Quotes of the month

01/12/2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can we all agree on compassion?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

85 percent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, policy failures matter.Roger Franklin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because what else have we got?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the “trans community”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew Birchall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a mixed message. – Kate Hawkesby

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This decision takes us places.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voting makes children into adults.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Most of the commonly-raised arguments are unconvincing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is no accountability to the shareholders.

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

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

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

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

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

Happy bloody Christmas, Adrian Orr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 We’ve lost five years to paper pushing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OK. Watch out for what you wish for.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lame duck governments are dangerous. Richard Prebble

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

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

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

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

The version of New Zealand history conveyed to those attending these workshops is remarkably consistent: colonisers = baddies; the heroic Māori who resisted the colonisers’ ruthless predations = goodies. Only by giving full effect to te Tiriti o Waitangi can the wrongs of the past be righted: only then will equity and justice prevail.

Many of those attending Treaty workshops will have been invited to “check their privilege” and “confront their racism”. This can be a harrowing experience for many Pakeha, leaving them with a strong inclination to keep silent and step aside whenever those on the receiving end of “white privilege” are encouraged to step forward and speak out. In the most extreme cases, Pakeha are actively discouraged from sharing their opinions, lest their higher education and superior facility with the English language overawe and “silence” those denied such privileges.

When Labour’s Māori caucus (the largest ever after the 2020 general election) sought to take full advantage of the party’s absolute parliamentary majority to advance their Treaty-centric agenda, it is entirely possible they found themselves pushing on an open door. – Chris Trotter

It is, perhaps, unsurprising that Labour’s Māori caucus has found the party’s Pakeha majority so easy to cajole into backing what, from its perspective, is an entirely legitimate constitutional agenda. Led by Nanaia Mahuta and Willie Jackson, the Māori caucus has taken full advantage of the fact that their Pakeha colleagues’ lack of constitutional conviction has never been a match for their own passionate intensity.

Three Waters may be the hill Labour dies on, but when the victors survey the field of battle, the only corpses they’ll find will be Pakeha. Each one clutching the “Big Idea” for which their party has paid the ultimate price. Chris Trotter

While tinkering around the house is an enjoyable pastime that can also yield some improvements, it is not a productive approach to government policy-making, and rarely leads to the best of outcomes. – Leeann Watson

New Zealand’s political environment seems to be stuck in an unfortunate position, because of the three-year election cycle, where we tend not to bother on the big things, and we instead focus on tinkering with the little things– the quick wins and the headline grabbers. And when we do focus on the big things, we do it in a way that is rushed, and often not with a long-term view in mind. We’ve digressed from a Parliament that is solely focused on creating better outcomes for New Zealanders, and identifying problems before we attempt to fix them.Leeann Watson

One of the big pieces of legislation that has been plaguing the business community this year is Fair Pay Agreements. In my previous column, I wrote about these in more depth, and I will repeat the point we hear from Canterbury businesses ad nauseam. Why has a complicated and convoluted piece of legislation that will make it more difficult for businesses to operate been introduced to solve a problem that does not exist? New Zealand enjoys some of the best employment relations in the developed world, with flexibility and agility that we cannot lose. So what are we fixing?

One of the pieces of legislation that was introduced in urgency last week was one that will require all businesses in New Zealand to elect a health and safety representative, including the small business that might employ three people, which now has to invest in training for their staff, at a time where the economy is under significant pressure. Previously, small businesses did not need to worry about this unless they were a high-risk industry, such as forestry or mining, so, again, what is the problem we are trying to solve? Are small businesses really that unsafe?

The business community is losing faith in our policymakers’ ability to define problems and create meaningful and fair solutions. We are stuck in a Catch-22 type situation, because the complex problems that need to be addressed – rising levels of crime, investment in infrastructure, reforming aspects of our public system that are not delivering successful outcomes – all require a long-term approach. And the level and extent of reform needed to fix them, is prohibited by election cycles. – Leeann Watson

Reform is a word that has lost its true meaning. Reform is bold. Reform is about pulling things apart and reassembling something that is faster, better and more efficient than it was originally. The reform we have seen of late has not fit that definition at all.

Let’s consider the reform of the health system. A new name and a restructure is not a reform. It is a new name and a restructure. The same entity still exists, and it is still delivering the same outcomes and, in some cases, maybe worse than before. The components might look different, or be slotted in a slightly different place, but it is still the same. It hasn’t gained anything new, or lost anything clunky that is preventing it from delivering better outcomes for New Zealanders. As has been the case in Christchurch this year, cancelling all non-urgent appointments because the system is about to collapse under pressure is just not acceptable. A new name is not going to fix that.Leeann Watson

At a time when we desperately need to be investing and focusing our attention on equipping the future workforce, we are seeing the merger of entities – some of which are performing quite well on their own. The headlines, instead, indicate it is fraught with scandals, resignations, and our future workforce, and our younger generation, are no better off because of it.

That’s not to mention the changes in almost every other aspect of the public sector that are occurring, including Three Waters. Is changing everything, all the time, all at once, really the best method? Should we not be focusing on the most pressing issues first and doing it properly, with a view of creating better outcomes over the long term rather than quick wins? – Leeann Watson

 Christchurch aside, where new infrastructure was required immediately due to the earthquakes, elsewhere in New Zealand we seem to take the approach that it is not until a road is constantly congested, and motorists (read: voters) are unhappy, that we make decisions to invest and expand. We should be starting projects decades before they are needed. Not after they’re needed. But that doesn’t win votes.

There is a growing and quite compelling case that our current electoral system is limiting the ability for successive Governments to be bold and to engage in actual reform, and not just tinker with minor alterations and the headline-grabbing policy wins that sound great on paper and are good for the polls, rather than the tough actions that solve problems, and leave New Zealand in a better position.

As we head into the barbeque season before an election year and the inevitable political debates amongst family and friends occur, maybe it’s time to focus on the system and not the political personalities, and consider, whether it may not necessarily be the political parties alone that are not delivering to their best extent, but rather a political system that is not hindering the ability to deliver long term outcomes – and a public service as a whole that would benefit from a new operating model that enables agility, innovation, a growth mindset and is focused on execution versus tinkering.Leeann Watson

This new fog canon measure is too late – they know it, we know it.

Worse yet, the PM tried to deflect all blame from her Government by saying that there’d be a delay on said fog cannons – due to a global shortage. This turns out to be an outright lie.

Newstalk ZB Drive host Heather du Plessis Allan smelt a rat straight away and last night called a fog cannon supplier to fact check the PM on this one. No surprises in his response.. he said to her, ‘I see the Queen of Spin is at it again..’

He said the facts are, there is no global shortage of fog cannons, the supply issue is due to the Government not placing any orders for them. They’ve dropped the ball, again. – Kate Hawkesby

So the delay is the Government’s fault, it’s on them. Remind anyone of the vaccine rollout?

This is a government of inaction and indecision. Unless it’s Three Waters legislation of course, that appears to be able to be rammed through no holds barred. But this fog canon supply shortage claim – or should I say lie, is akin to the same lie the PM trotted out yesterday, that the Government’s new increased support for dairy business owners is not based on the death of Janak Patel. – Kate Hawkesby

The Government wants to pretend it’s considerate, organized and proactive enough not to wait for a death, in order to act, but that’s simply not true. Spinning us lies is just not working anymore; this Government has a credibility problem.

The PM has a credibility problem. Included in her post Cab was the other audacious claim that they’ve been tough on crime.

She “rejected” criticism her Government was soft on crime. She “rejected” that the Government had acted too slowly, she “rejected” the idea that it took Patel’s death for the Government to act. – Kate Hawkesby

I can tell you this for nothing, rejecting this stuff doesn’t make it go away. It is a crisis for every single victim and every family member of victims in these burglaries and raids.

But the other real crisis we’re in at the moment is a spin crisis. There’s too much of it coming from the Pulpit of Truth.

We’re drowning in it; we’re exhausted from being fed it. I do worry about all those who just accept it without question though, or have checked out because they don’t even care anymore.

We should care; we are being fed a steady diet of BS, from a government that has no idea what the words accountability or responsibility mean.Kate Hawkesby

In his great book titled Russia in 1839, the Marquis de Custine called the Tsar “eagle and insect.” He was eagle because he soared high above the country over which he ruled, completely alone, taking it all in at a glance, but he was insect because there was nothing too small or trivial for him to interfere with: he or his power burrowed into the very fabric of society as a termite burrows into the fabric of a wooden house. There was no escaping him.

This is the image I have in my mind of the operation of the adherents of Woke ideology. They have a grand vision, at least implicitly, both about the nature of the society in which they live and what should replace it. Insufficient, incoherent, or absurd as their vision might be, it actuates them. As human history demonstrates, intellectual insufficiency is no bar to effectiveness in the search for power; indeed it might be an advantage insofar as more scrupulous searchers after truth and goodness are riven by doubt.

On the other hand, nothing is too small for their attention. Being visionaries, they can infuse their slightest actions with the most grandiose theoretical significance. This gives them self-importance and confidence that they are doing what once might have been called God’s work. Triviality is thus reconciled with transcendence. They are part of the movement of History with a capital H, whose right side they both define and bring forward by their actions. – Theodore Dalrypmple

The eagle is sharp-eyed while the adherent of Woke ideology has cataracts. When the house crumbles to dust because of the action of the termites, it is not because they desired such a denouement: it was, rather, a natural consequence of their conduct. The destruction wrought by the adherents of Woke ideology is a good deal more deliberate. Theodore Dalrypmple

I have been proud to be part of the New Zealand health sector. When I started in GP I didn’t feel the need to have private health insurance. The health system, while it had its limitations, generally worked well. I would do everything I could to manage the patient in the community and when I needed help I could refer the patient on and they would be seen. I was so proud of the initial government response to Covid, one that prioritised public safety, that I applied for citizenship.

How things have changed. The health system is fundamentally broken and I can’t see how it is going to be fixed. Patients who need to be managed in secondary care aren’t, instead being pushed back into primary care. Patients going to Emergency are not getting the imaging they require on presentation; they are given pain relief and told to see their GP in the morning and get referred for an ultrasound. The patient then needs to pay to see me (and I usually have to double-book them to see them promptly). Unless they are one of the chosen few eligible for community-funded radiology that ultrasound will cost them $280 and will require a four week wait.

Good medical practice prioritises early intervention for children with developmental delays. The Child Development Service, which does the majority of assessments for autism, global developmental delay and other conditions, has a waitlist of over 12 months. Even if a family has the resources to go private, I have no one to refer to. – Dr Corinne Glenn

Every consult becomes more and more complex as patients get sicker waiting for care. Patients have to wait longer for an appointment so by the time they come there are multiple issues to deal with. Follow-up is hard as patients struggle to pay for repeat appointments. We don’t have the medications that are bog-standard in other parts of the world. We have only recently funded some diabetes medications (empagliflozin and dulaglutide) that are second line treatments elsewhere. The special authority criteria are so strict there are many who can’t access them.

Please don’t mention mental health. Again, I am really confident managing a range of mental health conditions. However good mental health management requires a team. Access to counsellors, and sometimes a psychiatrist. There is no one I can refer to. Funded counselling is very scarce and limited to the most needy. Most people can’t afford to pay $160-170 an hour to see a psychologist and even if they can, I can’t find one with open books. If I have a patient in crisis in my rooms and I need to call the Crisis Team, I wait on hold for 30-40 minutes. The patient has normally left the room by then and my other patients are left waiting.

No new antidepressants have been funded for years. GPs are often accused of jumping straight to medication – but often it is the only affordable option I have to offer patients.Dr Corinne Glenn

So much of my time is spent battling to get patients the care they need. As soon as a patient comes in I am desperately looking at their demographic: do they have a community services card? What quintile is their address in? If they don’t have a community services card and live in a quintile 3 street I have no chance of getting them counselling or imaging that they don’t have to pay for (and usually can’t).

I used to be able to have some friendly banter with my practice team during the day. Now I sit in my room through breaks, trying to catch up on the neverending mounds of paperwork. ACC requests for information. Ministry of Social Development disability forms. Letters for Kainga Ora for a place without stairs for my patient with severe arthritis. I work most evenings and for two hours on a Sunday. One Friday evening at 5.30 I logged out of the patient management system. By Saturday afternoon when I logged back in I had 105 inbox documents waiting to be checked. Dinner table conversation is taken up with stories of patients I can’t help. Sometimes I can share a win, however those are getting fewer by the week. – Dr Corinne Glenn

Some days I am filled with rage at the injustice of it all. Some days I am just tired and sad. I am proud of the work that I do, but I am no longer proud of the system I work in.

I have sold my house and put in my notice. I fly back to Australia on Boxing Day. I have a new job lined up – it really wasn’t hard to find one. GPs are just as scarce as they are here. The Australian system is different. It has its pros and cons. All I know is that I can’t stay here.

The New Zealand health system is broken, and it has broken me.Dr Corinne Glenn

We’re told that the fundamental problem is poverty. Well guess what? The only sure path out of poverty begins with education. Lotto isn’t going to do it, and nor is social welfare.

I understand that some of us ordinary folk might have difficulty with the extraordinarily complex idea (not!) of taking kids out of a toxic environment and giving them a chance to learn skills and develop attitudes that will change their lives for the better. The media, though, has no excuse.

Whatever one thinks of National’s “boot camp” proposal for recidivist young offenders — my view is that it offers a promising start, but is only one ingredient of a proper solution — it is surely worth discussing, and considering, without the hysterics displayed by many. – Peter Jackson

For a start, who says taking kids who are well on the way to becoming career criminals out of the environment that has damaged them so and putting them where, for the first time in their lives, they have the chance to fulfil their potential is punitive? Have I missed something here?

As I read it, these “boot camps” (a derogatory term that is designed to disparage the policy before it even gets off the ground) will have nothing to do with punishment. If you’re going to bandy about words like brutal and punitive, then obviously you know something I don’t. Peter Jackson

Sixty per cent of kids aren’t attending school regularly. The Government’s less than lofty goal is to reduce that to 30 per cent over the next couple of years. And you don’t have to be an expert to understand how kids who are under-educated are likely to fare as adults.

We’re told that the fundamental problem is poverty. Well guess what? The only sure path out of poverty begins with education.

Lotto isn’t going to do it, and nor is social welfare. There is no reason, apart from poor parenting and misguided politicians, why every child in this country shouldn’t have a shot at succeeding, in whatever it is that they want to do. And for some, National’s proposal will be a godsend. – Peter Jackson

I do have a proviso. There seems to be little point in giving young people a glimpse of what the world could offer them, if, at the end of the programme, they are sent back to the same dysfunctional families that they came from. While the kids are away, their families will need to be “rehabilitated”. It is totally unrealistic to expect a young teenager to come home, with a whole new outlook on life, not to be dragged back down by drug and alcohol abuse, violence, dishonesty and whatever else made them the way they were in the first place.

We also need to restore education to the pedestal it should be sitting on. All you need to know about where we’ve gone wrong is encapsulated in the current drive to make school so interesting and exciting that kids will want to be there. Do sane, rational people actually believe this stuff?

There is a reason why primary and secondary schooling are called compulsory education. It is compulsory, and parents who don’t send their kids to school are breaking the law. More to the point, they are likely sentencing their children to lives of misery. – Peter Jackson

Is it possible that we’ll see the defeat of the Russian Army and the collapse of the Chinese Communist Party in the same year? Authoritarians can only squeeze their people so far, and liberal democracy, for all its greedy bankers and silly pronouns, still has the moral upper hand. Yet one feels impotent in the face of such evil.Tim Stanley

Foreign tyrants are leviathans with feet of clay, and our own government should not limit our liberties in order to supposedly protect us against them. – Pierre Lemieux

If we exclude possible wars, there is only one reason why residents of a free, or more or less free, country should feel economically threatened by a foreign authoritarian state. It is that the subjects of the latter will have limited opportunities to trade, both among themselves and internationally, and will thus be poorer. And it is more beneficial to have trading partners, either as suppliers or customers, who are richer than poorer.Pierre Lemieux

It is true that leviathans like the Russian, Chinese, or North Korean states finance themselves out of the total production of all their subjects. Especially with nuclear weapons, they represent a security risk for other individuals in the world; I think that they would even be dangerously to an anarchic society if such a society ever exists. But trying to become like “them” in order to protect us against them provides only an illusion of security.

Protectionism is one big step in this fool’s errand, at least when an actual war is not raging. – Pierre Lemieux

Terrorist charges need to be used for terrorist activity, not regulating material that has nothing to do with terrorism. Watering down such a significant term runs the risk of seeing Kiwis legally branded ‘terrorists’ without ever performing any terrorist act, or even accessing material which promotes terrorism. 

The act of terrorism comes with appropriately harsh penalties. By extending terrorism related charges to individuals who possess certain ‘objectionable material’, these significant penalties may be placed on those who have simply accessed censored material, despite it being unrelated to terrorism.

Legislation already allows for individuals in possession of material which advocates or inspires terrorism to be charged under terrorism laws. Extending this further to material that is entirely unrelated to terrorism is a law ripe for abuse.

New Zealand already has a strict censorship regime. It’s not hard to imagine the incredible harm which could occur to speech rights and other liberties if this amendment was used as a precedent to justify the prohibition of other material under terrorism legislation. –  Jonathan Ayling


Quotes of the month

01/09/2022

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,


Quotes of the month

01/08/2022

Independence does not mean never taking sides. That would be neutrality.

Independence does not entail never deploying one’s military, either. That would be pacifism.

Independence means to make one’s own choices based on one’s values.

Such value-driven choices can (and indeed should) lead towards taking sides when democracies and dictatorships collide. – Oliver Hartwich

With tens of thousands of jobs currently going begging, it surely remains a fiscal and moral failure that tens of thousands of fully able working-age Kiwis are sticking with the dole.Mike Yardley

Welfare dependency has rapidly expanded since Labour took office nearly five years ago.

In December 2017, there were 289,788 on a main benefit, or 9.7% of the working-age population. That has grown to 11% today. – Mike Yardley

Under Labour’s watch, jobseeker support recipients have soared from 123,042 four years ago to 173,735 today.

Despite the recent downtick, that still represents a 42% increase in four and half years. – Mike Yardley

How is it kind to stand idly by and allow so many people to diminish their horizons and wither their lives away in a perpetual state of dependency?

And what meaningful efforts are being made to enhance the work-ready potential of so many jobseeker recipients who have specified health issues? They aren’t serious enough health-related issues to have their benefit status changed to the supported living payment. – Mike Yardley

So don’t blame cows. Ruminants have been roaming the planet for millennia. Blame people. Climate change is a man-made problem.

The primary sector is responsible for 80 per cent of our export income. This pays the bills for a country which, in the next few months, will depressingly have 80 per cent of the population receiving some sort of state benefit. – Jamie Mckay

The country has lost its mojo after a decade of feeling good about itself. – Oliver Hartwich

The biggest contributor to New Zealanders’ grumpiness is the discrepancy between political promises and reality. Without constant promises of world-class performance, even mediocre results would be easier to bear.Oliver Hartwich

NZTA is symptomatic of a much wider problem in New Zealand, even though it is only a small puzzle piece. Faced with a serious problem, the government sets an ambitious long-term goal. It then launches massive public relations campaigns. Following that, it blows up the bureaucracy but fails on deliverables.

It is the same story in practically every major policy area. – Oliver Hartwich

New Zealanders used to be proud of their education system, which was considered world-class.

Today, the only measure by which New Zealand schools lead the world is in declining standards. – Oliver Hartwich

Aside from such big policy failures, New Zealanders are bombarded with worrying news daily. There are GPs reportedly seeing more than 60 patients per day. Patients are treated in corridors at some hospitals’ A & E departments, where waiting times now often exceed ten hours.

As gang numbers have grown, gun crime has also become a regular feature in news headlines. Ram raids, where youths steal cars and crash them into small shops, have become common.

Rather than dealing with these and many other issues, the government appears determined to add new challenges to doing business. It is about to introduce collective bargaining in the labour market and an extra tax on income to fund unemployment insurance.

And these are just the big-ticket items. Practically every industry can tell its own stories about new complex regulations, usually rushed through with minimal consultation, if any.

Furthermore, there is growing unease about the government’s move towards co-governance. It sounds harmless but it would radically alter how democracy operates in New Zealand and undermine basic principles of democratic participation.

All in all, the picture that emerges is that of a country in precipitous decline. That would be alarming enough. What makes it even more so is a perception that the core private and public institutions lack the understanding of the severity of the crisis or the ability to counteract it. – Oliver Hartwich

New Zealand needs to be careful not to turn into a failed state. That does not mean it should expect civil unrest, but a period of prolonged and seemingly unstoppable decline across all areas of public life.

The only way to reverse this process would be for New Zealand to regain its mojo: its mojo for serious economic and social reform. It has happened before. And it must happen again. – Oliver Hartwich

Although we “returned” to the university campus this past semester, students are reluctant to physically attend classes. They can’t see a future. Their mojo & buzz are gone. Despondency rules. One student said she’ll never know what opportunities may have arisen these past years & what doors may have opened had nearly her entire course not been on Zoom. Many say they want to leave NZ after graduating for foreign climes offering higher pay and lower living costs.

What did the government do to them? How did it manage to suck the oxygen out of the air they breathe? An answer has now emerged. It took away their dreams. – Robert MacCulloch

The proportion of people with high levels of psychological distress increased by far the most for 15-24 year olds between 2020 and 2021. It stands at record levels, rising from 5% in 2012 to nearly 20% in 2021. By contrast, for over 55 year olds, distress has fallen these past years to just 5% today. New Zealand has become a country for oldies to enjoy whilst the young silently drown.

There’s more evidence of our youth’s angst. National now polls better than Labour for voters under 40, an incredible turnaround for the PM. Gone are the days when the young embraced her. Their concerns about saving the world from itself have given way to anxiety about personal survival. – Robert MacCulloch

For starters, NZ’s virus policies, which included stringent lock-downs for everyone, regardless of age, were primarily designed for the benefit of the elderly. – Robert MacCulloch

What’s more, the Reserve Bank’s $52 billion money-printing programme during the pandemic favoured the asset-rich elderly. It inflated their wealth by increasing the value of their property and shares, crushing the young’s dream of home-ownership. – Robert MacCulloch

They’ve been robbed of income, since their cost-of-living-adjusted wages are dropping at the same time that inflation is “creeping” them into higher tax brackets.

Most students are hard up, but on the way up. They don’t want to live off the State. They want to be successful. Independent. Yet rewards for achievement don’t figure in our politics. Instead, it is dominated by David Parker-style talk about the evils of inequality between the top 1% and bottom 1%, as if the 98% don’t exist. – Robert MacCulloch

So all told, the unwillingness to vote of young, ambitious, non-work-shy Kiwis, except with their feet to leave the country, is not hard to explain.Robert MacCulloch

With methane, scientists know that the flow of methane into the atmosphere from New Zealand ruminant animals is close to what it was 30 years ago.  As a consequence, and linked to the scientific knowledge that about eight percent of methane molecules decompose each year, an approximate balance in the atmospheric ‘bath tub’ has been reached and the atmospheric cloud of NZ pastoral-sourced methane is close to stable. Hence, this argument goes, New Zealand’s agriculturally-sourced methane is contributing to further global warming in a minimal way. – Keith Woodford

If the new system is to have any hope of giving Kiwis the health services they deserve, there is only one certainty – the Government is going to need the buy-in of those on the frontline.

There is every sign of the opposite being the case.

Imposing another health system restructure on them at a time when workers are already exhausted by one of the most demanding health crises in decades, and especially when they already feel undervalued and misunderstood by the Government, is not a great way to start.Tracy Watkins

It’s very Ardern to gloss over the reality and spin the theory. – Mike Hosking

The vast amounts of money given away by officials to businesses who did not need it has cost each taxpayer several thousand dollars and all the surplus cash started an asset price bubble.

This has impacted on the wellbeing of many New Zealanders by greatly increasing inequality, unaffordable housing, child poverty and inflation. The predictable outcome was the opposite of what the Government said that it wanted to achieve.

The failure of public servants to act in the public interest and the lack of accountability and transparency has highlighted the need for the public service to have greatly improved financial objectives and standards.

A royal commission of inquiry could investigate the management of taxpayer funds since March 2020 and recommend reforms. – Grant Nelson

But everyday life seems to be getting more difficult, more costly, more tiring.

Sorting even the simple things appears harder than it used to be. Slower, dearer, harder seems a suitable motto.Kevin Norquay

New Zealand’s economic foundations are starting to crack pretty severely.

“If we do not see a substantial change in economic direction, there is a risk the whole house gets blown down.

You need those strong economic foundations and more and more of the pillars are starting to take knocks. A lot of warning bells are starting to ring. We are not heading to a nice place. – Cameron Bagrie

We’ve got a very divided society, ethnically, the haves versus the have-nots, wealth inequality… and educational attainment levels, whether you look at actual achievement, or attendance.

If you wanted to pick a variable as to where New Zealand is going to be economically 30 years out, educational attainment today would be probably the best predictor.

The fact that we’ve let that one go for a long time is flashing warning signs about where we are going to be about 30 years down the track.Cameron Bagrie

We can’t just say New Zealand is broken. New Zealand is a great place, but … cracks are appearing very quickly, and they’re big cracks, and not the sorts of things you can ignore.

You can’t ignore inflation. You can’t just keep on spending and think it’s going to fix inflation. – Cameron Bagrie

There’s a shortsightedness. 

They don’t think ‘if I train really hard and get good at this, I can make a load of money for myself, and have my freedom, and the sorts of things that people want’.

Whether it’s a general problem with society, the youth can’t see a way out. It’s ‘I’m never going to own a house, I’m never going to have that’, so they just give up, and just do what’s easiest to get by. – Duncan Field

Angry people on Twitter is not a legal basis. I’m amazed WCC don’t realise this. – David Farrar

John Cochrane, another American economist, asked why free trade agreements are so long; thousands of pages.

He says that these trade agreements should say no more than: “We do not charge tariffs, nor restrict quantities with quotas, nor will government procurement discriminate in favour of local companies.

“We will do the same.”

Job done. That is a free trade agreement.

Any free trade agreement that is longer than these few sentences will be an opportunity for special interests on the right and the left, both unions and big corporations, to feather their own nests. – Jim Rose

The EU deal has brand-new gremlins, such as a climate change chapter and restrictions on the use of wine and cheese product names.

These rules give up a little bit too much sovereignty for little in return, and legitimise the fraught concept of green tariffs between us and the European Union.

The modelling released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade suggests that the EU trade agreement will in time boost the level of New Zealand’s real GDP by between NZ$1 billion and NZ$2 billion.

That is a tiny amount, one-fifth to one-third of 1% of real GDP, in return for a box of tricks. – Jim Rose

Using carbon taxes, an optimal realistic climate policy can aggressively reduce emissions and reduce the global temperature increase from 4.1°C in 2100 to 3.75°C. This will cost $18 trillion, but deliver climate benefits worth twice that. The popular 2°C target, in contrast, is unrealistic and would leave the world more than $250 trillion worse off.

The most effective climate policy is increasing investment in green R&D to make future decarbonization much cheaper. This can deliver $11 of climate benefits for each dollar spent.Bjorn Lomborg

I think even the most law abiding lockdown fanatic would find it hard to stomach more restrictions coming back, just as we’ve worked so hard to shrug them off and find some normality. Compliance would be an issue. – Kate Hawkesby

Nor would it be a great look in the middle of the PM’s globe-trotting exercise, pitching the Great Re-Opening of New Zealand and assuring the word we were open for business. Open for business provided you are seated and separated doesn’t have the same ring. – Claire Trevett

First, we are all in a Covid new normal. It’s hanging around for a fair while longer.

Second: let’s all remember to have a little humility about what has and hasn’t worked. No country has got it entirely right. Not the UK, but not NZ either. We are increasingly working out Covid policies are not just about Covid health, strictly speaking, but have wider health, economic, social, and – ultimately – societal ramifications, short and much longer term.

Incidentally, the normalisation of Covid means we can’t stay in crisis settings – and I am not suggesting the New Zealand Government has. Good official advice whether about, say, masks, lockdowns, or borders needs to be coupled with realism about what a populous fatigued by everything will take from its political masters. –  Simon Bridges

There is no doubt that people are sick of the virus but the problem is, the virus is not sick of us. – Brent Edwards

She has been in New Zealand for a decade, working in healthcare and studying towards a nursing degree.

But after graduating late last year, she was denied the ability to apply for fast-tracked residency and told she must wait two more years.

Uncertain, overworked and unable to buy a house, she is now looking for work in Australia. Of course, she will find it. – Erica Stanford

The Government’s policy to exclude nurses from the fast-track residence list makes no sense.

Ultimately, it is costing New Zealanders their lives.Erica Stanford

Perhaps it makes sense that women — those supposedly compliant and agreeable, self-sacrificing and everything-nice creatures — were the ones to finally bring our polarized country together.

Because the far right and the far left have found the one thing they can agree on: Women don’t count. – Pamela Paul

Far more bewildering has been the fringe left jumping in with its own perhaps unintentionally but effectively misogynist agenda. There was a time when campus groups and activist organizations advocated strenuously on behalf of women. Women’s rights were human rights and something to fight for. Though the Equal Rights Amendment was never ratified, legal scholars and advocacy groups spent years working to otherwise establish women as a protected class.

But today, a number of academics, uber-progressives, transgender activists, civil liberties organizations and medical organizations are working toward an opposite end: to deny women their humanity, reducing them to a mix of body parts and gender stereotypes.

As reported by my colleague Michael Powell, even the word “women” has become verboten. Previously a commonly understood term for half the world’s population, the word had a specific meaning tied to genetics, biology, history, politics and culture. No longer. In its place are unwieldy terms like “pregnant people,” “menstruators” and “bodies with vaginas.”Pamela Paul

The noble intent behind omitting the word “women” is to make room for the relatively tiny number of transgender men and people identifying as nonbinary who retain aspects of female biological function and can conceive, give birth or breastfeed. But despite a spirit of inclusion, the result has been to shove women to the side. – Pamela Paul

If there are other marginalized people to fight for, it’s assumed women will be the ones to serve other people’s agendas rather than promote their own.

But, but, but. Can you blame the sisterhood for feeling a little nervous? For wincing at the presumption of acquiescence? For worrying about the broader implications? For wondering what kind of message we are sending to young girls about feeling good in their bodies, pride in their sex and the prospects of womanhood? For essentially ceding to another backlash?

Women didn’t fight this long and this hard only to be told we couldn’t call ourselves women anymore. This isn’t just a semantic issue; it’s also a question of moral harm, an affront to our very sense of ourselves. 

Seeing women as their own complete entities, not just a collection of derivative parts, was an important part of the struggle for sexual equality.

But here we go again, parsing women into organs. Last year the British medical journal The Lancet patted itself on the back for a cover article on menstruation. Yet instead of mentioning the human beings who get to enjoy this monthly biological activity, the cover referred to “bodies with vaginas.” It’s almost as if the other bits and bobs — uteruses, ovaries or even something relatively gender-neutral like brains — were inconsequential. That such things tend to be wrapped together in a human package with two X sex chromosomes is apparently unmentionable. Pamela Paul

Those women who do publicly express mixed emotions or opposing views are often brutally denounced for asserting themselves. (Google the word “transgender” combined with the name Martina Navratilova, J.K. Rowling or Kathleen Stock to get a withering sense.) They risk their jobs and their personal safety. They are maligned as somehow transphobic or labeled TERFs, a pejorative that may be unfamiliar to those who don’t step onto this particular Twitter battlefield. Ostensibly shorthand for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist,” which originally referred to a subgroup of the British feminist movement, “TERF” has come to denote any woman, feminist or not, who persists in believing that while transgender women should be free to live their lives with dignity and respect, they are not identical to those who were born female and who have lived their entire lives as such, with all the biological trappings, societal and cultural expectations, economic realities and safety issues that involves.

But in a world of chosen gender identities, women as a biological category don’t exist. – Pamela Paul

When not defining women by body parts, misogynists on both ideological poles seem determined to reduce women to rigid gender stereotypes.  Pamela Paul

The women’s movement and the gay rights movement, after all, tried to free the sexes from the construct of gender, with its antiquated notions of masculinity and femininity, to accept all women for who they are, whether tomboy, girly girl or butch dyke. To undo all this is to lose hard-won ground for women — and for men, too. – Pamela Paul

But women are not the enemy here. Consider that in the real world, most violence against trans men and women is committed by men but, in the online world and in the academy, most of the ire at those who balk at this new gender ideology seems to be directed at women.Pamela Paul

Tolerance for one group need not mean intolerance for another. We can respect transgender women without castigating females who point out that biological women still constitute a category of their own — with their own specific needs and prerogatives.

If only women’s voices were routinely welcomed and respected on these issues. But whether Trumpist or traditionalist, fringe left activist or academic ideologue, misogynists from both extremes of the political spectrum relish equally the power to shut women up. – Pamela Paul

Combatting stereotypical thinking is not assisted by pretending that there is no difference between the present and the past.Chris Trotter

How are young people supposed to understand the racism and sexism of their grandparents’ generation if they’re never allowed to see it depicted on the screen, or read about it in novels? How will their grasp of how far women have travelled toward equality be assisted by recasting Jim as Jackie Hawkins, and installing our diversity-affirming heroine, now a thirteen-year-old girl, on a schooner crewed by cut-throats?

All Dame Lynley is guilty of is delighting generations of Kiwi kids. A much lesser crime, I would have thought, than telling lies about the past to placate the woke censors of the present. – Chris Trotter

Is it fair to actively seek out a relationship knowing full well a potential partner might find themselves dealing with my cancer, chemo and all the other unpleasant things that go with it? . . .

I’ve asked around and, whilst I’d originally thought I’d be selfish to do so, the resounding answer has consistently been YES. Dive in and test the waters. Go for it. What have you got to lose? If a potential partner can’t handle your uncertain future, then they probably aren’t right for you anyway.

Ultimately, none of us know what’s around the corner in any relationship. So why deny myself opportunities to meet someone who might be willingly all-in to support me through whatever life might have in store? Even when I know it’s highly unlikely we will end up growing old together.

So I’ll dip a toe back in. I know I’ll be OK on my own but who knows who is out there and what adventures might be had.

Because we all deserve a chance at love – no matter how long that might last… right?

Life is short – wish me luck. – Kelly Hutton

The state housing waiting list had increased to more than 27,000, up 500 per cent, since Davis’ government took office, and more than 4500 children now live in taxpayer-funded motels.

The total motel bill so far has topped $1 billion. Won’t be too long and it will exceed the $1.6 billion value of the free-trade agreement the PM signed in Europe last week. – Peter Jackson 

How exactly is it an achievement to concede that national superannuation is insufficient to enable goodness knows how many pensioners to keep warm over winter, without a top up?

How is it an achievement to concede that more than two million of us, earning less than $70,000 a year, which until recently was the threshold for the top income tax bracket, are unable to feed themselves and their families without extra help (over and above Working for Families, which supposedly makes the tax system fair)?

And how, exactly, is $27 a week for three months going to solve that problem?Peter Jackson 

The only people who seem to be thriving are those who work for the Government, and that seems to be most of us these days. And why shouldn’t they be buoyant? They are well paid, secure in their employment (at least until the next election), and now they can aspire to very senior positions in the civil service without even having to produce a CV. Good times indeed.

For the rest of us, this country is rapidly becoming a cot case, and it is galling to hear senior members of the administration, who have done to this to us, boasting about what they have achieved. Forgive us, Kelvin, if some of us are struggling to get into party mood. Apart from those who might have been hanging out for an extra $27 a week for three months, there doesn’t seem to be much to celebrate, let alone cause for congratulations. – Peter Jackson 

It used to be that if Jim Bolger, Helen Clark or John Key spoke, we tended to believe what they were saying. Today, Beehive press conferences are laced with spin and half-truths.

We even have a Prime Minister who says things like “we have a mandate to do this” despite never having mentioned what “this” was during the election campaign. – Bruce Cotterill

We seem to have empowered a group of politicians, at both national and local government levels, to do things we don’t want them to do. And yet their so-called “mandate” sees them driving major constitutional change irrespective of what the people might think or say.

Because we don’t say much really, do we? Compared to most countries, we have tended to be a society that does not stage massive protests. – Bruce Cotterill

I suspect that part of the reason has been that we are relatively happy with our lot. And until the past few years, we have been broadly trusting of those in positions of power and authority. We have traditionally respected our leaders, and expected them to do the right thing.

However, we’re not like that at the moment. To me, it feels as though we are more divided than we have ever been. Many of us are certainly more openly critical of the government or the direction the country is taking.

In the opinion of the many people I speak to, a Government majority does not authorise that Government to do whatever it wants to do. No, in theory that right should only extend to the policies and initiatives they campaigned on.

Those policies did not include the centralisation of education or healthcare, changes to governmental governance structures, Three Waters or ute taxes. – Bruce Cotterill

So mistrust creeps in. We find it difficult to believe what we are being told. So they tell us again, this time with more selective detail. So the spin increases. We disrespect the source. Trust is lost. It’s a vicious circle. – Bruce Cotterill

In the meantime, our Prime Minister goes to the United States, supposedly to promote New Zealand business. However, on her two major platforms — a prime-time TV audience and a high-profile university lecture — she speaks of gun control and social media.

There is no doubt in my mind that she is travelling the globe promoting herself, not New Zealand.

As an aside, you have to laugh at the PM telling the Yanks how successful our post-massacre gun control initiatives have been while we’re in the middle of our worst spate of gun violence that I can recall. –Bruce Cotterill

I believe the outcomes of the task forces, the working groups, the government reviews and the inquiries will see the Government and their co-conspirators cleared of any blame or wrong-doing.

But the behaviours are more common. And those behaviours should make us ask questions. We ask questions because we don’t believe what we’re hearing any more. As a result, trust is lost. The lack of trust turns into scepticism. And if they can get away with it, maybe we can, too. It’s a slippery slope.

We can accuse our leaders of misrepresenting the truth, deliberately misleading us or even telling porkies. The language doesn’t matter. What does matter is where such behaviours lead. – Bruce Cotterill

We were told we would have the most transparent Government ever. It turned out to be the opposite. So, we have to start calling this stuff out now. The trouble with corruption is that it creeps up on you over time. You don’t want to start getting used to it.

You have to stop it before it becomes commonplace or acceptable and we become desensitised to it. If we don’t, it becomes very difficult to turn around. – Bruce Cotterill

A strident coalition of housing advocacy groups, the left-leaning Auckland Council and motivated journalists melted into the background after the 2017 election as quickly as they had arisen, confident their work was done and sanity restored.

Flash forward five years and it’s hard to believe how horrendous the situation now is. The $12m on motel accommodation has become $1.2 billion. Whole streets of motels like Ulster St in Hamilton and Fenton St in Rotorua have become permanent emergency housing suburbs.

The waiting list for social housing has risen five-fold to a massive 27,000 and this week, despite all the extra investment in wrap-around services, a woman died while living in her car. How did things get so bad? And if all this was a crisis five years ago, what is it now? Steven Joyce

Sepuloni should look closer to home. Her Government has made three big policy changes that have made the house rental market immeasurably worse for society’s most vulnerable, and they can’t even claim ignorance. Each time they were warned about the impact of the changes, and on they went.

First, they made the private rental market hugely less attractive for people to invest in. . . .

Second, the Government stopped asking people to move on when they no longer needed the support of Government-owned social housing. People sitting in houses often too big for them, regardless of their circumstances, and until the end of their lives, means fewer houses for those who need them.

Third, they placed all their bets for expanding social housing supply on one provider, Kāinga Ora, the latest incarnation of the old Housing New Zealand. This is purely ideological.

While in this post-socialism age nearly everybody would be happy with a warm, dry house in preference to a motel unit, the Labour Party believes it will somehow be better if it is a warm, dry government-owned house. – Steven Joyce

The situation is making people desperate. It is no surprise our inner cities are being blighted with crime and an assertive and growing gang culture.

Being forced into living in long-term temporary accommodation with no hope and no plan to move elsewhere can do that to people.Steven Joyce

We need to correct course and mobilise all our resources to get these kids into a real house, quickly. That means recruiting private investors and community housing providers, as well as Kāinga Ora.

This is no time for ideological blinkers. – Steven Joyce

An excellent challenge was thrown out in Sydney yesterday to immigration authorities — to think more like a recruitment agency than a police force. – Fran O’Sullivan

The primary sector faces big headwinds — Covid-19, the war in Ukraine, inflation, labour markets, export markets and coping with major regulatory change.

The sector is the engine room of the economy. But the notion that it can easily diversify away from China is fanciful. China takes 37 per cent of NZ’s agricultural exports. The US takes 10 per cent, Australia 8 per cent, the UK 8 per cent and the EU 2 per cent.

Even while we have two new free trade agreements — and in the UK’s case will get a decent deal for our dairy over time — that won’t happen with the EU.

Some $52.2 billion was brought in through agricultural export receipts in the past year. This is 81.8 per cent of our overall trade. It just does not make sense to trivialise the sector’s call to relax rules. – Fran O’Sullivan

If a civilization is dying or has died, however, who is to blame or what is to account for it? Do civilizations, or parts of civilizations, die of their own accord, by a natural process akin to the apoptosis of a living cell, or are they killed either by neglect or design?

The old always blame the young for what they dislike in them—for example, their taste for crude and vulgar music—but they do so as if they bear no responsibility whatever for what they think undesirable in the younger generation. If the taste for the almost miraculous artistic achievements of the past has been all but extinguished, and is now but the secret garden of a tiny and insignificant number, no doubt of the highly privileged, must not this be because the older generation has signally failed to instill any love for it in their own children?

Why didn’t they? Therein lies the rub. – Theodore Dalrymple

With legions of Kiwis set to leave the country – and the hospitality, education and healthcare sectors crying out for workers, why is it the Government seems to have no trouble in staffing the Wellington bureaucracy?Andrea Vance

It seems there is no problem so intractable that it can’t be outsourced. Labour has a record of refusing to make the hard decisions of governance, happy to let ‘experts’ and zombie policy managers take over.

In 2010, then-Prime Minister John Key decried the growth of the industrial-bureaucratic complex. New Zealand’s state service was too large for a country this size, he argued. Since then, the bureaucracy has expanded to meet the needs of the expanded bureaucracy (to paraphrase Oscar Wilde).- Andrea Vance

The ‘core business’ of the sector is to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of New Zealanders. Will the Ministry for Disabled People have any significant impact on the difficulties faced by the people it purports to represent? If we look to Te Puni Kōkiri, Ministry for Pacific Peoples, the Ministry for Women, the Office for Seniors or the Children’s Commissioner, then likely not.

Will the new health agencies be staffed with street-level bureaucrats: the doctors, nurses, and other professions responsible for actual care? Experience suggests we can instead expect an overpaid legion of pen-pushers drawing power into an ever-growing administrative vortex. – Andrea Vance

 A strength of New Zealand farming has always been the willingness to get the job done no matter the obstacles, and to share ideas and information. Gatekeeping is a foreign concept to most Kiwi farmers, and the rise of social media platforms like Twitter and TikTok have only accelerated the pace at which we are exposed to new ideas and methods of farming. –   Craig Hickman

Despite the huge diversity in farming, we are all bound by some very common things: we are in it for the long haul, and we look to make incremental gains season on season over a very long period of time. We rarely gamble on big changes that might revolutionise the farm because we simply cannot afford the consequences if it goes wrong. We are planners and incrementalist by necessity, not disruptors.

As a group we also find it very hard to articulate our thoughts. We’ve never had to in the past and the rise of social media makes it easier to blurt those emotions out without being able to articulate the reasoning behind it, and unfortunately those social media posts are very easy to mock.Craig Hickman

The classic Kiwi farmer is no longer Dagg or Footrot or even Crump. Farmers have always been willing to change, albeit slowly, and the massive growth of the industry in the past two decades only served to hasten the change at a pace more than a few found uncomfortable.

The Hiluxes Barry Crump used to drive in those old TV commercials are now classics simply by virtue of having been around for more than 20 years, and I think that’s a fitting way to classify the new generation of classic Kiwi farmers; we’ve been in the game long enough to know what we’re doing but we’ve not been in it so long that we’re constrained by ties to the past. – Craig Hickman

It just doesn’t feel right. Whatever your view on assisted dying, I don’t think anybody would support that system, where you’ve got a free choice to die, or an expensive service to live.Dr Catherine D’Souza

The Ministry of Health has six full-time workers dedicated to euthanasia; none dedicated to palliative care.

The fear is that it’s not a free choice at all between euthanasia and palliative care when the odds are so heavily stacked against dying patients accessing the sort of palliative care they deserve. – Tracy Watkins

This was my fear in 2020 when the euthanasia laws were being debated; that we hadn’t earned the right to euthanasia so long as we continued to do palliative care on the cheap.

Clearly nothing has changed since then. If anything, the situation has worsened.

Shame on us. We need to do better. – Tracy Watkins

We will never fix truancy while schools are paid for the number of pupils they enrol, not the number they teach. Make funding dependent on attendance. Stopping truancy will then be every school’s priority. – Richard Prebble

It is time for the Government to admit that believing it can build houses better than the private or community sector is a failed hypothesis. And for the electorate to stop believing Labour when it says it does. Brigitte Morten

Those of us authentically comfortable with Māori language and culture can take a more balanced view. Like many of the chiefs at Waitangi, we understand that both worlds have their strengths and weaknesses.

We understand that liberal democracy, the idea that one person should have one vote, and every human being is born alike in dignity, is the best system of government humans have discovered, period. –  David Seymour

New Zealanders have literally fought for these values because the alternative is apartheid, oppression, violence and hate. There is no good reason to think New Zealand is uniquely immune to human reality. Treating people differently based on race is not just misguided, but dangerous.David Seymour

That our country has been prepared to look back 180 years for injustices and breaches of property rights, and offer redress where possible, is a triumph. In some cases, rather than giving back land fee simple, an interest in governing the asset has been offered.

The co-governance of Auckland’s volcanic cones is an example of that. It was an appropriate way to recognise a specific loss.

Wholesale co-governance of councils, healthcare, Three Waters infrastructure, and resource consenting decisions is quite different. There is no historic grievance, such a grievance is impossible. – David Seymour

These modern public institutions were created in a democracy, post-Treaty. They should be governed democratically. Co-governing them means that Māori have inherently different political rights, rather than the same rights to their property as everyone else.

Proponents of that view want a “tiriti-centric Aotearoa”, with “tangata whenua” (land people), here by right and “tangata tiriti” (Treaty people), here by permission. Assigning different races different rights is racist.

Dame Anne Salmond has forcefully argued that the corporatist conception of the Treaty as a partnership between two races is a product of a time and place. Namely the judiciary in the 1980s. It is not consistent with the events surrounding the Treaty’s signing, or the way New Zealand society has evolved since.

A better conception of the Treaty is that it means what it says. It grants nga tikanga katoa rite tahi, the same rights and duties, to all. It guarantees tino rangatiratanga or self-determination over all your land and property.David Seymour

Our best future is a modern, multi-ethnic, liberal democracy. Each of those words matters. We should be a leading society with an equal place for all, no matter a person’s background.

Nobody should be born special, nobody should be born a second-class citizen. It’s a sad sign of the times that you can have a regular column in the country’s largest paper, and think such beliefs are “racist”. – David Seymour

A  government   which began with a  show  of  capability,  if  not in a  blaze  of  glory, is  now finding  that  almost everything  it  touches   fades  into  ashes  so  quickly that   there  is  nothing, or  very little, to see.

Ministers  are  exceptionally  good  with  announcements but  not  with  achievements.  Instead of improved general wellbeing, we have raging inflation,  soaring  food prices, and rising mortgage  rates. – Point of Order

As a country, we’ve just flunked that test psychologists set for small children, offering them one marshmallow now, or two if they wait five minutes.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern decided delayed gratification wasn’t the right strategy for the much-anticipated European Union free-trade agreement (FTA) and returned from her travels with just the one marshmallow. – Jane Clifton

The trouble with settling for the bird in the hand in international trade is that it leaves all the other, plumper birds in the bush for one’s competitors.Jane Clifton

In folding its hand on greater access for this country’s biggest export earners, meat and dairy, the Government has made several problems worse for itself. The most serious is, it no longer has the same trade and political leverage with China and the United States. The Government is rapidly recalibrating relationships with the superpowers, including by trying to reduce trade dependency on China.

Acceptance of this FTA betrays how little alternative our economy now has. A country this size has little enough to bargain with, but while the potential existed that the EU might make us a better deal than either the US or China, there was an unseen poker hand. Each superpower wants New Zealand more on-side with it than the other, for geopolitical and reputational reasons first, with trade a secondary consideration.

Now, unless some genius negotiator can get us an “in” with the notoriously FTA-shy India – a feat with similar odds as peace in the Middle East – we have no alternative big-daddy trading partner. We’re now firmly wedged in the Sino-US crevice, hoping that our biggest customer, China, doesn’t collapse our export market, or that our American buddy will give us greater export entry if, or preferably before, China starts pulling the rug out. – Jane Clifton

It’s possible Europe, now probably more protectionist than ever, would never have given us a better deal, and that what one economist described as the “chicken feed” of this FTA is better than nothing.

But this is one of those “marshmallow” times, when waiting in hope is at least better politics than getting a disappointing answer straight away. That’s certainly how the farm sector sees it, regarding the FTA as a sell-out. – Jane Clifton

The Government’s relationship with agriculture is at an especially tetchy juncture. Farmers are waiting to see if it will accept the recommendations from the primary-sector climate-action partnership He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) on a pollution-charging regime. A furious minority are against the proposed measures, and this FTA let-down may further reduce support. However, the HWEN plan is a vital truce among vested interests facing peril.
Mutual hostility between farmers and Labour is an ancient fact of our politics, but climate change and food security make that enmity a cynical luxury.

New Zealand will struggle to meet its emissions targets without farmers’ HWEN-style goodwill. The alternative – the government forcing some production out of business with less carefully calibrated charging – would simply export emissions and make the country considerably poorer. Never mind emissions reduction: that would be a vote killer. – Jane Clifton

Meanwhile, the government’s decision to fold on the FTA remains a puzzle. It can’t have been just for some skitey photo ops to tickle up the sagging polling at home. The deal has inevitably been greeted as the trade equivalent of getting socks and undies for Christmas – no, really, you shouldn’t have! Expectations had been doused, so few would have been disappointed to see Ardern come back empty-handed, since this may be the toughest environment ever for trade negotiations. Food security – once something for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to nag about but not of immediate concern to the EU’s mostly wealthy countries – has rocketed to the top of the worry list, thanks to the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Were logic to apply, this would be the ideal time for New Zealand, which produces high-quality protein more sustainably than any competitor, to receive greater market access. Instead, EU countries are looking towards more self-sustainability – aka, greater protectionism.Jane Clifton

From here, it’s a race to see whether this protectionist cycle will end before China goes DIY with food – something it’s gearing up for – or whether New Zealand will be left with ever greener produce and ever fewer customers. The memory of that first marshmallow may be rendered somewhat bittersweet. – Jane Clifton

Jacinda Ardern has lost touch with her voters, lost touch with the country, lost touch with the healthcare sector and, actually, has lost touch with herself.

This was a leader – a once great leader – who purported to model her leadership on kindness, on empathy. She told us she was a different kind of politician. – Tova O’Brien

We are so desperate for nurses, to have them in the country, in the job, for even a couple of years – we’ll take it. Our crisis is now. And our Prime Minister is too proud to admit it. Pride can’t care for our elderly like that aged care nurse who’s leaving us for Australia can. – Tova O’Brien

Belief systems are about as varied as the languages that are spoken all over the world. And sometimes – in fact, often – this means the beliefs of one group clash with the beliefs of another. It is inevitable.Ani O’Brien

It isn’t a viewpoint I like, but I understand that despite the laws governing the secular institution of marriage now extending to same-sex couples, the Christian concept of marriage as connected to their spiritual belief system is a strictly one-bloke, one-lady situation. – Ani O’Brien

I urge strong caution when it comes to encroaching on the rights of religious people and organisations. – Ani O’Brien

While of course in some people’s version of utopia we would all share the same beliefs and values, in our wonderfully messy reality of multicultural, religiously diverse societies, this is simply never going to be the case.

In a truly liberal and democratic society, we tolerate things that we don’t like, don’t agree with, and which might hurt our feelings, because history shows the alternative is the violent, authoritarian ways of the past where homogeneous beliefs were imposed by violence.

Our laws and policy should reflect equal rights and responsibilities and homosexual law reform and equal marriage rights show we have come a long way towards achieving this. – Ani O’Brien

Nonetheless, to say that no one can hold a position that is different to anything in New Zealand law would be tyrannical and would stop all debate on any matters already legislated in their tracks.Ani O’Brien

Regardless of my own scepticism about the Christian God, and any of the others, it would be wrong of me to seek to encroach on the rights in law and policy of religious people who deeply hold beliefs I disagree with.

Likewise, it would be wrong of those religious people to seek to prevent me from speaking about my disagreement with their beliefs. – Ani O’Brien

We must insist that everyone obeys the laws that govern us, but the application of particular religious beliefs and restrictions to the spiritual lives of individuals and congregations must be respected … or at least tolerated.Ani O’Brien

Being gay is still tough for many New Zealanders; we still face homophobia at times. However, we won the battle of public opinion through free speech.

How can we rob others of that now? The majority of the population understands we simply want to lust, love, and create family units just like everyone else.

We want to be whole parts of society and being part of a functioning, secular, democracy means tolerating the (lawful) ideas and beliefs of others that we consider bad or hurtful. – Ani O’Brien

You talk about Jacinda Ardern caring, but it’s not really caring, is it…it’s performative caring. It’s all about seeming to be good rather than doing good, and I think people, finally, in New Zealand, are starting to see through that.

It took them a while and they have got some of the most putrid media in the world in New Zealand, where they’re just fanboys and girls of the current Prime Minister, so there’s very little in the way of scrutiny and criticism. But the New Zealand people are living through those radical changes that Winston Peters mentioned this week, and a lot of them are feeling pain. She’s not delivering on her core promises and this is something that people in Australia don’t seem to realise.

She had these bold housing plans – nothing’s come of it, she’s got nowhere near what she said she was going to do. And, again, you can’t just keep making promises, not fulfilling them, and expect to get re-elected over and over again. – Rita Pahani

The problem, of course, is that listening to the people can get a government into all kinds of trouble. It is also extremely difficult to sustain. It requires a very special political talent to recognise the voting public as the country’s most important interest group, especially when everybody else in the circle of power is telling you that it’s the business community, Treasury, the Reserve Bank, academic experts, the news media.

Turned out Ardern simply didn’t have enough of that special talent. Turned out 2020 was a fluke. Six months of genuine kindness was the most “Jacinda” could summon forth. And when she could no longer make it, she faked it.

Sadly, “performative caring” sums up Jacinda Ardern and her Labour Government all too well. – Chris Trotter

Values like free speech, liberal democracy, the rule of law, self-determination, free trade, the rules-based multilateral system and even no first use of nuclear weapons are broadly shared in the South Pacific, southeast Asia, parts of northeast Asia, North America and Europe.

They aren’t shared by Moscow and Beijing, never have been and probably never will be.

Why not just say so? –  Matthew Hooton

Big areas are not covered, or there are long waits, and more vulnerable areas are under-serviced.

This leads to a much higher need for secondary services down the track. This is one of the main complaints.  Primary care right across the country needs to work better. –  Dr Anthea Prentcie

A lot of times we have a lot of chitchat going on in our heads … flowers take you away from that and they keep you rooted in the now.”

“They’re a way to recalibrate your happiness meter.Natalie Tolchard

It’s as if journalists are happy to find a Māori who will talk on any and all subjects if he is handed the mic. Pakeha journalists from across all sectors of the media – and a few Māori ones as well – have rushed to Tukaki to seek comment on all things Māori. – Aaron Smale

There’s a tendency to try and find that definitive Māori voice who can provide quick quotes when some national issue requires a soundbite to drop into the “Māori say” slot. Tukaki has become a convenient go-to.

The problem is, no-one speaks on behalf of Māori. I doubt even King Tuheitia would make such a claim. There are a few Māori leaders who might be able to pull together a coalition of Māori voices to speak with unity on some kaupapa of the moment, but Māori have a jealous tendency to always retain the right to speak on their own behalf. Even a kuia of Whina Cooper’s mana struggled to hold together the coalition of Māori interests that swung in behind the Land March of 1975. What is so hard to grasp about this – Māori are as diverse in thought and opinion as any other group of people.Aaron Smale

It’s time to tell the truth. For too long, politicians have been telling us that we can have it all: have your cake and eat it. And I’m here to tell you that is not true. It never has been. There are always tough choices in life and in politics. No free lunches, no tax cuts without limits on government spending, and a stronger defence without a slimmer state. Governing involves trade-offs, and we need to start being honest about thatKemi Badenoch

The scale of the challenge we face means we can’t run away from the truth. Inflation has made the cost-of-living crisis acute, but the problems go back way further. We’ve had a poor decade for living standards. We have overburdened our economy. There’s too much unproductive public spending, consuming taxpayers’ hard-earned money. And there are too many well-meaning regulations slowing growth and clogging up the arteries of the economy. Too many policies like net-zero targets set up with no thought to the effects on industries in the poorer parts of this country. And the consequence is simply to displace the emissions of other countries. Unilateral economic disarmament. That is why we need change.Kemi Badenoch

The underlying economic problems we face have been exacerbated by Covid and by war. But what makes the situation worse is that the answers to our problems, conservative answers, haven’t been articulated or delivered in a way appropriate to the modern age. We have been in the grip of an underlying economic, social, cultural and intellectual malaise. The right has lost its confidence and courage and ability to defend the free market as the fairest way of helping people prosper. It has been undermined by a willingness to embrace protectionism for special interests. It’s been undermined by retreating in the face of the Ben and Jerry’s tendency, those who say a business’s main priority is social justice, not productivity and profits, and it’s been undermined by the actions of crony capitalists, who collude with big bureaucracy to rig the system in favour of incumbents against entrepreneurs. The truth that limited government – doing less for better – is the best way to restore faith in government has been forgotten, as we’ve piled into pressure groups and caved in to every campaigner with a moving message. And that has made the government agenda into a shopping list of disconnected, unworkable and unsustainable policies.

The knowledge that the nation state – our democratic nation state – is the best way for people to live in harmony and enjoy prosperity has been overridden by the noisy demands of those who want to delegitimise, decolonise and denigrate. And if we don’t stand up for our shared institutions – for free speech, due process and the rule of law – then we end up with a zero-sum game of identity politics, which only increases divisions when we need to come together.

So free markets, limited government, a strong nation state. Those are the conservative principles we need to beat back protectionism, populism and polarisation, and to prepare us for the challenges ahead.- Kemi Badenoch

You can only deliver lower taxes if you stop pretending that the state continues to do everything for your country. It’s not just a matter of doing the same with less. We need to focus on the essential. We need to be straight with people. The idea we can simply say ‘efficiency savings’, click our heels twenty times and they’ll materialise is for the birds. It’s the scale and structure of government that drives the inefficiencies.  – Kemi Badenoch

By reducing what government tries to do, we not only reduce the cost of government, we not only focus and focus government on the people’s priorities, we allow the space for individuals, employers and entrepreneurs to solve problems. And only then do we create the opportunity to cut taxes.  – Kemi Badenoch

There is almost nobody who actually hates trans people. Almost no one actually wishes them harm. Ours is a very live-and-let live society, and if people want to dress or present one way or another then that´s hardly new. New York alone must count as the most colorful society anywhere on earth.

Yet repeatedly activists pretend that to even discuss this area is to commit a terrible harm. They pretend not only that the evidence around “gender dysphoria” is completely clear, but that it has zero consequences. The trans extremists try to pretend, for instance, that there is no tension at all between some trans rights and some women’s rights. Despite the fact that such tensions — and worse — keep emerging everywhere from college sports to the nation’s jails. – Douglas Murray

What exactly is a “trans kid”? Does anybody really know? Our society pretends to be radically certain and knowledgeable about this. But in fact we know almost nothing about it.

We have almost no idea why some people believe they are born in the wrong body. We have very little idea of when this is a passing feeling and when it might be a permanent one. And we have almost no understanding at all about the extent to which claims by children that they are trans are in fact a demonstration of “social contagion,” where one kid in a school comes out as trans and a whole bunch of others start to follow suit.Douglas Murray

Are there questions marks to be raised? You bet. Considering that the consequences of getting this question wrong means the medical neutering of children and their physical mutilation I would say that the question marks are very real indeed. – Douglas Murray

Of course this is all a modern form of Jesuitical nonsense. “Trans men” who are still capable of pregnancy are still biological women. Nobody really knows what “non-binary” means, other than “look at me.” But anyone identifying themselves as “non-binary” who is also capable of becoming pregnant is also in fact still — wait for the big reveal — a woman. – Douglas Murray

All of America is being told to shut up and just get with the trans program. Otherwise we are killing people. Or making them kill themselves, or something.

What a way to have a debate. Or rather what a way to shut one down. And what an appalling way to approach an issue which — as American parents know — we have the right to think about and discuss. – Douglas Murray

The lockdowns would never have worked without our buy-in. That’s the mistake people continue to make even now, assuming that it was all only achieved by Government proclamation.

But there was an implied contract with the Government in return that it would use that time well to prepare us for the inevitable wave once it hit our shores.

Two years on it’s obvious to anyone that our day of reckoning with Covid was merely delayed, not avoided.Tracy Watkins

GP shortages, perilously low nursing levels and critical shortages in ICU capacity have all been paid lip service over the last two years – the very reasons, in fact, that we went into lock down in the first place, to avoid overwhelming the very same hospitals that are now in crisis.

Meanwhile, the Government spent two years keeping out tens of thousands of Kiwis, many of them with the skills we desperately need in our health system – and not just our health system, but in many other industries as well where workers are scarce – all in the name of keeping out the virus which is now widespread among us.

We can see now who’s carrying the burden of those failures – the doctors and nurses and other staff who’ve been sounding warnings for the last two years, and who deserved a lot better. – Tracy Watkins

The politicians would tell us that New Zealand is heading into a high-tech global 22nd century future. But the numbers tell a different story – we are spending more on superannuation than we do on education. As a country, we are effectively investing more in our past than our future.Kevin Norquay

Does the education sector really suit the 21st Century economy, or are we stuck in the 20th? Truancy is becoming really problematic, and we have been thinking around the edges, opposed to asking some really hard questions,” he says.

There needs to be a sense of urgency in that. My personal opinion is teachers, like nurses, are seriously underpaid. – Cameron Bagrie 

New Zealand has a short-term, she’ll be right attitude, rather than long-term thinking.

The infrastructure deficit is ultimately an issue of long-term thinking, the ongoing debate about what is a bicultural, multicultural New Zealand, there’s a difference of having a complex conversation, an open and difficult conversation over many decades. Sir Peter Gluckman 

Why has the loss of mental and subjective well-being doubled or tripled in the last 15 years? That is a far deeper systems question.

We need to ask why, after decades, do we continue to have intergenerational disadvantage, not just for Māori but for other groups in the community as well. How do we break that? – Sir Peter Gluckman 

These are complex multidimensional issues, which require more than shallow, political or partisan argument. And that’s what we’re not good at. 

The reality of it is, the world is in a dangerous place at the moment, conflict, climate change, biodiversity loss, supply line problems, fractured geostrategic issues – it’s a very unstable place. And you know, even in the issues of the moment, we’re not really having a particularly sophisticated conversation. – Sir Peter Gluckman 

We’ve got ideology driven decision-making as opposed to quantitative driven decision-making, and that’s coming through in a whole lot of areas, not just in regard to health.

I do not believe for one instant that the Government’s splatter-gun approach to Government finances is the right solution, nor do I believe that going out there and giving people tax cuts is the right solution. – Cameron Bagrie

What we are seeing over a few years is Jandal Economics, so you get Flip Flops – in some periods we are investing massively in capital, in the other years it’s as lean as. – 

You’ve got to have quality people making quality decisions, and getting quality advice. We have quite a dearth of (political) talent compared to what we had 20 years ago. …it’s a global issue.

Business has got to stop pointing the finger at government, the business sector needs to take some responsibility here in regard to some of the healing that needs to take place. – Cameron Bagrie

We are all growing empathy by being in some form of hardship. The amazing whakataukī (Māori proverb) ‘he waka eke noa’ (we’re all in the same boat), that’s not quite true.

We’re on the same ocean right now, which gives us a great broad understanding, but we’re in different boats. Some of us have little holey row boats, and some of us are on big cruise ships, but we all understand that the ocean is rough.Taimi Allen

Within New Zealand, which is now quite a melting pot, we have some very diverse views. We have a historical set of situations, we have an evolving situation, and somehow we have to find a consensual way through. And that’s not easy.

“But if we take some of the deep issues that we’re now confronted with, and keep on putting them aside they will just compound over time. There are some green shoots out there, green shoots don’t work unless they’re watered. – Sir Peter Gluckman 

The inflation figures were in all of our calendars, but the impromptu Sunday announcement was not – and had the Government not had something further in place when the bad news came out it would have looked ill-equipped, inadequately prepared and knee-jerk.

As it stands, and unfortunately for the Government despite its best, hurried, last-minute efforts it still looks ill-equipped, inadequately prepared and knee-jerk.

And gosh nothing quite like 7.3 percent inflation makes an announcement that you’re just doing the same thing as before but for a little bit longer look… well… ill-equipped, inadequately prepared and knee-jerk.  – Tova O’Brien

Is anyone else tiring of all this green hysteria over the heatwave? There is something medieval about it. There is something creepily pre-modern in the idea that sinful mankind has brought heat and fire and floods upon himself with his wicked, hubristic behaviour. What next – plagues of locusts as a punishment for our failure to recycle? The unhinged eco-dread over the heatwave exposes how millenarian environmentalism has become. Climate-change activism is less and less about coming up with practical solutions to the problem of pollution and more about demonising mankind as a plague on a planet, a pox on Mother Earth. – Brendan O’Neill

The Associate Local Government Minister seems to think losing our assets will be offset by councils not having to front up and pay that $185 billion he says is needed to get our drinking water, wastewater and stormwater up to scratch.

But I don’t buy that for a minute. And, as far as concerned, this announcement by the Government that it’s going to give money to councils to help them implement these water reforms, is just adding insult to injury.

The Government says it’s support but in my book when you pay someone to do something they don’t want to do, it’s bribery.John MacDonald

The solution to our mental health crisis is not throwing more money at it. The issue concerns leadership, creating a shared vision, and being accountable.

This Government is great at making announcements but utterly incapable of delivering improved outcomes. – Matt Doocey

Te Pāti Māori’s overarching position is that there has been quite enough immigration since whalers, sealers and missionaries started arriving in the late 1700s. Matthew Hooton

Here’s the good news: on this one question at least, our two main parties are offering policy based on competing economic models rather than converging wherever the focus groups drive them.

Whatever happens, we should know by election day the answer to this old, important but hitherto unresolved argument between labour-market economists.

The answer will determine whether Labour leads us into a lovely new world where artificially raising wages delivers higher productivity — or whether we have to do it the old-fashioned way under National, by working smarter and producing more from less, in order for wage earners to enjoy the higher sustainable incomes both parties promise.

Place your bets. – Matthew Hooton

The chickens of negligence have come home to roost – but they’re not welcome in the Henhouse of Education. – Michael Johnston

There are many pressing problems facing New Zealand, but none more urgent than the decay of our once great education system. Every time a young person leaves school without basic literacy and numeracy, it is a travesty. As democratic citizens we must all shoulder a share of the responsibility for that. We must demand much better and demand it loudly. –Michael Johnston

We need to know the facts of our own history. This enables us to separate reality from mythology. It also forces us to acknowledge that reality, rather than creating a story by revising the facts to fulfil and perpetuate the social and political ideologies of those who promulgate them. – Bruce Moon 

New Zealand is a small country, and whether it’s journalists, politicians or businesses, there’s a sense that you don’t want to speak out or have a different view because you might see that person again and you’ll have hurt their feelings.

I’m not saying be cowboys, but if we had a bit more boldness from time to time we would perhaps have a more vibrant, exciting and dare I say it, successful country. – Simon Bridges

I think there is a deep strain within Māoridom that is rooted in conservatism,.

Everyone likes to lay claim to the greats, you know like Āpirana Ngata, but it’s clear, in their speeches and thoughts. People forget that National held the Māori seats, until quite recent history – that’s why you get guys like Tau Henare who were able, with a straight face, to join National. – Simon Bridges

What I’ve worked out is, you can have every bit as much influence and some serious fun outside of politics. I think a lot of politicians make the mistake of thinking it’s the be-all and end-all of everything. – Simon Bridges

With the La Niña weather pattern presently turning the country into a quagmire, the nation’s mood is bogged down in a morass of its own.

A slew of reports out this week confirmed what we were already grappling with; rising levels of concern about the cost of living, which is, in turn, making us stressed and unhappy. Turns out we’re more worried than any other country on the planetJanet Wilson

And while the Government ploughs on with its reform programme, spending $11 billion on changing the health system with the Three Waters programme having already cost $2 billion without a water pipe renewed, it’s easy to see how Labour has become part of inflation’s problem and not its solution.

Just as you don’t go on a diet by eating all the pies and cakes, you can’t  hope to reduce inflation by throwing more money around.

Not unless you want inflation to bed in and lead to what seems now to be almost inevitable. Recession. – Janet Wilson

Instead of pulling together and being a team of five million, it increasingly feels that the distance between some New Zealanders is more like a canyon. There are more and more people who have lost hope, don’t believe in the values that used to bind all of us and/or just truly think that they don’t have to work for a living.Paula Bennett

The Prime Minister, or one of her ministers, blames employers for not paying enough. Hospitality, construction and other sectors have responded to the tight labour market with improved wages and conditions but still 105,000 people are on benefit instead of in work. The benefits of work are more than monetary – although if money is the motivator then I say to beneficiaries, “Get a job, prove your worth and seek a higher wage.”

In other words, you have to start somewhere and that has to be in paid work. The other benefits include a healthier, more social life and a sense of meaning and purpose. I get that there are people who don’t think they should have to “sell out” to big business or do “menial” work. I believe in free choice – I just don’t think that taxpayers should have to pay for it. – Paula Bennett

You can say a lot of disparaging things about Nanaia Mahuta but what you have concede is that when it comes to really applying herself to undermining democracy she can be very strategic and clever.Heather du Plessis-Allan

Jacinda Ardern oozes self-satisfaction, whether swanning about at Davos or lecturing the world on climate change and the importance of “wellbeing”. At first this young PM became the darling of the progressive world – many admired the feminist credentials, sensitive handling of the Christchurch mosque attack and zero-Covid strategy. But the carefully constructed façade is wearing thin. Ardern is on track to lose the next election, with the latest opinion polls indicating a 10 percentage point drop over the last six months. No amount of positive global press coverage can disguise the lacklustre economic situation in New Zealand, the growing list of broken promises and mounting unpopularity at home. – Matthew Lesh

The New Zealand imagined by the international press is about as fictional as Middle Earth. The country is struggling. Lacking the capacity to address the numerous challenges facing her nation, the Ardern gloss has faded. In the end, standing ovations at international conferences will not make up for a loss of confidence at home.Matthew Lesh

Mike Yardley, Jamie Mckay, Robert MacCulloch, Keith Woodford, Tracy Watkins, Grant Nelson, Kevin Norquay, Cameron Bagrie, Duncan Field, David Farrar, Jim Rose, Bjorn Lomborg, Claire Trevett, Brent Edwards, Simon Bridges, Erica Stanford, Pamela Paul, Chris Trotter, Kelly Hutton, Peter Jackson, Bruce Cotterill, Fran O’Sullivan, Andrea Vance, Craig Hickman, Dr Catherine D’Souza, Richard Prebble, Tracy Watkins, Brigitte Morten, David Seymour, Jane Clifton, Tova O’Brien, Rita Pahani, Matthew Hooton, Kemi Badenoch, Aaron Smale, Dr Anthea Prentice, Douglas Murray, Sir Peter Gluckman, Taimi Allen, Brendan O’Neill, John MacDonald, Matt Doocey, Dr Michael Johnston, Bruce Moon, Paula Bennett, Simon Bridgres, Janet Wilson, Matthew Lesh,


Quotes of the month

01/06/2022

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

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. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

The average age of Covid deaths is still higher than the average life expectancy. We do not need a government to talk to us like we are 5-year-olds over these risk factors. New Zealanders know them. New Zealanders know whether they are part of a vulnerable group and should be trusted to act accordingly and take that into account in the decisions they make about their lives without having the Government use that as an excuse to become authoritarian. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

Thirdly, the emergency regulations taking away our freedom of movement fail to properly balance social, educational, economic, and even other medical damage in favour of an obsessive focus on Covid-19 to the exclusion of all else. This is why health bureaucrats and epidemiologists should only ever have been a key source of advice, not dictators of Government policy.

I do not doubt that the Government genuinely thinks it is taking these extreme measures for all the right reasons, but the Government’s rulemaking is no longer proportionate to the risk and does not meet the requirements of the section 5 exemption. The “nanny knows best routine” is no longer justified.

Fourthly, to those who say that our Government’s refrain that they are entitled to claim credit for “keeping people safe” and go even further and demand a continuation of this protection pretense, I say this: It is not the Government’s role to attempt to prevent all death at any cost. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

Part of the reason large elements of the public are entranced by the unachievable goal of permanent insulation from Covid-19 is that our politicians have raised expectations that our Government cannot meet by using paranoia and political one-upmanship.

Some New Zealanders will not be happy until they ruin another school year or chalk up another $60 billion in debt and ruin the early careers of so many young people weighing them down with taxation for decades to come. Those views are not a justification for overriding the fundamental rights of other New Zealanders.

If you are very risk-averse, then the answer is simple: you choose to take the steps you wish to take to avoid infection. The answer is not that our Government removes fundamental freedoms by emergency regulations when we are now in a very different position from when we first faced Covid-19 without vaccines, little knowledge, and a much stronger variant.

Our leaders assure us we are no longer in elimination mode. They urged us to get vaccinated so we could dispense with the restrictions on our fundamental freedoms, but still, we are overwhelmed with onerous and illogical rules and restrictions. –  Lady Deborah Chambers

Most media are addicted to Covid-19 catastrophism, down-playing or ignoring the social and economic costs. Fear is even better than sex at selling newspapers. Oppositions have been too timid to call it out, preferring to profit from outrage and trepidation, preferring to complain about a bungled vaccination rollout when we have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world and one of the lowest fatality rates.

It is time we elevated civil rights as a key component to decision-making. So far, the influence of the Bill of Rights has been zip.  – Lady Deborah Chambers

The pandemic has provided a stress test for the freedom of movement guaranteed to us and the results are not pretty.

The most common way people give up their rights is by thinking that they do not have any. New Zealanders should be justifiably proud and be prepared to defend the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. It is time we did.

Nothing strengthens authoritarianism so much as silence. – Lady Deborah Chambers

The rule of law needs to be respected and upheld. Should people reach the view they are not bound by it and the right to protest is unlimited, chaos would eventually descend upon us. It is a slippery slope. . . 

While the Bill of Rights reinforces the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of association and freedom of movement, none of these rights is absolute.Sir Geoffrey Palmer

When Labour governments run out of ideas they have usually resorted to centralisation and more controls. In its final term, Peter Fraser’s ministry that had been one of the most creative in New Zealand’s history, centralised as tired ministers hoped their trusted bureaucrats would keep Labour’s faltering show on the road. The ministries of Walter Nash, Norman Kirk and Bill Rowling followed similar paths. Jacinda Ardern’s government, you’ll recall, had very little policy to start with. So little in fact that when it came to office in 2017 it had to set up more than two hundred committees and inquiries to tell it what to think and do. The results were pitiful. Almost no Kiwibuild houses were constructed, homeless numbers increased, poverty figures rose rather than declined, educational achievement standards kept slipping against other countries, and major infrastructure construction fell well behind schedule. Whenever criticised, rookie ministers blamed the previous government, and then Covid. Message? Centralising everything can’t compensate for the absence of carefully-thought-through policy. – Michael Bassett

Despite their lack of specific policies, they had ever-so-itchy fingers. They engaged across a wide front tinkering with everything in sight, thinking some ancient Labour dogma overlaid with a big dose of special privilege for Maori would fix things. The public hospital structure had been set in place by Helen Clark’s ministry. It is only twenty years old, but it is now being turned on its head for no good reason except that a more centralized system makes it easier to favour Maori. Health Department officials who have been under huge stress coping with Covid are also having to restructure a hospital system that wasn’t broken. Nor is there anything so wrong with water and drainage services nationally that they require Nanaia Mahuta’s Three Waters in the form set out in her current proposals. Her centralizing scheme seems to have only one over-arching purpose: control by Maori. Meanwhile, the school history curriculum is being restructured with one special purpose in mind: teaching a bogus version of New Zealand history to school kids about the Treaty of Waitangi. Making Labour’s centralisation work certainly keeps officials busy. Wellington has become a gigantic Lego-fest.Michael Bassett

Over the years, the best ideas behind successful government schemes have always taken time to germinate. If they are specific to places or regions there has to be buy-in from locals who will benefit. And the best way to test the extent of that buy-in is to expect the same locals to own the project and pay the lion’s share. Centralizing everything always means bureaucracy and waste. But then, Jacinda’s ministry is so other worldly that they don’t know these stark realities. Her government is too expensive to indulge any further. – Michael Bassett 

Compulsory wokeness, for example, has had limited success in healing division; while classifying people by what they say, rather than what they do, has not promoted much virtue.

State management of the economy to reduce instability and help the weak now threatens long-run productivity growth.  Meanwhile, support for decarbonisation evaporates as life-changing costs become transparent.   

And the taking by the state of ever-wider powers to regulate our lives to make us better people increasingly creates more problems than it solves. Oblivious of how it looks, we find the most ardent defenders of civil liberties yearning for extraordinary powers.Point of Order

There’s an unmistakeable note of panic in the posturing of the woke Left. They suddenly realise they no longer control the public debate and are wildly lashing out at the scruffy mob that usurped their right to make a nuisance of themselves. How dare they! – Karl du Fresne

The level of condescension and intellectual snobbery on display from people who think of themselves as liberal has been breathtaking. The tone has alternated between sneering at this supposedly feral underclass and alarm at their sudden, forceful presence on the national stage – a stage the wokeists are accustomed to hogging for themselves.Karl du Fresne

Oddly enough, we never hear experts on Morning Report expressing alarm about people being radicalised by the extreme Left, although it’s been happening for decades at the taxpayers’ expense and has succeeded in transforming New Zealand into a country that some of us barely recognise.

Similarly, we should conclude that ideological manipulation is a problem if it’s practised on an ignorant lumpenproletariat, but not when it happens to gullible middle-class students in university lecture theatres, where it flourishes unchallenged. – Karl du Fresne

What we can infer from this barrage of anti-Camp Freedom propaganda is that the woke Left is terrified of losing the initiative in the culture wars. It’s desperate to reclaim its sole right to lecture the rest of us and wants to do so without the distraction of an unruly mob that has the effrontery to adopt the Left’s own tactics.

The irony here is that having spent most of their lives kicking against the establishment, the wokeists are the establishment. They have won the big ideological wars and are on the same side as all the institutions of power and influence: the government, the bureaucracy, the media, academia, the arts and even the craven business sector.

The dissenters, disrupters and challengers of the status quo – in other words the people protesting outside Parliament – are the new radicals. This requires the moralisers of the Left to recalibrate their political thinking, and I get the impression it’s more than some of them can cope with.Karl du Fresne

An unprovoked attack on a peaceful, democratic neighbour has not happened in Europe since World War II. It is a barbaric act that could take us into a dark age. It shakes the foundations of the international order and the world economy.

With the fall of Communism, there was hope for a new, liberal world order. Globalisation was spreading, as was democracy. There was a peace dividend in the form of reduced military spending and less need for autarky, especially in energy. It was the supposed ‘end of history’. – Oliver Hartwich

If the West needed a final wake-up call, this is it. If those who believe in liberal democracy, civil liberties, free markets and the rule of law still care about their values, this is the time to defend them.

Talk of solidarity with Ukraine is good, but it can only be hollow. There is no way to come to Ukraine’s military defence without provoking an even bigger war.

What the free and democratic world must do urgently is to reconnect with its own fundamental values. That requires a reality check. – Oliver Hartwich

We must rediscover the cultural and political foundations of our civilisation. It is the Enlightenment values of freedom and peace that we must defend against illiberalism, both at home and abroad.

It is a historic moment. But it is our choice how to respond to it.Oliver Hartwich

They say having a baby changes what you value and it’s true. I want more for our country now. Nine months ago, a politician could’ve convinced me with a tax break. But now, I want to know that politician has a plan to keep New Zealand as wonderful as it was for us to grow up in. I want to know that our schools are world-class, that our jobs pay well and that our cities are good places to live. I want this boy to want to live here, in the same country as his mum and dad, and never leave for a better lifestyle in Sydney and London and New York. I want things that benefit all Kiwis, because what is good for all Kiwis is good for him. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

A commonality of skin color and associated facial features is as nothing compared to the fact that human beings of all races share the faculty of reason. The former may allow for an interesting group photo once in a while.

The latter is what underlies the accumulation and application of knowledge and gives to the members of all races the ability to produce the goods and services that the members of all races need and desire. – George Reisman


Quotes of the year

01/01/2022

How do we prevent child abuse? First, we have to stop racism. That message has lately invaded the child-welfare system. The triumph of today’s fashionable ideological nonsense in this particular field carries exceptionally high costs — and abused kids will pay them. – Naomi Schaefer Riley

Kindness is as kindness does. And the one thing kindness cannot do is force people to be kind. – Chris Trotter

Of course, to assume that her missive would be engaged with in the spirit in which it was intended, is to make the mistake of imagining that the identitarian left is broadly committed to secular, rational discourse. It is not. Its activist component has transmogrified into a religious movement, which brooks no opposition and no discussion. You must agree with every tenet or else you’re a racist, sexist, transphobic bigot, etc. Because its followers are fanatics, Rowling is being subjected to an extraordinary level of abuse. – Petra Bueskens

The norms of civil discourse are being eroded, as we increasingly inhabit individualised media ecosystems, designed to addict, distract, absorb, outrage, manipulate and incite us. These internecine culture wars damage us all. – Petra Bueskens

If you deal primarily in subjective experience and impulse-driven reaction, under the assumption that you occupy the undisputed moral high ground, and you’ve been incited by fake news and want to signal your allegiances to your social media friends, then you can’t engage in rational discussion with your opponent. Your stock in trade will be unsubstantiated accusations and social shaming. – Petra Bueskens

Trans women are women is not an engaged reply. It is a mere arrangement of words, which presupposes a faith that cannot be questioned. To question it, we are told, causes harm—an assertion that transforms discussion into a thought crime. If questioning this orthodoxy is tantamount to abuse, then feminists and other dissenters have been gaslit out of the discussion before they can even enter it. This is especially pernicious because feminists in the west have been fighting patriarchy for several hundred years and we do not intend our cause to be derailed at the eleventh hour by an infinitesimal number of natal males, who have decided that they are women. Now, we are told, trans women are women, but natal females are menstruators. I can’t imagine what the suffragists would have made of this patently absurd turn of events. – Petra Bueskens

COVID has shown us that voters will excuse an astronomical level of incompetence, excused by collective amnesia, and the subsequent human toll as long as they believe they’re being kept safe. Fear really is the opiate of the masses. – Gemma Tognini 

We want a simplistic story sometimes – big naughty chicken companies are ripping us off – but it’s more complicated than that. It’s biosecurity, it’s iconic birds, it’s minimum wage and animal rights, which are all things the public support – Tim Morris

It should not be controversial to centre victims in discussions about crime and justice. In fact, it isn’t. The real world doesn’t play out like a Twitter timeline. For most New Zealanders the abolition of prisons is utterly insane and our government would be wise to remember that. – Ani O’Brien

 In the desire for an easy prey, hunters and journalists are the same.Theodore Dalrymple

Ideology is what all this ‘ethics’ crap is about – it has nothing to do with ethics as I understand the term. ‘Ethics’ has become a smokescreen for ideological vetting of research proposals and keeping findings that may not square with PC doctrine out of the academic literature. – Barend Vlaardingerbroek

So far I have lived—stayed safe, if you like—through predicted global cooling, global warming, mass famine, nuclear winter, asteroidal collision, and viral and prion-disease epidemics. . . Just because no catastrophe has yet touched me, then, it does not mean that none in the future will ever do so. That is why anxiety springs eternal in the human breast.Theodore Dalrypmple

And far too few of those who make the laws and regulations governing our lives will get anywhere near a farm, let alone develop a d