Quotes of the month

01/11/2022

Let us not get bogged down in the need to achieve real benefit for Maori when we can instead deliver a bunch of virtue signalling nonsense that benefits only an elite class of Maori, who can slap each other on the back enjoying the success of bullying those who are trying to advocate for the vulnerable. Casey Costello 

I wonder by whose measure the understanding of my “Maori world” is tested. After six years of advocating for equality of rights for ALL New Zealanders in my role with Hobson’s Pledge, the attacks on my right to speak as a Maori are truly water off a duck’s back. Unlike the Kelvins of this world, I don’t claim to speak for ALL Maori. I am not afraid of my views being challenged and I will debate the issues and demand accountability. I do not need to resort to name-calling and insults that belittle those who have a different point of view.Casey Costello 

So we now expose the truth of the Labour Maori caucus agenda: we are not being divided just by whether we are Maori or non-Maori, that is too simple. For being Maori, although undefined, now requires you to meet the standard set by Labour. The qualification to join this exclusive club is no longer whakapapa, it is whether you agree with the elected and self-appointed elite. – Casey Costello 

This Labour Government has not achieved, in their five years in power, one positive shift in the dial for any measure of Maori outcomes. There have been no better education outcomes, no real reduction in homelessness and no increase in home ownership, no lifting out of poverty, no reduction in prison numbers, no enhancement to mental health………nothing. But rather than hanging their heads in shame or seeking better solutions, they double down, apparently believing the best form of defence is attack. Their failures are laid at the feet of systemic racism and colonisation.

What a perfect scenario: you can be the Government of ineptitude and abject failure but protected from any accountability for that failure – “it’s not our fault, it’s colonisation”.Casey Costello 

It seems in New Zealand we are not championing the aspirational words of Martin Luther King in that we are not seeking to have our children valued on the content of their character but rather judged on the subjective measure assigned by Kelvin Davis. – Casey Costello 

It is looking ever more likely that the economic piper must indeed be paid, with the odds shortening on a worldwide recession in the next 12 months.

It still beggars belief that governments and central bankers didn’t realise what they were flirting with when they opened the fiscal and monetary spigots to such an unprecedented degree during the pandemic.

Or that they took no corrective action once it became apparent we had a supply shock rather than a demand shock. –  Steven Joyce 

We can’t control inflation with big wage increases and partying up at restaurants all the time.

The immediate cause of the inflation we have been seeing is, as always, too much money chasing too few goods and services. – Steven Joyce 

On the supply side, easing supply bottlenecks and the services sectors coming back on stream will help.

However, the big issue both in services and more widely is labour supply and gummed up borders. Plus, in our case, a Government that can’t philosophically or practically get out of its own way long enough to even have a decent crack at solving the problem. – Steven Joyce 

So where did we go so wrong?

I blame a trend I’ll call performative policymaking.

Over the last five to eight years there has been a worldwide tendency to make grand rhetorical gestures that instantly sound good, but with little regard for execution risk or consequences, especially economic consequences. – Steven Joyce 

Our own Government was an early adopter.

Who can forget the oil and gas ban that has directly led to burning more coal, KiwiBuild’s 100,000 homes, reportedly dreamt up in the back of a taxi? The plan to slash migration? Or Shane Jones’ one billion trees? – Steven Joyce 

There is a legitimate debate to be had about the size of the state and money being better off in the hands of the people that earned it rather than legions of bureaucrats.

Particularly in tight economic times and including in our country where a statist Government has significantly increased its own size as a proportion of society under the cover of Covid.

And no surprises which side I’m on. But you can’t be aspirational and half-arsed about it, and forget about balancing the books. Steven Joyce 

Politicians have gotten used to being able to make feel-good announcements and rely on the short news cycles of the social media age to sweep away the need to deliver and be accountable.

But times are a-changing again.

Our political leaders are increasingly being faced with the return of political gravity and economic reality.  – Steven Joyce 

I think we are witnessing a new age of political realism dawning.

It will likely be tough for a while as we unwind all the consequences of this performative policy-making but the world will ultimately be the better for it. – Steven Joyce 

What it gives away is the degree to which people in Britain have come to believe that all money is the government’s and that what is left over for the people has been granted them by the government’s grace and favor. But the government cannot give money (or at least economic product) away; it can only refrain from taking it. – Theodore Dalrymple

Beyond the correct rate of taxation, however, lie the much deeper problems of the country. For years, regardless of who was in power, government policy has been to import cheap unskilled or semi-skilled labor, while paying large numbers of people to remain economically inactive, in the process placing great strain on housing and public services through overpopulation. The government has subsidized socially irresponsible behavior to the point at which, for people at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale, such behavior is more profitable than work; these people depend on the government for everything. Through its education system, Britain has performed miracles of inefficiency, resulting in a substantial population of expensively educated semi-literates, whose labor would be too expensive even if it were free.Theodore Dalrymple

At $370 million, the Government is going to spend more to merge RNZ and TVNZ than the combined net worth of those entities. – Melissa Lee

I was honoured to have been asked to take up a position on the board of Māori Television, and assumed I was there because of the way a small team of clever, young, white people I worked with from Dunedin had started using the latest technologies to bring Māori stories, a Māori world view, to life across a wide range of platforms that now made up the media landscape.

But no – I didn’t have te reo – so I was quite clearly in Willie’s “useless Māori” category.

That didn’t really bother me because nothing Willie said could take away from my sense of who I was and where I came from. Especially because, at the time, I felt his contribution to the media landscape was more hui than doee.

But Willie is now Minister of Broadcasting and Media and he is charged with merging Radio New Zealand and Television New Zealand into a future-focused broadcasting entity that has to face the huge challenges of the new online platforms that are decimating the old world of radio and television. The skillsets and experience needed for a role such as this have challenged some of the largest media organisations in the world, not to mention some of the most tech-savvy storytellers on the planet.

But, when I look at Willie’s CV, there is not a lot to suggest that this is a job he is particularly well qualified for.

He does have te reo – I have to give him that – but where is the detailed knowledge and vision for a future-focused entity that will deliver content that will engage viewers across the wide range of platforms that are now available to all?  – Sir Ian Taylor

There is no place for discrimination by Māori, for Māori who are dismissed as having a “vanilla lens on the Māori world view” simply because they do not have te reo, or who choose to embrace all sides of their whakapapa – my father was Scottish. – Sir Ian Taylor

Kō ngā tāhū ā o tapu wai inanahi, hei tauira ora mō āpōpō.

The footsteps laid down by our ancestors centuries ago, create the paving stones upon which we stand today.

To that we add: innovation is in your DNA, wear it with pride. – Sir Ian Taylor

It’s] pretty clear to me that you are either born a male of female, or else, there are some people who are born with both genders. I have no problem with other people choosing to be whoever they like to be.

Personally, I self-identify as a 27-year-old Slovakian model. – Judith Collins

That Davis and Jackson were quick to temper betrays their character. But it also speaks to a wider problem within the Labour tribe – who prefer invective to rational debate.

This is the anger of the pure believer towards the apostate. It is easier to suppress criticism by dismissing or marginalising the critics as ‘bad’ people (whether that be racist, over-privileged, transphobic, etc) rather than actually addressing the issues.

Ardern’s empathy and cool-headed compassion was not a construct – that is her nature. But it’s easy to be nice when you are winning. Now that the political landscape looks significantly less favourable, some of her MPs are becoming defensive. It is the wrong kind of anger to harness if they want to remain in Government. – Andrea Vance

Things happen in your life and unfortunately they can shape you in negative ways. I became very fearful, I was holding it within me. I actually, in my little kid brain, thought that if I was around drugs or the white powder that I was responsible for killing people because of what I’d seen.

I had this internal guilt, I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. I had no safe spaces at that time so it ate away. But after talking about, accepting it and releasing that guilt and shame [I realised that] sometimes these things happen.

It left no what-ifs about it. If you don’t get on top of your drug problem, this is what happens. It’s a bad road. – Ruby Tui

What happens to us, especially what happens to us as children, doesn’t need to define who we are as adults. And it’s never too late to look into these things that happened to us.

It’s never too late to forgive ourselves. I had to forgive myself because I thought I was killing people, and I wasn’t.

We’re all human and we all have our dark stuff and our dark times. People are so scared of the dark but without those times you can’t appreciate the light. You learn things at rock bottom that you’ll never learn on mountaintops.Ruby Tui

There’s nothing as inspiring as seeing your mum get out of a bad relationship and organise and reach out and get help. It just makes me feel like I can do anything. – Ruby Tui

A stoush between collectivist and individualist Māori is long overdue. It has simmered for a long time but this week boiled over when Kelvin Davis exposed his thinking for all and sundry to examine. He confirmed that a Māori world with its own set of values exists, and that anyone with even a smidgen of Māori heritage should get themselves into it. It wasn’t a kindly suggestion. It was a command. The cost of not complying? Derision and ostracism. It’s reminiscent of the treatment handed out to those who don’t want to be part of the Gloriavale commune.

The tribe is a communistic unit. The tribe takes precedence. It owns you. Its culture is all-encompassing. It provides strength in numbers, security and identity. But it is also stultifying and limiting depending on which lens it is viewed through. Ultimately, inevitably, whether at the micro or macro level, the question must be answered. Is your allegiance to the tribe, or is it to yourself and your chosen group of family and friends. – Lindsay Mitchel 

Mixed partnerships are more common than those with the same ethnicity. And each of these partnerships – many producing children – will face issues of concurrent cultures.

Increasingly, through media and public services, through health, justice and education, the Māori culture is being prioritised. To the point of being romanticized and lionized. Long-standing rules about the state being secular are broken to accommodate Māori spiritualism. Te reo – or knowledge of te ao – is de facto compulsory inasmuch as, if you don’t have it there are now careers that are barred to you. The Māori ‘team’ propelling this are on a roll. They are in ascendancy. They have gathered non-Māori into their tribe with astonishing success and seeming ease, though reflecting on the creeping compulsion maybe ‘ease’ is the wrong word. –  Lindsay Mitchel 

In the middle of last century sociologists observed Pakeha men who married Māori women tended to move into the tribe; Māori men who married non-Māori moved into the non-tribal society. Tension would have existed always but so did the freedom to choose.

What kind of society wants to remove that freedom? One in which the collective trumps the individual.

Forget all the hoo-ha about culture, values and Māori mysticism. Colonisation, oppression and racism. They are only trinkets to tempt followers of fashion.

What is happening is a clash between philosophies. Politics is the practical expression of philosophy.

So it isn’t surprising that the strong-arming to get with the Māori worldview programme is coming from the left (the Labour Māori caucus, Green and Māori Party MPs). And those resisting are coming from the right (National and ACT). What played out in parliament this week, and is still reverberating with non-politicians now entering the fray, is the age-old stoush between collectivism and individualism. It’s New Zealand’s cold war.

If we are going to be forced to take a side, and mounting evidence points to this eventuality no matter your ethnicity, think of the conflict in these terms.

Do you want to own your own life? –  Lindsay Mitchel 

 In public life we need more good people doing things and fewer strutting peacocks admiring their reflection in a wall of camera lenses.

Media attention is addictive and those who crave adulation are driven to ever-greater acts of absurdity. Those who get things done are often unseen and, in the case of Finlayson, unsung.  – Damien Grant

 In what is my favourite line of his book this criticism is airily dismissed: “The pettifogging concerns of professors of law did not worry me.”

Now, I am not qualified to arbitrate on the issues, but I endorse the robustness of the language and the withering contempt that goes along with it. Those that can, do, those that can’t, teach.

This is a book written by someone who was in politics to do something, even if at times the reader gets a sense that the author wasn’t entirely sure what that something was.

But when the ministerial warrants came his way, he applied his mind, energies and a systematic, if at times inconsistent, set of principles to the task before him. –

If you wish to write a book after you leave office, make sure you have something to write about other than snarky barbs traded between colleagues. Although there is enough of that to keep things lively. Journalists would also do well to put down their phones and read it. –

 

So what if they are vulnerable, poor or uneducated or, dare I say it, ‘victims of colonisation’. Go tell that to the dairy owner when his business has been smashed and robbed for the fifth time this year, or when a baseball bat is swung at his head, or the security guard who just got bashed for it. How does that make it OK?

There are thousands upon thousands of kids in our country who have suffered those issues, and more, but they don’t stoop so low as to use it as an excuse to commit violent crime. The vast majority pick themselves up with a thing called ‘pride’ and ‘respect’ and crack on with life in society and are productive and have never committed the crimes the small minority do.Darroch Ball

For goodness sake, any parent knows bringing up kids in a household needs boundaries and consequences. The further they push the boundaries, the harsher the consequences. It’s not a hard concept.

Give these kids what they need – care, genuine adult involvement, boundaries and, most importantly, consequences. And by consequences I mean something they won’t like. Not a slap on the wrist and not giving them ‘street cred’ with their mates. – Darroch Ball

Put money and resources into prevention all you want. But this is not binary. It can’t be at the sacrifice of punishment and accountability – which is what this current government seems to think.

Newsflash – it’s not working and the numbers of youth committing these violent crimes are growing for reason.

“If you keep doing what you’ve done you’re gonna keep getting what you’ve got.”

Time for change.Darroch Ball

I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. Learn how to target, Labour. Find your audience, talk to them. Don’t tarnish our reputation with yet another media conference telling all and sundry that we’re terrible employers.

Give me strength. If National gets into Government, their first job is to rebuild Brand New Zealand and boy, they’ve got a bit of work to do.  – Rachel Smalley

Proof of how people vote undermines the secrecy of voting in a way that telling people how you voted does not. A society in which people regularly show – not just tell – others how they voted, is one that is just a little more open to pressuring and bribery of voters.

There are people in long-term relationships with partners who might tell them how to vote, but who will never actually know if their advice was taken, because we have the secret ballot. A secret ballot reinforced with rules about voting in private and bans on photography in voting places. (I know this also makes less sense with postal voting.) – Graeme Edgeler

Yesterday was one of the proudest days of my life. To be offered the role of CEO of the Essendon Football Club – who I have followed since I was a boy – was a profound honour,” Thorburn wrote.

However, today it became clear to me that my personal Christian faith is not tolerated or permitted in the public square, at least by some and perhaps by many. I was being required to compromise beyond a level that my conscience allowed. People should be able to hold different views on complex personal and moral matters, and be able to live and work together, even with those differences, and always with respect. Behaviour is the key. This is all an important part of a tolerant and diverse society.

Despite my own leadership record, within hours of my appointment being announced, the media and leaders of our community had spoken. They made it clear that my Christian faith and my association with a Church are unacceptable in our culture if you wish to hold a leadership position in society.

This grieves me greatly – though not just for myself, but for our society overall. I believe we are poorer for the loss of our great freedoms of thought, conscience and belief that made for a truly diverse, just and respectful community.Andrew Thorburn

Today’s police could do with taking a leaf out of Robert Peel’s nine principles of policing, which form the basis of policing by consent. Principle five states that officers should be committed ‘to seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy

It’s a lesson worth heeding. If the police continue to pander to political lobby groups, public trust will continue to fall. – Carrie Clark

But the larger the group of employees covered by a Fair Pay Agreement, the less workable will be the outcomes for businesses needing terms and conditions tailored to their individual workplaces.

Even by the 1970s, cracks were emerging in the compulsory centralised wage bargaining system that had dominated New Zealand’s industrial relations for most of the 20th century. It was proving insufficiently flexible to cope with the increasing sophistication of the New Zealand economy.

In New Zealand’s more complex 21st-century economy, the one-size-fits-all approach to collective bargaining will be even more unworkable.

You can almost hear the armies of employment lawyers getting ready for battle. – Roger Partridge

Last week, during her address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern proved, once again, she is the very definition of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

While she poses as the smiling, doe-eyed, “compassionate” face of modern progressivism, beneath the soft veneer is a sneering intolerance for anyone who may challenge her. – Daisy Cousens 

However, what’s important is her use of the words “disinformation” and “misinformation”.

Those two words have been rendered almost meaningless in recent years, thanks to leftist leaders using them relentlessly to silence other points of view.Daisy Cousens 

The purpose of this “mis-or-disinformation” branding was to outlaw dissent by shaming its proponents.

Such attempts to control the conversation are not unique to late 2020; the left have used terms such as “hate speech” and baseless accusations of bigotry to sully competing opinions for many years.

However, since nobody has ever been able to define “hate speech” et al, “mis and disinformation” has become the primary tool of the trade. – Daisy Cousens 

Beware the left-wing leader who accuses the other side of spreading mis-or-disinformation.

A non-alarmist approach to managing climate change is not mis-or-disinformation.

Perhaps if Ardern and her ilk had policies that were actually beneficial to the public, they wouldn’t be so trigger happy when they crack down on dissent.Daisy Cousens 

That’s convenient, isn’t it? The pre-existing rules around fairness and balance in journalism that have worked for decades are suddenly in need of some tweaking, right as Stuff’s ‘Fire and Fury’ documentary is due to come before the Media Council for voiding its bowels all over a group of very disillusioned Kiwis and not bothering to speak to them.  – Ben Espiner

Dealing with nay-sayers and holdouts can definitely be frustrating, especially when the need for change seems urgent. But disagreement is part and parcel of the democratic process, not to mention something that’s protected by the fundamental liberal right of free expression.James Kierstead

Our Government, unfortunately, perceives businesses to be big powerful employers with endless amounts of money – but the opposite is true.

Statistics NZ tell us that only 3 per cent of all New Zealand enterprises employ more than twenty staff while the other 97 per cent are either small employers or just self-employed Kiwi battlers desperately trying to get ahead as independent contractors. – Max Whitehead

A member of the British parliament called Rupa Huq was once a university teacher of sociology and criminology, and may therefore be assumed to have, ex officio, a firm grasp of unreality. Such a grasp is no handicap, of course, to a political career, indeed of late seems almost to be a precondition of one, to judge by the performance of many of our leaders. But some things are unforgivable, and Huq has just committed the unforgivable.

Speaking at a joint meeting of two pressure groups called British Future and the Black Equity Organisation, Huq said of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng, that he was only “superficially a black man,” and that if you heard him speak on the radio, you would not have guessed that he was black.Theodore Dalrymple

But what Huq’s comments suggested was that he wasn’t really a black man because (a) he is highly educated and (b) he does not speak as many denizens of a black ghetto speak. She was but a short step away from saying that the superficiality of his blackness was proved by his non-use of dope or crack, and his lack of a criminal record. If he had been deeply rather than only superficially black, he would have been out mugging old ladies. You can’t really get more racist than this. – Theodore Dalrymple

Now, however, we are plagued by what Stalin, referring to writers, called “engineers of souls” such as DiAngelo: those who will not leave us alone until all our thoughts and feelings are “correct” according to their own conceptions of what is right and proper, thus assuring themselves of a job forever, since our thoughts and feelings are never correct. They underestimate or even deny the possibility of self-control, which is the deepest enemy of the would-be purifiers of our souls.Theodore Dalrymple

New Zealand’s foreign policy should be driven by our values, security, trade and a rational examination of our interests. When our foreign policy is promoting the celebrity status of a politician and her personal agenda the result damages New Zealand.- Richard Prebble

Across the country there is a growing sense of disconnection and disempowerment. So much needs to be done, but the democratic transmission-belts that are supposed to carry the needs and wants of the citizenry to the individuals and entities charged with delivering them, no longer seem to work.

Plans are made, and decisions are taken, but not by citizens: not even by the representatives of citizens. At both the national and the local level, unelected and increasingly unaccountable bureaucrats appear to have taken charge. Everywhere, New Zealanders see evidence of centralisation. Everywhere the checks and balances of democracy are being discarded. Elected councillors are expected to act as rubber stamps. Citizens are the stampees.Chris Trotter

At the start of this year, New Zealand’s then justice minister Kris Faafoi was one of those quoting the nation’s high standings in the index, issuing a press release that again confused a corruption perception index with an actual corruption index. Now just 10 months later – and only three months since leaving the cabinet table – Faafoi has left parliament and started his own lobbying firm.

This is an appalling situation. A politician who was intimately involved in the conversations that shape our country now has a job trying to influence the way those conversations go, and is armed with the knowledge that only someone involved in those conversations would have – from the individual positions of other ministers to highly sensitive information from public servants.

And it speaks to our overall naivety as a country – a naivety that probably helps us on that corruption index. – Henry Cooke 

The rules should not allow him to be reading cabinet papers in June and then lobbying his former colleagues on the same matters in October. Other countries – ones that aren’t naive as us – have so-called “revolving door” policies to stop this very thing, forcing elected officials to cool down for some period of months or years before engaging in lobbying.

Opinions vary on how long these things should last, but at the very least an MP should not be able to start lobbying until the end of the parliamentary term in which they were elected. That would keep Faafoi off the blocks for a bit longer than a year. It would also allow people to lose their jobs at elections and immediately find new ones as lobbyists, which would be far from ideal, but it would be a start.

Yet the structural problem exists not just in our hard and fast rules. It’s also in Wellington’s culture. – Henry Cooke 

Those who leave politics do have a right to build a new career, and use the skills politics gave them in that new vocation. But the public has every right to be appalled when the turnaround is this quick, and the service on offer is not just the skills and knowledge of a seasoned political operative, but also the connections retained from someone’s time acting as a servant of the public.

I have hope we can do this, because I don’t think those survey results are really that far out. It’s true that you can’t bribe a cop to get out of a speeding ticket in New Zealand, and that you don’t need to pay off a border guard to get your goods into the country. Our big public institutions are generally aware of these kinds of risks and do their best to mitigate them with very clear rules and norms. It’s time parliament itself did the same. – Henry Cooke 

Probably the most corrupt and broken part of the New Zealand political system is the role of corporate lobbyists influencing policy decisions of governments on behalf of vested interests. This is a group of political insiders – usually former politicians, party staffers or senior Beehive officials – who work at the centre of power and then depart with inside knowledge and networks that they can leverage to help corporate clients influence government policy.

It’s known as a “revolving door” in which corporate interests can prosper through having insiders who move backwards and forwards in and out of the Beehive and other positions of influence. It’s a growth industry in Wellington.

The extraordinary thing is New Zealand is unique in having no regulations on this part of the policy process.Bryce Edwards

Democratic countries don’t normally allow political insiders like Cabinet Ministers to shift straight into jobs with conflicts of interests. In every other similar country there is a mandatory “cooling off” period for political insiders after they leave their taxpayer-funded positions. Transparency International recommends a minimum of a two-year period. – Bryce Edwards

“Every child born in New Zealand, and every legal immigrant, has the same rights. Those are the rights of a citizen. Nobody should get an extra say because of who their great grandparents were. Nobody should have to be treated differently because of who they are,Nicole McKee

All of the good political movements of the past four hundred years have been about ending discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex and sexuality to treat each person with the same dignity. We are the first country in history that’s achieved equal rights and has division as its official policy. – Nicole McKee

Having spent much of my professional life among convicts, I’m all in favor of attempts to reintegrate them into society once they leave prison. The slate cannot be wiped clean—no wiping of a slate can undo a crime once committed—but the writing on the slate shouldn’t act on the rest of a person’s life as a kind of severe chronic disabling disease.

As is so often the case in human affairs, there’s another side to the question. If I were an employer seeking someone in a position of trust (and practically all positions are those of trust), I should quite like to know if an applicant had been guilty of dishonesty. Other things being equal among applicants, I would probably prefer someone who had not been found guilty of a crime, though in some moods I might feel inclined from a sense of social duty or humanity to offer an ex-criminal a job. However, I would like the choice to be mine.  – Theodore Dalrymple

The energy crisis sees Europe now scrambling to reopen mothballed coal power plants and nurse aging nuclear power stations through the winter. They are scrambling to reopen coal mines and reverse fracking bans – but, unfortunately, finding and developing gas reserves takes time, and new gas energy will not come on stream this winter.

The sad fact is that people will die of the cold. In a normal year in the UK, there are 80 times more climate-related deaths due to cold than to heat; regrettably, this winter, it will be more.

Unfortunately, we have already started down the same policy path as Europe and it is crucial that we stop and learn from their mistakes, or we are doomed to repeat them. And at what cost? –  Stuart Smith

The great virtue of a free market is that it can cause tens of thousands of people to pursue promising technologies and promising ways to reduce carbon at their own expense. The market leads to discovery. Politicians, by contrast, think they know “the” answer, and they’re always wrong.David R. Henderson

India is at 23 per cent of world milk production, and their ambition is to keep growing at 6 per cent per year to be at 43 per cent in 20 to 30 years.

They’ve got a carbon footprint per litre of milk that’s about 10 times what you get for a New Zealand litre of milk … And when questioned on what sustainability meant to them, they said: ‘a full belly’. That’s as far as they’re interested in sustainability going.

And so it really made me think if New Zealand’s place in the world is cutting our own production, cutting our own throats, or is it about taking our know-how and can-do attitude to other agricultural systems in the world. – Andrew Hoggard

Sheep and beef accounts for 92,000 workers in this country. 

If this leads to a straight 20% loss of workers, that’s 18 and a half thousand people. 

And then there’s the cost to the economy.  A 24% drop in net revenue means we could lose up to 2.88 billion a year in sheep and beef exports alone. That’s more our entire education system costs us every year. It’s a huge amount of money to pass up.

And it’s not going to stop climate change from happening. It runs the risk of making it worse. New Zealand farmers are the most efficient farmers in the world.  They produce the least carbon emissions per animal.

You take 20% of our meat out of the word, some other country is simply going to step in and take up the slack and they will not farm that meat as efficiently as us, so every animal of ours that they replace, they will put more emissions into the atmosphere than we would’ve.

This plan is an expensive exercise in stupidity. We are definitely making our country poorer and possibly making the planet hotter, for what? 

For bragging rights.Heather du Plessis-Allan

Nobody, least of all the farmers of this country, should be surprised by the government announcement this week of their immoral plan to drastically reduce the nation’s green house gas emissions for no other reason than the pursuit of a debatable objective that has been abandoned in almost all of the original IPCC supporting countries throughout the western world. Note we don’t include the major polluters of the world who also signed the Paris and Glasgow agreements while having no real intention of participating in this flawed response to the latest round of global warming. – Clive Bibby

Nothing forces politicians to do the proverbial back flip more, even when dealing with policies that have been regarded as sacrosanct when times allowed flexibility of choice, than being subjected to the reality of a rapidly changing world. 
Yet here in little old New Zealand, our government is so driven by its own death wish that it is willing to kill the beating heart that has made us the utopian dreamland where everyone wants to be.Clive Bibby

FOUR ELECTIONS IN A ROW the centre-left romped home with the Auckland mayoralty. Four elections of postal voting. Four elections in which the logistical management of the ballot was contracted out to the private sector. Four elections won by white, male politicians over the age of 55 years. Four elections of entirely satisfactory results – at least from the perspective of the centre-left.

One defeat, however, is all that it has taken for the centre-left (and its more combustible fellow-travellers) to denounce the entire electoral process as a rort, and to strongly insinuate that the victorious mayoral candidate, Wayne Brown, is lacking in democratic legitimacy. If this is not a case of sour grapes on the part of the losers, then it is difficult to imagine what a case of sour grapes might look like!  – Chris Trotter 

A powerful sense of entitlement does, however, lie at the heart of the 2022 losers’ sour grapes. Not the entitlement derived from democratic principle, but the sense of entitlement ingrained in political activists who believe themselves to be on the right (that is to say left) side of history. This certainty concerning their own ideological rectitude exists in inverse proportion to their knowledge of the actual nuts-and-bolts of historical and political agency.Chris Trotter 

Democracy isn’t cheap, and it isn’t easy – but it is simple. Don’t insist that the voters be given what they don’t want. Build your footpaths where the people walk. Never, ever, be a sore loser. And, always remember: vox Populi, vox Dei.

The voice of the people, is the voice of God. – Chris Trotter 

I want to talk (briefly) about a difficulty which has grown up in even talking about the problem – that is an ideology of supposed “antiracism” which is beginning to assume the dimensions of a religion or a cult under the influence of which people and institutions are casually and inaccurately labelled as “racist” without any evidentiary basis for the charge. I say an ideology of “supposed anti- racism” because the underlying assumption of this ideology appears to be that Aboriginal people must exist in a permanent state of victimhood, an assumption that is in fact deeply racist. Further, among those in thrall to this ideology, labelling someone or something “racist” seems in many cases to be an end in itself – not a prelude to remedial action, but a substitute for it.Justice Judith Kelly

… it is important to call out false claims of individual racism and false claims of systemic racism – as it is to call out racism where it occurs. It is not helpful to see victimisation where it doesn’t exist. Apart from anything else, it detracts from the search for solutions.

Not all disadvantage is a result of racism. People (all of us) have enough problems as it is without inventing more. – Justice Judith Kelly

It is either a brave or stupid political party, that having received a clear signal from the electorate on its failure to deliver its transformation agenda, forges ahead with more change just days later.

And while Jacinda Ardern denied that the centre-right swing in the local government elections last week was a rejection of her Government’s failure to deliver on its Three Waters programme and identifiable progress on Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand, that’s exactly what the election of right-wing mayors in Auckland, Rotorua, Whanganui, Christchurch and Dunedin determined.

After all, with less than a year before another general election, and the hallowed trophy of a third term, there are hearts and minds, not to mention votes, to be won.Janet WIlson

It’s also proof that the Government has lost touch with its voters when newspaper headlines tout that its emissions scheme will lead to higher food prices – the No 1 concern now – and it forges ahead anyway, happy to claim a world first with emissions pricing across the board.

There’s a good reason for that. Reasons wrapped up in the politics of self-interest and fraught emotions. Being first may give Brand NZ a shiny halo, but that’s not going to be much use when it collapses its largest industry. – Janet WIlson

It’s a brave or stupid political party that wants to swipe 20% off the sheep and beef industry when last year it was worth $9.1 billion in export earnings.

With farming bodies from Federated Farmers to Groundswell NZ enraged, it’s also relevant to ask if this proposal will go the way of Labour’s other transformation policies only to stall and wash up on the rocks of its own aspiration.Janet WIlson

And if it does pass? That will deliver a double blow for Labour’s core constituency – low-income households – who are already struggling to feed themselves.

It’s a brave or stupid party that decides to implement policies that fail voters. – Janet WIlson

Speech should not be the subject of State interference solely because the message is unpleasant, discomforting, disfavoured or feared to be dangerous by the State. This is known as “content or viewpoint neutrality”. This approach prevents the State from regulating speech simply because the speech’s message, idea or viewpoint is unpleasant, discomforting, offensive, disfavoured or feared to be dangerous by government officials or community members. That approach – what could be called “viewpoint discriminatory” regulation – would attack individual liberty but also democratic principles. Officials could use it to suppress unpopular idea or information or manipulate public debate.

Censoring speech because it is disfavoured, no matter how deeply, violates the viewpoint neutrality principle. That principle is also violated when the State suppresses speech about public issues. This can include “hate speech” simply because its views might have a disturbing impact upon the emotions or psyches of some audience members. The State may not punish “hate speech” or speech with other messages simply because of its offensive, discomforting, disfavoured, disturbing or feared message.

Counterspeech is available to address such messages. Only when the speech crosses the threshold into the emergency test – that is when it directly, demonstrably and imminently causes certain specific, objectively ascertainable serious harms that cannot be averted by other than censorship – may the State intervene. – David Harvey 

One of the difficulties facing freedom of expression in New Zealand lies in the climate of fear that has generated over the period of the Covid pandemic. There has been fear about the consequences of the disease, fear if the various directives of the government are not complied with, and fear arising from the expression of contrary views.

Anti-vax sentiments have morphed into anti-government protests and those who express contrarian views have been accused of spreading misinformation and disinformation. All of these views are in the main disfavoured, disturbing or adding to the climate of fear. So much so that the former Chief Censor lent the weight of his office to a publication about misinformation and disinformation entitled the “The Edge of the Infodemic – Challenging Misinformation in Aotearoa”.

One wonders whether the Chief Censor of the time wished to see misinformation come within his ambit and be subject to classification or even being classed as objectionable. It is difficult to see how misinformation or disinformation could fall within the emergency test. Although it may be disfavoured, wrong-headed or disturbing it falls within the scope of viewpoint neutrality, best met with counterspeech. – David Harvey 

A recent demonstration of the overreaction of the public to forms of expression, the rise of the harmful tendency approach and the belief that the State should intervene is chilling and concerning. Rather than addressing the problem with counterspeech or some such similar demonstration, citizens required the Police to investigate incidents involving the flying of flags. – David Harvey 

Although these cases may seem insignificant or trivial in themselves there is a deeper level of concern. Are we becoming too precious about taking offence? Are we leaning towards a “harmful tendency” position? Is the answer to something with which we disagree to complain to the authorities or try to shut it down? That is not what freedom of expression in a democratic society is all about.

That these sentiments seem to be surfacing should be no surprise. The Government holds itself out as the sole source of truth and any disagreement is cast as misinformation or disinformation. Some elements of the media demonise contrary opinions and there seems to be a developing trend to silence or cancel opposing points of view simply because they are perceived to be disagreeable or offensive, rather than engaging with the issue.

The reason that is advanced for failing to engage with the issue is that to do so merely gives oxygen to a contrary point of view, but only by discussion and challenge can the holders of contrary views understand and perhaps even accept they are wrong.

We need to be more robust in the way that we deal with views with which we disagree. We must remember that those expressing such views have as much right to express their sentiments as we have to express ours. And we must remember that the only time speech should be censored is if there is a clear, immediate and present danger that it may cause harm. If the ideas that are the subject of speech are controversial, offensive or disfavoured the remedy lies in debate or persuasion and not the intervention of the State. – David Harvey 

The relationship between intelligence, education, knowledge, and good sense is far from straightforward. Bad and foolish—but allegedly sophisticated—ideas can beguile the educated, or important portions of the educated, for decades at a time. The Marxian labour theory of value was one such which held much of the European intelligentsia in thrall for a long time, despite its obvious untruth. They wanted it to be true, so for them it was true, and in the process, they often became learned in their own fundamental error. For them, the wish was father to the conviction. Theodore Dalrymple

But in the eyes of most people, the fact that the rich would benefit from the tax cuts more than the poor was enough in itself to condemn them, irrespective of their outcome for their economy as a whole: that is to say, even if they were to increase general prosperity, they would still be undesirable because they would have increased inequality.  – Theodore Dalrymple

A dog-in-the-manger attitude to the rich is now morally de rigueur, even among those whom the majority of their fellow citizens would consider rich. To hate the rich is, ex officio almost, to sympathise with the poor, and therefore be virtuous: but hatred and sympathy are not two sides of the same coin. Hatred not only goes deeper than sympathy but is easier to rouse and to act upon. It is quite independent of sympathy. Hatred of the rich in the name of equality was probably responsible for more death and destruction in the twentieth century than any other political passion. The category of the rich tends to expand as circumstances require: ‘Rich bastards,’ Lenin called the kulaks, the Russian peasants whose wealth would now be considered dire poverty, and which consisted of the possession of an animal or two, or a farm tool, more than other peasants possessed. What Freud called the narcissism of small differences (the psychological equivalent of marginal utility) means that grounds, however trifling, can always be found for hatred and envy.

This is not to say, I hope I do not need to add, that wealth is coterminous with virtue, that the rich always behave well, or that no wealth is illicit. We have probably all known in our time some rich bastards, but it is their conduct, not their wealth, that we should revile. 

An obsession with relative rather than absolute measurement of people’s situation can only foster discontent and envy, if not outright hatred. What matters it to me if someone is three or a thousand times wealthier than I, provided that his conduct or activity does me no harm? – Theodore Dalrymple

It is difficult to overstate the dangers when society begins to divide itself along tribal lines.  This problem is manifesting in New Zealand to a marked and accelerating degree, and shows no sign of abating. Every statistic is broken down by ethnicity, tribe is broken down by iwi, and iwi by hapu. While tribalism seems to be exponentially impacting almost everything in modern New Zealand, it has been a long time coming, and its ultimate results could cost us much of what we value. – Caleb Anderson 

What is interesting is that projection can also occur on a mass scale, and this is when it can become especially dangerous.   This is when whole groups opt to lay all of their ills at the feet of other groups, protestants at the feet of Catholics, atheists at the feet of Christians, eastern nations at the feet of western nations, socialists at the feet of capitalists, liberals at the feet of conservatives, urban at the feet of rural, intellectuals at the feet of the middle class, those who have not at the feet of those who have, indigenous people at the feet of colonizers etc. etc.  This is done with conviction and blind fervour, and we have plenty of similarly minded people to cheer us along, and psychologically stroke our egos. Tribalism provides the perfect opportunity to feel better by demonizing others.  A complex problem becomes simple, singular causality is the order of the day, and we have dodged the bullet.  Caleb Anderson 

History contains many examples of leaders who have advanced their causes through division.  Prior to the emergence of constitutional government and universal suffrage, this was generally the way things were done.  In more recent times, the left, by infiltrating the media and academia, has made an art form of this.  And those who speak words of division, have a burgeoning audience of those who have decided (and have been helped to decide) that any burden of personal responsibility and change, is just too great to bear. The left has conveniently, and nonsensically, divided humanity into oppressor and oppressed classes, and then the oppressed class into an almost unlimited number of oppressed sub-groups.  If you are especially unlucky you qualify as oppressed on multiple grounds simultaneously (something called intersectionality).

The comparative successes of capitalism (notwithstanding its imperfections), and the growth of the middle class, has forced the left to find new “enemies”, be they white, male, middle class, conservative, rural  …  Each is apportioned a dollop of responsibility for the ailments of others and these ailments are laid exclusively at their feet.

While projection is an unconscious action, by and large, the left is well aware of what it is doing, in fact this is its strategy.  If you can divide, and get it right, you will rule.  The current pervasive and never-ending divisions of our population on the basis of ethnicity, as if nothing else mattered, giving loud voice to one group, and no voice to the other, constructing selective narratives of past and present, applying villainy and virtue, as if these were mutually exclusive domains of being, provides rich opportunities for leverage.

By its very nature tribalism contains the seeds of its own destruction.  Once one “enemy” is dispensed with, another needs to be found, because that’s how projection works.  Division continues unabated until there is literally no-one left to blame, and society has divested itself of everything of value.   – Caleb Anderson 

Borrowing the words of Carl Jung, you might say that New Zealand is being swept away by an outbreak of insanity, entirely unaware of where this could lead us.  We have traded the Judeo- Christian imperative of personal responsibility, for a dumbed-down collectivism, which has the potential to sweep away everything of value, and return us to the very dark age from which all of our ancestors emerged, and which, most scarily of all, still resides deep within the hearts of each one of us.  

If we forget where we have come from, most certainly we will return there, and we might not like what we find.  The west is facing multiple crises, but the real crisis the west faces is the absence of responsibilityCaleb Anderson 

It seems a very dangerous predicament when government requires people to lie and to feign agreement with false propaganda in order to contribute their training and experience to our country. It’s totalitarianism, in our case racist, socialist totalitarianism. Who wanted this? – A.E. Thompson

That raises the question; does the prime minister care about reducing emissions to address climate change, or does she want to reduce New Zealand’s emissions regardless of whether that reduction leads to an increase in global emissions? I suspect it is the latter. Stuart Smith 

When the National Party supported the so-called Zero Carbon legislation, we did so with a clear undertaking that we in government would take the following approach: a science-based approach; a focus on innovation and technology (rather than reducing consumption); long-term signals to the economy; New Zealand to act with international partners – not in isolation; [to] consider and manage wider economic impacts. Clearly, the Labour Government’s proposal does not align with at least the last two points, and we will all pay the price for this.

National takes a more rational approach. Yes, we must reduce our emissions; however, moving in isolation ahead of our trading partners will not reduce emissions to the atmosphere. Rather they will likely increase them as production shifts elsewhere to less efficient producers, not to mention decimating one of our major export sectors and impoverishing us all.

We simply should not let the prime minister’s personal ambition of leading the world in climate change compromise our best interests. – Stuart Smith 

This isn’t just environmentalism and it isn’t really railway enthusiasm (which I have some sympathy for, because I like trains), but is hatred of human beings.  Hatred not only of their freedom of choice, but also their lives.  – Liberty Scott

They wont stop protesting until it becomes too hard for them to do so, they will block more roads and demand “action” from whatever government is in power, regardless of the action being carried out for their cause.  Because what they want is applause and approval from the like-minded, their own little network of misanthropes, and most of all, media attention so they can be interviewed, endlessly.

This raises their social standing to have disrupted “evil” car “fascists” and drawn attention to a “righteous” cause (diverting taxpayers’ money to some train services). They’ll feel special and privileged, and hopefully get selected to go on the Green Party’s list.

I doubt ANY of them have ridden on the Northern Explorer, Coastal Pacific or TranzAlpine trains, ever! Because it’s not about trains.

It is, after all, performative, status-seeking, social misanthropy.  – Liberty Scott

 

Breanna McKee

New Zealand farmers, located further away from most markets than any other producers, compete on a global market, a market heavily distorted by import quotas (restricting how much New Zealand farmers can sell), tariffs (taxing their products but not taxing domestic producers) and subsidies (undercutting the higher cost of production). If there were largely a free market for agriculture, similar to many manufactured goods, then inefficient producers (that use more energy and emit more CO2) would be out of business or would need to improve efficiency.  

However there is not.  – Liberty Scott 

The most generous view of this is it is futile. It buys virtue signalling from unproductive multi-national lobbyists like Greenpeace and enables Jacinda Ardern and James Shaw to claim they are “world leading”, but the savings in emissions get replaced by higher emissions from elsewhere. When New Zealand reduces production, others will sell to those markets instead, at a slightly higher price, but with higher emissions and less economic efficiency.  The least generous view of it is that it is economic treachery.  It harms a local industry to ineffectively achieve a policy objective. – Liberty Scott 

Sure, whatever New Zealand does on emissions will make ~0 impact on climate change, but if there is going to be action on emissions New Zealand has to join in, or it faces the likelihood of sanctions from several major economies. What matters though is this small economy does not kneecap its most productive and competitive sectors in order to virtue signal.  
Of course there are plenty who hate the farming sector, either because of what they produce and who they vote for, and the Green Party thinks agriculture should go all organic, produce LESS at HIGHER prices, and you can imagine the impact of this on the poor (but the Greens think they can tax the rich to pay for everyone).  They are very happy to spend the tax revenue collected, but treat it as a sunset industry.

So sure, agriculture needs to be included, but there needs to be a Government that doesn’t want to shrink the sector in which New Zealand has the greatest comparative advantage.  – Liberty Scott 

While we are a long way from having an officially approved national culture we’re not that so far away if a political environment has been encouraged by the Labour Government  that allows Creative NZ to think it’s entitled to defund a thirty year old high school Shakespeare festival because it doesn’t measure up to what it considers to be part of our so-called ’emerging culture’. Of course, Creative NZ has also decided what that ’emerging culture’ is as well.

The absurdity of this view is such that it actively seeks to delegitimise the work of the man widely considered to be the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s greatest dramatist. In the bizarre view of Creative NZ, Shakespeare’s body of work, which includes some of the greatest plays ever written, is nothing more than than a ‘canon of imperialism’. This, in itself, is a nonsensical argument because imperialism, as a feature of the emerging global capitalism, didn’t appear until the late nineteenth century. So Creative NZ’s view of Shakespeare’s work is also lacking in historical context and perspective. – Against the Current

IT IS DIFFICULT to see the Arts Council’s decision to defund Shakespeare as anything other than “propaganda of the deed”. In the current, unusually tense, cultural climate, the idea that a decision to refuse a $30,000 grant to an organisation responsible for introducing the art of William Shakespeare to a total of 120,000 (and counting) secondary school students might, somehow, pass unnoticed and unremarked is nonsensical. The notion that the Council’s decision was a carefully targeted ideological strike is further buttressed by the comments attached to its refusal. To describe these as incendiary hardly does them justice. – Chris Trotter

Putting to one side the self-evident reality that a festival involving thousands of young people in acting, directing, set-designing and painting, costuming, composing and providing incidental music to a host of independent theatrical productions, offers an unassailable prima facie case for being of great relevance to New Zealand’s “contemporary art context”: how should we decode the assessment document’s gnomic formulation: “Aotearoa in this time and place and landscape”?

Given that all state institutions are now required to ensure that their decisions reflect the central cultural and political importance of te Tiriti o Waitangi, as well as their obligation to give practical expression to the Crown’s “partnership” with tangata whenua, the advisory panel’s meaning is ominously clear. At this time, and in this place, the policy landscape has no place for artistic endeavours that draw attention to the powerful and enduring cultural attachments between New Zealand and the British Isles.

Expressed more bluntly, Creative New Zealand is serving notice on applicants for state funding that, unless their projects both acknowledge and enhance the tino rangatiratanga of Māori they will be deemed to have insufficient relevance to the “contemporary art context” to warrant public financial support.

This is even worse than it sounds.  – Chris Trotter

A “decolonising Aotearoa”. Here exposed is the unabashed ideological bias of the Arts Council and its assessors. There is a considerable head-of-steam building among some Māori (and their Pakeha supporters in the public service, academia and the mainstream news media) for a wholesale stripping-out of the political, legal and cultural institutions of the “colonial state”, and for their replacement by the customs and the practices of te ao Māori. At present, this is the agenda of the “progressive” elites only. Certainly, no such proposition has been placed before, or ratified by, the New Zealand electorate.

Not that these same elites would feel at all comfortable about important cultural judgements being placed in the hands of the uneducated masses. Indeed, it is likely that the decision-makers at the Arts Council are entirely persuaded that an important part of their mission is to so radically reshape the cultural landscape that the “decolonising of Aotearoa” comes to be seen as entirely reasonable. If re-educating this benighted Pakeha majority means limiting their own (and their children’s) access to the works of “an Elizabethan playwright” (a man who is, indisputably, among the greatest artists who ever lived) then so be it.Chris Trotter

The panel of assessors is concerned that the festival’s sponsoring organisation, the Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand, is too “paternalistic”, and that the entire Shakespearian genre it is dedicated to promoting is “located within a canon of imperialism and missed the opportunity to create a living curriculum and show relevance”.

That’s an imperialistic “canon” with one “n” – not two! Alluded to here, presumably, is the entire theatrical menu of Western Civilisation: from Aristophanes to Oscar Wilde. (The English had no empire to speak of in Shakespeare’s time!) A cultural collection which, apparently, has no place in a “living curriculum” – from which, one can only deduce, Dead White Males have been ruthlessly purged. Only by excluding the cultural achievements of the past, the Arts Council seems to saying, can any artistic endeavour hope to “show relevance”.

To those who shake their heads in disbelief at this rejection of historical continuity, it is important to make clear just how hostile the post-modern sensibility is to the whole idea of a materially and imaginatively recoverable past – a past with the power to influence both the present and the future. The post-modernists hate the idea of History as both tether and teacher – fettering us to reality, even as it reveals the many ways our forebears have responded to the challenges of their time. When post-modernists talk about relevance, what they really mean is amnesia. Only an amnesiac can inhabit an eternal present – post-modernism’s ideal state-of-being.

Shakespeare and his works are downgraded and rejected precisely because his words and his plays connect us to the past – revealing the tragi-comic continuity of human existence. More than that, Shakespeare’s art is of a power that at once confirms and dissolves history. In his incomparable mastery of the English language he reminds us that we are more than male and female, rich and poor, Māori and Pakeha. What this “Elizabethan playwright” reveals to us, and hopefully will go on revealing to succeeding generations until the end of time, is the wonder and woe of what it means to be human. – Chris Trotter

Creative New Zealand should be about embracing all forms of art and all artists. It should be flexible, empathetic and responsive. It should have a well understood and fair system for allocating funds, with checks and balances throughout. It should operate under proper governmental oversight and public accountability.

But this is a far-off dream. Creative NZ missed the memo. Terry Sheat 

CNZ has a prescriptive and inflexible view of what artistic endeavours are worthy of funding. To be funded, and funded fairly, you must fit within CNZ’s vision of what art should be in New Zealand. The Arts Council, which is supposed to be in control, is most likely being led around by its nose by CNZ and seems to be functioning as little more than a rubber stamp. Governmental oversight is non-existent. No one is held to account.

As well as de-funding, there is a gradual and insidious underfunding of CNZ’s non-preferred grant recipients. Many must suspect that they are already on the slippery slope. – Terry Sheat 

If I were to mark CNZ’s funding criteria and outcomes against the duties under the legislation, I would be forced to give them a failing grade. I wouldn’t give them funding. They are not delivering to the proper scope of their mission statement. Diversity is not diversity of “New Zealand art”, it is diversity of all art in New Zealand, with freedom of artistic expression for all. That is literally in the statute. – Terry Sheat 

But the problem is much more pervasive than just one funding round or a couple of disappointed applicants. The issue is at the core of the general stewardship of the health and well-being of the arts in Aotearoa New Zealand. CNZ appears to be busy funding new arts organisations in their own image to replace existing professional arts infrastructure, and then progressively de-funding those original organisations because they do not align with CNZ’s philosophy. It’s dangerous and self-fulfilling stuff.

Creative NZ should be a trusted and respected organisation with the full faith and backing of the wider arts community. It is not. It’s time for a public inquiry so that all affected parties and the public can have their views heard. – Terry Sheat 

In really simple terms, we take the golden goose of the economy, charge it more, and theoretically save the world. It’s a farce. As our costs go up, and we produce less, someone fills the gap, it’s called market economics.

The Government doesn’t understand that bit and perhaps more dangerously, they don’t want to.

They don’t like farmers or farming. They have been after them for the past five years and treat them like idiots and enviro-terrorists. The fact they are the best in the world never seems to have mattered. Mike Hosking

I think demand was driven largely by expectation.

When people begin to hear about others in their circles being provided with motel accommodation for free they will start to respond. When people see modern state housing being built with attractive income-related rents they will want to get into one even if that means waiting in emergency housing for free for a period.- Lindsay Mitchell

 Labour is tanking in the polls and if the party does win next year, it won’t be with a majority. They’ll have to bring the Greens, Te Pāti Māori and possibly New Zealand First into a coalition to get across the line.

And that’s just a shambles. It will be paralysis by analysis. New Zealand First will block everything unless it involves more free stuff for Boomers, Te Pāti Māori will realise life was a whole lot easier in a coalition with the Nats and ACT,  and the Greens won’t agree to anything unless Labour throws in a free cycle-way or agrees to shoot dead another 200 dairy cows.Rachel Smalley

Also….look at the policies they’re trying to get through. Three Waters, the emissions pricing plan for farmers, HealthNZ’s major overhaul….huge reforms and they’ll trigger huge issues.

So, if Labour wins a third term under Ardern, that’s going to be a hellish ride. Awful. All of the economic and social fallout from COVID will start peaking as well, the impact of the Government’s multi-billion dollar spend – and a good chunk of that was reckless – will start to rear its head. You’ve got the cost of living issues, high-interest rates and inflation will still be trotting along….and while Ardern is good at a number of things, I don’t think she’s good with the numbers. – Rachel Smalley

With respect , if you decide to cancel the greatest writer in English, or any language come to that, you sound like a f***ing idiot. And you make NZ-Aotearoa look bloody stupidSam Neill 

Lifting kids out of themselves, harnessing their own force to something that carries way beyond the mundane and transcends cultural boundaries rather than limiting or suppressing them.

“For heaven’s sake, we’re surely beyond parochialism in this inter-connected world. No one denies the benefits of developing our own stories, but this is ridiculous.- Michael Hurst 

It is a curious phenomenon today that our ruling elites twist themselves in knots to claim that they have protected, via government action, every human life from harm and every human right from being infringed. Yet they often extol a life of individual isolation cut off from every human tie that might demand some self-sacrifice.

Witness the undermining of marriage, the downgrading of having and raising children, and the contempt toward our shared national heritage that might otherwise glue strangers together toward common objectives. Academics as a whole are, of course, the worst, with frequent hatred of unchosen or solemn commitments often mirrored in their trainwreck personal lives. Chris Sheehan 

My suspicion is that, at its heart, much progressivism is the incongruous dream of radical individuals coming together without having to sacrifice a skerrick of their treasured self-expression. Since this never happens, and many are actually disgusted by raw humanity, the next best thing is to use the levers of power to make it look like it is so.

Loving humanity through government is attractive precisely because it is so impersonal. I pay my taxes and the government sets up a program, run by paid professionals, who can deal with whatever problems beset large classes of sorry, oppressed individuals. I don’t have to deal with a single difficult person unless I am paid to do so under controlled conditions.

Government programs can be useful in their time if properly scrutinised. But to think they are a substitute for the thousand daily sacrifices made by those who build their lives on lasting commitments to other imperfect humans is to engage in the worst kind of folly. – Chris Sheehan 

“Every government intervention creates unintended consequences, which lead to calls for further government interventions,” observed the great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises. He was being generous by describing interventionism’s nasty side-effects as “unintended.” Some younger interventionists are naïve, and know not what they do, but the older, street-smart captains of progressive politics understand the harms their policies entail. For them, the adverse consequences are features, not bugs. The only downside is the risk of political retribution at the polls.  Marlo Lewis

I am concerned that it is often not clear to the public or Parliament what outcomes are being sought by governments, how that translates into spending, and ultimately what is being achieved with the public money the Government spends – about $150 billion last year. – John Ryan

Whole-of-government performance reporting that links government spending to outcomes would help focus debate on the longer-term and on some of the more intractable issues we face as a country. And, of course, help answer for the public and Parliament how well governments are playing their role in addressing them. – John Ryan

In my view, a comprehensive review is needed of the arrangements that enable Parliament and the public to understand what governments are seeking to achieve, what is being spent, and what progress is being made. In exchange, this will help the public sector maintain an informed, trusting, and enduring connection with the public they ultimately are there to serve.

An outcome I think we would all support. – John Ryan

Truss and Kwarteng are not wrong in thinking the government taking over half of everything produced in the UK is hurting the British economy. 

Thanks to huge sacrifices in a Chinese experiment we know what happens when the government takes everything, people stop working. The result is famine. Thirty million Chinese starved to death in the Great Leap Forward.

Taxation does not only affect the incentive to be productive, it is costly. It costs money to collect tax. We have to fill out forms, keep records and hire accountants, just to pay tax. It is called the dead weight of tax. The greater share of GDP collected, the higher the cost. There comes a point when even if the rates of tax are increased it is so damaging to the economy the total revenue from taxation cannot increase. Tax rate increases can result in less revenue. Richard Prebble

The economists were asked: “What is New Zealand’s dead weight of tax?” “What percentage of GDP can the government take before it affects the economy’s ability to pay?”

The government was at that time taking 34 per cent of GDP. Dr Sully and Dr Knox Lovell found the dead weight of tax was not 8 cents as Treasury thought but for every extra dollar of tax the cost was a staggering, $2.64. Their modelling indicated once the government was taking 20 per cent of GDP any further taxation reduced the economy’s ability to pay.

The Treasury hired an Australian economist, Ted Sieper, to review the research and disprove it. Sieper did his review and found that once government was collecting 15 per cent of GDP any further tax was counterproductive. Treasury’s response was to close down the project and ignore the results. – Richard Prebble

When the Lange government reduced the top rate of tax from 66 cents to 33 cents the new top rate raised far more revenue than Treasury’s model predicted. The projections of the Office of the Budget are never right. In part because the models fail to predict how incentives change behaviour.Richard Prebble

The demand for free services is infinite. Governments must adopt the ideas of reformers like New Zealand’s Professor Robert McCulloch and Sir Roger Douglas and create patients’ health accounts. Then we will be incentivised to manage our health costs. Otherwise rising health costs will destroy our economies.

No country can afford to have government spending over 30 per cent of GDP. In New Zealand government’s share of GDP has risen from 35.64 per cent under Bill English to 42.94 per cent last year. Treasury predicts this will fall but, as we have noted, treasury predictions are rarely correct. –

Don’t focus on the dead, Prime Minister. Put your voice and energy behind the Iranian women who are dying in protests today. 

Be a woman who stands up for women.Rachel Smalley

Kent’s warning is particularly apposite today, because we live increasingly in a world in which words and words alone are the measure of all things, especially vice and virtue. A good person is one who espouses the right opinions, and an even better one is someone who trumpets them. The converse is also true, that a bad person is one who does not have the right opinions, and an even worse one is someone who trumpets the wrong opinions.

This has a gratifying effect, for it dichotomises people into the kingdom of the damned and the kingdom of the saved: it is gratifying because man is a dichotomising animal who abjures complexity and ambiguity if he can, and loves scapegoats.

Another advantage of making opinion the measure of virtue and vice is that it frees man from the restraint and discipline that were traditionally necessary to be considered a virtuous person. Think and say the right things, and you are free in many spheres of existence that formerly were subject to rules. – Theodore Dalrymple

No doubt every philosophy of life has its anomalies, but what may be called the logocratic conception of virtue (the espousal of the right wordsas the measure of personal moral worth) is especially rich in them. Usually, this modern overemphasis on opinion both decries censoriousness and is highly censorious, particularly about the censoriousness of others: a meta-censoriousness, as it were.

Thus, a person who believes that it is wrong for someone voluntarily to drug himself to the point of intoxication, or who decries the various forms of self-mutilation that are now extolled as a liberation for self-expression, thereby reveals himself to be censorious and intolerant, tolerance now being taken to be a willingness to condemn nothing except condemnation itself, perhaps with the “celebration” of behaviour that deviates transgressively from former social norms. The expropriation of the expropriators has been replaced as a political desideratum by the censure of the censurers.

The fear of appearing censorious soon leads to fear of making moral judgments of any kind, but especially if they are of a straightforward, immemorial or conventional nature.Theodore Dalrymple

But to return to Kent’s warning to Lear not to take words at face value or to assume that they bear only the most literal interpretation. As I have mentioned, this is a lesson to be relearnt today that is particularly apposite in a culture in which opinion is almost the sole touchstone of virtue. One of the consequences of this shallow conception of virtue is an almost inevitable inflation of expression: a verbal arms race in which extravagance of expression is taken as evidence in itself of the depth of feeling and therefore of virtue also. – Theodore Dalrymple

Resentment is the easiest lesson to teach and learn because no life is entirely without reason for it. This is because perfection is not of this world, at least where human existence is concerned. There is almost a natural propensity to resentment, insofar as it offers many sour comforts such as an explanation for failings and failures. No doubt there are some people who have, by exercising self-control, avoided the expression of resentment throughout their lives, but I surmise that there are almost none who have never felt it. And since resentment almost always contains a strong element of dishonesty by focusing on harms done and ignoring benefits received, inflation of language serves its end admirably. Everyone wants to be a victim, not in the sense that everyone has been a victim of something in his life, but a victim in a big way. Little slights therefore have to be magnified into gross, traumatic and lasting insults or worse, rather than a normal part of living in society. It is not surprising that an ever-greater number of people come to believe that they have been flayed alive—permanently. This is an attitude that no amount of success or privilege by comparison with others can assuage. In the midst of the greatest luxury, there is always room for resentment.

Inflation is as bad for language as it is for money. Keynes pointed out, in The Economic Consequences of the Peace (published in 1919), that monetary inflation changes the balance of economic power in a society. Inflation of language changes the balance of political power in society. It is the Gonerils and the Regans who benefit from it while the Cordelias languish. Those who fail to master the arts of exaggeration, self-dramatisation and emotional incontinence (especially when combined with bureaucratese) are sidelined politically and derided culturally, leaving the world in control of specialists in discourse studies.Theodore Dalrymple

It is true that the authoritarian-left is denying biology, but the deeper truth of the situation is perhaps even more concerning. The incoherence of the protesters’ responses and the fact that the walkout was scheduled in advance suggests something darker: the protesters are “read-only,” like a computer file that cannot be altered. They will not engage ideas — they will not even hear ideas — because their minds are already made up. They have been led to believe that exposure to information is in and of itself dangerous.

Scientists, philosophers, and scholars of all sorts have effectively been accused of thoughtcrimes before it is even known what we’re going to say. The very concept of thoughtcrime, as Orwell himself well understood, is the death knell to discourse, to discovery, to democracy. – Heather Heying

Yes, we need better science education and literacy1. But more important — more fundamental — we need to reinvigorate the concept of education itself. Those who are truly educated are also educable, which means taking in new information throughout your life, and being willing to re-investigate, and throw out, even your most cherished beliefs. If our schools and universities are not prepared to do this job, we must ask ourselves: where shall our next educational structures be built?Heather Heying

Freethinkers of Portland State find ourselves confronted with a new secular religion, called “intersectionality.” This doctrine conceives of human beings in terms of a good-and-evil binary of “oppressed” and “oppressor,” reducing individuals to a collection of group identities rated within a hierarchy of “marginalization.”

Intersectionality’s true believers tend to be far less tolerant than traditional religious believers with their sophisticated apologetics. To intersectionalists, skepticism is an existential threat. To question their beliefs, I’ve been told, constitutes “debating someone’s right to exist.” – Andy Ngo

This Government is trying to claim progress on homelessness by making sure the reports it publishes focuses on the amount of money spent and the number of programmes started – not the actual outcomes.

Unfortunately for this Government, starting programmes and throwing money at them is not the same as improving outcomes for New Zealanders. – Chris Bishop

On every metric, housing has gotten worse. Rents are up $140 per week, thousands of households live in emergency housing motels, including nearly 4000 children, and the state house waitlist has increased by over 20,000 applicants since Labour came to office.

The Government now spends over $1 million per week on emergency housing and there has been a quadrupling in the number of families living in cars and tents since 2017.

If failure is the target, then the Government gets a gold star. – Chris Bishop

The private sector is facing the biggest assault from central and local government in living history.

It is now a constant that business, on the back of footing the bill directed by the government response to COVID is now to be the instrument of State to front the fight on equality and climate change. The free market led mixed economy that has provided decades of economic expansion and derivative wealth is fast becoming a command economy. This is the antithesis of your role as business leaders fronting competitive organizations driving profit, productivity and economic growth.

A new era of equal outcomes is dominating the territory previously held by promotion of ability. The State is no longer satisfied by a primary role of providing an even playing field and equality of opportunity. The face of business is now deemed more important than its substance. Business now carries the burden of social and economic engineering dangerously shifting to being an arm of the State, under the realm of this government.- Alistair Boyce

A strong free market liberal democracy is vital. By acquiescing to the ideological assault vulnerable small and medium business becomes gradually condemned to economic starvation. Ultimately the State inherits what’s left of productive capacities and then reconnects it with remaining economic expertise to rescue the inevitably failing experiment. The proliferation of business consultants is needed to bandage and artificially extend the compacting economic tumult.

Do not acquiesce. Be honest and lead the path to a productive growing economy based on New Zealand’s business led multiplier that drives our cities, towns and rural economies. Business of all sizes need the policies of practical reality and an even playing field to have a stable future. Say no to the coerced ‘Fair Pay Agreements’, ‘Emissions Trading Scheme’ and ‘National Income Insurance Scheme’ at every point. Do not allow dilution or negotiated compromise on obviously flawed legislation.

Changing or shaping by coalescing with government and State sector is short term expediency. Bold opposition is required followed by real change in government. – Alistair Boyce

Totalitarian centralized government is at odds with the sprawling socio economic reality of New Zealand’s sparsely populated country. The government sector needs to listen, learn and support the business environment to a goal of equitable growth based on ability, innovation, persistence and entrepreneurship. The low bar of satisfying perceived social equity is stifling confidence and growth.

At some point ineffective lobbying has to turn to outright condemnation.

I challenge and implore you-do not accept the false god of State domination on the back of climate change ideology to minimise and demonise your primary purpose. Any perceived threat to social license is ideologically driven by the State and media as opposed to socio-economic reality.

Please be proud of the economic growth achieved through the thrust of free market liberal democracy and demand it’s primacy. It has achieved growing measures of wealth and derivative independence for the marginalised and oppressed faster and more permanently than State interventions. Global economic growth and productivity has and will allow freedom and equality of opportunity. The market can be the natural curb to climate change albeit only in developed economies. Do not be embarrassed by these principles and this identity. – Alistair Boyce

The State can inhibit what you do best or encourage and promote it within the bounds of civil society, allowing creation of wealth. The State should concentrate on providing a fundamental equality of opportunity for all in equal measure.

Do not compromise to maintain spurious power within the State machine. Work to drive, control and shape the machine positively forward to drive growth and profit. Your independent spirit and resolve will earn respect as the protectorate of economic freedoms. – Alistair Boyce

Preserve stable Liberal Democracy at all costs. Our future depends on this as opposed to marginalising and alienating segments of society and economy through overt State expansion and centralisation.

If business has to continue operating on its knees it is half dead already.

Embrace your knowledge, ability and experience, stay true to business ideals and boldly engage with the State and government.Alistair Boyce

The tests to initiate so-called Fair Pay Agreements are anti-democratic, forcing the process on workers who don’t want them – Paul Goldsmith

These mis-named agreements will reduce flexibility, choice and agility in our workplaces, at the very time when we need to be agile in a competitive world.

There are three hurdles for starting a Fair Pay Agreement: a mere 10 per cent of workers covered by a proposed agreement, or just 1000 workers, which is less than half a per cent of an occupation with 200,000 workers, or a loose public interest test that could apply even if nobody voted for it.

There is nothing ‘fair’ about Fair Pay Agreements, if a tiny fraction of workers can initiate bargaining and dictate terms for the majority.Paul Goldsmith

Even if no one wants an agreement at all, bureaucrats in Wellington can force the bargaining process to begin anyway. Once started, there is no stopping it.Paul Goldsmith

If the majority of workers do not want a Fair Pay Agreement, they should not be forced into a deal at the whim of the unions or because a bureaucrat decides that is what is best for themPaul Goldsmith

We are pouring billions of dollars into an energy transition, health reforms, Three Waters. And our watchdogs are telling us we have no adequate way of knowing whether our efforts are making a difference, or assessing whether one set of initiatives is better than another.

We need better information about what is being attempted and what is being achieved, but, more importantly, better ways to make use of information about policy effectiveness. – Josie Pagani

The chronic inability to be precise about the objective of government initiatives has real-world effects beyond its linguistic crimes.

We saw a fresh example this past week when Creative New Zealand was called out over its decision to decline a funding application from the Shakespeare Globe Centre NZ​. Its own reviewer stated, to global ridicule, that the Bard’s work is located in a ‘’canon of imperialism’’.

Even if it were, Creative NZ is not there to fix the historic sins of imperialism. – Josie Pagani

Ironically, the point of Shakespeare is the improbable precision in his descriptions of universal experiences: ‘’wild goose chase’’ (Romeo and Juliet), ‘’eaten me out of house and home’’ (Henry IV), or ‘’cruel to be kind’’ (Hamlet).

Timeless expressions achieve their beauty through their matchless clarity. From clarity comes transparency, and from transparency emerges accountability and improvement.

A lack of clarity is not just drivel dressed in pretty words. It has a political purpose. Real power resides in the thickets. (Ahem: King Lear.) – Josie Pagani

I have previously advocated for initiatives like much stronger select committees, equipped with sufficient policy grunt to evaluate policy choices, and led by MPs whose career choice to be a legislator balances the choice of others to be executives.

There are legitimate debates to be had about how much money is spent by government in pursuit of goals, and what those goals should be. But no matter where you stand on that, we need far stronger institutions to track value for money, because then we can achieve so much more. – Josie Pagani

magine spending billions of dollars a year and not really knowing whether it makes a difference or not.

Welcome to the world of government. – Brent Edwards

Surely the Treasury must know how effective the spending is? No. It tracks where the money goes and ensures that it is spent according to the Budget appropriations, but not whether it had the desired effect. Inputs and outputs drive the fiscal system, not outcomes.Brent Edwards

More broadly though, most people – whether they support high or low tax rates – would surely want to know whether the taxes they pay make a difference, not just to the environment but particularly in big spending portfolios such as health, education and social services. – Brent Edwards

Better information might also lead to more informed debates about the efficacy of one policy over another. Spending more is always a point politicians can make but the big question is whether their spending achieves anything?Brent Edwards

So, this is not an argument about spending more or less. It is an argument about ensuring whatever amount is spent is as effective as it can be.

Upton, for instance, is not arguing for a reduction in spending on the environment. He does not believe the Government is spending too much protecting the country’s fragile environment. He simply wants to know whether that spending is effective or not.

When it comes to total government spending – now about $150b a year – shouldn’t we all?

The public deserve to know whether that spending is making a difference. – Brent Edwards

I hesitate to give advice, but I have to say that if you’re ever in a situation like the one in which my family found ourselves, do not forget to love, touch and look into the eyes of every other family member regularly. Early during our time in hospital, I started to think of us as five fingers of the same hand. Every finger is important, even the crooked and/or hairy ones. There is a temptation to only pay attention to the patient, especially if they’re a young child, but you ignore other family members at your peril. I can’t speak for my Henry, but I’m willing to bet he was happy that Leah and I took good care of the brothers he loved so much, and each other. Rob Delaney

As to these yokels gluing themselves to walls or pavements or streets, my idea is that they should just be left there to fend for themselves! Give them a few days super-glued to a busy street and see how long before they beg for help.

They are idiots who destroy rather than build. Nothing is sacred for these hoons. But as their destructive antics become even more alarming, one fears for what lies ahead.

As a result of activists terrorising art galleries, we can expect to see the need for far more stringent security measures being put in place, with the costs to visitors going up and the ability to get close to some of these great works of art taken away from us. – Bill Muehlenberg

Conservatives, as the name implies, like to conserve. We like to preserve what is good in a culture. We like to maintain order amid chaos, and some beauty amongst ugliness.

But the radical Left simply wants to tear down and destroy. It is their way or the highway. And their way usually seems to gravitate towards bullying, intimidation, aggression, and destruction. – Bill Muehlenberg

The incapacity and lack of courage of the political class, no matter how lengthily or expensively educated, is a clue to the despair that many people now feel in Britain. Its incompetence and lack of probity, its absence of the most elementary understanding, compares unfavorably with the practical intelligence of the local plumber, carpenter, or electrician. No one has confidence that any replacement of Truss from within or without the Conservative Party will be for the better, only incompetent in some different way.

The wrong lessons will be drawn, of course, from the Truss debacle. If lower taxes (even if only in prospect) do not work, then higher ones must. The solution to Britain’s deep-seated problems now offered by almost the entire political class is to turn the country into a giant version of the National Health Service, the country’s socialized health-care system that has made paupers of almost the whole population, which is obliged to accept what it is given whether good, bad, or indifferent.

By her incompetence, Truss has given lower taxation a bad name. We now face a cycle of high taxation and expenditure, with low growth necessitating ever-higher taxation and expenditure. Much of the educated class already believes in the moral value of taxation irrespective of its effects. The British are now trapped into slavery to their state—a state more incompetent, and more corrupt, than its European equivalents or even than the European Union.

It is an ill wind that blows nobody any good. An apparatchik class will prosper among the embers of the slowly expiring economy. Truss, whom no one will remember with affection, was not to blame for the problems of her country, but by her incapacity and utter lack of common sense, she has worsened those problems for years to come. That’s quite an achievement for 44 days in office. – Theodore Dalrymple

The headlines of the last week will tell you that our health system is indeed in crisis. The educational outcomes and achievements of our young people are at their lowest ever. Those headlines tell the story of a country in decline.Bruce Cotterill

We know that 40 per cent of our kids are leaving school without the necessary literacy or numeracy skills to function in society. I asked an education specialist, a university professor on the topic, what “to function” meant. Her response? To fill out a form!

But the headlines continue. The police lost more than 300 rounds of ammunition in transit. Rotorua hospitality businesses slamming the Government’s approach to seasonal workers. Our immigration stats telling us there are more people leaving than arriving, and our universities saying that the best case scenario is to have international student numbers back to 50 per cent of pre-Covid levels by this time next year.

Sometimes I find myself asking … is this really happening in New Zealand? The answer, sadly, is yes. – Bruce Cotterill

The list above is a fraction of what is going wrong in New Zealand right now. To be fair to the Government, their focus is on something else. They are busy changing the social structure of the country to suit their leftist ideology.

Why you would restructure the health system during a health crisis is beyond me.

Tertiary education has been centralised too, with consequences so far that should send board members scrambling to review their directors’ insurance.

When we’re so short of people across every industry, why would we constrain immigration? When our finances are under so much pressure, why would you spend the equivalent of what it costs to build a regional hospital on the merger of two media outlets that are already government owned? The answer is that you do so if you want to control the narrative. – Bruce Cotterill

Interestingly, a small number of ministers get pushed forward to respond on the Government’s behalf.

These people now carry multiple roles. My observation is that their appointment is based more on their ability in public relations and communications than their ability to get things done. – Bruce Cotterill

I’ll admit, I think political leaders would be better equipped if they had real-life experiences in the workplace before going to a career in politics. Those experiences would provide core executive skills that enable a leader to effectively drive projects and processes, and to assemble management tools for their toolbox: planning skills, execution frameworks, people management capability and the ability to follow up effectively.

I also think we’d be better served by our politicians if they had a maximum term — say nine or 12 years. That way we wouldn’t have people whose entire career is spent inside the walls of the parliamentary system. – Bruce Cotterill

And so we have people who are good at communicating and spinning a story when a microphone is pushed in their face. They’re very good at telling us how many more nurses, teachers or police they’ve recruited. What they don’t tell you is how many have left. They can’t explain why we have the problems we have, nor can they shed any believable light on their proposed solutions.

And yet, in most of the critical operational functions of government, we are in bad shape. Good government would see the existing problems get smaller as new ones emerge. Not here. The problems are just getting bigger. And the attention of government and the ministers seem to be diverted away from the real issues.

The recent emissions policy is a case in point. New Zealand doesn’t need to be a world leader. We don’t need to set world firsts. Even the global elite of the climate change hierarchy state clearly that climate change policy should not come at the expense of food production.

And the reality is that it doesn’t matter what this country does on climate change policy; we are not going to make a difference to the global outcomes for the planet. And yet here we are, risking our biggest export industry, destroying farming families and reducing our own food supply because we think we want to lead the world. – Bruce Cotterill

Education will give these young people skills for life and a new perspective. The military provides discipline and the family environment that these young people could benefit from and perhaps hanker for.

Make it option if you like. A life of crime? Or a life.

But it’s almost as if our leaders have decided that the bad stuff doesn’t matter as long as they can cope with the PR fallout.

Instead, it seems that the time and effort goes into their pursuit of the social adjustments and ideological projects that they want to be remembered for. – Bruce Cotterill

We have seen the face of evil and it sold us sneakers. – Michael Johnston

The word ‘woman’ is rich with centuries of meaning, and has instant recognition. Technically, the definition in reputable dictionaries is adult human female, and is the same understanding that the general law of New Zealand has. In life, culture, and society it informs, conveys, encompasses, evokes, and involves more than we could ever get from the term ‘people with a cervix’. To use that term in place of ‘woman’ is reductive, demeaning, and unnecessarily convoluted. Neither does it arouse the same level of engagement from us as when we read the word ‘woman’.Katrina Biggs

Plain language and inclusive language can be uncomfortable marriage partners. Plain language says that we should use the word ‘women’ for women, because that’s the word that conveys the most meaning and understanding in the shortest possible way. Inclusive language says we should use a term like ‘people with a cervix’ for women, because transgender females and transgender males prefer it, due to the word ‘woman’ potentially causing discomfort for them. This particular type of term to replace the word ‘woman’ is mainly used in health-related narratives concerning our bodies, as transpeoples’ biology and gender identity are at odds with each other.

Language helps us navigate the world by having rules. They ensure that we commonly understand both spoken and written narratives without first having to spend time deciphering or decoding them. Even when language evolves, there are still rules about how it is used. Inclusive language, as we know it in the context of using terms like ‘people with a cervix’, has no rules. Just like gender identities and neo-pronouns, a Google search does not find a concise and stable list of inclusive language terms. All three are mobile concepts, and completely unknown in many walks of life. Yet they are being used in place of language that has rules which enable widespread understanding for the greatest number of people the most amount of time.

Will the Plain Language law apply plain language rules to women, where we will once again be called women instead of ‘people with a cervix? Depending on how it’s applied, we may have a tool in the Plain Language law to fight against inclusive language – a harmless-sounding moniker on the surface, but with deep indignities, misunderstandings, non-engagement, and resentments arising from its’ use. This new law will be tracked with interest, and, feasibly, women will use the full force of it to take back our language. – Katrina Biggs

In our mind we just need to know what the story is here. Under the government proposal, sheep and beef farmers have the potential to be the most affected. Nobody wants that and HWEN would never support a proposal that makes the farming sector unviable – let’s be clear about that. Andrew Morrison

We can’t have rural NZ decimated and we would never support that. We have worked in good faith in partnership and so now we have to quickly sort out why government has failed to deliver on some of our recommendations. – Andrew Morrison

Emissions pricing needs to be practical, pragmatic and fair for farmers, and there is still a lot that needs to be improved to make what the Government have announced workable. Remember that if farmers are asked to do something they need to see the logic of what they have been asked to do and benefits of it.

So we are trying to make sure that whatever is put in place is right and that farmers can say, that makes sense, and will get on with it.Jim van der Poel

It’s gut wrenching to think we have a proposal by government that rips the heart out of the work we have done and to the families who farm the land. Feds is deeply unimpressed with government.- Andrew Hoggard

Now they’ll be selling up so fast you won’t even hear the dogs barking on the back of the ute as they drive off. The Government’s plan means the small towns, like Wairoa, Pahiatua, Taumaranui – pretty much the whole of the East Coast and central North Island and a good chunk of the top of the South – will be surrounded by pine trees quicker than you can say ‘ETS application’  – Andrew Hoggard

Just as the word homophobia has been stretched far beyond its original meaning (that is, a hatred or fear of homosexuals) and the accusation of racism is routinely hurled at anyone who challenges the cult of identity politics, so the claim of misogyny is frequently used as a smear against people who refuse to bow to feminist orthodoxy.- Karl du Fresne

All this tells us is that Parliament is slow to adjust to the times. It may have seemed quaint, but it was hardly misogynistic. Karl du Fresne

It seems inconceivable that at a time of hyper-inflation and global unrest, any government would deliberately destabilise the agricultural sector by introducing policies that would increase costs to primary producers, reduce production, and fuel price increases. Yet that’s what Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Government is planning to do. – Muriel Newman

That our Prime Minister wants the owners of ruminant livestock to pay a penalty for a by-product of a digestive process that is older than the dinosaurs, is madness personified.

Methane, an atmospheric trace gas, is part of an ancient natural cycle. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and using the green chlorophyll in their leaves combine it with water to trap the sun’s energy as food. When plant matter is eaten by ruminants, methane is produced, which breaks down into carbon dioxide and water vapour to continue the cycle.

Over three-quarters of the planet’s methane comes from natural sources such as wetlands, with the balance produced by landfills, rice paddies, and livestock. Since New Zealand has only one percent of the world’s farmed ruminants the actual contribution of Kiwi livestock to methane in the atmosphere is almost too small to measure.  Muriel Newman

Agriculture is New Zealand’s biggest industry, generating more than 70 percent of our export earnings and about 12 percent of our gross domestic product.

The impact of Jacinda Ardern’s tax on the sector will be significant. Prices of home-grown protein – including milk, cheese, and meat – will undoubtedly rise as local production falls. And our crucial export returns will decline – by up to an estimated 5.9 percent for dairy, 21.4 percent for lamb, 36.7 percent for beef, and 21.1 percent for wool.

We can see the potential fallout by reminding ourselves of the consequences of a previous reckless decision by our Prime Minister when, without warning, she banned new offshore oil and gas exploration on the eve of a meeting of world leaders – so she could boast about her decisive climate change leadership.

That decision contributed to the closure of the Marsden Point Oil Refinery – with a loss of 240 local jobs and many hundreds more indirectly – leaving New Zealand dependent on imported fuel that we used to produce ourselves.

Paradoxically, the PM’s actions did not reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but increased them – as the Taranaki based methanol producer Methanex explained: – Muriel Newman

There are very real concerns about the fallout from Jacinda Ardern’s radical plan to tax livestock emissions without allowing farmers to balance their ledger by claiming credits for sequestering carbon dioxide through the plant matter on their farms – including woodlots, shelter belts, riparian planting, native bush, crops, and, of course, pasture.

As a result, the policy will have profound and widespread consequences, far beyond the damage to those farmers who are expected to be forced out of the industry.

Many of their farms are likely to end up in the hands of those seeking land for carbon farming. If that happens, not only will the soil be ruined for future pastoral use, but the resilience of our rural and provincial communities will be undermined through the loss of farming families and the downstream jobs they helped to sustain. Their departure will impact heavily on farm services, meat processing plants, local schools, and the other local businesses.

What’s even more irrational is that the forced exit of the world’s most emission-efficient farmers will increase global emissions as other less efficient nations increase production to fill the gap. Muriel Newman

Given that a day’s worth of their increased emissions will totally swamp a year’s worth of the reductions the PM is planning to impose on our agricultural base, one has to wonder about the sanity of our decision-makers.

Surely common sense should prevail. Firstly, no New Zealand government should even consider dangerous Armageddon-style policies that will fundamentally disrupt the industries that have created our nation’s wealth. And secondly, all climate policies should be put on hold until the main emitters begin to curb their emissions. – Muriel Newman

It’s been two and a half bloody years or more of dumb regulation after dumb regulation after dumb regulation, and  for me, it’s just like, Nah, screw it, I’m done with being polite about it. Andrew Hoggard

Yes, we want the research and development to happen, and we want the science and technology to be able to lower the emissions, but we need to be doing it in step, so pricing can’t get ahead of competitor countries, and we can’t put our food security at risk. – Penny Simmonds

Dumping milk onto floors. Hurling food onto walls. Refusing to eat. Gluing body parts. Throwing paint. Refusing to leave. Threatening to pee and poop in your pants. Screaming accusations. Are those the behaviors of a toddler’s temper tantrum? Yes. But they’re also the dominant tactics of today’s climate activists.Michael Shellenberger, 

The activists who keep degrading precious works of art, and themselves, claim to be concerned about food and energy supplies, but in opposing oil, gas and fertilizerproduction they are actively reducing both. Over the last several months, I have described the demands of climate activists as fanatical and pointed to a large body of evidence suggesting that nihilism, narcissism, and feelings of personal inadequacy are the primary motives.

But nihilism, narcissism, and personal inadequacy alone do not explain why climate activists have chosen temper tantrum tactics. After all, the greatest protest movements of all time engaged in far more grown-up and dignified tactics. Think of the Salt March led by Gandhi, the Montgomery Bus Boycott led by Martin Luther King, and the anti-whaling protests of Greenpeace. – Michael Shellenberger, 

Where protesters in the past asked to be treated like adults, climate protesters today demand to be treated like children. Civil rights activists in the 1950s sat at lunch counters and demanded to be treated like full adults. Notably, it was racist counterprotesters who poured milkshakes over them. Today, it’s the protesters who are spilling milk and throwing food.Michael Shellenberger, 

JK Rowling has written these great books about empowerment, about young children finding themselves as human beings. It’s about how you become a better, stronger, more morally centred human being. The verbal abuse directed at her is disgusting, it’s appalling.

I mean, I can understand a viewpoint that might be angry at what she says about women. But it’s not some obscene, uber-right-wing fascist. It’s just a woman saying, ‘I’m a woman and I feel I’m a woman and I want to be able to say that I’m a woman.’ And I understand where she’s coming from. Even though I’m not a woman. – Ralph Fiennes

Righteous anger is righteous, but often it becomes kind of dumb because it can’t work its way through the grey areas. It has no nuance.Ralph Fiennes

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. – Karen Chhour

Oranga Tamariki was happy to take Mary from a loving home, the only place she’d ever had security and stability, and place her back with family members who were known to abuse her.

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. – Karen Chhour

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 

For a doctor, the worst thing that could happen to them is that a patient suffers because they don’t get to see them in time. It’s completely outside their hands, which is where the stress comes from. And so, of course, they try to work harder and harder to get to see more and more patients, and that’s where they make mistakes. And that’s the second worst nightmare for a doctor: that they actually make a mistake and a patient suffers. Dr Deborah Powell

They’re stressed and their morale is really low. They feel the patients’ pain. They understand, but they’re powerless… That’s the sentiment for all health practitioners, but it’s probably worse for doctors because they know if they don’t get to someone, that person might die. That is a huge burden to carry. – Dr Deborah Powell

The population of New Zealand really values its health system and they value the health workforce, but in financial terms not quite so much. Yes, health is expensive, but that’s what it is. I’m not saying we should have an open chequebook – but we shouldn’t be constantly holding budgets down. Dr Deborah Powell

We have insufficient resident doctors coming out of medical school. We need another 200 at least. It takes years to train a doctor. So again, we should have been onto this years ago. It’s just a failure to train enough and be forward-thinking. – Dr Deborah Powell

We now have a workforce crisis on our hands. We were watching it develop, so we had been lobbying for years. And we had to wait for the crisis to hit us before we actually did something. And that’s a recurring theme, I’m afraid. When you get a crisis someone will finally do something, but it’s five years too late. Dr Deborah Powell

The lesson for other conservative parties should be clear. Values drive policy, not the other way around, because values endure.

The evidence around the world is that right-wing parties are learning the wrong lessons from populism. Some may outlast the shelf life of a lettuce. But they risk disappearing faster than that packet of mixed spice that’s been sitting in your cupboard for years.- Josie Pagani

Self made men or women are to be admired and in this particular case you would hope, bring with them a level of reassurance that they actually know what they are doing when it comes to finances.

But none of that has really been covered. He has been treated like an oddity and someone not like us. The problem with people like us is most of us couldn’t run a country, nor would we want to. So why are we so obsessed about the neighbour, the vicar, or the postman being the Prime Minister? They’d be a disaster.

Surely his credentials by way of fiscal success indicate he might have a clue. And while money isn’t the be-all and end-all, is does sort of pay the bills. That’s what we want, isn’t it?

Money is an outworking of endeavour. Rishi Sunak’s endeavour was clearly successful. Don’t we want successful people running the place or running anything?

He’s got a lot of money. That’s good.Mike Hosking

Oxfam reports are like those email scams that put in deliberate typos and grammatical errors so that only the most credulous people believe them, so they don’t have to waste time with people who’ll wise up part-way through. – Eric Crampton

That is to say, after ten years of schooling, only a third of young New Zealanders can write coherently; only half possess basic computational skills; and only two-thirds can cope adequately with a level of written communication fundamental to success in adult life.

These numbers represent a scarcely believable tale of professional failure across New Zealand’s education system. What it reveals is a society that is rapidly losing the ability (if it hasn’t already lost it) to keep itself going – let alone improve itself – on the basis of its own human resources.Chris Trotter 

For decades, we have been telling ourselves that the best way to make our country wealthier, fairer, and happier was by educating its young people to the highest possible international standard. We looked at countries with world-beating education systems – and test results – like Singapore and Finland, and assumed that theirs was the level of performance to which our own educational experts aspired.

Clearly, that was an unwarranted assumption. New Zealand’s education system – once celebrated as one of the most successful in the world – is in free-fall. By all the recognised international comparators, we are failing – and failing fast. So bad have things become that it is increasingly difficult to find a sufficient number of willing and able participants to make our international test-results robust enough, statistically, to stand comparison. In a telling sign of the times, this dearth of suitable participants is being presented by some school principals as a signal that it is time for New Zealand to abandon international comparisons altogether. – Chris Trotter 

Across academia, in the teacher unions, and increasingly at the chalk-face, the whole notion of education being an international enterprise, in which young New Zealanders must be able to participate (and compete) with confidence, is being rejected. In its place, “progressive” educators are erecting a system geared to rectifying the cultural and social inequities arising out of New Zealand’s colonial past.

With increasing vehemence, international standards are rejected as “Eurocentric” – or even “white supremacist” – weapons for obliterating the unique insights of indigenous cultures. The bitter letter-to-the-Listener struggle over the merits of “Western Science” versus “Mātaurānga Māori”, was but the tip of the ontological iceberg currently ripping a massive hole, albeit well below the waterline of public perception, in New Zealand’s education system.

The extent to which this debate has progressed is revealed in the responses to the shocking performance revealed in the trial-run NCEA assessment tests. According to a post on the RNZ website, “independent evaluators” are concerned that: “New literacy and numeracy tests could lower NCEA achievement rates among Māori and Pacific students.” Chris Trotter 

In part, this failure is explained by the unwillingness of the more privileged sectors of our society to state with brutal clarity that breaking free of the dismal cycle of “lows” will only ever be achieved by aiming and scoring “high”. Parents must be told that there will be no special pleading; no softening of standards; no blaming of history. Their children must pass the tests, and they must help them pass the tests. The New Zealand state can build schools, and it can train teachers, but it cannot instill a determination in young Māori and Pasifika to be educated to the fullest extent of their powers. – Chris Trotter 

Having, over a lifetime observing the way modern tribes operate in this part of the world, I am led to believe that the current distortion of our history is being given legitimacy simply because it suits Maoridom in its battle for self determination – some would say control of their own destiny.
In fact, the very basis for our programme of reconciliation and compensation Is designed with tribal history as part of the justification of future state funded settlements. But the history being used in these claims against the Crown is a selective version of what actually happened. Clive Bibby

Parliament: an ironic place where contradictions abound. At first glance stately and formal, but under the surface we know skulduggery abounds. A place of quiet importance and hushed propriety, yet if you’ve ever seen Question Time (or a Caucus meeting), it gives a disrupted kindergarten a run for its money.- Jonathan Ayling

Frankly, it’s difficult to argue against the claim that official documents should be accessible to the general public. In fact, it’s such a good idea there are already annual ‘Plain Language Awards’ celebrating the public service department which uses the clearest language. But that’s not really what’s up for debate in Boyack’s Bill. Rather, it’s a Government funded structure to employ ‘Plain Language Officers’ (could someone write a ‘use-more-original-names’ Bill?) to peer over the shoulder of each public servant, making sure that their language is not convoluted (that means “tricky”, if it wasn’t plain.) This is the more sinister element of this legislation, and with irony again rearing its ugly head again, Boyack, the sponsor of the Bill, is entirely ignorant to it.

Does this seem a bit elaborate (that means “convoluted”)? Let me put it plainly: given the way this Government has tried to control information, speech, and expression, do we really want a ‘language officer’ signing off on every piece of public comms? What happens when the Government does what I just did there without anyone noticing? Take away the ‘plain’ aspect, and just make it a ‘language officer’… is this sounding a little more Ministry of Truth-esque? Public servants need to be able to give free and frank advice to their political overlords and more importantly, to speak openly with the public; erasing certain words from their vocabulary is a step in the wrong direction.

Is that clear? To control language is to control the ideas we can communicate.Jonathan Ayling

Just because it is in practice good to write plainly doesn’t mean we need legislation creating a role to enforce this. And just because the intention of the ‘plain language officer’ isn’t inherently censorious, that doesn’t mean it won’t end up silencing provocative speech. – Jonathan Ayling

Despite what some might say, the public service is not simply a conglomeration of higher beings sitting in great ivory towers in Wellington micromanaging the country through sophisticated decrees. (To put it plainly now) they’re normal people, like us, and can be expected to speak on the same level as the rest of the nation in a way we can all perfectly understand, on their own. Like so many other attempts at restricting and controlling speech, this Bill has proven to be another hopeless solution in desperate search of a problem.

To echo a suggestion from Duncan Garner- perhaps it would be a much better use of Government resources to appoint common-sense officers, perhaps even honesty officers or transparency officials!

(If you skimmed to the bottom of the article for the plain explanation in simple words, you can’t put it better than Chris Penk: ‘this Bill is not good. In fact, it is bad.’)Jonathan Ayling

Just a few years ago, it would have been totally unremarkable for a woman to set clear boundaries over who can lay their hands on her body, especially in a hospital setting. Yet today, thanks to the rise of trans ideology, this perfectly normal request is considered beyond the pale – so much so that a woman can be refused life-saving surgery for making it. This is the dark path the mantra of ‘transwomen are women’ has taken us down. – Raquel Rosario Sanchez

If nothing else, Sunak’s rise is a clear sign that Britain is a successful multiracial democracy, where it is possible for Britons of any ethnic background to reach the highest levels of political life.  – Rakib Ehsan

Predictably, however, Sunak’s coronation has been greeted by the kind of toxic identity politics that now dominates our political discourse. Many ‘anti-racists’ who would normally advocate for ethnic-minority ‘representation’ are now essentially saying that Rishi Sunak doesn’t count. Others have, perversely, tried to present Sunak’s rise as an indictment of Britain – as a sign of our lingering structural racism. Most of these responses have been tortured and confused. – Rakib Ehsan

Those who would normally celebrate diversity and representation are clearly struggling to do so when it comes to Rishi Sunak. Seemingly because Sunak does not subscribe to their identitarian script. This is a script that is as baseless as it is divisive. It is one that views Britain as a country that has historically done more harm than good in the world – and which, thanks to its colonial past, is irredeemably racist.

These ‘anti-racists’ believe that all British institutions – social, economic, political and legal – are deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities. And anyone belonging to an ethnic, racial or religious minority who dares to question this view is presented as somehow inauthentic. Critical opinions are considered to be ‘white’ opinions and the minorities who express them are presumed to be doing so purely for personal advancement.

Those ethnic-minority Britons who say favourable things about Britain or who challenge the woke identitarian outlook are often singled out for abuse by the woke left. In recent years, when ethnic-minority politicians have taken up high-ranking positions in Tory governments, they have been branded as ‘racial gatekeepers’ and traitorous turncoats. – Rakib Ehsan

Ultimately, Sunak’s skin colour should have no bearing on how we judge his premiership. Race is a poor guide to someone’s politics. But when the identitarians say Sunak does not ‘represent’ them, it is not because they have grasped this point. They are not about to adopt a colourblind approach to politics. It is just that Sunak has upset their expectations of what views a non-white politician should hold. And so he can be cast out. The identitarians are still very much wedded to the toxic idea that your race should determine your views.

Besides, Sunak is right not to follow the woke script. The truth is that Britain is one of the most successful multiracial democracies in the world. Britain’s robust anti-discrimination protections and its respect for religious freedoms make it one of the best places to live as a minority. Far from struggling under the weight of systemic racism, many of Britain’s ethnic-minority communities are thriving and are even outperforming the white mainstream. This is not the mean-spirited, racist hellhole that activists make it out to be.

No doubt the success of Rishi Sunak will continue to scramble the minds of Britain’s race obsessives, as they struggle to process any challenge to their worldview. The rest of us would do well to ignore Sunak’s skin colour and concentrate on his policies. – Rakib Ehsan

Britain has pioneered a new kind of economy, having long since abandoned manufacturing as a way of paying its way in the world: a service economy without service. Indeed, the very word service raises hackles in Britain, for it implies hierarchy, the servant who provided it being by definition subordinate to the person for whom the service is performed; and in these prickly democratic, or rather radically egalitarian, times, such subordination is anathema. – Theodore Dalrymple

It is a curious fact that public address announcements in English made in foreign countries, even by foreigners, are now much clearer and more pleasing on the ear than those made in Britain, where the shrieking voice of a person whom I always think of as Ms. Slut-Harridan is much in vogue, probably because there is no suggestion of education, cultivation, politeness, refinement, or any of those other qualities that the British now so detest and find so threatening and reproachful, in her voice. – Theodore Dalrymple

This winter, millions of British citizens, including children, will be tipped, or dumped, into energy poverty severe enough to risk permanent damage to their health. Cold, damp houses provide the perfect breeding ground for mould that not only causes respiratory distress, but renders houses essentially unlivable once established.

One Left-leaning newspaper ran the story outlining the danger, but without a word about why this crisis has emerged: because the woke moralisers of the “environmental” movement helped to create it.

The narcissists of compassion – callow, self-aggrandising, incompetent politicians, their celebrity lackeys, Machiavellian journalists – have insisted ever more loudly over the last five decades that no cost was, and is, too great for others to bear in the pursuit of blind service to “the planet.” Jordan Peterson

Virtue-signalling utopians committed to globalisation claim we are destroying the planet with cheap energy. But are they truly and deeply committed to the environmental sustainability so loudly and insistently demanded, or are they merely hell-bent, in the prototypically Marxist manner, in taking revenge on capitalism?

It appears to be the latter. Why otherwise would the mavens of the environmental movement oppose nuclear power, despite its optimal “carbon footprint”?- Jordan Peterson

The mentality among the eco-extremists is as follows: if we have to doom the poor to destroy the system that made the rich, so be it. You just can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

Here is one fact to remember, while we so madly and ineffectively rush to renewables. 

Research has recently indicated that two decades of intense support for such undertakings has hiked the proportion of energy provided by such means from 13-14 per cent to an utterly underwhelming 15.7 per cent. Unfortunately the liberal Left see Jordan Peterson

Remember: when the aristocracy catches cold, the peasants die of pneumonia. If such extreme measures have become necessary in the richest countries, what in God’s name is going to happen in the poorer ones? When the shortages strike, the poor will inevitably and necessarily turn to less green resources: many, even in Germany, are already stockpiling firewood and coal for the winter, leading to acute shortages. How is incentivising people to cut down and burn trees and use coal in their fireplaces going to help reduce the dreaded “atmospheric carbon load”?  – Jordan Peterson

Perhaps we’ll be able to comfort ourselves, here in the West, with the thought that the food we take for granted will still be available at our tables. But, wait: the crops that nourish our populations cannot be grown without fertiliser (loathed by green folk) and, more specifically, without ammonia. And what, pray tell, is ammonia derived from? Could it be…natural gas? And how many people are dependent for their daily bread on the industrial generation and consequent wide availability of ammonia? Only three or four billion…

The World Bank itself has recently indicated that 222 million people are already experiencing the threat of starvation (described oh-so-nicely as “food insecurity”). The Communists managed to kill 100 million in the last century with their utopian delusions; we’ve barely begun to implement the “save the planet” nightmare, and we’ve already placed twice that number at risk. Jordan Peterson

The masses will have to “tighten their belts” to forestall an even worse future catastrophe. The elite academics, think-tanks and corporate consultants, and the politicians who subsidise their intellectual pretensions, will not be particularly affected by such tightening – “privileged” as they are. But the actual poor? To such an elite, they must be sacrificed now to save tomorrow’s hypothetical poor.

222 million people is, no doubt, an underestimate: as the “food insecurity” gets more severe, more countries will place restrictions on food exports. That will harm the international supply lines we all depend on. Then, when the consequences of that manifest themselves, increasingly desperate politicians will begin to nationalise and centralise food distribution (as the French and Germans have already done on the energy front) and cut their farmers off at the knees, who will in turn stop growing food – not out of spite, but because of dire economic impossibility. Then we will have engendered the kind of feedback loop that can really spiral out of control. It will be poor people who die (first, at least), but as we have all been taught by the malevolent eco-moralisers: the planet has too many people on it anyway.

Think about this, while you shiver all too soon in your cold, damp and increasingly expensive and now sub-standard lodgings. You and your family may well have been deemed an expendable excess. – Jordan Peterson

In the psychological and educational arenas, too, we demoralise young people, feeding them a constant diet of concretised apocalypse, focusing particularly on tempering or even obliviating the laudable ambition of boys, hectoring them into believing that their virtue is nothing but the force that oppresses the innocent and despoils the virginal planet. And, if that doesn’t work – and it does – then there’s always the castration awaiting the gender-dysphoric. And you oppose such initiatives at substantial personal risk. 

But we can reassure ourselves with the fact that a beneficent government is going to set up warm spots in public libraries and museums this winter so that freezing, starving old people can huddle together to keep warm while their grandchildren cough up their lungs in their frigid, damp, and mouldy flats.Jordan Peterson

We could begin by dropping our appalling attitude of moral superiority toward the developing world. We could admit instead that the rest of the planet’s inhabitants have the right and the responsibility to move toward the abundant material life that we have enjoyed, despite ourselves, for the last century and which has been so entirely dependent on industrial activity and fossil fuel usage.  

We could work diligently and with purpose to drive energy and food prices down to the lowest level possible, so that we can ease the burden on the poor, and open up their horizons of possibility, so that they become concerned (as they inevitably and properly will) with long-term sustainability instead of acting desperately and destructively in pursuit of their next meal. In such circumstances – in the race of such mandatory privations and manipulations – it’s obvious that the last thing our tyrannical virtue-signalling governments should be doing is directing their demented attention toward regulating what people serve at their tables. But because meat has also been deemed yet something else that is “destroying the planet,” the woke narcissists of compassion are already insisting that people eat less of it. Plants and bugs for you and your children, peasants. And the sooner you get accustomed to it (or else) the better.  –

We could concentrate on an intelligent plan of stewardship instead of anti-human “environmentalism” along the lines of the plans outlined by multi-faceted and diligent experts such as Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, who pointed out years ago that we have a multitude of crises facing us and not just one (the hypothetically apocalyptic danger of “carbon”), and that we could spend the money we are wasting killing poor people in a much more intelligent and judicious manner, devoting some resources, for example, to ensuring a stable food supply to poor children in the developing world, treating malaria – something we can do and cheaply – and delivering fresh water where it is truly needed. – Jordan Peterson

We could work out our concerns with sustainability through consensus and in the spirit of voluntary association and free play instead of relying on top-down edicts, justified in principle by our misplaced existential terror and carrying with them the moral hazard of the accrual of unjustified and dangerous centralised authority. We could distribute to everyone their requisite responsibility as sovereign actors and can bring them on board with the power of a common vision: one of life more abundant; enough high-quality food for everyone; enough energy so that slavery becomes a thing of the past; enough purpose so that nihilism and decadence no longer beckon; enough reciprocity so that we live in true peace; the generous provision of education and opportunity to everyone in the world; the conviction (to say it again) that policy based on compulsion is misguided and counterproductive.

We could thereby have our cake and eat it too, and so could everyone else, and we could work toward that in a mutual spirit of productive generosity and fair play in competition and cooperation. Or we can let the world go to hell in a handbasket, blame that disintegration on the very enemies we identified as causal in the first place (those damned capitalists!), and fail to clean up our own souls as we persecute the imaginary wrong-doers responsible for the destruction of our planet. – Jordan Peterson

The rate of change is accelerating. Our ability to do almost everything is doubling, faster and faster. As our ability to communicate and to compute accelerates, the consequences of our inner disunity and insufficiency become ever more serious. As we become individually more powerful, in other words, we must take on more responsibility. Or else.

In the psychological and educational arenas, too, we demoralise young people, feeding them a constant diet of concretised apocalypse, focusing particularly on tempering or even obliviating the laudable ambition of boys, hectoring them into believing that their virtue is nothing but the force that oppresses the innocent and despoils the virginal planet. And, if that doesn’t work – and it does – then there’s always the castration awaiting the gender-dysphoric. And you oppose such initiatives at substantial personal risk. 

But we can reassure ourselves with the fact that a beneficent government is going to set up warm spots in public libraries and museums this winter so that freezing, starving old people can huddle together to keep warm while their grandchildren cough up their lungs in their frigid, damp, and mouldy flats.

In such circumstances – in the race of such mandatory privations and manipulations – it’s obvious that the last thing our tyrannical virtue-signalling governments should be doing is directing their demented attention toward regulating what people serve at their tables. But because meat has also been deemed yet something else that is “destroying the planet,” the woke narcissists of compassion are already insisting that people eat less of it. Plants and bugs for you and your children, peasants.Jordan Peterson

Let’s turn our attention to the claim that animal husbandry and the meat it produces cheaply enough for everyone to afford is unsustainable, for a moment, because we haven’t yet dispensed with enough moralising and authoritarian stupidity.

Remember what happened the last time that governmental agencies applied their tender mercy to determining what the people they serve should consume? We were offered the much-vaunted food pyramid, telling us to eat 6-11 servings of grains and carbohydrates a day, with protein and fat at the pinnacle – something to be indulged in with comparative rarity, if indeed necessary at all.

That all turned out to be wrong, and not just a little wrong, but so wrong that it might as well have been not just wrong but a veritable anti-truth: something as wrong as it could possibly get. – Jordan Peterson

So the “health benefits” of a pure vegetarian and vegan diet are dubious at best. But what of the argument that animal husbandry is killing the planet? Well, the American Environmental Protection Agency estimates that all farming produces only 11 per cent of greenhouse gases in the US (transportation produces 27 per cent). Livestock accounts for 3 per cent. And plant-based agriculture? Five per cent. According to the National Academy of Sciences, if we eradicated all animal-based agriculture, we’d reduce greenhouse gases by a mere 2.6 per cent. And it’s no simple matter, by the way – and perhaps impossible – to manage a diet that is sustainable in the medium-to-long-term by merely dining on plants. Jordan Peterson

What might we do, instead, if we chose to be genuinely wise, instead of inflicting want and privation upon the world’s poor, while failing utterly and disastrously to save the planet?

We could begin by assuming, here in the West, that all those frightened into paralysis and enticed into tyranny by their apprehension of the pending apocalypse have bitten off more than they can properly chew; have taken on a dragon much more fire-breathing and dire than they are heroic; have failed entirely to contend with the moral hazard that comes in assuming that the faddish emergency of their overheated imaginations emergency entitles them to the use of power and compulsion.  – Jordan Peterson

It’s time for all of us, but especially the self-righteous moralisers, to get our individual acts together, to take on some real moral responsibility, instead of falsely broadcasting unearned virtue far and wide and so cheaply and carelessly.

It’s time to drop the prideful intellectualism so overweening that we are willing to use compulsion and force to get our way – always for the sake of the general good. It’s time to drop the envy that makes us criticise and demonise anyone who has more than us, driven by the presumptions that such abundance must be the consequence of the application of arbitrary power and the result of theft – while what we have obtained, even though it is more than many possess, was merely garnered by the force of goodwill and morality. 

It’s time to shed the inexcusably pathological presumption among the elite that only corrupt power rules (everyone except them) and to express some gratitude for the traditions of the past and the near-miraculous infrastructure we have been granted. 

It’s time to take on the abandoned civic responsibility that has been justified through an unearned cynicism and return necessary authority to the local levels that moderate top-down tyranny.Jordan Peterson

Finally, it’s time to say no in some absolute and fundamental sense (and without hesitation) to all those who dare to propose that dooming perhaps a billion people to starvation and penury is justified by the potential consequences of failing to do so. So no one gets to say with impunity: “the planet has too many people on it.”

Too many people have already been sacrificed in the last hundred years on the altar of future utopias. Enough, truly, is enough. – Jordan Peterson

We have a moral problem in this country. Not to put too fine a point on it, it’s a cowardice problem.

One of the reasons the other side is winning the culture wars – and no one should be in any doubt that they are – is that too few conservatives and genuine liberals (as opposed to authoritarian neo-Marxists who have hijacked the term) have the guts to stand up and declare themselves.Karl du Fresne

The people who comment know what’s going on. They realise that liberal democracy and capitalism are under unprecedented attack. They are thoughtful and perceptive in identifying the threats posed by the cult of identity politics and they know what’s necessary to counter it.

They understand that we are in an ideological war to protect and preserve the values of the free, tolerant society we grew up in. – Karl du Fresne

The people driving the culture wars have no such qualms. Confident in the knowledge that their world view is shared by the institutions of power and influence – government, the bureaucracy, academia, schools, the media, the arts, even the corporate sector – they promulgate their divisive, corrosive messages without fear.

They are winning by default because too many people on the other side keep their heads down and their identity secret. People whose political instincts are essentially conservative may not be outnumbered, but they are certainly outgunned.

It’s a given that conservatism often equates with passivity and apathy. The vast mass of people who are broadly happy with the status quo will never compete with the ideological zeal of the social justice warriors, and it would be idle to expect them to. But I’m not talking here about the masses who are primarily concerned with raising a family, paying the mortgage and watching rugby; I’m talking about those who are deeply worried about the radical re-invention of New Zealand society and who recognise the need to oppose it. They’re the people who need to raise their heads above the parapet. Karl du Fresne

The emergence of the FSU is a heartening sign that resistance to authoritarian censorship is slowly gaining momentum, but there’s a long way to go. In the meantime, it would help if more people demonstrated their support for free speech by openly and unapologetically exercising it. The more who step forward, the more they give courage to others. It’s called critical mass. – Karl du Fresne

Meanwhile, businesses and households are right to be terrified about what lies ahead.
Over 100,000 households are going to come off fixed mortgages in the next year, and face a tripling of their monthly interest payments.

At the same time, house prices are now picked to fall by more than a quarter off the peak.

A family who bought a $1 million house at the peak with a $250,000 deposit will lose all their savings and have to pay three times as much interest on the $750,000 they borrowed. – Matthew Hooton

Inflation is now endemic in the New Zealand domestic economy and employees and their unions will rightly demand at least 7 per cent pay rises just to stand still.

But 7 per cent is just the start. – Matthew Hooton

China did not make New Zealand its best little friend in the west a generation ago out of benevolence, but to infiltrate, influence and undermine the Five Eyes intelligence alliance through its smallest, weakest and most naive member.Matthew Hooton

The immediate economic risks to New Zealand are stark enough. Add in the medium-term risks and the images of the Prime Minister playing in the snow on what can only be considered a jolly represent a serious political miscalculation.

The next election should be a watershed moment in New Zealand history. Like 1935, 1972, 1984 and 1990, serious decisions about economic and foreign policy need to be made. – Matthew Hooton

This week marks five years since Jacinda Ardern became New Zealand’s 40th prime minister. In modern British political terms, such a period might now be referred to as an era. In New Zealand, too, it feels just like that: a very long time. – Oliver Hartwich 

Instead of simply allocating funds to various government departments, the state now aims for something higher: it aspires to uplift its citizens in an almost spiritual manner. Whether it succeeds in that quest is a different question, but the very idea of the New Zealand state has changed under Ardern.

What has not changed are some negative trends that have plagued New Zealand for many years before her: the country’s sluggish productivity, its declining education system, its infrastructure deficits, its ridiculous house prices. In each of these areas, the problems have continued or indeed worsened.

Ardern’s record is one of deep change in the nature of the New Zealand state and its relationship to citizens. On the country’s most pressing social and economic problems, Ardern has not achieved any improvement. On many measures, the country is actually worse off than it was when she became Prime Minister.

The fact that Ardern’s record on the ground remains poor has been doubly masked: by the aforementioned constitutional changes, which are popular in parts of the electorate and the commentariat, and by Ardern’s superb communication skills. – Oliver Hartwich 

What has really brought this political upheaval to a head across Europe, however, is the energy crisis, driven by a belief that they could be energy independent using only wind and solar generation and decarbonising their economies. Unfortunately, their ambition was well ahead of practical reality, and they consequently became overly dependent on Russian gas and the good will of Vladimir Putin. Putin is not the source of their energy woes; he merely accelerated their energy crisis.Stuart Smith

For too long the world has taken cheap and reliable energy for granted, but there is a close relationship between GDP, energy and life expectancy; something we should not forget. Wind and solar will of course play an important role in the energy sector but it will not be the nirvana that many claim.-

Despite the claims from environmentalists, we are far more dependent on gas than many realise: many homes are reliant on gas and many industries are underpinned by gas, most often with no economically viable alternative.
We could make more of the opportunity that our local gas industry offers us by utilising the methanol produced by Methanex to lower our local shipping industry’s emissions. Methanol is a much cleaner burning fuel than diesel and has lower CO2 emissions as well; that is why shipping giant Maersk has just ordered six new ships that will run on methanol. – Stuart Smith

There’s so much regulation coming at us and costs just keep going up. I wonder whether it will get to the point where it’s not possible to make a living here and then there won’t be farm left here for them to take over.  – Ben Dooley

From what I’ve worked out it will cost us about $1.70 a sheep in the first year and about $5 a head by 2030. Combined with paying that tax and limit setting on the amount of fertiliser you can use, which is the next thing coming, it might not be financially viable to be here.Ben Dooley

Without primary industries in general, but particularly pastoral agriculture, we are in very big trouble as to how to pay for all the imports of goods that we cannot produce here in Aotearoa New Zealand. Solving the methane issue would be a real big deal. – Keith Woodford

Pulling all of this evidence together, the big picture is that there are no magic technology bullets that can drastically alter the reality that ruminants emit methane for a good reason. This methane is the outcome of evolutionary processes that produce animals that are fit for the grassland environment in which they live naturally.

However, that does not mean that no progress can be made in terms of emitting less methane per unit of meat and milk output. Indeed, the last 30 years have produced an amazing but seldom told New Zealand story as to how methane emissions per kg of sheep meat have reduced by about 30%. Dairy emissions per kg of Milksolids (fat plus protein) have reduced by about 20%.

The way these spectacular efficiency improvements have been achieved is by the breeding of more productive animals and incorporating these animals within improved farming systems. Fortunately, improved biological efficiency has also led to efficiency improvements relating to methane emissions. – Keith Woodford

We are engaged in a decades-long conscious-uncoupling from our imperial past and towards some uncertain future firmly anchored in an imagined pre-colonial world, where the inhabitants of these shaky isles lived in harmony with nature and one another.Damien Grant

There is some revisionism going, on but historical narratives are often built on self-deception. Those currently living around the Nile have as valid a claim on the pyramids as the Slavic inhabitants of North Macedonia have on the exploits of Alexander the Great.

Details and facts can be left to historians and pedants while we rush forwards to a glorious past. – Damien Grant

The British Empire is an easy target, especially if you gain your understanding of history from the New Zealand school system or social media memes. Both equally reliable.

But let’s take a longer look at the Empire’s legacy before we tear it from our cultural soil.

The British Empire was remarkable. Only the Romans have cast a more potent historical shadow.Damien Grant

English is the lingua-franca both because of its ability to absorb foreign words, like lingua-franca, and the extent of the Empire’s reach resulted in English being the second language of half the world.

The Empire carried more than the language of the Bard and smallpox to the far corners of humanity. They brought ideas.

Some were rooted in a belief in the racial and cultural superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race, but there were other enlightenment ideals that represent the best of humanity.

The separation of church and state, the importance of an independent judiciary, the freedom of ideas, the sovereignty of the individual and the value of democracy. Some, it pains me to say, originated in Paris rather than London or Glasgow. – Damien Grant

The success of anti-slavery politician William Wilberforce is often hailed as a legacy the Empire can be proud of, and rightly so, but this is to miss the significance of his achievement in securing the abolition of slavery in the Empire in 1833.

Wilberforce prevailed because he was drawing on enlightenment ideas of humanity.Damien Grant

The abolition of slavery was not due to one man’s advocacy, but to an evolution of ideas that also gave us democracy and the legal principles of habeas corpus and ultra vires.

For all the Empire’s failings, it installed in those lands where her writ ran concepts and systems of government that have remained long after the last red-coat slinked off-shore.

Such is the power of these ideals that where they were violated, such as in South Africa, Pakistan and Fiji, the state has never been able to completely eradicate them.

They lurk, like gorse, in the hearts and minds of the populace and, when given an opportunity, reassert themselves. – Damien Grant

 Sunak will succeed or fail based on his merits and achievements, his decisions and the vicissitudes of fortune. His race and religion are cause for comment but neither an obstacle nor an advantage.

We can change the names of our cities, abandon the monarchy and eschew as many Shakespearian nightmares as decency will allow.

We can discard the worst elements of our imperial legacy, repair the damage caused by Treaty breaches and betrayals, and apologise for the mistakes made in a previous era.

But let us preserve the idea that the value of a person is a function of their ability, achievements and character, and nothing else.Damien Grant

Voters don’t reward incumbent governments when they feel poor. Already, some will feel poor on paper as they watch their property value drop. Already, some feel poor in reality as they fork out more and more for rising mortgage rates. And shortly, many more will feel poor as nearly half the country’s mortgages roll over in the next few months and the mortgage interest payments double or triple.

From co-governance to incompetence there is a lot denting Labour’s chances at the next election, but this is probably the worst: homeowners’ mild sense of panic at rising mortgage rates and falling house prices.- Heather du Plessis Allan

Getting ahead of social problems like crime will save money in the long term, but far more important than that, it means fewer victims in the broadest sense of the term.

How we do that we can debate and argue all we like, but there ought to be no debate that prevention is what we absolutely must do. – Jarrod Gilbert

The ideologies of diversity and inclusion, decolonisation, intersectionality (a web of oppressions), gender and critical race theory have spread too deep and wide, leaking like dye and soaking the fabric of society with their toxic hue.

Woke progressives often speak of “re-educating” those who disagree with them. But the sad truth is that if we are to save the soul of the West, we will need not so much to “re-educate” as to persuade our opponents that they are wrong. – Zoe Strimpel 

For children, father absence is associated with poverty, material hardship, abuse and neglect, lower cognitive capacity, substance use, poorer physical and mental health and criminal offending. But estranged fathers can also suffer materially and emotionally. The mortality rate of fathers paying child support is significantly higher than the norm.Lindsay Mitchell

The long march of the left through our institutions is now paying off handsomely as their graduates scale the commanding heights of big business and big government. – Brianna McKee

The Arderns of the world are made in the image of their creators – entrenched left-wing lecturers, administrators, and bureaucrats who fill universities across the Western world, particularly Australia.

These individuals have turned universities into institutions that limit free speech via a culture that is antagonistic to viewpoint diversity. This directly opposes the historical mission of higher education.

The true mission of a university is to impart knowledge and hone the mind through debate and challenge, yet groupthink and cancel culture have been rife on campus for years.Brianna McKee

Increasingly, universities are limiting speech by institutionalising ideology. Indigenous relations, Climate Change, and gender equality litter the policy lists of the higher education sector.

There is no better indication that free-thinking intellectuals are losing the battle than the fact that the number of policies instituted by universities has increased exponentially in recent years, jumping from 136 in 2018 to 281 in 2022. Many of these new policies directly promote social justice causes. – Brianna McKee

By promoting only one side of a controversial issue, universities attach a value judgment to it and suggest it is the superior position to hold.

This closes debate and crushes viewpoint diversity. A university cannot be dedicated to an ideology and simultaneously open to challenging perspectives.

The latest tactic of university-trained elites, like Ardern, is to claim an alleged influx of ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’ when thought goes against their opinion.Brianna McKee

Unprecedented prosperity, opportunity, education, tolerance, and welfare are hallmarks of Western Civilisation and are the products of freedom of speech, thought, and association.

The fall of most great societies take place as they turn against, or fail to value, the things that made them great. – Brianna McKee

Each day more Jacindas are rolling off the university production line. Warm, genteel, and empathetic right up until the moment they want you silenced, cancelled, or fired from your job.

The Enlightenment mission of universities has been turned on its head. Tyranny has indeed had a makeover and every day our graduates exit university more closed and small-minded than ever before.Brianna McKee


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,


When politics get personal

16/08/2022

Have you noticed how Labour has started attacking National leader Christopher Luxon?

Richard Prebble explains why:

The commentators are busy writing off National leader Christopher Luxon. One wrote that he is “starting to look more like a Todd Muller“. Another claimed “the number of people who dislike Luxon is very high for a new leader“.

It is total nonsense. Luxon is nothing like the hapless Muller. 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.

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

David Farrar explains just how significant that turnaround is:

I don’t think people realise how remarkable that swing has been. They were 25% behind Labour at the last election and now lead them in every major poll. A swing of 10% is considered significant. A 25% swing is huge. Here’s what the swing has been for every MMP election (gap between  and Labour):

  • 1999: -15%
  • 2002: -12%
  • 2005: +18%
  • 2008: +13%
  • 2011: +9%
  • 2014: +2%
  • 2017: -14%
  • 2020: -32% . . .

Only in the last election, when Labour was assited by Covid-19 and national disfunction has the swing been greater.

Back to 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.

He has united caucus, gained the support of the wider party and is convincing the voting public that National would lead a much better government than Labour.

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.

When Luxon announced a detailed youth unemployment policy on Sunday, some 15 months before the next election, Labour could not wait to find it “guilty”. The attacks would have been more effective if ministers could agree on what is wrong with National’s policy. Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni says it is because the policies have no merit. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says it is because the policies “already exist”. Of course both could be true.

If both exist why is the government expending effort and money on policies that don’t work?

The apparatchiks are surprised Luxon has chosen youth unemployment as that is not an issue in any poll. Luxon also identified the cost of living as a crisis when inflation was not an issue. His identification of the issue and Ardern’s dismissal of any cost of living crisis is the reason why voters now say National is better able to handle the economy.

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.

Not getting the kids back to school and not helping them find a job and become independent isn’t just failing them. It’s causing problems that will haunt the country for decades and the high truancy and benefit numbers can’t all be blamed on Covid-19 and winter ‘flu.

Luxon’s statement to the National Party conference that – “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” echoes Norman Kirk. Kirk used to say that welfare needs to be not a safety net that catches, but a springboard that propels back. . . 

Margaret Thatcher said I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.

Labour’s attacks on Luxon personally and politically reflects well on him and poorly on them.

It shows they recognise how well he’s doing, that they have nothing substantial to criticise him on and no substantial policies to counter his attacks.

The contrast between his decisive reaction to revelations about one of his MPs and Jacinda Ardern’s trade mark equivocation in response to her MP, Dr Gaurav Sharma’s public complaints – ramped up yesterday with screen shots of messages from other MPs –  clearly shows who is the better leader.


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,


‘We are not slaves to history’

21/07/2022

Viewing the film Whina prompted Richard Prebble to write in defence of democracy:

. . .I can authenticate the film’s claim that Whina had no time for radicals who wanted to take advantage of Māori grievances.

The portrayal of Sir Āpirana Ngata also rings true. Ninety years ago Ngata was often acting Deputy Prime Minister. He was the first Māori lawyer and a recognised scholar.

Ngata wrote about the Treaty. Born in 1874, he would have known chiefs who signed the document. Ngata would reject this Government’s radical revisionist version of the Treaty.

Anyone who believes in and cares about democracy should be rejecting this government’s radical revisionist version of the Treaty.

This matters. Almost without debate, New Zealand is undergoing the biggest constitutional change since 1840. Those who question the wisdom of that change are being silenced by accusations of being racist.

Instead of debating the issues, those supporting the changes play the racism card to silence any critics.

At the risk of being censored or asked “to buy a one-way ticket to Australia” by the president of the Māori Party, here is the constitutional issue.

New Zealand has been a liberal democracy since the British Parliament passed the Constitution Act 1852, setting up parliamentary government.

The Oxford Dictionary says: “A liberal democracy is a system of government in which individual rights and freedoms are officially recognised and protected. The exercise of political power is limited by the rule of law.”

Fundamental to a liberal democracy is government being accountable to the people by a system of one person, one vote.

That system isn’t perfect but, as Churchill said, it’s better than any of the alternatives.

Liberal democracy is incompatible with co-government by tribes. New Zealand has never been co-governed by iwi.

What is called co-governance of assets is actually de facto co-ownership. Co-ownership is a pragmatic solution to Treaty claims to assets such as national parks.

National Parks are public land, not private assets.

But taking the concept of co-governance and applying it to assets which iwi have no claim to is the confiscation of property. It is ratepayers – Māori and non-Māori – who paid for the pipes, dams, stormwater drains and sewage plants.

Property rights, an important plank of democracy, are being trampled over by the Three Waters plans.

The Government’s Three Waters legislation is a coup. It is replacing liberal democracy with co-government with iwi.

Co-government is leading us down a dark road. The logic of a Māori Health Authority is that in future medical decisions will be based not on need, but on race. There will never be enough money to pay for every possible treatment. Are people to be denied medical treatment because they are the wrong race?

When this happens we will have set up in New Zealand a system of apartheid, defined by the Oxford Dictionary “as a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race”. Apartheid was wrong in South Africa. It will be wrong in New Zealand.

Sir Apirana Ngata would have rejected the notion that the Treaty proposed apartheid government. The Whina Cooper I knew would have rejected it too.

It is something we should all be rejecting if we want a peaceful and secure future for the country.

Even if the revisionists are correct and in 1840 the chiefs wanted tribal government, that does not make it right in 2022. We are not slaves to history. The vast majority of New Zealanders, Māori and non-Māori, do not want to be co-governed by a self-selected Māori elite. We want to live in a liberal democracy where every vote is equal. . .

Prebble’s former leader, David Lange, had a similar view :

. . .Here I come back to the government’s aim of closing the gaps between rich and poor, and the way in which it was overtaken in public understanding by the subsidiary goal of closing the gaps between Maori and the rest. I don’t describe the second goal as lesser than the first out of any wish to minimise the effect of growing inequality on Maori people. What I mean is that from the point of view of a democratic government, the first goal can encompass the second, but the second can’t encompass the first. If the government’s goal is to reduce inequality, it follows that it will do whatever it can to improve the position of Maori.

How goals like this are achieved is the whole business of politics. It is not particularly easy politics, because the racial element always makes politics difficult, however you handle it. In this country there is the history of dispossession and displacement. There is the growing number of people who identify as Maori. There is the growing number of those who wish to wield political power as, and on behalf, of Maori, and increasingly have the means to do so. These are challenges to the political process, but they are not insurmountable.

Democratic government can accommodate Maori political aspiration in many ways. It can allocate resources in ways which reflect the particular interests of Maori people. It can delegate authority, and allow the exercise of degrees of Maori autonomy. What it cannot do is acknowledge the existence of a separate sovereignty. As soon as it does that, it isn’t a democracy. We can have a democratic form of government or we can have indigenous sovereignty. They can’t coexist and we can’t have them both.

This brings me to the preoccupation of successive governments with the Treaty of Waitangi.

It is with no disrespect for Maori feeling for the treaty that I have to say it means nothing to me. It can mean nothing to me because it has nothing to say to me. When I was in office I understood that the government had succeeded to certain legal and moral obligations of the government which signed the treaty, and that in so far as those obligations had not been met it was our responsibility to honour them. But that is the extent of it.

The treaty cannot be any kind of founding document, as it is sometimes said to be. It does not resolve the question of sovereignty, if only because one version of it claims one form of sovereignty and the other version claims the opposite. The court of appeal once, absurdly, described it as a partnership between races, but it obviously is not. The signatories are, on one side, a distinctive group of people, and on the other, a government which established itself in New Zealand and whose successors represent all of us, whether we are descendants of the signatories or not. The treaty cannot even resolve the argument among Maori themselves in which one side maintains that that you’re a Maori if you identify as such, and the other claims that it’s your links to traditional forms of association which define you as Maori.

As our increasingly dismal national day continues to show, the treaty is no basis for nationhood. It doesn’t express the fundamental rights and responsibilities of citizenship, and it doesn’t have any unifying concept. The importance it has for Maori people is a constant reminder that governments in a democracy should meet their legal and moral obligations, but for the country taken as a whole, that is, and must be, the limit of its significance.

Here I come to the dangers posed by the increasing entrenchment of the treaty in statute. The treaty itself contains no principles which can usefully guide government or courts. It is a bald agreement, anchored in its time and place, and the public interest in it is the same as the public interest in enforcing any properly-made agreement. To go further than that is to acknowledge the existence of undemocratic forms of rights, entitlements, or sovereignty.

The treaty is a wonderful stick for activists to beat the rest of us with, but it could never have assumed the importance it has without the complicity of others. It came to prominence in liberal thought in the seventies, when many who were concerned about the abuse of the democratic process by the government of the day began to see the treaty as a potential source of alternative authority. It’s been the basis of a self-perpetuating industry in academic and legal circles. Many on the left of politics who sympathise with Maori aspiration have identified with the cause of the treaty, either not knowing or not caring that its implications are profoundly undemocratic.

I don’t think it any coincidence that the cause gained momentum in the eighties and nineties, when the government retreated from active engagement in economy and society and in doing so weakened the identification between government and governed which is essential to the functioning of a democracy. It isn’t in the least surprising that undemocratic ideas flourish when democracy itself seems to be failing.

I think that in practice the present government will find it difficult to draw back from its public commitment to the treaty, and that this will almost certainly rob it of its chance to build a more cohesive society and a more productive economy. It has, in the public mind if nowhere else, adopted a goal whose pursuit is inevitably divisive, and it is spending its political capital on it almost by the hour. The result, if the worst comes to the worst, will be a fractured society in which political power will be contested in ways beyond the limits of our democratic experience. . . 

Both men are right.

Co-governance and democracy are incompatible.

We can’t have both and they can’t co-exist.


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 


Quotes of the month

02/05/2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voters should be wary of policies justified by scapegoating – Eric Crampton

New Zealand is one of the oldest democracies in the world. This system of government ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’ – that treats all citizens as equals before the law – has been a liberating force of human endeavour throughout the ages. We have indeed been fortunate in New Zealand that successive governments have faithfully upheld policies to protect our democracy as sacrosanct.

That is, until now. – Muriel Newman

Do we uphold the foundation of our Westminster Parliamentary democracy, namely one person one vote, where all votes are equal, or do we go down the path towards an Orwellian Animal Farm democracy, where all are equal – but some are more equal than others?

Unfortunately, this is not a trivial question. It’s time for a national conversation about what we want from our democracy, and in particular, whether we want those New Zealanders identifying as ‘Maori’ to be guaranteed greater rights and privileges than everyone else. – Muriel Newman

A key problem New Zealanders face is that the partnership the Government is using to justify what amounts to totalitarian tribal control – through the transfer of democratic power and public resources to the iwi elite – is actually fake. Since it is constitutionally impossible for a partnership to exist between a Sovereign and the governed, it represents a massive deception of New Zealanders by the Government. – Muriel Newman

The resulting upheaval isn’t measurable so much by legislative change as by a profound shift in the political and cultural tone of the country. Ardern’s re-election was like an injection of steroids for the leftist cabal that now exerts control over all New Zealand’s institutions of power and influence, including the media and the craven business sector.

This university-educated and predominantly middle-class neo-Marxist cabal is distinct from New Zealand’s dwindling old-school socialist/communist Left, which ironically now finds itself aligned with conservatives on issues such as free speech and identity politics. But the New Left wields far more power than the comrades of the Old Left ever dreamed of.Karl du Fresne

How is this leftist cabal’s influence manifested? Chiefly through the divisive phenomenon known as wedge politics, and most provocatively through the promotion of 50-50 co-governance between representatives of the European majority and a minority consisting of people with Maori ancestry.

There are now effectively two levels of citizenship in New Zealand, one of which confers entitlements not available to the other. This is evident across a range of public policies that include compulsory Maori representation on local councils, the appointment of Maori activists to positions of power and the splurging of vast sums of money targetted exclusively at people who happen, by what is effectively a genetic accident, to have a proportion of Maori blood.

All this is predicated on the notion that people of part-Maori descent are entitled to redress for the baneful effects of colonisation. These deleterious effects presumably included the introduction of democratic government, the rule of law and the end of cannibalism, slavery and tribal warfare. – Karl du Fresne

Whether decolonisation includes rejecting such innovations as literacy and Western medicine isn’t clear, since the advocates of decolonisation are careful not to spell out exactly what they mean. – Karl du Fresne

. The stark choice facing New Zealand voters at next year’s general election will be between democracy and a different form of government for which we have no name.

But the cultural upheaval goes far beyond that, stoked by state-subsidised media that have abandoned their traditional purpose of seeking to reflect the society they purport to serve, and which instead bombard the public with indoctrination promoting the interests of attention-seeking minority groups.  – Karl du Fresne

This sense of polarisation is magnified by an authoritarian intolerance of dissent and by Stalinist-style denunciations of anyone bold or foolish enough to speak out against prevailing ideological orthodoxy.

Meanwhile, Ardern floats above it all. She’s a shrewd enough politician to have remained largely aloof from the rancour her government has generated, and who avoids entanglement in any unpleasantness that might detract from her carefully crafted image as an empathetic politician. But she cannot disown responsibility for presiding over a government that is promoting the politics of division and destabilising what was previously an admirably cohesive and harmonious society.Karl du Fresne

What were normal people—those who did not have any trouble defining woman, those who found talk of “pregnant people” and “contested spaces” and “rabbit holes” baffling—to make of this obvious discomfort with “women”?  – Zoe Strimpel 

But now these exemplars of female empowerment—educated, sophisticated, wielding enormous influence—seemed to have forgotten what “woman” meant. Or whether it was okay to say “woman.” Or whether “woman” was a dirty word. 

It wasn’t simply about language. It was about how we think about and treat women. For nearly 2,500 years—from Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata” to Seneca Falls to Anita Hill to #MeToo—women had been fighting, clawing their way out of an ancient, deeply repressive, often violent misogyny. But now that they were finally on the cusp of the Promised Land, they were turning their backs on all that progress. They were erasing themselves.  – Zoe Strimpel 

By the 1980s, women had won several key victories. Equal pay was the law (if not always the reality). No-fault divorce was widespread. Abortion was safe and legal. Women were now going to college, getting mortgages, playing competitive sports and having casual sex. In the United States, they were running for president, and they were getting elected to the House and Senate in record numbers. In Britain, Margaret Thatcher was prime minister.

In the wake of all these breakthroughs, the movement began to lose steam. It contracted, then it splintered, and a vacuum opened up. Academics took over—hijacked—the cause. – Zoe Strimpel 

It wasn’t just that these academics took it upon themselves to develop fiendishly complex theories about women, dressed up in a fiendishly complex language. It was that this hyper-intellectualized feminism, by embracing this hyper-intellectualized language, excluded most women. It transformed feminism from activism to theory, from the concrete to the abstract, from a movement that sought to liberate women from the discriminations imposed on them by their sex to a school of thought that was less interested in sex than gender. 

Sex, to the academics, was outdated. It was crude, fleshy, obvious—the stuff of everyday women everywhere. Gender, on the other hand, was fascinating—the starting point for an endless theorizing that, with each passing paper or book or conference, became more abstruse, more removed from the daily challenges faced by ordinary women. – Zoe Strimpel 

The new, abstracted feminism had little interest in changing political or economic reality, as the older, grittier feminism had. It was like a fancy garment that only the well off—those who had gone to college and lived in big cities and were fluent in the new vernacular—could afford. Or knew to buy. –

It is not an accident that the rise of gender ideology coincides with the long anticipated petering out of the feminist cause.

That’s because the rise of the one and the decline of the other are closely linked with our fetishization of identity. The fight for transgender rights over and above that of biological women’s rights, just like the war on systemic racism, jibes perfectly with our new identity politics.

Unfortunately, identity politics cannot content itself with simply defending women’s rights or LGBT rights or the rights of black people to be treated equally under the law. It must persist indefinitely in its quest for ever-narrowing identities. (The ever-expanding acronym of gay and gay-adjacent and vaguely, distantly, not really in any way connected communities, with its helpful plus sign at the end, neatly illustrates as much.) Everyone is entitled to an identity, or a plethora of identities, and each identity must be bespoke—individualized—and any attempt to rein in the pursuit of identity runs counter to the never-ending fight for inclusivity. Even if that inclusivity undermines the rights of other people. Like women.

This dynamic, with the most marginal interest trumping all others, easily took over a feminism long primed by whacky postmodern ideas like Butler’s—paving the way for its second, related hijacking. This one by biological males. – Zoe Strimpel 

And so Post-Feminist Feminism has morphed into a dark, strange Anti-Feminism. Anti-Feminism borrows from the language of liberation, but it’s not about liberating women. It’s about pushing women out of college sports. It’s about telling girls they aren’t lesbians or tomboys, but in fact men struggling to find themselves. Zoe Strimpel 

To attempt an answer, any answer, to the question—Can you provide a definition for the word ‘woman’?—would be to re-center women, biological sex, the concrete, mundane experience of ordinary, boring, bourgeois and working-class and very poor women the world over. It would be to attempt to undo the hijacking of the feminist cause and to return it to the people for whom that cause was created so many decades ago.

Returning the cause to the people for whom it was created is the only way to save it, and to stop the many discriminations that girls and women still face: domestic violence; the economic and psychological penalty of having babies; the manifold hurts and crimes visited upon countless women in non-Western countries simply for being women. For now, doing anything about all of that is a fantasy. First, we have to honor the actual meaning of words, like woman. We have to insist that those meanings are important. We have to go back, again, to first principles. That is the only way forward. – Zoe Strimpel 

The simple approach is to require integrity in communication and employ strategies suitable for the target audience. The bureaucracy and “political correctness” the Plain Language Bill promotes are not the answer. A basic principle is to communicate in a manner your audience can understand, as I hope I have. Dennnis Gates

Our business leaders big and small are currently being forgotten for their contribution to society. They put themselves on the line, take risks, worry about paying their staff and their bills and hope to make a profit, although, for many that last one is a distant dream, survival now takes priority. They have been broken by having to close their doors or cut right back and for most, it has been the heartbreak of letting people go they have worked with and cared about for many years.

Those that have survived through the worst of the Covid years now need our support more than ever but instead, they are treated with disdain as cost after cost is piled on to them with regulatory changes that make it harder to stay in business. An extra public holiday, increases in the wage bill, transport costs going up and a struggle to get workers will drive a whole lot out of business. Their contribution is more than the goods and services they provide, it is how they play a vital part in our community, employ us and our neighbours and support the many charities that need them – often quietly and without recognition. We need their entrepreneurial spirit and their dream of the next big thing. – Paula Bennett

 I thought the chance of another civil war in the US was minimal and in a country like New Zealand, neglible. . . The most important single factor is when one or more major parties in a country’s political system doesn’t organise around left-right political values but around identity – race, religion or ethnicity. –  David Farrar

The bottom line is that some of our friends on the left want to shoot at the rich, but they wind up wounding the poor instead by greasing the rungs on the ladder of economic opportunity. – Dan Mitchell

FPAs are a solution looking for a problem.Levi Gibbs

Of course, wages in New Zealand are lower than those overseas – most notably in Australia.

But the strong relationship between productivity and wages indicates the problem is not weak collective bargaining power, but our sluggish productivity growth.  – Levi Gibbs

The problem with misdiagnosing a problem like low wages is that the prescribed cure may in fact do harm.

FPAs are inflexible in the face of technological change – firms seeking to maximise productivity need to respond nimbly to new challenges and opportunities presented by change. Sometimes, such a response will necessarily involve adjusting employment arrangements. – Levi Gibbs

One-size-fits-all FPAs will mean “unproductive” firms with low profit margins, unable to bear the same wage costs as their larger competitors, will exit the market. Denying small firms the chance to grow more productive and forcing them to lay off workers is a short-sighted and unimaginative way to make productivity and wages look higher.

Wage floors will mean those on the outside looking in – including 188,000 job seekers and unskilled young people (NEETs) – will find it harder to find work, as they have not developed the skills to justify the entry-level wage. Higher labour costs will reduce the likelihood of firms hiring additional workers, and force those firms that do not simply shut down to reduce their workforce, cut back hours, or accelerate automation. – Levi Gibbs

The increased influence of trade unions will come at the expense of the vulnerable, the low skilled, and less experienced workers. This threatens New Zealand’s good record of high labour participation and low unemployment.

Improving productivity requires investing in people, taking risks on new ideas and innovative processes. It requires reforming New Zealand’s underperforming education system, attracting foreign direct investment, promoting capital reinvestment, and reallocating resources to the productive sector via tax relief. That is how New Zealand makes up for lost time over the past forty years. The ultimate result will be higher wages for workers and more prosperity.

The Fair Pay Agreement fantasy is an ill-advised, union-driven attempt to hack a shortcut to higher wages.Levi Gibbs

Decolonisation is not only destructive but simplistic. Although cultural knowledge is not science, the science-culture distinction doesn’t exclude traditional knowledge from the secular curriculum. It does however put limits on how it is included. Students can be taught in social studies, history, and Māori Studies about the traditional knowledge that Te Hurihanganui describes as the “rich and legitimate knowledge located within a Māori worldview’. But this is not induction into belief and ideological systems. The home and community groups are for induction into cultural beliefs and practices. – Elizabeth Rata

Ironically, decolonisation ideology is justified using the universal human rights argument for equity. But the equity case misrepresents the problem. As with all groups, it is not ethnic affiliation but class-related cultural practices that are the main predictors of educational outcomes. Māori children from professional families are not failing. Rather it is those, Māori and non-Māori alike, living in families experiencing hardship and not engaging in cognitive practices of abstract thinking and literacy development, who are most likely to fail at school. This is not inevitable. Education can make a difference to a child’s life chances but it requires all schools, Maori medium immersion and mainstream alike, to provide quality academic knowledge taught by expert teachers. Elizabeth Rata

Decolonisation will indeed divide society into two groups – but not that of coloniser and colonised locked into the permanent oppressor-victim status used to justify ethno-nationalism. Instead one group will comprise those who receive an education in academic subjects. These young people will proceed to tertiary study with a sound understanding of science, mathematics, and the humanities. Their intelligence will be developed in the long-term and demanding engagement with this complex knowledge. It is to be hoped, though this cannot be assumed given that the rationality-democracy connection is analogous not casual, that they will have the critical disposition required for democratic citizenship, one that is subversive of culture and disdainful of ideology.

The second group comprises those who remain restricted to the type of knowledge acquired from experience and justified in ideologies of culture. Distrustful of academic knowledge as colonising and oppressive, ethnically-based cultural beliefs and practices will provide the community needed for social and psychological security. In this restricted world they are insiders. And as there are insiders, there must be outsiders – in traditionalist ideologies these are the colonists who are seen to have taken everything and given nothing. And yet the tragedy is that it is the cultural insiders who are to be the excluded ones – excluded from all the benefits that a modern education provides.

A revolution is coming. The government’s transformational policies for education make this clear. It will only be stopped by a re-commitment to academic knowledge for all New Zealand children within a universal and secular education system. Colonisation is not the problem and decolonisation is not the solution. – Elizabeth Rata

Once the principle of one person, one vote is abandoned at local government level, pressure will build for something similar at the central government level.

It is hard to think of a more divisive agenda for any government to be pushing. – Paul Goldsmith

Big, radical changes to our democracy are being peddled in obscure local Bills by backbench MPs – with the Minister of Justice, the Attorney General and others nowhere to be seen.

These rushed, sneaky bills have become the stock-in-trade of this government.

It astounds me that the human rights lobby, constitutional lawyers, the Crown Law Office and other members of civil society are so relaxed about all this. Sadly, it speaks of a climate of fear that stifles open debate on these issues. – Paul Goldsmith

Our country is imperfect. We have many inequities, a fraught history and much work to do. But no inequities will be improved by shifting away from the bedrock of our relative success as a nation.

A core element of the liberal democracy we enjoy is the fundamental principle of one person, one vote.

We should not casually throw it away.Paul Goldsmith

Parliament imposed tough penalties. It meant these crimes to be serious. So consider the constitutional consequences of the police deciding to overrule Parliament. If the police are wrong in their judgments about which crimes to enforce, then there is no way for the rest of us to bring about justice. – Josie Pagani

Road rules are rules, but who decided that bus lanes and doing 110 on a brand new motorway are a higher priority than robbery?

Deciding which laws should be enforced is Parliament’s job. If the police do not have enough resources to enforce acts of Parliament, then democracy demands that citizens participate in ranking their priority offences. I want theft policed ahead of driving in a bus lane. – Josie Pagani

Last year, police attended more than 70,000 events that involved a person having a mental health crisis or attempting suicide (an increase of 60% in five years). Police are called in because they are the social agency of last resort.

But mental health professionals are needed for those cases – trained staff who were promised in the ‘’wellbeing Budget’’ and never delivered. The Government had nearly $2b, and three years, to train specialist staff. They can’t train a psychologist in that time, but they could have trained carers with more skills for mental health than a stressed constable. – Josie Pagani

Campaigning on values, mental health, and fixing inequality was electorally successful for Labour. It has been a shameful policy disaster.Josie Pagani

Call the Budget what you want – ‘’Wellbeing’’, ‘’Wellness’’, ‘’Well Done’’. We don’t care. Just make sure it’s not the police turning up when people need mental health professionals and somewhere safe for loved ones to go.

Tell us why we can’t have the decent mental health care that was promised. Don’t wait until the promise has failed.

Let voters make choices about which crimes to enforce, don’t pretend you’re not choosing.

If you can’t have that honesty then you have stolen our trust, like a scooter thief in the night, knowing you won’t be caught. – Josie Pagani

When it comes to the Three Water reforms, it is subordinating the rights of ratepayers to the interests of local iwi, and doing so without consent or compensation.Damien Grant 

We have a process for settling Treaty issues. Not everyone agrees with the outcome of a Waitangi Tribunal decision, but almost everyone agrees to abide by their decisions. It isn’t a perfect system but it works better than Molotov cocktails and hunger strikes. – Damien Grant 

Central to the reform agenda is the claim made by Nanaia Mahuta that 34,000 New Zealanders become ill each year from drinking poor-quality water. This number is softer than a week-old feijoa.Damien Grant 

Taumata Arowai is the regulatory body set up in response to Havelock North. We can see in this organisation that their focus isn’t solely water quality. According to their website, “Our name Taumata Arowai was gifted to us by Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Local Government”.

Having your name “gifted” by the reigning minister has a North Korean feel to it. This body enjoys a Māori advisory board whom it must consult. The chair of this advisory body is the minister’s sister. – Damien Grant 

If iwi believe their water rights have been compromised they can seek refuge in the Waitangi Tribunal, as they did when some energy companies were up for sale in 2012. (I was uncompromising in my support of the Māori Council’s intervention at the time.)

This is not happening, presumably because any such claim would fail. What possible claim can there be on dams and polyethylene pipes constructed and paid for in the 182 years since 1840?

If we are being asked to enter into a new compact with Māori, where rights that do not exist under the Treaty are to be created, then this does need to be put before the public. – Damien Grant 

Mahuta has no electoral, legal or Treaty mandate for her vision of co-governance, and even the claims of poor water quality are based on weak foundations.

If she wants to remove from ratepayers their legal and property rights, perhaps it is she, and not David Seymour, who needs to be putting this issue to the public.

After all, removing property rights without consent is what got us into the mess in the first place. – Damien Grant 

That this government spends record amounts of our money on political spin and social engineering is evident from propaganda campaigns to which we are subjected – none more reprehensible than the $5.3m commercial on the government’s 3 Waters intention.

Also frequently aired is a puerile presentation aimed at convincing us that a reduction in speed on our roads will increase our safety. – Garrick Tremain

Destroying confidence in the science – culture distinction, a distinction which is one of the defining features of the modern world, will be decolonisation’s most significant and most dangerous victory. According to the International Science Council science is ‘the systematic organization of knowledge that can be rationally explained and reliably applied. It is inclusive of the natural (including physical, mathematical and life) science and social (including behavioural and economic) science domains . . .  as well as the humanities, medical, health, computer and engineering sciences.

In contrast, culture is the values, beliefs and practices of everyday life – the means by which children are socialised into the family and community. For a Māori child, this may well involve immersion in marae life – or it may not.  But the experiences of everyday life should not be confused with the ideology of cultural indoctrination, what I call culturalism or traditionalism and others call decolonisation. It is this ideology which is permeating the government, universities and research institutes, the Royal Society Te Apārangi, and mainstream media. Here we are presented with an idealised Māori culture of what should be, not what it actually is.

It is as much a moral, quasi-religious project as a political one, its religiosity responsible for the intensity, and perhaps success, of its march through New Zealand’s institutions. Indeed, the spiritual is a central theme in decolonisation. The belief is promoted that Māori are a uniquely spiritual people with a mauri or life force providing the link to their ancestors – the  genetic claim for racial categorisation. Political rights for the kin-group are justified in this claim. –  Elizabeth Rata

Given that over 50 percent of Māori already have no religious affiliation, it is doubtful that there is a constituency for a spiritual-based education. This is where decolonisation plays its part with Te Hurihanganui and the refreshed curriculum promoting the ideological version of culture. Those hesitant Māori who are suspicious of the ideology will be outed as ‘colonised’, in obvious need of decolonisation.Those who are now racially positioned on the other side, officially the non-Māori, will require decolonisation to ensure support for the new moral and political order. Numerous consultants are already on hand to provide this profitable reprogramming service. Intransigent dissenters, who determinedly refuse the correct thinking will be ostracised as fossilised racists and bigots. 

The tragedy is that this decolonising racialised ideology will destroy the foundations of New Zealand’s modern prosperous society. The principles of universalism and secularism are its pillars in education as elsewhere. Academic knowledge is different from cultural knowledge because it is universal and secular. We could certainly live without this knowledge – our ancestors did,  but would we want to?Elizabeth Rata

 The formidable task of acquiring even a small amount of humanity’s intellectual canon is made even more complex and remote because abstractions are only available to us as symbols – verbal, alphabetical, numerical, musical, digital, chemical, mathematical – creating two layers of difficulty. While it is unsurprising that the much easier education using practices derived from action rather than abstraction is more attractive, to take this path, as teachers are required to do, is a mistake.

We humans are made intelligent through long-term systematic engagement with such complex knowledge. Yet decolonisers reject the fundamental difference between science and culture claiming instead that all knowledge is culturally produced, informed by a group’s beliefs and experiences, and geared to its interests. Indigenous knowledge and ‘western’ knowledge are simply cultural systems with academic education re-defined as the oppressive imposition of the latter on the former.

What is deeply concerning is the extent to which this ideology is believed by those in education and uncritically repeated in mainstream media.  – Elizabeth Rata

Decolonisation is not only destructive but simplistic. Although cultural knowledge is not science, the science-culture distinction doesn’t exclude traditional knowledge from the secular curriculum. It does however put limits on how it is included. Students can be taught in social studies, history, and Māori Studies about the traditional knowledge that Te Hurihanganui describes as the “rich and legitimate knowledge located within a Māori worldview’. But this is not induction into belief and ideological systems. The home and community groups are for induction into cultural beliefs and practices.

What about the proto-science (pre-science) in all traditional knowledge – such as traditional navigation, medicinal remedies, and food preservation? This knowledge, acquired through observation and trial and error, as well as through supernatural explanation, along with the ways it may have helped to advance scientific or technological knowledge, is better placed in history of science lessons rather than in the science curriculum.

Science provides naturalistic explanations for physical and social phenomena. Its concepts refer to the theorised structures and properties of the physical world, its methods are those of hypothesis, testing and refutation, its procedures those of criticism and judgement.  The inclusion of cultural knowledge into the science curriculum will subvert the fundamental distinction, one acknowledged by mātauranga Māori scholars, between naturalistic science and supernaturalistic culture.Elizabeth Rata

As with all groups, it is not ethnic affiliation but class-related cultural practices that are the main predictors of educational outcomes. Māori children from professional families are not failing. Rather it is those, Māori and non-Māori alike, living in families experiencing hardship and not engaging in cognitive practices of abstract thinking and literacy development, who are most likely to fail at school. This is not inevitable. Education can make a difference to a child’s life chances but it requires all schools, Māori medium immersion and mainstream alike, to provide quality academic knowledge taught by expert teachers. – Elizabeth Rata

Unlike authoritarian regimes, liberalism can tolerate some dissent. What it cannot tolerate is the removal of its very foundations – those principles of universalism and secularism that anchor democratic institutions into modern pluralist society. The separation of public and private, of society and community, makes room for both science and local culture. (The recent commonplace practice of using ‘community’ for ‘society’ is one of a number of indications that the separation is being undermined.) Valuing culture and devaluing science in a merger of the two fatally undermines the universalism and secularism that creates and maintains a cohesive society out of many ethnicities and cultures.

Decolonisation will indeed divide society into two groups – but not that of coloniser and colonised locked into the permanent oppressor-victim opposition used to justify ethno-nationalism. Instead one group will comprise those who receive an education in academic subjects. These young people will proceed to tertiary study with a sound understanding of science, mathematics, and the humanities. Their intelligence will be developed in the long-term and demanding engagement with this complex knowledge. It is to be hoped, though this cannot be assumed, that they will have the critical disposition required for democratic citizenship, one that is subversive of local culture and disdainful of ideology.

The second group comprises those who remain restricted to the type of knowledge acquired from experience and justified in ideologies of local culture. Distrustful of academic knowledge as colonising and oppressive, ethnically-based cultural beliefs and practices will provide the community needed for social and psychological security. In this restricted world they are insiders. And as there are insiders, there must be outsiders – in traditionalist ideologies these are the colonists who are seen to have taken everything and given nothing. And yet the tragedy is that it is the cultural insiders who are to be the excluded ones – excluded from all the benefits that a modern education provides.

A revolution is coming. The government’s transformational policies for education make this clear. It will only be stopped by a re-commitment to academic knowledge for all New Zealand children, rich and poor alike, within a universal and secular education system. Colonisation is not the problem and decolonisation is not the solution.Elizabeth Rata

Which brings us cheerfully to our friendly “be kind”, “listen to the science”, “we’re so transparent” Ardern-Robertson government, which seems to be now acting like a “friend” who would like you to look the other way, so it can get on with what’s good for it, such as getting re-elected. – Kevin Norquay

In 2022 NZ, it’s starting to look more like “of the people, by the party, for the party.” Kevin Norquay

“Listening to the science” now carries a taint, as decisions made could be seen as party political, rather than public health related.

It’s an erosion of trust. Why cover up things that are supposedly done in our best interest? – Kevin Norquay

There’s that “friend” again, telling us all the secrecy was for our own good. Whether MIQ did a good job is not the point here, it’s when that good job might have ended.

You could argue “we listen to the science” remains accurate, with the coda “but our decisions are based on the politics”, but transparency was always a fiction written boldly on a blocking PR wall.

What’s the next slogan: “You’ve got to be cruel to Be Kind?”Kevin Norquay

The truth of Hōne Heke’s rebellion deserves to be more widely-known. His  was the beginning of a proud lineage of anti-tax protest that is today carried on by the Taxpayers’ Union (even if we prefer to use arguments over axes). So congratulations to Hōne Heke for rightfully being recognised as one of the greatest New Zealanders. If it were up to us, he might even be ranked number one. How many taxes did Sir Ed cut, after all? – Louis Holubrooke

You don’t want to live in fear but I’m not going to be blasé about it. We are seeing very sick people every day, it’s not worth the risk at the moment. The more I read, the more bad things I find that this virus can do to your body, particularly your brain. You hear people say ‘might as well get it over with’. Well I wouldn’t want to voluntarily risk taking on a bit of brain damage for any reason.Dr Greg White

Whatever New Zealand does in isolation as its contribution to the world wide battle against climate change, it will have next to zero affect on whether or not we reach or even get close to the IPCC’s greenhouse gas emissions reductions that they say will be required to save the planet.

I can make that statement with confidence that l will be proved right simply because those key nations who have the capacity to collectively turn things around, with or without our help, are in fact increasing their use of fossil fuels at an alarming rate and as a result, increasing their emissions as if there was no tomorrow. In that context, our efforts, no matter how self sacrificial, will be like a blip on the radar as the rest of the world continues to condone the destructive activities of those who could and should be making a difference. – Clive Bibby 

We will watch on from the sidelines seemingly unnoticed by even the UN heavy hitters whose praise we appear to crave.

And in the meantime, we will destroy what remains of our agriculturally based economy at a time when we are emerging from the pandemic suffering from self inflicted wounds that already have reduced our capacity to earn overseas funds when we most need them. Clive Bibby 

It appears that the government is still hell bent on cementing in place policies that will negatively effect the two most important ingredients that will determine our survival as a sovereign state.

The first is economic growth and the second is race relations, both of which are in danger of managed decline because both are reflecting the deliberate implementation of programmes that will have the opposite effect of what is needed now more than ever.

If allowed to be fully implemented, these policies: – the emissions reduction policies such as the halving of our dairy herds and the race based legislation that is being un-necessarily promoted giving control of our natural resources to Maori – have the capacity to propel a sufficiently divided nation into a state where civil war is a serious possibility. – Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby 

I choose my words carefully when discussing these potentially dangerous policies simply because it appears we are not yet prepared to acknowledge that the immediate danger to our collective future comes from within rather than anything from the world at large – including climate change.

In order to have a rational discussion about our future, we need to be acutely aware of the options available to us. In that context, the truth remains our only hope.

We can and must stop this erosion of trust before it is too late. Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby 

But if I could go back in time and find a doctor who made me feel like they were treating my health, and not my size, that would have been a real gamechanger. – Megan Whelan

Democratic Socialist. Isn’t that a bit of a contradiction and maybe even an oxymoron?

Presiding over a government that has gone out of its way to decimate democracy by promoting the politics of division, there is nothing democratic in these actions! – John Porter

Don’t you think the way Ardern’s government, its Maori caucus and tribal leaders are surging ahead with their co-governance agenda, is pushing New Zealand close to that point of, if not actual civil war, then certainly civil disruption?

In New Zealand there is a significant degree of apathy and almost total lack of comprehension and knowledge around the subversion of democracy and promotion of Maori exclusivity that is very, very scary.

The overarching concern is that, based on ethnicity, a minority section of the population is being given an absolute right to control the rest of the population without, it appears, any limits on their power or any route for appeal. – John Porter

There is a very small group of those of part-Maori descent, Maori tribal elite, presumably swollen with self-importance because a small part of their cultural inheritance that they are clamouring for co-governance of this country. This co-governance agenda is gathering speed and, dare I say it, credibility at an alarming rate. John Porter

Ardern and her government’s separatist agenda combined with their inept fiscal management, are bringing this country to its knees!

Are we speaking out loudly, are we protecting our democracy, our rights to one person, one vote and do this government actually respect and represent the majority of New Zealanders? – John Porter

It’s either a caricature or merely a hallmark of a modern conservative New Zealand politician to be comfortable with whatever change has happened up to the present, but to think that any more would be a step too far.

This is by and large a positive. The fact that only journalists writing profiles on centre-right politicians, rather than the politicians themselves, ever want to revisit milestones like the marriage equality vote of 2013 means that the country has avoided the destabilising and counterproductive culture wars that have racked the United States for decades. – Ben Thomas

When the government spends $51 million to not build a bridge, that’s inflationary. Spending money on a new hospital that increases the provision of necessary services does not have the same effect. – Liam Hehir

There are six provisions in our law that are so important for democracy that they can only be changed by the vote of 75 percent in parliament or by a majority in a referendum. One is clause 36 of the Electoral Act that guarantees everyone regardless of race has an equal vote. – Richard Prebble

Having unequal voting will not solve Rotorua’s real issues. Here is one. The Labour government has filled our motels with the homeless from all over the Central North Island. There are enough children in our motels to fill a primary school. Borders are reopening. Where are Rotorua’s tourists to stay? – Richard Prebble

For most Westerners, the war unfolding in Ukraine makes no sense. Russians and Ukrainians look the same, speak the same languages, have lived lives that were, until very recently, culturally indistinguishable. Why are they fighting?

The chilling answer is that both sides are commanded by ghosts. It is the unquiet dead, the unpunished crimes, the gagged memories of countless perpetrators and their victims that drive these armies forward. Impulses barely understood, inherited from parents and grandparents who could neither speak about nor forget the horrors they had witnessed or performed.

Two nations to whom great evil has been done are being driven, by dead hands, to do evil in return. Chris Trotter

R for recession comes after I for inflation in the economic alphabet. Then comes v for voter and w for wallet. Get the drift? – Shane Jones

Behind the scenes, officials are working on other ways to make New Zealand less rather than more attractive to prospective students. They have plans to almost double the amount of money each student must bring to New Zealand for each year’s study, and heavily restrict post-study work rights. This is all part of the Government’s immigration re-set, more correctly called an anti-immigration re-set.Steven Joyce

If we are to avoid a recession, which is looking an increasingly difficult goal, we need to encourage more outward facing sectors to grow, rather than be always putting up new barriers to their success. International education is one of the best placed to resume pulling its weight, to the benefit of our country’s education system and the wider economy and society. The Government needs to get over its ambivalence to it. – Steven Joyce

We’ve become accustomed to hearing the words, “I support free speech, but ….” New Zealand is full of people in positions of power and influence who purport to defend free speech, but always with the addition of that loaded word “but”. You can’t say you support free speech and then, in the next breath, put limitations around it beyond the ones that are already clearly established in law and broadly accepted, such as those relating to defamation and incitement to hatred or violence.

We’ve been introduced to phrases unheard of a few years ago: cancel culture, speech wars, hate speech, gender wars, safe spaces, culture wars, trigger warnings, transphobia and no-platforming. We’ve acquired a whole new vocabulary. We’ve seen the emergence of a media monoculture in which all mainstream media outlets adopt uniform ideological positions that effectively shut out alternative opinions, even when those marginalised voices may represent mainstream opinion.

We’ve seen traditional ideological battle lines totally redrawn as people on the left and right of politics unite around the need to save freedom of speech from a new and powerful cohort of people who have co-opted the term “hate speech” as a pretext for banning any opinion that they dislike.

We’ve even seen radical feminists, who were once at the cutting edge of politics, demonised as dangerous reactionaries who must be shut down because of their opposition to a virulent transgender lobby that appeared to spring out of nowhere.

All this has happened within a remarkably short time frame. Mainstream New Zealand has been caught off guard by the sheer speed and intensity of the attack on free speech and as a result has been slow to respond. But what’s at stake here is nothing less than the survival of liberal democracy, which depends on the contest of ideas and the free and open discussion of issues regardless of whether some people might find them upsetting.Karl Du Fresne

The right of free speech, after all, means the right to hear as well as the right to speak. Our Bill of Rights Act doesn’t just talk about the right to speak freely. It refers to “the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and opinions of any kind and in any form”. That seems pretty clear-cut and unambiguous. To deny New Zealanders the right to hear opinions that some politicians and public officials don’t like is a flagrant abuse of power and must be challenged at every turn, which is exactly what this union is doing. – Karl Du Fresne

In other words there are people in the police who apparently think that anyone who criticises the government should be watched. This is how police states begin. Fortunately in this case, wiser senior officers stepped in before things got out of hand.Karl Du Fresne

The reality is that the enemies of free speech have no fixed ideology. Control is enforced with equal brutality whether it’s Nazi Germany or communist North Korea. The only thing the enemies of free speech have in common is a desire to exercise untrammelled power and to forcibly suppress any speech which threatens that power.

As it happens, the present threat to free speech in New Zealand doesn’t come from either the traditional left or the traditional right. It comes from a powerful new cohort that largely controls the national conversation. This cohort is dominant in politics, the bureaucracy, academia and the media and regards the exercise of free speech as serving the interests of the privileged. Free speech to them means licence to attack oppressed minorities and is therefore something to be deterred, if not by law then by denunciation and intimidation.

Depressingly, this group is entrenched in universities and libraries – institutions that have traditionally served as sources of free thought and access to knowledge. Libraries were at the forefront of the effort to shut down the feminist group Speak Up For Women, which was targeted by aggressive transgender activists because it opposed legislation allowing men to identify as female. It was only after this union went to court on the feminists’ behalf that libraries in several cities were forced to back down and allow them to hold public meetings.

A common factor in these instances is the belief that people have a right not to be offended and that this right takes precedence over the right to free speech. It’s as if the woke elements in society have developed an allergic reaction to the robust democracy that most of the people in this room grew up in, where vigorous debate was seen as an essential part of the contest of ideas that democracy depends on.

If a statement can possibly be interpreted as a slur against one’s gender, race, body type or sexual identity, it will be, no matter how innocent the intention of the person who made it. Apologies will be demanded and the ritual humiliation of the transgressor inevitably follows.

The purpose is clear: it sends a message to others that they will get similar treatment if they’re bold or foolish enough to challenge ideological orthodoxy. Yet paradoxically, the same people who insist on the right not to be upset don’t hesitate to engage in vicious online gang-ups and ad hominem attacks on anyone who disagrees with them.

A recurring theme in the speech wars is the notion of safety – not safety from physical danger, which is how most people understand the term, but safety from anything that might upset people or challenge their thinking. – Karl Du Fresne

Safety, then, is a highly elastic concept – critically important for women attending abortion clinics, even if no risk of harm exists, but not a problem if those who feel threatened are white guys in suits.

The enemies of free speech are blind to the contradictions in their position. They bang on about the right to be safe but applaud aggressive and intimidating behaviour against people they don’t like. And they demand protection against hate speech while freely indulging in it themselves on Twitter and other social media platforms, their purpose being to bully people into silence.Karl Du Fresne

I can claim to be something of an authority on freedom of the press if only for the reason that I’ve written two books about it. Back then the concern was with threats to media freedom from outside sources, principally the state. But ironically we’re now in a position where I believe the New Zealand media abuse their own freedom.

They have fatally compromised their independence and their credibility by signing up to a government scheme under which they accept millions of dollars in taxpayer funding and in return commit themselves to abide by a set of ideological principles laid down by that same government.

Defenders of the Public Interest Journalism Fund justify it on the pretext that it enables the media to continue carrying out worthwhile public interest journalism at a time when the industry is financially precarious. They bristle with indignation at the suggestion that their integrity is compromised. But it is. You need only look at the projects approved for funding to grasp that this is essentially an opportunistic indoctrination project funded by taxpayers.

From a free speech standpoint, however, it’s the ideological uniformity of the media that is of even greater concern. The past two decades have seen a profound generational change in the media and a corresponding change in the industry ethos.

News outlets that previously took pride in being “broad church” – in other words, catering to and reflecting a wide range of interests and opinions – are now happy to serve as a vehicle for the prevailing ideology. They have abandoned their traditional role of trying to reflect the society they purport to serve. The playwright Arthur Miller’s definition of a good newspaper as a nation talking to itself is obsolete. The mainstream media are characterised by ideological homogeneity, reflecting the views of a woke elite and relentlessly promoting the polarising agenda of identity politics.

The implications for free speech are obvious. What was previously an important channel for the public expression of a wide range of opinions has steadily narrowed. Conservative voices are increasingly marginalised and excluded, ignoring the inconvenient fact that New Zealand has far more often voted right than left. – Karl Du Fresne

But it’s worse than that, because the prevailing ideological bias doesn’t just permeate editorials and opinion columns. Its influence can also be seen in the way the news is reported – in the stories that the media choose to cover, and perhaps more crucially in the issues they choose not to cover. The Maori co-governance proposals in Three Waters, for example.

Underlying this is another profound change. From the 1970s onward, journalism training – previously done on the job – was subject to academic capture. Many of today’s journalists were subject to highly politicised teaching that encouraged them to think their primary function was not so much to report on matters of interest and importance to the community as to challenge the institutions of power.

Principles such as objectivity were jettisoned, freeing idealistic young journalists to indulge in advocacy journalism, push pet causes and sprinkle their stories with loaded words such as racist, sexist, homophobic and misogynist. In the meantime, older journalists who adhered to traditional ideas of balance and objectivity have been methodically managed out of the industry.

Worse even than that, we now have mainstream media outlets that actively suppress stories as a matter of official editorial policy, and even boast about it. I’m thinking here of climate change, a subject on which major media organisations have collectively agreed not to give space or air time to anyone questioning global warming or even the efficacy of measures aimed at mitigating it. This would have been unthinkable 20 or even 10 years ago. People are bound to wonder what else the media are suppressing.Karl Du Fresne

Robert Muldoon was a tyrant who tried to bully the media into submission, but eventually journalists and editors stood up to him. In the past few years, however, we’ve gone backwards. We now live in a climate of authoritarianism and denunciation that chokes off the vibrant debate that sustains democracy, and tragically the media are part of the problem.

There are positive signs however, and this meeting is one of them. As I said at the start, the sheer speed and intensity of the culture wars caught the country off-guard. Ours is a fundamentally fair and decent society, eager to do the right thing and rightly wary of extremism. For a long time we stood back and allowed the assault on democratic values to proceed virtually unopposed. We were like a boxer temporarily stunned by a punch that we never saw coming.

But the fightback has begun and is steadily gaining momentum. In giddy moments of optimism I even sense that the tide might be turning in the media. Even the most cloth-eared media bosses must eventually realise they have alienated much of their core audience, as reflected in steadily declining newspaper circulation figures and in opinion surveys measuring trust in the media. – Karl Du Fresne

The risk New Zealand runs in 2023 is that the policy promises of the contending parties will be come to be seen by their respective supporters as critical to the survival of the nation. On the Right, the introduction of co-governance will be equated with the death of democracy. On the Left, a racist referendum endorsing the elimination of co-governance will be construed as an all-out assault on the Treaty of Waitangi and the indigenous people it was intended to protect.

In such circumstances, the uncompromising partisans on both sides begin to believe that if they concede defeat there will be no “next time”. At that point the cry goes out for a “continuation of politics by other means”. Bullets replace ballots, and peace ceases to be an option – for anybody.Chris Trotter


Quotes of the month

01/04/2022

The absolute low point of the past three years was the public’s passive acceptance of the imposed nanny state. The “Team of five million” and “Be Kind” mantras belong in kindergartens. For me they were unbelievable. I was ashamed to be a New Zealander as common sense went out the window. The Be Kind childishness was particularly outrageous given the unbelievably cruel, unnecessary and illegal prohibition on thousands of Kiwis prevented from returning home, in numerous cases to farewell dying family members. – Sir Bob Jones

 Ardern is not a communist and its pretty stupid to argue that she is. In the continuum of recent Labour Party leaders I would see her as governing in the Norman Kirk/David Lange tradition … full of well meaning but half baked ideas but totally bereft of any understanding of how the economy actually works … and that will be her downfall along with her embrace of of separatist agenda laid out in He Puapua.The Veteran

The most important lesson from the invasion of Ukraine is that we have to be willing to defend our freedom. If we are not, no one else will do it for us. – Richard Prebble

The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride – President Volodymyr Zelensky  

We are the people who can run the economy well … but I also want them to understand we care deeply about people. – Christopher Luxon

In the midst of war, what an uplifting week it’s been in terms of a world that, despite all its many worries, can still largely unite and offer hope. 

Never in my lifetime have I seen such a coordinated, effective, and immediate response to a crisis.  – Mike Hosking

This country should have, could have done more. Two million dollars for aid. As Mark Mitchell said Wednesday, the mongrel mob got more. God forbid, we should be like Australia and fund weaponry. Why help save a country when you can give them blankets when they are displaced?

But most of the world got it, and did something good about it. Thus, proving that in the right time and for the right reasons, we are all still on each other’s side.  – Mike Hosking

After the current price spike caused by bureaucratic incompetence, RATs will soon be ordinary low-cost supermarket items found alongside the Panadol, Tampax, Gillette and Rexona in the toiletries aisle.

As with everything else, Foodstuffs, Countdown and The Warehouse will do an incomparably better job than the Ministry of Health and MBIE at making sure stocks don’t run out. Matthew Hooton

Even were New Zealand at its peak today, we should assume the new normal involves thousands of new daily infections and dozens of people with Covid in hospital for the foreseeable future. But very few will die, even if the authorities continue to count people who are murdered, killed in car crashes or are diagnosed with stage four lung cancer as Covid deaths because they test positive posthumously. – Matthew Hooton

There will be a hangover in the form of inflation, higher interest rates and rising unemployment. The silver lining is that inflation will reduce the value of the $60 billion Grant Robertson borrowed over the past two years, even as the nominal cost of servicing rises.

Consequently, expect governments and central banks to let inflation go higher and stick around for longer than they currently pretend. It’s politically safer to invisibly tax the poor with inflation and the middle class with bracket creep than to transparently raise marginal rates. – Matthew Hooton

For ALMOST two years, we – the press and the population – have been almost hypnotically preoccupied with the authorities’ daily coronatal. THE CONSTANT mental alertness has worn out tremendously on all of us. That is why we – the press – must also take stock of our own efforts. And we have failed.Brian Weichardt

WE HAVE NOT been vigilant enough at the garden gate when the authorities were required to answer what it actually meant that people are hospitalized with corona and not because of corona. Because it makes a difference. A big difference. Exactly, the official hospitalization numbers have been shown to be 27 percent higher than the actual figure for how many there are in the hospital, simply because they have corona. We only know that now.

OF COURSE, it is first and foremost the authorities who are responsible for informing the population correctly, accurately and honestly. The figures for how many are sick and died of corona should, for obvious reasons, have been published long ago. – Brian Weichardt

There is no more weaselly expression in the modern lexicon than “identifies as,” which inherently emphasizes feelings over facts. I can identify as a nice person, but that does not mean that I am a nice person. Indeed, if most people who meet me abominate me, my self-identification as a nice person means nothing except (if I truly believe it) that I am deluded.

Asking people what they identify as is the natural consequence of what might be called the psychology and philosophy of the real me. The real me has nothing to do with the merely external me, the me that other people perceive through my conduct, manners, conversation, etc. The real me is a kind of homunculus who lives inside the merely apparent me, who preserves his innocence no matter what the apparent me may say or do. This is a very liberating psychological and philosophical conception of human life, because it means that a person can retain his belief in his essential goodness while behaving appallingly—as most of us would be naturally inclined to do from time to time.Theodore Dalrymple

Multiculturalism—as an ideology, not as a fact—is another promoter, excuser, and rationalization of bad behavior. All you have to say to excuse your bad behavior is that it is part of your culture. Since there is no way to rank cultures, all being equal, your behavior is placed beyond criticism. And of course, if you must uncritically accept the cultures of other people, other people must accept uncritically what you claim to be your culture.

Everyone knows that cultures change, but almost any mass behavior soon falls under the rubric of culture. I was once the de facto vulgarity correspondent of a British newspaper that was not itself totally foreign to the charms of vulgarity, but which simultaneously thundered against vulgarity in others. The newspaper would send me to wherever young British people were gathering and behaving in vulgar fashion, so it was spoiled for choice, the British being not merely vulgar, but militantly vulgar, as if vulgarity were an ideology. – Theodore Dalrymple

That is why licentiousness and puritanism coexist in our societies, not so much in equilibrium as in a violently seesawing manner. We reprobate pedophilia and sexualize children from an early age. We demand that everyone watches his tongue while the vilest abuse is the common language of discussion and dispute. I demand the freedom to express myself, but that you shut up if what you say offends me.

“Identifying as” is an expression that would be used only in a society of mass egotism, in which the self is an object of auto-idolatry.Theodore Dalrymple

Our obsession with ideological causes, in the absence of clear supporting (multivariate – and multidisciplinary) evidence, and our willingness to sacrifice the needs of higher achievers in order to equalize educational outcomes, guarantee the progressive erosion of educational standards… if you cannot lift achievement at the bottom, then lower it at the top.  The deleterious effect of this on higher achieving students, on education at large, and its ultimate effect on our economy, are considered worthy sacrifices if greater social cohesion is the end result. The fact that it makes us all materially poorer seems of little consequence.  Social cohesion remains elusive due to systemic denial of the real causes of social breakdown and dysfunction. – Caleb Anderson

In this time of distress, that’s the light, the human spirit that is so much alive. Nir Zohar

Finally and while Russia will win the war they will lose the peace. 43,192.122 Ukrainians will never forget or forgive while, for much of the world, Russia will become a pariah state whose word is never to be trusted. The madman Putin has much to answer for … not the least to his own people. – The Veteran

Science has a hard time keeping up with the data. Nature reports results of a large trial on RATs. Plus side: they seem pretty accurate. Downside: data’s all from the first half of 2021, on a variant that’s no longer prevalent, with little sense of whether the results hold with Omicron. Omicron seems to express in saliva before nasal passages, and the RATs generally take nasal swabs. Remember how, when I used to think there was some point in trying to help get to better policy on Covid, I’d rabbit on about trialling different testing methods side-by-side in MIQ as horseraces? We could totally have known, right now, relative performance of a bucket of different RATs against both swab and saliva PCR, for Omicron. Government is just so hopeless. Eric Crampton

As Prime Minister in a pandemic, she ultimately decides just about everything we can do. She can decide to shut shops, close schools, cancel events, keep us confined to home. She even decides what is best for our health. But she doesn’t get to decide what defines us. Not all of us. – John Roughan 

When a Prime Minister on half a million dollars a year tells people on less than 10 per cent of that there isn’t a crisis, the “let them eat cake ” cloak of arrogance is draped ominously on her shoulders.

There is no doubt, we have a cost-of-living crisis, we live it every day.Mike Hosking

The ANZ this week is forecasting inflation to peak at 7.5 per cent. Are wages going to rise at anywhere close to that level? Of course not.

We are going backwards at a rate of knots, if you hear different from this government they are either fudging figures or straight-up misleading you. – Mike Hosking

Non-tradeable inflation, that’s the stuff we create locally, is the second-highest in the world, they can’t hide from that.

Their spending, their borrowing, their scattergun distribution of cash they never had around the non-productive parts of the economy, is now coming back to haunt them.Mike Hosking

National, with tax cuts on offer, will let you decide more of your own economic outlook, while Ardern and Robertson will tell you they know better.

With one speech and one line, in less than a week, Luxon can sit out his self isolation knowing he has turned the tide on his election chances. He has policy alternatives, and he has a government looking removed and out of touch, with a leader pretending what’s in front of every single one of us isn’t real. – Mike Hosking

 It is clear now that the issues around vaccination were but the catalyst for the expression of a deeper sense of grievance and anger that has been building up over recent years. That is what needs to be addressed to prevent similar events breaking out in the future. But that argument will not be won by telling those who oppose vaccination and mandates that they are part of an ill-informed minority rabble, any more than putting a wall around Parliament will stop other protests in the future.Peter Dunne

 There is a significant group of people who feel left out, and increasingly shut out, of what is happening in our country. This runs deeper than just those politically opposed to the present government. Rather, it is a group that feels out of step with all governments, whatever their political complexion.

We need urgently to depolarise politics. That does not mean diminishing the strength of political convictions, but rather, softening the intolerant fervour that increasingly seems to accompany them. – Peter Dunne

Telling people that their views are crackpot and ill-informed, not shared by the mainstream of the population, and refusing to engage with the protest leaders merely fuels their discontent. Likewise, dismissing those who called for a more reasoned approach as basically supporters of the protestors was as incendiary as the petrol and gas heaped on Parliament’s playground last week.

It should be no surprise at all that people who think their backs are being pushed unreasonably against a wall eventually react. And the greater the perceived pressure, the greater the reaction. What is surprising is the belief that telling them they are plain wrong and should therefore go home, will lead to their meekly doing so. Such moral sanctity in a society that likes to parade its diversity when it suits is just humbug.Peter Dunne

The right to dissent must always be upheld in a free society, and, alongside that, the right to promote minority viewpoints protected, as long they are not in defiance of the law or encouraging lawlessness. That should be an absolute given, not the contestable debating point it is seen to be today.

When I was at school a valuable principle was ingrained in me – I have the right to be right, and the right to be wrong. It seems to me that until that principle is more universally applied and accepted, whatever the issue, or however strongly it may be felt, we have no guarantee that the abhorrent events that came to a head last week in Wellington will not occur again. – Peter Dunne

Since this government has come to power, despite all the lovely words and jawboning, on home ownership the average price is up $350,000. Rents are up $7,300 on the same house you were renting four years ago and in state housing we have a four-fold increase, up to 25,000. Last night we had 4,500 kids in motels and emergency accommodations. We’ve got challenges.”

“This government hasn’t managed the housing situation at all, they’ve made it worse. By a dramatic amount, in every aspect, they’ve made it worse. We live in a country the size of Great Britain or Japan, with far fewer people and much higher house prices. This is a problem completely of our own making.Christopher Luxon

The world is taking off big time. Some countries have come through Covid and are looking at how to put the afterburners on. They are thinking quite intently and purposefully about the country they want to see emerge. Others have become so obsessed with Covid, as we have, and haven’t got a sense of direction, of where we’re going. And to be honest, there is no reason to come here at the moment. It’s not an attractive place, you know. The world is moving on and we are playing a very fearful, very small, very inward game. – Christopher Luxon

In short, real freedom is fettered freedom. Your freedom to swing your fist must end before it hits my nose. The reduction or removal of the government mandate would not end the fetters.  – Bryce Wilkinson

One question New Zealanders might ask is what position the country would be in regarding oil and gas supply if the Ardern Government hadn’t stopped enabling new exploration of oil and gas in 2017.  Removing this ban today would have no effect, as it takes years to invest, explore and gain any results, but had it happened in 2017, then there might have been a contribution to global supply. The Ardern Government has deliberately decided to constrain supply of oil and gas, not on economic grounds, not even considering national security, but to virtue signal. – Liberty Scott

My view has always been that there are several reasons for our high inflation, but big government spending in an overheating economy is certainly one of them, and the one the Government can most quickly bring under control.

We should provide tax relief to New Zealanders on the way through, whilst also reining in government spending through a focus on discipline and quality investment.Simon Bridges

The Dunedin and Christchurch studies suggest children are remarkably resilient if faced with one or two life challenges in their first two decades. What causes permanent harm is the so-called cocktail of disadvantage. That means children in stable homes and good schools should cope, but Covid will be the last nip in the shaker for the less privileged. – Matthew Hooton

Turns out that dealing with Covid is difficult when you can’t just throw up the borders, keep it out and let life continue basically normally here. People get tired of changing rules, restrictions and just Covid more generally. In focus groups, there have been niggles over various things for several months. Luke Malpass

In fact, it turns out that the “this” in “let’s do this” was not the communism her more deranged opponents claim, but – from the perspective of the under 30s who backed her so strongly in 2017 – something along the political spectrum closer towards kleptocracy. As a small example, I have personally gained more, tax-free, under Ardern’s Government, without having to work for it, than under any New Zealand Government before. – Matthew Hooton

Yet even as all of this happens, we need to ask ourselves how we got into this situation. How we arrived in a world in which defending people from supposedly offensive words is considered more important than defending our borders. In which we seem to have so little need for the virtue of ‘strength’ that we’re willing to blacklist the word itself for being gendered and stereotypical. This is where the Ukraine war really confronts us. It interrupts, violently, our post-Cold War conceits. It upends our belief that history, in Europe at least, is largely settled, and now we can concern ourselves with petty things like pronouns and sexual identity or with purposely overblown, mission-creating projects for the technocratic elite, like the ‘climate emergency’. This conceit has impacted on almost every facet of public life in recent decades, nurturing the delusion that ours is a post-war, post-borders, post-everything continent, in which the highest aim of public life is either to manage the public or validate individual identities. Those bombs in Ukraine have shattered this Western arrogance and decadence by reminding us that history lives.Brendan O’Neill

As well as living in an age of emotionalism, we live in a time of tribal politics. And these are a strange sort of tribal politics. They are no longer about left versus right, but more about feeling versus reason, of fashionable causes that earn you peer approval versus unfashionable causes that don’t. – Patrick West

To put it crudely, on one side today we have those who channel their feelings, instincts and fear into their worldview, and those who are circumspect and rational – and we are damned for it.Patrick West

 Is Jacinda Ardern a megalomaniac?

Whatever the answer, we know that not only does New Zealand’s Prime Minister have what has been described as libido dominandi, a desire for power, she is also presiding over the most incompetent, destructive government in our history. Its thoroughly anti-democratic attacks on that vital principle of equality for all, under the law, show no sign of diminishing. – Amy Brooke

New Zealanders are suffering under a government viewed as further to the left of socialism and financially incompetent, with Ardern regarded as sly and evasive when it comes to answering questions she dislikes. In spite of her charm offensive, more media are risking her displeasure by voicing concern about the inappropriateness of so many of the control policies widely imposed. Only now reversed, for example, is forcing fully-vaccinated, well people from overseas to enter expensive quarantine facilities while Omicron rampages throughout the country!

The Ardern government’s provision of superior, unprecedented rights for part-Maori who belong to powerful, immensely wealthy, neo-tribal corporations was a factor bringing so many to protest at Parliament recently. Although it was pilloried as run by anti-vaxxers and others against vaccination mandates, the majority of the crowd – apart from an inevitable mob element – was there to protest against the loss of so many of our freedoms. – Amy Brooke

So much for the constant invoking of kindness and well-being, falling so readily from the lips of our leader. One thing was constantly obvious – Arden’s antipathy to those worried enough to voice their concerns. She simply told them to go away. And now our power-wedded leader is thinking of extending the confusing traffic light control system over the country – to cope with the possible emergence of flu this winter. New Zealanders have only just begun to protest. – Amy Brooke

We can all bring sweetness and goodness into our world, even small things like a smile to a passerby, feeding the birds, care for thirsty trees and drooping plants,  a bowl of water by the gate for thirsty dogs and other creatures, acknowledgement of the careful pattern on top of our freshly made coffee to the barista, these tiny things can mean a quality of life, actions which can bring softness into the harsh times in which we find ourselves. Small happinesses which we can give to others, usually make us happy too. And the light of gratitude we feel when we recognise the beauty and bountifulness of nature and the world  – these are the  things that can uplift us –  remind us of the miracle of life which can overcome fear, depression or anxiety.Valerie Davies

It was dear old Samwise in Lord of The Rings who said,
“But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.  Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer”.
Let us hope so. Even the shattered ruins of Leningrad have been transformed into the golden glory of St Petersburg with the passing of time. Let us hope that the devastation we see now will be healed in a real peace between nations whose people do not want to fight – that this Will pass and a new day Will come. And the light of the sun will shine on us all. – Valerie Davies

Jacinda Ardern “rejects” so much these days that New Zealanders are in danger of forgetting what she stands for. Fran O’Sullivan

One of the problems with Western society that has made it not only appear to be, but actually to be decadent, is what might be called its umbilicism, the habit of navel-gazing as if there were no world exterior to itself. Only navel-gazers could imagine that questions raised by transgenderism are serious. The West pretends to multiculturalism but has no real interest in developments outside its own borders. Like spoiled children growing up in the lap of luxury, it can’t imagine a world that doesn’t respond to its whims, let alone that threatens it, and this despite its catastrophic history almost within living memory. The failure of the imagination is almost total.

When authoritarian leaders of powerful countries see statues erected to a man merely because he was killed by a policeman and sanctified though he had led a thoroughly bad and indeed vicious life, they must surely think that the West is an overripe fruit that needs only a little shake to drop from the tree, incapable as it appears to be of distinguishing between a minor event and a major threat. For them, a serious country is one that can lock up thousands if not millions of its citizens with impunity, control access to information, and arm itself to the teeth, with or without impoverishing the entire nation.

Our challenge is to prove them wrong. For all our faults, our weaknesses, our foolishness, our dishonesties, our willful blindness, our errors, our self-indulgence, our way of life is incomparably superior, at least for us, to theirs, and must be defended. The verdict on whether we have the resolve to do so is not yet in, but not all the auguries are good. – Theodore Dalrymple

So having talked myself into a corner, I have to resolve to make the place where I stand the kindest, purest, most honest and most decent place possible. I can only love my corner of the world and try to share love to add to the goodness in the world, and not get bogged down in the pain of the world.

 Philosopher Martin Buber said,”You can rake the muck this way, rake the muck that way …. In the time I am brooding over it, I could be stringing pearls for the delight of Heaven”. He’s right. Yes, brooding is a waste of time, so I will try to string pearls instead of futile brooding over the tragedy of Ukraine – pearls of love and kindness and a little laughter.Valerie Davies

When the opposition is seen as more economically competent the government always loses the election. – Richard Prebble

Inflation is deadly because the solution to inflation is even higher prices, and increased interest rates.

No prudent government lets inflation get established.Richard Prebble

Reducing the excise tax on petrol just transfers the revenue raising to a less efficient tax. There is no Covid fund. It is an accounting fiction. The roads still have to be paid for from taxes or borrowing.

More worrying is the subsidy on public transport. The advice of the OECD regarding subsidies is “do not do it”.

Subsidies are poorly targeted. The winter energy payment goes to millionaires. Those who can afford to take a bus are being subsidised by those who cannot. Subsidies once on are very hard to withdraw. There has never been a social or economic justification for subsidising Gold Card holders’ ferry trips to Waiheke Island. – Richard Prebble

We will discover we are connected to events such as a probable Russian default in ways we cannot imagine. The double-digit food price inflation is just the beginning.

What could cause the price of petrol to fall is a worldwide recession, now a real possibility.Richard Prebble

In politics, it is always later than you think. Labour has just 18 months of effective government before the next election. The way to solve inflation was a year ago, starting with increasing interest rates, 18 months ago to stop printing money, five years ago not to ban off-shore exploring for oil and gas.

Interest rates have to rise but it will not be in time to bring inflation under control before Labour faces the electorate.

The effect of interest rate rises on the mortgage belt electorates will be devastating. The Auckland median house price is $1.2 million. Last year with a 20 per cent deposit, monthly repayments on the loan at 2.50 per cent would be $3793. By election year at 5.25 per cent the repayment will be $5301.

Three months’ fuel tax relief and public transport subsidies is not going to save Labour. – Richard Prebble

To become citizens in a democracy, young people must be taught how to think rather than what to think. – Michael Johnston

What is clear though, is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to discuss contentious topics openly. To present a viewpoint at odds with those fashionable can draw opprobrium, censure and even ostracism.  –Michael Johnston

In a democracy, political ideas must not only be contestable but must actually be contested. For democracy to remain healthy, diverse viewpoints must be included and welcomed in public debate.Michael Johnston

In political discourse, the ability to make a sound argument is necessary, but it isn’t, on its own, enough to make a strong contribution to political debate. Certain dispositions are also important. Perhaps foremost amongst these is humility.

Humility entails assuming that there’s something to learn from those we disagree with. It means being open-minded and willing to alter our opinions in the light of new information. It is a quality that seems to be lacking in much of our current political discourse. Adopting a humbler stance when contesting ideas would do much to counteract our increasingly censorious and polarised political culture. – Michael Johnston

Intellectual humility needs to be modelled rather than taught explicitly. If children observe adults practising respectful, attentive and open-minded disagreement, they’re more likely to adopt that way of arguing themselves.

In a democracy, argument has a higher purpose than humiliating our opponents. That kind of argument does nothing to improve our ideas. If instead, we argue in good faith, we can discover things that we would not or could not have discovered alone. Facts, reason, humility and respect are the best guidelines for teachers interested in preserving and enhancing democracy.Michael Johnston

This has gloriously given us insight into the new merciless standards of the puritanical woke.

They would eat their own if they weren’t all vegan. – Martin Bradbury

“Co-governance” in practice is a mechanism for stealing resources that belong to all of us, irrespective of race, in order to satisfy some primeval tribal goal that rackets through the minds of the undemocratically-selected Maori partner. The message is that whenever “co-governance” is proposed, it should be met with fierce resistance. There is no desirable alternative to democracy, majority rule, unless we all want to set off down the road towards an authoritarian, unaccountable tribal world.Michael Bassett

Talking to a friend yesterday, his indifference to Ardern has mushroomed into a visceral loathing. His bristling is palpable. He is sick of being treated like a child, talked to as if he is an idiot. His words.

And when you think about it, living under Ardern has been like being back at school. Where most teachers preached conformity for your own good, or for the greater good, or for the sake of the school community.

Yet anyone who spent a moment reflecting knew that ultimately, you are on your own. You make your own way in the world. You love and look after friends and family, as they do you. But we are each an island. A self-contained intellectual entity. – Lindsay Mitchell

But the spark of human individuality cannot be suppressed indefinitely. Like the lad who mentioned the naked emperor’s actual state. Or the exceedingly brave Russian broadcaster who momentarily yelled to the tv cameras that it’s all propaganda.

Maybe, just maybe, the silver lining from the last two bewildering and stultifying years will be a re-emergence of individual independence – freedom of action, freedom of thought and freedom from fools.Lindsay Mitchell

 No-one should feel unsafe or unable to express their thoughts. That is what New Zealand had become. That place.- Lindsay Mitchell

This is New Zealand’s most conservative government of recent times. Not so much in terms of its political ideology, but more in the way it does things. Its policy prescription, admittedly constrained by New Zealand First’s negativism in the first term, and the persistence of the pandemic so far in the second, has not been at all radical or innovative. And, with half the current Parliamentary term almost over, the prospects of its being able to devise and introduce radical and innovative solutions before the next election seem very slim. Wherever possible the current government has harkened back to earlier solutions belonging to governments of the past to deal with the issues it confronts today.- Peter Dunne

 Labour’s solution to the poor performance of the District Health Board structure it created when last in office is to go back to the system that preceded it. Labour had set up the District Health Boards in 2000 to replace National’s centralised Health Funding Agency and four Regional Health Authorities. It said then it wanted to restore local democracy to health service delivery and get away from centralised decision-making. But now this Labour government is proposing to replace the elected District Health Boards with its own centralised, unelected Health New Zealand entity, supported by a Māori Health Authority and four local commissioning authorities, in a model that, but for the name changes, is virtually the same as the system it got rid of over 20 years ago.Peter Dunne

And yet more progress could have been achieved had Labour involved private-sector construction companies in its plans from the outset, as the first Labour government had done with Sir James Fletcher. But the current government was too focused on KiwiBuild houses being seen as government-built, and therefore solely to its credit, to do so. It was an early sign that the promise of transformation really meant a return to the big central government of the 1960s and 1970s. – Peter Dunne

However, the scale of borrowing to do so has been far more substantial and riskier, especially at a time of rising inflation and interest rates worldwide. Yet the government has seemed content to rely on the tactics of the Muldoon government and its predecessors and pass the repayment of the debt – about $60 billion so far – to future generations to repay. More innovative solutions could have been expected from a government committed to foundational change, let alone transformation. – Peter Dunne

The overall impression is of a very conservative and cautious government, risk averse, wary, and unwilling to devolve any responsibility to local communities or the private sector. It is determined to govern from the centre in the benign “we know best” way governments half a century ago and earlier did, overlooking that New Zealand has changed considerably since then. We are a far more pluralistic and diverse society today, unlikely to take comfortably to a return of stifling, all knowing, big central government.

The problem this has created for Labour, which the polls are starting to reflect, is among those of its supporters who genuinely believed in or were enthused by the prospect of a government of aspiration and transformation. They are now becoming disillusioned that while its rhetoric may be bold, in practice this government is no different from those that went before it. Moreover, by centralising everything again it has put itself in the position where only it can be blamed when things go wrong, or do not live up to what was promised. All that means is many of its erstwhile supporters may not be as nearly as inclined to vote for it again in 2023, as they were in 2017 and 2020. – Peter Dunne

It turns out not to be true that, at heart, all people desire only peace and will respond reasonably if you speak reason to them. The invasion of Ukraine has been, among other things, a lesson in the possibilities of human nature. The surprising thing, perhaps, is that, in Europe of all places, it is a lesson that had to be taught.Theodore Dalrymple

Be that as it may, the Russian invasion of Ukraine purportedly acted on Europe (and the United States) much as the electric current acted on the corpse of Frankenstein’s monster: it brought it back to life. Suddenly, the cobbled-together body of the west began to act as a real organism, and a powerful one at that. There is nothing like an enemy at the gates to give a bit of backbone to a weakling. The speeches of the Ukrainian president, after all, moved everyone in a way that very few speeches by contemporary politicians move anyone. The west had revealed itself to be not so feeble as supposed. – Theodore Dalrymple

While western politicians have appealed to the best in human nature, an appeal that, however insincere or hypocritical, places constraints upon them, Putin has always exploited, so far successfully (if one measures success by survival in power), the worst in it.  – Theodore Dalrymple

Blame for the failure to prepare must lie with the Ministry of Health and the Health Minister. There was no decision to urgently hire or train more staff, and no rapid move to create temporary facilities. “Plans” to upgrade hospitals to cope with Covid patients were announced just three months ago. A pronouncement six weeks ago that the Ministry was “about to start” recruiting offshore for ICU nurses was rightly ridiculed.

These failures are emblematic of the Government’s ponderous approach to almost every aspect of the health response. Provision of PPE, vaccines, RAT tests and new medications have all been very slow, and served with a diet of dissembling and obfuscation.

The ministry and the Government have been way too reliant on the generosity of New Zealanders in accepting restrictions on their freedoms to “avoid putting pressure on the health system”, where too often it has really been about avoiding pressure on themselves. – Steven Joyce

There is nothing you can point to that will improve patient care, nor even a funding formula. Just lots of shallow statements about “fixing the health system”. Oh, and a half-billion-dollar-and-counting price tag.

It was ever thus. Incessant rounds of reforms at the top of the system end up leaving the same people in charge and no plan to improve patient care. – Steven Joyce

I’m all in favour of a greater range of health providers including Māori health providers, who often do a better job of reaching their communities. But it doesn’t make sense that a health provider with the country’s largest number of Māori and Pacific people enrolled gets paid less per patient than one which is Māori-owned. Funding according to the ownership of the supplier means patients miss out.

Similarly we shouldn’t be prioritising provision through government-owned suppliers as we did in the early stages of vaccine rollout, when GP’s in private practice and pharmacists were left on the sidelines. How was that good for patients? – Steven Joyce

Changes are needed in health to make the sector more robust so it can deliver more to New Zealanders. Reform that provides more patient-centred care and a larger workforce will make a difference. Reform with a big price tag that just rearranges the bureaucracy won’t. Unfortunately, the Government is serving up the latter. Steven Joyce

We voters only care about the short term. And our politicians only care about keeping us happy. They’re not nimble or urgent. They’re cowardly.

But ask yourself this: regardless of your political stripes, wouldn’t you prefer a government to be led by its principles than by the polls?

A society deserves the leaders it elects. Once again, Jacinda Ardern’s Government has shown it’s more interested in doing what is popular than what is right.  – Jack Tame

The line between fact and fiction has become thin. In their second term, Labour has become adept at downplaying their mistakes, discrediting those who criticise, encouraging misinformation and diverting attention from bad news, while wrapping themselves in meaningless cultural signals.Andrea Vance 

Politicians are enabled to gaslight us because of the torrent of information in our digital age. Who has time to fact-check every statement? And at a time when every press conference or speech is live-streamed, most of these confident assertions go unchecked.

We shrug off the lies because in a post-Trump world we no longer expect truthfulness, integrity or decency. The most pressing problems: hardship, climate change, the viability of our health systems, are too big to contemplate, so we happily accept slogans over real solutions.

All this gaslighting is enough to make you feel slightly insane. Which, I suppose, is the point. But the insanity would be in continuing to tolerate it. – Andrea Vance 

Media freedom is one of the crucial defining differences between a liberal democratic state and a totalitarian one. Put simply, it can be described as the right to know. It’s arguably at least as important as the right to vote, since a vote is pointless if it’s not an informed one.Karl du Fresne

But here’s the extraordinary thing. In 2022 the independence of the New Zealand media is jeopardised not by threats or coercion emanating from the state, but by the media’s own behaviour. In this respect we may be unique.

Journalistic bias is rampant and overt. It’s evident not just in how the media report things, but just as crucially in what is not reported at all. New Zealanders wanting to be fully informed on matters of consequence need to monitor online news platforms such as Kiwiblog, the BFD and Muriel Newman’s Breaking Views – to name just three – that cover the issues the mainstream media ignore. – Karl du Fresne

Generally speaking, news that reflects unfavourably on the government tends to be played down or ignored. Bias is apparent too in the lack of rigour in holding government politicians to account. – Karl du Fresne

After a lifetime as a journalist, I’m in the unfamiliar position of no longer trusting the New Zealand media to report matters of public interest fully, fairly, accurately and truthfully. This situation hasn’t arisen because of pressure from government communications czars or threats of imprisonment, as in authoritarian regimes such as Russia’s. It’s far more subtle than that.

The Labour government doesn’t have to tell the media what to report, or how, because most journalists, and especially those covering politics and important areas of public policy, are ideologically on board.  They are sympathetic with the government and want it to stay in power. It doesn’t seem to matter to them that this means relinquishing the impartial status on which they depend for their credibility.  – Karl du Fresne

Nonetheless I wonder whether the editors and publishers who lined up to accept the government’s tainted money stopped to consider the full implications. While they indignantly reject claims that they are ethically compromised, they appear not to understand that the public is entitled to suspect that the acceptance of state money has influenced reportage and media comment even when it hasn’t. The public perception of media independence has been irreparably harmed.

To put this another way, in Russia the media can’t be trusted because they are controlled by the state, but in New Zealand the media have spared the government the trouble.  – Karl du Fresne

In other words, of our headline inflation rate, LESS THAN HALF is due to inflation in tradeables. However, if you listen to government spin you’d think the whole of our inflation problem was imported. Yes, President Putin is way less to blame than our domestic policies.

Like what? Like our supermarket duopoly. Like weak competition in our building industry, where some huge companies wield immense market power. Like our Reserve Bank’s bungled $60 billion money printing program which flooded our markets with liquidity AT THE SAME TIME the Finance Minister was boasting how low was our unemployment rate. Alternatively one could partly blame our extreme closed border policies which have led to exploding shortages in skilled & unskilled labour. One could also blame high government spending, financed by borrowing, which PM Ardern “absolutely refutes”.

Can’t Labour just tell a story as it is for once? That would help the country to better address the root of its problems rather than pretending everything is perfect. – Robert MacCulloch

It seems that the Government has to resort to a reactive approach instead of being proactive because it lacks any real underpinning vision about where it wants to take the country. To have direction, political leaders need to have policy, values, and be embedded in a milieu of critical thinking and innovation.

This is traditionally what a political party is. It’s a big think tank of on-the-ground policy development based on a vision of a particular sort of world that it wants to create. The problem for Ardern and her colleague is that this is entirely lacking for them. There is no mass membership party feeding ideas and policies up from its base. In fact, the last Labour Party annual conference showed that the party barely has any debate at all, and certainly no real decision making powers like it used to.

Without a useful anchor in society, the Labour Government is now just floating around, lost at sea, only reacting to events as they arise. It means the party and government have little chance of taking the country anywhere, and voters will eventually tire of its managerial approach. To sell itself based on its competence during the Covid crisis is not going to work again at the next election – especially since much of that competence has been more questionable since 2020. – Bryce Edwards

The Government can jettison the more unpopular parts of its reform programme – especially things like its hate speech law reforms, and perhaps Three Waters – but what will these be replaced with? When a party lacks connection to its voter base, and has no strong ideological underpinnings, it is forced to make up policies as it goes, reacting to opinion polls. It means that badly formulated policies like KiwiBuild are quickly dreamt up, and just as quickly discarded when they become embarrassing. Cycling bridges are announced and then un-announced, again all in reaction to polls.

The even bigger problem is that Labour has forgotten its own traditional voter base. This is observable in the fact that they have overseen a massive transfer of wealth to the rich, while the poor have simply got poorer. – Bryce Edwards

This is why transformation is not possible under Labour at the moment, and why the party has become a conservative one. It’s been cut adrift from its original principles and support bases. This makes it more likely to lose power at the next election. Ultimately Labour needs to find a way to reconnect with some of its original working class constituents and ideologies. That’s the political soul of the Labour Party, and something that seems sorely missing at the moment.Bryce Edwards

Why on earth a government can’t do its job and actually govern, make a decision and announce it – and then stand by it – is beyond most of us.

Is it about power or just plain incompetence? – Barry Soper

There is much about our COVID response that must be put under a microscope.

The Levels, Stages and Traffic Light System. The botched vaccine rollout. The legality and morality of a vaccine mandate that saw New Zealanders lose their jobs – and their minds. A clinical, archaic MIQ system that left Kiwi citizens stranded all over the world. The economic impact of never-ending lockdowns, a two-year border closure (and counting), the multi-billion dollar spend, and a failure to engage or listen to the private sector. And that’s just scratching the surface.Rachel Smalley

What divides democracy and dictatorship? Public accountability.

And all of us need answers. – Rachel Smalley

Farming in New Zealand is under threat and overlooking the cost of fuel on-farm is yet another straw.

There have certainly been suggestions that a change in the way that farmers operate would allow them to remain in business, but none of the suggestions, whether organic, regenerative, veganism or synthetics (vat fermentation) get away from the use of fossil fuel – usually more than is required by pasture-based agriculture and resulting in food at a greater price to the consumer. Jacqueline Rowarth

n this sense, Wellington’s distaste for economists can be understood. Because the profession is not characterized by knee-jerk big-government types, its’ members have become ideologically unacceptable to Kiwi politicians and bureaucrats who thrive on red-tape, centralization, moneyprinting, higher taxes and less competition in the welfare state. – Robert Maculloch

We replaced whale oil as a fuel source a century ago, not because we wanted to save the whales, but because we discovered a much cheaper and more abundant fuel – oil. Now we have to do the same to oil: double down on making the alternative cheaper and abundant.Josie Pagani

We replaced whale oil as a fuel source a century ago, not because we wanted to save the whales, but because we discovered a much cheaper and more abundant fuel – oil. Now we have to do the same to oil: double down on making the alternative cheaper and abundant.

And we should follow the science. Look closely at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) latest report assessing the impacts of climate change and you will see the world has made progress towards limiting impacts. Cool heads, not hot takes, make for better responses. – Josie Pagani

The Bank of America has found that globally, achieving net-zero will cost $150 trillion over 30 years. In a new study, the international consultancy firm McKinsey finds most of the poorest nations in Africa would have to pay more than 10 per cent of their total national incomes every year toward climate policy. This is more than these nations combined spend on education and health.

This is not only implausible but also immoral on a continent where almost half a billion people still live in abject poverty. – Josie Pagani

The answer to the PM’s dilemma is relatively simple. They made too many mistakes, they didn’t admit those mistakes, and they certainly didn’t apologise. They relied far too heavily on ministry wonks who let them down and who also didn’t admit mistakes and apologise. – Mike Hosking

From the very beginning it has been haphazard … the PPE that never turned up for the nurses and doctors, the flu jab last year that got botched, the nurses that weren’t recruited until it was too late, the absurd mess around ICU beds and how you count them, the behind-the-scenes Machiavellian madness of the Ministry of Health refusing any number of Official Information Act requests on detail the media inquired about, the astonishingly cruel MIQ rulings where DJs got clearance and family members of dying people didn’t – the list, if you sit and think about it long enough, is exhausting and really provides the Prime Minister with all the material she needs to see why so many of us didn’t go along for the ride.Mike Hosking

It’s a combination of their inexperience, reliance on officials, arrogance and passion for spin that has led them here.

I don’t know whether the PM knows this and just says she doesn’t, or whether she is genuinely confused. If it’s the latter then they’re in more trouble than I already thought they were. – Mike Hosking

They didn’t take more of us with them because they told us they knew better when they didn’t, they didn’t tell enough truth when they needed to, fundamentally they weren’t up to it from the start. They are “B” teamers handed a crisis, who were exposed for lack of talent and acumen.

A government that got famous early for lack of delivery, did the same with Covid as they did with KiwiBuild or light rail. It’s not hard to understand unless you don’t want to, or you don’t have the wherewithal to get it in the first place.Mike Hosking

Labour’s obsession with the Maori language is destroying trust in the public service as official communications are increasingly being produced in pidgin English, which inhibits understanding, erodes accuracy, and damages public confidence in Government institutions.- Muriel Newman

All up, it’s hard to see those policy changes as anything but a cynical vote grab. They aren’t targeted at reducing costs or increasing incomes for those who truly need it. They’re undoing an otherwise positive effect of high fuel prices on carbon emissions. And they’re unlikely to have a positive effect (and may even be counter-productive) in terms of public transport patronage. Possibly, the government is hoping that the voting public has the same low level of economic literacy that they do. Things may not be that bad, yet. On the plus side, the government now seems to recognise that an excise is a tax.Michael Cameron

#4 In human affairs, there is no perfection.
In one’s own life, there are times when one feels broken or cracked, or fragmented or even malformed.
Like the world dropped you on your head.

But one may choose to address those circumstances and reach for one’s inner super glue – one’s history of healing – one’s memory of recovery on another and better day – one’s capacity to know the difference between an inconvenience and a real problem – one’s capacity to get up and go on, no matter what.
I may choose. The super glue is in my attitude and memory. – Robert Fulghum

 But New Zealand’s economic situation is now overtaking the virus, politically. On one estimate, over 1.7 million New Zealanders either has had or has Covid-19 now. That isn’t to say it is trivial, but the chance of getting it is now just a daily reality for everyone.

But while Covid for most means a sick week or so at home, that light-fingered inflation will be peeking into wallets every week. And ASB’s $150 per week prediction will be scarier to a lot of voters than Omicron.Luke Malpass

The gap between what we have and what we need is widening. We have the fact we waste money at a spectacular rate when we do build stuff. We have the fact that when something starts it doesn’t end on time or on budget. We have the fact things cost more than they need to.  – Mike Hosking

Then you have the ideology of the bike lanes, the bus lanes, and the coloured planter pots. All cost a fortune, aren’t used, and add nothing to the economy. All in the vein of hoping that people will take to them on their new bicycles in city centres they no longer come to town to work in. Mike Hosking

But really, what this country appears to do well is write reports outlining why so much stuff doesn’t work or live up to expectation. This week we’ve had the infrastructure report and the mental health report. $1.9 billion they cried, and for what? Well, the report tells us not much.

The Auckland report. Dysfunction that’s led to the place being the way it is. The literacy report where nearly half kids don’t go to school regularly, and 20 percent of 15-year-olds can’t even read.

It’s a shockingly poor state of affairs.

No one gets it perfect, obviously, but in a single week we have a shelf full of reminders that who we should be is not even close to the reality of what we are. – Mike Hosking

ACADEMIC FREEDOM is one of those “public goods” that most people seldom question. Even in New Zealand, a country not especially hospitable to intellectuals of any sort, academics are seldom identified as persons in need of official restraint. New Zealanders prefer to joke about the otherworldliness and impracticality of academic research – especially in the social sciences and liberal arts. That is to say, they used to joke about it. Over the last few years academics have given ordinary New Zealanders small cause for laughter.

Indeed, it has become increasingly clear to the Free Speech Union, along with many other advocates of freedom of expression, that the place where academic freedom is most at risk is, paradoxically, academia itself. – Chris Trotter

While paying lip-service to the principle of academic freedom, New Zealand’s university authorities have begun to hedge it around with all manner of restrictions. The pursuit of research subjects and/or the articulation of ideas capable of inflicting “harm” on other staff and students has become decidedly “career-limiting”. – Chris Trotter

The simple truth of the matter is that freedom is always and everywhere indivisible. Suppress it in our universities and its suppression elsewhere will soon follow. Those who do not subscribe to freedom have no place in our halls of learning – or anywhere else enlightened human values are cherished.Chris Trotter

And the problem is that, aside from Covid, it feels like things have got harder under them.

All the unresolved disappointments of the last election are still here. And then despite there being a global pandemic, last year house prices still went up 23.8 per cent. It looks like I won’t be able to take the Auckland rail link until after I hit menopause. And now there’s a cost of living crisis. It’s a grim day when houses, petrol and broccoli all start to look unaffordable. – Verity Johnson

I know with inflation and Ukraine it’s not entirely their fault. But they can’t ignore the fact that they ascended to the Beehive trumpeting their emphasis on wellbeing, like archangels with organic body-oil side hustles. They filled us with hope about wellness budgets and affordable living … and now this.

And refusing to call it a crisis just looks like they’re trying to gloss over this, so they don’t look so guilty. Not to mention it’s especially galling to have your frustration ignored by a Government who has been hammering on about kindness like a Care Bear with a jackhammer.

So now, as we come out of Covid, we’re looking to peacetime governance. And we’re faced with the underwhelming choice of staying in a loveless marriage – or cheating with Luxon. This is about as grim as $4.50 for one piece of broccoli.

But it’s true, you can’t stay in a relationship out of gratitude for the past. You have to actually have hope and faith in their future. And I don’t know if I do any more with Labour. – Verity Johnson

 As an intensive care doctor of 20 years I considered the concept of an intensive care to be immutable but now this turned out to not be so.

The inconvenient truth of their scarcity could be at least partially addressed by altering the definition.

A bed is a piece of furniture, incapable of providing any form of care, never mind intensively. To do so it needs a specialist intensive care nurse standing next to it 24 hours a day. This requires five to six intensive care nurses per bed as, inconveniently, they also want to sleep, have families, and not live in a hospital.

Caring intensively also requires equipment, drugs, doctors, a large array of allied health professionals (physiotherapists, pharmacists, radiographers etc) cleaners and administration staff. It costs around NZ$1.5m (£750,000) a year to keep one intensive care bed open, with the availability of intensive care nurses being the rate-limiting step. As the world realised we didn’t have enough, they became one of the most valuable (but not valued) people in healthcare. By necessity, at wave peak, their expertise was diluted. Rather than the optimal 1:1 ratio of critically ill patients to expert nurses, team structures “allowed” them to supervise others with little or no intensive care experience (with an entirely predictable effect on mortality). This may be politically appealing but, as a professor of intensive care medicine at Cambridge University commented, “no one sane would suggest this was the appropriate planning strategy for Covid if you had the opportunity to do otherwise”. – Alex Psirides

The accusation of bullying therefore left me confused but then a light went on in my head.

Of course! Bullying is when you say something with which someone else disagrees. Gavin Ellis

I have been the recipient of a clear message that what I had to say has no value because it did not accord with the views of (I am led to assume) a majority, and I was out of touch with ‘reality’ because I conformed to unacceptable stereotypes. If that was insufficient to establish my unworthiness, I was also deemed to no longer be “a working journalist”.

Those stereotypes were based on assumptions that those over a certain age were stuck in the past, that being Pākeha (“white”) imbues an unassailable sense of social and cultural superiority, and that males are inherently domineering and dismissive. No longer being part of a newsroom assumed I knew nothing of “today’s journalism”.- Gavin Ellis

It is naive to think that the past has no relevance to what we do today. As for journalism, it is downright dangerous to think that the digital age – in which the stereotypers grew up – swept away all that went before and reinvented it.

Yes, there are aspects of journalism that are a moving feast. They reflect society’s own changes and are carried along by them. Take language: Although we have been converting nouns to verbs for centuries, ‘to medal’ or ‘to podium’ would have had the sub-editors of my youth in a state of life-threatening apoplexy.Gavin Ellis

What worried me was the willingness to bring down a shutter on discussion that interfered with a particular world view.

That isn’t a generational phenomenon limited to millennials and Gen Zers. It is a current affliction that spans all demographics and many socio-political beliefs.  – Gavin Ellis

Journalists should have no part of that sort of thinking. Yet I fear this generation of journalists is complicit in some of it.

Matters dealing with race, gender (old men excepted), image and identity are handled with kid gloves. Debate on some subjects – such as the mātauranga Māori letter to the Listener signed by seven scientists – has become one-sided. ‘Old-fashioned’ views have no validity. We can only guess at what subjects get no exposure at all.Gavin Ellis

Limits of space and time and the testing of stories against sets of (often uncodified) news values have always determined that some stories make in into print or on air and others do not.

There are also limits to what the New York Times’ masthead describes as “all the news that’s fit to print”. Outside those limits are such things as hate speech but some sections of the boundary must be contestable in order to prevent their use to stifle legitimate debate. Nevertheless, any redrawing of that boundary must be done collectively, carefully, and conservatively if society is to preserve a meaningful public sphere. Without a shadow of doubt, it should not be an amorphous and arbitrary process but I fear it is heading that way. – Gavin Ellis

Journalists should not use perceived majority views as some sort of selection yardstick. To do so risks falling into what German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann called a “spiral of silence” that stifles alternative opinion. The centrifugal force which accelerates the spiral of silence is fear of isolation and I wonder whether the prospect of falling victim to ‘cancel culture’ leads journalists – perhaps unconsciously – to become party to it.

We will be in trouble if journalists or media organisations start to condition their approach to the news by avoiding those things that might isolate them. It is a form of self-censorship that is little better than imposed constraints. And it, too, is a downward spiral. –  Gavin Ellis

 Populist authoritarian governments in eastern Europe, for example, use various coercive levers to keep media in line. It is another thing entirely to fall into line simply because one social trope or another determines the acceptability of a subject and limits or eliminates criticism of ‘protected’ topics.

Such acquiescence runs counter to what journalism should stand for and, in a perverse way, it takes us back almost 400 years to a time when presses were licenced to constrain what could be published. – Gavin Ellis

 I was not sure what to think of the pandemic when it struck, and am still not quite sure. Like many, I suspect, I find myself veering, or careening, from one opinion to another. Sometimes, I think that it is not so much the illness but the response to it that is the more damaging. At other times, I think that governments had little choice but to act as they did. On this subject, I lack fixed convictions. – Theodore Dalrymple

Where uncertainty is inevitable but the stakes are high, tempers are likely to flare and people to claim insights into the nature of things that they do not have. Humankind, said T. S. Eliot, cannot bear too much reality, but it also cannot bear too much uncertainty: humans then turn to conspiracy theories or cults to alleviate their sense of helplessness. That is why discussions of Covid so quickly become arguments: most people who are not sure of their ground make up for it by dogmatism. – Theodore Dalrymple

Where uncertainty is inevitable but the stakes are high, tempers are likely to flare and people to claim insights into the nature of things that they do not have. Humankind, said T. S. Eliot, cannot bear too much reality, but it also cannot bear too much uncertainty: humans then turn to conspiracy theories or cults to alleviate their sense of helplessness. That is why discussions of Covid so quickly become arguments: most people who are not sure of their ground make up for it by dogmatism. – Theodore Dalrymple

The disrespectful dialogue is reflective of real-life politics. Insults have replaced arguments in debate.Andrea Vance

Politics has always been a nasty sport. But today it seems brutish. And what does all this toxicity achieve – apart from more ad dollars in the bank accounts of tech moguls? – Andrea Vance

Mainstream political reporting thrives on conflict. Protesting in dramatic and disruptive ways captures attention. There is no incentive to break out of incivility, to recalibrate politics. To be nice.Andrea Vance

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

Wherever you sit on fair pay agreements, if you support them or not, the timing of this legislation is wrong.  – Rachel Smalley

The government hasn’t read the room, and commentators who criticise the likes of Ardern and Robertson and say they don’t have real-world experience, will now throw their hands in the air and say “see? what did I tell you?! They are out of step with business.” – Rachel Smalley

Here are some of the questions the government should have asked… Will this improve wages? Will it drive productivity? Or, will the prospect of unions knocking on the door, potential arbitration… Will it drive already stretched businesses to the edge? Will it trigger job losses, a collapse in productivity, and will some of our SMEs fall over after two years of hanging on by their fingertips, trying to stay afloat and stay on top of the government’s requirements as it responded to COVID?

Did the government think about how businesses might perceive this? What it signals to me – and I’m sure it will be the same for many business owners – is that the government doesn’t trust kiwi businesses to do the right thing. The government doesn’t believe, without regulation, that businesses will look out for their employees.Rachel Smalley

If you want to improve wages, the government needs to create an environment in which companies can be confident to invest. Confident to grow. Confident to employ people and reward performance. Confident that the government of the day understands that economies – more than ever right now – must be flexible and responsible, not heavily regulated.

Throughout the later part of our COVID response, businesses have struggled with the shackles of political over-reach and control. – Rachel Smalley

What’s happening to democracy in this country, let alone the promised transparency of this Government?

Labour is abusing its absolute power and it seems those opposing it are powerless to do anything about it because majority rules.Barry Soper 

This goes beyond simply controlling the message. Like they say, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. – Barry Soper 

Unions are always likely to have a place as long as there are exploitative employers. But the business model will have to adapt to explicitly choose to be an ideological movement or be an employment services provider. Needing the Government to prop you up with enabling legislation, like the fair pay agreements, is not sustainable and makes you very susceptible to changes in Government. – Brigitte Morten 

 Unions will have a place in the future if they resist their collective urge to just cause labour shortages and instead focus on delivering policies that serve the country as a whole rather than those that are the lowest-performing. – Brigitte Morten 

With almost no debate, Labour has adopted a radical reinterpretation of the Treaty as a partnership to justify co-governance. With co-governance, there is no democratic accountability when half the power is held by those who do not have to answer to the electorate.

Co-governance was not in Labour’s manifesto. Labour ministers hid from its coalition partner He Puapua – a report that could result in co-governance being extended. Work on this radical document is continuing.Richard Prebble

We do not need a new Treaty. The Treaty is fine as it was written in 1840. [In the English text version] there are just three articles: “Cede to Her Majesty the Queen of England absolutely and without reservation all the rights and powers of Sovereignty”; “guarantees … the full exclusive and undisturbed possession of their Lands and Estates, Forests, Fisheries and other properties”; and grants “all the Rights and Privileges of British Subjects”.

There is nothing about partnerships or being “a multi-ethnic-liberal democracy”.

As David Lange put it: “Did Queen Victoria for a moment think of forming a partnership with a number of thumb prints and 500 people?” – Richard Prebble

What the Treaty does say is still important today.

Sovereignty was ceded. Sovereignty is indivisible. The Crown is everyone as represented by the executive and the courts.

Property rights are guaranteed.

Citizenship grants the rights from the Magna Carta – no arbitrary taxation and the right to a fair trial with a jury.

Parliament is responsible for the present reinterpretation, and only Parliament can fix it.

Parliament has included in a number of laws the phrase “the principles of the Treaty”, without saying what those principles are. No MP thought that a court might say that a Treaty principle was a partnership. No court has.Richard Prebble

Where Māori have a valid property claim, such as to some of our national parks, then co-governance is a pragmatic solution. It recognises the Māori property interest while maintaining the public interest in preserving the parks.

Labour ministers are now promoting co-governance on the basis that the Treaty is a partnership even where Māori have no property claim.

Māori interest in having access to health is the same as everyone.

As far as water is concerned, Māori only have an ownership interest as ratepayers in the dams, pipes, pumping stations and sewage plants. There is no case for co-governance. – Richard Prebble

Instead of a referendum, Act should campaign that Parliament legislate that the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi are those in the Treaty: namely, the Crown has sovereignty, the Crown guarantees property rights and everyone has the same rights of New Zealand citizenship.

When Parliament does that we can again repeat Governor Hobson’s words: “He iwi kotahi tātou: now we are one people”.Richard Prebble

Will Smith walloping Chris Rock across the face live on international television was not a departure from Hollywood norms. In fact, the act was simply the entitlement and privilege of celebrity made manifest.  – Ani O’Brien

These, by and large, are people who are paid insane amounts of money to play dress up and pretend. Many of them have spent more time in rehab than they did at high school and yet they have the audacity to lecture the rest of us about life. 

The problem is that the echo chamber they are ensconced in is completely divorced from reality. Famous and wealthy, they buy into their own mythology. They forget that they are a mirage, a veneer. They are the sum of their most well-known characters to those who adore them and adulation as a result of fictional performance does not qualify someone to instruct the population on politics and morality.  – Ani O’Brien

Acting is without a doubt an art form – when done well. It is a skill and the very best actors should be acknowledged for their talent. But it is high time we stopped allowing actors to pretend they have the authority to ‘educate’ us on matters of importance.

Living in gated communities and with security entourages, many celebrities espouse social policies that they will never have to suffer the consequences of. Their pseudo-moralistic stances are profoundly ill-informed and deeply out of touch. – Ani O’Brien

Overpaid hired clowns do not know more about life than a single mother working as a nurse or a man who delivers packages and stacks shelves. Their bank balance does not qualify them to lecture on the environment, politics, and morality. Nor does the fact that people like to take photos with them.

At what point do we, those they may as well see as dollar signs, refuse to accept their fake profundity? If we all stop paying attention to their grandstanding will they stop? Does a celebrity preaching in a forest, with no one there to hear them, make a sound? – Ani O’Brien

History is a profoundly important subject, as well as being something that can provide an individual with an interest that endures over a lifetime. I read historical fiction and non-fiction for pleasure. Understanding where we come from and how we got here matters. – Damien Grant

Heading up the ministry’s document on the new curriculum is the statement: “If we want to shape Aotearoa New Zealand’s future, start with the past.” Damien Grant

I congratulate the ministry on the transparency of their agenda, although the inclusion of this statement is more likely an indication of the author’s lack of anything approaching a classical education.

The programme shockingly misrepresents our nation’s past and is disturbingly one-dimensional.

In the document outlying the new curriculum, the local population is depicted living in some form of a bucolic harmony with each other and their natural environment, before the catastrophic and violent arrival of the Europeans. – Damien Grant

If we want to get students to seriously engage with our history, teach them about the battles, bloodshed and bravery, not “the ways different groups of people have lived and worked in this rohe have changed over time”.Damien Grant

Because the ministry wants to use the past to shape the future, they are stripping everything from our history that has value and killing any prospect that our children will retain an interest in the topic.

There is no more evidence as to the banality of this interpretation of history that it excludes Te Rauparaha and includes Georgina Beyer.

Beyer is a significant historical figure in her own right and deserves a place in our collective history. She is magnificent and her story inspirational.

But if you are going to memory-hole a military leader who was compared by his contemporaries to Napoleon, well, you are not conducting history, you are re-inventing it. – Damien Grant

The most remarkable aspect of this version of New Zealand’s history is the exclusion of almost any topic that does not impact Māori. Everything is seen through this lens. What happened to Richard Pearse, Charles Upham and General Bernard Freyberg?Damien Grant

There is a strong argument that we do not properly acknowledge the appalling treatment of the indigenous population of these islands by the colonial authorities.

I am in favour of bringing this failure to the attention to the next generation. It is a shameful aspect of our past and the consequences of it live with us today.

If the state wishes to address this by incorporating it into the national school curriculum, that is fine with me. I can get behind a bit of nation building.

But we should be honest about what is being done here. This is not, as the Prime Minister claims, our history. It is a selective part of it, and it appears to be driven by a desire to control how we move into the future. – Damien Grant

Our history has its roots in the migration from Hawaiki and the traditions and people who came on that journey.

It includes the cruelty and crimes committed by the colonial authorities against their treaty partners in the decades after 1840. But our history is more than that.

The New Zealand of today can also be traced to debates in the agoras of ancient Athens, in the marshlands of Wessex, the fields around Hastings in 1066 and the failings of King John.

We are a successor state to a remarkable empire and a proud sovereign nation with, inexplicably, the Union Jack still affixed to our flag.

This new history teaches our children none of that. It is not history at all. It is social engineering.Damien Grant

Yet there are reasons for the decline in trust that should be blindingly obvious to anyone who is not suffering institutional capture from actually working for the mainstream media (or being entirely sympathetic to its approach to journalism).

The most obvious failure is that the mass media’s journalists and editors too often seem to not understand they need to reflect the important debates that are actually happening in society — including on social media — rather than only the ones they approve of. Or if they do cover contentious issues, not to present only one, approved side of the debate. – Graham Adams

As far as I can tell, no one in the media here has reported Lord Sebastian Coe’s warning that “gender cannot trump biology” when deciding whether transgender athletes should be allowed to compete alongside female contestants. Yet Lord Coe is eminently quotable as an influential two-time Olympic gold medallist and President of World Athletics.Graham Adams

So here we are in 2022, in a liberal democracy, with a senior lawyer worrying that a court case of constitutional importance might not be covered in the media because journalists are afraid of being called racist or because they don’t want to offend the Government. – Graham Adams

It doesn’t help the mainstream media one little bit, of course, that the Government’s Public Interest Journalism Fund is providing $55 million over three years for a variety of projects and editorial staff positions — all under an agreement that successful applicants will commit to “Te Tiriti o Waitangi and to Māori as a Te Tiriti partner”. Consequently, any failure to comprehensively cover the Water Users’ Group case will be widely interpreted as evidence the media has been bought.

Given that public money with such strings attached is now firmly embedded throughout the mainstream media, the only way it can shrug off that widespread perception is to show that it is, indeed, reporting “without fear or favour”.

Otherwise, its apparent partisanship will kill it, as social media and alternative news sites continue eating its lunch in great bites.Graham Adams


Quotes of the month

05/03/2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prudence matters. – Eric Crampton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until the past two years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We often just get insufficient answers written in bureaucratese.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the economy grows, we all benefit.Clive Bibby

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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