the form of batteries, say, or pumped-storage hydro-electric stations or some other emerging technology, is incredibly expensive. It costs around three or four times more to store a unit of electricity than it does to generate it in the first place. – Ross Clark

At present, consumers are not directly exposed to these kind of price surges, because they are absorbed by retail suppliers of electricity. But it is the intention that in the future consumers will be charged variable rates for electricity via their smart meters.

That, then, is the future to which we can look forward: not one where the lights necessarily go out, but where we are forced to pay through the nose if we want to keep them on in unfavourable weather conditions. The price of green energy is a form of terrible segregation, where the rich will have access to light and heat, and those who need it most, the poor, will shiver in the dark. – Ross Clark

Did you know that men’s legs, which tend to have better muscle definition than women’s, are often used to advertise hosiery? It seems men really do make the best women sometimes. – Jo Bartosch

Ordinarily, I would refrain from making personal comments about the appearance of a teenager of either sex. And as a middle-aged, slowly sagging midget with a fashion sense that would put a home-educated child to shame, I am well aware that I have never been and will never be beauty-pageant material. But beauty queens are usually judged, at least in part, on their looks. It is part of the deal. So you cannot help but notice that the winner of this particular contest bears a striking resemblance to an undercooked, lumpy sausage, with his fleshy moobs squashed into a gown.Jo Bartosch

The idea of women and girls parading around while sweaty-palmed judges score them is certainly creepy and anachronistic. Nonetheless, the women entered the Miss Greater Derry pageant in good faith and deserved a fair chance. They were denied a prize that rightfully belonged to one of them. Brían sashayed off not only with the tiara, but also with a university scholarship and sponsorship opportunities. The other contestants had no choice but to clap along at the mockery made of their efforts. The spectacle served as a powerful reminder that, in today’s America, failing to show due deference to the trans overlords (or trans overladies?) is potentially career-ending.

This pattern is being replicated across public life. From sports to politics to science, wherever schemes are established to increase female participation, entitled men in stilettos are marching in to mark them as their territory. And if proof were ever needed that transwomen are men, it can be witnessed in the fawning, gushing behaviour of the wider world towards them. Overweight women are not entered into beauty pageants at all, let alone crowned. – Jo Bartosch

As WoLF’s chair, Lierre Keith, tells me: ‘You can roll your eyes about it being a beauty pageant, but the principle is the same whether it’s a pageant, a homeless shelter, a hospital ward or a prison. Women are saying no to men, as we have a right to.’ This is about ‘men claiming to be women and claiming a right to our spaces’, she says. The idea that womanhood is a costume that can be stepped into by men is the very essence of dick-swinging entitlement.

Much to the chagrin of proudly hairy-legged feminists like me, there are probably more Miss America fans and aspiring contestants than there are critics raging at the patriarchal beauty standards such contests promote. Given this, the plus side of plus-size men like Brían waltzing in and sweeping up women’s prizes is that more women will be forced to put political differences aside and recognise what unites us. The threat trans ideology poses to women’s spaces and opportunities could hardly be any clearer. So, I would like to say a sincere ‘well done’ to Miss Greater Derry – he might just end up inspiring women everywhere. Just not in the way he imagined. – Jo Bartosch

As a mother I used to worry about a lot of things but I learnt to let Sammy go and live his life. Mums, love your babies, just accept them and love them exactly as they are. The most important thing is the love you give your child, they are not here forever, make the most of it. Hug them and love them. – Lisa Finnemore

The real test is yet to come, however, when the Black Ferns next play an international.

Will New Zealand rugby back the team by scheduling a test at Eden Park in primetime again? Or will it blink?

But that’s next year. This year we’ve got a team to thank for a wonderful few weeks of rugby and sportsmanship.

Rugby was indeed the winner on the day.  – Tracy Watkins

If the bank executives were scratching their bald spots wondering how a review can be thematic, they have a new term to digest. Social License. Last week the Prime Minister decried the level of bank profits and asked: “…in the current environment, does it speak to a level of social licence?” She then continued in a nice bit of Maoist resonance, to state; “It doesn’t always take government intervention for that kind of self-reflection to occur. It’s time the banks operating in New Zealand did that very thing.”

The term social license has no philosophical or ideological underpinnings. It lacks even the dignity of its own Wikipedia page.-  Damien Grant

The criticism that the banks are currently earning abnormal profits is not true. The central bank keeps data going back to 1991 and it shows that the return on equity has consistently been around the 13% mark, where it is now. The only difference is that banks have grown larger and as their capital base grows so does total profit.

If you wanted to restrain bank profits you would need to deregulate the sector and allow more entrants to hang out their shingle. Competition, not regulation, is the only way to permanently improve customer service and lower profits.

Reaching for something as nebulous and undefined as a term with no meaning is perfect for our first post-modern Prime Minister. The banks cannot comply with their social license because there is no criteria from which a compliance officer can measure compliance.

Its application shifts governance away from the rule of law and towards the rule of man because, like obscenity, you know it when you see it, but you cannot define it. – Damien Grant

According to the Reserve Bank, trading banks made nearly seven billion in the last twelve months. The Prime Minister has not detailed what is an appropriate level of bank profitability but as she ponders this perhaps she can run the slide rule over the harm caused by that other bank that dominates our financial sector like a massive kauri tree in a forest; the Reserve Bank. – Damien Grant

If the financial community has lost faith in Orr, and I believe they have, they will not accept his statements that he is serious about price stability. To convince the public Orr will need to drive up unemployment and business failures in a way a credible governor would not. In the nomenclature favoured by the Prime Minister, he will need to do that because he has lost his social license.

Of course, if you can lose this ethereal quality by acting in such a way that damages the living standards of your fellow citizens in a persistent fashion over many years, well, Prime Minister, it might not just be the banks who need to engage in a bit of self-reflection.Damien Grant

During the troubled reign of the current governor we have seen inflation become endemic. Asset prices have accelerated to such an extent that a generation is locked out of homeownership. Businesses and workers are grappling with the uncertainty and hardship created by an inflationary spiral that now requires a harsh recession to bring under control. Orr’s mistakes in pricing the bonds during his fifty-three billion collar money printing splurge has cost the taxpayers over nine billion dollars.

These actions are causing real suffering for kiwis, in contrast with the mostly accounting profits being made by the banks.

If trading banks, operating within the law are risking their social license how does a central bank governor who has failed in his single most important duty, price stability, retain his?  – Damien Grant

These meetings are a gathering of the great and the good in the climate change world. Some will fly to Egypt in their private jets to lecture us all on using public transport, oblivious to their own hypocrisy at using the highest emitting form of transport possible.
Regardless, I hope they have the foresight to focus on real, achievable solutions: that is policies that are realistic and not ahead of technological solutions. We only have to look to Europe and the UK to see the damage done by a premature expectation that they could close down their thermal power stations and rely on wind and solar to keep the lights on. Stuart Smith

In the energy sector they talk about the trilemma. The energy trilemma refers to affordable, reliable and environmentally sustainable energy.

The difference between life in the developed world, as we enjoy in New Zealand, and life in the third world is having ready access to reliable and affordable energy. We forget that at our peril.

Wind and solar energy do have a vital role to play. Of course they do! But we haven’t yet reached sufficient levels of technological advancement in New Zealand to be burning our bridges just yet and shutting down our non-renewable generation and still expect the lights will stay on.Stuart Smith

Our government’s attempt to tax our farmers in the name of climate change is a great example of a policy moving ahead of available technology. Why? Farmers currently have no practical tools to mitigate their emissions, and drastically reducing agricultural production in the name of climate change would put us in breach of the Paris Accord.

We should acknowledge the environmental progress that we have made. Yes, we have more to do, but food security and access to affordable, reliable energy must not be put at risk by climate change policies. We can have both, but it will take leadership. – Stuart Smith

It is being in the public eye and being a bit of a polarising personality that has taught me my biggest lessons. I worked out you don’t die of embarrassment. Sometimes it just feels like you might and just putting one foot in front of the other and keeping moving will mean that it will pass.

I learnt that you can’t personalise other people’s opinions and sometimes their hate. They have their own stuff going on and I don’t have to take it on board. I learnt that you can couch your inner voice to be positive and not negative. It takes work and now, instead of sinking, I can see the signs and head it off earlier. I can bounce.

I have learnt to kick Mildred to the curb. She is the nasty voice on my shoulder that nags and doubts me. I have no room for Mildred, so I send her packing quick-smart.

I have also learnt thanks to people like Sir John Kirwan and Mike King and reinforced in Michelle and Maia’s book that it’s okay to not always be okay. Sometimes you just need to find space and reach out to your mum or daughter or husband or best friend and just breath through it.  – Paula Bennett

At any rate, it is curious that so many of those who claim to oppose fascism these days resemble fascists both in their manner and their dress. Black is their favorite color, and they shout to drown out the sound of all voices other than their own. In addition to repetition, their rhetorical method is intimidation. Often, it works. – Theodore Dalrymple

What is most alarming about all this is that a very noisy but tiny minority has been able with surprising ease to overturn, and indeed reverse, a tradition of free speech and enquiry. Our society has proved surprisingly susceptible or vulnerable to the activism of monomaniacs of many kinds. The problem is that an issue is all in all to the monomaniacs, but to the rest of us it is merely one thing among many others, not even, or far from, the most important. – Theodore Dalrymple

Generalizations about animal agriculture hide great regional differences and often lead to diet guidelines promoting shifts away from animal products that are not feasible for the world’s poor. For instance, the highly publicized 2019 EAT-Lancet Commission reportrecommended a largely plant-based diet whose cost, based on retail prices from 2011, was estimated to exceed the total household per capita incomes of more than 1.5 billion people. The urgent food, nutrition, and economic needs of hundreds of millions of people in Africa and Asia should not be sacrificed to pay for methane that was largely emitted elsewhere. – Jimmy Smith

Across Africa, and indeed much of the developing world, farm animals are much more than cellophane-wrapped meat or bottled milk. The farming of cows, goats, pigs, and poultry is essential to people’s livelihoods—and therefore purchasing power, which in turn determines household food security at a time of increasing global insecurity. In countries that face high levels of malnutrition and poverty, livestock provide families with food, jobs, income, draught power, and a sense of cultural identity.Jimmy Smith

Like every continent, Africa must strive to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. But African countries must also reduce malnutrition, create decent livelihoods for their people, and promote environmental stewardship. The continent has the opportunity through livestock to achieve all this.

Improving livestock productivity in Africa goes hand in hand with reducing agricultural emissions and protecting food security from the impacts of climate change. As the delegates and activists gather in Egypt, they must remember that both outcomes are vital for humanity’s long-term well-being. Villainizing livestock will achieve neither. – Jimmy Smith

The survey confirms what most news consumers already know – as a whole, journalists are biased. Not only do they have a strong left-wing bias, but about a third of the industry is also hard-core in their left-wing beliefs.

That would not be of concern if the journalists kept their personal views to themselves and saw their role as non-biased neutral observers. While that may have been their role in years gone by, journalists now see their role is to change the opinion of their audience.  – Frank Newman

What is quite clear is the growing disconnect between what journalists produce and what the public wants to consume. That is visible in their declining audience and reflected in a noticeable mistrust of the mainstream media.

The audience that is looking for media coverage that is balanced and fair is increasingly turning to new channels for news and political commentary. It is therefore hardly surprising that the legacy media is becoming its own echo chamber with a dwindling audience.

The challenge for the media sector is how it remains relevant. The logical response is to return to the more traditional values as espoused in the virtuous principles of the Broadcasting Standards Authority and the Media Council. That will, however, be difficult for an industry that is now highly populated with extreme socialists intent on re-educating their audience towards their form of left-wing ideology. – Frank Newman

For a while now, Orr has been ridiculed by some as a symbol of woke.

It’s been obvious how hard he’s tried to make the Reserve Bank cool. He’s given speeches on climate change and speeches on embracing te ao Māori.

In fact, in at least its last three annual reports, the RBNZ has made more mentions of “carbon” or “climate” than “inflation” or “price stability”. Just a reminder, inflation is the bank’s job. The climate is someone else’s.Heather du Plessis-Allan

Finance Minister Grant Robertson didn’t help. He also tried to make the bank cool. He appointed a board of directors who specialised in a lot of things that weren’t necessarily boring old economics. Things like “managing people” and “culture”. Critics noticed that and that was also mocked. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

His select committee appearance at Parliament last week might’ve been a low point. He blamed our inflation on Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, parroting a Labour Party line. He would know that the truth is our inflation was out of control at least eight months before the invasion. The invasion was in late February this year. Our inflation was 5.9 per cent by December last year. It was 3.3 per cent (outside the 1-3 per cent band) by June last year.

Unfortunately for Orr and everyone who shares his ideological commitment to getting distracted from your day job, he’s reinforced exactly what the opponents of woke stuff have long feared, which is that you can’t do your day job properly if you start getting distracted by wanting to appear cool to the users of Twitter.Heather du Plessis-Allan

Adrian Orr frequently presents as so thin-skinned that he must be approached with extreme caution to avoid what could usefully be termed a “Vesuvius” moment.

In my view, it is well past time that Orr grew a hard shell, faced up to probing questions with frankness and more respect for his interlocutors, and combined that with the necessary gravitas to take the inflation fight public and instill confidence so that Kiwis are united behind what should be a single-focus endeavour.

Right now Orr presents as an inept manager who has struggled to retain the confidence of the “markets” at a time when it is essential that there is broad consensus on the measures necessary to tame inflation. – Fran O’Sullivan

But it’s a fat lot of good blaming Orr alone for the “poverty effect”, which is in fact being felt through much of “the West” as central bankers try to crunch soaring inflation through raising interest rates yet maintain “sustainable employment” — a frankly ridiculously balancing act that would test the most adroit high-wire exponent.

This current state of affairs suits politicians and the financial sector alike. Each are absolved from encouraging the unsustainable “wealth effect” in the first place in New Zealand to alleviate the impact of the Covid pandemic. This was manifest here by a huge escalation in asset prices and cheap money to sustain employment. Fran O’Sullivan

Because of the dire worker shortages, employers are already bending over backwards to give employees competitive wages, greater flexibility, and additional benefits.

There is a risk that the standardised approach may adversely impact employees who already have a flexible agreement that suits their individual needs.

It’s also a bad time in our economic cycle to be increasing wages. Unless New Zealand’s wage inflation starts to decrease, the Reserve Bank of NZ will continue to increase borrowing rates – hurting first-home buyers and low-income households the most. – Matt Cowley

Spending money does not, on its own, fix problems. It matters how that money is spent.

Perhaps you think that is obvious. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem so obvious to the government.Michael Johnston

There has been widespread commentary from the leaders of ECE bodies on the urgent need to address teacher supply.

Without more teachers, the new funding, even if it’s just offsetting the effects of inflation, will increase pressure on an already strained ECE sector. That will mean longer waiting lists and reductions in quality. – Michael Johnston

We should trust ECE centres to make pragmatic recruitment decisions and release them from red tape. This approach wouldn’t even cost anything. In fact, it would likely save money.

Sometimes the best solution to a problem is also the cheapest.Michael Johnston

I sometimes feel as though we have abdicated our responsibility as grown-ups because I know what it was like to be young.
I thought I knew everything. Now, I look back, I’m like, I knew nothing. I was wrong in many of my sort of fierce positions.

And, I was fortunate that when I was young, there were adults who were willing to tell me, you’re actually really not right about that. Here’s what you should think about differently. That’s not happening now. –Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Can we all agree on compassion?

Can we all agree that not everyone means harm? Can we all agree that people can learn and people change? You know, just sort of basic things that we seem to have forgotten. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Co-governance appears to be a hill that this Labour Government is prepared to die on.

But as I also said on Friday, co-governance should be the least of your worries if you’re concerned with creeping socialism.

The Three Waters reform suggested is property theft and that’s the reason that Phil Goff was against it and had to be bought off.

This Government wants to seize assets paid for by ratepayers, amalgamate them and then borrow off them, so that funding for water stays off the Governments and Councils books. It’s blatant nationalisation by a left wing government

It’s like needing to do urgent repairs on the house but you have no money.  So you take your neighbour’s house and use it as equity to borrow money to fix your place. It’s just wrong.- Andrew Dickens

I don’t agree with accusations I am ‘phobic’ towards anyone, and I would stress that what we need at this time is not name-calling but constructive, nuanced and robust dialogue with a view to better help vulnerable children experiencing difficult questions and distress around identity,” she said.

I and many other practitioners have real concerns with the growing number of children being encouraged to believe they have been born in the wrong body and need to medically change their bodies to align with their inner thoughts and feelings in order to resolve psychological distress.

I respect and empathise with those who believe differently, but I stand by my professional opinion and approach as I believe it to be best practice, and in the best interests of children.Marli de Klerk

But as we’ve said a number of times now, with all due respect our beliefs will not be changing. Christian beliefs have been held by people around the world for thousands of years because they bring life, hope and flourishing and continue to be just as relevant and valuable today.

”We know not everyone will agree with our beliefs. We respect their right to hold and express their beliefs. We just ask that respect is offered in return. – Paul Shakes 

Have you noticed that when Jacinda’s government is forced to make concessions under public pressure they never sacrifice co-governance? Maori domination of the revised hospital structure was defended tenaciously. With Three Waters, Nanaia Mahuta will fiddle around the edges of the legislation, but co-governance is still there in the middle, an immovable obstacle. Advancing it is central to Nanaia’s being; it has become her raison d’etre. After a lengthy, undistinguished political career, she can at last see her long-desired Tainui tribal takeover on the horizon, and she doesn’t want to give an inch. Jacinda Ardern and her low-level caucus understand so little about Maori affairs that most of them can’t see what Nanaia is doing right under their noses. They won’t lift a finger to prevent her tribal takeover bid.Michael Bassett

To this government, co-governance means that non-Maori, who constitute more than 83% of New Zealand’s population, would possess 50% of the authority in the country, and be democratically elected. Forget about one-person, one-vote: some, as Napoleon the Pig said in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, “are more equal than others”. The other 50% will be made up from only 17% of the population who are Maori. “It’s time to re-think democracy”, Minister of Maori Affairs Willie Jackson tells us. And, there’s nothing in any legislative proposal for co-governance to ensure Maori would be democratically elected by all Maori voters. Instead, they will be selected in the old tribal way: by a handful of self-appointed aristocrats. But co-governance will be more than that. Whichever becomes the dominant tribe will exercise much wider power. Nanaia intends to make sure that that tribe is Tainui. That explains the appointment of the Mahutas and Ormsbys to so many positions, irrespective of their merits, or lack of them. Their job is to ensure that when push comes to shove, Tainui does the pushing and the shoving at the behest of the King Movement, with that loudmouth, Tuku Morgan, yes, he of the $89 pair of silk underpants paid for by the taxpayer, playing a key role. –Michael Bassett

It should not be any minister’s role to advance personal tribal interests. Getting family members appointed other than on merit is beyond the pale. New Zealand is a democracy; our constitution provides for one person-one vote. Willie Jackson should be firmly reminded of this fact. Any scheme which endeavours to entrench racial or tribal privilege in any administrative arm of government should immediately be rejected.

It is clear that Labour’s cabinet has failed to enforce these basic rules. Promoting tribalism under the guise of co-governance should be stopped in its tracks. Now! In addition to all the other changes needed to the Three Waters legislation, co-governance must be dropped. Michael Bassett

What the country didn’t hear very much – if anything – about were the contributions of other hui attendees. A cynic might suggest that the suppression of this material was deemed necessary by the hui organisers because if the average citizen was made aware of its existence there would be an outcry. Most New Zealanders do not see it as a role of their government to “guide” the thinking of the nation towards the radical, ideologically-driven goals of a tiny, unelected, elite of bureaucrats, academics and activists.- Chris Trotter

Ms Ardern’s and her government’s radicalisation is fast becoming electorally problematic. Precisely because radical ideas, practically by definition, are polarising, they tend to make those who espouse them politically defensive and hostile to criticism. Those citizens who oppose state-sponsored radicalism, mark themselves as “enemies of the people”.

“No Media Access” is only the beginning.Chris Trotter

We need to bottle up Ruby Tui and spread her far and wide around New Zealand because, by being positive, so much can and will be achieved. – Duncan Garner

Just because I don’t fit someone else’s stereotype of what a Māori looks or acts like, doesn’t mean that is not who I am.James Meager

You’ve got to protect women’s spaces. I just worry about a lot of the battles that have been very hard won for women, like for racial equality, being reversed but at the same time, trans people have a right to be treated with dignity and not to be discriminated against. – Peter Hain 

You can’t run a country and have a future when you have 40 percent of your kids attending school, that’s just not going to cut it. It’s a moral failure.  It’s a social failure. It’s an economic crisis. So we have to all, Government schools and parents, be really accountable for getting our kids to school. That’s what matters most in our education system. –  Christopher Luxon 

Only 15 percent of road deaths happen because of speed only.  Which means 85 percent of crashes happen below the speed limit or because the drivers are boozed or drugged up.

85 percent.

So Waka Kotahi’s big solution to getting the road toll down completely ignores the fact that 85 percent of the road toll will probably be unaffected. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

The worst thing about this is that it gives transport officials an excuse to not do the things that would actually make a difference.

They’re doing this so they don’t have to put in media barriers that would actually be effective at stopping cars crossing the centre line and smacking into other cars head on.

And that wouldn’t just stop head on crashes from speeding cars, but from everything else as well. Tired drivers, distracted drivers, drunk drivers, drugged drivers.Heather du Plessis-Allan

What’s frustrating is that those facts are not what are being debated; instead, we’ve got an argument dictated by emotion.

Which means we’ll probably all end up having to drive more slowly, while hundreds of people still die on the roads each year because speed isn’t really the biggest problem. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

A metaphor for the current state of Western societies is that of a tail wagging a dog. A mere appendage has become the most important or powerful part of the animal.

Another apt metaphor for those societies is that of perpetual guerrilla war, waged by tiny ideologically armed minorities against a huge but bloated army, the majority of the population. The ideological guerrillas are nimble, rapid, persistent, and, above all, fanatical. They’re fighting an enemy that’s slow, torpid, complacent, and without real belief in itself. Although initially weak, the guerrillas believe themselves destined to win.Theodore Dalrymple

First, a proposition is adumbrated that initially appears preposterous to most citizens. Then, arguments in its favor, using all the sophistry available to people who attended university, are relentlessly propagandized. Finally, success is achieved when the preposterous proposition has become widely accepted as an unassailable orthodoxy, at least by the intellectual class, denial of or opposition to which is characterized as extremist, even fascist, in nature.

This process is possible because the struggle, as in a guerrilla war, is asymmetric.- Theodore Dalrymple

Strength of belief doesn’t guarantee that a cause is good, very far from it; but it does mean that those who struggle on its behalf will do so with all their heart.

The absurdity of modern ideological enthusiasms is evident, but while those who promote them make them the focus of their existence and the whole meaning of their lives, better-balanced people try to get on with their lives as normal. No one wants to spend his life arguing, let alone fighting, against sheer idiocy, and thus, sheer idiocy wins the day.Theodore Dalrymple

We should make no bones about the fact that lying about the truth of issues for political and personal advantage is a great badness. It is even worse with defenceless children targeted by activists using fear tactics to enlist their support – as with the ‘climate change emergency’ nonsense. And if there is a distinction between badness and sheer evil, it reaches its apex now in regard to two other issues.

Predominant is the lying by hierarchies persuading youngsters they can choose to become male or female. This canard strikes at the very personhood, the mental and emotional stability of particularly vulnerable individuals. Yet Professor Robert Winston, scientist and surgeon, is undeniably correct, asserting, ‘I will say this categorically. You cannot change your sex… it is there in every single cell of your body.’ The physical mutilation of children, disregarding this, can be regarded as criminal, its consequences devastating for so many.

With the apparent passing of the age of reason comes the insidious nastiness of identity politics, with individuals believing themselves superior if they have a Maori ancestor. With Jacinda Ardern’s government instructing all government departments to prioritise impenetrable Maori phraseology in their communications – renaming our institutions so their actual function becomes unintelligible – the deliberate promotion of divisive racism is well underway. Yet the worth of individuals has no relation to their ethnic background. And who can possibly defend instructions to all government departments to teach ‘white privilege’, with the aim of inducing guilt and shame among non-Maori children in schools – supposedly because of some imaginary privilege they have from being descended from Europeans? – Amy Brooke

Rather, the signage is a call to the first duty of the citizen: be anxious.  Only if you are truly anxious do you need the protection of our bureaucratic shepherds. Theodore Dalrymple

Te Whatu Ora’s actions suggest that, at least for the moment, it is more focused on the structure and planning of a national public health service, than supporting previously agreed regional priorities. If these delays are indicative of the way Te Whatu Ora will approach regional matters in the future, the new system looks like it will be far more unresponsive to meeting regional needs than the cumbersome district health board system it replaced.

Previously, there was a legitimate argument about the inherent inequity of the old population-based funding model for health services, which meant the bigger population centres always got the largest slice of the cake, often at the expense of the regions. A nationally based funding model such as Te Whatu Ora was intended to provide more equitable outcomes, across the country –something people in Otago/Southland, and other regional centres, will now surely be questioning in the light of last week’s decisions. – Peter Dunne

The Government has not yet won its argument that upgrading water services across the country can only work with the new co-management provisions. Many remain suspicious the Government is using this legislation to address wider issues simply because this may be its last opportunity. A wider and more open process of public consultation would allow the opportunity for a better-informed public debate.

But by using its large majority, the Government is merely ensuring the bill will be more far more politically divisive than is necessary. Moreover, this bill is but the first of three intended to reform the structure of water delivery. That, plus National’s and ACT’s repeated commitments to repeal the governance provisions, makes the situation even more fraught and uncertain.Peter Dunne

Health reforms that appear to negate the capacity to reflect regional priorities in the development of national public health services, and water services reforms that leave the central issues of concern unaddressed, while establishing new uncertainties about their scope and application may well prove the devil is indeed always in the detail. However, creating new uncertainties on top of already contentious unfolding plans – however merited the original policy intent – is not good politics.

And it will be political management, not well-meaning intent, that will ultimately determine their success or failure.   – Peter Dunne

They are trying to create safetyism, a world where nothing bad happens, and they see liberty as a challenge to that when, actually, liberty is the thing that protects us all. – Kemi Badenoch

I see myself very much as a classical liberal. Because we keep moving, socially, in a particular direction […] the people who take the progressive line will assume that me trying to maintain the conservative line makes me a culture warrior. I don’t know, I’m just trying to do the right thing. – Kemi Badenoch

Back in the day there was a pact between elected politicians and those who put them in office.  They did our bidding.  They exercised power in our interests.  They were, in other words, “accountable”.  They limited their actions to doing things for the benefit of the people.  They showed restraint.  They were answerable to the people’s houses of parliament.  They had to front the electorate periodically to get our permission to continue in office.

The democratic system (aka “responsible government” and representative democracy) required two things in order to function properly.  Properly motivated politicians and informed voters.  Now we have neither, and this is why the system is so broken.Roger Franklin 

Perhaps even worse, today’s voters are low information, superficial and ill-motivated to inform themselves about public policy.  They are, in the late American economist Anthony Downs’ term, “rationally ignorant”.  They have decided to focus on themselves and their toys, and have chosen to let the state do its own thing, even when it harms them personally and harms their fellow citizens.  For they have signed away their stake in the political system.  They are a combination of midwits – those just smart enough to be dangerous – and total buffoons oblivious to what is going on in the world and what is driving it.

Being superficial and driven by how they “feel” about issues of the moment, today’s citizens are prepared to emote their way to public policy, clutching at, and accepting at face value empty cliches and propaganda like “climate emergency”, “love is love”, “follow the science”, “black lives matter”, “we are all in this together”, “stop the spread”, “flatten the curve” and the rest, and all the while believing earnestly (or at least casually) that these slogans have actual meaning based on truth, research and analysis.

Policy-as-emoting is a creature of the post-modern age.  It fits perfectly with a shallow, politically illiterate, morally vacuous Me Generation that mistakes “feeling” for thinking, or worse, for being.  In such a regime, the patently absurd becomes mainstream belief, almost overnight. – Roger Franklin 

If, perchance, evidence counter to their world view comes their way, they will simply look in the other direction in order to avoid having illusions dented.  Leaps of faith that are poo-pooed among the traditionally religious are easily absorbed by the emoting class.  If you accept that truth can simply be defined away, or morphed into “my truth” and “your truth”, you will all the more easily accept that, for example, crushing traditional marriage is simply “all about love”, that giving up our petrol-fuelled cars will stop droughts and floods, that giving offence to “victims” must be outlawed no matter what the ramifications for free speech, that robust policy itself (aka science) is a whitey/male social construct. 

There is another, more familiar phrase that describes the motivation for at least some of what we are describing here as policy-as-emoting.  This is virtue-signalling, the supporting of a particular policy because doing so make us look good, or at least makes us not look bad (now defined routinely as racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or patriarchal).  Virtue-signalling can be effected by both politicians and by voters.  It has become a core part of the great modern pact between the governing class and the governed. 

It creates convenient hate-figures to be derided and scorned.  It is front-and-centre of our new media and university-based clerisy.  It doesn’t require any policy evaluation or review for it to be justified in the minds of its adherents.  – Roger Franklin 

The very term “progressive” is indicative of our self-deception.  Policy-as-emoting just feels right.  Whenever we see the ‘right side of history’ invoked as a justification for a policy, we should be extremely worried.  There is moral vanity afoot with little regard either for people’s real interests or for facts.

Hence, we get policies that are themselves merely slogans.  “Clean energy”, which is not clean and provides no reliable, practical energy.  “Climate reparations” to pay former colonies for the civilisation and all its trappings that Britain (and others) gave them. – Roger Franklin 

 “Net zero” — who even knows what it means, or can say what it will entail?  Who among those who blather on about it could crisply define and justify the term, other than with yet more cliches and slogans based on lies?  Who better, then, to be giving advice to “global leaders” at COP27 than tik-tok-dancing teenaged girls?

The willingness of the governed class to allow the polity to be run on misinformation and ephemera has allowed the epidemic of governments addressing non-problems with non-solutions, at massive cost.  Governments and major political parties naturally welcome the new reality of democracy.  They simply love it.  It gives them an essentially free ride and endless get-out-of-jail-free cards and creates the opportunity for them up to indulge their own agendas, absent even the most limited scrutiny.  The new pact between government and citizenry goes like this – we will make your lives comfortable and convenient, with a veneer of prosperity, if you lazily give us unfettered power and let us keep it.  Don’t worry.  We have got this!   – Roger Franklin 

With us comfortable and looking the other way, the state can indulge in the five standard forms of policy that are either not in the public interest or are actively against it:

♦ Vanity projects (unneeded light rail, stadiums, Olympic Games bids);

♦ Ideological projects (nationalisation, privatisation, renewable energy, mass migration, wokedom, state child care, the republic, the voice, removal of statues);

♦ Crony projects (the apartment boom, privatisation, public-private partnerships);

♦ Projects that enhance politicians’ power (programmable currencies, especially Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), The Biosecurity Act of 2015, track-and-trace technology to enable carbon footprint tracking, facial recognition, big data, various means of citizen surveillance, cancel culture-enhancing actions, nudge units, propaganda, military-style policing of the kind now routinely seen in Victoria and medical mandates)

♦ Mistaken projects (lockdowns, masks, new urbanism, first home owners’ schemes, the NDIS).

Only the fifth type of public policy might be said to be the result of good motivation on the part of decision-makers.  The others are bound to be self-regarding and harmful to the public interest. – Roger Franklin 

All five types of policy failure are the result of second-rate and/or ill-motivated politicians and ignorant or lazy citizens.  And, to make it worse, we fail to realise that any of these things matter.  That printing money endlessly is not a good idea.  That foreign wars in which we have no legitimate interest yet which we are more-than-willing to join may bring us the ultimate harm.  That outsourcing parenting to the state will ruin our children.  That abandoning support for traditional marriage and family formation will dissolve civil society within a few generations.  That failing to be fiscally continent will have ramifications.  That killing coal will also kill our economies.  That encouraging the momentarily gender-confused young to have their bits chopped off or added to will not inevitably bring them happiness or fulfilment, long-term.  That giving the indigenous a “voice” will solve nothing for the Aborigines who actually need help. 

Yes, policy failures matter.Roger Franklin 

By choosing to walk away from our democratic responsibilities, by surrendering our freedoms without blinking, by handing extreme power to politicians (without recourse, even through the legal system, to remedies), by settling for comfort and faux-wealth instead of being tough on those we elect, by gullibly trusting those who we ridiculously believe have our best interests at heart, we have abandoned to right to call our system democratic in any meaningful sense.  Marriages of convenience are never wise. – Roger Franklin 

Maybe this is how the world ends, not with a whimper but a shambles. Sharm El Sheikh is an appropriate place to hold a climate conference; the whole place is a climate warning. It’s an Egyptian Las Vegas with a casino and the world’s largest artificial lagoon. The city’s carbon emissions must be enormous.Richard Prebble

COP27′s new initiative is to create a fund for loss and damage. It is like the passengers on the Titanic demanding compensation for any water damage to their luggage rather than insisting the ship misses the iceberg. Any compensation will never be more than a gesture. It was disappointing to see New Zealand supporting this nonsense but then our Government loves gestures.

The message from COP27 is if we are relying on the politicians there is no way global warming will be limited to 1.5C. – Richard Prebble

The whole world is applying its mind to climate change. Imagine how many clever ideas there are.

If we are going to beat global warming it will by human ingenuity.Richard Prebble

It cannot be a boot camp that just punishes kids.  That’s only going to make them angrier.

But, it can work if it’s a place away from bad parents, where kids are taught some discipline and consequence, where they have rules not allowing them to roam the streets in the middle of the night, where they have counsellors to help them learn new behaviour and deal with past trauma, where they have school, and where they have support when they do go home to those parents.

And look, that is in National’s proposal. They are proposing to include schooling, counselling, drug and alcohol treatment, mentoring, and cultural support, and a case worker assigned to the family for ongoing support.

It’s probably worth giving it a go, isn’t it?

Because what else have we got?

Clearly, what few consequences there are for these kiddie ram-raiders are not enough, because it just keeps happening.  – Heather du Plessis-Allan

 The tactic of the bully is to shun the victim into silence. The bully targets one person, recruits others to cheerlead and then attacks. They count on the fact that the victim is shocked and cannot immediately fight back. The bully hones in on what they know to be beloved of the victim – their career, their family, their freedom of expression – and takes these things away.Rosie Kay

Mental strength to fight the bullies is essential, but what can be even harder to take than the bully is the collective silence that surrounds your victimisation. At school, I still feel the betrayal of friends who turned a blind eye, and the teachers who did nothing. Those were different days, I think, we are all so much more bullying aware.

But look at what is happening to women who dare to speak up for women’s rights. We are being bullied, ostracised, our livelihoods destroyed, and our reputations and careers threatened. Instead of standing up and supporting these women, there is a collective silence and even a collective de-platforming. More than the bullying, this level of cowardice from everyone else in your career fields chips away at your trust in the decency of people and the strength of collective good.

We see it in our political parties, we see it in the arts, we see it in universities, we see it across so many aspects of society. – Rosie Kay

But we are strong, intelligent women, and we are often at the height of our powers, and we feel compelled to speak out and to seek the truth and to protect women and girls now and into the future. There is nothing transphobic about the protection and safeguarding of women in vulnerable spaces, in prisons, in sports and in hospitals, and it shouldn’t take courage to say so.Rosie Kay

We need more people in positions of power to start to stand up and respect the rights of women and to ignore the nasty bully tactics of extremists who dare to silence and oppress our best and brightest women. We cannot allow a generation of brilliant women to be lost.

At its heart, we need to really think about what kind of principles do we hold true and strong for us a society. – Rosie Kay

In it, my basic premise, quite apart from all the incredible new developments of info-wars, grey zones and human augmentation, was to ask; what do we ask our soldiers to fight for and to defend, if freedom and civilisation and democracy is not at the heart of our collective society?  Can we, with the spirit of enlightenment still within us, argue that the quality of freedom is a universally good one? That as humans we are happier, more fulfilled, stronger, safer, when we have freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience? For the quality of ‘offence’ is far, far trickier to define. Qualities of offence are time specific, place specific and shift and warp through cultures. The debate on art, culture and freedom of expression is not one of ‘culture wars’; it speaks to the very core of our democratic principles and our ability to think, to debate, to question and to express. The arts are not, and never have been, a luxury; they are the very frontline of the human mind and deal with our dreams, fantasies, nightmares and our darkest impulses. Shut them down or censor them, and what kind of civilisation is left? – Rosie Kay

But the presence of these young people at what are supposed to be serious UN shindigs probably says more about the UN than it does about them. There seems to be a keen desire on the part of elite environmentalists to use young people as a kind of stage army on the climate issue – a tool of emotional blackmail to harry world leaders into the eco-austerity that Guterres and Co already favour.Tom Slater

As frankly silly as this whole spectacle is, the cult of climate youth certainly tells us a few things about the state of the environmental movement more broadly.

First up, there’s the simplistic moralism of it all – the childlike reduction of energy and climate policy to a matter of right and wrong, to one of believing The Science or ignoring it for corrupt or self-serving reasons. The notion that maybe, just maybe, political leaders – particularly those from developing nations – might want to prioritise their citizens’ living standards over costly green virtue-signalling seems to have been dismissed out of hand.

Indeed, for all the talk of young people being ‘on the front lines of climate action’ the world over, you can’t help but notice that these handpicked youth ‘leaders’ tend to be from well-to-do families in developed Western nations – young people who are sufficiently materially comfortable to have the time to worry about the end of the world.

Then there are the religious echoes of this whole charade. Through initiatives like Guterres’ Youth Advisory Group, supranational environmentalism seems to have developed a pipeline of would-be child saints, to be brought out to preach doom to the already converted. – Tom Slater

And finally there’s the contempt all this actually shows for young people. Taking young people seriously does not mean pretending that they know everything. What’s more, I dare say there would be little room on that little advisory group for young people who take a different view on climate. This is an exercise in pumping young people full of doom-laden propaganda, then inviting them up on stage to repeat it while wagging a knowing finger.

This is not inspiring or progressive or empowering of young people. It’s weird and patronising and all to the end of pushing an anti-human and anti-growth agenda – one that will screw over young people in the long-run. In short, environmentalists, how dare you?Tom Slater

One weird thing that can come as a surprise when you lose people is that real life doesn’t stop. All the same usual trivial crap keeps coming and you have to keep dealing with it, even though on the inside you are hollow and sore. You can still have a laugh, too, as we all did at the wake last Friday at a Working Men’s Club where the price of a round of drinks – two pints and a large white wine for £9 – took you right back to the nineties (which let’s face it, is where many of us often wish we could be).

Grief is a bully, that keeps on showing up and getting in the way of your life, and life is a bully that keeps on showing up and getting in the way of your grief. Neither life nor grief care how you feel or that you might not have time for them right now. They don’t want to know what other stuff you have going on. They don’t give you space or respite.- Milli Hill

Being bullied can make you bitter. The bullies themselves pack a visceral punch; short and sharp, it knocks the wind out of you. But this doesn’t hurt as much or last as long as the silence of the bystanders – those whose legs you see when you have been knocked to the ground or shoved under the bus; very much in the vicinity, very much aware of your suffering, very much still standing. The rational part of your mind can understand they are silent to protect themselves. A deeper part feels they are unforgivable. – Milli Hill

We teach our children to talk about bullying, to speak out and support each other and get help. But in the meantime, one of the worst epidemics of bullying any of us have ever witnessed is taking place daily on social media, as woman after woman is ostracised, defamed, deplatformed and pilloried for speaking up for women’s rights. Whether you agree or disagree with their views shouldn’t affect your judgement that what is happening to them is disproportionate and unfair. It’s bullying. And to say that this is a problem between gender critical feminists and trans activists is also wildly reductionist. There is disproportionate pillorying of women going on within feminism itself.

And there is disproportionate pillorying of women going on completely outside the feminist discourse.  – Milli Hill

Everyone agrees they said something racist, and, under the current rules, this means they deserve for their lives to be destroyed, and if you speak up for them, you’re a racist too.

What is the end-game of those meting out these show trials and public executions? Have they noticed that the majority of people in the virtual dock are female, and if so, does this bother them? Do they feel that justice is truly being served? Do they feel the world will become a better place once every wrong thinker has been ‘educated’ or dispatched? How will they feel if one of the recipients of these attacks actually takes their own life? Will this still be just and fair in their opinion? Perhaps this has already happened, perhaps this kind of behaviour has been the final straw for someone whose name I do not know. Being bullied by a large group of people, on social media where unlimited numbers can watch and participate, and having your reputation, career, livelihood, friendships and life as you know it completely destroyed is not something that is easy to survive.

Nobody, even those who’s views we find repellant, deserves to have their life destroyed. – Milli Hill

I firmly believe that the way we vote in the next general election will have a huge impact on our lives, our children’s lives and, quite possibly, our grandchildren’s lives.

The next election will determine the character and integrity of how we are governed and what rights we will have.

There will be a not so simple choice between voting for a democracy or allowing democracy to perish by voting for the party that is demolishing democracy and replacing it with an ethnocracy.John Porter

It sickens me to read claims that my representations on behalf of women and girls for fairness on the sporting field are twisted in such a way to expose me to vicious and vexatious accusations of homophobia.

My belief in protecting girls and women from the unfair consequences of competition against biological males should be seen for precisely what it is. –

There are extremists who wrap themselves up in the proud flag of the LGB movement, coming after me and many other women, even other gays and lesbians who do not agree with the addition of the TQA+, by using this cover to legitimise completely baseless attacks.

Because of their rainbow camouflage, the sight of this banner has triggered me, but in no way does that emotional response reflect my view of the millions of people who celebrate their rights under the same flag. – Katherine Deves

What should be the symbol of genuine pride, has become distressing because of its misuse.

Consistent with the time-honoured custom of politics, the worst enemies are found within your own ranks. – Katherine Deves

One of the saddest ironies of this debate is that those who are gay or lesbian were highly probable to have been gender non-conforming growing up.

But today, these are largely the children and young people most likely to be convinced by media and social media they are “trans”, “non-binary” or “born in the wrong body”.

Despite ample evidence demonstrating almost all children with distress about their natal sex resolve this during puberty, experimental medical interventions rather than “watchful waiting” are being baked into law and policy as the solution.

We are sterilising a generation of gay and lesbian children by turning them into profit-centres. Katherine Deves

What is the “trans community”?

Because I fail to see what a distressed same-sex attracted teenage girl with a GoFundMe for a bilateral mastectomy has in common with a middle aged man who has decided to publicly flaunt his cross-dressing fetish full-time.

My position has always been about the sex-based rights of women and girls and the safeguarding of children.

Sex self-ID laws and policies mean men and boys can now simply self-declare they are a woman or girl, giving him the right to intrude into spaces such as toilets, change rooms, shelters and prisons, compete in the female sports category, avail himself of woman-specific services and resources including those for lesbians, and win awards, competitions, contracts and scholarships created for the benefit of females.

Anyone with an ounce of common sense recognises that this state of affairs is profoundly unfair at best and dangerous at worst. – Katherine Deves

I will rest my case on the percolation of the truth that continues to emerge in defiance of virtue-signalling ideology and ignorance.Katherine Deves

One of the things that appalls me about young billionaires (and erstwhile young billionaires) such as Bankman-Fried is their absence of taste. What is the point of being so rich if you look and dress as he looks and dresses? No doubt the look of false indigence that billionaires adopt is intended to deflect from their vast wealth, all of them being left-wing in everything but their finances, but it undermines as well as flatters public taste and detracts from civilized life. – Theodore Dalrymple 

But let us return to the question of hair and its relation not only to genius but to goodness. Nineteenth-century gurus—Tolstoy, Ruskin, William Morris, Bernard Shaw, and no doubt others—had long, straggly beards of an appearance of the nests of the less aesthetically fastidious species of birds. It was their beards that stood guarantor of these men’s wisdom; no one with a beard such as theirs could be any less than profound.

It is easy to make the logical mistake of supposing that if wise men have straggly beards, then men with straggly beards must be wise.Theodore Dalrymple 

Now, of course it is true that some geniuses have had wild hair—Beethoven, for example, or Einstein—but the majority have not. Power grows out of the barrel of a gun, said Mao Tse-tung (or however we are supposed to spell his name these days, my automatic spell-check on my computer not allowing me the spelling I grew up with); but cleverness does not grow out of disordered hair. A brush and comb are not completely incompatible with thought. – Theodore Dalrymple 

A conference in Glasgow this weekend, entitled ‘Education Not Indoctrination’, will take a critical look at the way schools are being used to inculcate woke values in our children, often against the wishes of parents. It is being organised by Hands Up Scotland, a group of parents and educators concerned about the politicisation of Scottish schools, in association with the Academy of Ideas, where I am science and technology director. Yet the event almost didn’t happen because staff at the original venue refused to work on it. This is a good example of how ‘cancel culture’ works today.Rob Lyons

As the blurb for Saturday’s event notes, schools are at the centre of the woke agenda. There’s the continued promotion of critical race theory in the classroom. There’s the Scottish government’s new sex-education curriculum, which will expose very young children to overtly sexualised material. There’s a new LGBTQ+ vocabulary (cisgender, transgender, bisexual, non-binary and genderfluidity) already being taught in primary schools. And there’s the Scottish government’s guidance on ‘Supporting Transgender Pupils in Schools’, which advises teachers not to question a child’s desire to transition.

In short, the views of a tiny minority, supported by the Scottish government, are being foisted on children, often in defiance of the wishes of parents. Profound changes are happening in Scottish education. And it is important that we get a chance to debate them.

But not everyone agrees this should be up for debate, it seems. – Rob Lyons

In a statement to The Times, the venue owners, Agile City, claimed that: ‘There was no attempt to stop the event happening or shut down the discussion; it’s just not something we can host in our venue.’ Yet it’s not entirely accurate to suggest there was no attempt to shut down discussion. The very act of pulling the booking at such short notice meant that the event might well have had to be cancelled.

Fortunately, a sympathetic venue – the Tron Church in Glasgow city centre – has stepped in, and the event will go ahead. It seems that Christians are now more open to political debate than many right-on liberals.

What the whole affair reveals is the brittleness of woke thinking. It is one thing to be passionate about particular issues. It is another to think that the mere airing of a different point of view is a threat, in and of itself. This is No Platforming taken to another level – it is an attempt to clamp down on debate itself.

This Civic House case also reveals another driver of cancel culture – the sense of entitlement among woke members of staff in cultural and political institutions. Rob Lyons

We need spaces to have civilised debate about important and controversial issues, free from the threat of cancellation. Thankfully, ‘Education Not Indoctrination’ will now go ahead. But that should never have been in question in the first place. –  Rob Lyons

In New Zealand, we talk a lot about big-ticket projects such as cycleways and convention centres. But we don’t focus nearly enough on infrastructure security. That’s a problem.

Infrastructure is not just a game of getting things done. Success means getting projects done well, and part of that means investing in necessary protection. – Matthew Birchall

Electricity is another area worth keeping an eye on. New Zealand is fortunate to have an ample supply of power sourced from wind farms and hydroelectric dams. But renewables can also be unreliable. When the wind is blowing and the dams are full, New Zealand is well-positioned to meet demand.

The problem arises when demand surges during winter and generation fails to keep up. When that happens, those still July days suddenly begin to lose their appeal. And it is in this context that coal and gas play an important role in keeping the power on. The 2021 blackouts. – Matthew Birchall

While the government has promised that all of New Zealand’s electricity will be generated from renewables by 2030, there is a strong argument to be made for continued use of gas and coal to shore up supply. At the very least, the move to renewables makes the question of secure electricity supply all the more salient. Wind, after all, has a bad habit of fluctuating.

However, the greatest risk to New Zealand’s infrastructure security may originate in cyber space. If a rogue actor hacked New Zealand’s power grid, telecoms network or water utilities, the country would be thrown into chaos. These assets are so essential to day-to-day life that society cannot function without them.

Experts speak of a cascade effect when critical infrastructure is destabilised. When one link in the chain goes down, the rest follow. –

Matthew Birchall

After all, if we don’t ensure that our kit is in good nick today, then we will have to pay more to maintain it tomorrow.  – Matthew Birchall

As “the greatest moral challenge of our times”, the dogmas of the climate change cult are no longer limited by any secular need for evidence or data

If climate change policy was ever based on “the science”, then that basis has long been overwhelmed by politics and tribal groupthink. It is now the very badge of a progressive left-wing worldview. In both USA and Australia, climate change alarm is the single greatest differentiator between the left and the right of politics.  – Barry Brill

The “climate justice” narrative is a post-modern cultural phenomenon, intertwined in endless mysterious ways with race and gender and other categories of perceived Marx-like oppression. Belief in the climate change credo is a sine qua non for every left-leaning politician (or journalist) – in the English-speaking world and further afield.

While an ideology for some, it is a quasi-religion for others. As long ago as 2003, author  Michael Crighton declared that mankind’s greatest challenge was to distinguish reality from fantasy, in the context of environmentalism becoming a religion. Regrettably, over the ensuing 20 years, faith in climate change has moved inexorably to fill the large vacuum left by the rapid decline of Christianity. – Barry Brill

Just as Torquemada declared war in the 15th century on those who could not believe in the teachings of the Vatican’s Holy See, Prime Minister Ardern has declared war in the 21st century on those who can not believe in the teachings of the United Nations’ IPCC.

The Inquisition used the old weapons of the thumbscrew, the rack, and the burning of books. Ms Ardern is a proud cheer-leader for the use of the “new weapons” of hate-speech laws, de-platforming, and cancel culture.Barry Brill

Roll over Josef Goebbels: your stunted canvas was but a single nation. Now we have the entire globalist population of the planet united behind the most ambitious propaganda campaign in history – with limitless funding and with no tether to any known system of ethics. – Barry Brill

We at the New Zealand Initiative are aware of an ill-founded view that we are somewhat critical of our much-beloved government. Of course, this “alternative view” has no merit.

Take, for example, Labour’s 3 November list of its 100 achievements since November 2021. On one count 71 of the 100 involved government spending more of our money on this or that.

Top of the list was putting a targeted cost of living payment on its credit card. Good thinking. After all, inflation is up because Government drew so heavily on the RBNZ’s ATM in responding to COVID. The remedy for too much government spending yesterday is obvious – more spending today.

The magical thing about the 71 spending items on this list is that they are all good. No one is harmed. Every item is beneficial. Why, otherwise, would it make the list? Why is it magic? Well anytime you or I spend our money we give up something – the chance to spend it on something else. We have to think about that.

Government is different. It can and does create more money out of nothing. Today’s government borrowing, like tomorrow’s inflation, is the next government’s problem. What did future generations ever do for us? There is more. Another 21 items in the list use regulations to spend other people’s money. – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

The list includes many things that a different government would also have achieved, for example, finishing Transmission Gully and free trade agreements.

Given this feature, we should acknowledge Labour’s modesty in excluding sunshine and fresh air from its list of achievements. They are free lunches too. – Dr Bryce Wilkinson

The Human Rights Commission says it’s “very disappointing” that the government isn’t going ahead with law changes that would curb New Zealanders’ right to free speech.

Let me repeat that, just in case you didn’t get the irony. An agency ostensibly set up to protect our rights is upset that the government isn’t introducing new laws that would restrict them. What better evidence could there be of the commission’s highly selective interpretation – you might say perversion – of its own name?Karl du Fresne 

The government’s retreat from its original intention is clearly a blow and a setback to the HRC, which is so obsessed with identity politics and the supposed menace of hate speech that it completely ignores its bigger responsibility to protect New Zealanders’ freedom of expression. – Karl du Fresne 

You’d think the commission’s own name was a bit of a giveaway, but no; its interpretation of the phrase “human rights” is selective, self-serving and unfailingly woke. Rather than concern itself with upholding and promoting New Zealanders’ rights generally, it directs its energies toward protecting us from racism, islamophobia, homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia and white supremacy. These endanger all of us, according to chief human rights pooh-bah Paul Hunt, arguably the most useless bureaucrat on the government’s payroll (in fact worse than useless, since the effect of his job, if not the purpose, is to promote a sense of division and drive wedges into the community).

To put it another way, the commission thinks it’s okay in a democracy to sacrifice the free-speech rights of the majority in order to protect supposedly vulnerable minority groups. It justifies this by arguing that restrictions on speech are needed to counter “violent extremism”. This is worryingly similar to the spurious pretexts – such as public order and public safety – routinely cited by authoritarian regimes that want to control what people think and say. Iran and Xi Jinping’s China come to mind. 

Reconciling free speech with the interests of minority groups calls for a balancing act, but the commission doesn’t even attempt it. It solves the problem by simply ignoring the free speech side of the equation altogether.Karl du Fresne 

The commission is a $13 million-plus per annum deadweight on the economy – money that could more usefully be spent on any number of worthy projects. Teaching dogs to ride bikes, for example. – Karl du Fresne 

Even without knowing the contents of the revised bill, haste is something we should be concerned about. It’s a pace of activity that is usually reserved for matters that the Government wants dealt with immediately; either because it is vital for the national interest or it is so unpalatable that they want to shut down the debate as quickly as possible. It would seem that the latter was their only justification.

I’m told by a highly regarded former MP that for a matter of this nature, it’s a pace that is unusually rushed, and in the context of Parliament’s rules, technically inappropriate.

Not that we can do too much about that. Let’s face it, this Government has been in an “inappropriate” hurry on Three Waters from the start. Despite the changes not yet being signed into law, they have already recruited a heap of people and leased high-quality and expensive office space in Auckland at least and possibly elsewhere. Every step has been action ahead of the democratic process.Bruce Cotterill

Imagine 88,000 submissions. Ignored. Just think for a moment of the emotion and passion that people had for the End of Life Choice Bill. And yet that received just less than half of the number of submissions that Three Waters did. And those submitters have been ignored. –Bruce Cotterill

We should be ropable that this is happening. And we should be stomping mad that neither of our top-rating TV news channels ran the story of the bill’s passing on their 6pm bulletins on Thursday evening. What the hell is going on here NZ?

This is major constitutional reform, involving the deliberate confiscation of assets from ratepayers and the councils that represent them, to a government and a policy that will be controlled by iwi-based or tribal interests. The consultation process around it has been minimal and most of us would say what little consultation has occurred has been ignored.Bruce Cotterill

So we see, finally, after all this time, what Three Waters has been about all along. It’s not about brown sludge coming out of your taps. In fact, it’s not about water at all. It’s about an asset grab of not only the water assets we thought, but also for a slice of our hydro schemes and for the highly contentious foreshore and seabed. By the time the third and final reading comes around, you can bet that the country’s parkland will no longer be an option. It will be included.

Perhaps the inclusion of the foreshore and the parkland will get us animated and angry.

We should be staggered that this legislation, delivering major constitutional change, is sleepwalking its way through Parliament via an aggressive majority government, while it appears that there is nothing that opposition politicians can do about it. – Bruce Cotterill

It would be tempting to throw in the towel. And yet, despite everything that has happened, Three Waters should continue to be a central election issue in 2023. Those parties currently in opposition must run a campaign to totally repeal this legislation and if elected they must do so promptly.

And we may as well brace ourselves for it now. Taking things away from people is always much harder than giving them out. Repealing this law will be messy and disruptive and difficult. But it must happen.

That’s why we have elections. When governments become this corrupt, they and the laws they created must go.Bruce Cotterill

Of course the key issue of this report is that it recommends that mana whenua sit on local councils, with full voting rights.  These representatives would have the same power as elected councillors, except of course, residents/ratepayers would have no power to remove them (except for those few that may be involved in mana whenua processes to select their councillors).

I don’t think much of liberal democracy, as it is not very effective at protecting individual rights, but it does have one useful function, in that it provides an effective process to remove politicians if enough people are fed up with them.  This proposal destroys this for mana whenua representative.  It institutes the principle that you can be taxed, regulated and governed by people you have NO say in being selected or being removed. – Liberty Scott

However there is no possible way that the New Zealand Labour Party wants to let people live their own lives as they see fit in such a way. The review of local government is about growing local government, it is the idea that wellbeing comes not from what individuals, families, colleagues, friends, communities, businesses and societies do, but from what government does – and the main tools of government are ones of coercion by taxation (and dishing out financial favours to preferred individuals and groups) and regulation. Liberty Scott

There is a desperate need for a review of local government that will decide what roles and responsibilities it should have and what ones should be taken away from it, and that would do much more to enhance wellbeing, by enabling more housing to be built, more businesses to be developed, more competition in retail and the economy, the environment and society to grow with local government being barely visible. It may manage some parks, have a fast, efficient planning permitting function, deal with neighbourhood noise and pollution complaints, and ensure rubbish is collected.

In the meantime though, the idea that elected politicians should be replaced by mana whenua representatives with MORE power to increase rates, establish new taxes and pass bylaws (and ban property development) is just a form of petty nationalist authoritarianism eating away at an already flawed system. – Liberty Scott

The intelligence of the New Zealand population increased during the 20th century. Nutrition played its part but so too did education. Young people were taught the abstract knowledge of academic subjects and in the process developed secondary intelligence.  Since the 1990s, the emptying out of prescribed academic knowledge from the national curriculum is likely to reverse the trend.  It’s a sobering thought that the population in the 21st century may be less intelligent than our 20th century predecessors. Elizabeth Rata

It is abstraction (or separation) from the everyday world of experience which gives academic knowledge both its intelligence-building power and its difficulty.  Because academic subjects are necessarily difficult they need to be taught by expert teachers. For their part, children must bring hard work and effort to the job. Parental support is vital for this mammoth task of intelligence building. There are no short-cuts for anyone involved.

So what makes academic knowledge the ‘intelligence builder’?  By ‘intelligence’ I mean an individual’s secondary thinking–the thinking that is self-consciously rational and very different from primary commonsense intelligence.  Humans have lived for millennia with the primary thinking needed for survival.  It remains essential today as we pick up the everyday socio-cultural knowledge of the family and community.  We must have this primary thinking ability but we can in fact do without complex abstract knowledge and its generating secondary intelligence. We can do as our ancestors did, rely on knowledge acquired from observation and experience and bounded by the limits of primary thinking. The question is – do we want to? – Elizabeth Rata

A well-designed national curriculum of prescribed academic knowledge is the only way to ensure that all New Zealand children are taught the knowledge that builds secondary intelligence.  It is the intelligence needed for a modern democratic society. This is the case because democracy is itself an abstract idea – built on networks of abstractions such as freedom, equality and citizenship.

The alternative is returning to the pre-modern world of our ancestors. The tribal world managed successfully using primary thinking. This is because kinship relations are material not abstract – we can literally ‘see’ our relations.  In contrast, democracy is justified by abstract ideas and abstract relationships – the main one is that of citizenship. For us to understand these abstractions, we must have secondary intelligence. Elizabeth Rata

We need to keep in mind why freedom of speech is so important. Freedom of speech is a right recognised domestically (in the Bill of Rights Act 1990) and internationally (in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). The starting point for any new legislation should be that. We have the freedom to say what we want unless there is a compelling and pressing reason for the state to curtail it by threatening criminal punishment.

Free speech has been a vital tool for the least powerful in society. – Marcus Roberts

Even if we are satisfied that there is a compelling reason to restrict our right to free speech, the restriction needs to be as narrow and as clear as possible. It’s not good enough to leave the contours of which speech counts as hate speech to the “you’ll-know-it-when-you-see-it” test. Tossing it to the courts to determine the boundaries as they go is also no answer.

Even if the courts do find in favour of a defendant (and thus, by their decision, help set the contours of the legislation), Liam Hehir has convincingly argued that the process is the punishment. Winning a legal battle can be as ruinous as losing one for an individual. Yet, win or lose, the state will never face financial, much less personal, ruin.

With so much at stake, let us hope that the Government’s proposed hate speech amendments adhere to first principles. If it doesn’t, the hate speech vs free speech battle risks collateral damage of much more than what you may (or may not) say.  – Marcus Roberts

You chose to have these kids, you have to wake up at 7am, get your kids to school at 8am. You have now got subsidised free lunches, free breakfasts, subsidised period products, subsidised school uniforms. There are no excuses. What we have in New Zealand is a culture of excuses. –  Christopher Luxon

Age is not an immutable characteristic. Treating children differently to adults is not the same as treating people differently based on race or sex. And 18 years is the generally agreed-upon age at which a child becomes an adult.

For most New Zealanders, the idea of 16 and 17-year-olds voting defies common sense. Large majorities of people surveyed reject the idea. Letting kids vote is less popular than letting prisoners vote.

Of course, there is increasingly little room for common sense in New Zealand’s appellate courts. Not, at least, when the opportunity for the promotion of liberal opinion is concerned. Our justices are no longer so shy of broad political questions that touch upon subjects not usually reducible to legal reasoning.Liam Hehir 

The court has, therefore, set the agenda on an inextricably political question.

It is a rarer and rarer thing for our justices to refuse involvement in political questions when it comes to the preoccupations of the chattering classes. The best that can be hoped for is a reluctant refusal to grant relief paired with some obiter dicta about where the court’s sympathy lies. Those comments crack the door open just that little bit further, of course, and provide something for the next case to build upon.

This is not all the fault of the courts. Judges are only human and there is nothing more human than being tempted to use the tools at your disposal to achieve the outcome you want. Some blame lies with the elected politicians who have given the judiciary these tools or, at least, have permitted their use.

Ambiguous laws promote judicial activism. They create a permission structure for the judiciary to exercise personal discretion to the act interpretation. – Liam Hehir 

Law faculties would absolutely hate this as, would of course, the judiciary. But the time has long since passed where the democratically accountable branches of the government flex a bit of muscle. And if the courts are bent on drifting into politics then they can hardly complain about politics drifting into the courts.Liam Hehir 

All I’m doing is calling parents to responsibility to say ‘Hey, listen, it’s in your interest that we want your children to do better than you did’ … education is the biggest thing that creates social mobility and opportunity. – Christopher Luxon

As the Kremlin’s spokesman tells us – somewhat improbably – that regime change was never Vladimir Putin’s goal, the debate on whether Russia and Ukraine should be negotiating gets another bounce.

Depressing – but necessary – to bear in mind that a settlement will rest more on power than on justice.

Some other lessons from the conflict also seem to be getting neglected.

First, that the success of Ukraine’s resistance is due to the courage and commitment of a smallish group of mostly young men. A group who in general weren’t getting good press or much encouragement before all this kicked off.

Secondly, the steady flow of Western self-congratulation seems overdone.Point of Order :

Thirdly, this is a war with a system, rather than a country. – Point of Order

And as a Russian and an insider, he provides a vivid picture of the creation from the security apparatus of a governing class that is a law unto itself.

During Putin’s twenty two years in power, it has systematically eliminated the bases of civil society: security of property and the fruits of labour; reliable justice and restraints on state power; fair competition for the right to govern; the opportunity and ability to organise, express and disseminate alternatives. Point of Order

The contrast with China is stark.  Deng Xiaoping also toiled for nearly twenty years but in a different direction.  He sought to convince the workers and peasants that the Communist party would respect the fruits of their labour – just as long as they did not challenge its governance (and hence the significance of President Xi’s recent signals that he might renegotiate the bargain).

This suppression of independent activity – social and entrepreneurial – would now appear to be Russia’s chief source of political and economic weakness.

It should clarify that the principal enemy is the Russian governing class, rather than the Russian people.

And that we all win if the Russian people can be helped to turn round the course of the last twenty two years.

Don’t forget then, that in all that time the only people who have come near to inflicting a political defeat on that class are a handful of American (and British) trained Ukrainian men.

So it might be a good idea to be very clear what you are negotiating about, before starting. – Point of Order

This Labour Government constantly confuses spending money with outcomes. If money was the answer to solving the many issues facing the sector, then Kiwis’ would have timely access to services, better facilities, and see an overall improvement to the country’s mental wellbeing.

Unfortunately that is not the case and mental health in New Zealand has never been in a worse state. What Kiwis’ are experiencing is longer wait times to essential services, overcrowding, a worsening state to mental health facilities, and serious workforce shortages facing the sector

Measurable outcomes are what matter for individuals, and their families, who are desperately seeking help. Not wasted money and broken promises- Matt Doocey 

Penological liberals, then, whether they realize it or not, are effectively in favor of violence against women.- Theodore Dalrymple

With their claws savagely embedded in the throats of most of New Zealand’s news media (so to speak) racist commentators are really having a great time distorting and rewriting the history of our once fair country of New Zealand. 

They appear to have learnt that if you tell the BIG LIE often enough and loud enough, people will come to believe it and of course once should be enough for innocent children, that is if they can be induced actually to go to school.  If statistics are to be believed for once, it appears that truancy is at a record high in New Zealand schools, highest apparently among children of part-Maori descent and lowest among Chinese. Bruce Moon 

Perverse incentives facing councils seemed to underlie many of the problems with the existing resource management system.

Nothing in the RMA forced councils to set restrictive district plans, though it did make it difficult to modify existing ones. Nevertheless, district plans often made it very difficult to build apartments and townhouses in inner suburbs near the amenities where a lot of people want to live, or new subdivisions and lifestyle blocks on the edges of cities.

When cities can neither grow up nor out in response to changes in demand for housing, prices adjust instead.

The reason for restrictive district plans is simple. When cities grow, central government enjoys the increase in income tax, company tax, and GST. But councils experience urban growth as a cost to be mitigated, rather than a benefit to be sought. And councils at or near their debt limits have extreme difficulty in funding and financing the infrastructure necessary to support it. – Eric Crampton

The National Planning Framework will need to provide very strong direction to regional planning committees to prioritise flexible urban land markets over other objectives.

But the game of whack-a-mole in which central government legislates against each new way that councils find to obstruct growth seems likely to continue – unless councils are made to welcome urban growth by sharing in its benefits. For example, councils could receive grants from central government reflecting a share of the increased tax take that growth provides to central government.

Without that kind of change to the incentives councils face, any wine that eventually pours from the new planning bottles may taste remarkably, and depressingly, familiar. – Eric Crampton

For all of the posing and posturing, most of the arguments to extend (or not extend) the size of the electorate to include 16 and 17yos come with a big tinge of self-interest around power.  It’s been proclaimed that it is “discriminatory” that they don’t get a chance to vote, but almost every argument extended to this can be applied to 15, 14 or even some 13 and 12yos.  Paying taxes doesn’t give visitors or tourists a vote, and plenty who pay little to no taxes get to vote.

No, it’s an exercise in emotionally laden performance from those in politics who get an advantage from having more fungible brains to convince to give them power. It’s hardly a surprise that there is strong leftwing support for the idea, because it is widely perceived that most younger people (certainly the more politically active ones) are leftwing, because they are lured by the idea of more government, which can make good stuff compulsory, cheaper or free, and bad stuff banned or more expensive. This is, after all, the predominant philosophical bent pushed through state education and much of the media. – Liberty Scott

 If there were to be an age when an individual is an adult, in terms of powers to contract, to be treated as an adult in the justice system, and to not have age based restrictions on what you can and can’t do with your body, then that should be the age of adulthood.  At present it is a mix of 16 and 18, but few on the left think 16yos should face the same judicial treatment as 18yos, and almost none think they should be able to buy alcohol, be prostitutes and even buy tobacco. 

There is a curious cultural disjunction between those who want younger teenagers to vote, and demand they be given “a voice” for their often ill-informed, inconsistent views (and they have no monopoly on that), but also think they need “protection” from the consequences of their actions.  They aren’t old enough to handle being intoxicated, to face adult court and prison if they initiate force against others,  and although it is often cited that they can “have sex”, it’s a serious criminal offence if anyone takes photos of them doing so or even possesses them, even with their consent.  So many who want to give them the vote also deem them vulnerable.  So which is it?Liberty Scott

So let’s not pretend this is about young people having a “stake in their future” because the politicians eager for their votes don’t think young people can make competent decisions on what they ingest or what photos are taken of them.

If politicians want to argue that 16 should be the age of being an adult, then all well and good, let it be and let them accept the consequences for what this means, and they can vote.

Otherwise it’s just a call for “more votes for my side, to help me do what I want to you all” – Liberty Scott

Time has been called on overhauling ‘hate speech laws’ in New Zealand. After sitting in Labour’s manifesto for years, and two Ministers of Justice failing to build support for the proposals, maybe they’ve seen the light: legislation is no antidote to hate. – Jonathan Ayling

The basic issue still remains: silencing opinion, even condemnable opinions (which do not amount to incitement to violence, which is already illegal), doesn’t deal with a lack of social cohesion.

And if hate speech laws don’t work for other ‘vulnerable communities’, we need to rethink the entire venture. The question, ‘if this group, why not that group’ is legitimate. If hate speech laws do work to protect vulnerable communities, like religious groups, then why won’t the Minister commit to including other vulnerable groups too? It’s because she herself has admitted they could make the situation worse.  – Jonathan Ayling

The fact of the matter is hate speech laws (even if they’re just extending protected classes by one group) make things worse.

The government must stand for Kiwis’ right to express their opinions in speech and do away with the notion that gagging voices resolves complex issues. Sections 61 and 131 of the Human Rights Act should be repealed entirely and simple incitement to violence outlawed as speech beyond the pale of free expression. Until then, we’re making social cohesion worse by hand-picking which groups we’re allowed to be derogatory about, and which we can’t. This is hardly a winning strategy for unity.Jonathan Ayling

It goes without saying that we don’t want religious groups lumped into monolithic groups without any nuance or insight. But is this change really going to stop that? – Jonathan Ayling

It’s time better solutions were given a chance, solutions that elevate dialogue, reason, and counter-speech. Hate speech is a problem, but the problem is the hate, not the speech. As the American journalist Jonathan Rauch claims, ‘Trying to fix the hate by silencing the speech is like trying to fix climate change by breaking all the thermometers.’

Today’s announcement is a good start, but we need to look at whether hate speech laws have any place in our law. Ultimately, they’re a fool’s errand that actually make the situation worse.Jonathan Ayling

Yes there are some superbly informed smart and diligent 16 year olds, but there are equally many who are completely out to lunch, totally ill informed, barely turning up to school, or in some cases, just out ram raiding.

Now when they do stuff like that – they’re ‘children’ – cue the heartstrings – who can’t possibly be punished or sent to boot camp or put in ankle bracelets, because they’re ‘children’.

There is also the argument trotted out every time a young person does do something wrong, that cognitively their brains haven’t fully developed yet. But when it comes to getting them to tick a box for a party and a candidate – suddenly they’re now cognitively proficient informed adults?

It’s a mixed message. – Kate Hawkesby

Is it also discriminatory to use age as an excuse not to pay them benefits, or to use their age as a tool to means test them against their parents income for allowances? Do we lower the drinking age too, now that 16 is so responsible? Is 16 the new benchmark?

Anyone who has raised 16 year olds knows that it’s still very young, and I just don’t know why we keep wanting to make childhood shorter and shorter for our young people.

They already have to grow up so fast, now we expect them to know about taxes and laws and politics too? Can they not just enjoy their youth while they still have it? Kate Hawkesby

You can’t know how the world works surely until you’ve actually experienced it? Paid rent or a mortgage, left home, gotten out into the real world, earned your own money, paid your own taxes – lived a little.

It’s not up to us though, or the Supreme Court, it’s up to Parliament, and it won’t get the 75 percent support required so it’s going nowhere.

But nor should it, if Parliament’s going to devote time and energy to anything to do with young people right now it should be getting the 60 percent of kids not attending back into school and addressing the surge in youth crime.

Surely that’s more pressing right now than whether they can vote or not? – Kate Hawkesby

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the government was delighted with this week’s ruling from the Supreme Court that excluding sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds from the right to vote was inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act. Not because of the weight of the legal argument, nor the morality of the cause, but simply because the ruling provided the government with a huge distraction from all the other problems confronting it at present.Peter Dunne

But rather than waiting six months to make its response known, the government waited barely six hours, so gleeful was it at the distraction the Court had provided. The Prime Minister did not even wait for the Labour Caucus to meet, before announcing the government’s response. Legislation to lower the voting age to 16 will be drafted immediately, she promised, and introduced to Parliament as soon as possible.

That immediately ensured all the right headlines and focus for the next couple of days at least, during which time the Reserve Bank is expected to lift interest rates by the biggest amount yet, further hitting already struggling household budgets. The cynicism of the decision is highlighted by the fact that for the voting age for Parliamentary elections to be lowered, a minimum 75% of Parliament (90 MPs) must vote in favour. When she made her announcement the Prime Minister said she did not know whether all Labour MPs, let alone MPs from other parties supported the move, which she hoped would be determined by a conscience vote. Her promised legislation was therefore nothing but smoke and mirrors. – Peter Dunne

The current outcome could not be better for her – thanks to National and ACT, nothing will change, but the Prime Minister will be able to keep empathising with young, upcoming voters about how much she “personally” supports their cause, even though, like so much else, she cannot deliver it. More importantly, by doing so, she potentially locks in their support for when they are eligible to vote. So, the government’s response is far more about securing its political advantage, than addressing the principle raised by the Supreme Court of whether it is right to exclude 16–17-year-olds from being able to vote.Peter Dunne

 If a lowered voting age for local body elections proves to be successful in terms of increasing turnout and engagement, then consideration could be given to reducing the age for general elections. The most likely date for that to happen would be the 2029 general election, by which time most of the current crop of politicians will have moved on.

But that is all too far in the future for the government to be concerned about at present. All it knows, is that right now the Supreme Court has presented it with a wonderful diversionary opportunity of which it must take full advantage. Given there is little else flowing its way at present, it is hardly surprising it will milk the issue for all it can over the next little while, secure in the knowledge that nothing is actually going to change. – Peter Dunne

The fact a majority of the working group decided the right to issue binding Te Mana o Te Wai statements should be extended to include coastal and geothermal water brings to mind David Lange’s quip about panel-beaters being allowed to design an intersection.Graham Adams 

I have to say that this is the most despicable, the most dishonest, and the most dishonourable piece of legislation I have had the misfortune to speak to in this House. This is a deplorable way of stealing assets off communities — assets that have been bought and paid for over generations…

“This is despicable, and I want to say that the people of this country deserve better. – Maureen Pugh

It is widely accepted that to avoid catastrophic climate change we must extract carbon from the atmosphere as well as reduce emissions. That is, we need negative emissions technologies. Indigenous people created such technology over thousands of years, manifested in Amazonian terra preta (black soils) and carbon-rich black soils in West Africa. These soils were likely created accidentally through charcoal being added with food scraps and other waste into infertile soils, turning them into enduringly fertile, carbon-rich black soils. While most soil carbon is lost to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, charcoal endures as a permanent soil carbon store. Peter Winsley

Contrary to some perceptions, on a population-adjusted basis indigenous societies are not more environmentally benign than modern, industrialised ones. Both Māori and Pakeha wasted resources when they were abundant and developed sustainable practices only when resources became depleted. In pre-European times Māori were responsible directly or indirectly for the loss of about half New Zealand’s forest cover, and the extinction of over forty bird species.

In modern times, some Māori groups have given priority to commercial interests over environmental protection. For example, in 2013 government mooted an ocean sanctuary surrounding the Kermadec Islands. However, Māori interests opposed this, arguing that the proposed sanctuary breached possible future fishing rights. – Peter Winsley

Where environmental management can go badly wrong is when privileged business, tribal or sectarian interests exploit legal or political processes for rent-seeking purposes. What was once the “Three Waters” reforms has now become “Five Waters” due to some late backroom amendments to draft legislation. The Five Waters legislation if enacted will set up a racialist system to manage New Zealand’s water resources. It will make corruption and nepotism possible on a monumental scale. However, on the positive side it will teach people lessons about not taking democracy and institutional integrity for granted.

It is often contended that economic growth is environmentally damaging. However, the environmental Kuznets curve hypothesis suggests that environmental degradation increases at early economic development stages. However, when income reaches a certain level local environments improve. For example, air and water quality is now far better in modern cities than it was 100 years ago. Today, London is no longer threatened by industrial “pea souper” fogs, and the Thames is swimmable. In Wellington, biodiversity is flourishing due to pest control and the Zealandia wildlife sanctuary that we can afford to pay for.Peter Winsley

Resources such as oil and gas fields concentrate economic and political power in specific places with benefits captured quite narrowly. In contrast, decentralised industries such as distributed energy (wind, solar) and farming diffuse power. Many technological responses to climate change are consistent with a more distributed energy system and a more equitable economy and society. This is what we should be aiming for, rather than perpetuating untruths about colonialism, and dismissing whole swathes of humanity as being dependent on ongoing genocide. – Peter Winsley

Tension in the farming ranks is palpable; discontent with central Government policies is intense; frustration regarding inexorable cost increases is a dark cloud, and given the recent profits recently announced by the banking sector followed by spiraling interest rates, accusations of price-gouging by the trading banks are now emerging.

In terms of returns for primary produce, given the market-related signals reflecting an easing in price levels for beef, lamb and dairy products, the mood of caution within the simmering cauldron of the rural sector is sobering, and food for reflection. – Brian Peacocke

I think that for farming to advocate for itself, it’s not only advocating for what’s annoying and frustrating them, but there’s also a huge need for us as an agriculturally strong community to continue to share both the gains and the commitment of the agricultural community to farming well both for themselves, the community, and the future. – Jenny Shipley

When we were farming, many were just farming to survive. Now, I see farmers all over the place investing not only in best practice for themselves, but I do see a lot of change. I think the voice of that needs to be shared across the community much more broadly so that the urban New Zealand population both values agriculture and understands that it’s moving in response to many of the concerns that urban communities have.  – Jenny Shipley

I think that urban-rural split has always been a risk in New Zealand and it’s one we can’t afford to give airtime too. Because, frankly, if you just thought that even in the COVID period, if we had not had a strong agricultural sector during the last three years when the global economy had been disrupted, New Zealand’s position economically would be far more dire than it is at the moment.

Tourism collapsed, a number of other productive areas were compromised and yet agriculture was able to carry a huge proportion of the earnings, as it’s always done. But thankfully, on a strong commodity cycle at this particular time, and again, I think we should name the value of agricultural exports. The effort agriculture puts into the New Zealand economy to support our way of life, in a broad, holistic sense – not a them and us sense.

We’re in this together, being the best we can be at home and selling the best we can abroad in a best practice sense. I think if we keep sharing that over and over again, there’ll be a better understanding between rural and urban communities.  – Jenny Shipley

Often we say, well, we consulted, or we sent out a document and gave them a chance to comment. I think that for people to genuinely become supporters of a regime, they have to have a deep sense of ownership. They need to be able to see themselves in whatever is proposed as opposed to seeing something being imposed on them, which they don’t or can’t relate to.  

So the test of high-quality engagement and consultation has got to be that measure of – can the people we’re representing see themselves in the proposed solutions or are we just saying, well, regardless of what you think, you’ve got to be there in five or ten years’ time. That’s not easy to do. I think in New Zealand’s circumstances, whether it’s agriculture or Maori – Pakeha relations, or any of the other demanding spaces, we’ve just got to put the time and work into it.  – Jenny Shipley

The Kellogg Programme is fantastic. I’d encourage any community to keep identifying young leaders and to promote them into those Programmes. Often people think, these people are too young. I must have been, I don’t know, 32 or thereabouts when I went into Kellogg. Often at that stage, you haven’t identified your leadership purpose and your particular intentions as to how you will use your leadership skills. But others often see leadership potential in those young people.

There’s no question that our political environment, our economic and social environment, need younger people coming through all the time in order for us to be able to shape the future successfully. I would encourage people to look for those chances and look for individuals who they can sponsor or promote and make sure they support them. Because often these are the young people, male and female, who have got kids and are trying to run a farm and all that. So the programmes themselves are a big commitment, but it’s worth it.   – Jenny Shipley

Consultation is not a promise of change and never has been.

New Zealand has traditionally been known as the land of the long white cloud. Now, it seems, it is destined to become the land of the tall green pine. – Rural News

This passage, which the word creepy doesn’t adequately describe, is very revealing of the moral sensibility—or lack of it—of our time. The courts in Canada have recognized a perfectly true fact about human development, that it doesn’t take place at the same pace in every individual, and has drawn from this undoubted fact the unjustified conclusion that placing legal age limits is therefore unacceptably arbitrary. This is an argument that has helped to produce and inflame the egotism and individualism without individuality of our times. – Theodore Dalrymple

According to this argument, however, the law had no right to fix an age of consent, as fixing it at any age would be arbitrary. What is claimed, therefore, is the right of everyone to set his own rules and decide everything for himself. He doesn’t accept that living in society entails acceptance of rules that, in a world of continua rather than of absolutely discrete categories, it’s necessary just to accept rules that are neither wholly defensible in rational terms nor that one hasn’t made for oneself.Theodore Dalrymple

I can envisage circumstances in which I would like to be put down painlessly. I wouldn’t much care to be professionally entrusted, let alone required, to do it for others. Therein lies a paradox. – Theodore Dalrymple

Instead of opening up to desperately needed skilled workers, Labour’s immigration settings have essentially raised the drawbridge and made New Zealand a fortress.Erica Stanford

The Government’s immigration policies have been a total disaster, and Kiwis are paying the price with higher inflation and higher interest rates. – Erica Stanford

Businesses are struggling with the restrictive system for work visas and the complicated system for bringing in skilled migrants, which is making it hard for firms to access the skills they need.

Among the business community there is confusion about NZ’s policy making on immigration which does not seem to recognise the importance of migration to this country.

Business requires open, simple, permissive immigration settings to meet the challenge of severe skill shortages and reduce economic and social harmCatherine Beard

This decision takes us places.

It means that if you want to have age-based entitlements then you have to show that the age is really relevant. There has to be some specific feature of a certain age, which doesn’t apply at another age, but which applies for everyone.

We use age as a proxy for a bundle of entitlements because testing individual competence or attributes can be intrusive and cumbersome. The court gave this principle no shrift at all, and in doing so it has struck a blow against a fundamental principle of modern social democracy: the progressive principle of universal entitlement. – Josie Pagani

The only way to reconcile the Supreme Court’s new principle is to means-test Super. If entitlement at an age depends on objective reasons for choosing that age, then if you are sickly or poor, you should get a pension but if you have KiwiSaver, no Super for you. Stop saving now.Josie Pagani

If you’re 16, parents still have an obligation to house, feed and protect you. The state has the authority to step in if parents fail. Third parties, like companies, governments and political parties, are regulated from exploiting teenagers. Make them adults and the responsibility to provide and protect withers and dies.

The real issue is about when childhood ends and with it the protections in law for children.

Voting at 16, and all the other entitlements that would come between 16 and 18, are the rights of adults.

Voting makes children into adults.

I want to protect children from worrying about taxes, responsibilities and the need to provide for others. – Josie Pagani

The prohibition on discrimination on the basis of age exists because a 60-year-old should not be denied a job in favour of a less qualified 30-year-old. It does not substitute for an argument about when adulthood begins.

In its decision the Supreme Court records a breezy observation that, ‘’it is clear that the line [of adulthood] has to be drawn somewhere’’. To resolve where to draw the line, the court then rehearsed a claim from an academic that there is little evidence to support 18 as a ‘’suitable proxy for maturity and competency to vote’’.

In quoting this evidence, it has done subtle but brutal damage to our democracy. Competence, maturity and intelligence should never, ever, be judicially contemplated as a qualification to vote.Josie Pagani

Voting is the right of all adults. The only issue to determine is ‘’are you an adult?’’

By discussing whether votes attach to competence, the court has ensured that, one day, some class of people will be declared not competent. This is not progressive. – Josie Pagani

The dissenting judge said the majority has reduced the rights of everyone over 18 by slightly altering the composition of the voting electorate.

I would argue it also affected the rights of under-18s to transition out of childhood without having the responsibilities of adulthood imposed too soon. – Josie Pagani

No-one knows what is meant by co-governance. Or, more accurately, there is no agreement about what is meant by this term. – Hilary Calvert

If the Government is promoting co-governance it should be clear about what it is.

This is particularly important if it may have the effect of ceding the authority vesting in the democratically elected government to any organisations which are or could be 50% appointed and the other 50% elected by the entire population. And where there must be an ability to resolve a deadlock of views by granting some undisclosed person or people a right to exercise a casting vote.

The Government, including the most relevant ministers, is either unsure or it is attempting to comfort those who are unsure whether to embrace co-governance by telling different audiences different things.Hilary Calvert

Surely when there are proposals to change something as fundamental as our democracy we should all be part of the conversation. It is not good enough to leave the concept of co-governance to mean different things to different people who are signing up to or accepting the concept.

We should all be discussing how it can be that Te Tiriti can mean equal control of everything in public ownership in New Zealand. And who has the casting vote. And what we do about some being appointed and some elected. And how our legal system can be fundamentally messed around with by suggesting that you can leave someone with ownership without control. And how the Declaration of Indigenous Rights can be interpreted to give all of a population 50% control and 17% of the population 50% control.

We also should talk about whether democracy means for us one person one vote. – Hilary Calvert

Now is the time to be talking about what co-governance actually means and how the Government wants to impose it on New Zealand.Hilary Calvert

The Government was right to pull back from extending our laws around controlling what people say about each other in case social peace is threatened.

However Minister Mahuta has said that opposition to the Government’s proposed fresh water reforms “seemed to be driven not about economics or effectiveness but racist tropes about co-governance”.

Driving discussion about such issues underground by labelling concerns as racist tropes is more likely to threaten social peace and encourage more extreme views.

We do well if we retain the ability to listen to and understand the fears and hopes we have about the future of our democracy and what it means to be a New Zealander in an inclusive and enriching society. – Hilary Calvert

Most of the commonly-raised arguments are unconvincing.

For example, although 16- and 17-year-olds are affected by the laws passed by Parliament, this does not provide an argument for lowering the voting age to 16 and no further. After all, a newborn will feel the effects of today’s political decisions for longer than a 17-year-old.

Similarly, the argument that 16 is more in line with the legal age of majority is not true. As the Court of Appeal noted, the “age of responsibility varies greatly under New Zealand law”, and there are many areas where the age of maturity is generally deemed to be 18, like contract law, making wills, getting married, and the criminal justice system, to name a few.  – Marcus Roberts

The evidence, however, is out there. It suggests that throughout our teenage years, our brains are inherently imbalanced.

While the part of our brain concerned with rapid, automatic processing matures around puberty, the part which allows us to think in the abstract, weigh moral dilemmas, and control our impulses does not mature until our mid-to-late 20s.

This imbalance means that teenagers are more susceptible to peer pressure (even without direct coercion), are more likely to focus on immediate benefits and underestimate long-term consequences, and are less able to resist social and emotional influences.

The odds are against us when making the decisions required at the voting booth in our teenage years. This evidence might even justify raising the voting age to 25, but at the very least, it suggests that an 18-year-old is more mature and more competent than a 16-year-old. – Marcus Roberts

The “please explain” is because the criteria they set is hopeless, the delivery is virtually non-existent and the overarching aspect is because they are soft on crime and apologists for criminals.

Because none of them have ever run a small business, they don’t have a clue about the role they play in the community, about the graft and risk involved and therefore the unconscionable position they have been placed in by a Government.

We have a Government that still inexplicably defends all of this as either a complex issue or something that isn’t their fault, and refuses to defend their citizens from the ever-growing tide of lawlessness that they have directly created.Mike Hosking

A modern-day monetary Moses, this week Orr had made his six-weekly descent from the Mount Doom of the Reserve Bank to issue the latest OCR decision and his set of commandments.

The OCR decision was not pretty and the commandments included thou shalt not ask for a pay rise, thou shalt not buy nice Christmas presents for people, thou shalt swap the Christmas turkey for a humble, cheap chicken, thou shalt have a nice staycation.

Orr’s own gift was high mortgage rates and a recession for 2023 – a cruel-to-be-kind present. He wrapped it in an apology, saying the bank’s monetary policy committee was very sorry about the whole state of affairs indeed. – Claire Trevett

It would be hard to tell which group is filled with most dread by Orr’s bitter medicine: the Government for the impact on mortgage rates as election year looms, retailers for his “have a sensibly spending Christmas” sign-off, or the 80 per cent of mortgage holders who have to refix in the near future.Claire Trevett

Labour is now confronted with an election-year hell – and so are voters. – Claire Trevett

One week does not an election loss make. The crime wave may well improve.

The pronouncements from Mount Doom, on the other hand, will not be getting any more cheerful for some time yet.Claire Trevett

Many thinking New Zealanders would like more debate on these issues.

Surely it is at the point where there should be a Royal Commission to examine our constitutional arrangements? – Fran O’Sullivan

You know, I made a living out of being a very open, happy sort of guy on the telly, but I was fibbing to people in a way because I was ‘Jack the lad’ on TV and then would go home and from time to time cry myself off to sleep or whatever it is.

And so we have a responsibility in the public roles that we have to own this stuff and let others know that no one’s immune and everybody’s got stuff going on, and we always will. – Matt Chisholm

I embraced it. I got into it. I played my footy, I loved my farming, I did all those things. But I also was a bit of a sensitive guy and concealed that for a long time, and it wasn’t until I’d got a bit older and a bit longer on the tooth that I thought, actually, no, I don’t wanna drink booze three nights a week, and drive myself into the ground that way. – Matt Chisholm

[Honesty] has cost me work opportunities. It’s cost me the odd relationship. But this is what I think – you get to a stage in life, and you think, right, do I be open and honest about this? And I think, yes, I will, and that is because it’ll help more people. It is the right thing to do because even though it might cost me and it might set me back – and I’m learning that as I go – but it’ll help more people than it’ll negatively affect me.Matt Chisholm

Finance Minister Grant Robertson padded Budget 2022 with $2.05 billion from the remnants of the Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund contrary to his undertakings that the enormous pot of emergency money be limited to direct, pandemic-related spending and over the Treasury’s objections.

The Government took $1.05b from the fund and “reprioritised” the money to spend on the “cost of living payment” and extended cost reductions for motorists, both rushed into existence in light of surging inflation and polling that suggested a related ebb in the Labour Party’s popularity. – Kate MacNamara

Using the contingency as the Government has means they can spend more in the short term only, ie in the lead-up to the election. When the funding runs out they will have created an unfunded cost pressure.Tony Burton

This set of facts makes a mockery of the Minister’s claims that he stuck to his operating allowance in this year’s Budget. In fact, he showed a reckless disregard for the fiscal discipline needed to keep pressure off inflation – Nicola Willis 

Arguably, most westerners just don’t take religion seriously enough to kill and die for it anymore. But free speech may also have contributed to the truce.

Over several centuries, growing acceptance of free speech made it more and more possible for Catholics and Protestants to talk through their differences. Over the same time period, the incidence of armed conflict between them diminished.

Unfortunately, our ability to speak freely on religious matters may be at risk. – Michael Johnston

As hurtful as it is to be a target of hateful comments, there are sound reasons not to criminalise those who make them.

For one thing, ridiculing religious ideas themselves arguably insults those who believe them too. So scornful remarks about religious beliefs could easily run afoul of Allen’s new laws.

For another, the new legislation, if passed, might actually increase the likelihood of violence motivated by or against religion. People who don’t feel free to voice their hateful thoughts may be more likely to act on them.

But there is an even better reason to maintain the ability to freely express ideas, even awful ones. Untrammelled expression, as bruising as it can sometimes be, tends to bring people together in the long run.

Protestants and Catholics once regarded one another as heretics. They sought to censor one another on pain of death. Now, following a long period during which peaceful dialogue has been possible, it is not unknown for them to worship together.

Our legislators would do well to reflect on that. – Michael Johnston

There are still the same number of mental health beds as there were in 2019.

Despite numerous speeches and pledges. Despite billions of dollars spent. And despite years of government activism.

Mental health patients sleep on mattresses on the floors of our hospitals. Those in the greatest need and desperation have not even the dignity of a bed.

These stories are hard to bear. They contrast sharply with New Zealand’s self-image as a kinder country. – Oliver Hartwich 

There is Weber’s ethics of conviction, and the Prime Minister shows much of that. And then there is Weber’s ethics of responsibility, which is measured in outcomes. The Government’s record on that front is abysmal.

Before I hear one more grand vision from this Government, I would love to see them tackle at least one problem satisfactorily.

The way the Government is going, I will probably wait a long time. – Oliver Hartwich 

The Prime Minister’s willingness to gaslight the nation about Five Waters is disturbing.

It takes a large dollop of brazenness — and perhaps desperation — to deny reality quite as readily as Jacinda Ardern was willing to do last Tuesday, but the Prime Minister did not resile from the task.

When Newstalk ZB’s Barry Soper asked her why the three waters (fresh water, storm water and waste water) had suddenly become five waters (with the late addition of coastal and geothermal water) in the amended Water Services Entities Bill, Ardern flatly denied that was the case.

Denying observable facts is typical of very young children before they understand that bending the truth beyond breaking point is an art that requires at least a modicum of plausibility to avoid ending up deeply and shamefully embarrassed. – Graham Adams

While this might be seen as an amusingly naive ploy in a child anxious to avoid the consequences of being caught red-handed, such behaviour is plainly alarming in an adult — and especially when that adult happens to be the Prime Minister.Graham Adams

By denying that adding coastal and geothermal water will boost the number of categories of water covered by the bill to five, Ardern was gaslighting the nation in a way that makes a quote from George Orwell’s 1984 entirely apposite: “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

The Prime Minister has always had difficulty dealing straightforwardly with dissent or criticism and is clearly allergic to admitting she is wrong — let alone getting around to apologising. She is also not above making stuff up to defend the indefensible.

However, denying that a clause in legislation means what any reasonably intelligent person — or lawyer — would accept its meaning to be is a new and worrying expression of that deep character flaw. – Graham Adams

When you are immersed in the business of politics, as she is, accusing others of “politicking” is absurd — yet she does it without any apparent awareness of how risible it is.Graham Adams

When you ride a very high horse, as the Prime Minister does, falling off can be painful and spectacular.

As the wheels of her government continue to wobble alarmingly — as they are in education, health, crime, and cost of living, to name just a few of the disasters Ardern is presiding over — watching how she reacts to the relentless criticism inevitable in an election year will bring its own horrified fascination, both for supporters and opponents alike. – Graham Adams

When I was young, kids appeared before a magistrate (a District Court Judge before 1978) sufficiently rarely that questions were raised about the young person’s family, and inadequate parental supervision. Sometimes the magistrate would rebuke the parents if a child had been wagging school, or had been out late and was unsupervised. Remedial action was usually fairly swift: parents took steps to look after their children lest there was further police action.

Over the last fifty years there has there been a steady movement away from holding parents to account for the children they bring into the world. Why all the hooha when National’s Christopher Luxon recently suggested it was time for parents of perennial young trouble-makers to be held to account? The short answer is that politicians, especially those of a left persuasion, fear voter backlash not just from the parents and the kids once they reach voting age, but from the significant industry that now farms the country’s underclass. Gradually a perception has been allowed to emerge that problems are always someone else’s responsibility to deal with, never the family’s. Yet that is where the heart of the problem lies. – Michael Bassett

Requirements that men should support the children they fathered decreased, particularly when birth mothers could refuse to name their children’s fathers. Under all these pressures, the underclass mushroomed. Quite quickly many children had no family link with anyone working for a living. The 100,000 recipients of Job-Seeker Benefits, with no experience, nor intention of working make up the bulk of a self-perpetuating stratum of modern New Zealand society. It costs the taxpayer hugely in benefits, Kainga Ora subsidies, criminal activity, police and prison time. Most of the ram raiding, knife-wielding, gun-toting young offenders come from this modern, politically-created social group.

Springing up alongside this growing disaster has been a cluster of public and private agencies that are meant to be wrestling the social tragedy into a more tolerable shape. Social welfare officers – God knows what their latest Maori label is – Kainga Ora officials who seem more scared of the underclass than it is of them, and low-level bureaucrats are all intent on safe-guarding their jobs. They feel threatened by any alternative suggestions about how to deal with, let alone diminish, today’s social problems. To you and me, a bit of tough love is fundamental to straightening out lives where bewildered and angry people lack the necessary education and life experience ever to hold down a job.

But the likes of Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson, who themselves never held responsible jobs before entering Parliament, always dismiss such ideas. – Michael Bassett

But Ardern and Robertson quickly denounce anything other than their own policies of muddle along; alternatives are “proven failures” or “futile”. Getting tough on school attendance might prevent children from going to tangis, said Ardern in what must surely have been her stupidest observation as Prime Minister. And the ministry averts its gaze from the growing number of outrages being perpetrated by today’s Kiwi underclass. The scourge of Hamilton ram-raiding and events like the Sandringham stabbing of a shop-keeper in the heart of the Prime Minister’s own electorate, get no more than a wringing-of-the-hands response and toothy expressions of sympathy from her.

Meanwhile, enormous sums keep on being spent on expanding Three (or is it now Five?) waters, centralizing Health and Education and lavishly funding “consultants”. This government has no respect for working people. Peter Fraser and Norman Kirk would not be able to recognize them, and Norman Kirk would have doubled back from the DPB many years ago. – Michael Bassett

When the Rugby Union does its review of why the Black Ferns are world champions and why the All Blacks are not, I know what they will not consider; how we are educating boys.

David Kirk, the captain of an All Black team, wrote a thoughtful rugby book, so it did not sell.

In it he said he thought the All Blacks got their edge from fathers teaching their sons the fundamentals of the game from a very young age. – Richard Prebble

The percentage of New Zealand domestic university students who are men has reached an all-time low of 39 percent. While our statistics for our failure in Maori and Pacifica education are readily available, gender statistics are much harder to find, just like America. Try doing an Internet search for boys’ education and see what I mean.

The Education Department goes so far as to post that there is no crisis and to claim boys and girls can be taught the same way. This government did a big review of all aspects of education. I could find no mention of boys’ education.  – Richard Prebble

There is a grade gap. In the seventies when we have School Certificate there was no gap. Now boys are far more likely to drop out early, fail to achieve any grades in NCEA, male enrollment at university is falling and women are far more likely to graduate.Richard Prebble

Women are successfully entering and even dominating previous male professions. We have not rethought what it means to be a male.

While women do have an advantage in the careers that require empathy it does not mean that many men don’t also have empathy. He cites the shortage of nurses. It is worldwide. Many men could have a very satisfying career in nursing. As men dominate among patients in areas like drug and alcohol addictions, we need more male nurses. Yet as a profession for men it is still looked down on. I suspect until we change our attitude we will never have enough nurses.

We have to be willing to see if things we have done to help girls have affected boys. The international educationalist Joseph Driessen says adding literacy into NCEA math to help girls worked but as boys often struggle with literacy it lowered boys’ marks. Math is a requirement of a range of occupations boys do well at. – Richard Prebble

For boys’ education, let us acknowledge that while many boys succeed too many are failing. It is not an attack on girls’ education to acknowledge girls and boys develop at different rates and learn in different ways. Richard Prebble

When you go from a 2.5 percent interest rate to a 6.5 percent interest rate and even higher, that is huge amounts of pain. How do you find $600 extra after tax to be able to deal with that and just pay the interest cost? – Christopher Luxon

We implore them once again, fix it. If this economy doesn’t get workers we’re going to have New Zealanders paying the price every time they pay at the eftpos terminal and every time they make a mortgage payment – get it sorted.Nicola Willis 

We now have a government with an absolute majority which is incompetent in all facets of government except for driving, without the consent of the people, its ideological misconception of the meaning of the Treaty of Waitangi as expressed in He Puapua.

The Water Services Entities Bill is perhaps the most egregious example of the implementation of the false premise that the Treaty signed in 1840 mandated co governance in all aspects of the governance of New Zealand.  – Graeme Reeves 

I want to bring your attention to another matter. That is the Orwellian indoctrination of the Civil Service and the bureaucrats who administer the departments of state. Graeme Reeves 

There is no accountability to the shareholders.

In fact, section 15 of the Bill makes it clear that the shareholders have no powers to do anything other than to hold shares.

The shareholdings are nothing more than a deception and a dishonest representation politically motivated to allow the government to maintain that the territorial authority’s co -own the entities when in fact none of the attributes of ownership exist. – Graeme Reeves 

Satisfaction of the Maori specific criteria are entirely subjective and will depend, to use a legal expression, on the length of the Chancellor’s foot which is not satisfactory.

In my opinion, this Bill is in itself racist, and it’s passing will be a gargantuan mistake which will change the course of race relations in New Zealand for the worse. Graeme Reeves 

Well, we made it through the pandemic alive, and now we’re going broke.

Happy bloody Christmas, Adrian Orr.

If you were dreaming of a lavish summer holiday, or bulging festive stockings after the grind of Covid lockdowns, the Reserve Bank’s own Scrooge has news for you. Winter’s coming and Christmas is cancelled. –   Andrea Vance 

There have been a number of such cases where it appears that the judiciary has looked at the equity of the case and worked backwards to find the result that suits the popular mood. Damien Grant

Many readers will find no issue with this state of affairs because the high regard we hold judges in contrasts with how we regard our MPs; and for good reason.

The process to obtain a judicial warrant requires decades of legal excellence, personal integrity and a reputation for diligence and prudence. The calibre of those who enter Parliament can be seen by how few maintain any professional life once the voters tire of their antics.

Yet the creeping expansion of judicial authority has occurred without significant public comment or civic engagement.

Like Elizabeth Baigent three decades past, we have woken up to find officers of the state running amok in areas we did not expect to find them, exercising authority we did not grant them, and no clear means of removing them. – Damien Grant

What a week. The Government would like us to be talking about whether 16 and 17-year-olds can vote. It is one of those issues that people generally have an opinion on and it’s a distraction from the major issues that have gone on this week.

They can’t pass legislation to strengthen our laws around youth crime but miraculously they can find time to bring legislation to Parliament on whether 16 and 17-year-olds can vote. They will say they had to.  – Paula Bennett

The Government looks like a deer in headlights, desperately deciding where to run to divert attention from the absolute mess we have seen this week. – Paula Bennett

As we hear this week that we are heading into a recession – and one that is predicted to last a long time – the Government would like us to be talking about whether 16 and 17-year-olds can vote. There is a lot that those 16 and 17-year-olds need. To feel safe in our beautiful country. To have hope that they may be able to buy a home one day. A bed in a mental health unit if they need it. Next year let’s hope they get a new government with the right priorities.Paula Bennett

The die is looking increasingly cast for this Government. In a range of crucial policy areas they have resolutely refused to change course in response to changed circumstances, despite people jumping up and down and telling them they are sailing on to the rocks. Now they are in the process of reaping the consequences of their intransigence. And at this late stage it seems there is precious little they can do about it.

The economy is a case in point. Grant Robertson’s refusal to alter his spending plans, his lack of interest in a more welcoming immigration policy to unstick the labour market, his failure to hold back his colleagues’ tsunami of increasing regulation, and his unwillingness to require discipline on government-mandated wage increases, have all contributed to a glum economic prognosis. – Steven Joyce

Crime is another example. This government has spent years building a reputation for being soft. They doth protest but emptying the prisons, stopping police chases, softening sentences and generally showing more interest in criminals than victims leads to a sense of lawlessness and a growing list of personal tragedies.

And so on. Health, same story. Education as well. All a case of people arriving in government with a pre-conceived and rigid set of beliefs, often harking back to the 1970s, and then resolutely refusing to respond to the evidence in front of them until it is too late.

One of the biggest messes they have made, and continue to make, is in transport infrastructure. Its hard to fathom just how big a stuff-up this has become, and how difficult it will be to put it back together again.Steven Joyce

 We’ve lost five years to paper pushing.

Now, in the face of a mounting road toll and pretty much no progress on a highway building plan, the government has resorted to the old saw of lowering speed limits, not on particular sections of road, but across the whole lot.

Ignoring that many of our road deaths occur out of driver impatience, or by people already flouting the current rules, the government has decided to punish everyone in terms of travel times and speeds, at the expense of productivity and getting home on time.

And yes it is the government. They are hiding behind NZTA but no agency advances these sorts of plans without government approval.

The only sure way to drive down our road toll is by relentlessly improving the quality of our roads. That means continuing to boost the capacity and safety of our busiest regional highways, and building more forgiving features into the not so busy ones. – Steven Joyce

There is no getting away from the fact the country has lost at least six years in building transport infrastructure and mega millions of dollars because of an ideologically driven junking of pre-existing plans. – Steven Joyce

The job for the next government will be to quickly resume a programme of transport investment focused on actual transport use rather than the fevered ideas of politicians and planners, one that is prioritised ruthlessly on actual benefits to actual users, and is funded over a decade or more so that contractors have confidence to invest in getting it built.

As with so much, it is too late for this Government and frankly beyond its wit to change tack. – Steven Joyce

But the thing I’ve realised is if you always do the right thing for the right reasons, then good things will happen.Erica Stanford 

Science deals with the natural world but matauranga is rooted in the supernatural. Science has plenty of evidence to prove that humanity evolved from apes by Darwinian natural selection. Maori believe the god Tane created people.

Science aims to make universal laws, such as Newton’s laws of motion and gravity, Ohm’s laws of electricity, and Hubble’s law of cosmic expansion. These laws apply in New Zealand as they do on distant galaxies. Matauranga is limited to local situations and local events, and has produced no universal laws.

Writing about matauranga, leading Maori thinker Aroha Te Paraeke Mead writes (2007) that “Maori are the only ones who should be controlling all aspects of its retention, transmission and protection”. By contrast, science is in public hands. Anybody can contribute to it and every word or calculation is open to world-wide challenge and criticism. But challenge matauranga and you’ll be branded a racist, and say goodbye to your funding, promotion, and perhaps your job. – Bob Brockie

The differences between world science and matauranga are so great that they cannot be reconciled. Bob Brockie

Parroting Foucault and Derrida, councillors of our Royal Society assert that science is “based on ethnocentric bias and outmoded dualisms (and the power relations embedded in them) ” and they want “to place the Treaty of Waitangi centrally and bring alongside that, inequality and diversity issues holistically”.

But the Treaty is a political document with no scientific content. It has no place in science.

The Society was once the bastion of science in New Zealand. It now champions woke anti-science and paradoxically punishes professors who defend science. Matauranga would best be taught in history or religious studies, certainly not in science. – Bob Brockie

We have one part of the system fully-funded and overseen in an apparently coherent way by the Ministry of Health (assisted suicide and euthanasia), and the other sector that doesn’t even have a strategic plan in place, that is inequitably funded, and has no coherent overview of how to develop the service,.

Why don’t we have the exact focus on palliative care, so anyone making the biggest decision of life can make an equitable, informed choice? – Dr Bryan Betty

Everyone is affected by death and dying. That is part of health. Good dying and having equitable choice is a fundamental part of the healthcare system we set up. It has to be given space and focus at this point. – Dr Bryan Betty

What Labour and  have done is vote for to entrench a clause relating to something which is merely a public policy issue, and have done so without bipartisan support. This is repugnant behaviour. – David Farrar

Super-majority entrenchment will only remain respected if it is used solely for constitutional protections, and for laws that were passed with over-whelming bipartisan support.

In this current case, the Government is actually using it almost as a PR stunt, as it deal with not privatising the Three Waters assets. This is a bogeyman created entirely by the Government. They are the only ones talking privatisation. Not a single Council has ever proposed selling off their water infrastructure. – David Farrar

We make our parliament “supreme” in the sense that a bare majority of its MPs can enact any law they want on any subject they want. However, we temper that power somewhat by saying that a future bare majority of MPs, perhaps elected by future voters, can revisit any of those laws and change them to reflect what they now think best.

This approach is rooted in ongoing democratic accountability. Electing MPs entrusts them with overall law-making power, which we then evaluate at subsequent election. If we disapprove of how that power has been used, we can pick another lot of MPs, who can use their law-making powers to fix things up. Should the majority viewpoint change, then the law can easily change along with it. Parliament’s law-making power is vast, but it is always contingent.Andrew Geddis

For those lacking the appetite for a 10,000-word academic article, basically it was a political deal to stop MPs from any party being tempted to game these electoral rules in ways that might help them stay in power. Because, if our system of parliamentary supremacy over the law depends on MPs being freely and fairly elected by the voters, you want to make sure that our elections are free and the rules under which they get elected are fair!

This particular entrenchment provision has been scrupulously abided by in the subsequent 66 years.  – Andrew Geddis

Why does this matter? Well, first note the 60% threshold for future change. That number doesn’t reflect a principled decision on the appropriate level of parliamentary support for change. It just happens to be the current number of MPs from the Green and Labour Parties who were prepared to support Sage’s amendment. Because, parliament’s rules say that an entrenchment provision in a bill must be supported by at least the same number of MPs as it requires for future amendments. Had 70% of MPs supported including the entrenchment provision, the threshold would have been set at this level.

Second, and perhaps more important, note what this entrenchment protection applies to. Certainly, future ownership of water matters. Whether it lies in public or private hands is a really important question of policy. However, it is still just a question of policy.

It’s different from the provisions entrenched in the Electoral Act, which go to core matters regarding the fairness of the process that chooses who governs the country. We can’t really trust a bare majority of MPs, elected as they are and so eager to win and keep political power, to make rules here. Or, at least, there will always be the suspicion that any rules they make will reflect that bare majority’s personal, partisan interests instead of their best considered view of the right thing to do.Andrew Geddis

Why, then, should we say that future MPs can only act to make it easier to privatise water where a super-majority of 60% of them want to do so? What makes this one particular policy issue of such importance that it requires a different, much harder parliamentary law-making process than any other?

The point being, what happened on Wednesday was a potentially momentous broadening out of an existing wrinkle in our system of parliamentary governance. Since 1956, our law has said that some key bits of our electoral system are so at risk of partisan gaming that we can’t trust a bare majority of MPs to decide them. Now, the amended three waters legislation also says that there is a basic policy issue that is so overwhelmingly important as to justify today’s MPs placing handcuffs on tomorrow’s MPs when dealing with it.

If that is indeed the case, what other sorts of issues might a supermajority of MPs think rise to that level? And, in this brave new world, what happens to our system of parliamentary law-making, based as it is on the assumption that the view of the current majority is always subject to revision by the future’s?- Andrew Geddis

The real danger is it opens up possibilities of entrenchment on other matters. It’s not beyond imagination that a National-ACT Government may in the future decide to entrench a three strikes law on the basis that being safe is important policy.

We start this set of shenanigans about using it for those types of policy matters that don’t have that widespread support. We get the sort of game playing which is unlikely to end wellDean Knight

It is constitutionally concerning and exceptional for a policy matter like this to be entrenched, and for it to be formally dropped-in at such a late stage, so it didn’t have the time … for a debate about whether we want to change our constitution to allow for this type of thing.

“Using this sort of the entrenchment as handcuffs, in a slightly cheeky way … risks upsetting the traditions and expectations around entrenchment, whether it’s enforceable, whether there are conventions that you just can’t repeal them anyway, those sorts of things. – Dean Knight

If waterways and freshwater in this country were unequivocally recognised in New Zealand law as the life blood of the land, which cannot be owned by human beings but only held in trust for future generations to enjoy, then flawed legal devices such as ‘entrenchment’ would not be needed, and the spectre of ‘privatisation’ would vanish.Dame Anne Salmond 

OK. Watch out for what you wish for.

You’ve done it, you’ve broken the convention, you’ve shown there’s a different way of doing things. See you at the election – if you’re not in the majority at the next election, don’t cry when it gets done to you. – Andrew Geddis 

It is a fundamental principle of our representative democracy that the current Parliament should not be able to bind its successors. The use of entrenchment to protect a piece of law from being changed or repealed via a simple parliamentary majority goes against this fundamental principle. By entrenching a current government’s policy preference, we either reduce the ability of future governments to legislate or, more likely; we undermine the current importance that we grant to entrenched constitutional provisions.Maxim Institute

Our informal constitution relies on conventions and norms to continue functioning. These norms only work when all in and around power continue to uphold them. It is concerning that those in Government saw little wrong in introducing this entrenching provision and have sought to defend it. It is also worrying that there was little reaction to the provision from the Opposition or wider media at the time it was made. Legal academics have driven the pushback to this provision, and it is heartening that there is still room for the academy to function as the “critic and conscience of society.” – Maxim Institute

Mention woke indoctrination in schools and most people might imagine something like a pink-haired, nonbinary teacher forcing children to take the knee for Black Lives Matter. If you look on TikTok, you will find no shortage of such teachers gleefully revealing how they sneak Pride flags, LGBTQ+ books and BLM posters into the classroom. Certainly, there are plenty of activist teachers working in schools, who see pupils as a captive audience. Yet as worrying as such examples may be, they are merely the tip of the iceberg.Joanna Williams

These ideas have gained ground precisely because it is not just pink-haired TikTok teachers who are intent on promoting a one-sided, politically motivated view of the world. It is also the academics who write the school curriculum and textbooks. It is the university educationalists who train each new generation of teachers. It is the journalists and campaigners outside of schools who agitate for their own pet issues to gain a hearing in the classroom. And it is the people who stock the school library and put together online resources for teachers and children alike. The upshot is that when it comes to English, history, geography and even maths, the curriculum itself has become politicised.

Discussions of gender identity and ideas that emerge from critical race theory are not just a sneaky addition to the ‘proper’ curriculum. They are now central to what and how children are taught. In many schools, books featuring transgender characters are used in literature classes not because of the quality of the writing, but because of the issues about identity that such texts raise. Similarly, slavery and empire feature on the history curriculum not so much because of their important place in human history, but more as a means of discussing current concerns with race and racism. And all of this is in addition to the assemblies, form periods, PSHE classes and RSE lessons that provide a forum for promoting the woke outlook. In these kinds of lessons, social engineering really is the main point. – Joanna Williams

The attitudes young adults are likely to have encountered while at school stand in contrast to the Enlightenment values that have shaped Western societies for the past two centuries. The Policy Exchange report adds to a growing body of evidence showing that young people are more sceptical about the importance of free speech, democracy and tolerance than older age groups. It shows that those aged 18 to 25 are evenly split on whether the gender-critical academic Kathleen Stock should have been defended by her university when she came under attack from trans activists. They are also split on whether Harry Potter author JK Rowling should have been dropped by her publisher for her comments on trans issues. In contrast, older adults are more likely to value freedom of expression over censorship. And while 38 per cent of young adults agree with the idea of removing Winston Churchill’s statue from Parliament Square because he held racist views, among adults as a whole this figure falls to just 12 per cent.

Education and indoctrination have become blurred, and the impact of this is now being felt beyond the school gates. We need to tackle this problem head-on. Sadly, it is no longer enough to say that teachers should simply stick to teaching when the curriculum itself is so politicised. Instead, we need a wider debate about the purpose of schools. And parents need to be given much clearer information about exactly what their children are being taught. We need teachers to be more ambitious when it comes to conveying subject knowledge, less keen on promoting their own political views and wise enough to know the difference between the two. – Joanna Williams

As big a figure as he was, his aura was never greater than when he had to use a wheelchair because of the effects of motor neurone disease (MND). He was never stronger than when his body was breaking down, never more commanding of worldwide respect than when he’d lost the ability to speak and could only communicate via a voice app operated with his eyes darting around a screen of letters.

His relentless energy in fighting an illness without cure was awe-inspiring. He said the only drug available to him was positivity – and he gorged merrily on it. The many millions of pounds he raised for research through his My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, the money donated to families who were suffering as his family were suffering, the lives he made better along the way. His legacy could circumnavigate the rugby world many times over. – Tom English

His attitude was rooted in grim realism. This thing had befallen him and he had better “crack on” as he put it. “I have never, ever thought ‘Why me?’ It was, ‘Right, let’s get this sorted… it’s like with rugby. If you don’t get in the team, do you give up your jersey or do you fight?”Tom English

In New Zealand over the last five years (including, but not limited to, the Government’s Covid response) the tide has gone out on the New Zealand education system. I doubt that there is a single, even semi-informed, observer who could claim any more that we have a world-class system. – Alwyn Poole

The crisis already exists but has been covered up for a long time. It is now widely known that our education system is a mess and many schools are simply not fit for purpose.

Some key indicators are that: Even our Level 2 NCEA graduates often lack functional numeracy and literacy. We have in excess of 8500 students not enrolled in any school as of July. Our full attendance for Term 2 was less than 40% across all deciles and just 23% for decile 1 students. We have 12% of our students graduating with less than Level 1 NCEA (33% for Māori students in South Auckland). The gaps across socio-economic levels are the worst in the developed world. Our ethnic gaps are also horrendous with Asian students getting University Entrance for leavers at 67%, back to Māori at 18%.Alwyn Poole

Labour keeps stating that this decline started under National. Under National there was a slight downward trend in attendance. Labour drove the school attendance bus off the cliff.  – Alwyn Poole

Who will take responsibility? The Ministry of Education, whose email footnote states: “We shape an education system that delivers equitable and excellent outcomes”? NZ’s school attendance is behind all the key countries we compare ourselves with (including 15 percentage points behind Australia).

When principals complain about the new credits for functional literacy and numeracy they need to remember that they can be achieved at any time from Year 10 to Year 13. Are they really saying they can’t help students achieve functional literacy and numeracy in five years? The sitting students will have had 12,000 hours of funded schooling each by then. – Alwyn Poole

Where they are right is that there needs to be major change in both parenting and schooling. – Alwyn Poole

As a nation we need massive education and support for pregnant women/partners regarding care for their children in-utero, including a huge programme to counter foetal alcohol spectrum disorder and other harms. We need it to be imperative that parents are the first (and most important) teachers for ages 0–5, including health, reading, numeracy, movement, music, languages. 

Then it is time for all parents across NZ to ask the hard questions about school leadership, school quality, teacher quality and to demand a LOT better. Parents fund the schooling and it is their children. They deserve better, but they need to be prepared to help.Alwyn Poole

Our primary school teaching and learning needs overhauling and a lot of the busy work and downtime needs to go. Primary teacher qualifications in English, Maths and Science need significant upgrading.

The Education Review Office says schools should make attending more “enjoyable” (aka fun). How about – inspirational, aspirational, high quality, demanding?

When the tide is out it is the very best time to make things right. – Alwyn Poole

The MIQ system was shockingly designed, fundamentally flawed and ended up in court with a loss for the Government.

It was a foray into repression and fury that was never really needed and a very good example of what this Government has become famous for – dreaming up a plan then cocking it up.

The famous got access to The Wiggles and Jacinda Ardern’s favourite DJs while people were locked out and forced to watch loved ones die, loved ones get married via zoom and that mad lottery of getting up at all hours and watching as you yet again got a number that would not get you anywhere close to getting a room and into the country.

Charlotte Bellis, remember her? The pregnant journalist who bullied her way in by embarrassing Chris Hipkins into submission – the whole thing was a grotesque mess. Mike Hosking

Governments have to run on their record. Last term, Labour successfully locked down the country. Then they overdid the lockdowns. This term what has Labour achieved?

Labour inherited a strong economy and an excellent set of books. Labour promised to be fiscally prudent. Covid was used as an excuse to wriggle out of that pledge.

Labour did inherit issues in housing, health and education. After five years the issues are worse. Tens of thousands of households are going to struggle to service 8 per cent mortgages. Health services are failing. The Government’s priority is a Māori Health Authority. Meanwhile, 98 per cent of pupils graduating from decile 10 schools would fail NCEA literacy. – Richard Prebble

It feels like karma. Labour’s re-election was helped by the Reserve Bank at one stage printing a billion dollars a week to pump up the economy. To correct the inflation caused by that money printing the Reserve Bank is helping defeat Labour.

No one would want to campaign on Labour’s record. All Labour can do is try to convince us that National and Christopher Luxon would be worse. It is possible but hard to imagine. Richard Prebble

Labour must press ahead with its unpopular Three Waters. Labour is fighting a two-front election campaign. National and Act on one front. The Māori Party on the second front. Labour cannot abandon co-government without also abandoning the Māori seats.

The next 12 months are going to be very dangerous. We have no written constitution restraining Labour. The only sanction on any government is the knowledge that they will be accountable in an election. This is why three years may be too short for a good government but too long for a bad one.

Ministers can read the polls. Labour will ignore the Reserve Bank’s advice.

Ministers will go on borrowing and spending. Labour intends to leave inflation as the next government’s problem. Paying back the borrowing is another problem for a future government. It is called laying a minefield. – Richard Prebble

Luxon and Act’s David Seymour had better factor into their plans the likelihood of many unexploded bombs. The health system appears close to a systematic failure. The briefing for the incoming ministers in many portfolios will make a very grim reading.

There is an even greater danger. MPs who think they are dog tucker can be tempted to try to defeat the outcome of the election.

It is fundamental to democracy that one parliament cannot bind future parliaments.

Not anymore. In the Three Waters bill that critics say privatises billions of dollars of ratepayers’ assets into effective ownership by tribal entities, Green MP Eugenie Sage has an amendment. The amendment requires a 60 per cent vote by future parliaments to privatise the assets. Go figure. Intellectual rigour is not prized in the Green caucus. Under urgency, Labour supported the Green Party amendment.  Richard Prebble

In 168 years of the New Zealand Parliament, no government has ever attempted to entrench its policies.  Richard Prebble

Labour and the Greens have committed a constitutional outrage. It is an attack on democracy. Even if the reaction forces a U-turn it shows Labour and the Greens are willing to abuse their power.

Lame duck governments are dangerous. Richard Prebble

THE MORE THE VOTERS DISCOVER about Labour’s Three Waters, the less they like it. No matter, this Government has clearly decided that, if it is to be destroyed, then Three Waters is the hill upon which it will die. That being the case – and the still-unfolding Entrenchment Crisis leaves little room for doubt – then the only real question to be answered is: Why? What is it about the Three Waters project that renders it impervious to rational reconsideration

When a group of people refuse to accept they have made a poor choice – even as it threatens to destroy them – then it is a reasonably safe bet that they are in the grip of dangerously delusional thinking. Cult-like thinking, some might even suggest. But is it credible to suggest that a mainstream political party could fall victim to delusional thinking on such a scale? Is Labour really crazy enough to put its long-term survival at risk? – Chris Trotter

What idea is big enough to derange the Labour Party into courting electoral suicide? The answer would appear to involve a radical revision of New Zealand history. Something along the lines of the colonisation of Aotearoa being a heinous historical crime. In this narrative, the colonial state is identified as the institution most responsible for the criminal dispossession of Aotearoa’s indigenous Māori population. Labour’s big idea is to facilitate a revolutionary reconstitution of the New Zealand state.

Now, where would Labour get an idea like that? Putting to one side Labour’s Māori caucus, whose interest in such an historical project is entirely understandable, how could Labour’s Pakeha MPs have picked up such a self-destructive notion? Well, the university graduates in Labour’s caucus (which is to say nearly all of them) are highly likely to have come across arguments for “decolonisation” at some point in their studies. The lawyers among them would certainly have encountered and absorbed “the principles of the Treaty”. So, too, would those coming to the Labour Party from the state sector. Chris Trotter

The version of New Zealand history conveyed to those attending these workshops is remarkably consistent: colonisers = baddies; the heroic Māori who resisted the colonisers’ ruthless predations = goodies. Only by giving full effect to te Tiriti o Waitangi can the wrongs of the past be righted: only then will equity and justice prevail.

Many of those attending Treaty workshops will have been invited to “check their privilege” and “confront their racism”. This can be a harrowing experience for many Pakeha, leaving them with a strong inclination to keep silent and step aside whenever those on the receiving end of “white privilege” are encouraged to step forward and speak out. In the most extreme cases, Pakeha are actively discouraged from sharing their opinions, lest their higher education and superior facility with the English language overawe and “silence” those denied such privileges.

When Labour’s Māori caucus (the largest ever after the 2020 general election) sought to take full advantage of the party’s absolute parliamentary majority to advance their Treaty-centric agenda, it is entirely possible they found themselves pushing on an open door. – Chris Trotter

It is, perhaps, unsurprising that Labour’s Māori caucus has found the party’s Pakeha majority so easy to cajole into backing what, from its perspective, is an entirely legitimate constitutional agenda. Led by Nanaia Mahuta and Willie Jackson, the Māori caucus has taken full advantage of the fact that their Pakeha colleagues’ lack of constitutional conviction has never been a match for their own passionate intensity.

Three Waters may be the hill Labour dies on, but when the victors survey the field of battle, the only corpses they’ll find will be Pakeha. Each one clutching the “Big Idea” for which their party has paid the ultimate price. Chris Trotter

While tinkering around the house is an enjoyable pastime that can also yield some improvements, it is not a productive approach to government policy-making, and rarely leads to the best of outcomes. – Leeann Watson

New Zealand’s political environment seems to be stuck in an unfortunate position, because of the three-year election cycle, where we tend not to bother on the big things, and we instead focus on tinkering with the little things– the quick wins and the headline grabbers. And when we do focus on the big things, we do it in a way that is rushed, and often not with a long-term view in mind. We’ve digressed from a Parliament that is solely focused on creating better outcomes for New Zealanders, and identifying problems before we attempt to fix them.Leeann Watson

One of the big pieces of legislation that has been plaguing the business community this year is Fair Pay Agreements. In my previous column, I wrote about these in more depth, and I will repeat the point we hear from Canterbury businesses ad nauseam. Why has a complicated and convoluted piece of legislation that will make it more difficult for businesses to operate been introduced to solve a problem that does not exist? New Zealand enjoys some of the best employment relations in the developed world, with flexibility and agility that we cannot lose. So what are we fixing?

One of the pieces of legislation that was introduced in urgency last week was one that will require all businesses in New Zealand to elect a health and safety representative, including the small business that might employ three people, which now has to invest in training for their staff, at a time where the economy is under significant pressure. Previously, small businesses did not need to worry about this unless they were a high-risk industry, such as forestry or mining, so, again, what is the problem we are trying to solve? Are small businesses really that unsafe?

The business community is losing faith in our policymakers’ ability to define problems and create meaningful and fair solutions. We are stuck in a Catch-22 type situation, because the complex problems that need to be addressed – rising levels of crime, investment in infrastructure, reforming aspects of our public system that are not delivering successful outcomes – all require a long-term approach. And the level and extent of reform needed to fix them, is prohibited by election cycles. – Leeann Watson

Reform is a word that has lost its true meaning. Reform is bold. Reform is about pulling things apart and reassembling something that is faster, better and more efficient than it was originally. The reform we have seen of late has not fit that definition at all.

Let’s consider the reform of the health system. A new name and a restructure is not a reform. It is a new name and a restructure. The same entity still exists, and it is still delivering the same outcomes and, in some cases, maybe worse than before. The components might look different, or be slotted in a slightly different place, but it is still the same. It hasn’t gained anything new, or lost anything clunky that is preventing it from delivering better outcomes for New Zealanders. As has been the case in Christchurch this year, cancelling all non-urgent appointments because the system is about to collapse under pressure is just not acceptable. A new name is not going to fix that.Leeann Watson

At a time when we desperately need to be investing and focusing our attention on equipping the future workforce, we are seeing the merger of entities – some of which are performing quite well on their own. The headlines, instead, indicate it is fraught with scandals, resignations, and our future workforce, and our younger generation, are no better off because of it.

That’s not to mention the changes in almost every other aspect of the public sector that are occurring, including Three Waters. Is changing everything, all the time, all at once, really the best method? Should we not be focusing on the most pressing issues first and doing it properly, with a view of creating better outcomes over the long term rather than quick wins? – Leeann Watson

 Christchurch aside, where new infrastructure was required immediately due to the earthquakes, elsewhere in New Zealand we seem to take the approach that it is not until a road is constantly congested, and motorists (read: voters) are unhappy, that we make decisions to invest and expand. We should be starting projects decades before they are needed. Not after they’re needed. But that doesn’t win votes.

There is a growing and quite compelling case that our current electoral system is limiting the ability for successive Governments to be bold and to engage in actual reform, and not just tinker with minor alterations and the headline-grabbing policy wins that sound great on paper and are good for the polls, rather than the tough actions that solve problems, and leave New Zealand in a better position.

As we head into the barbeque season before an election year and the inevitable political debates amongst family and friends occur, maybe it’s time to focus on the system and not the political personalities, and consider, whether it may not necessarily be the political parties alone that are not delivering to their best extent, but rather a political system that is not hindering the ability to deliver long term outcomes – and a public service as a whole that would benefit from a new operating model that enables agility, innovation, a growth mindset and is focused on execution versus tinkering.Leeann Watson

This new fog canon measure is too late – they know it, we know it.

Worse yet, the PM tried to deflect all blame from her Government by saying that there’d be a delay on said fog cannons – due to a global shortage. This turns out to be an outright lie.

Newstalk ZB Drive host Heather du Plessis Allan smelt a rat straight away and last night called a fog cannon supplier to fact check the PM on this one. No surprises in his response.. he said to her, ‘I see the Queen of Spin is at it again..’

He said the facts are, there is no global shortage of fog cannons, the supply issue is due to the Government not placing any orders for them. They’ve dropped the ball, again. – Kate Hawkesby

So the delay is the Government’s fault, it’s on them. Remind anyone of the vaccine rollout?

This is a government of inaction and indecision. Unless it’s Three Waters legislation of course, that appears to be able to be rammed through no holds barred. But this fog canon supply shortage claim – or should I say lie, is akin to the same lie the PM trotted out yesterday, that the Government’s new increased support for dairy business owners is not based on the death of Janak Patel. – Kate Hawkesby

The Government wants to pretend it’s considerate, organized and proactive enough not to wait for a death, in order to act, but that’s simply not true. Spinning us lies is just not working anymore; this Government has a credibility problem.

The PM has a credibility problem. Included in her post Cab was the other audacious claim that they’ve been tough on crime.

She “rejected” criticism her Government was soft on crime. She “rejected” that the Government had acted too slowly, she “rejected” the idea that it took Patel’s death for the Government to act. – Kate Hawkesby

I can tell you this for nothing, rejecting this stuff doesn’t make it go away. It is a crisis for every single victim and every family member of victims in these burglaries and raids.

But the other real crisis we’re in at the moment is a spin crisis. There’s too much of it coming from the Pulpit of Truth.

We’re drowning in it; we’re exhausted from being fed it. I do worry about all those who just accept it without question though, or have checked out because they don’t even care anymore.

We should care; we are being fed a steady diet of BS, from a government that has no idea what the words accountability or responsibility mean.Kate Hawkesby

In his great book titled Russia in 1839, the Marquis de Custine called the Tsar “eagle and insect.” He was eagle because he soared high above the country over which he ruled, completely alone, taking it all in at a glance, but he was insect because there was nothing too small or trivial for him to interfere with: he or his power burrowed into the very fabric of society as a termite burrows into the fabric of a wooden house. There was no escaping him.

This is the image I have in my mind of the operation of the adherents of Woke ideology. They have a grand vision, at least implicitly, both about the nature of the society in which they live and what should replace it. Insufficient, incoherent, or absurd as their vision might be, it actuates them. As human history demonstrates, intellectual insufficiency is no bar to effectiveness in the search for power; indeed it might be an advantage insofar as more scrupulous searchers after truth and goodness are riven by doubt.

On the other hand, nothing is too small for their attention. Being visionaries, they can infuse their slightest actions with the most grandiose theoretical significance. This gives them self-importance and confidence that they are doing what once might have been called God’s work. Triviality is thus reconciled with transcendence. They are part of the movement of History with a capital H, whose right side they both define and bring forward by their actions. – Theodore Dalrypmple

The eagle is sharp-eyed while the adherent of Woke ideology has cataracts. When the house crumbles to dust because of the action of the termites, it is not because they desired such a denouement: it was, rather, a natural consequence of their conduct. The destruction wrought by the adherents of Woke ideology is a good deal more deliberate. Theodore Dalrypmple

I have been proud to be part of the New Zealand health sector. When I started in GP I didn’t feel the need to have private health insurance. The health system, while it had its limitations, generally worked well. I would do everything I could to manage the patient in the community and when I needed help I could refer the patient on and they would be seen. I was so proud of the initial government response to Covid, one that prioritised public safety, that I applied for citizenship.

How things have changed. The health system is fundamentally broken and I can’t see how it is going to be fixed. Patients who need to be managed in secondary care aren’t, instead being pushed back into primary care. Patients going to Emergency are not getting the imaging they require on presentation; they are given pain relief and told to see their GP in the morning and get referred for an ultrasound. The patient then needs to pay to see me (and I usually have to double-book them to see them promptly). Unless they are one of the chosen few eligible for community-funded radiology that ultrasound will cost them $280 and will require a four week wait.

Good medical practice prioritises early intervention for children with developmental delays. The Child Development Service, which does the majority of assessments for autism, global developmental delay and other conditions, has a waitlist of over 12 months. Even if a family has the resources to go private, I have no one to refer to. – Dr Corinne Glenn

Every consult becomes more and more complex as patients get sicker waiting for care. Patients have to wait longer for an appointment so by the time they come there are multiple issues to deal with. Follow-up is hard as patients struggle to pay for repeat appointments. We don’t have the medications that are bog-standard in other parts of the world. We have only recently funded some diabetes medications (empagliflozin and dulaglutide) that are second line treatments elsewhere. The special authority criteria are so strict there are many who can’t access them.

Please don’t mention mental health. Again, I am really confident managing a range of mental health conditions. However good mental health management requires a team. Access to counsellors, and sometimes a psychiatrist. There is no one I can refer to. Funded counselling is very scarce and limited to the most needy. Most people can’t afford to pay $160-170 an hour to see a psychologist and even if they can, I can’t find one with open books. If I have a patient in crisis in my rooms and I need to call the Crisis Team, I wait on hold for 30-40 minutes. The patient has normally left the room by then and my other patients are left waiting.

No new antidepressants have been funded for years. GPs are often accused of jumping straight to medication – but often it is the only affordable option I have to offer patients.Dr Corinne Glenn

So much of my time is spent battling to get patients the care they need. As soon as a patient comes in I am desperately looking at their demographic: do they have a community services card? What quintile is their address in? If they don’t have a community services card and live in a quintile 3 street I have no chance of getting them counselling or imaging that they don’t have to pay for (and usually can’t).

I used to be able to have some friendly banter with my practice team during the day. Now I sit in my room through breaks, trying to catch up on the neverending mounds of paperwork. ACC requests for information. Ministry of Social Development disability forms. Letters for Kainga Ora for a place without stairs for my patient with severe arthritis. I work most evenings and for two hours on a Sunday. One Friday evening at 5.30 I logged out of the patient management system. By Saturday afternoon when I logged back in I had 105 inbox documents waiting to be checked. Dinner table conversation is taken up with stories of patients I can’t help. Sometimes I can share a win, however those are getting fewer by the week. – Dr Corinne Glenn

Some days I am filled with rage at the injustice of it all. Some days I am just tired and sad. I am proud of the work that I do, but I am no longer proud of the system I work in.

I have sold my house and put in my notice. I fly back to Australia on Boxing Day. I have a new job lined up – it really wasn’t hard to find one. GPs are just as scarce as they are here. The Australian system is different. It has its pros and cons. All I know is that I can’t stay here.

The New Zealand health system is broken, and it has broken me.Dr Corinne Glenn

We’re told that the fundamental problem is poverty. Well guess what? The only sure path out of poverty begins with education. Lotto isn’t going to do it, and nor is social welfare.

I understand that some of us ordinary folk might have difficulty with the extraordinarily complex idea (not!) of taking kids out of a toxic environment and giving them a chance to learn skills and develop attitudes that will change their lives for the better. The media, though, has no excuse.

Whatever one thinks of National’s “boot camp” proposal for recidivist young offenders — my view is that it offers a promising start, but is only one ingredient of a proper solution — it is surely worth discussing, and considering, without the hysterics displayed by many. – Peter Jackson

For a start, who says taking kids who are well on the way to becoming career criminals out of the environment that has damaged them so and putting them where, for the first time in their lives, they have the chance to fulfil their potential is punitive? Have I missed something here?

As I read it, these “boot camps” (a derogatory term that is designed to disparage the policy before it even gets off the ground) will have nothing to do with punishment. If you’re going to bandy about words like brutal and punitive, then obviously you know something I don’t. Peter Jackson

Sixty per cent of kids aren’t attending school regularly. The Government’s less than lofty goal is to reduce that to 30 per cent over the next couple of years. And you don’t have to be an expert to understand how kids who are under-educated are likely to fare as adults.

We’re told that the fundamental problem is poverty. Well guess what? The only sure path out of poverty begins with education.

Lotto isn’t going to do it, and nor is social welfare. There is no reason, apart from poor parenting and misguided politicians, why every child in this country shouldn’t have a shot at succeeding, in whatever it is that they want to do. And for some, National’s proposal will be a godsend. – Peter Jackson

I do have a proviso. There seems to be little point in giving young people a glimpse of what the world could offer them, if, at the end of the programme, they are sent back to the same dysfunctional families that they came from. While the kids are away, their families will need to be “rehabilitated”. It is totally unrealistic to expect a young teenager to come home, with a whole new outlook on life, not to be dragged back down by drug and alcohol abuse, violence, dishonesty and whatever else made them the way they were in the first place.

We also need to restore education to the pedestal it should be sitting on. All you need to know about where we’ve gone wrong is encapsulated in the current drive to make school so interesting and exciting that kids will want to be there. Do sane, rational people actually believe this stuff?

There is a reason why primary and secondary schooling are called compulsory education. It is compulsory, and parents who don’t send their kids to school are breaking the law. More to the point, they are likely sentencing their children to lives of misery. – Peter Jackson

Is it possible that we’ll see the defeat of the Russian Army and the collapse of the Chinese Communist Party in the same year? Authoritarians can only squeeze their people so far, and liberal democracy, for all its greedy bankers and silly pronouns, still has the moral upper hand. Yet one feels impotent in the face of such evil.Tim Stanley

Foreign tyrants are leviathans with feet of clay, and our own government should not limit our liberties in order to supposedly protect us against them. – Pierre Lemieux

If we exclude possible wars, there is only one reason why residents of a free, or more or less free, country should feel economically threatened by a foreign authoritarian state. It is that the subjects of the latter will have limited opportunities to trade, both among themselves and internationally, and will thus be poorer. And it is more beneficial to have trading partners, either as suppliers or customers, who are richer than poorer.Pierre Lemieux

It is true that leviathans like the Russian, Chinese, or North Korean states finance themselves out of the total production of all their subjects. Especially with nuclear weapons, they represent a security risk for other individuals in the world; I think that they would even be dangerously to an anarchic society if such a society ever exists. But trying to become like “them” in order to protect us against them provides only an illusion of security.

Protectionism is one big step in this fool’s errand, at least when an actual war is not raging. – Pierre Lemieux

Terrorist charges need to be used for terrorist activity, not regulating material that has nothing to do with terrorism. Watering down such a significant term runs the risk of seeing Kiwis legally branded ‘terrorists’ without ever performing any terrorist act, or even accessing material which promotes terrorism. 

The act of terrorism comes with appropriately harsh penalties. By extending terrorism related charges to individuals who possess certain ‘objectionable material’, these significant penalties may be placed on those who have simply accessed censored material, despite it being unrelated to terrorism.

Legislation already allows for individuals in possession of material which advocates or inspires terrorism to be charged under terrorism laws. Extending this further to material that is entirely unrelated to terrorism is a law ripe for abuse.

New Zealand already has a strict censorship regime. It’s not hard to imagine the incredible harm which could occur to speech rights and other liberties if this amendment was used as a precedent to justify the prohibition of other material under terrorism legislation. –  Jonathan Ayling


Quotes of the month

01/10/2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A symbol of what you may ask?

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

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

And she kept that promise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And now that burden falls to her son.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Madness. – Rachel Smalley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or we could keep Charles.Joe Bennett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And we call ourselves free!Theodore Dalrymple 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Since Covid and rising inflation, our priorities have changed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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,


Left or Right

30/08/2022

Paula Bennett explains at The Common Room why she chose the right answer rather than the left one:


Quotes of the month

01/08/2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is every sign of the opposite being the case.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There’s a shortsightedness. 

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

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

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

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

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

“We will do the same.”

Job done. That is a free trade agreement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life is short – wish me luck. – Kelly Hutton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is no time for ideological blinkers. – Steven Joyce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why not just say so? –  Matthew Hooton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Place your bets. – Matthew Hooton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Quotes of the month

01/07/2022

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 


Quotes of the month

01/06/2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The expansion of mental health psychology into areas that, until recently, were considered the existential and ordinary facts of life, is not coincidental. The phenomenon runs parallel and in conjunction with the rise of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Feelings are now the gold standard of whether one is suffering from a mental health problem, not an imprudent lifestyle choice or any of the dreadful psychological conditions that make life a misery for people whose minds or brains are not working in a functional way.

The three strategies are equally important to the ideology, and they shift, twist, intertwine and turn depending on the situation. Put them all together and a comprehensive strategy exists to curtail freedom of speech, individual conscience and, inevitably, liberal democracy. – Roger Franklin

What DEI means in practice is not what its proponents advertise to the world. In practical terms the ideology works in the following way: Diversity stresses a plurality of group identity and not a plurality of opinion. Equity is an impossible dream which can only be enacted, with dreadful consequences, by force. And inclusion, by definition, welcomes different identity groups without criticism, and no-one else. Remember that, according to the theory, subjective feelings, which are denied validity by individuals and society lead to mental health issues, while truth itself is grounded in the identities of race, sex, class and gender. Everything must be affirmed rather than rejected or criticised because words which offend are construed as violence or are damaging to a person whose “identity” is questioned or criticised.

This is why statues are being pulled down around the world; why people with what were, until about five years ago, moderate views are called bigots; why supporters of free speech are called Nazis; why J.K. Rowling is called transphobic; why bad works of art by minority figures are replacing Beethoven, Shakespeare and Renoir (or, at the very least, how they are presented in concert halls, theatres and art galleries). It’s why those who offend are hounded from their jobs and see their reputations and livelihoods ruined. And all this is being perpetrated by ideologues with a fanatical zeal and, ironically, not a shred of kindness.Roger Franklin

Nothing solid survives this pernicious attack on everything of value, and it’s why the cult of kindness and its three subordinate strategies — equating speech with violence, subjectivism and weaponising mental health — undermine the entire edifice of liberal democracy, which is a form of government based on individualism and the robust claims of negative rights. Two things define liberal democratic philosophy: don’t do this, and you’ve a right to offend. In straightforward terms, you can be an absolute bastard if you don’t commit a crime or perpetrate violence on your fellow citizens. That’s about all people can ask for or expect.

The rest of the noise about rights is virtue-signalling nonsense, money-making scams, or snake-oil drenched in false morality. Sometimes you need to be cruel to be kind. And sometimes you just need to be kind. Woke kindness is the inverse of the normal conception of kindness and it is toxic to individual rights. Don’t fall for the nonsense, linguistic equivocation is one of the oldest tricks in the book. – Roger Franklin

Just because you are Māori does not make you an expert in anything except being Māori. The government, in their determination to divide this nation racially, are mixing too many things together and hoping you won’t notice.

Clean water is one thing, and we all want it. Hijacking democracy for ideological purposes around race, we don’t.

This fight is far from over, and as such Friday’s update changes nothing. – Mike Hosking

Some defenders of Three Waters argue that the regional representation groups made up of iwi and council representatives are so removed from the day-to-day control of the water assets that anyone asserting iwi will play a significant role as co-governors can only be intent on making mischief. But if that argument is correct, Mahuta should have no trouble at all in dropping iwi members from her proposed set-up.

The fact the minister shows no sign of bending on co-governance — no matter how intense and overwhelming the opposition — will only convince increasing numbers of voters that the whole point of Three Waters is to function as a Trojan horse to hand unelected iwi members control over billions of dollars’ worth of community assets.Graham Adams 

The belief that free speech is a “Right-wing conservative” ideal reveals a very limited knowledge of history. In different generations, the Left and the Right have both advocated for and opposed free speech. That’s why free speech is not a Left-Right issue; it’s a liberty-orientated vs authoritarian issue. – Jonathan Ayling

Now, that word “racist”. I believe a racist is someone who thinks certain races are inherently superior to others and therefore entitled to rights not available to supposedly “inferior” races. That’s a meaning we can all agree on. But the moment you stretch the definition beyond that, the word can mean anything the user wants it to mean. In the contemporary New Zealand context, that means it can be applied to anyone who disagrees with you – for example, on issues such as 50-50 co-governance with iwi. But the people who throw the term “racist” around don’t realise that they have stripped the word of its potency. “Racist” should be the most offensive epithet imaginable, placing the accused person on a par with Adolf Hitler or the Ku Klux Klan. But the word is so overused as to have become meaningless, so Shelley’s wasting her breath there.Karl du Fresne

There is a unique record of co-operation, harmony and goodwill between the two main racial groups. That’s manifested in the history of inter-marriage which today ensures that every person who identifies as Maori must also own up to some European blood, which means their supposed oppressors included their own white forebears. I’ve yet to see anyone reconcile those awkward truths. If we’re to move forward as a society we need to acknowledge that all our forebears did bad things in the distant past and then put them behind us. We have too much in common to risk fracturing a society that the rest of the world has long seen as exemplary.

Where we run into trouble is where the Maori activist agenda collides with democracy. Democracy isn’t a white supremacist invention imposed to keep minority groups firmly under the heel of their oppressor. On the contrary, it’s a system whereby every citizen’s vote – Maori, Pakeha, Pasifika, Chinese, Indian, whatever – carries the same weight. I believe absolutely in democracy because ultimately, everyone benefits from it and everyone has a say. It is the basis of every free and fair society in the world, and those who undermine it need to think very carefully about what form of government might replace it. I can’t think of any that would appeal to me – certainly not one that grants special rights, privileges and entitlements on the basis of ancestry. We have a name for that: feudalism. We were smart enough to abandon it several centuries ago.

To finish, I am Tangata Tiriti and proud to be so. Like all Pakeha New Zealanders I’m here by right of the Treaty, a point often overlooked by Treaty activists who talk as if it grants rights only to Maori. My forebears came here in the 1870s and 1890s and New Zealand, therefore, is my turangawaewae. The thing is, we’re all beneficiaries of the Treaty and we need to think very long and hard before unravelling the many threads that bind us.- Karl du Fresne

The real tragedy of the wage rises of that size is that they are, of course, adding to the very problem they are trying to solve. If you are paying more because you are making more, selling more, and getting higher returns that’s good. But if you are paying more merely to hold talent so you don’t go bankrupt then that serves no one well in the long run. – Mike Hosking

If you are offering work to all who want it through expansion, and as a result of expansion everyone shares in the success with wage increases, that’s your economic sweet spot.

But if you are in a country that doesn’t let people in, has an economy that’s stalled because growth is not possible due to lack of staff, but those staff get paid more anyway, then you have a pending disaster.

It’s grinding to a halt. It isn’t good for anyone. And when your jobless rate doesn’t go down even when there are jobs galore and no one coming in to take them, that is a seriously large red flag. – Mike Hosking

Ultimately what counts most in a democracy is what the public thinks and why people vote the way they do, and there can be few people more poorly qualified to assess the public mood than press gallery journalists. The narrow world they’re exposed to is simply not the world most New Zealanders live in.

It would be a useful grounding exercise for them to listen to talkback radio for an hour or so each day. I wouldn’t pretend that’s the key to understanding what real New Zealanders are thinking, but it would expose press gallery reporters to a more authentic world than the one they inhabit, which largely consists of fellow members of the political class. (Of course it wouldn’t happen, because the typical political journalist probably regards talkback callers as the untermenschen.)Karl du Fresne

If this seems a rather sweeping condemnation of the entire gallery, I plead guilty. I acknowledge there are capable political journalists who make an honest attempt to do the job well. It’s just unfortunate that they are tainted by association with others who come across as self-absorbed, over-confident and, dare I say it, sometimes not very bright.  – Karl du Fresne

In my fairly long experience as a doctor, I discovered that many were those who willfully, knowingly, and unnecessarily sought misery. They did things that they knew in advance would end disastrously, often in short order. I also discovered that the ways of self-destruction were infinite: One could never enumerate or come to the end of them.

Among the proofs that we were not made for happiness but on the contrary often seek out its opposite is the fact that so many of us follow the news closely, though we know it will make us wretched to do so. We pretend that we have a need to be informed and are shocked when we meet someone who hasn’t the faintest idea of what is going on in the world. How can he bear to be so ignorant, how can he be so indifferent? It is our duty as citizens of a democracy to be informed, or to inform ourselves, even at the cost of our own misery; because, of course, news rarely gives us reasons to rejoice.Theodore Dalrymple

To observe happiness in others and to think of misery is, of course, the sign of an unhappy or discontented life. There are those who would look at the Taj Mahal and think only of how absurd it was, how unjust to the toiling multitudes, that the wife of an emperor should be memorialized in this extravagant fashion when all she had was the accident of beauty and the luck to be beloved of an emperor; these are sour people who would prefer the perfect justice of universal ugliness to an unevenly and unjustly spread beauty. – Theodore Dalrymple

It is clear that Ardern’s government plans to produce a document which sets out a future plan for Maori only, at the expense of parliamentary democracy and the civil and human rights of 84% of the New Zealand population. They are following exactly the same strategy they have in imposing “co-governance’ and compulsory acculturation of the New Zealand population throughout the public service, education system, health, welfare and justice, plus the enforced establishment of Maori wards in local authorities.Henry Armstrong

The Declaration Plan feedback document contains many proposals which will effectively establish a race-based,  separatist Apartheid structure in New Zealand. Mainstream media have deliberately downplayed the huge adverse implications for New Zealand going forward and have purposely contributed to the Ardern government’s ongoing strategy of deception, untruths and misinformation.

If we believe Ardern (who has a habit of reneging on her previous statements, such as taxes), the NZ public will be “consulted” sometime this year, with no guarantee that this “consultation” process will in any way affect the Plan, once decided upon, for to do so would mean Ardern and co are themselves racist – and we cannot of course have that, can we?

And you thought Putin is evil?  – Henry Armstrong

Do not let low unemployment fool you into thinking everything is fine. It might well be the opposite .- Oliver Hartwich

Bad rules and regulations are more common than you think. Although the worst offenders eventually prompt action, it’s the costly (but not too costly) rules that accumulate over time that kill an economy by sclerosis Sam Dumitriu

Anyone who asks the question “what is a woman?” is thereby revealing that they have the intelligence of your average garden slug. This is why we shouldn’t trust these so-called “archaeologists” who claim to be able to determine whether those ancient skeletons they’ve uncovered are “male” or “female”. This is pure pseudo-science. Next they’ll be telling us they can work out their pronouns by measuring the femurs.

Let me settle this matter once and for all. A woman is anyone who says she is a woman. A woman is a feeling, a shimmering nimbus of possibility, an echo of distant dreams reverberating gingerly through a winter’s gloaming. She is a mewling constellation, a bagful of semi-felched pixies, the enchanted stardust that pirouettes luminously on the spindle of time.

It’s got absolutely nothing to do with tits. – Titania McGrath

 It shouldn’t come as a surprise that so few people are familiar with Maori. For all the current chatter and virtue-signalling, the language is not taught as a compulsory subject in a public school system where young Maori kids, especially boys, already leave early in disproportionately high numbers.

If Ardern’s government really wanted to make a difference, it could do more to encourage deprived Maori kids to stay on in education. As it is, it seems more content to change road signs and baffle visitors with startling name changes.David Cohen

I find it unacceptable that despite our feedback over several decades, the government are still coercing the Pakeha identity on New Zealanders with European ancestry and am sure other ethnic groups have a similar frustration. – John Franklin

In this day and age where a boy is permitted to change his gender identity to female on the way to school at a whim, why are we being forced to assign to an identity we clearly don’t want?

The truth is that no one else’s opinion matters regarding our identity, we don’t need anyone’s permission, we don’t need a team of language experts, we don’t need a hui, it’s 100% our choice so all we need to do is to make a decision and then demand that our rights are respected.John Franklin

There will always be those who will throw out their hate anchors to stop New Zealand from healing and moving forward but we can’t let them divide us further with their racist policies in the guise of indigenous rights.

Anything that undermines every New Zealander’s right to be treated equally or gives extra rights based on ethnicity is racist, it’s wrong and will have bad consequences. Don’t be fooled by the twisted use of the equity philosophy employed by those who want to justify their special privilege, only equality can be the foundation of our rights and freedoms. If the UN thinks the answer to divisive history is to elevate the rights of one ethnic group above the others, then they are just meddling fools that should be ignored as that undermines the foundation of equality which in turn undermines the rights and freedoms that are built on it. – John Franklin

The “woke” always surprise me with their high boredom threshold, for one would have thought that nothing could be more boring than always looking at the world through the narrow distorting lens of race, gender, and so forth and always coming to the same conclusion about it.

However, one has to give it to the woke: Just as you think that their idiocies can go no further, they come up with something new. They display a kind of malign inventiveness in finding new ways to provoke people of more sensible dispositions. The woke manage to be inventive and boring at the same time (as Marxists used to be); and while it’s boring to have to argue constantly against bores, it’s necessary to do so, because otherwise the undecided will come to think that the arguments of the woke are unanswered because they’re unanswerable. – Theodore Dalrymple

I think rather that wokedom is analogous to diseases such as Kuru and Creutzfeldt-Jakob in humans and scrapie in sheep, caused by particles called prions that infect the brain and cause it to degenerate, resulting in strange and disturbed behavior ending in death. Unless a remedy is found, what will die, however, isn’t an individual human being, but ultimately a culture and a civilization.Theodore Dalrymple

The problem with being a social justice advocate in a progressive liberal democracy is that there isn’t always enough overt sexism and racism from which to draw the requisite amounts of indignation. – Damien Grant

This country can stand rightly proud on what we have achieved when it comes to equality and diversity, even if serious mahi needs to be done in some areas.Damien Grant

Investing with the disreputable Simon Henry provided an eight-times better return than with Companion of the NZ Order of Merit recipient and My Food Bag co-founder, Theresa Gattung.

This will be a surprise to no one who understands commerce, but to those who think EBITDArefers to a new grouping of intersectional identity, this result will have come as a bit of a shock. – Damien Grant

In years to come some government agency may run a slide-rule over similar comments to assess if they breach beefed-up hate-speech laws, but for the moment the only consequences are public scorn and the associated commercial risk of having said something objectively awful.

This is appropriate. Free speech isn’t speech without consequences. In a free-market, people can choose who they do business with, who they work for, and who they associate with. – Damien Grant

While many in the media were content to report and comment on what Henry said, others decided that they are guardians of a new morality.

It isn’t enough that sunlight be applied to Henry’s choice of language. There isn’t any point in being a Social Justice Warrior if you don’t occasionally bayonet the wounded. – Damien Grant

Is it possible that the search for outrage is inadvertently manufacturing it?Damien Grant

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is widely misinterpreted as an effect where the observer changes what is occurring by their observation. It is possible that, through the manner in which the fourth estate has covered this event, they have created the very thing upon which they now breathlessly report on. – Damien Grant

Being a member of Parliament can bring out the best and the worst in people. You have to be slightly bonkers and have a high degree of confidence just to want to be an MP – unfortunately, that can click into arrogance really easily when you get there if not kept in check. I should point out that this arrogance is not the domain of just one political party. – Paula Bennett

I can’t believe that just three weeks ago Poto was denying there is a gang problem in NZ. But the PM has probably consoled herself that it’s not arrogance but incompetence and, as we see daily, that is acceptable in her Cabinet. – Paula Bennett

What should increasingly be worrying the PM is the arrogance of Trevor Mallard and the damage this is doing her. From badly handling the actual Parliament protest and then badly handling the aftermath by trespassing ex MPs and unforgivably giving Winston Peters a platform to crow from to generally running the debating chamber with ridiculous rulings that mean people can’t actually debate, it is time for him to bow out.Paula Bennett

It is high time we stopped using History as a weapon, and started relying upon it as a guide. – Chris Trotter

Before we all became mesmerised by the internet, humans spent much of their time in a little place called the real world. Here, people tended to interact with each other face to face, in the flesh, and as such, one could get a good sense of a person’s character by observing their behaviour.

This all changed with the rise of social media. The transition from a world in which people interact in person to one in which people interact through text led to a shift in the way we define and judge people. With little visibility of a person’s deeds, we had to focus on their words. And so we began to define people primarily by their opinions.

Since opinions are now the basis of public interaction and identity, there’s a new pressure to have a point of view. If you don’t have a perspective on the thing everyone else is talking about, it becomes difficult to socialise—you basically don’t exist. The result is that people feel compelled to take a stance on everything. – Gurwinder

Research suggests that when humans are pressured to have an opinion on an issue they know little about, they’ll often just hastily make one up, ad-libbing without regard to facts or logic, rather than admitting they don’t know. To compound the problem, people dislike changing their opinions (as it requires admitting they were wrong), so their impromptu views, which they cobbled together from whim and half-remembered hearsay, will often become their new hills to die on.

Essentially, the pressure to have an opinion in the digital age can cause people to resort to believing, or professing to believe, babble. – Gurwinder

Since people are now defined chiefly by their opinions, there’s not just pressure to have an opinion, there’s pressure to have the best opinion—the smartest, most sophisticated, most high-status. Digital society has become a beauty contest for beliefs, an opinion pageant.

Clearly, if people are simply improvising their opinions, they’re not going to have good opinions, let alone the best ones. So people will often employ a different strategy: copying the opinions of others.

They typically do this by outsourcing their thinking to professional commentators, who offer prepackaged “designer opinions” that people can wear like haute couture to become the envy of their friends.Gurwinder

However, just because a commentator is offering their opinions for sale, doesn’t mean their opinions are good. On the contrary, opinion-sellers often sell poorly considered opinions, because not only are they under the same pressure as everyone else to take stances on issues they know little about, but they must do so quickly. For a professional commentator, being the first one to think of a take is everything. As such, opinion-sellers will often rush their opinions out, and then, since they can’t change their view without looking bad, they’re forced to stick with it. – Gurwinder

Opinion-sellers make life easier for themselves and their customers by selling not just isolated opinions, but “opinion packages”. These are simplistic worldviews from which a set of consistent opinions on almost anything can be easily computed, equipping the bearer to opine on virtually any matter that comes up in conversation.

Arguably the most fashionable opinion package in the West today is what some refer to as “wokeness”. This is a kind of conspiracy theory that uses a lexicon of dubious concepts, such as “white fragility” and “toxic masculinity”, to portray Western society as “systemically” racist, misogynistic, and transphobic, and to scapegoat such problems on white people generally, and on straight white men specifically.Gurwinder

Woke opinions are popular for several reasons. For a start, they lift a great burden from the brain; there’s no need to understand a complex world if you can just blame everything on bigotry. But arguably the most important advantage of woke opinions is their success in the opinion pageant. They’re an effective way to improve one’s social standing, because constantly calling out bigotry makes one look unbigoted, compassionate, and socially aware—all values with high social capital.

The social capital offered by wokeness makes it an indispensable opinion package in image-oriented industries like media, academia, Hollywood, and public relations, which may be why wokeness is most dominant in these spheres. – Gurwinder

But the trouble with opinions is that one cannot know for sure whether or not they’re sincerely held, which leads to another problem of the opinion pageant: fraud. Just as designer clothes can be counterfeited, so can designer opinions. Except opinions cost nothing to fake.

Ersatz beliefs are now common in the business world. Savvy corporations have realised that in the opinion pageant, they must take a political stance to secure relevance, and since wokeness is the most high status suite of opinions, they almost exclusively subscribe to that package.Gurwinder

Wokeness offers corporations, celebrities, and other status-conscious entities the most prestigious package of views in the opinion pageant, but it’s increasingly having to contend with competitors. Perhaps the most notable of these is the “based” worldview. This opinion package is often sold by conservatives, but it’s less defined by what it’s for than what it’s against. And what it’s against is the reigning champion of the pageant, wokeness. – Gurwinder

The division of people into based, woke, and other competing worldviews has had an unfortunate side effect. It’s created a culture war between the various customer bases, a war that’s phony because most of the combatants are fighting for beliefs they haven’t properly considered, since they idly plagiarised them instead of concluding them through careful reasoning.

But the worst thing about the culture war is that it perpetuates the opinion pageant. When people become divided into factions, there becomes even more pressure to pick a side and have an opinion, or else one risks being known as a fence-sitter, a coward, or even worse, an enemy (“silence is violence!”, say the woke). The result is that even more people take a stance on issues they know little about.

The end result of the opinion pageant is a fraudulent world, a world where most people’s opinions are not their own. It’s a world of puppets being ventriloquised by strangers—strangers who are likely themselves puppets. In such a world, where words matter more than deeds, and opinions matter more than character, being “smart” requires no gift for thought, only a gift for mimicry, and being “good” requires no heart of gold, only a silver tongue & brazen nature. – Gurwinder

In the end, opinions are a hopeless way to define people, because, like designer clothing, they’re both faddish and easily counterfeited. If you want to know someone’s true nature, look beyond their words, and scrutinise the one aspect of their character that’s costly to fake—their actions. – Gurwinder

While news from Ukraine has mainly been about infrastructure destruction, a small miracle is taking place in the war-torn country. As Putin’s forces continue to bombard their cities, Ukrainian authorities have already begun reconstruction. . .

The road holes where the shells exploded have been repaired. Water and electricity are back on.

Amazingly, even large pieces of infrastructure have been rebuilt. Among them were road and rail bridges that were destroyed by the Russians in the first weeks of the war.

Irpin’s main bridge is now replaced with a temporary bridge measuring nine meters wide and 245 meters long. It took five days of uninterrupted work to complete it. – Oliver Hartwich

So let’s send Waka Kotahi to Ukraine. And if they find Ukraine’s infrastructure secret, we may allow them to return to New Zealand Oliver Hartwich

It is well known in all agricultural circles that the nitrogen fertilisers are the major contributor to lifting the third world out of poverty and why now, obesity is a bigger world-wide issue than malnutrition. And the peasant farmer getting richer is why the third world birthrate is dropping. But the watermelon Malthusians don’t want that.. You can’t establish a centrally planned world order in that environment. – Chris Morris

Bureaucrats sitting in Wellington are invariably highly skilled and the Ministry has some of the brightest public health advisors on staff too.

But I still feel they fail to realise the true impacts of the decisions they make on the lives of New Zealanders. – Merepeka Raukawa-Tait

Governments always talk about solutions being developed and decided closer to where the problems exist.

I couldn’t agree more. Communities do know what’s best for them. But with health that appears to be a “no go” area.

Communities are not trusted enough to be given the opportunity to have real input into planning and designing services.

They know the difference between primary and secondary healthcare and they know where they can make a meaningful contribution. – Merepeka Raukawa-Tait

We are in a warped world now, where work of minimal use and skill is better paid than what you might call a profession.

A world where reward comes from closed borders and a determination to limit the labour supply.

This is the recipe for economic ruin. It’s why today’s Budget will be in deficit, why the debt will be higher, and why the growth numbers will be anaemic if not non-existent.

A nurse starts at $53,000, a teacher $52,000, a dental assistant $46,000 and a lollipop person? $46,000.

You’ve got to be kidding me.Mike Hosking

They have corrupted a crusade to save the planet into sleazy pork barrel politics. Labour and the Greens new climate change policies are just vote buying.

The climate change policies announced this week will not bring New Zealand one day closer to net zero emissions but will fund, to name one policy, changes to school curriculum and NCEA so we “embed an understanding of the collective nature of our wellbeing.” Our schools will be teaching socialist dogma.

It just proves we cannot trust politicians with our money; they will spend it on buying votes. – Richard Prebble 

Even those schemes that will reduce emissions will not alter the country’s path to net zero emissions. The path is already in place. The ETS requires all carbon producers to buy credits equal to their emissions. The total amount of emissions is capped and will decline to net zero by 2050.

The policies announced this week will not alter this path. Under the ETS scheme every unit saved from say switching to an electric vehicle frees up a unit for some other activity such as driving an eight-cylinder gas guzzler.

All these new policies will do is enrich some at the expense of others. Many, such as corporations, who will be feeding at the pork barrel, can finance their own route to zero emissions.Richard Prebble 

A carbon credit from New Zealand forests has the same effect on the planet as a credit created from a tropical forest in the Solomon Islands.

It matters. While New Zealand is the world’s most efficient producer of milk we will never be the most efficient at growing forests to absorb carbon. An equivalent tropical forest absorbs four times more carbon.

New Zealand should be assisting poor countries like the Solomon Islands to regrow their tropical forests and earn ETS credits. Instead international investment funds are buying up productive New Zealand farms and turning them into inefficient carbon sinks.

Climate change in one country means the spot price of New Zealand carbon credits is $76.50. The world price is just US$20.81 – Richard Prebble 

Market price signals – not politicians – should decide the best way to allocate the carbon credits.

No marketplace would ever fund a “cash for clunkers” scheme. Everywhere it has been tried the scheme has proved a very expensive rort. When my daughter was training to be a teacher and needed a car to get to her rural school on section, I bought her an old clunker. Under this scheme she could trade that old clunker, get the $10 thousand subsidy, plus help from me, and buy a new car. I could drive the new car and let her drive my old car. She no longer has that car but you can see how easy the scheme is to rort.

Similar criticisms can be made of every one of the announced initiatives.

It is old fashioned centralized planning. Saving the planet is no reason to bring back failed socialist central planning. Combating climate change is so vital it is essential we use the most powerful and successful economic tool, the free market.Richard Prebble 

When one surveys the various idiocies pursued by Western governments of late years, one cannot help but marvel at the stupidity of this branch of the human race, without immodestly guaranteeing that one would have done better than the buffoons and poltroons had we been in charge.

One of the reasons we could not guarantee this is that a condition of attaining power in modern democracies (other than insensate ambition and inner emptiness) is that those who seek power must promise six impossible things before breakfast to their credulous electorates. They must promise to square the circle, to part the Red Sea, to turn back the waves, to reconcile the irreconcilable. Afterward, they are trapped by their own rhetoric. When the circle refuses to be squared, the person who promised it becomes a figure of hate, ridicule, or contempt. It goes without saying that no electorate ever blames itself, any more than any fly blames itself for being a nuisance. –

For many years, the policy of several Western governments has been, by various subterfuges, to live beyond their means, to spread largesse they do not have, to put off the reckoning to another day, to deceive the electorate into thinking that what cannot continue will nevertheless continue, and moreover continue forever. No doubt it is economically primitive of me (by comparison, say, with the new monetary theorists), but I believe that the greatest economist who ever lived, or at least lived in a certain sense, was Mr. Micawber:Theodore Dalrymple

To be frank, climate change is not high on my list of prioritise personally. I’m not a denier, I just don’t care terribly.

So, I’m not unhappy about this announcement today, because I feel like I’ve dodged a cost bullet again.

But I do wonder what the heck they’ve been up to if it’s taken them this long to pull together a plan that has no plan in it.  – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Since Grant Robertson became minister of finance, government spending has gone up 68 percent. With all of the growth forecasts slashed and most of the increased tax revenues spent, there is little in the Budget that shows the government is doing anything to stop the country from going backwards.

Granting everybody’s wishes may be fun, but it is unsustainable.Brigette Morten

Labour’s failure to order the Covid vaccine on time looks to have cost the average Kiwi household around $7000. Don’t worry. That average household has already forked out around $5500 in extra taxes to help pay for it. We’ll pay the rest later. – Matthew Hooton

In Auckland in particular, the preventable lockdown also drove more family businesses broke, ruined a second school year for tens of thousands of students and worsened already fragile mental health.

Yet no one in the Beehive or the bureaucracy has even apologised for the failure to begin our mass vaccination programme six months earlier.Matthew Hooton

The vaccine fiasco underlines that it is more often managerial competence than the amount of your money ministers boast they are spending that determines the efficacy of government programmes. Government didn’t ignore Pfizer’s 2020 offer because it was underfunded but because it was gormless.

Yesterday, Robertson boasted that he plans to spend more money than any of his predecessors. For 2022/23 alone, core Crown spending is now picked to be $127.1b, up another $6.9b over what was estimated as recently as December, already factoring in Robertson’s planned $6b of extra spending. This is not a sign of success but of failure, or at least that things are going wrong.

The increase over the December forecast is an extra $3500 per household. In 2022/23, Robertson now expects to spend $35.9b more than he and his predecessor Steven Joyce did in 2017/18. That is a 45 per cent increase, or nearly $20,000 per household.

To pay for it, Robertson estimates he will collect over $14,000 more per household in tax than he and Joyce did together in 2017/18. By the middle of next year, each household will carry over $50,000 more in net core Crown debt than when Robertson took the job — and debt will grow again in 2023/24. – Matthew Hooton

But if ministers, the media and the public continue to see increased government spending as a sign of success, not failure, then future finance ministers should do nothing. Demographics alone will allow them to boast big increases in spending, yet with no improvement in access, services or outcomes. – Matthew Hooton

The lesson from the 45 per cent increase in spending over which Robertson has presided is that the Government is taxing and borrowing quite enough. It has more than enough money to do a reasonable job at providing the services and support expected of it. But none of those services and support will in fact get better until the conversation turns to competence — and where governments at least apologise for things like unnecessary multibillion-dollar lockdowns. – Matthew Hooton

Here I am with my pronouns – Cactus Kate NPUWYWS (not putting up with your woke shit). Bite that as a pronoun.Cactus Kate

Government spending has increased by 66 per cent since Labour came into Government. That means that they are spending $51 billion more than in 2017. I really want to repeat that. $51 billion. The Labour Government won’t be worried that I repeated that number, because most of you don’t think in billions and so you won’t be too bothered because the number is so big it is unrecognisable to the average person.

So let’s make it relatable. That is $10,000 per New Zealander. Yes, you have paid $10,000. So far. Well actually they have borrowed most of that, so your kids and grandkids will have to pay that back. When people say that spending $145 million on consultants at our transport agency Waka Kotahi is chump change, you’re the chump. – Paula Bennett

There are a whole lot of things going up under this Government. The number of kids not regularly attending school has gone up. Not your problem as you’re a good parent who can afford to read Premium? Well, it is as those kids are disengaged from society, some illiterate as they haven’t learnt the basics, they are going to be problems in the future. At best they will spend a lot of time on welfare, at worst they will join the growing crime spree as they feel they have nothing to lose.Paula Bennett

Pattrick knows how to include her research so that it’s a background wash rather than a foreground blob. – David Hill

Yes this inflation is not temporary, it is not “transitory”. New Zealand will NOT be achieving its agreed inflation target, not even remotely, over the “medium term”. My question is: since when can a Finance Minister and a Reserve Bank Governor put their signatures to an “agreed” course of action, then willfully ignore it? In monetary economics, we call it a loss of credibility.Robert MacCulloch

Democracy fails when a government is not honest about what it believes are the issues, why they want change and what they propose to do.

Honesty in the issues is a vital first step.

Instead, the Government leapfrogs this and moves straight into expensive and incoherent advertising spending.

Without a clear idea of what the Government wants to say, the ads vary from childish through unbelievable to what a load of rubbish. – Hilary Calvert

The truth however is that many of the waters of New Zealand are fine. There are some that are below standard, and the Government has made rules for local government to require the levels to be lifted so that all reach the required standards. For the areas where there are issues of the local populations not being able to afford the changes required, the Government can provide money to improve the water, with or without oversight or control of how the money is spent.

We are left wondering what the problem is the Government sees which makes them think the answer is an opaque multi-level bureaucracy replacing local control of water. – Hilary Calvert

When we ask the next question around how and why this will lead to better water, the responses suggest that the top level involvement of our tangata whenua is a pivotal part of the proposal. How this relates to the sparkliness remains unclear.

This lack of honesty is particularly dangerous to democracy.

We need to talk about the role of Maori in our government structures. We need to be mindful of our obligations under the Treaty. And it would be great to clarify what people feel comfortable with before the local government reforms.

Our way forward with all New Zealand paddling in roughly the same direction in our unique fleet of waka will be pivotal to our wellbeing and achievements as a nation in the future. – Hilary Calvert

The Government was prepared to work on what it described as a high-trust model for Covid funding. Yet somehow it is extremely coy about trusting us with information about fundamental changes to the governance and control of our entire country.

The Government not coming clean about its agenda is a danger to democracy.

These conversations are important to have.

There is no right outcome, only an outcome which comes through proper democratic processes.

We need to abandon attempts at persuasion through propaganda thinly disguised as factual information.Hilary Calvert

The Government is silent about how democracy can work with co-governance with no inbuilt majority process.

If we don’t understand the basis of the issue we can’t contribute thoughtfully to talk of solutions and we risk confusion and stupid outcomes.

We can do better. We can and should defend democracy. We are still a smart and reasonably educated people.

We should be trusted with the facts and the ability to work through possible outcomes.

New Zealand is too small to be stupid. – Hilary Calvert

The energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine disabused many politicians of the notion that the world could make a swift transition to green energy powered by solar, wind and wishful thinking. As food prices skyrocket and the conflict threatens a global food crisis, we need to face another unpopular reality: Organic farming is ineffective, land hungry and very expensive, and it would leave billions hungry if it were embraced world-wide. 

The rise in food prices—buoyed by increased fertilizer, energy and transport costs—amid the conflict in Ukraine has exposed inherent flaws in the argument for organic farming. Because organic agriculture shirks many of the scientific advancements that have allowed farmers to increase crop yields, it’s inherently less efficient than conventional farming. – Bjorn Lomborg

A small country depends on our ability to sell stuff to the world with clear rules that everyone follows. The alternative is a trading world tilted to the powerful, where we’re forced to take sides and we survive by transferring wealth to our economic masters. – Josie Pagani

The explosion in trade mirrored almost exactly an unprecedented decline in extreme global poverty.

Despite record levels of international trade last year, that pace of growth is slowing. Slower growth in globalisation has coincided with slower progress in reducing poverty.

While we welcome the US commitment to security in the Pacific, there is a gaping lack of a real trade and economic agenda.

Without market access, the US cannot hope to counter Chinese influence in the region. – Josie Pagani

There is nothing a strong government likes more than a weak people; and therefore, whether consciously or not, everything is done to render the people ever feebler. Not physically, of course, we are raising up giants of a size and strength never before seen, as can be seen on any sports field, but psychologically—which is why psychology is the handmaiden of soft authoritarianism, it teaches people their vulnerability.

The more vulnerable people can be induced to believe themselves to be, the more they need assistance to keep themselves going. Such assistance (which is self-justifying, though never sufficient, or indeed even partially effective) requires a vast legal and other infrastructure, put in place and regulated by the government. The government is the pastor, the people are the sheep.Theodore Dalrymple

Are men now like sugar that dissolves in the slightest moisture? It seems so. Surely at one time men could have withstood or laughed off an insult or two without bursting into tears or seeking compensation for the terrible trauma to their ego that such an insult did. Of course, where a perceived harm is actionable at law, more such harm will be perceived. It is an established fact that in countries in which whiplash injuries as a result of car collisions are not legally actionable, people do not suffer from the kind of whiplash injuries that they experience when there is the possibility of compensation. The real cause of whiplash, then, is not accident but tort law, and it is the lawyers whom the sufferers from it should be suing, not the people who ran into the back of their cars. – Theodore Dalrymple

The more lawyers we train, the worse things get. As the French Revolution amply proved, underemployed and disgruntled lawyers are a very dangerous class, and they therefore have to be employed somehow. What better way of doing so than by promulgating a constant deluge of ever-changing regulations and ensuring that a population is made of eggshells? The proliferation of helplines (most of which are exceptionally busy today, that is to say whenever you ring them) indicates this.Theodore Dalrymple

Better a society of cheats than one of informers. The fact is that informers are not thinking of the betterment of society but of settling scores with those they inform upon, or they take a malicious pleasure from inflicting discomfiture on others. – Theodore Dalrymple

Such qualities as resilience and fortitude are the deadliest enemies of any modern government bureaucracy.Theodore Dalrymple

In the city, you’ve got consistency, convenience and control,” says Lim. “When we lived in Auckland, we got My Food Bag delivered, or you could pop out to the shops and get something when you felt like it and very quickly. Down here, it’s the complete opposite. Nature dictates when you’re going to have it and how much you are going to have. There isn’t any consistency. You just have to work with what you’ve got. – Nadia Lim

 I didn’t necessarily want to be on a big farm, I would have been quite happy on a lifestyle block, but Carlos wanted to do the proper farming thing.

“And I always felt, more so probably in the past five years, this overwhelming sense of responsibility to not only be part of the process of preparing food – teaching people how to cook and use these ingredients – but to also be part of the process of how the ingredients get to your plate. How you grow your food, how you raise it . . . I want to complete the full cycle.Nadia Lim

There is no black and white. I don’t buy into the idea of people saying farmers should do things this way, or that way. There are far too many variables and there are pros and cons to all systems, whether they be conventional or organic or spray-free or regenerative.

“People watch documentaries or read an article, and of course humans like things to be made simple . . . I can 100 per cent put my heart on the line and tell you it’s not. – Nadia Lim

When it comes to growing food, to me it is the most simple, natural thing in the world – there is no such thing as an ecosystem that does not have plants AND animals in it. It’s not as simple as ‘livestock bad, plant good’. It comes down to who is helping curate the balance of the two.Nadia Lim

Our leaders need to stand up, back our police and give them all the support and resource they need to keep us safe. It does not help when leaders like our current mayor reportedly state that there is a perception that our city isn’t safe. It is not a perception, Mayor Goff, that is insulting to the woman cowering in her own lounge as bullets explode around her property.

The violence can no longer be ignored by the Government and by us. It is no longer something that is happening among them – it is happening to us. – Paula Bennett

I worry when my kids are in town, I hate them going in there. They tell me town was OK, “only about 3 fights,” that they witnessed.

So just the 20 bullet holes, the 3 fights (that we know of), and the suburbs filled with opportunists hitting people up for cash.

Welcome to Auckland – what a cool place to live.Kate Hawkesby

As I’ve been pointing out now for a couple of years, the obvious gap in the plans of our betters for a carbon-free “net zero” energy future is the problem of massive-scale energy storage. How exactly is New York City (for example) going to provide its citizens with power for a long and dark full-week period in the winter, with calm winds, long nights, and overcast days, after everyone has been required to change over to electric heat and electric cars — and all the electricity is supposed to come from the wind and sun, which are neither blowing nor shining for these extended periods? Can someone please calculate how much energy storage will be needed to cover a worst-case solar/wind drought, what it will consist of, how long it has to last, how much it will cost, and whether it is economically feasible? Nearly all descriptions by advocates of the supposed path to “net zero” — including the ambitious plans of the states of New York and California — completely gloss over this issue and/or deal with it in a way demonstrating total incompetence and failure to comprehend the problem. – Francis Menton

Bottom line: I’m not trusting anybody’s so-called “model” to prove that this gigantic energy transformation is going to work. Show me the demonstration project that actually works.

They won’t. Indeed, there is not even an attempt to put such a thing together, even as we hurtle down the road to “net zero” without any idea how it is going to work.Francis Menton

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is backfiring for Russia on every front. For now, it has given the EU an advantage. How Brussels will use it may be a different matter.- Oliver Hartwich

Win $2 million in Lotto and you’re celebrated. Earn $2 million busting your arse to help other people and you’re criticised. Welcome to New Zealand.Lani Fogelberg

Someone could be busting their arse in a business capacity and the good they’ve done won’t be celebrated. There will be an undertone that encourages people to envy them or ask why they should have $2m? But they may have worked hard and gone through quite a lot to have a genuine contribution. – Lani Fogelberg

The tall poppy syndrome here is worse than in Australia. The responses are pretty aggressive and it’s getting worse. If you’re successful in business, people treat you well to your face but behind your back, it’s different. They don’t want to be associated with successful people; rather than being celebrated, they’re viewed as someone not to hang out with.Lani Fogelberg

A lot of New Zealanders think the only way you can be successful is using other poor people, walking over them for their own profitability and benefit, that’s the mindset of this country because we’re taught everyone must be equal. – Lani Fogelberg

My God! The amount of shit you get for owning a Ferrari. I’m a petrolhead. It’s no different to a woman being passionate about fashion.Lani Fogelberg

In the Great Game of the 21st century, face-to-face diplomacy is perhaps the single most valuable tool – as Australia’s Penny Wong and China’s Wang Yi successfully demonstrated over the past week. The global geopolitical temperature is steadily rising. New Zealand needs to ensure it can withstand the heat. – Geoffrey Miller

 Humanism valorizes the individual—and with good reason; we are each the hero of our own story. Not only is one’s individual sovereignty more essential to the humanist project than one’s group affiliation, but fighting for individual freedom—which includes freedom of conscience, speech, and inquiry—is part of the writ-large agenda of humanism. It unleashes creativity and grants us the breathing space to be agents in our own lives.

Or at least that idea used to be at the core of humanism.

Today, there is a subpart of humanists, identitarians, who are suspicious of individuals and their freedoms. They do not want a free society if it means some people will use their freedom to express ideas with which they disagree. They see everything through a narrow affiliative lens of race, gender, ethnicity, or other demographic category and seek to shield groups that they see as marginalized by ostensible psychic harms inflicted by the speech of others.Robyn E. Blumner

 Rather than lifting up individuals and imbuing them with autonomy and all the extraordinary uniqueness that flows from it, identitarians would divide us all into racial,  ethnic,  and  gender-based groups and make that group affiliation our defining characteristic. This has the distorting effect of obliterating personal agency, rewarding group victimhood, and incentivizing competition to be seen as the most oppressed.

In addition to being inherently divisive, this is self-reinforcing defeatism. It results in extreme examples, such as a draft plan in California to deemphasize calculus as a response to persistent racial gaps in math achievement.2 Suddenly a subject as racially neutral as math has become a flashpoint for identitarians set on ensuring equality of outcomes for certain groups rather than the far-more just standard of equality of opportunity. In this freighted environment, reducing the need for rigor and eliminating challenging standards becomes a feasible solution. The notion of individual merit or recognition that some students are better at math than others becomes racially tinged and suspect.

Not only does the truth suffer under this assault on common sense, but we start to live in a Harrison Bergeron world where one’s natural skills are necessarily sacrificed on the altar of equality or, in today’s parlance, equity. – Robyn E. Blumner

But nobody should be under any illusion: the Government’s ongoing stimulatory fiscal policy is contributing to the need for the Reserve Bank to increase interest rates, something which the Treasury warned the Minister just weeks before the Budget when the Minister decided he wanted to dole out some cash sweeteners to help low income New Zealanders with the cost of living.

It’s like a car being driven with one foot on the brake and the other on the accelerator – the more the Government stimulates the economy with fiscal policy, the harder the Reserve Bank will need to apply the brakes of higher interest rates.Don Brash