Quotes of the month

July 1, 2020

The government needed to go big, leaning on the government balance sheet is the best response in the near-term. I have two concerns. I don’t think we have a well thought out economic plan on the other side and I think people will get increasingly concerned about how we’ll get debt down – Cameron Bagrie

I was a good soldier under levels 4 and 3; I obeyed all the rules but now – there’s an oppositionally defiant child in me, screaming to be let out. – Kerre McIvor

Do you honestly think the bright and resourceful, the skilled and experienced, having lost their jobs in a fashion they could never see coming, are going to sit by and watch their prospects, futures and dreams be put on hold … or even worse … welfare? Especially when just three hours away is a country that offers work, a future, and an attitude to Covid and adversity that’s a lesson in balance, risk, common sense, and will ultimately pay greater economic dividends. – Mike Hosking

I think it is also important that farmers feel part of the nation’s family, that they are valued and are not ostracised. Not only for their own businesses, but also the downstream businesses that they support [with] their own farming and horticultural operations. David Bennett

Belonging is a fundamental human need. When this need is not met, it is hard to feel a sense of purpose. Right now, farmers and food producers are starting to feel they belong again; they have a clear sense of purpose – to feed the nation and deliver economic stability. – Lindy Nelson

The mixed messages of recent days notwithstanding, most New Zealanders will welcome and take in their stride the pending return to something approaching the normality they knew, albeit with a typically quiet sense of pride at what they have been able to achieve. They will be hoping Covid19 shows no sign of a significant return during the coming winter months, as we begin to reopen our border. So too will the government and the public health authorities. For they know only too well that the level of sudden public compliance and acquiescence achieved during the lockdowns was but a moment in time – a shocked reaction to what was happening overseas and the abrupt arrival of circumstances that no-one had properly anticipated. It is unlikely to be achievable to the same extent even if future circumstances warrant it. Peter Dunne

I believe the word success is so important and that word success covers winning or it covers growing. – Dame Lois Muir

After suffering a housefire, an underinsured household would likely need to take on debt to deal with the problem – and that could be fine. But if it then took the opportunity to add a swimming pool to the property, while pushing the mortgage amount to the upper limit, one might wonder about the household’s prudence.

Similarly, the elected Government has been adding metaphorical swimming pools to its shopping list by extending the 2020 Budget beyond what was necessary to deal with the Covid crisis. This raises sharp questions about the Government’s commitment both to fiscal prudence and the Public Finance Act.Eric Crampton

Changes in usage and semantics, when imposed, are usually exercises in power. These days, pressure for their adoption, like censorship, comes not from government but from pressure groups, small but well-organised and determined. Resistance in small things to monomania not being worth the effort among the better balance, the changes first go by default and then become habitual. – Theodore Dalrymple

Taking down statues and hiding our history is often not the answer to this problem. Instead, why not discuss moving statues to more appropriate locations? Why not add information around these monuments to present a more complete view of these figures? Take this opportunity to learn and understand the context in which the events commemorated by the monument occurred. . . Equally importantly, we must think and learn about the absent figures. Which people and events are not commemorated in public monuments and why is this the case? Absences can tell us as much about people’s understanding of history as the figures that were chosen. Absences can also show us where there are opportunities for future commemorations: to add these missing groups to our historical understanding as well as to our public record.  . . .

There is no right answer to how we should remember these figures – they come with significant achievements and often major failings. The only answer, for me, is that neither aspect of these figures should be forgotten. History must be allowed to be told in full – warts and all. Let discussion and debate take the place of anger and resentment. Let us use this opportunity as a time to change the way we view history; to shift our understanding of the past and to give future generations the opportunity to see history from a different perspective. . . Let our statues and monuments provoke debate and challenge us to think deeply about our past – let us not hide them all away to be forgotten. – Hayden Thorne

For most journalists, reporting the truth is an art form that leaves no margin for error. You either get it right the first time or your readers become confused about their own responsibilities when reacting to stories that must be taken at face value. Sadly, many in this ancient honourable profession have recently thrown in their lot with political forces that share their personal ideological persuasion with a result that truth is the casualty and the instability that is a consequence continues unchecked. – Clive Bibby

There is great danger in judging history by our standards, or rewriting it to modern tastes. It is simply bad history to morally look down on people who were not equipped to think differently. It’s our failure of imagination not to grasp this. It misses the really important question: why did those societies change? . . . The genius of Western civilisation is its progress through self-awareness and self-criticism. That created the endless debates that led to empirical science, protection under the rule of law, and self-rule through democracy. This allowed it to fix its errors and aberrations, ending slavery, propagating the ideas that undermined its own colonialism, making the sexes equal, and outlawing racial discrimination and intolerance. – AFR View

History, it is what it is. Good, bad and ugly, but I think it’s a good impetus for our country to learn our history. – Meng Foon

Once we stop laughing at ourselves we begin to lose our soulsPaddy Briggs

There is now an immediate need to assign accountability to the individuals or groups responsible for putting the community at risk. And this leads to the greater need for a royal commission to critically examine this current problem and many others, in the overall way that Covid-19 had been dealt with.

From the first national diagnosis of the Covid-19 crisis all the way to the recovery processes, a royal commission should be tasked with reviewing it all: the health, scientific, economic, constitutional, legal and cultural elements of the event.

This would provide a public record of what worked, what didn’t, what gaps were apparent and what could be improved next time. And it is the next time we have to be particularly worried about. Pandemics are an intergenerational problem, and what we are enduring will not be the last such experience. – Alexander Gillespie

The management of people arriving at the border has cost the government $81 million so far. That’s a lot of money to spend on a sieve when you needed – and thought you were buying – a top-quality bucket.  – Point of Order

Many people — and especially those who live in Bristol — have discovered Newton’s Third Law of Statues. Put crudely, it amounts to ‘you wreck one of ours, we wreck one of yours’. . . From the beginning, any protest outside the US reeked of entitlement and thrill-seeking. Everyone involved desperately needs to look up ‘negative externalities’ in the dictionary, although ‘doing something you like while shitting on other people’ is a useful definition. Antifa especially combines monstrous privilege with what philosopher John Gray calls ‘the problem of being lightly educated’.  Helen Dale

Kindness isn’t achievable without action.Andrea Vance

In saying, “we don’t want a witch hunt” what you’re really saying is: We expect you in the private sector to follow all the rules but we won’t. – Kate Hawkesby

Now when I feel sad, I’m gentle with myself, I don’t run from sadness.  I don’t seek to lift myself out of sadness. I have to sit with it. I think about self care, snuggly clothes, being kind to myself.I – Lotta Dann

Even if a prime minister is not technically responsible for the blunders of her ministries, the idea that someone can be in charge but not responsible will seem plainly wrong to most people. In fact, most people’s ideas about leadership can be summed up by the sign that US President Harry Truman’s kept on his desk in the Oval Office: “The buck stops here.” – Graham Adams

To reiterate, we believe in freedom of speech for all; these clients have decided to leave because we did not meet their demands to be re-educated to their point of view.  – Blair Partnership

“In light of the bungles at the border, it’s become abundantly clear that we didn’t beat Covid-19 with competence. . . But good luck won’t build smart borders, get the economy restarted, or pay back the debt. – David Seymour

I make mistakes at work too. And some mornings, around this time of year, after the weather’s changed and the city is wreathed in rain and drowned in mist and I have to commute to campus via a public transport system that’s a chaotic, unreliable mess, I try to persuade myself I should “work from home”. I generally force myself to go into work. But if I do stay home, then find myself making mistakes that might kill hundreds of people and cause billions of dollars damage to the economy, I like to think I’ll go back into the office. Even if it’s raining. – Danyl Mclauchlan 

“Operational matters” aren’t a get-out-of-responsibility-free card. “Operational matters” can be substituted in most sentences for “things that happened”. – Toby Manhire

Is there ever a time when the job of the media, the Opposition and academia should be diverted from the task of speaking truth to power? That’s debatable – but holding back is not what we need now. – Liam Hehir

I’m sick of these politicians making grand promises that we can all see are completely unachievable. Thinking we believe them means two things. They’re either deluded and incompetent. Or they think we’re all stupid and we’ll never notice. It’s probably a bit of both – Andrew Dickens

Holding the powerful to account is the cornerstone of journalism. It is not the only reason for our existence; I like to think we also contribute to the sense of community that binds us; I saw many lovely examples of that during the pandemic. And mostly we like to tell interesting stories about the people and places around us. But we also believe passionately in the power of the written word and its ability to challenge our assumptions. We need that during this election campaign more than any other, surely? – Tracy Watkins

You know, the 17-year-old solo mum who dropped out of school ended up being deputy prime minister of this country, and when I looked at that and what I’d achieve I knew that I could draw a line very proudly and comfortably under that and move on to my next challenge. – Paula Bennett

I set about reforming the welfare system, with more emphasis on what people could do, increasing our expectation on people to get work-ready and look for a job and changing the system so more help was available for them. . . I get that people won’t agree with everything that we did, but we were ambitious and I believed in people and their abilities, and I do despair at the moment that there’s an expectation that a lifetime on welfare can be an option for people and it almost feels encouraged, whereas I think it should be a backstop. – Paula Bennett

I was forced to think about what leadership means – what is the basic statement one can use to describe at a fundamental basis what leadership is. What I came up with, while not anything earth-shattering, was that “leadership is about giving the credit and taking the blame”. – Ben Kepes

She was the galah in a cage of budgies. Claire Trevett

Government essentially reinvented the wheel, and when the wheel eventually turned up, it was wonky. – Louis Houlbrooke

Too many politicians these days are too manufactured, too inauthentic, spend too much time on focus group research and advice on how to talk to people. Here’s a tip – just talk. Be yourself. – Kate Hawkesby


Damned either way

July 1, 2020

Paula Bennett’s retirement announcement has left Todd Muller with a choice.

He can move everyone up a place in caucus rankings or he can do a reshuffle that brings someone who is Maori up several places to appease those focused on identity politics.

He will be damned either way.

But there is a solution.

Simon Bridges who is currently languishing among the MPs who will retire at the election, could be brought up to the shadow cabinet.

He has the experience and ability caucus needs. He also happens to be Maori, not that that seemed to matter to those focused on identity politics when he was leader because to them, it’s not good enough to be in a particular group, you also have to be of the left.

This will require give and take from both men but they, caucus and the party will be stronger for it.


Paula Bennett retiring from parliament

June 29, 2020

Paula Bennett has announced she will retire from parliament at the next election.

. . .Bennett said in a statement she was “looking forward to her next career”.

“Now it is time for the next chapter. I am excited to take the skills I have out of Parliament and into the business world. I have always wanted another career after politics and now is the right time for me to go and pursue that,” Bennett said. . . 

Paula held several ministerial portfolios and was deputy Prime Minister under Bill English.

She has put her heart and soul into her work for the party, her constituents and the country.

I am sorry that she is choosing to leave parliament but happy that she will have the opportunity to use her talents in other ways.


National’s refreshed responsibilities

May 25, 2020

Todd Muller has announced the refreshed responsibilities for his MPs:

He has taken Small Business and National Security.

His deputy Nikki Kaye has Education and Sports and Recreation.

Amy Adams, who had announced her retirement, is staying on with responsibility for Covid-19 Recovery.

Judith Collins:  Economic Development, Regional Development, is Shadow Attorney-General and takes on Pike River Re-entry.

Paul Goldsmith keeps Finance and has responsibility for the Earthquake Commission.

Gerry Brownlee: Foreign Affairs, Disarmament; GCSB; NZSIS and Shadow Leader of House.

Michael Woodhouse keeps Health, is  Deputy Shadow Leader of the House and Associate Finance

Louise Upston: Social Development and Social Investment.

Mark Mitchell: Justice and Defence

Scott Simpson:  Environment, Climate Change and Planning (RMA reform)

Todd McCLay:Trade and Tourism

Chris Bishop has Infrastructure and Transport

Paula Bennett: Drug Reform and Women

Nicola Willis: Housing and Urban Development and Early Childhood Education

Jacqui Dean: Conservation

David Bennett: Agriculture

Shane Reti: Tertiary Skills and Employment,  Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Associate Health

Melissa Lee: Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media and Data and Cybersecurity

Andrew Bayly:  Revenue, Commerce, State Owned Enterprises and Associate Finance

Alfred Ngaro: Pacific Peoples, Community and Voluntary, and Children and Disability Issues

Barbara Kuriger: Senior Whip, Food Safety, Rural Communities

Jonathan Young:

Nick Smith:

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi:

Matt Doocey:

Jian Yang:

Stuart Smith:

Simon O’Connor:

Lawrence Yule: Local Government

Denise Lee:  Local Government (Auckland)

Anne Tolley: Deputy Speaker

Parmjeet Parmar:  Research, Science and Innovation

Brett Hudson:  Police, Government Digital Services

Stuart Smith: Immigration, Viticulture

Simeon Brown: Corrections, Youth, Associate Education

Ian McKelvie: Racing, Fisheries

Jo Hayes:  Whānau Ora, Māori Development

Andrew Falloon: Biosecurity, Associate Agriculture, Associate Transport

Harete Hipango: Crown Māori Relations, Māori Tourism

Matt King: Regional Development (North Island), Associate Transport

Chris Penk: Courts, Veterans

Hamish Walker Land Information, Forestry, Associate Tourism

Erica Stanford: Internal Affairs, Associate Environment, Associate Conservation

Tim van de Molen: Third Whip, Building and Construction

Maureen Pugh: Consumer Affairs, Regional Development (South Island), West Coast Issues

Dan Bidois: Workplace Relations and Safety

Agnes Loheni:  Associate Small Business, Associate Pacific Peoples

Paulo Garcia: Associate Justice

At the time of the announcement SImon Bridges was considering his future, he nas subsequently announced he will stay on in parliament and contest the Tauranga seat again.


Is it Muller?

May 22, 2020

Newshub reports  :

12:40pm – Sources have told Newshub Simon Bridges has lost the vote. Newshub understands the vote has been won by Todd Muller.

Update: – Nikki Kaye is now deputy.

My loyalty is to National and to its leadership, I congratulate Todd and Nikki.

My sympathy is with Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett who have worked very hard in what proved to be an impossible task.


If it were done

May 21, 2020

Macbeth was talking about murder when he said, If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly.

That also applies to leadership tussles and National leader Simon Bridges has made the right call in summoning his caucus to settle the matter on Friday.

Every day’s delay is a day more when the issue festers with all the negative media attention that accompanies it leaving little clear air left to hold the government to account.

I am not going to give my opinion on who should be leader.

I support the party and whoever leads it and will continue to do so whether that is Simon with Paula Bennett as his deputy or Todd Muller and Nikki Kaye.

But I will say that whatever the outcome of the caucus vote, all MPs must be loyal to the leader and the party.

The leaking, the criticism and any show of disunity and disloyalty must stop.

Just a few months ago National was polling higher than Labour.

What changed was Covid-19 and the response to it.

The government’s abysmal record of doing very little it said it would until then has not changed.

KiwiBuild, child poverty, climate change  . . . it’s been lots of talk and very, very little action.

What has also changed is the economy.

The lockdown flattened the Covid curve and in the process has flattened the economy.

The government has voted itself so much money in response most of us can’t comprehend the amount. But worse, it doesn’t have a clear plan on how to spend it and at least as important, it doesn’t have a plan on how to repay it.

As Heather Roy explains in a letter to her children:

. . .By way of explanation, this is why I am sorry about your inheritance. Debt is what you have to look forward to and growth will take some time to return. In the short-term, New Zealand is facing a large rise in unemployment, predicted to peak at nearly 10 percent before falling back to 4.6% in 2022 (optimistic I suspect). Government debt will explode to more than 53 percent of GDP, up from 19% now. . . 

Not all debt is bad of course. It often allows you (and countries) to invest wisely in areas that will be of benefit later, but I fear the lack of vision and planning associated with the government borrowing an additional $160 billion means ‘wisely’ isn’t part of this equation. Vision and hope are important for people. We need to know where we are going – what the end game looks like and that the pain is worth bearing because a better life awaits. Hope too, is important. People will endure a lot if they have hope. I’m afraid I saw neither in the Budget last week. There was lots of talk of jobs, and lots of picking winners but not much in the offing for those already struggling and those who will inevitably lose their jobs when businesses go under.

Figures are tricky things. If you say them quickly, especially the billions, they don’t sound so bad. Most people can imagine what they could spend a million dollars on. Billions are a different kettle of fish. Many of us have to stop and think, how many 0’s in a billion? When figures are inconceivable, people give up trying to work out what they mean. After all, the politicians will look after the money side of things, won’t they? I hope you realise that is very dangerous thinking. To start with it’s not the government’s money – it’s yours and mine, hard earned and handed over to the government for custodial purposes.  We hope it will be spent wisely on health, education, social welfare, but after we’ve voted every three years, we don’t have any say on where it goes.

Beware of those saying we can afford to borrow this much money. Just as when we borrow from the bank to buy a car or house, when government’s borrow, repayments must be made and this limits the amount in the pot for spending in extra areas. The state of our economy is your inheritance: to contribute to your tertiary education, to educate your future children, to provide medicines and hospital treatments when you are sick, to help those who for whatever reason have no income. A mountain of debt places the prosperity of your children in peril.

Picking winners is dangerous too. Government’s love picking winners, especially in an election year. Election year budgets often resemble a lolly scramble with media reporting the “winners and losers”.  The simple fact is when you confer advantage on one group everyone else is automatically disadvantaged. Giving to the vulnerable is understandable but private industry winners are not. As an example, those who had been promised Keytruda (last year) to treat their lung cancer only to have that rug whipped out from underneath them now must be devastated to see the racing industry handed $74 million to build/rebuild horse racing tracks around the country. Flogging a dead horse instead of funding up to date medical treatments is folly and unfair in a humane society. 

I know fairness and equity are important to you all. Your generation has a more egalitarian outlook on life. Partly I think this is because you have not experienced real poverty and why New Zealand’s debt doesn’t bother you as much as it does me.

I have recently read two excellent writings by people I respect and I want to share them with you. The first is a report written by Sir Roger Douglas and two colleagues called “The March towards Poverty”. . . 

The report concludes “ For too long, we have lived with the fiction that we are doing well, lulled by successive governments into believing we truly do have a ‘rock star’ economy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Starting with Grant Robertson’s post-Covid budget, we must admit to the problems facing our economy and begin to deal with them. Otherwise, current inequalities will remain entrenched, we will continue to fall further behind our OECD partners, and the prosperity of our younger generations will be placed at peril”.

While I’m on the topic of legacies, the second article I want to share is by Chris Finlayson, Attorney General in the Key/English Governments for 9 years starting when I was also a Minister. I’ve been worried about the legality of many of the impositions we have experienced since the country was plunged into lockdown. I know you sometimes think all this theoretical  stuff isn’t that important, but in a well functioning democracy how the law is made and enforced is central to an orderly society we can have faith in. Chris has eloquently described these matters much better than I can in his opinion piece  on the rule of law:

“Some readers will no doubt respond that this rule of law stuff is all very interesting for the legal profession and retired politicians but is hardly of any practical impact given what New Zealand has just avoided.

I disagree. The former Chief Justice, Sian Elias, once said that if only judges and lawyers concern themselves with the rule of law, New Zealand is in trouble. She was right. Adherence to the concept of the rule of law would have helped avoid some of the basic failures of the past eight weeks – failures that should give all New Zealanders pause for thought.”

I’m afraid it’s too late to put Ardern’s debt genie back in the bottle. I apologise on behalf of my generation and older that you and your kids will carry this debt for all of us. My advice to you is to do what this government should have done. Cut costs and minimise your liabilities. Spend only on the essentials and invest in assets that will produce a safe dividend. Perhaps most important of all, stay engaged in our democracy and encourage your friends to do the same. If COVID-19 has taught the world anything it is this: politicians need to be closely scrutinised at all times but especially in crises like these.

The government’s arrogance was exposed a couple of weeks ago when ministers were ordered not to speak in the wake of the Covid document dump. It’s carried on this week when Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis refused to attend the Epidemic response Committee because, doing a Facebook Live session instead.

The country needs an opposition focussed on the government’s mistakes and formulating a plan to do much, much better, not on itself and a leadership struggle.

Whatever happens at Friday’s caucus meeting, this is what National must be doing, and doing it together in step with the leader.

And whether or not there’s a change of leader, one thing must not change – and that’s the decision to rule out any deal with New Zealand First.


Just say no

January 27, 2020

If National had ruled out a deal with New Zealand First three years ago, would the latter have got less than five per cent of the vote and the former still be leading the government?

We’ll never know.

But we do know that around half the people who voted for NZ First hoped the party would go with National and that a lot of them are still very unhappy Winston Peters chose Labour and the Green Party instead.

We also know that while Peters was supposedly negotiating in good faith he was also working on legal action against National’s deputy Paula Bennett and then-minister Ann Tolley.

That tells us, once again, that Peters can’t be trusted.

Simon Bridges has said he will announce well before the election whether or not National will rule out New Zealand First.

I hope he does say no to them which will make it quite clear to voters that a vote for that party is a vote for a Labour-led government.

There are risks.

In spite of their many criticisms of National not trying to win Epsom so that Act will get into parliament, Labour and New Zealand First could come to a similar arrangement in another seat in an attempt to secure an electorate for a New Zealand First candidate. If that worked, NZ First would not need to secure five percent of the vote to stay in parliament.

New Zealand First could get back, with or without an electorate,  and National could have too few seats to form a government without it and so be back in opposition.

But there are bigger risks in not ruling out New Zealand First.

It would send the message to voters that New Zealand First might go with National, even though the chances of that are very, very remote.

It would enable Peters to pretend he’ll listen to voters even though last time more opted for National than Labour.

It would give Peters the power he’s had too many times before to play the bigger parties off against each other and extract too high a price for putting them into government.

The worst day in government is supposed to be better than the best in opposition. But if the choice is government with Peters, I’d opt for opposition.

Tracy Martin says this year feels like the beginning of the end for Peters:

. . .So is it time to write Peters off?  Peters has cleverly played up his part as Labour’s handbrake, just as he once pitched himself as a bulwark against National’s extremes.  It’s how he has survived so long in politics – even after the “baubles of office'” fiasco, or Owen Glenn donations scandal.

But you can only play one side against the other for so long and it feels like Peters has played one too many hands.

So is the extraordinary Peters era coming to an end? He is our most familiar face on television; as recognisable as the theme tune to Coronation Street, as well worn as a pair of old slippers.

 But even soap operas eventually have their day.

National ruling out NZ First would make the end of the Peters soap opera much more likely.

Please, National,  just say no.


What a waste

November 14, 2019

WInston Peters has accepted that then-Ministers Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley did not leak the overpayment of his superannuation to the media.

However, his lawyer is still laying blame for the leak on the Ministry of Social Development.

Crown lawyer Victoria Casey QC gave her closing arguments this morning and argued that Winston Peters’ claim his privacy was breached “falls away entirely” when held up against the law. . .

Casey told Justice Venning the only question he needs to consider is whether her clients’ decision to brief their ministers under the “no surprises” convention breached a “reasonable expectation of privacy” and whether it was “highly offensive”.

“The questions is not does the court agree with these decisions to brief, or even whether the court has any reservations about the decisions to brief,” she said. . .

None of them establish whether there was a reasonable expectation in private facts. None of them establish that the communication from the chief executives to the ministers constitute highly offensive publication.

“Winston Peters could not have had a reasonable expectation public agencies with such information would not tell their ministers who have accountability to the House,” she said.

Casey also spoke of the high stakes for her clients, because these allegations go to the heart of their integrity.

She warned that if Peters’ complaints are upheld it would be “catastrophic” and career-ending for them.

“I ask the court to pay due attention to the chilling effect on the public sector and the reputational impact of even a passing comment by the High Court of the judgments exercised by these two senior public servants.

“I submit that it is appropriate that the court should exercise real caution before engaging in a review of matters that are beyond the scope of the pleaded claim,” she said. . .

What a waste of time, and public money this has been.

Peters has breached his own privacy and that of his partner by exposing them to a couple of weeks’ publicity that has done neither of them any credit.

And sadly while might have put some wavering voters off him and his party, it could also have confirmed the views of the deluded who support him that, in spite of the evidence to the contrary that this is a mess of his own making, he is somehow a victim.

The media has given very good coverage of the trail but it’s hard to beat Cactus Kate for pithiness in these posts:

Winston Peters and his reputation for detail

Winston Peters and his reputation for detail II

Tim Murphy v Barry Soper just got ugly

Who knew in advance about WInston Peters’ super stuffup?

The media have been the story for years Barry

Courtroom 13 – the week in review

Respecting WInston Peters

Silence…

Winston Peters and subjudice

And…….Denny Crane


A question of competence

September 12, 2019

The resignation of Labour Party president Nigel Haworth could have put the lid on the controversy over serious allegations against a staff member in the Prime Minister’s office.

But it won’t when so many questions remain over the handling of the complaints which started the saga and the ongoing claims that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern didn’t know that the allegations were of sexual assault.

The Spinoff gives a timeline of the inquiry and Paula Bennett used yesterday’s general debate to  speak on it: (You can watch and listen to the speech here.)

The Prime Minister says she did not know there were sexual assault allegations against one of her staff members until Monday. I could go through the various media reports since 5 August and my own representation since being contacted by victims to show the inconsistencies in this, but they have already been well traversed in the last 24 hours.

If the allegations were serious enough to hire a QC, were they not serious enough for the PM to need, and want, to be fully informed?

Even if the allegations weren’t about sexual assault, surely they were serious enough for the PM to be fully informed about them?

Even if she wasn’t going to speak to the complainants, as she should have, surely allegations serious enough to warrant an investigation warranted someone senior talking to them and reporting back to her?

Back in 2016, Jacinda Ardern wrote an op-ed about the scandal surrounding the Chiefs rugby team. She said that a resignation is not enough: “It’s the PR quick fix—usher the source of the controversy away. But that solves nothing. After all, apologies followed by silence changes nothing, and change is what we need.”

The resignation today of Nigel Haworth cannot be, in the Prime Minister’s words, “the PR quick fix—usher the source of the controversy away.” Yes, Mr Haworth needed to go, and it should have happened weeks ago, but what is also known is that the Prime Minister’s own senior staff and a senior Minister have known the seriousness of the allegations but have not acted.

The complainants were members of the Labour Party. They genuinely believed that the party would listen to their complaints and deal with the alleged offender appropriately, but nothing happened. It clearly has taken an incredible sense of frustration, disappointment, and disillusion for these people to come to me, a National Party MP, to try and see their complaints addressed.

These are serious allegations. The Prime Minister cannot keep her head in the sand and pretend like it is happening somewhere far, far away. It is happening in her own office, in her own organisation. She is the leader of the Labour Party. The alleged perpetrator works in her leader’s office—he works for her.

Less than a year ago, the Prime Minister was in New York at the UN, trumpeting “Me too should be we too.” Well, who knew that that meant her own office was following the path well trod by all those companies who drew a curtain over sexual misconduct and inappropriate behaviour.

I have been told by the complainants that Jacinda Ardern’s former chief of staff Mike Munro knew about the allegations, her chief press secretary, Andrew Campbell, knew about the allegations, and the director of her leader’s office, Rob Salmond, knew about the allegations. I have been told by two victims who work in Parliament that they went to Rob Salmond around Christmas time and made a complaint about the alleged perpetrator.

That’s a lot of people who would normally report to the PM who purportedly didn’t on this very serious matter.

The Prime Minister has constantly said her office did not receive complaints and, in fact, encouraged the victims to speak to their line managers. They did. They have told me they went to Rob Salmond and nothing was done, and we are expected to believe that none of these men in her own office told the Prime Minister about the allegations—all of this in the aftermath of the Labour summer camp scandal, when the Prime Minister made it very clear she expected to have been told. And are we really expected to believe that she didn’t know that her chief press secretary, Andrew Campbell, embarked on a witch-hunt to try and find out who in the Beehive was talking to the media about the allegations? The complainants certainly felt hunted and scared that he was trying to shut them up and stop them from talking to the media—classic bullying of victims, and hardly a victim-led response.

A victim has told me that the alleged perpetrator has deep alliances to Grant Robertson, that he was involved in his campaign for the Labour Party leadership, and that Grant Robertson has known the seriousness of these allegations. It is unbelievable that he hasn’t discussed this with his close friend and his leader.

This all smacks of a cover-up. This goes straight to the top: to the Prime Minister, to senior Cabinet Ministers, and—

SPEAKER: Order! The member’s time has expired. . . 

Haworth’s time has expired, will anyone else follow?

This debacle does go to the top and at the top we have a woman whose brand is that of compassion, empathy and caring; one who we are expected to believe is a capable leader, who is, like Prime Ministers ought to be, is fully in control.

All of that is at very grave risk as a result of the mishandling of this situation and all the questions that remain over it.

One of those questions is that of competence: if the Prime Minister, her senior colleagues and staff can’t be trusted to run her office properly and safely, how can they be trusted to run the country?


The Genter pay gap

June 27, 2019

Labour and the Greens like to think they’re champions of women but there’s a Genter gender gap at the Women’s Ministry:

Women’s Minister Julie-Anne Genter has confirmed that women are paid less than men at the very Ministry that is focussed on eliminating the gender pay gap, National’s Women’s spokesperson Paula Bennett says.

“Julie-Anne Genter told a Select Committee that the men at her Ministry are paid six per cent more than the women. The pay gap at the Ministry has changed in favour of men since this Government came into power.

“If Julie-Anne Genter wants to have any credibility criticising private businesses or other Government departments, she needs to sort out her own Ministry first.

It’s so much easier to talk about the theory than to have it work in practice.

“This is another example of hypocrisy by Green Party Ministers who have swallowed more dead rats than a hungry stray cat. They supported the Waka-Jumping legislation, they didn’t get their Capital Gains Tax and there’s been no progress on the Kermadecs.

“Under a National Government the Gender Pay Gap decreased from 12 per cent to 9 per cent. It hasn’t changed under this Government.

“There are only 30 per cent women in this Government’s Cabinet, fewer than under the National Government. The Prime Minister has the opportunity to address this tomorrow in her reshuffle.

“The Greens were incredibly vocal in Opposition but they’re finding the reality of Government much harder. It’s time for them start walking the walk, because until now they’ve been all talk.”

One of the reasons the two women who were demoted from Cabinet haven’t been replaced is because the most likely candidates are men.

That poses a problem for a PM and a party that worries more about gender than ability and performance.


Govt knew there was no hack

June 7, 2019

The government knew there was no hack  before Gabriel Makhlouf made his public statements last week:

. . . The Government’s spy agency made urgent calls to the Beehive before Makhlouf’s public statement – we reveal today what they told at least one senior Government Minister. The new details come as Makhlouf faces a State Services Commission investigation over the way he handled claims the website had been hacked. It later transpired that Budget details could be uncovered using the Treasury’s search engine.

The Government Communications Security Bureau phoned the Beehive last week in a desperate 11th-hour bid to stop Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf from saying publicly that his department had been hacked, the Herald understands.

But it was too late.

The GCSB had already told the Treasury that it did not believe its computer system had been compromised.

The GCSB was sent a copy of Makhlouf’s statement just before it was due to be released on Tuesday night last week. . . 

This just gets messier and messier and needs a wider inquiry than just the States Services Commissioner’s one which won’t ask questions of Ministers.


Budget inquiry must be widened

June 4, 2019

The National Party is calling for the Budget inquiry to be widened:

The Prime Minister must be open and transparent about what questions she has asked her Finance Minister since spurious allegations were made that National acquired Budget documents through criminal activity, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Paula Bennett says.

National has written to State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes requesting the SSC widen its Budget investigation into Treasury and its Secretary to address a number of serious questions about the behaviour of both the department and the Finance Minister.

“The GCSB’s National Cyber Security Centre has said publically that it told Treasury its computer system was not compromised, yet both Gabriel Makhlouf and Grant Robertson chose to issue statements implying National carried out a ‘systematic hack’,” Ms Bennett says.

“Among the many questions that still need answering is what information Treasury and the Finance Minister had at their disposal before they issued those statements.

“The SSC inquiry should also include a complete review of all communications between the Finance Minister’s office and the Prime Minister’s office under the ‘no surprises’ approach.

“It took 36 hours for Treasury to come clean that it was sitting on a lie, and the Prime Minister needs to explain why she allowed her Government to mislead the public for so long.

“Did she and Grant Robertson ask the right questions of Gabriel Makhlouf, or did they take a ‘see no evil, speak no evil’ approach to all of this?

“It is concerning that even after Treasury admitted the Budget information was obtained without any hacking, its statement failed to offer an apology or take responsibility, and continued to disparage the Opposition in an entirely inappropriate way. . . 

John Armstrong isn’t waiting for an investigation he’s calling for resignations:

The chief executive of the Treasury, Gabriel Makhlouf, must resign.

It might have been Budget Day, thereby making his departure hugely inopportune for the Labour-led Government. That’s just tough. Makhlouf has to go. And forthwith. His exit on the most important date in the Treasury’s calendar may have piled humiliation on embarrassment.

It left Grant Robertson’s shiny new wellbeing budget feeling somewhat sick on its first public appearance. That’s just too bad. Makhlouf has to go. He has no choice in the matter. . .

He has to go — and for two simple reasons. Budget secrecy is sacrosanct; Budget secrecy is paramount. That is the bottom-line. It is non-negotiable. Any breach is sufficient grounds alone for heads to roll.

In Makhlouf’s case, there is another factor which should have sealed his fate — competence.

The ease with which National extracted Budget-connected information from the very heart of the (usually) most infallible branch of the Wellington bureaucracy demonstrated the shocking inadequacy of the Treasury’s cyber security.

It seems it is no exaggeration to say that the protections currently in place to guard that information have been at best lax and at worst non-existent. . . .

On top of that, the department’s handling of the aftermath of the breach of security raised further questions of competence.

The rapidity with which Makhlouf referred matters to the police following the hacking which soon enough turned out not to be hacking conveyed the impression that he believed National was responsible.

Although he endeavoured to avoid making that insinuation, in process, he veered dangerously close to soiling the Treasury’s neutrality.
While he might well be as neutral as he ever was, he is no longer seen as neutral. That is unacceptable. . . .

But this isn’t the only resignation Armstrong thinks should happen:

Should Robertson also be tending his resignation as a Cabinet minister or be sacked by the Prime Minister? The answer is an emphatic “yes”.

A breach of Budget secrecy — especially one of this week’s magnitude — is something so serious that resignation is mandatory.The applicability of ministerial responsibility demands nothing less. But it ain’t going to happen.

Robertson is exempt from having to fall on his sword. That exemption is by Labour Party decree. He is just too darned valuable.

Both he and the Prime Minister have made it very clear that they will move mountains to ensure Robertson emerges from this episode as untarnished as possible by placing responsibility for the breach fairly and squarely in the Treasury’s lap. . .

It’s been fascinating following commentary from the left which is trying to paint Simon Bridges as the wrong-doer in the botched Budget saga.

While we are mentioning Bridges, let’s deal with the bogus claims of his critics that his accessing of Budget documents was unethical, even if it was not unlawful. That is nonsense. Since the dawn of time, it has been incumbent on Opposition parties that they expose faults and failings in the policies and procedures adopted by the government of the day.

In revealing that the Treasury’s notion of what passes for Budget secrecy is screamingly flawed, Bridges has acted in the public interest.

Can his critics in Labour’s ranks put their hands on their hearts and affirm they would do things differently if they faced the same circumstances in Opposition? Of course not.

Bridges has simply been doing his job. On this week’s form, it is conceivable that he is going to be doing it a lot longer than both friend and foe have been predicting.

The machinations may be of little interest to any but political tragics but the botched Budget provided the Leader of the Opposition with an opportunity to shine in a week when the spotlight ought to have been on the Finance Minister and his leader, and shine he did.


Who leaked and why?

May 6, 2019

Will we have enough information to vote intelligently in  the referendum on cannabis?:

A Cabinet Paper leaked to National which will be considered by the Government tomorrow shows New Zealand will head into the recreational marijuana referendum with many unanswered questions, National’s Drug Reform spokesperson Paula Bennett says.

“Cabinet will tomorrow consider four different options for the referendum but no matter which option it choses, there are huge holes.

“The Cabinet Paper is clear that smoking marijuana when you’re under the age of 25 is detrimental for development of the brain, and yet it recommends that the legal age should be 20. The legal age seems to have been plucked out of thin air.

“The paper acknowledges that regular marijuana use increases the risk of developing depression, psychosis and schizophrenia and is especially harmful to those under 25-years-old. It also acknowledges that there is a one in six chance of young people becoming dependent. This would result in further demand for mental health services.

“There is no mention about what level of tax will be imposed on marijuana, will it be the same as tobacco and alcohol? Will it really get rid of the illicit market if it’s taxed at 40 or 50 per cent? Will a much higher tax rate be needed if they will test 10 per cent of the product to ensure THC levels are low?

“The Government hasn’t identified any budget for ensuring the public knows about the pros and cons of legalisation in the lead up to the referendum. Given how much this would impact our communities, New Zealanders need to know what they are voting for.

“Only one of the options being considered will give New Zealanders some certainty about what they’re voting for – the other options will mean a huge lack of information.

“Every option takes us straight to legalisation instead of decriminalisation. Many other countries consider decriminalisation first before leaping straight to legalisation.

“National understands that as usual with this Government, the coalition has been unable to reach a consensus and the decision around which option they will choose has been holding up the process.

“The problem with that is there isn’t time for yet more coalition disagreements on an issue this important.”

The options being considered are:

• A general question consistent with the undertaking in the Confidence and Supply agreement: “Do you support legalising the personal use of recreational cannabis?” This would not be accompanied by any legal framework or other policy decisions and it would be left to a subsequent Parliament to determine what to do in the event of a ‘yes’ vote.

• A questions referring to a specific policy framework document setting out the basic principles of what legalisation for personal use of recreational cannabis in New Zealand would entail: “Do you support legalising recreational cannabis in accordance with [published policy document]?” A ‘yes’ vote would result in the duly elected government and Parliament having some moral imperative, but no obligation, to enact law changes consistent with that policy document;

• A question referring to draft legislation that outlines the regulatory model for cannabis: ‘Do you support legalising the personal use of recreational cannabis in accordance with [published draft legislation]?” Similar to option 2, a ‘yes’ vote would result in the duly elected government and Parliament having some moral imperative, but no obligation, to enact the legislation.

• A question referring to legislation already enacted but conditional on an affirmative vote on the referendum: “Do you support legalising recreational cannabis in accordance with the [Drug Reform] Act 20XX?” A ‘yes’ vote would trigger the legislation coming into effect.

Brexit shows the dangers of a referendum when people neither know exactly what they’re voting for nor understand the consequences.

This leaked paper raises serious questions about the questions and whether or not we’ll know enough to make a fully informed vote.

There’s also the question of who leaked the paper and why?

Is it someone who is unhappy about this particular issue or is it someone who is unhappy about the direction – or more accurately lack of direction – of the government and it’s continuing non-delivery of anything of substance nearly half way through what is supposed to be the year of delivery?


April 9 in history

April 9, 2019

32 Jesus Christ ascended into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday.

193 Septimius Severus was proclaimed Roman Emperor by the army in Illyricum.

475 Byzantine Emperor Basiliscus issued a circular letter (Enkyklikon) to the bishops of his empire, supporting the Monophysite christological position.

1241  Battle of Liegnitz: Mongol forces defeated the Polish and German armies.

1413  Henry V was crowned King of England.

1440 Christopher of Bavaria was appointed King of Denmark.

1682 Robert Cavelier de La Salle discovered the mouth of the Mississippi River, claimed it for France and named it Louisiana.

1807 – James Bannerman, Scottish theologian and academic was born (d. 1868).

1835 – Leopold II of Belgium  was born(d. 1909).

1850 – Nine Sisters of Mercy arrived in Auckland on the Oceanie with Bishop Pompallier and a number of priests.

Sisters of Mercy arrive in New Zealand

1860 The oldest audible sound recording of a human voice was made.

1865 American Civil War: Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia (26,765 troops) to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, effectively ending the war.

1865 Birth of Charles Proteus Steinmetz, German-American mathematician and electrical engineer (d. 1923).

1867 Chris Watson, Chilean-Australian journalist and politician, third Prime Minister of Australia, was born (d. 1941).

1867  Alaska purchase: Passing by a single vote, the United States Senate ratified a treaty with Russia for the purchase of Alaska.

1872 – Léon Blum, Jewish-French lawyer and politician, Prime Minister of France  was born (d. 1950).

1898 Paul Robeson, American singer and activist, was born  (d. 1976).

1909 The U.S. Congress passed the Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act.

1916  World War I: The Battle of Verdun – German forces launched their third offensive of the battle.

1917 World War I: The Battle of Arras  started with Canadian Corps executing a massive assault on Vimy Ridge.

1918 World War I: The Battle of the Lys – the Portuguese Expeditionary Corps was crushed by the German forces during the Spring Offensive on the Belgian region of Flanders.

1926 Hugh Hefner, American entrepreneur and publisher, was born.

1927 – Stanley Frank “Tiny” Hill, All Black,  was born.

1929  – Fred Hollows, New Zealand-Australian ophthalmologist was born (d. 1993).

Fred Hollows

1932 Unemployed workers in Dunedin reacted angrily to the refusal of the Hospital Board to offer assistance, protesters stoned the mayor’s relief depot and tried to storm the Hospital Board’s offices, before being dispersed by police batons.

Unemployed disturbances in Dunedin

1934 – Bill Birch, New Zealand politician, was born.

Bill Birch.jpg

1937 The Kamikaze arrived at Croydon Airport – the first Japanese-built aircraft to fly to Europe.

1939 Marian Anderson sang at the Lincoln Memorial, after being denied the right to sing at the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Constitution Hall.

1940 World War II: Germany invaded Denmark and Norway.

1942 World War II: The Battle of Bataan/Bataan Death March – United States forces surrendered on the Bataan Peninsula. The Japanese Navy launched an air raid on Trincomalee; Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Hermes and Royal Australian Navy Destroyer HMAS Vampire were sunk off the island’s east coast.

1945 World War II: The German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer was sunk.

1945 – World War II: The Battle of Königsberg, in East Prussia, ended.

1945 – The United States Atomic Energy Commission was formed.

1947 The Glazier-Higgins-Woodward tornadoes killed 181 and injured970 in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

1947 – The Journey of Reconciliation, the first interracial Freedom Ride  started through the upper South in violation of Jim Crow laws. The riders wanted enforcement of the United States Supreme Court’s 1946 Irene Morgan decision that banned racial segregation in interstate travel.

1948 Jorge Eliécer Gaitán’s assassination provoked a violent riot (El Bogotazo) in Bogotá, and a further ten years of violence in Colombia known as La violencia.

1948 – Massacre at Deir Yassin.

1952 Hugo Ballivian’s government was overthrown by the Bolivian National Revolution, starting a period of agrarian reform, universal suffrage and the nationalisation of tin mines.

1957 The Suez Canal in Egypt was cleared and opened to shipping.

1959 Mercury program: NASA announced the selection of the United States’ first seven astronauts,-  the “Mercury Seven“.

1965 Astrodome opened and the first indoor baseball game was played.

1967 The first Boeing 737 (a 100 series) made its maiden flight.

1968 Martin Luther King Jr’s funeral.

1969 – Paula Bennett, National Party Cabinet Minister and Upper Harbour MP, was born.

Paula Bennett.jpg

1969 The “Chicago Eight” pled not guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to incite a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.

1969 The first British-built Concorde 002 makes its maiden flight from Filton to RAF Fairford.

1975 The first game of the Philippine Basketball Association, the second oldest professional basketball league in the world.

1978  Rachel Stevens, English singer (S Club), was born.

1989  The April 9 tragedy in Tbilisi, Georgian SSR an anti-Soviet peaceful demonstration and hunger strikes, demanding restoration of Georgian independence was dispersed by the Soviet army, resulting in 20 deaths and hundreds of injuries.

1991 Georgia declared its independence from the Soviet Union.

1992 A U.S. Federal Court found former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega guilty of drug and racketeering charges. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

1992 John Major‘s Conservative Party won an unprecedented fourth general election victory.

1999  Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara, President of Niger, was assassinated.

2002 The funeral of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother at Westminster Abbey.

2003 2003 invasion of Iraq: Baghdad fell to American forces.

2005 Charles, Prince of Wales married Camilla Parker Bowles.

2009 In Tbilisi, Georgia, up to 60,000 people protested against the government of Mikheil Saakashvili.

2011 – A gunman murdered five people, injured eleven, and committed suicide in a mall in the Netherlands.

2013 – A gunman murdered 13 people in a spree shooting in the village of Velika Ivanča, Serbia.

2014  – A student stabbed 20 people at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, Pennsylvania.

2017 – Palm Sunday church bombings at Coptic Churches in Tanta and Alexandria.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Fee-free & fewer students

November 21, 2018

The money spent on fee-free tertiary education hasn’t resulted in more students:

The Labour-led Government’s election bribe of fees-free tertiary education has been a complete failure, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Paula Bennett says.

“Education Minister Chris Hipkins’ own numbers show there are 2,400 fewer students in tertiary education and training than a year ago.

We don’t know if numbers would have dropped even more had the fee-free policy not been introduced.

But we do know that gifting a fee-free first year to all students, regardless of whether or not they need it, is poor use of public money.

“This expensive policy was designed to attract more students into tertiary education and it has completely failed.

“This policy is costing taxpayers $2.8 billion dollars and we’re going backwards. They should never have over promised and should be spending this money in education areas where it is really needed. . . 

Helping children who start school without the language and other skills needed to learn to read, write and do maths; helping those further through school and failing; helping those with special needs . . .

If the government has spare money to spend on tertiary education it should go on ensuring the quality of teaching; helping people who would otherwise not be able to study.

Then, rather than fee-free education for all, it should expand the policy of the previous government of writing off student loans for people like health professionals and vets who work in areas where it is difficult to recruit staff.

Throwing away money on fee-free study is even worse when teachers have a good case for improved pay and conditions but the government is telling them it doesn’t have enough to meet their demands.

The $2.8 million would be far better spent paying more to people who have successfully completed their studies and are working to educate the next generation than throwing it every first year student regardless of what they’re studying and whether or not they pass.


Priorities, platitudes, no plan

September 17, 2018

Jacinda Ardern has bowed to Winston Peters – her big speech yesterday talked not of a Labour-led governs but either this government or the coalition government.

The speech was an attempt to show coalition unity after the recent shambles, and told us very little new.

She talked of 12 priorities, but when it came to details, it was mostly the what with little how, and the what was more about what they’ve done or already announced than what they will do.

It was full of platitudes like:

. . .We will:

A. Ensure everyone who is able to, is earning, learning, caring or volunteering . . 

And the plan? It was a whole lot more about where they want to go with little about how they’ll get there.

A good government knows where it’s going, and how to get there,  from the start, not nearly one year into a three-year term.

The “plan” such as it is, is here.


Timing deliberate

June 12, 2018

Soon to-be acting Prime Minister Winston Peters is suing the Government.

Peters is suing the Ministry of Social Development, plus it its chief executive, Brendan Boyle, and State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes for $450,000 for breach of privacy – relating to his belief over how details of his pension overpayment were leaked to journalists.

He is also suing former ministers Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley but that is no surprise. They have always been targets.

The really stunning aspect of the new action is its timing so close to the date he is due to become Acting Prime Minister for six weeks.

Even if he had a water-tight case – and there is no evidence that he has – wouldn’t he delay it for the sake of a peaceful transition? . . 

Quite what Peters expects to achieve by wasting taxpayers’ money on this at all let alone on the eve of his taking over as acting PM is hard to fathom.

But the timing must be deliberate and it comes with his waiting until the last minute to pull support for repealing the three-strikes legislation.

Anyone willing to bet that all will be calm and stable while Peters is acting PM?

 


April 9 in history

April 9, 2018

32 Jesus Christ ascended into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday.

193 Septimius Severus was proclaimed Roman Emperor by the army in Illyricum.

475 Byzantine Emperor Basiliscus issued a circular letter (Enkyklikon) to the bishops of his empire, supporting the Monophysite christological position.

1241  Battle of Liegnitz: Mongol forces defeated the Polish and German armies.

1413  Henry V was crowned King of England.

1440 Christopher of Bavaria was appointed King of Denmark.

1682 Robert Cavelier de La Salle discovered the mouth of the Mississippi River, claimed it for France and named it Louisiana.

1807 – James Bannerman, Scottish theologian and academic was born (d. 1868).

1835 – Leopold II of Belgium  was born(d. 1909).

1850 – Nine Sisters of Mercy arrived in Auckland on the Oceanie with Bishop Pompallier and a number of priests.

Sisters of Mercy arrive in New Zealand

1860 The oldest audible sound recording of a human voice was made.

1865 American Civil War: Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia (26,765 troops) to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, effectively ending the war.

1865 Birth of Charles Proteus Steinmetz, German-American mathematician and electrical engineer (d. 1923).

1867 Chris Watson, Chilean-Australian journalist and politician, third Prime Minister of Australia, was born (d. 1941).

1867  Alaska purchase: Passing by a single vote, the United States Senate ratified a treaty with Russia for the purchase of Alaska.

1872 – Léon Blum, Jewish-French lawyer and politician, Prime Minister of France  was born (d. 1950).

1898 Paul Robeson, American singer and activist, was born  (d. 1976).

1909 The U.S. Congress passed the Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act.

1916  World War I: The Battle of Verdun – German forces launched their third offensive of the battle.

1917 World War I: The Battle of Arras  started with Canadian Corps executing a massive assault on Vimy Ridge.

1918 World War I: The Battle of the Lys – the Portuguese Expeditionary Corps was crushed by the German forces during the Spring Offensive on the Belgian region of Flanders.

1926 Hugh Hefner, American entrepreneur and publisher, was born.

1927 – Stanley Frank “Tiny” Hill, All Black,  was born.

1929  – Fred Hollows, New Zealand-Australian ophthalmologist was born (d. 1993).

Fred Hollows

1932 Unemployed workers in Dunedin reacted angrily to the refusal of the Hospital Board to offer assistance, protesters stoned the mayor’s relief depot and tried to storm the Hospital Board’s offices, before being dispersed by police batons.

Unemployed disturbances in Dunedin

1934 – Bill Birch, New Zealand politician, was born.

Bill Birch.jpg

1937 The Kamikaze arrived at Croydon Airport – the first Japanese-built aircraft to fly to Europe.

1939 Marian Anderson sang at the Lincoln Memorial, after being denied the right to sing at the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Constitution Hall.

1940 World War II: Germany invaded Denmark and Norway.

1942 World War II: The Battle of Bataan/Bataan Death March – United States forces surrendered on the Bataan Peninsula. The Japanese Navy launched an air raid on Trincomalee; Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Hermes and Royal Australian Navy Destroyer HMAS Vampire were sunk off the island’s east coast.

1945 World War II: The German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer was sunk.

1945 – World War II: The Battle of Königsberg, in East Prussia, ended.

1945 – The United States Atomic Energy Commission was formed.

1947 The Glazier-Higgins-Woodward tornadoes killed 181 and injured970 in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

1947 – The Journey of Reconciliation, the first interracial Freedom Ride  started through the upper South in violation of Jim Crow laws. The riders wanted enforcement of the United States Supreme Court’s 1946 Irene Morgan decision that banned racial segregation in interstate travel.

1948 Jorge Eliécer Gaitán’s assassination provoked a violent riot (El Bogotazo) in Bogotá, and a further ten years of violence in Colombia known as La violencia.

1948 – Massacre at Deir Yassin.

1952 Hugo Ballivian’s government was overthrown by the Bolivian National Revolution, starting a period of agrarian reform, universal suffrage and the nationalisation of tin mines.

1957 The Suez Canal in Egypt was cleared and opened to shipping.

1959 Mercury program: NASA announced the selection of the United States’ first seven astronauts,-  the “Mercury Seven“.

1965 Astrodome opened and the first indoor baseball game was played.

1967 The first Boeing 737 (a 100 series) made its maiden flight.

1968 Martin Luther King Jr’s funeral.

1969 – Paula Bennett, National Party Cabinet Minister and Upper Harbour MP, was born.

Paula Bennett.jpg

1969 The “Chicago Eight” pled not guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to incite a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.

1969 The first British-built Concorde 002 makes its maiden flight from Filton to RAF Fairford.

1975 The first game of the Philippine Basketball Association, the second oldest professional basketball league in the world.

1978  Rachel Stevens, English singer (S Club), was born.

1989  The April 9 tragedy in Tbilisi, Georgian SSR an anti-Soviet peaceful demonstration and hunger strikes, demanding restoration of Georgian independence was dispersed by the Soviet army, resulting in 20 deaths and hundreds of injuries.

1991 Georgia declared its independence from the Soviet Union.

1992 A U.S. Federal Court found former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega guilty of drug and racketeering charges. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

1992 John Major‘s Conservative Party won an unprecedented fourth general election victory.

1999  Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara, President of Niger, was assassinated.

2002 The funeral of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother at Westminster Abbey.

2003 2003 invasion of Iraq: Baghdad fell to American forces.

2005 Charles, Prince of Wales married Camilla Parker Bowles.

2009 In Tbilisi, Georgia, up to 60,000 people protested against the government of Mikheil Saakashvili.

2011 – A gunman murdered five people, injured eleven, and committed suicide in a mall in the Netherlands.

2013 – A gunman murdered 13 people in a spree shooting in the village of Velika Ivanča, Serbia.

2014  – A student stabbed 20 people at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, Pennsylvania.

2017 – Palm Sunday church bombings at Coptic Churches in Tanta and Alexandria.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Nats not Maori enough?

March 1, 2018

The leader and deputy leader of the National Party are Maori.

So is Labour’s deputy, the leader and deputy of New Zealand First, and one of the two contenders for the co-leader of the Green Party.

That ought to be something to celebrate.

It is except that several commentators don’t think National’s Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett are Maori enough.

 . . Bridges’ generational change then is about as solid as his claims to his Maori heritage and that of his deputy, neither of whom have made much of it in their rise up through the ranks; not altogether surprising considering their new leader is just three sixteenths Maori and Bennett’s grandmother was half-Maori. . . 

Funny how it’s only an issue when it’s the National Party.

That aside, the  furore illustrates one of the problems with identity politics – they divide rather than unite.

There is no single way to be a Maori, any other race or ethnicity, gender or any of the other groups people may or may not identify with.

There will be a lot of urban Maori whose experiences are similar to those of the National leadership duo, does that make them any less Maori?

Of course not.

Let’s celebrate that we’re in a country where race, gender and any of the other factors which separate and are used to discriminate against people in other countries simply don’t matter without nit-picking over what does or doesn’t constitute this or that identity.


Simon Bridges wins Nat leadership

February 27, 2018

Simon Bridges is the new National Party leader.

He is doing a media conference at 1pm.

There is no mention of the deputy but whether or not Paula Bennett still holds that post, she looks happy in this photo.

Update: Paula is still the deputy.


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