To see ourselves as others see us

02/12/2020

When I read reports on Peter Goodfellow’s speech to the National party conference I wondered if the journalists and I had been at the same event.

All took the same extract where he spoke about the impact of Covid-19 on the political landscape. He gave credit where it was due but also spoke of the grandstand it gave the government and especially the Prime Minister, and he mentioned media bias.

The reports gave credence to the last point. From where I was sitting the whole speech, of which the extract was a small part, was well received by the audience. But all reports were negative, and many commentators said the listeners didn’t like it, which was definitely not the impression I got. Most were surprised, even critical, that Goodfellow retained the presidency given the election result.

None appeared to understand that the president wasn’t responsible for the self-inflicted damage by some MPs  nor that while party members elect the board it is the board members who elect the president.

They might have known that he had called for a review of the rules after the last election. They were not privy to the report on that by former leader Jim McClay which was delivered in committee,  greeted with applause and well received by everyone I spoke to afterwards.

But why would they let the positive get in the way of the negative if it fitted their bias?

Bias, what bias?

The non-partisan website Media Bias paints the New Zealand media landscape decidedly red.

The almost universal lack of criticism has been noticed by Nick Cater who said media ‘diversity’ is alive but not at all well in New Zealand:

. . . The media paradise Rudd craves looks somewhat like New Zealand, where inoffensive newspapers compete for drabness and commentators are all but united in adoration of Jacinda Ardern.

You’ll struggle to read a word of dissent in the four daily newspapers. Mike Hosking and some of his fellow presenters are prepared to break from the pack at Newstalk ZB, but that’s it. Retired ZB host Leighton Smith remains in the fray as a podcaster and columnist but, when it comes to broadcast media, Hosking is Alan Jones, Chris Kenny, Andrew Bolt, Peta Credlin and Paul Murray rolled into one.

If the columnist listened to Magic Talk he might add Peter Williams and Sean Plunket to those who challenge the pro-PM narrative. But these are few against the many whose reporting and commentary are rarely anything but positive about Ardern.

The only hint of irritation at the Prime Minister’s weekly press conference is that she isn’t running fast enough with her agenda of “transformational change”, the umbrella term for the righting of social injustices, including those yet to be invented.

Ardern’s decision to hold a referendum on the legalisation of cannabis was widely praised as another step on the path to sainthood. The proposal was rejected by 51.6 per cent of voters, prompting this exchange.

Media: “In terms of governing for all New Zealanders, you do have 48.4 per cent of New Zealanders who did vote for legalised cannabis.”

PM: “And the majority who didn’t, and so we have to be mindful of that, too.”

Media: “But you’ve promised to govern for all of those New Zealanders, including the 48.4 per cent who did … there is an appetite among an enormous section of the population for something. And obviously the referendum did fail, but it doesn’t mean … ”

Can we assume that because 48.9 per cent of Americans didn’t vote for Joe Biden, Donald Trump can stay in the White House? Or does the ballot only count when the left is winning?

Those with a more sophisticated understanding of liberal democracy than “Media” (the generic name ascribed to journalists in the transcript, presumably because they are all of one mind) may be feeling a little queasy.

A Prime Minister who tells voters she chose politics because it was a profession that “would make me feel I was making a difference”, and holds an absolute majority in the parliament’s only chamber, is an accident waiting to happen. An independent media should be the first responders in such circumstances, ready to erect barriers in the path of the Prime Minister, should she swerve across the line.

Yet the press pack are not merely on the bus, they are telling her how to drive it.

New Zealand’s small population and splendid isolation are part of the explanation for the enfeeblement of its media. Ardern’s sledgehammer response to the COVID-19 pandemic hastened the decline.

In May, Nine Entertainment let go of the newspapers it inherited from Fairfax, The Dominion Post, The Press and The Sunday Star-Times, for $1 to a company that goes by the name of Stuff. It seems like a bargain given the copy of the Post at the newsstand will set you back $2.90, hardly a vote of confidence in the future of NZ media.

Yet market size is only part of the explanation. It doesn’t explain why, for example, in a country split politically down the middle, 100 per cent of daily newspapers and virtually every TV and radio station stand proudly with Ardern.

We can only conclude that commercial logic no longer applies. Media companies are no longer driven by the pursuit of unserved segments in the market. It’s not the product that is faulty but the customer. When commercially minded proprietors leave the building, the journalists take charge. They are university-educated professionals cut from the same narcissistic cloth as Ardern. They, too, want to feel like they are making a difference.

With the collapse of NZ’s Fourth Estate it is difficult to see what might stop Ardernism becoming the country’s official religion. The National Party is in no position to offer effective political opposition. The party that reinvented credible government in NZ is bruised from two defeats, uncertain who should lead or in what direction it should head.

Intellectual opposition is all but extinguished in the universities, but still flickers on in alternative media, blogs, websites and YouTube channels, which serve as a faint beacon of dissent.

Is this what Rudd seeks? The last thing a country needs is a prime minister basking in applause who switches on the news and finds herself staring at the mirror.

Would today’s journalists and commentators be familiar with Robbie Burns who wrote:

O, wad some Power the giftie gie us

To see oursels as others see us!

It wad frae monie a blunder free us,

An’ foolish notion.

If they are familiar with these words, would they attempt to see themselves as others see them and accept that not only are most biased but that it shows in their work?


Own goal

19/02/2020

Suppression orders on the names of the four people charged over political donations have been lifted:

Former National MP, and now independent, Jami-Lee Ross, has been named today as one of the four people facing Serious Fraud Office (SFO) charges in relation to two $100,000 donations made to the National Party. . . 

When news that charges were being laid broke and the National Party said no-one associated with the party was involved I immediately wondered if Ross was one of the accused.

Barry Soper named him on NewsTalkZB and Sean Plunket named him on Magic Talk but I didn’t come across any other reference to him in other media and thought that was unusual when all media had been keen to report his every accusation against National and its leader.

Then all four names were suppressed.

Now the suppression has been lifted it’s being widely reported and what an own-goal by Ross.

He was throwing mud and regardless of the outcome of the court case, he’s managed to smear himself with it.


Not okay doomers

23/01/2020

Sean Plunket has coined the term doomers for the people who are prophesying catastrophe as the result of climate change.

They are the ones who label anyone who questions their apocalyptic forecasts as deniers even though most of the changes they’re demanding of us are, as Bjørn Lomborg says, empty gestures which trivialises the challenge:

Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs, wash your clothes in cold water, eat less meat, recycle more, and buy an electric car: we are being bombarded with instructions from climate campaigners, environmentalists, and the media about the everyday steps we all must take to tackle climate change. Unfortunately, these appeals trivialize the challenge of global warming, and divert our attention from the huge technological and policy changes that are needed to combat it. . . 

For example, environmental activists emphasize the need to give up eating meat and driving fossil-fuel-powered cars. But, although I am a vegetarian and do not own a car, I believe we need to be honest about what such choices can achieve.

Going vegetarian actually is quite difficult: one large US survey indicates that 84% of people fail, most of them in less than a year. But a systematic peer-reviewed study has shown that even if they succeed, a vegetarian diet reduces individual CO2 emissions by the equivalent of 540 kilograms – or just 4.3% of the emissions of the average inhabitant of a developed country. Furthermore, there is a “rebound effect,” as money saved on cheaper vegetarian food is spent on goods and services that cause additional greenhouse-gas emissions. Once we account for this, going entirely vegetarian reduces a person’s total emissions by only 2%.

Likewise, electric cars are branded as environmentally friendly, but generating the electricity they require almost always involves burning fossil fuels. Moreover, producing energy-intensive batteries for these cars invariably generates significant CO2 emissions. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), an electric car with a range of 400 kilometers (249 miles) has a huge carbon deficit when it hits the road, and will start saving emissions only after being driven 60,000 kilometers. Yet, almost everywhere, people use an electric car as a second car, and drive it shorter distances than equivalent gasoline vehicles. . . 

Individual actions to tackle climate change, even when added together, achieve so little because cheap and reliable energy underpins human prosperity. Fossil fuels currently meet 81% of our global energy needs. And even if every promised climate policy in the 2015 Paris climate agreement is achieved by 2040, they will still deliver 74% of the total.

We already spend $129 billion per year subsidizing solar and wind energy to try to entice more people to use today’s inefficient technology, yet these sources meet just 1.1% of our global energy needs. The IEA estimates that by 2040 – after we have spent a whopping $3.5 trillion on additional subsidies – solar and wind will still meet less than 5% of our needs.

That’s pitiful. Significantly cutting CO2 emissions without reducing economic growth will require far more than individual actions. It is absurd for middle-class citizens in advanced economies to tell themselves that eating less steak or commuting in a Toyota Prius will rein in rising temperatures. To tackle global warming, we must make collective changes on an unprecedented scale.

By all means, anyone who wants to go vegetarian or buy an electric car should do so, for sound reasons such as killing fewer animals or reducing household energy bills. But such decisions will not solve the problem of global warming.

The one individual action that citizens could take that would make a difference would be to demand a vast increase in spending on green-energy research and development, so that these energy sources eventually become cheap enough to outcompete fossil fuels. That is the real way to help fight climate change.

The doomers are fixated on unrealistic and ineffective actions which would, if taken up as they demand, come at a high economic and social cost for little if any environmental gain.

That’s not okay, doomers.

Investment in research and development that will lead to innovation and technical advances would achieve far more without the economic and social sabotage the doomers’ prescription would inflict on us all.


Property rights crisis

27/07/2019

Yesterday morning Labour Maori caucus co-chair Willie Jackson said government would find itself in serious trouble if it started disregarding iwi mandates when it came to Māori land:

Mr Jackson said he sympathised with those on the frontline, but the government had to respect the settlement. . . 

Mr Jackson said he understood that some felt ripped off, but warned that siding with anyone other than those with the mandate was a dangerous path.

“The day we walk away from mana whenua is the day we might find ourselves in real trouble. Right now we’re committed to supporting to what they’ve signed up for – as hard as that might be,” he said. . . 

Mr Jackson said there were people on the frontline who felt a strong sense of injustice but when those who have rights over land make a decision – like the deal done with Fletcher – the government had to support that.

“We understand the hurt but sometimes people, particularly our mana whenua, have got the right to make these decisions and we’re not going to say you’re wrong and get out of there. I know others are doing that but we wouldn’t be so bold or so arrogant,” he said. . .

Just a few hours later the Prime Minister was, by that definition being bold and arrogant:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed that no building will take place at Ihumātao while the government and other parties try to broker a solution. . . 

“We have heard, here, the strong voice of young people,” Ms Ardern said.

“At the same time we hear the perspective of mana whenua.

She said the government had to address that there had been an escalation and that’s why the call was made to hold off on building work.

“That activity cannot take place while there is such a large gathering there. . .

Not only is this putting the angst of protesters ahead of what mana whenua have agreed with Fletchers,  it’s a u-turn on her previous position:

Earlier this week, Ms Ardern said the government would not intervene in the issue.

“Ultimately we are falling on the side of the local iwi [who support the housing development] and their position. They are not the ones leading the protest here and so if we come in over the top, it really would be undermining the local iwi in this case,” she said on Wednesday.

By last night the show of force by protesters appears to have persuaded her to not only undermine the local iwi, but to trample all over Fletcher’s property rights.

It is also poking its nose into what is essentially a family dispute.

This was a point made by former Labour MP and  former Minister of Māori Affairs Samuel Dovers Dover Samuels who called Magic Afternoons with Sean Plunket with a stark message to politicians and media regarding Ihumātao: Stay out.

He told Sean that this is an internal matter for the family to figure out for themselves. Interference form the media and politicians has fanned the flames of this dispute, he says, “I just can’t see the involvement of any politician as being helpful.”

(Click the link above if you want to listen to the full interview).

RNZ explains the history and why Ihumātao is being occupied by protestors.

It is complex but:

. . .Earlier this year, Te Kawerau Iwi Tribal Authority & Settlement Trust, who support the housing development, put out a statement saying:

“This piece of land within the development area will be the first time since the land confiscations of 1863 that land will be returned to mana whenua. The agreement to have this land returned to mana whenua was negotiated between Fletchers, Makaurau Marae Māori Trust and Te Kawerau Iwi Tribal Authority. Auckland City Council was consulted during this process.”

Fletcher’s have committed to returning 25 percent (eight hectares) of the land they own to the Kiingitanga.

“Returning the land is a first for a corporate like Fletcher Building,” said Fletcher Building Residential chief executive Steve Evans.

This isn’t a Māori versus Fletcher issue – on both sides are members of the same iwi, hapū and whānau. . . 

If the issue is complex, the underlying principle is not.  Everyone, not least the government, should be respecting property rights.

This point was made by Act leader David Seymour:

. . Jacinda Ardern has legitimised unlawful behaviour by capitulating to an illegal occupation as her opening move.”

“The PM has cultivated a brand of a kinder, more inclusive politics, but some things such as occupying private property are always wrong. She has just sent the message: ‘if you occupy private property, the Government will take your side instead of protecting property rights.'”

“It appears that the Prime Minister has prevented the legal owners of land from carrying out a consented development, and offered the protesters a seat at the table.  . .

Maori property rights were ignored when the land was originally taken. Redress for that was made under a Treaty settlement.

Fletcher Building has gone beyond what is legally required in returning  25 percent of its land to the iwi. It will be building nearly 400 much-needed houses on the rest, some of which will be sold to members of the iwi.

That some think this is not good enough is no justification for the government to interfere and, in doing so, undermine Fletcher’s property rights.

Private property has, for very good reasons, been exempt from Treaty of Waitangi settlements.

Government giving way to protestors like this sets a very, very dangerous precedent that is in danger of precipitating a property rights crisis.


Judges’ decision

30/01/2015

Miriama Kamo, convenor of judges for the New Zealand Post Book Awards 2014 responds to Eleanor Catton’s criticism:

Esteemed academic Peter Munz once said to me, “The wonderful thing about the humanities is the lack of one answer to any issue, there is always debate, there must always be discussion and there may not ever be consensus.”  

 I’m reminded of this as I watch, with a mix of admiration and dismay, the debate fuelled by Eleanor Catton’s comments about the political state of our nation and her feeling that she is a victim of a ‘tall poppy’ syndrome. I am interested in listening to all of it, but wish only to comment, as the convenor of the judging panel of the New Zealand Post Book Awards 2014, on the continuing conversation surrounding our decision-making.

The New Zealand Post Book Awards is a multi-category, multi-genre competition. It is quite unlike the Man Booker competition, which considers only fiction. The Luminaries won the Man Booker competition, a thrilling achievement. Last year it went on to win the New Zealand Post Book Awards prize for fiction.  In doing so, it won New Zealand’s equivalent of the Man Booker. It then went into contention for the supreme prize against three other exemplary finalists of different genres.  It did not win that supreme prize; Jill Trevelyan’s book Peter McLeavey: The Life and Times of a New Zealand Art Dealer did.  

I’m as impressed as I am bemused by Eleanor Catton’s belief that The Luminaries should have won the supreme prize. I’m impressed because we don’t have a proud history of owning our achievements, of proudly proclaiming our talents. Perhaps this is a by-product of a nation that did suffer a ‘tall poppy’ syndrome. Comments like Eleanor’s make me believe that this is changing. But I’m bemused because, putting aside that it diminishes the achievement of the supreme prize winner, Jill Trevelyan, it betrays a belief that our judging panel should have fallen into line with an international panel of judges. This is at odds with Eleanor saying that she grew up with the erroneous view that Kiwi writers, and by extension Kiwis generally, were somehow less than British and American ones; that we did not, and perhaps do not, back our own opinions or our own talent.

There was no sense on our judging panel that it was ‘someone else’s’ turn to win. We made a literary judgement, not a political statement. Given that our opinion did happen to align with the Man Booker judges and we did award The Luminaries our top fiction prize, it is at least churlish and, at most, mischievous to suggest that The Luminaries did not win its due in New Zealand.  

But then, that’s the beauty of the humanities. Such decisions rightly inspire debate. Like the Man Booker judges, we were a group of individuals making a collective decision. We worked hard at the task in front of us and, in my view, we made wise and well-placed decisions. I was proud to honour Eleanor’s incredible work, The Luminaries. I was proud to award prizes to all the finalists that night of the New Zealand Post Book Awards, and to crown, as supreme winner, Jill Trevelyan’s book Peter McLeavey: The Life and Times of a New Zealand Art Dealer.  It deserved to win.  But in the grand tradition of debating and discussing the arts, I urge you to read all of our finalists before making up your own mind.

Well said and isn’t it good that she says it by way of addressing the criticism and not criticising the critic?

David Farrar also responds to Catton reasonably at Kiwiblog and Trans Tasman opined:

Catton . . . 
illustrated the old wisdom “artists are children,” and it is a little baffling why people seem to expect profundities about politics from them.  In Catton’s case, she is only the latest in the long tradition of NZ literary types who feel their country is too grubby and philistine for them to bear for too long.

It is one of the most tiresomely adolescent aspects of the Kiwi arts scene, and it gets more intense whenever their fellow NZers are so uncouth as to elect National Govts.

Catton isn’t a “traitor” though, despite what talkback host Sean Plunket – increasingly resembling a retired Rotarian – called her on his programme. It is just another case of artists being a bit silly. There is no need for this sort of over-reaction.

Quite.


Put down the sherry

19/01/2014

Andrea Vance calls time on the silly season:

Everyone, please, put down the sherry and get a hold of yourselves. A dose of reality is necessary as the political year really kicks off this week. In the vacuum of the summer season, some fantasies about the outcome of this year’s election have taken seed.

Smacking is not going to be a defining election issue just because Conservative Party leader Craig says it is. He is the leader of a minor party, outside of Parliament.

Once the election campaign proper starts, and the mainstream party machines kick into gear, Craig will find he has to do more than put on a tinfoil hat to get media attention.

Speaking of crackpot strategies, was it the electoral roll of a parallel universe that was going to return Martyn Bradbury ahead of cabinet minister Nikki Kaye or Labour high-flier Jacinda Ardern in Auckland Central?

And since when did left-wing activists like Bradbury start whoring themselves out to businessmen who want to use their vast wealth to exert influence over the political and justice system? . . .

But perhaps we could wait until his policies and candidates are unveiled before prophesising his likely effect on the polls? . . .

Thankfully other commentators have failed to swallow whatever it is that blinds some to Dotcom’s faults.

Duncan Garner also recognises the silly-season affect:

There’s a reason why Kim Dotcom, Brendan Horan and Colin Craig are getting so many headlines right now: All the other politicians are on holiday, and simply don’t give a stuff.

They’re either at their beach houses or overseas, and politics is the last thing on their mind. . . .

So, right now those three are taking their chances with the media, but they will soon have to compete with the big boys and girls for space. It will get that much harder. . .

An internet party got seven percent in Germany, so his Internet Party can’t be written off. But it’s had a woeful start with a hopelessly organised failed launch. Still, it kept him on the front page, I suppose.

The Internet Party will be a place to put your protest vote against John Key, the spies, the establishment and the ruling elite. It could well be a party for those that feel disconnected to the mainstream, disconnected to politics and disenfranchised overall. That makes it a potential threat. But what will it ever achieve? Who will lead it? If Bomber Bradbury is its main advisor – where the hell is it heading? . . .

Sean Plunket says the internet party is amateur and vain:

The imminent but aborted birth of the country’s newest political party this week has been one of the most bizarre non-events in recent political history.

From the first tweet-fuelled rumblings of the human headline that is Kim Dotcom to the ignominious cancellation of the launch party, it has been a study in the politics of naivety and a glowing example of the gullibility of certain sections of the New Zealand news media and public. . .

What shortens the odds however is an uncritical celebrity-obsessed media full of self-appointed pundits and commentators who seem more than happy to entertain the idea that Kim Dotcom and his cronies might actually represent some meaningful and significant change in New Zealand’s political landscape.

Whilst it might rob the tabloid headline writers and breathless young television reporters of meaningless fodder for their daily dross, the cruel truth is as it stands the Internet Party is little more than an amateurish exercise in vanity politics perpetrated by a publicity-seeking convicted criminal. . .

Colin Espiner also says vanity is driving him:

. . . behind the ice creams and the fireworks, the offers to fund our next America’s Cup challenge or a new submarine fibre-optic internet cable, the extravagant parties to which we’re all invited and promises of free wi-fi for all, lies a narcissist desperate for popularity, relevance, and above all, respect.

It’s my opinion that Dotcom’s constant quest for omnipotence stems from his desire to make us – and the rest of the world – understand the value of his achievements (and they are many) while forgetting his criminal past as a computer hacker and convicted fraudster. . .

Fortunately for him, there was a ready audience, thanks to worldwide alarm at the antics of the US over its multi-national bulk spying via mass data collector PRISM and its subsequent exposure by whistle-blower Edward Snowden – and other spying scandals uncovered by WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange.

Dotcom has been quick to associate himself with both.  . .

Dotcom likes the parallels: all are fugitives from justice; campaigners for freedom of information; anti-state and pro-privacy.

The difference, however, between Dotcom and Assange and Snowden is that they released top-secret information held by governments and corporations because they believed it was in the public interest. They did it for free and they did it knowing they were likely to be arrested for it.

Dotcom presided over the world’s largest pirate website, which was shut down for repeated copyright violations he claimed to know nothing about. He made a fortune from it, and he has claimed that while he suspected Hollywood would come after him in the civil courts he never anticipated criminal prosecution.

Many seem to have missed the distinction. Dotcom to them is a hero, a wronged man, a champion of cheap internet and free speech. Money has helped him get the media onside. He cooperated with Herald journalist David Fisher for a largely favourable book about him, thus also ensuring ongoing coverage from the country’s biggest newspaper.

He’s courted other journalists, too . . . 

But assuming it does eventually arrive, will Dotcom’s Internet Party wreak havoc on the election result? Actually, I don’t think so.

Dotcom’s political publicity vehicle is likely to appeal to internet-savvy young people alienated from mainstream politics who haven’t voted before. Therefore it’s unlikely to pull support off the existing major and minor parties. So unless it reaches the 5 per cent threshold – a huge hurdle – or wins an electorate seat, that first-time vote will simply end up wasted.

Because Dotcom himself can’t stand, the chances of any other candidate put up by him winning a seat in their own right are extremely slim.

But that won’t bother Dotcom. His endgame is not a career in politics. . . 

Matt McCarten picks up on the vanity too:

Cynicism suggests Dotcom’s motivation is more about ego and self-interest. . .

By naming his party the Internet Party Dotcom ghettoises himself around a narrow set of issues. . .

Until now, Dotcom has had a dream run from the media. He has become a folk hero. But now he is in the political arena, he’ll get a rude shock. He’ll be treated like every other politician.

The perception Dotcom will have to overcome is that the Internet Party isn’t some plaything of a rich egotist who made mega-millions exploiting other people’s talent and creativity without paying for their work. . .

Dotcom hopefully knows voters want their political parties to serve the people, not platforms for rich men seeking self-aggrandisement. New Zealanders are old-fashioned like that.

Dotcom wouldn’t be the only would-be politician to be driven by vanity but those who make it have a lot stronger foundation on which to build their campaigns than that.

Now the silly season is about to close he’ll find the media have a few more serious contenders and issues on which to focus too.


Which PM would they emulate?

02/09/2013

Sean Plunket, interviewing Labour’s three leadership contenders on The Nation  yesterday, asked them which leader they would emulate.

David Cunliffe opted for Michael Joseph Savage, Shane Jones and Grant Robertson both chose Norman Kirk.

Interesting that Helen Clark wasn’t chosen, and in fact was criticised by Jones:

“Now the thing about Helen, she was into social provision and anti-discrimination, Labour can no longer have that as its dominating brand,” said Mr Jones.

The other two didn’t comment on this, but their enthusiasm for a 50/50 gender split in caucus suggests they don’t agree.


Tyson visa cancelled

03/10/2012

The visa which would have allowed convicted rapist Mike Tyson to visit New Zealand has been cancelled by Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson:

Ms Wilkinson says the original decision to grant a Special Direction to Mr Tyson was a finely balanced call and a letter of support from the Life Education Trust, that would have been a benefactor from the visit, was a significant factor in approving the application.

“Yesterday evening the Life Education Trust contacted my office and asked for that letter to be withdrawn, making it clear that the Trust no longer wants to have any involvement with Mr Tyson’s visit.

“Given that the Trust is no longer supporting the event, on balance, I have made the decision to cancel his visa to enter New Zealand for the Day of the Champions event.”

Life Education Trust does a lot of good work in the community and it seemed odd that they’d supported this visa application.

Keeping Stock has a tweet from Sean Plunket which says they didn’t – the letter of support was an unauthorised one from a volunteer.

The world is full of inspirational speakers without criminal convictions who would be much better role models.


Does he know what he’s suggesting

29/01/2012

Sean Plunket is with the majority who don’t support the sale of the Crafar farms to foreigners.

But does know what he’s suggesting when he writes:

 . . . So my suggestion to the Occupy diehards: pick the nicest of the 16 Crafar farms to camp on, pack up your mung beans and your hacky sacks in your old kit bags and occupy some land to highlight an issue that really matters to so many New Zealanders. . . 

The right of the protesters to occupy public spaces has been subject to debate. That would not be the case with the farms – they are private property.

Regardless of the nationality of the owners, anyone who tried to occupy the farms could be charged with trespass.

It’s possible Plunket has got his tongue in his cheek but even so his comments will add to a growing concern among farmers that the public don’t understand that the property rights which apply to small areas of land in town apply just as much to large ones in the country.


Glenn donating $100m if we keep National-led govt

04/09/2011

Owen Glenn has pledged to donate $100 million to youth and education in New Zealand if we still have a National-led government after the election.

Mr Glenn says the money would be invested from primary school through to tertiary education, and beyond to help New Zealand market its products and services overseas.

The story in the link doesn’t stipulate the condition but it is clear  in the video (from 19:44 )Duncan Garner Sean Plunket who was interviewing Glenn asked him directly if the donation was dependent on National and Act winning the next election and Gleen said that was correct.


What about Anran?

13/06/2011

It’s always dangerous for someone who types faster than she spells and sometimes relies on an unreliable memory to cast aspersions on someone else’s writing. But I think this isn’t so much a typo or poor memory as a reflection on a gap in the writer’s/sub’s knowledge of political philosophy:

Sean Okay what about Anran?

John Yeah I’ve read Anran, but I’ve got my own philosophy of what I do and what I think has worked.

Anyone want to bet the sub isn’t a Libertarian?


The bad old days

13/06/2011

Jamie Mackay introduced last Thursday’s Farming Show with a reminder it was the anniversary New Zealand’s bloodiest farming protest (from 4:31).

June 9, 1978 was the day 250 farmers frustrated by on-going strikes at the freezing works drove 1500 sheep into the main street of Invercargill and slaughtered them.

Those were the bad old days when unions ruled and the rest of us paid for it in frustration, inconvenience and lost productivity, wages and opportunity.

My father had retired by 1978 but he’d been a carpenter at the freezing works. As a tradesman he was usually able to continue working when the freezing workers struck but he used to come home with stories about the stupidity of many of the strikes, called for little on no reason, sometimes over an issue somewhere else.

They had a propensity to call strikes at the most inconvenient time when stock were prime or feed was short and delays were costly in both financial and animal welfare terms.

Repeated strikes weren’t peculiar to the freezing industry, but on the wharves, railways, ferries and anywhere else where unions held sway.

Changes to employment law in the 1990s by National curtailed much of the union silliness. Labour reversed some of the changes, giving more power to unions which isn’t always to the benefit of workers.

Unions aren’t all bad. Businesses with large workforces often prefer to deal with one bargaining agent than lots of individuals. Unions can often achieve more for workers collectively than they’d be able to get for themselves individually; they can be a strong advocate for a worker with a grievance and they can bring about improvements in workplace safety and conditions.

But their actions sometimes appear to be more about flexing union muscle than doing what’s in the best interests of their members. Prolonged strikes are an example of that when wages lost through time off end up costing more than the wage rise over which a strike is called.

National has moved the employment pendulum back towards the centre with improvements to the law since 2008 and is now intimating it will campaign on making more progress:

Prime Minister John Key has indicated National will campaign on further changes to labour laws – and will not rule out reinstating a youth minimum wage or changes to collective bargaining.

At the Seafood Industry Council conference yesterday, Mr Key said making the labour market more flexible was a priority as the economy began to grow and National intended to unveil further changes in the election campaign.

There is debate about youth rates but there is no doubt that youth unemployment has gone up much more than that for other ages since youth rates were removed.

Offsetting Behaviour has several posts on the issue including youth rates revisited with graphs which clearly show youth unemployment has been worse than general unemployment since the removal of youth rates. Check My Sources explians how young workers are being priced out of the labour market.

In an interview with Sean Plunket on The Nation yesterday John Key said:

We know that there are people that are 18 years of age on an unemployment benefit and I think as a country most of us would sit around and say that’s crazy, they should be in work, they should be in training, or they should be back at school.

It would be much easier for young people to get work if employers weren’t forced to pay them the same rates as they pay more mature workers.

A little more flexibility in labour relations which won’t be welcomed by unions but will be better for employers and their staff would also be welcome.

We’ve come a long way from the bad old days when unions held the country to ransom but there’s still room for improvement.


One does what it oughtn’t and t’other doesn’t what it ought’a?

16/04/2011

Quote of the week:

“Does Labour do things they shouldn’t so people vote for them and National doesn’t do things they should so people won’t not vote for them?”

Sean Plunket or Duncan Garner* on The Nation this morning in response to a comment by Fran O’Sullivan on the cost of Labour’s 2005 election bribes.

*I was listening not watching and it’s not online yet to check who said this while chairing the panel discussion.


And the winners are:

27/10/2009

Drum roll please, the winner of the Homepaddock poll for best broadcaster is Jim Mora and the best programme title goes to Afternoons.

Jim got 39% of the votes after sitting at more than 50% until yesterday when a surge in votes took Peter Sledmere to 23%.

Mary Wilson attracted 13% support, Brian Crump and Kathryn Ryan got 10% and Clarissa Dunn 6%. There was a lone vote for Sean Plunket in the comments but his nomination came too late for the poll.

Afternoons won 33% support, Media Watch was second with 28%, Country Life attracted 22% of the vote and Check Point got 17%.

If this had been scientific I’d have to tell you how many people voted. Since it’s not, suffice it to say the results reflect high quality opinons rather than a large quantity of voters. 🙂

Jim and the staff at Afternoons will, as promised, receive a box of Whitestone Cheese, which will be delivered some time in the next couple of weeks.


RadioNZ poll

20/10/2009

Yesterday’s post asking for additional nominations for RadioNZ’s best broadcaster and best programme attracted a modest response.

This could mean the most popular ones had already been nominated.

This could mean not many people are interested.

Be that as it may, I promised a poll and not one but two polls are now posted in the sidebar (thanks to Scrubone whose instructions on how to do it I managed to follow at the third attempt).

I’ll leave it there until I remember to close it (let’s not pretend this is scientific) and will send the winners a box of Whitestone Cheese.

Adam Smith asked for a most unpopular broadcaster category but I decided there was sufficient ignominy in not being included in the best

I was surprised no-one nominated Sean Plunket, if for nothing else but sympathy because he’s not allowed to write a column for Metro in his spare time. Cactus sums up that as only she can.


Bloke behind bird song bags Old Blue

26/06/2009

Wildlife film maker and sound recorder John Kendrick, the man who initiated National Radio’s bird calls has been awarded an Old Blue.

That’s the Forest and Bird Society’s highest award.

Sean Plunket’s interviewed him on Morning Report today.

Philippa Stevenson has more information, inclduing a photo of the kokako which Kendrick says has his favourite bird song, at The Bull Pen.


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